This basement is only partly below ground level, and there are windows evenly spaced on the walls, right below the ceiling level. The main part of it is a large open area with a small kitchen in one corner and a large, ratty carpet in the center, covering the cement floor. There is a rather large window in the kitchen; it looks as though it might actually open onto the street. On the wall opposite the kitchen is a large bin, and there are folding tables along the wall perpendicular to it. On the other wall there are a few folding chairs, many fewer than one would expect from the number of tables.
A hallway next to the kitchen leads off to two offices and what once might have been a classroom.
...as a Mysterious Voice on the Phone
Rotem is sitting at the table, five pizza boxes in front of him, one with pepperoni, one with extra cheese, one plain, one with olives, and one with tuna, sardines, hot peppers, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and extra cheese.
There's a soft humming, almost inaudible at first, but gradually getting a bit louder, along with the sound of footsteps on the stairs. The song, should one try to identify it, is Lola, or if you're of more a Weird Al bent, Yoda. About at the same time the song becomes identifiable, so does the singer -- well, hummer -- as Bernie comes into view.
Rotem swallows his bite of pizza, looking to the doorway. He can't resist lifting his can of coke and spouting out. "Bubbled like this?"
Bernie had been thinking of the original song, and it takes a beat for her to make the connection. When she does, though, she grins a bit, and replies, "Yo-yo-yo, Yoda," in the tone of a somewhat streety greeting. The other cub gets a somewhat wary once over, the pizzas quite a look. "...hungry, huh?"
Rotem pushes one of the large boxes towards her. "Eat up. Nothing l-like free food."
Bernie opens the box, appraising the pizza inside. "...and this is nothing like free food," she remarks, making the traditional joke. She takes a slice, and also a seat, joining the cub at the table. "So. 'side from masses of pizza, 'sup?" As she closes the box, her jacket sleeve slips back, and the candy necklace she has wrapped around her wrist a couple times as a bracelet, complete with a candy heart pendant with "love" written on it, becomes visible.
Rotem shrugs. "N-not much." He takes another slice. "Some pu-punk at the pizza parlor started a brawl. People left the place in a h-hurry. So I helped myself to the pizza."
"Thief," Bernie declares, without rancor, and then sings a la Aladdin: "I steal / only what I can't afford / (that's everything...)" She seems to be in a pretty good mood. Even for her. Dropping back to normal speech, and relaxing back in her chair, she asks, "So you learnin' alla shit you're s'posta, now?" A quick glance toward his abdomen, "...an' healin' a'ight? Doesn't look like th' 'za's fallin' out..."
Rotem nods softly. "I'm trying." He puts down his food, looking to her, serious for a moment. "Can I ask you a favor?"
"You c'n always ask," Bernie replies, the slight flippancy magnified in contrast to the serious question, "...I might even say yes. 'sup?"
Rotem leans towards her slightly, taking a breath, he sounds serious, possibly for the first time since they have met. "Could you teach me? Cub to cub. Without them knowing." He motions aside as he says this. "I have to learn. I have to have a drastic change. And I need it to happen yesterday." He shakes his head. "Or I might as well throw myself in front of a bus."
Bernie smiles slightly, rather wryly. "Noticed, huh?" she queries in a dry tone, and then suddenly goes much more serious herself, giving the ahroun a long, appraising look, studying him closely for several seconds. Then, she speaks, still serious: "Gonna be honest. Most of the time I've known you, I haven't liked you much. I don't like th' way you've behaved, th' way you treated people I care 'bout. But. I came here t'night 'cause it got t' where I almost -wanted- t' see you culled. An' I don't like feelin' that way. I don' wanna be that kinda person, y'know? So. I figured I'd try t' give you another chance, see 'f we c'n get on better. If you're serious this time, 'f you really got it figured out now that you -gotta- learn all this shit, an' you're willin', an' you're not gonna be such a pain... yeah. I'll try t' give ya a hand. Can't promise no one's gonna know 'bout it, but no one's ever said for me not t' teach ya, so we c'n give it a try."
Rotem breaks into a smile. "Thank you Bernie." He bows his head slightly. "I got a lot to catch up on. Where should we start?"
Bernie looks around. "Here's good," she quips, waving a hand negligently at the room, and grins fleetingly. "...nah, I'd say we start with th' foundation. Do th' Lit'ny for me, an' we'll discuss eacha th' rules. Good review for me too, right? An', maybe it's 'cause I'm a ragabash, an' we're questioners of the ways, but I don't think rules do any good as just memorization. Y'gotta think about 'em an' figure out what they -mean-. What th' point is. Otherwise, how d'ya know it's a decent rule, right? So: rule number one." She takes a bite of the pizza, and takes off her backpack, setting it on the table and opening the top, biggest pocket.
Rotem pauses, then grins. "No boffing in the house." His way of remembering it, then he adds. "Groo shall not mate with Groo. But grabbing a dog off the street and fucking it. That is ok." He chuckles slightly.
Bernie smirks, and pulls a capped bottle out of her backpack. It looks like a beer bottle, and it's labeled "Guinness," so the chances are good. "Y'better make sure th' dog's inta you, first, no fair bein' cruelty t' animals. So, yeah, Garou Shall Not Mate With Garou. Now, tell me what it means t' you, and why it's a rule." Another pause, "...another thing. If you wanna tell me honestly whatcha think of a given rule, even if y'think it's not th' party line... go ahead. You might be s'prised, or I might help ya see why th' party line's what it is. Yeah?"
Rotem nods softly. "Good." He smiles. "Anyway, two groo make a Kaz, not a bad thing, but to be avoided." He pauses. "Cuz Kaz can't make another groo." He then ads. "Although I don't see what the prob is if you get a condom."
Bernie grins at Rotem, and then flashes a decidedly I-own-your-ass smirk at the bottle she pulled out. The cap practically jumps off the bottle, landing on the table with a little tiddly noise as it bounces once and then rotates a little. She relaxes again, looking satisfied, and takes a sip. Then she takes a quick look around, as if checking for spies. "A'ight. That's right; Kaz kicks serious ass, but metis get treated bad by other tribes, an' they can't make anymorea us. As far as usin' condoms..." she pauses slightly, and there's a bit of a blush there, "...well, way I got it, th' 'rou party line is, Just Say No. But the -'Gnawer- party line is, jus' don't get yourself or your partner knocked up. An' don't tell th' people who'd kick your ass. So, it's not somethin' you oughta go lookin' for, but as they useta say, 'f y' can't be good, be careful. Ready t' go on with Rule number 2?"
Rotem nods softly, he takes the bottlecap. "You mind if I keep the twenty one crimp?" He flips the cap in his fingers. "An ya know if your ever looking, I'm always free for ya." He winks, then recites the next rule. "Kick serious ass." He chuckles. "Combat the Wyrm, where it dwells and whenever it breeds."
Bernie arches a brow at the cub, sipping the beer. "Ain't gonna happen, hon," she replies firmly, but with more than a touch of amusement. "Yeah, you c'n have th' cap. And right. Now, what's it mean? Where an' how's th' Wyrm dwell an' breed?"
Rotem shrugs. "In the sewer. And I got no clue about specifics. Basically, kill all the bad stuff before it kills you."
Bernie presses her lips together a bit, and nods. "The sewer's one place. But, 'course, non-wyrmy things are down there too, like rats." She pauses, "....anyone told you 'bout Rat, yet? This one, I think we need t' work more on. ...tell me whatcha know 'bout th' Wyrm. Everythin' you c'n think of. A'ight?"
Rotem nods softly. "Wyrm, death and decay, drugs, killing, fomors with tentacles, banes in the umbra that you can wail on to your h-hearts content. Tainted people misbehaving, gotta save em."
Bernie nods slowly, taking another sip. "...here's how I get it, so far. Th' Wyrm is th' force of corruption an' destruction in th' world. It works a lotta ways, somea them are nice an' obvious, like banes an' fomori with tentacles an' big gelatinous cubes an' shit. Others are more subtle, like tainted drugs, an' people settin' things up in society so some people get trod down inta th' dirt an' can't get back up by themselves. So, th' obvious stuff, we kick th' shit outta, an' th' subtle shit, we gotta work against atta more subtle level. That's where we try t' get people outta th' gutter, an' all. 'cause the Wyrm wants 'em down an' t' corrupt 'em past redemption, y'know? So we fight it." She pauses, "'f ya ask me... we're big bad killin' machines, right? An' I think maybe we been too busy bein' th' Big Bad over th' years, rippin' Wyrm creatures limb from limb, while its been gettin' a foothold in th' subtle places, companies that taint th' environment, or try t' make people think in destructive ways, shit like that. An' we gotta fight both. Where it dwells is almost everywhere, an' where it breeds is whereever it doesn't get beat back. But that doesn't mean, y'see twenty fomori with chainsaws an' you're all alone, you oughta go get 'em immediately. 'cause prolly, they'll kick your ass by sheer numbers, an' you won't get t' fight 'em next time. But if ya came back an' got all th' resta us... well, never hurts t' have th' odds on your side, right?"
Rotem shrugs softly. "Yeah, but I bet Signe would b-be impressed if I brought back twenty heads." He chuckles "Could mount em on the wall or something." He grins happilly. "Would be fun."
Bernie hehs, "Yeah, she would be, but not so impressed 'f they came back with -your- head. An' if y' got backup, you could come back with all twenny heads, -an'- get twenny more next week, seein' as you'd still prolly be alive." She takes another swallow, and makes a soft, appreciative little mmm sound. Must be tasty. "A'ight. Ready t' do number three?"
Rotem nods softly. "Flush the toilet." He then translates. "Respect the Territory of An'other." Another bite is taken of the pizza. He speaks with his mouth full, "No tesspassing. Violators will be cut up into small p-peices and have their entrails used as decorations."
From upstairs comes the strains of someone singing, a low, slightly scratchy also. "Stars... in your multitudes... Scarce to be counted..." The door creaks open, and the singing gets somewhat louder, as Kaz heads down the stairs. "Filling the darkness, with order and light..." She breaks off as she sees a) awake people and b) no blood, and grins. "Well, hey y'all."
Bernie grins. "Yeah," she replies, taking another sip, sitting nice and relaxed in her chair, "deck th' caern with bowels of 'truders... knock b'fore ent'rin', all that. Packs have terr'tory, an' I 'spect people do too, sometimes. Oh, an' 'f y' go somewhere else, some other city, you gotta go say hi t' th' Big Cheese Gnawers there..." She trails off at the sound of singing,a nd looks to the stairs, grinning as Kaz comes into view. "Heya! 'sup, Kaz? Y'missed th' kickass sausages. An' my killer potatoes."
Kaz shrugs. "I gotta few after Max'n me was done. Pretty good stuff. You an' Cam c'ld go on the road with that act." She leans against the wall. "Don' lemme stop y'all, yeah?"
Rotem motions to the pizzas on the table. "Hey Kaz. I got food." He chuckles and pushes a six slice pie at her. "Eat up."
Bernie grins at Kaz again, and raises the bottle slightly to her in a toast. The movement shifts her jacket cuff, revealing the candy bracelet wrapped two or three times about her wrist as a bracelet. It's complete with a candy heart charm that reads "love". "Thanks," she remarks, "...wha'd you guys hafta do, anyhow?" A glance over to Rotem, "...an' I think you were 'bout t' give me rule 3, weren'tcha?"
Kaz levers off the wall to grab a piece, and crouches down near Bernie. "Na' much. Just hadda show her somethin'." Folding the piece in half, she takes a relatively large bite, watching Rotem.
Rotem shakes his head. "Four. Accept an honorable surrender." He corrects the ragabash cub, then takes another slice of pizza, if Bernie has been counting she'll notice he's finished off five slices just since she's been here.
Bernie pauses, brow furrowing slightly, and nods. "Four. Sorry, got distracted an' all." She has no comment on the amount he's eating. She has three brothers, two teenage. "Right. What's that mean and why's it important?" Her attention seems to be more on the other cub again, now, as she quizzes him.
Rotem shrugs. "Beats me. Kinda like Tim." He chuckles and takes another bite of the pizza. "Cuz we don't want you killing off the poor guy for no reason." He deepens his voice. "Even if the dude from mortal combat is s-standing in the back yelling 'finish him'." He chuckles, and obviously has been playing at the pizzaria's arcade.
Kaz grins faintly, and settles back to listen.
Bernie grins again as well. "Here's hopin' next time Tim kicks your ass it's for -trainin'-. Anyway, yeah, you don' wanna kill someone for no reason; obviously anythin' Wyrmy, it ain't honourable, an' you gotta reason. But, you're fightin' some other 'rou t' teach 'em a lesson or settle somethin', they say Uncle, its kinda like back in number 2, they die, they can't kill that fomor tentacle beast thing next week, right?" She takes a sip. "...an' anyway there wouldn't be extra points or that voice goin'," hers goes deeper and takes on a slight accent, "Fatality."
Kaz puts in, "It's how we figure out's boss, too. So y'know, killin' someone over bein' boss, it ain't real efficient."
Rotem chuckles and looks to Kaz, He sends a hand out in her direction as if throwing something and exclaims "Come here!" then laughs, "Scorpion wins." A brief pause before looking to Bernie "Oh, and fifth. Submission to the big dogs." He motions to Kaz.
Bernie takes a sip, and nods. "A'ight. So given that doesn't mean here, put on this gimp suit an' lick my boots," she somehow manages to say that without blushing at all. She must be being corrupted. "...what's that mean in pract'cal terms?"
Rotem shrugs. "Well, in peacetime that would be t-translated as 'please, challenge me.'" He pauses. "At least thats what I think."
Kaz blinks in confusion, but doesn't say anything.
Bernie shakes her head, "Nah, I mean, what's th' rule mean? What's submission? What makes someone higher station? How far's it go?"
Rotem shrugs. "Submission is when they tie ya up and a woman in a leather outfit whips ya." He winks and looks to Kaz. "Not that it doesn't sound like fun..."
Rotem shakes his head. "But seriously, its listening, doing what your told. Basically everything I didn't do." He sighs softly. "Right now, everyone is higher in station to me, and it goes as far as it goes. They tell you to run headlong into those twenty fomori, you do it."
Kaz starts to say something, and then stops when he finishes his thought. "Basically."
Bernie nods, "yeah, that's 'bout th' sizea it.... a'ight, rule numba six -- there is noooooooooooo rule numba six!" For that last part, she suddenly develops a strident british or maybe australian accent, then drops it, grinning, and goes on, "...no, but really, rule number six."
Rotem chuckles, jerking a finger at Kaz. "Hey, I gave her pizza. I know the rule." He chuckles. "Not my fault she wan't here when I started. I g-gave Yi a slice of mine before I started eating."
Kaz starts chuckling, quietly.
Bernie grins again. "So recite me th' rule, an' tell me why it's a rule. Why's it somethin' important 'nough t' be in th' Lit'ny?"
Rotem shrugs, "First share o' kill to the highest in station. And I'm willing to bet it is in the Litany because the highest in station were the ones who wrote it." He chuckles softly. "Way of the world."
Kaz shrugs. "Can you really not think've a reason why it's a positive thing?"
Bernie laughs a little as well, and sips her drink. Still a reasonable amount left. Making it last. "Yeah, well. This is likely t' have some bearin' on it, yeah, an' y' wanna be wary of anyone who tries t' set 'emselves up t' use this rule, 'f you ask me... 'specially anyone who uses it t' their own benefit, y'know? But there's other applications, an' other interpretations, y'know? Try t' think of some."
Rotem shrugs. "I don't know." He sighs, "I'm sorry. I'm trying, but seems just wrong. It should be the first share for the /lowest/ in station. The big dogs can feed themselves, you should feed the little guy.
Kaz looks, for some reason, surprised, but nods. "Stretch here, kid. Think about what th' Elders do. Project offa that."
Bernie lets Kaz take this bit over for now, and just leans back relaxed again, listening and waiting.
Rotem looks to Kaz. "Zee, I been locked down here for most of my garou life. I've seen m'elder all of two times. I don't know. If your talking just non-cub elders. They do patrols, keep their pack territory safe. Help the little guy, and scrounge up food." He pauses for a second then ads as an afterthought, "And fuck stray dogs." He looks to Bernie and winks, trying not to laugh.
Kaz, again, gets that rather odd look in her eyes. "Kaz. Zee's a Max thing. But -- think about it. Practically any time Yi or me's here, we bring food, of one kind or another. We bring other shit over, too. We /are/ providin' for you. It's just, it's a two way street, an' the greatest kill part, that's mostly from th' wolves. It's true for us, too, but we, to use that socialist vernacular, we redistribute it."
Rotem nods softly. "S'like I said. Should be the lowest in s-station." He nods his head. "And thank you for the food. I get some too. Silly Yi was gonna leave all /this/ behind!" he motions to the five large pizza boxes, spread out on the table, and the two empty ones on the floor.
Kaz shrugs. "Basically is, with us, but the thing is, I've seen places where they ignore that part've the Litany. It's got repercussions on lotsa other parts've things. You stop respectin' each other as much, you stop submittin' as a kinda automatic thing, an' basically, th' social fabric starts breakin' down. This part, it's just acknowledging that the boss, he does a lot f'his -- or her -- job, an' he deserves t'get acknowledged for it."
Bernie nods a bit at Kaz's comment, and adds her own $19.95 plus tax. "Also, y'gotta figure, how'd they -get- t' be greatest in station? Well, obviously they survived, yeah? So y'gotta figure, they mostly gotta clue. An' th' lowest in station might think, I need that one thing, but th' elder might know that someone else needs it even more, or could use it better for th' good of everyone. 'cause seems like, th' higher y'get, th' more y'gotta keep tracka ev'ryone an' ev'rything, right? So they might know what you don't."
Rotem nods softly. "Kinda like the silver." He nods. "I had a silver knife, wanted to carry it around. Elan descided it would be best used for the silver, for making something else."
Kaz gives Bernie what would seem to be an approving look. "That's a way good point, yeah."
Bernie nods at Rotem, thoughtfully. "Yeah. That seems like it might be th' kinda thing." She smiles a bit to Kaz, adding, "...an' thanks."
Rotem looks to bernie. "Can we skip the next one? I mean" He looks down to his pizza, "It just wouldn't sell as a topping."
"Not without renamin' an' a damn good PR campaign, yeah. Quote an' 'splain anyhow, though a'ight?" Bernie replies, gesturing with the bottle.
Rotem shrugs. "Thou shalt not eat the flesh of humans. They are weaker and stupider and might be contagious."
Kaz holds up a finger. "Actually, that's kinda the reasoning behind it. Wanna hear the official reasoning?"
Rotem looks to Kaz. "Huh?" he seems to be in shock. "I was right?"
Bernie nods to Kaz, saving her own interpretation for later.
Kaz restrains a grin. "See, back in the day -- this is prehistoric, practically -- people started buildin' Cities, an' around the same time, the Wyrm started increasin'. So th' Garou, bein' a bunch of backasswards morons, decided it must've been because humans're connected to the Wyrm, an' are somewhat Wyrmy, so it's bad for you to eat 'em." She pauses. "There's other, more practical reasons, which I bet Bern's just itchin' t'spring, so I'll let her talk now."
Rotem chuckles. "But then an elder garou made them all speak different languages, and they split up, the tower abandoned."
Bernie hehs at Rotem. "Wonder what gift that'd be? Anyway... there's other reasons too, like she said. Onea 'em's just plain, ew. I think mosta us prolly feel that one on a gut level; seems like it, anyhow. But, there's nothin' there sayin' don' eat wolves, or don' eat Garou. I think that's 'cause those are c'nsidered no-brainers. 'cause, like, wolves, there aren't a lotta 'em left in th' world, an' they're real Wyld, right? An' 'rou, that'd be cannibalism, straight up. But humans, there's a lotta them, an' they build cities like Kaz said, an' most 'rou don' -like- cities, they're all Weaver an' th' Wyrm likes t' breed in 'em. So, somea them got Wyrm taint, an' prolly that's contagious 'f y' eat 'em, or too mucha 'em, an' then also they're prolly not that -good- for ya, considerin' their diets. Plus, 'f people knew it happened, it could mess with th' Veil, an' people'd go huntin' 'rou. Which'd suck. Oh, an' 'course, we kinda need 'em t' make morea us, at least somea them."
Rotem shrugs. "Why not just kill off most of 'em, and then leave just a few hundred in each area. Keep the numbers down." He chuckles. "Breeding stock."
Kaz says "We tried that for awhile, actually. It didn't work so good."
Rotem looks to Kaz, with an expression that could only be defines as 'huh'?
Bernie tilts her head at Kaz, brow furrowed. "We did? No one mentioned that t' me b'fore... when, why, how, an' all that shit?" A slight pause, "an' hey, I was wond'rin'... when did th' Lit'ny get written, anyhow, an' who did it?"
Kaz explains, "Back in that prehistoric day, see, we tried that. Tried to kinda keep a cap on humans and stuff, 'cause they were takin' over. I mean, "We" bein' the annoyin' tribes, but anyways. We kept this up for thousands of years, cullin' people in the middle of the night, no warning, no mercy. We bacame the bogeyman, and basically a representative of the Wyrm ourselves, only we didn't realize it." Her tone has gone dark; obviously, this is not something she precisely approves of. "Eventually, there was this big ass meetin' of all the Garou, and the Children of Gaia, born out of their opposition to the Impergium, they challenged over it, and won. So, we don' do that anymore, although the Red Talons might like it if we did. But part of that fear, that terror that we promulgated, it became the Delirium, because we culled, we culled in Crinos. An' they can't cope with it, not anymore. Because they were forced to for a thousand years and more."
Rotem shrugs. "Well, then what /is/ the solution?"
Bernie blinks, drinking as she listens. "So that's why humans'll freak out 'f they see us in crinos, huh? Int'restin'... huh." She hushes, thinking about that.
Kaz says, "Don't eat people, an' don't be an asshole to 'em, basically."
Rotem shrugs. "Oh well. Ok. Anyway, I wanna get finished with this by the end of the week." He motions to Bernie. "Respect for thos below ya in station. All are of gaia. " He handwaves. "It explains itself."
Bernie smirks a little. "'s nicea it; save it some trouble, though. What's it -mean-? How d'ya do that? You see it happenin' 'round you? Where's respect end an' spoilin' begin?" She adds, aside to Kaz, "...an' d'you know, on my other question? 'bout who an' when d'cided th' laws?"
Rotem shrugs. "Well, they haven't tied me up and cut me to little peices for how I've been behaving. I'm f-fairly sure this is one of the major reasons for that."
Kaz explains to Bernie, "After the Impergium got ended, the Fangs all basically got t'gether an' decided onna bunch've laws. Some've it was a compromise an' all, but it was pretty much handed down from On High." She tilts her head at Rotem. "Expand."
Bernie grins, and murmurs, "well, 'f he eats enougha that pizza...."
Rotem shrugs. "No making them wear a gimp suit and lick your boots."
Bernie bursts out laughing, briefly, stifling it with another drink. "...yeah, that'd likely be violatin' it... not t' mention -them-..." Is there a hint of pink with that wisecrack? If so, it disappears quickly enough.
Kaz says "Well. It all depends on whatcha mean by respect. 'Cause us Gnawers, we go for the family thing, and the Fangs, they go for high falutin' teas and stuff. But as a gen'ral thing, yeah. No lickin' boots."
Rotem nods. "Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend thy sickness in death." He pauses and looks up. "If you're lucky to live that long, don't make yourself someone elses problem." He chuckles. "Basically, can't fight? We don't need you no more. G'Bye."
Bernie mrms, and tilts her head a bit, "Well, can't fight, we don' wantcha in th' battle, but 'zat really th' -only- way someone c'n contribute?"
Rotem shakes his head. "F'me Berns. I'm an ahroun." He pauses. "When I get that old, I hope I get taken out. I dun wanna wither away." He then stares off into space. "Actually. I hope I go out in a blaze of glory."
Kaz says, dryly, "Talk t'Chugs about blazes of glory. He'll give you an earful. We're Gnawers, bub. We're goin' for survival. We ain't got time to let people make heroes of themselves. An' we ain't got time for people that don't think."
Rotem chuckles. "How about I fight for the next thirty years or so, /then/ we'll talk about how I go out. Sound good?"
Kaz shrugs. "Works f'me. But again, if you think we're only about fightin', you got another think comin'."
Rotem nods softly. "I know, but the fighting is the fun part."
Bernie considers Rotem a bit. "Sounds good. Jus' make sure y' play it smart 'til then, yeah? R'member what I was sayin' back 'round rule two? Jus' keep it in mind. No seriously riskin' your ass when y'don't hafta, 'specially not jus' t' impress Signe or somethin'. Yeah?" She pauses, "...so, yeah, basically, don't be a burden, that's th' point on this one, right? But long as you c'n do -somethin'- helpful, you're helpful. Obviously."
Rotem moves on, eager to finish with this. "The leader may be challenged in peacetime, not in wartime." He pauses. "And that means, after I'm not a cub anymore I can challenge like Zee.. I mean, Kaz, did."
Kaz shoots the cub a grateful look.
Bernie nods slightly. "'f y' mean for rank, not for a -while- after you're notta cub, I don' think. But that's not challengin' th' leader, 'zactly. Start with telin' us -why-, though, then tell us who th' leaders'd be. Or do it th' other way 'round 'f it helps."
Rotem motions to Kaz. "Like what I did in the farmhouse, cept I'm an idiot cub." He pauses, to explain, "I wasn't happy with something that Yi, my elder, was doing. So I challenged her. And got my ass kicked. Only I did it in a childish, foolish, inapropriate way. Oh, and I'm a cub."
Kaz, sounding fairly patient, says, "I don't give a shit what you did when you was stupid. Answer Bern's question, it's a good one."
Rotem nods softly."Well, then I don't know exactly. Can you explain it to me?"
Kaz says, "Well. Who leads a pack?"
Bernie smiles slightly at Rotem's assessment of the bout with Yi, with a little nod, but remains quiet.
Rotem shrugs. "Prefferably me, but its the alpha."
Kaz grunts. "Right. An' why'd it be a bad idea to change that durin' war?"
Rotem says "Chain of command breaks down. Can't have an effective fighting unit without discipline." He pauses for a second. "Wait a second. Shit. Did I just imply Discipline is a good thing?" He arches an eyebrow. "Crap, I must actually be learning something now." He chuckles softly.""
"God forbid," Bernie remarks with a bit of a smile, finishing off her beer, finally, and setitng the empty bottle on the table.
Kaz grins quietly, though some skepticism remains in her eyes. "Pretty much. Chain of command, and you lose important info when you change leaders, inevitably. Can't have that."
Rotem nods softly. "So We done? Seeing as Julie set me straight on the last one last night."
Kaz, who had wandered off somewhere during Julie's little screed, looks curious as well.
Rotem shrugs. "Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated" He pauses. "You got the bawn, the caern, and the caern center, caern and in, holy ground. Ya /dont/ do anything to defile it. No bloodshed. No going to the bathroom. Etc."
Bernie nods slightly. "'s an elabouration. But -why-? Why's th' caern important? Why should we care more 'bout protectin' it from things than we oughta care 'bout doin' th' same for here, even if we care a lot 'bout here or somewhere else, too?"
A paper airplane drifts in through a broken window, stuttering in its flight as it loses lift and stalls, dropping into a circular path. It's flight path intersects with Bernie's head--unless she notices it in time.
Rotem says "Cuz the Caern is special like. Spirits and stuff. In the center you got like gaia herself. She's what we're fighting for. So thats the A number one priority."
Bernie is about to remark on the answer, but doesn't see the airplane as it weaves though the air behind her, and it makes a rather neat landing in her curls, the tip catching itself in a ringlet. Startled, the girl blinks, and reaches up to retrieve the thing from her hair. "Wha...?" She gives it a confused once over, glances at Rotem and Kaz in turn, and behind her for someone else who might've thrown it. Seeing only the broken window, she gives the airplane a closer look. Well, it's nice and aerodynamic, that's for sure...
Kaz, curious, heaves herself to her feet and checks out the window.
Rotem looks to the paper airplane. "What is that? Where'd it come from?"
Outside, there doesn't seem to be any unusual activity. Nothing out of the ordinary, at least. The paper airplane seems to have something printed on it, but it's hard to say what it is because of all the folds.
Kaz says, "Huh," and returns to her crouch. "Say anything?"
"...It's a paper airplane," Bernie replies, in a tone of puzzlement, and starts to quickly but carefully unfold the airplane. Mmm. Origami. She smoothes the sheet of paper out on the table, and quickly scans the markings thereon.
Kaz, because she's a curious sot, crouches down next to her, and reads.
Rotem looks down at the paper, then back at the window. "That's freaky." He then pauses and looks to Kaz. "You think this came from that umbra place you were telling me about?"
The paper unfolds and reveals a message, printed from a computer and written in an ornate font style that's elegant, yet painfully difficult to read. It reads as follows:
Greetings, Garou. Want information about the "bigfoot" bones? Need help getting rid of them? Answer the payphone outside. Attempt any tracking and I will detect it; then you're on your own and will recieve no further offers of assistance. Decline and I will not assist, nor hinder, your efforts. I'm only a threat if you decide to make me one.
This message will self destruct in five seconds.
P.S. I suggest you drop it unless you want to lose fingers.
Kaz stares at it oddly, and then says, not backing up, but not holding onto it, "Umbra, no."
Rotem chuckles. "Who is the james bond wanna be?" He rolls his eyes. "And what is a bigfoot bone?"
Bernie is a very fast reader. This is apparently a good thing. Not to mention she's watched a lot of Inspector Gadget. She balls the paper up and tosses it back out the window. "Sure thing, Chief," she mutters, watching the window, half-hoping for the traditional black smoke.
No smoke. The paper just... disappears. Outside, a payphone begins to ring.
Kaz says, "Nice fuckin' Veil we got here," and disappears upstairs.
Kaz also then answers the phone.
Bernie hops up and follows Kaz. Too damn interesting not to, that's for sure.
Rotem follows Bernie. Why? Because no one told him he can't. And he wants outta the church, even if its just to the phone.
A computerized voice speaks over the phone, carefully avoiding any words that might otherwise be intercepted and arouse suspicions. Whoever's on the other end is a very cautious person--or thing. "Are you interested in working together or not?" Kaz is probably the only one who can hear this maybe one other person puts their ear right up next to the phone.
Rotem doesn't listen in on the phone, he's too busy looking down around the ground for Stuff. A used condom, nope, that isn't Stuff.
Kaz takes the receiver away from her head and stares at it warily. After a moment, she puts it back and says, "Depends on who the heck's askin', f'one."
Bernie leans in about as close over Kaz's shoulder as she thinks she can get away with. Nosy little cub.
Kaz moves slightly so that Bernie can, in fact, listen better.
The computer speaks again after a slight pause--probably for typing. "I value my anonymity. Sorry. If you can't deal with that, then we've nothing further to discuss."
Rotem is rewarded with the top to a can of beer. "Cool." he mumbles, pocketing the cap.
There's a long pause from Kaz. Anyone paying attention to her can see the struggle; information, or secrecy. Finally, she mutters, "Fuck it," and then, louder, says, "Th' fuck. Whatever. What's up?"
Bernie murmurs very softly to Kaz, right by her ear, away from the mouthpiece, best she can, "...if he already knows... maybe we should try to keep the contact?" She stops talking as Kaz has started again.
A longer pause for typing, probably. The computer speaks in it's monotone voice. "I know where the bones are being kept, the security in the building, the names of people working on the project, the location of the bones themselves, and the research that's been conducted so far. I also know the age of the bones and the condition they're in. I've also already bought you some additional time by mixing these items up with others. A free gift."
Kaz stares at the phone booth as if it could tell her more. "Right. OK. I'd love to hobnob about /that/ kinda stuff. I assume since you're talkin' free, then th' rest of this ain't gonna be free?"
Rotem walks over to the two Gnawers. "So whats the guy want? Some super secret mission? Maybe we need to steal a computer chip from a large company and bring it to him for the magic bones. Eh? That would be 'bondy'."
Bernie lifts a hand to her lips, in the international 'shush' gesture, and listens intently.
Rotem shuts up.
A short pause this time, probably because there's less to type. The computer says, "Yes, I expect to be paid in goods, sevices, or information."
Well, this is just barter. "How /much/ of any've those? I ain't into blind trade -- gotten burned too many times."
The computer says over the phone, "Likewise. What do you have to offer?"
Warily, Kaz asks, "What kinda services?" Question with question. It's only to be expected.
The computer drones over the phoneline. "Your kind are good with getting rid of things, and sometimes I have things that need getting rid of. I would prefer items of an unusual nature over services, however."
There's a pause. "Call back later. We'll talk more then. I gotta think about this."
The computer says, "In a few hours." Then the line goes dead.
Bernie steps back slightly, now that the phone conversation's ended, and looks thoughtful. "That's int'restin'. Weird. Really freakin' weird..." She gnaws on her lower lip a little, nodding to Kaz as she takes her leave, and looks back to the other cub. "C'mon. Let's pop back down."
Rotem nods and walks back down. "So, now what?"
Bernie runs a hand through her curls, still pondering the note and phone conversation. "Mmm? Oh. We could work on s'more stuff, 'f y'wan'ed... anything in partic'lar you'd wanna work on?"
Rotem nods softly. "Umbra, definitely umbra."
Bernie nods a little, reclaiming her chair and getting comfy. It's evident part of her mind is staying on this other, new and fascinating matter, but she manages to direct most of her attention to the other cub. "A'ight, t' Umbra. Well, gonna warn you, I'm notta expert or anythin', but what I know, I'll try t' tell ya. Yeah? Y'got any specific questions?"
Rotem says "Yeah, lets go.""
Bernie pauses. "You mean, let's go inta th' Umbra? Us? Here? No. D'you know whyyet, or should I start with that?"
Rotem shakes his head. "Oh yeah. Forgot. Can we go to the caern then? Not in the umbra, I just wanna see the caern."
Bernie shakes her head, actually looking a little regretful. "Th' caern's really beautiful, an' I might even be able t' take you inta th' Umbra, there, 'cause it's a lot a lot safer there -- easier, too. But last I heard, y'hadda stay here, an' if I was Rited, I'd feel okay takin' ya out, but as it is, not without bein' told it's okay 'f I do. A'ight? Sorry 'bout that. But when y'see th' caern, 'specially in th' Umbra..." She pauses, remembering it. "...it makes th' last rule hit home more. Like, y'know it now, but when you see th' other sidea it, y' -really- know. Like, in your bones."
Rotem sighs softly. "Ok." He seems sad now. From her description, this seems to be the first thing so far he would really really be happy to see.
Bernie looks at the other cub a few moments, sympathetically. "We'll ask, a'ight? When there's someone 'round who c'n say, like Elan or Kaz or Yi, y'know? They'll prolly be okay with it, or come with us." She smiles a little, pushing a curl back behind her ear; as always, it pops right back out. "Matt took me there, th' first time I saw it, an' Kaz was there, an' they both showed me how t' get inta th' umbra. An' Kaz asked th' totem spirit of th' pack she was in t' come see us, an' I got t' meet him. They were under Rat, an' th' spirit was this huge rat named Shadow Claws. He was cool, I liked him. An' Matt was nappin', but he woke up an' met Shadow Claws, who was totally startled he wasn't a Gnawer, which was pretty funny. An' Kaz had t' go, so we went for a li'l walk an' saw morea th' area..." She breaks off suddenly, and a brief sadness seems to pass over her before she continues, "..anyway, point is, I went with a cub first time I went, and they were 'kay with that, so maybe you can too."
Rotem smiles. "Can I meet Rat too? Please?"
Rotem looks hopefull. "I wanna meet him. I wanna talk to him. Maybe then I'll really understand our tribe."
Bernie tilts her head, and looks apologetic. "I'd love t' promise you that... I'd love t' meet Mama Rat myself. But I can't. You could ask Kaz, but she's not parta that pack anymore, an' Shadow Claws, he isn't -Rat-, per se. He's like... a bit of Rat. A Ratlet, 'f ya will. Not t' disrespect him or anythin'." She pauses, thinking. "Elan, though, he's still in that pack, plus, he's a Theurge, an' they're all over spirits, so maybe he could help y'out some there?"
Rotem nods softly. "Do you think, maybe, you could come with me when I talk to Elan? I'm kinda." He pauses, "I'm a loose cannon."
"Your words, or quoting?" the other cub asks, not answering the actual question just yet.
Rotem shrugs slightly. "My words. But its how I'm seen."
Bernie nods. "That's true," she replies, "...it's good t' be aware of it." She pulls her legs up, sitting crosslegged on the chair. Her knees sort of hover out in space on either side; the actual seat isn't all that big, really. She would never have been able to fit on it sitting like that when she first arrived. For a few seconds, she gives Rotem that silent, appraising look again. "...yeah," she says, "'long as you behave, an' you're really tryin' with all this, yeah, I'll go with ya. But," she pauses, considering him, "...I don' wanna bring negative shit inta this, but on th' other hand, 's only fair I letcha know this: 'f I support ya, do stuff on your behalf an' all, an' you start misbehavin' again, an' makin' -me- look bad for havin' trusted you t' do th' right shit?" The normally easy-going ragabash regards the ahroun levelly, deadly serious, "I'm not a kickass fighter like Tim, or Baney, or even Yi, yet. But I promise you, I would find a way to make you mis'rably sorry." The statement is very calm. "I don' wanna do that. You're act'ly pretty cool, now that you're takin' it more serious an' puttin' th' work in. But you need t' be awarea that. An' yeah. I'll talk t' Elan with ya. I'll try t' help y' learn th' stuff you wanna an' need t' know. All that shit. We might could be friends after all. 'long as you hold up your enda things, I'll hold up mine." She offers a hand across the table. "Deal?"
Rotem considers for a moment, looking as if his features are frozen, a smile then spreads over his face and he takes her hand, shaking it softly. "Deal. And I'll make sure that I don't let you down, because I'm sure I could kick your ass in a fight." He chuckles softly. "Luckily I don't ever plan on fighting you."
Bernie smiles back slowly too. "Oh yeah, you could probably beat me in a fair fight. Chances are decent in an unfair fight, too, though I might s'prise ya. But like ya said... we'll try not t' find out." She shakes fairly firmly, and retrieves her hand. "We'll talk t' Elan next time he's 'bout; 'f y' see him an' I'm not 'round, an' you don' wanna do it alone, ask him when he'll be 'round 'gain, an' I'll do m'best t' be here for it. Yeah?"
Rotem nods softly. "Yeah. Sounds good to me." He looks Bernie up and down. "And if you ever wanna train a bit, I'll be more then happy to help ya.
Bernie grins, and leans back in her chair. "Yeah, a'ight," she replies, "I'll keep that in mind." She shakes her head a couple times, curls flying about -- that's probably why, actually, freeing them a little. "So, that's settled, then. Anythin' else you wanna go over right now?" She's seated crosslegged in a normal dining room table type chair, knees hovering out in space, across the kitchen table form Rotem. Pizza boxes cover the table itself.
Rotem grins. "Sure. One other thing." he grins. "I was wondering if you would like to play a game." The pizza boxes are relocated to the floor, and a deck of cards produced from his back pocket.
Marcus approaches the stairs, having heard the faint sound of voices drifting up into the otherwise silent church. Calling down, he makes himself known. "Yo, anyone home?"
Rotem calls back up to the unfamiliar voice "No one is home right now. Please leave a message after the beep. BEEEP!"
Bernie shakes her head, still smiling a bit, and unfolds herself, padding over to the stairs, and looking upward. The voice -is- familiar, and she grins widely as she sees the owner there. "Heyyy!" she greets him happily. "Haven' seen you in a while. C'mon in, have some pizza an' all."
Marcus relaxes a little, seeing Bernie. The kin was none too comfortable being alone in the church, uninvited. His grin matches hers. "Hey kid. You're looking good." He makes his way downstairs, hesitating only a fraction when he sees Rotem. "I just thought I'd check in. things are a little crazy streetside. Who's this?"
Rotem rises up, moving towards Marcus. "Hey, I'm Rotem." He motions towards Marcus, looking to Bernie. "What is he?"
Bernie is cut off by Rotem as she's about to introduce him, and shrugs, smiling a bit. "He's a Marcus," she replies, "kin, an' cabbie." She smiles wider at the man, and gestures vaguely toward what seating there is. "Havva seat, 'f y'like... an' thanks, by th' way."
Rotem offers Marcus a slice of pizza "Want?" He asks simply, placing the deck of cards aside on the table.
Marcus accepts the offer of pizza, since he apparently hasn't eaten lunch today. "Hey, thanks. Good meetin'ya," he adds, pulling up a chair. He sits on the opposite side of Bernie from Rotem, as if he could sense the cub was an ahroun and it made him nervous.
Rotem chuckles to himself softly, sitting down with the deck of cards, and moving to sit across from the two. "How about a little wager?" he says, pulling the top three cards from the deck and placing them down on the table, each one folded through the middle slightly.
Bernie gets comfy again, pulling her legs up, and regards Marcus a moment. "Y'wanna drink or anythin'?" she asks, and then looks to the other cub's cards, arching a brow at him slightly.
Rotem flips over the three cards, two eights of clubs, and a queen of hearts in the middle. "You know how to play, Bernie?"
Marcus devours half a slice with one bite, and it leaves him unable to answer Bernie with anything more coherant than a nod. His gestures suggests he's asking if there's any coke, though.
Bernie eyes the cards, and smirks. "I know I'm not bettin' with anyone whose decka cards includes two eightsa clubs," she replies, tapping her fingers lightly on the table, "...an' this ain't England, I don't feel like followin' th' Queen." She actually winks at the ahroun, though -- most of the other Gnawers would probably die of shock at just the sight -- and hops up again, heaidng over to the fridge and pulling it open. "Hey, Marcus? We got Coke, Dr Pepper, some milk jus' past th' expiration date, some piss poor beer, or I gotta Guinness 'f ya want that. Gotta pref?"
Rotem waves his hand at Bernie, collecting his cards. "I'll take the Guinness if he doesn't. I've never really drank before."
"Coke," Marcus calls, wiping his mouth when he's done chewing, "Thanks Bern." He eyes the cards curiously as he snatches up a second piece of pizza, quickly.
Rotem warns Marcus. "You're welcome to eat as much as you like. Unless you're planning to finish off twelve pies in an hour, my record is safe." He chuckles and pats his stumache. "They sometimes call me eats-anything. Since that time I ate the hymnal." He grins. "Or the time I ate the box from the chinese food take out.
Marcus again eyes the ahroun cub warily, but his smile is bemuzed. "I'll keep that in mind, kid," he says.
"Coke is it," Bernie replies, pulling one out, and pauses there, looking over to Rotem, "Yeah? Y'might wanna start with th' crappy stuff. Otherwise y'might develop taste." She grins, fleetingly, and taps the fridge door shut behind her with a boot. The can of Coke finds itself set before the kin, and the girl leans down beside the table a moment, pulling out a bottle. At Rotem's comment, she pauses, and eyes him. "...man, 'least you're gettin' your fiber intake, tha's fer sure... maybe I oughta make ya just have th' cheap stuff, y'c'n be drinks-anythin', too." She wriggles the bottle a little, pondering.
Rotem chuckles. "Come on, gimme the good stuff. If I'm gonna get drunk or buzzed, I wanna do it right." He winks to Bernie. "And you're welcome to get drunk with me. No promises that we don't wake up in bed though."
Marcus pops the top on the coke and takes a drink. The conversation about the guinness keeps him vaguely interested, but he puts most of his concentration into the pizza. He's not gonna eat what Rotem usually eats, but he puts a dent in one of the pies, at least.
Bernie half-smiles, and shakes her head. "You should be so lucky," she replies dryly; for some reason, that kind of comment doesn't seem to make her blush when it's from him. "...an' I don't have 'nough t' get me drunk, anyhow. Stuff's 'spensive." A pause, and almost sheepishly, "...not that I bought it, but still." She eyes the bottle a moment, until the cap bows to her superiority and jumps off. Carefully, she hands it to Rotem. "A'ight," she instructs, "this is th' good stuff, an' this's how it's meant t' be served, room temp'rature, got it? It's not bad cold, but some consider that sacrilege. Sip. Take it slow. A'ight?" With that, she sits again, getting comfortable in the chair. She doens't eat any pizza, or get herself anything to drink.
Rotem sits down in Bernie's lap without so much as a word, bringing to bottle to his lips and taking a short sip. "Mmm, not bad." He says to himself. "Your comfy." He smiles to her.
Bernie looks decidedly startled for a moment, then smiles a bit and shakes her head, giving the other cub a gentle push. "Get off," she orders good-naturedly, "we ain't that friendly yet."
Rotem pouts softly and slips down on to the floor next to her chair, leaning his head back against the side of her leg. "Better?" He asks softly, taking another sip of the drink.
Bernie considers briefly, then nods. "Yeah, tha's a'ight." Her hand lifts to her neck, fingertips slipping along the chain there, and the sleeve of her jacket slips down, revealing the candy necklace wrapped thrice about her wrist as a bracelet. "So what's so crazy out there t'day?" she queries Marcus.
Rotem motions to Bernie's braclet. "Where'd you get that?" he asks softly, taking another sip as he awaits a reply.
Bernie's hand leaves the chain long enough for her to look at the bracelet. She grins, though a bit more softly than usual. "'licia gave it t' me," she replies, "'pologizin' for a fight we had. Nice, huh?" She admires it again a moment, before her hand finds its way back to her necklace. "'s kinda funny, y'know, 'cause I never tried t' 'splain Stuff t' her or anythin', an' she's a coggie an' all. Y'know?"
Rotem shakes his head. "Nah, I don't know. I know Gnawers, a little. Thats it."
Marcus watches the exchange between the two cubs while he finishes eating, the bemused expression turning more fond. When they've settled, he answers Bernie's question. "This whole busines with Bigfoot has every nut along the coast in town."
Bernie huhs at Rotem. "'f y'want, we c'n try an' talk 'bout them in a bit, tribes I mean. No one's really gone over 'em with me, though, so I jus' gotta go by what I hear, an' what I've seen in who I met, y'know?" That specified, she looks to Marcus, and makes a face. "Man. Already? Right, th' damn tabloids... I better get started, I guess." It occurs to her she ought to explain, "...see, I'm in chargea setting shit up t' distract 'em... y'know, Elvis sightin's, UFOs, allat stuff. So, guess I gotta get t' work. They look like gen'ral nuts, not just bigfoot-centric ones?"
"All kinds," Marcus says, rolling his eyes remembering some of the nightmare fares of late. "Hunting freaks, just all kinds. Hey, little sis, if you need help, I got the ride."
Rotem looks to Bernie. "Can I help? I can scrape up a good hoax."
Bernie grins at Marcus, seated in a chair just beside hers, still at the table o' pizza, though most of the boxes are on the floor now. "Yeah? Kickass, thanks, that could help a lot. I gotta r'cruit some people too..." She glances down to Rotem, who's sitting on the ground, sipping at a bottle of Guinness, and leaning against Bernie's leg. "Well, you gotta stay in here, so y'can't help set things up, butcha got ideas, toss 'em out." Her hand is at her neck, fingers running absently along the chain there.
Rotem looks up to Bernie, he takes another sip of his Guinness, and then turns to her. "First thing, is we find Elan. We get him to let me out of here so I can help." He chuckles. "How's /that/ for an idea?"
Marcus pipes up, chuckling a little, "The kid's in quarantine?"
"...Sittin' by the dock of the bay, wastin' time..." Kaz appears to be in a singing mood these days, and she's singing as she heads down the stairs, stopping only when she spots the three. Marcus gets a vaguely astonished look. "The fuck've you been hidin' lately?" Despite the words, she actually seems glad to see the cab driver.
Rotem looks to Kaz with a smile, taking another sip of the beer. "Heya Zee." He lifts the bottle in her direction. "Welcome back."
Bernie's free hand drops down and bats Rotem lightly on the head. "She said not t' call her that, already." A quick grin over to Kaz, "Hiya, Kazamataz. Welcome back." The greeting done, she replies to Marcus, "...yeah, he gotta bad casea pain-in-th'-assitis. 's lookin' like it might be goin' inta remission, though. We c'n only hope."
If he's checking to see if she still gets that odd look on her face, it's there in full force. "Kaz," she mutters, as she heads towards Bernie's chair. Crouching down nearby, she studies Rotem, after giving Bernie a thoughtful look. "Remission, huh?"
Marcus grins at Kaz, amused. "I been around. I thought you all left town, though."
Rotem nods softly and takes another sip of beer. "So Zee is bad, Kazamataz is ok?" He asks, surprised.
Kaz shrugs one shoulder. "Zee, it's Max's thing. It just don't work right, comin' from someone else's mouth." She shoots an amused glance at Marcus. "Just hangin' in different circles, I guess. An' anyway, I been doin' a lot've assimilatin' stuff, so it's no wonder I'm scarce."
Bernie gives Kaz a bit of a one-shouldered shrug, and replies, "Prognosis better'n I feared. Think there jus' might be hope." She stretches a bit, by shifting in her chair, and her hand slips down the chain to close around her key, pulling it back and forth along a bit of the necklace. Fidgety.
Marcus nods to Kaz, understanding. He looks back to Bernie, recognizing the fidgeting, and frowns. "You ok, Berns?"
Rotem finishes off the guinness and places the empty bottle on the floor. "Whew, that was fun."
Kaz's gaze returns to Rotem. Evidently, she respects Bernie's opinion, because she says a quiet, "Huh," and then settles down to a seat, leaning against Bernie's chair.
Rotem gets up, discarding the bottle in the trash and the moving to lay down on the couch and let the women talk in private.
Bernie glances over to Rotem, as he tosses out the bottle. "Glad y'liked it," she remarks, before turning her attention back to Marcus. "...an' yeah, mostly. Yeah. Okay." She's still absently toying with the key, though.
Marcus leans back in his chair, lifting his foot up to rest on one of the crossbars attached to the legs. "I was just telling Bern that there are a lotta nuts running around town, cause of this bigfoot shit."
"Nuts," Kaz manages to mutter. "Yeah, I've met a few of them t'day. Well." She pauses. "Heard from. Who all you run into?"
Marcus shakes his head, knowing Kaz is looking for some specific, useful information. "Mostly just kooks. But there are a few in town that make me wonder. Hunters, mostly. I'd keep my head down. What's the story on that thing, anyway?"
Kaz says, glumly, "I think it's some Wendigo asshole's skeleton. Metis. An' we got the bad luck t'have some moron who knows a good buck when he sees it diggin' it up. Bern's tryin'a deflect attention, at least, from some've it. Though I think she said that already."
Marcus nods, glancing back to Bernie with a smile. "Yeah. I was offering the cab, to help."
Bernie nods a little, letting the others talk. She pulls her knees up, soles of her boots teetering on the edge of the chair, and wraps her free arm about her legs. Marcus gets a smile in return, "..an' thanks 'gain for th' offer, by th' way."
Kaz starts grinning. "Well, rock th' house. Thanks, Marcus."
Marcus shrugs, as if it wasn't much of a thing. "If I can help."
Kaz snaps a finger. "Oh, you want pack type news? Who's doin' what where? I mean, if you're hangin' out more, it might get relevant. Or, well, you also don' gotta have me feedin' you info or nothin'."
Marcus looks eager. "No, no I wanta know. So what's the digs?"
Bernie shifts interestedly herself, leaning her head back a bit as she looks toward Kaz.
Kaz explains, "Well, Ring've Fire, they still got down by the Power Plant an' th' Wharves. Fenrir's Teeth, they's this Get pack with my ol' packmate as Alpha, they're watchin' th' river an' the park some. Banecruncher -- this lupus guy I don' think you've met -- him an' a couple folks is still watchin' out for th' junkyard an' that area. An' me an' Max an' a couple guys I don' think you know, we've got down by the Rialto, over t'Regan, down t'where Ring of Fire's stuff is."
Kaz then adds, "An' Bern's watchin' the Park, too."
Rotem chuckles softly, piping up. "And I'm making sure the basement of the church is safe from the Wyrm."
Marcus darts another glance to Bernie. "Yeah, I caught her at it couple times."
Bernie smiles at Kaz as she's added to the list, and grins as the other cub pipes up. "An' I gotta say, I ain't seen a single tentacled Wyrm monster prowlin' the fridge all mornin'."
Rotem cant resist. "You haven't seen Yi's cooking then!" He exclaims.
"Yeah, normally, I wouldn't say a cub's got territory, but her, she's actually there, more'n some've th' folks that semi-officially claim it, so y'know." Kaz shrugs, and mutters, "Hey, octopus's good."
"Neither've they, or they'd be here tryin' t' steal it," Bernie shoot back to Rotem. "Yi cooks kickass, otherwise it woulda be hella harder t' get her her job back an' all.... an' thank you, Kaz." The girl looks rather honoured.
Kaz tilts a glance over at Bernie, and shrugs, silent.
Rotem puts his legs up on the couch, leaning against it. "Hey, that reminds me. Ears, can Berns take me outta here?"
Kaz shakes her head. "She may be a lotta things, but cliath she ain't. Not yet."
Rotem sighs. "Well, can you take me and her outta here for a walk then?" he asks softly, looking to her. "Please?"
"He wants t' see th' caern," Bernie comments to Kaz, "an' th' umbra. AN' th' caern's a good place t' see th' Umbra, an' it's a full moon, almost. So, 's a thought anyhow." She shrugs slightly.
Marcus gets to his feet, too. "I should prolly book, myself. Went off duty for lunch and never went back. They'll be pissy down at dispatch. I'll stop by after shift, kay, Berns?"
Kaz slides a brief glance from Bernie to Marcus, and grins faintly. "Yeah, Caern. Damn good idea, that. I gotta go patrol, though, so mebbe afterwards?"
Rotem falls asleep on the couch, the beer and his already tired body is no match for the soft cusions.
Bernie nods, "I dunno f'r sure I'll be here, but yeah, thanks..." She pauses, considering, "...maybe I oughta just go by your place, when I know what an' when I gotta do?" Kaz gets a nod, and a "Cool."
"Anybody here?" Nevada's voice roars from the sanctuary above, after the doors bang shut. "I came fa some SALVATION! Where is the light of the Lord!"
Marcus starts to head up the stairs, nodding in answer to both Kaz and Bernie. "I'll be around."
Bernie grins, recognizing the Galliard's voice, and hollers back, "I'm right down here!" Softer, she adds, "Later, Marcus."
Kaz's face lights up. "An' that," she says, jerking a thumb upstairs, "Is one've the folks I'm runnin' with." Lurching to her feet, she yells, "Raaaaght here!" To Marcus, she adds, slightly less ebullient, "Later days."
Marcus, at the boisterous announcement, waits for Nevada to make his way down before he heads up, and he gives the youth a clear once over in his usual way.
Nevada, looking for the rays of sweet Jesus as he is, discovers some guy right there quite unexpectedly. Oh-so-smoothly, he refrains from jumping a mile straight up, or punching, which wouldn't be nice, especially if it really is the Messiah. "Uh, word," he says, eyes narrowing slightly as he passes a look over the basement.
Kaz explains, "This here's Marcus. He's Kin," and starts rummaging vaguely in her pockets.
"Heya, Chiapet!" Bernie calls cheerfully from the chair she's folded up in. "'sup witchu?"
Marcus offers a hand hesitantly, mimicking Nevada's greeting, "Word."
Nevada makes a slight 'oh'. "Hey, Mark," he says, putting her there in a nice polite shake. "I'm Nevada. Nice jacket." He flashes a grin at Ragabash and Galliard, saying,"Yo' Bunny, Kazbo. Dropped in fa'lesson time."
Marcus sips passed Nevada after the greeting and simply heads out. "Catch you later."
Kaz finally finds her Coke. "Rotem there crashed. Kid's got a fascinating sleeping schedule. Not that I'm one to talk, 'course. Anyways, I'm pullin' double shifts, so I gotta get outta here an' patrol Ring've Fire's territory f'a bit. Don't mean t'run when you've just gotten here're nothin', but y'know."
Bernie aws. "Later, then, Kaz... see ya after th' patrol, maybe, yeah? Have fun an' all." Nevada gets an interested look, "...so wha's this 'bout a lesson?"
Kaz mutters, "I miss all the good shit," with a faint grin, and wanders upstairs.
"There, there, Kazbo," Nevada consoles in passing, grinning after her before he turns a look to Bernie. His expression says Fresh Meat. His good humor's still there, but he looks a little springy today, a little antsy, like a dog that somebody's done the fakeout throwing-the-ball-trick too many times to. Throw the ball, already, damn it. The way his chokechain keeps jangling only makes him seem more jumpy. "I," he says,"Am ganna teach you a little 'bout life. How it is f'us. Don't worry, there ain't no angst. Unless you wanna count what my car looks like. C'mon." He waves a hand, follow-me as he turns, heads up the stairs.
Bernie unfolds, leaning down to grab her backpack, zipping it and slinging onto her shoulder as she follows Nevada curiously. She seems a bit antsy as well, though she hid it reasonably well while sitting -- aside from the fidgeting. She continues to absently fiddle with her key as she bounces up the stairs.
"So what's the story on this Marky Mark guy?" Nevada's snorting as he leads up the aisle, an amused look on his face. He holds open the double-doors for her, the almost-there spring air breezing in.
"Marcus?" Bernie asks, preceeding Nevada through the doors, "He's cool. He drives a cab an' shit. Max calls him Go, last I knew they had some kinda thing goin' on, seemed like. But I dunno, that was a while 'go an' all, y'know?"
"My little psycho," Nevada says, sniffing. "All growin' up." He lets the church doors bang shut, thuh-thunking his way down the steps. "F'a second there, dude sprised the shit out me." He leads off to the side of the church, away from its obvious vacinity. There, slouched in an alley, sits Nevada's baby.
The Mystery Machine sends out quiet vibes to all females within a half-mile radius, those vibes saying heyy, baby. So what if it has a more-than-slightly busted bumper, a few nicks, and a pair of garish fuzzy die. It is pimpin for honeys. "Check out my ride," the Galliard says, rolling his eyes. He unlocks the passenger side door, leaning on it slightly as he opens it for her. "So, you guessed where we goin?"
Bernie eyes the car, approving, if not actually impressed. "Cruisin' for chicks?" she suggests, with a bit of a smirk, slipping into the seat and leaning forward to flick the fuzzy dice with a finger. "I see y'got the deeluxe model stylin' dice," she teases, settling back and actually putting on her seatbelt. So if you count the one holding up her pants, now she's got two seatbelts.
Nevada chuckles at that. "Actually, na. I savin' that lesson fa Rotem, sorry. He needs it more'n you do. Don't mean to disappoint, but what can ya do." He shrugs huge, then closes her door. Once he's unlocked and hopped in the other side, he says,"I'm ganna teach you about life, right. The Way Things Work. The Way Things Are." He turns the keys in the ignition. "You gonna learn some things t'day, Bunny, all thanks to Wal Mart." He turns the radio on.
"'s a'ight," Bernie replies, sounding slightly bemused, "apparently I c'n -get- chicks... too bad I don' wan' 'em, huh?" She shrugs slightly, and twists a bit in her seat, to face Nevada better as they talk. "So, Wal-Mart, yeah? Always a cavalcadea fun an' 'citement..." A quick grin, there.
"Don't hurt to try anythin' new," Nevada says, returning the grin before he happens to cough. "Anyway, Wal-Mart. Respect Wal-Mart. Love Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is.. " He gestures with his hands before planting them on the steering wheel. "The Gnawer land of milk, honey, an' synthetic pork sludge in a bucket what tastes good." He mmmh-hhmmms. Then, pulling on his own seat belt, he pilots the Mystery Machine out onto the street.
Bernie grins a little. "I'm new t' bein' 'rou. I'm not new t' Wal-Mart. Not even th' local one. Get shit there periodic'ly, would more 'f it were closer..." She grins, and unzips her backpack, pulling out a photo folder and waving it briefly, "look, proof!" It definitely is from Wal-Mart photo. She sticks it back in the bag and rezips. The radio song is one she happens to know, and she starts humming it, moving up to singing along softly after a bit. She's really not at all bad, if quite quiet.
For a reckless, courageous wild one, Nevada drives as safe as an old lady. Perhaps because if pulled over he would have no drivers license or registration to share. Perhaps because in the light of the law he is not only missing but a felon. Perhaps because Misty won't go over 50 without stalling and dying in a dramatic fart of smoke. During the trip, Nevada delightedly sings along with the radio, song he knows or not, encouraging Bernie to do the same. He seems pleased at this, his own voice angelic and tuneful, except when he hangs his head out the window to shout at the outrageous prick who just popped out of goddamn nowfuckingwhere, that cocksucking syphillitic chimp asshole.
"So, anyways," Nevada is saying now, pleasant again. Pleasant for a ball of rage and fury and blond hair that smells like bananas. "I wonderin' what kine a' Gifts you got down. 'Specifically, if y'got the Persuasion..." He manuevers into a parking space, the wide gray, blue, and white building standing proudly ahead, inviting people of all shapes, ages, sizes. Much like a circus.
Bernie can be persuaded to sing a bit louder, as time goes by, and though she doesn't join in the yelling at assholes, she does seem to watch the actual driving process pretty closely, including quizzical looks at offending cars, figuring out what they did. o/~ You gotta keep your head up through it all... You're gonna bust out on it, original pranksta... o/~ She giggles, breaking off from singing to reply, "Yeah, Yi had me learn it t' try an' talk her ol' boss inta rehirin' her. Worked, too... pretty cool. Also I got th' gift t' open shit, which is jus' hella handy... tha's it, though. Though, Tim said he'd teach me th' blurrin' one, an' Chaser said I could ask her 'bout learning shit too..."
"So that was you huh?" Nevada glances at her with a grin as he shuts off the engine. "All right. Thanks. That Yi. Taught me Persuasion, too. Made me sing wit' it." He shakes his head, then points at the Wal-Mart. "OK doke. That'll make it easier. Lissen up, yo." He leans on the steering wheel, affixing the Ragabash with a conspiratorial look. "People. Most people, they hate their job. Hate it. They don't wanna do it, but they gotta, and they hate that. They're cranky, unfulfilled folk who don't know who they is. Not all people, now. But mostly the kind you see workin in places like this one. They don't care what you do, long as you leave them the hell alone, reasonably, an they get paid." He passes his tongue over his lower lip, saying,"Now it's game plan time. Your mission, Bernie, is to walk out this store wit' the shoppin' list I'm gonna give ya. An you ain't gonna pay for it. An' you ain't gonna get caught. An'.. " He lets a smile show. "You gonna see me putting the act in distraction, Bunny babe."
Bernie slowly grows a wide, wicked grin. "As always, should we be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of our actions... this recording will self-destruct in five seconds..." She shakes her head once, curls bouncing over her shoulder, looking reasonably confident. One might almost think this wasn't completely new territory. "I think I c'n handle that. An' I'm -sure- you c'n be distractin' as all hell. Brimstone, pitchforks, an' all. A'ight. Lead on, Fagin."
"It aine all fun n' games, kiddo," Nevada's saying, his tone lowering. "Just mostly. But ya got to be careful. Numba one rule y'got to remember is: Do not look guilty. Ever. Don' look like ya doin' nothin' wrong, nobody do nothin'. It all about charisma. You got to have these vibes goin on, what just say Hey punk, what are you staring at. An' you got that, Bunny bear, I can feel it, so I think ya do just fine." He drums his fingers lightly on the steering wheel, leaning back. "Now, here's the plan. I know I parked a long-ass way away from the store, that's 'cause you goin' in through the Lawn n Garden section. This weather, people is all over that shit, and it's outdoor too, so nobody ain't gonna notice shit. Plus -- there only one camera, an that's over the door goin' in. As opposed to the main entrance, which got it up the fuckin' wazoo." He taps his chest. "Me, I goin' in through Auto. I'll pass by the main registers an' pick you up some blue bags. After you nab the first item, meet me in the Greeting Card section. I'll hand you the bags, OK? You're gonna need them for the list. You got a good memory, Bernie?"
Bernie listens to that, carefully, and nods. "Yeah, act'ly, for most shit. I'm good like that... so, a'ight, got it so far. Gonna spell it all out t' me now, then, or 'splain more inside?"
Nevada sideglances out the windows, checking out the parking lot before he continues. "It's like this." His explanation seems to require him taking off his shirt. He peels that sucker right off, after tossing his jacket into the backseat. "In the store, y'aint gonna talk to me, or nothin'. Precautions y'know. Only time is, bag exchange in Greeting Card aisle. Y'gonna pick up a cute lil birthday card for a kid. That's numba one. Two, y'gonna get a clown wig, in Toys or somethin' maybe. Three, y'ganna get a small stuffed horse. Four, y'gonna get spray-on body glitter, in Cosmetics. Five, y'gonna get diapers. Six, tin foil, in Groceries. An finally, y'gonna get a thing a cheesy poofs. That's b-day card, wig, horse, glitter, diapers, foil, poofs. Write it down if need to. Make one a'them mnemonic devices if y'ave to. Candy Wasted Her Grunt During First Period. Whateva."
Leaning around the seat, he pulls a hooded sweatshirt from the back. He tugs it over his head, then fumbles around in the unipocket. Sunglasses. Really strange looking sunglasses. Pointy, rhinestoned, outrageous sunglasses. Elvis sunglasses. Nevada bends the mirror to get a look at himself. "Hmm," he says. "All right. You gonna go fast, get this stuff. Remember t'not look like ya stealin it.... 'cause when you got the big stuff, you ain't. You just walkin around with a bag a'diapers, is all. It's the little stuff, yo. Big stuff goes in a cart, little stuff gets hid on ya. Cart will be parked somewhere out in the boonies of the store when we ready to leave.. then you bag stuff up, walk outta Gardens like you just bought 'at shit. Easy like that. An' I know ya thinkin, well if we so fuckin smart, why don't we just act normal the entire time if we baggin' an walkin? Thing is, my Ragabash sista, that I wanta see you shopliftin. See if ya got it. An plus I just like to raise hell in Wal-Mart, is all." The Galliard, funky sunglasses and hooded-up head, grins at her. "Any questions, or you ready?" He opens the door.
The last comment, in particular, raises a grin from the cub. "Birthday card, clown wig, small stuffed horse, spray-on body glitter, diapers, tin foil, an' cheesy poofs... yeah, a'ight, got it. We gonna meet for th' baggin' an' r'moval, or should I oughta do that by m'self when I got everythin', meetcha back out here?" A pause, "...an' by th' way, kickass sunglasses y'got there."
"That's all you, Bernie Baby," Nevada replies. "An' thanks, they was the King's." He touches the shades for good luck, grinning in that bad-puppy way of his. "Let's get this show on the road, hah?" Two fingersnap-gunpoints later, he veers off, heading down the wide lot toward Auto Service.
Bernie slips out of the car, and adjusts her backpack on her shoulder, glancing back to check it out. That'll do. She stretches a little, gives the bottom hem of her jacket a light yank, and heads toward the Garden Center, pushing her curls back behind her shoulders.
Spring has sprung. Almost. Quivering with anticipation, the Garden Center nearly overflows with people. Like so many lemmings, they move among the rows of flowers and plants and birdbaths. Children dart, carts bump, and lawn gnomes watch this all with small perverted eyes. The smell of pine mulch is in the air, changing into a scent decidedly less fresh as the actual store is entered. The indoor Garden area isn't as crowded as outside, people looking over lawn chairs and fertilizer.
Bernie pauses in the outer area, picking up a potted pansy, smiling at it, and setting it back down with a thoughtful glance. Seeming to decide against the purchase, she continues on inside, threading her way through the other customers. And gnomes. A cart sits apparently abandoned in one of the nearby aisles -- whether said abandonment was intended to be or not, it becomes permanent as the cub heads confidently toward it and claims the thing, setting her backpack in the kid seat and pushing the cart casually over a couple more aisles before removing a couple of the random items that had been left in it. There. A quick scan of her surroundings, to spot the greeting card section, and she strolls toward it, gaining another couple random items as she walks.
Wal-Mart isn't Wal-Mart without the people. It'd be a circus with no clowns or elephant poop. It'd be a talk show without inbreds or dwarf strippers. It'd just be strange. While the rest of the store is teeming with human life, the Greeting Card section appears a little... sparse. It's a long shiny hallway of cards of all colors, and there's a curious sound from the other aisle over. A whacking noise. Some squeaking shoe noise. And above it, Nevada's voice singing Duel of the Fates. He comes into view, backstepping gracefully, avoiding the gift wrapper tube swing of the bravest little kid in this entire damn place. The next lunge, however, Nevada fails to dodge, and his own wrapper tube tumbles out of his hands as he dies messily on the floor. Lying there, tongue lolling out, and with that getup, he looks like a bizarre, younger version of the Unabomber. This isn't lost on the little redheaded boy's mother, who scowls evilly as she herds him away, warning him about strangers.
The ragabash wanders the intervening aisles, and has just arrived in the card section and started looking over the first couple of cards when the battle royale spills into the area, complete with dramatic death scene and worried parent. As might be expected of many people confronted with this sight, she grins, laughing a little, and watches the proceedings, cards seemingly forgotten for a moment as she leans gently sideways against her cart, elbow on the handle, arms lightly crossed around her waist. She must have the pressure right, as the cart fails to squirt out from under her like a peeled grape.
Miraculously, Nevada resurrects. He boings up to his feet, readjusting his sunglasses before he heads out of the aisle. From his hooded sweatshirt pocket, he pulls out a balled-up wad of blue plastic bags. These he tosses to Bernie in passing, and he might just be winking as he goes. Hard to tell with the shades. As he disappears further out into the scrubby savannah of clothes racks, he starts to affect a drunken wobble.
Bernie unwraps the card-holding hand from her waist just fast enough to snag the ball out of the air, and direct it into one of the capacious pockets of her jeans. With the weight she's lost since arriving in town, there's even more room there than there used to be, and it would scarely have left a bulge then. Now, there seems to be no sign of where precisely she tucked them, though that may change if the bags uncrumple. She regards the cards in her hands, shakes her head, and puts them back, looking at four more before apparently hitting on one that will do. That one drops into the kid seat of the cart, beside her backpack, and she turns to head toward the toy department.
There's been a two-cart pile-up at the edge of the Pokemon aisle. Two weary moms on their last nerve are attempting to clean up the disaster, scooping up their Squirtles and Vulpix, while their offspring bounce around squealing at approximately 1000 decibels. In the dolls aisle, Ballet Barbie swoops overhead, tossed by two pint-sized ruffians. The monkey in the middle is an irate little damsel in distress. She and her two missing front teeth demand imperiously,"Give it BACK!"
As Bernie passes the doll aisle, the further ruffian, showing off for his friend, misjudges a throw, sending it over said buddy's head and straight toward the ragabash. She takes a slight step sideways and catches it, the little girl's eyes widening as she runs over to try and claim it from this larger person. The cub hands it to the little girl, remarking, "Say 'please'," but without waiting for her to do so. The other two, she flashes a slightly feral grin, "...an' play nice." That said, she continues to the next aisle, where dress-up clothes and costumes reside.
The little girl makes sure Bernie doesn't leave that aisle without a big hug on the leg from her and Barbie, who is having a bit of hair trouble at this point. The next aisle over, shelves wear a vast array of princess gowns, fairy wings, sparkly dresses, and judging from the witch costumes, some tame left-overs from last Halloween.
From afar, above the din of children, there's a curious noise. One that sounds a lot like a bicycle horn.
Bernie looks up toward the ceiling, tilting her head a bit as she attempts to identify the sound. Hmm. Keeping part of an ear on it, she looks through the various costumes. Ooh, fairy wings, cool... angel wings! Even cooler. A set of those end up in the main part of the cart, as she looks through the other options. Ah, look. Wigs. She picks up several, looking them over, and seems to decide on a long, flowing white one, which joins the wings in the cart. Leaning over, she replaces first the few she was holding in one hand, then the ones she had in the other hand, and straightens. Work here done, she turns the cart, heading to the stuffed animals.
"Excuse me, sir, but you have to pay for that here," a Wal-Martian is saying, clearing his throat, trying to make his nasal voice more imposing. The customer, easily a whole head higher than him, stares back.
"What you say -- " Chilly pauses to snort at the nametage "-- Eddie?"
Eddie adjusts his glasses, replies: "You have to pay for that CD here. I have to take the anti-theft strip off."
Chilly exchanges a glance with his bros, then squints his eyes back at Eddie, pimply-ass stick whiteboy behind the counter of Electronics. "Anti-theft," Chilly says. "You imply I trinda still dis, or some shit?"
Eddie replies,"I have to take the anti-theft strip off. You have to pay for it here."
"You din't answer my question. Am I trinda steal dis?"
"Well -- "
"Well, what?" Chilly and his cool-as-ice mirror shades fix on the Wal-Martian. "Do I look like the type 'at jus go round stealin shit?"
Eddie says,"Well, no, but you pay for this here. I take the anti-theft strip off. It has nothing to do with you."
"Oh? Den why you stop me f'it, yo?"
"Look," Eddie snaps,"You pay for it here because of the strip which prevents crazy-ass people from stealing crap because they feel like it, you got that, /homey/?"
There's a chorus of "ooohs" from Chilly's friends, snickering to one another, until Chilly fires back with his own witty rejoinder. "Dat so, huh, you lit -- " Chilly pauses. "Uh." Out of the corner of his eye, he witnesses a bright red tricycle shooting through Lingerie, a small parade of Wal-Martians huffing and puffing after. Chilly can't help but think that that sumbitch is pretty familiar, but with a few loud bike horn *huh-hONKs*, the spectacle is gone.
At least, until the outraged shrieks from that fitting room start.
What with confrontational hoodlums and mad high-speed bicycle chases, relatively innocent-looking girls attract little notice, even when they start snickering a little at the goings-on. Bernie recovers from her giggles quickly, looking through the myriad stuffed animals. Most are mid-sized to large, unacceptable. Here, though... ah. The mid-aisle basket of Beanie Babies. She sorts through them, setting a couple into the cart. A cat, a parrot... an octopus... She drops the rest of her dual-handful back into the wire receptable, one hand moving to rest casually in her jacket pocket while she pushes the cart toward cosmetics with the other, peering with interest toward the various distractions she passes on the way.
A few honkhoNkHONKs and a loud deserving slap later, that section of Wal-Mart goes calm again. Calm for Wal-Mart. Cosmetics is particularly peopled at this time, young girls browsing the aisles of lipstick and special shampoo. Some women are making use of the perfume testers, others are trying to find the correct shade of foundation. One girl seems particularly interested in the temporary tattoos, shelfed right next to hair mascara and body glitter.
Bernie gets a couple looks from one of the snottier looking teenage girls there, whose absolutely up to the latest second outfit contrasts seriously with the ragabash's nothing-to-see-here thrift store ensemble and makes one surprised she's willing to slum in Wal-Mart at all, rather than insisting on Chanel cosmetics. Then again, judging by the amount she's wearing, maybe it's just too darn expensive to replace it as often as she must need to. No one else seems to register the cub, though, and she regards the wall of Cover Girl eyeshadow thoughtfully before picking out a nice palette of browns. This goes into the kid seat beside her backpack, as do a couple lipsticks and an eyeliner. She passes the tattoo girl and looks over the various glitters and hair mascaras. After a moment, a couple colours of spray glitter sit in the basket among the other cosmetics, and she starts looking through the hair mascaras. Blue, yeah... ooh, and green? No... dark purple. Yes. That done, she leans across the front of her cart, jacket draping across it, and reaches into the tattoos with one hand, picking out a red rose. "Hey," she asks the girl beside her softly, "whatcha thinka this one? Too cliche?"
[...alas, the end.]