Red brick buildings rise, some of them crumbling from disrepair and disuse, others patched together by repairs. Graffiti covers some of the walls near street level, some rude, most crude, but the occasional drawing is meant for a lighter-hearted reaction. The graffiti becomes a colorful, almost gaudy mural at the western end of the district, an announcement of the Regan Hope Project's presence. Trash litters the majority of the gutters, from Harbor Park in the east across to just before the Regan Hope Project's domain, where the trash is less prevalent and the buildings less run-down. Small shops with apartments in the floors above them span a block here and corners there: delis, second-hand clothes, textiles, small restaurants, a grocery store. Sandwiched between the buildings are weed-choked empty lots.
The walls are bare cement block and red brick on three sides. The fourth is covered in plywood painted black and covered in a variety of supposedly decorative distractions. Even with them, the basement apartment is not much to look at. It is, however, extremely functional. Despite the plumbing overhead, and the central duct grates, the space is surprisingly cozy. The Current Occupant has furnished it with a beat up leather couch, in black, a few throw rugs, and a recliner. There's no television, but a decent stereo sits erected on a cinderblock shelf, four speakers mounted around the corners of the apartment. The kitchen is small and does not appear all that well stocked. A good portion of the room is dedicated to a makeshift home gym. Free weights, a mat, and other such equipment mark it off, culminating in a suspended, full weight boxing bag.
Anneka draws her eyes away from the mural and looks out at the sidewalk. She doesn't see the dog at first, just some fellow in a suit, kicking at something and swearing, but she trops that way regardless, her smile fading when she sees the familiar yellow canine at first, then picking up again when he-- doesn't look like he's hurt at all. She brushes damp hair out of her eyes, grins. "Hey-- Lookin' for pizza?" Her voice is quiet, and she's far off still, but not so far that a dog couldn't hear.
As Kaz gets nearer to Garcia's, she notices both packmate and cub, and starts grinning, just slightly. She's still far enough away not to be noticed by those not looking for her, though.
The dog finishes his little activity with a certain dramatic flourish. If dogs were literate, you'd think the mutt could write his name. His attention flickers to Anneka, recognizing first the sound of her voice, her body second. She looks a little better off than before. He lets his tongue loll out, his tail starting to wag. A raindrop falls squarely on one eye, and the resulting blink is almost like a wink.
Bernie comes into view from the West, wandering down the sidewalk in a way that gains some somewhat odd looks from a few random passersby. It's not that she looks so unusual, or that she's doing cartwheels, dancing, singing, or anything so attention-grabbing, it's just that she seems intent on something a few feet in front of her, where they see nothing; not only that, but there's the definite impression that she's following it curiously. She ignores the rain, drops glistening on her curls, and deftly slips past those people in her way. The other garou oughtn't find the sight as odd, as what she's following is evident if slightly shimmery in and out in the air -- a small rat spirit, whiskers twitching, scurrying along, high-pitched squeak repeating, *Come come come come come!*
Anneka does look a bit better-- Someone even took care of her jeans, though the frayed edges and the small hole on one knee would suggest that this was not by giving them a proper burial. She scrunches down, tilts her head a little as she looks at the dog. "Y'look okay, huh?" She grins. "Hungry?" Better enough, though a few days rest would do her good.
Vicki pulls out and umbrella to shield herself from the light rain, as she heads toward her car. Bernie moves past her, and Vicki gets out of the preoccupied Gnawer's way.
Kaz's forehead wrinkles, and she starts glancing at nothing in particular. Finally, her gaze rests on Bernie, and she suddenly grins even wider. Shaking her head, she calls, "Yo, Bern," and heads over that way, asking her something quietly once she gets closer to her.
From afar, Kaz mutters, "The fuck, this thing kinda just land on you?"
The dog seems to grin back, in that puppy way. He makes a big show of licking her hands.
Anneka laughs, thin wrists showing where the sleeves of her sweater have been pushed back. She ruffles the yellow dog's ears hard enough that his chain jingles. "I bet!" She shrugs her satchel off her shoulder, and starts rummaging about inside. The yellow dog, for what it's worth, catches a glimpse of a big old flashlight, some clothes-- and a piece of pizza wrapped in foil, which the girl unwraps. She gets a solemn look to her face as she tears it in half, and gives part to the yellow dog. "There!"
Bernie grins, nodding to Kaz, though her eyes flick only fleetingly over to the metis as she walks. She replies something softly as she walks, still following the rather hyper spirit. *Come come come come COME!!!* it insists, scurrying faster as it nears its goal. As Bernie and Kaz get about twenty-five feet from the girl and dog, the spirit puts on a burst of speed and leaps into the air, diving into the cub and disappearing. Bernie looks at Kaz, and arches a brow slightly, murmuring something else.
Long distance to Kaz: Bernie murmurs, "Yup. Suddenly appeared in th' Dec'dence an' started insistin' I follow it...." As the spirit makes the leap, she asks, "...new cub, right?"
Kaz follows the 'fetch, her eyebrows raising incredulously. "Jesus," she mutters, and nods at Bernie. Muttering something else, she just shakes her head.
From afar, Kaz says, "Certainly is. And guess what? She needs crash space. I just talked t'her yesterday or day before. Think maybe we can have the easiest cubnapping in creation again?"
The dog goes from near maniacal tail-waggin excitement to something like guilt. The guilt of a pooch who was getting in the trash can. He reluctantly accepts the pizza, making sure to press his cold nose into her hand. Starting to eat, he pauses mid-bite, his eyes crossing as something blurs past his sniffer and into? the girl. The pizza crust sticks out of his mouth like a dumbfounded cigar. Did he just see that?
Lucca, astride the dread Lucca-Scooter, makes her way towards the pizza parlor; unless people are within that immediate area, she'd likely go unnoticed.
Bernie laughs, and nods to Kaz, replying quietly again. Her demeanor changes slightly, hands going into her jacket pockets, as she's not following anymore, as such.
Long distance to Kaz: Bernie replies, "Tha'd be nice. Signe's, like with me? Or th' church? I'd off th' Dec'dence for now, 'least, 'cept y'can't lock anyone in. Maybe should talk t' Matt 'bout considerin' that..."
Kaz shakes her head, as she heads over toward her packmate, slowly, talking quietly to Bernie as she goes. Anneka gets a 'hey, don't I know you?' look, once she gets close enough.
From afar, Kaz shakes her head. "Dun wanna do the Church. Kinda, um, bad influences, so to speak. I think Signe's'll work fine, yeah. I'm figurin' the Decadence oughta stay, y'know, mostly non furry."
The girl pauses, hands stilling. For a moment, perhaps, she gets a little pale, then she shivers and shakes herself. "Ugh. Maybe it is gettin' cold." She looks down at the dog and the pizza crust and starts to giggle faintly, regardless. "I've got more pizza back at th'shelter, but Kaz gave it to me, soooo-- I should eat it. She was kinda--" Anneka blinks as she catches sight of Kaz. "Oh! Hey! He didn't take the pizza!"
Anneka turns about in a way that would conveniently hide the dog behind the umbrella. Especially a dog with a pizza crust sticking out of his mouth.
Lucca walks into the pizza parlor.
Bernie nods a bit and makes one last comment to Kaz before they get too close to politely do that, flashing the girl a friendly grin.
Long distance to Kaz: Bernie nods. "Signe's sounds best, yeah. An' I suggested th' Dec'dence 'cause 'riginally, Matt was plannin' t' have cubs there sometimes, so I still oughta ask him 'bout th' locks an' all..."
Kaz shrugs, stuffing her hands in her pockets. "Sometimes, he don't eat alla shit. Heya. You doin' ok?"
Anneka stands, though her brow furrows faintly as she shivers again. Her sweater's pretty bulky though, so maybe no one noticed. She grins. "You were right 'bout th'shelter. They didn' ask."
Yi follows along from a distance. Something earlier just panged her to get out of lazing away at the church, and what do you know, she sees Bernie and Kaz. Or thinks that's them. In any case, she tails after them until reaching a good calling distance and greets loudly, "Yo!"
Not quite the observant one, the dog pokes his head around Anneka's leg. His expression is suspicious, despite the slight touch of silliness from the pizza crust sticking out from his mouth. Ears, he postures. There's something funny with this kid. I just saw something blurry. He adds, I only had one beer.
Bernie glances over at the yell and grins wider, pulling a hand from her pocket to wave to the Canto-Gnawer. "Yo, Yi!" she replies cheerfully, "'sup?" She gestures for the other Ragabash to join them. Glancing down at the dog, she giggles.
Kaz crouches down to give the dog a scritch, and mutters something affectionate under her breath to him. "Yeah," she says, grinning up at Anneka, "They got some good folks there. But I gotta better place -- if you want."
The girl looks just a bit distracted-- The yella dog isn't staying behind the umbrella, or eating the pizza crust, and there are new folks about. So, it takes her a little while to answer. "I was wonderin' if there was any water here. I guess it's kinda too far in, but there's no place to swim at th'shelter. I-- Oh. Sure! Better?" She brushes a lock of hair away from her nose.
The dog looks uncertain, big dumb poochy eyes trying to gauge the situation. Everybody's smiling and giggling and acting happy. And calm. The pizza crust drops. Eeaaaars, the mutt says, I'm not standing next to a gigantifuckin Wyrm destroyer in disguise, am I? Damn it, I knew this was too good to be -- oh. Clued, the dog looks at the girl in a new light. A new light than the light before, which wasn't a very good light. Man, the dog postures half-heartedly, and she's kinda cute too, in this American Tail kinda way.
Kaz keeps scruffling her packmate, trying to repress the grin rising on her face again. "Yeah. 's a friend of mine's place, she's let me crash there for, like, weeks at a time, sometimes. It ain't got no /swimming pool/, but actually, there's one kinda nearby."
Yi trots over, waving to Kaz and Bernie, catching the last of Nevada's posturing. "Hey," she stoops to the dog and fuzzles him between the ears before looking up at Anneka. "And hello there," she grins. Really, she's clueless. "S'up?" The question is sort of odd sounding, what mixed with a Canto-British-imitation-ghetto accent.
"There's th' river," Bernie remarks, "but I wouldn' swim in it, really. Hi." She smiles at the cub, and glances to Kaz, "Hey, no one told me there was a pool 'round. No fair. Not that, like, winter's a great time for it, but..." She still sounds perfectly cheery.
Rina stalks into sight, heading for Garcia's. The group of Gnawers earns a guarded look, and she pauses a moment. "Yo, Kaz," she calls out. "Wassup?"
Anneka rocks back on her heels a little, grins. "Pool's 'kay, kinda. But-- it's a pool." She shrugs. "I saw a river, I think, on the way here. That's kinda cool." She grins at Bernie and Yi as well. "Hi-- I'm Anneka." She's standing, and doing a poor job of hiding the dog.
Kaz jerks her thumb at Bernie. "This here's Bernie. She crashed there for awhile. Bern, this's Anneka." Kaz actually pronounces it credibly. Then she brightens. "Yi! Hey, yo, how's stuff?" There's a brief pause while she registers Rina's presence, and then she's grinning. "Scuse me," she mutters, and rises to pass by Yi while heading for Rina, briefly.
Nudging his muzzle against Anneka's leg, the dog voices a quiet, distressed whimper. He's suitably wet, though it didn't bother him much earlier. All these people and all this rain are conspiring to humble the outgoing pooch.
Anneka probably heard Bernie though, regardless. Her smile falters a bit, and she looks over at her. "It's bad to swim in?" Her smile sort of sticks around, but the edge has been taken from it. She ruffles the dog's ears.
Rina gives Kaz a curt nod. "Call me, if y'need anything?" She glances over to Bernie, flashing the girl a warm smile. "Hey, gorgeous." The dark eyes return to Kaz.
Yi nods slowly, her own hair dripping slightly, she pets the wet dog despite it all. "I wouldn't recommend swimming in the river, no." Another scritch to Nevada. "So why not we get out of this rain? It's getting a bit cold, and our poor guy, whimpering away." She chuckles and scratches Nevada's head. "Don't worry, it doesn't make you look any less cute."
Kaz says, "You betcha," to Rina, and she seems to mean it. Drifting back Nevada-wards, she crouches down again. "Well, y'know, she gotta point. Wanna come check it out?"
Anneka, holding on to one conversational thread at least, perks up. "The place you were mentionin'?"
"Hey, Ann'ka," Bernie greets the girl after the introduction, offering a hand, "...an', well, sadly a crystal mountain stream it's not, yeah." She sounds apologetic about it. "Kaz's right 'bout th' place, though; beats th' shelters a lot..." She trails off as Rina greets her, and blushes. "Um, hey, Rina. Niceta seeya," she returns the greeting, and then takes Yi's suggestion as a nice handy distraction, "...yeah. 's not wet enough t' swim out here, so we might 's well go in..."
The poor mutt lets his tongue hang, panting lightly. Getting all rained on and with no opposable thumbs for an umbrella, the choke-chained pooch tries to be brave, the little trooper he is.
Rina lifts a hand to Kaz and Yi and Bernie, and then goes into Garcia's.
Vicki has reached her car by now and drives off.
Kaz looks up, and agrees, "Yep, th' place I was mentionin'."
Anneka holds her umbrella out over the poor, soggy mutt. She grins. "'kay."
Yi gives the Axe a warm hug and stands up, dampened on front, back and all sides. "Wouldn't mind if I tag along? Place out of the rain is always a good thing."
Kaz mutters, "I think that'd be a Fine Thing, Yi," and stands up.
[Brownstone Apartment (as played by the Rialto)]
Kaz has her hands stuffed in her pockets as she heads for the Brownstone, going on about how the river is fairly polluted and therefore not the best place to swim. "Not that that's stopped me, a couple times." She clatters down the stairs to the basement and unlocks the surprising number of locks on Signe's door. Yes, she has a keyset, even. She lets Nevada in first, and then heads in herself, tossing her jacket on the sofa, her posture relaxing somewhat. Evidently, she feels /quite/ at home here. "C'mon in, take a load off, relax, shit like that," she tells Anneka. "Wanna drink or somethin'?"
Yi waits for Kaz to open up the door, finding rear guard the best spot for now. Once everyone moves on inside, she nods to Kaz locking up and catches the metis' eyes to let her know if there's anything needed, she's here. Wow, so much in a gaze.
Anneka's smile has faded, gone by the time the group arrives, her head even lowering a bit. "Oh. Guess not, then. 'stoo cold, anyway." She perks up a bit when inside, though, smiles again, and nods. "Pibb?" A pause, then. "I was goin' to California, 'fore I got here." She looks about, eyes resting on the weight set for a moment before drifting off.
The miserable pooch snorts once at Yi, looking anxious, darting into the warm shelter of the apartment. He's picked up the pizza crust again, chewing on it, tail wagging. He's happy to be inside, by the looks of things. Right before he shakes his coat out all over the place, the dog postures a single idea to his roommate and sister: Cub.
Bernie steps in just before Yi, and wanders over toward the couch, slipping out of her backpack and wet jacket before dropping into a seat in the corner of said sofa. She glances around, and grins. "...haven' seen this place in a while, jus' re'lised..." She blinks once and bounces back up from her seat, walking down the hall a moment, disappearing. There's what sounds like laughter... well, snickering, really... and then she wanders back out, still grinning, and reclaims her seat.
Kaz says, dubiously, "Pibb?" but checks the fridge. "All she's got is Coke. Want some?" Returning with a few, she offers one to Bernie, and then regards Anneka with an even gaze. "OK. I got a question or two that's gonna sound kinda weird." Both Bernie and Yi have seen this approach before; it's Kaz the battering ram, metaphorically.
Bernie accepts the Coke, with an unobtrusive, "thanks..." and sets it on the arm of the couch a moment as she watches Kaz proceed. Not opening it just yet...
"But-- I got lost." The girl furrows her brow, frowns, but there's no real anger to it. "And th' bus didn' stop, 'cept in this real little place, but there wasn't anythin' there but--" Anneka blinks and nods. "Coke's okay." Then she tilts her head. "What kinda questions?" There's a certain tense energy in her back and legs, and she hasn't sit down quite yet.
The yella mutt's fluffed up a bit from his shaking. He's mostly a sand color, except for the streaks of blacks and browns that suggest he'd been rolling on an ink blot test. He brushes reassuringly up against Anneka as he passes, trotting toward the door. He flops down in front of it, legs stretching out, head on his paws. It's just like a dog to want to come inside so badly, only to want to go out again.
Kaz hands a Coke over, and perches on the arm of the sofa, so she can relax yet also watch the cub. "Siddown," she suggests gently, though it's by no means an order. "Mostly, I'm just wonderin' -- you been feeling angry lately, for no good reason? Edgy? Restless? Been havin' weird dreams of turning into a wolf? Been having these urges /to/ turn into a wolf?" She doesn't seem to even notice just how weird these questions are.
Yi stoops down beside Nevada, resuming her run of fingers scritchingly through his damp fur. Her eyes watch the newcomer for reaction, but don't give any hint to the weirdness of the questions asked either.
Bernie acts as if they're utterly normal questions as well, and picks up the can of Coke again, idly passing it back and forth between her hands as she waits for the cub.
Anneka's smile sticks to her face, but it doesn't really reach her eyes anymore. She sits down, on the edge of the couch, nearer to the door, glances at Bernie and Yi without turning her head. "Um-- " Her left hand, the one holding on to her satchel's straps, is gripped tight enough to show white knuckles against pale skin. "Kinda-- I fell, in the bus station, and I got mad, and--" She shrugs. "They all started walkin' away. Ev'ryone." She has the look of someone who isn't sure why she said that, really.
Kaz says, "Right. Y'wanna know /why/ you're so pissy? Y'wanna know why you're thinkin' of wolves, wantin' to be one?" Kaz pops her Coke can open. "It's 'cause your instincts are talkin' to you. You're getting near to being able to turn into one. A werewolf. What we call a Garou." That news given, she takes a sip of Coke. Watching the cub carefully, she goes on, "And before you stare at me an tell me I'm crazy, can I have my able assistant Bernie here give you a little demonstration?" She glances at Bernie, a small, almost nostalgic grin rising, mostly in her eyes.
The dog leans into Yi, comfortably, watching Kaz the magician prepare to pull some Crinos out of a hat. He sighs slightly, a big ole doggy sigh.
Anneka just stares at Kaz. "Um..."
Bernie grins back at Kaz, and sets the can down beside the couch, standing up in the same motion, and giving a flamboyant bow. "The famous lady-into-wolf trick," she announces like a magician, gestures with her arms, and... begins to change. It happens fairly quickly, smoothly, as her body expands, growing upward, bigger, hairier, and then down again, until there's one fewer women in the room, and one more canid....
Kaz's grin fades; she just watches Anneka intently.
Anneka has gone for the door fast enough that her satchel's still on the couch. Had she been holding onto her can of Coke, perhaps that would have lingered in the air for a moment before tumbling to the floor. She's pretty quick, for such a skinny thing. Yi and the mutt, near the door can see that she's got more determination than fear in her eyes, though there's lots of the latter as well.
Kaz mutters, "Aw, hell," but lets Yi and Nevada deal with attempted fleeage physically. "Hold it, kid," Kaz says, quietly, to someone undoubtedly not actually listening. "We're not gonna hurt you. We're just your... new family, basically. Th' ones who're gonna teach you who you /really/ are. Th' ones who're gonna open up a whole new fuckin' world."
Yi reaches out and grabs the girl in a flash, the satchel squished between them.. "Whoa whoa hold on, calm down now." Her voice is smooth, slipping in some persuasive technique taught to her by the mentors and some extra training via our yellow galliard. "Shhh.. it's ok. She's not going to bite."
Anneka gets her breath knocked out of her when Yi grabs her, but she squirms anyway, then grows still. She looks back at Bernie and Kaz, hair tossed about in a tangled mane. "W-weird."
The dog sits up, ears splaying back. He is a vision of quiet friendliness.
There's a chuffing noise from the newest lupe, suspiciously like laughter, and she watches the cub's attempted flight. At Yi's words, she puts on the whole big friendly doggy persona, thumping down seated and wagging her tail enthusiastically, grinning, tongue hanging slightly out. A quick look to the cub's abandoned Coke, though, spilling on the floor. Signe will be thrilled... she decides it can be cleaned up later and sticks to being reassuringly Good Dog for now.
The yella mutt starts to wag his tail.
Kaz continues to let Yi deal wtih the physical aspects. Hopping off the couch, she explains, leaning against the back of it, "We're all of us here Garou. We're here to... Well, teach you what you needa know. You wanna listen, or're you still freakin'?"
Kaz sounds remarkably sympathetic, despite her words.
Yi slowly releases her firm grip, keeping herself between new cub and locked door. "Have a seat back on the couch. And welcome to the family, Anneka."
Yi, and the dog, and probably most everyone else can hear her heart thumping away, but her feet are planted firmly on the floor. She's panting, but it doesn't look like she's going anywhere, even if her muscles are all drawn taut. "I'm l-listenin'." She's looking at Bernie, brow furrowing. "I was goin' to C-california."
Kaz says, gently, "Not anymore. You're here, for the forseeable future. Because if you change without knowing how to control it, you'll be fucked up pretty good, and I don' want that to happen to you. OK? We got reasons for this."
Anneka says, "I didn' have any dreamin' about wolves," abruptly, with the expression of someone who is thinking that this might exempt her from this very peculiar moment. Then she takes a deep breath. "But I am gettin' mad, and-- and--" Something else she doesn't have words for.
Think she's goin in the red, the wolf-dog remarks, watching the girl. She smells like some grade-a scared n angry. Battle stations, yo.
Kaz says, "Check," to something someone other than Anneka said, and then adds, watching Anneka still, "You're angry, and frustrated, and you just wanna let it all /out/. You're freaked, you're worried, you're feelin' cornered, you're feelin' shit you don't understand, and you just wanna /let go/. You just wanna /change/. An' you wanna do it /now/."
Reads-In-Dark cocks her head, watching the cub. There's a certain tenseness, almost expectant, as she regards her.
Anneka stares at Bernie. She hasn't looked much of anywhere else, really. "I can do that?" she says, voice quiet. "Now?"
Kaz says, "Well. Sometimes, you can right away, and sometimes, you can't. Sometimes, it's lots easier to change for the first time nearer the full, since we get pissier then... But if you wanna try, I got ideas..."
Yi gazes over at Kaz, then down to the two lupine. "Now's a good a time as any, if you want. Just imagine yourself as you would when you're young, maybe playing with a dog. As a dog. Bark, growl, sniff around." Yi pauses, finding that she never really did that as a kid, who would? "Ok maybe not. But it's a start."
Kaz adds, "Or we can just give you an explanation of why the fuck we're all here, on a, y'know, cosmic level."
Anneka stumbles a bit as much of the tension goes out of her limbs. She turns around, looks at Yi, and starts giggling. "Oh." She reaches up, tangles her fingers in her hair. "I usu'ly thought 'bout bein a dolphin, or a shark, or somethin'." The thought catches her a bit off guard, and she starts giggling even more. "Rar! Like-- Hey, wait a--" She looks down at a yellow mutt with a certain suspicion.
Reads-In-Dark's mouth opens into a grin again. Or we could have Ethan come in and be an asshole again. Worked for me...
Kaz grins. "That there's Nevada. He's m'packmate. He's a good guy, all in all -- he's the one suggested Regan Hope t'me, on Friday."
Elan knocks at the door, the Seekrit Gnawer Rap.
The mutt cants his head to the side, a paw lifting to press against his muzzle. Like a melodramatic soap actor. His shame doesn't last too long, his ears perking at the sound of the knock.
Kaz grunts. "Christ, it's turning into Grand Central again," and heads around everyone currently in front of the door to let whoever it is in. "Yo," she greets Elan, "C'mon in, we got a newbie ready t'run, here." She locks the door after him again quickly.
Yi likewise moves out of the way to let Big Dog get in. "Say hello, Nevada," she grins at the yellow dog.
Elan walks on in, hands in his pockets. "Heard some yips on the Chain; figured it had Nevada's tang to it. Wassup?"
Anneka laughs, ruffles Nevada's ears. She doesn't look inclined to run, though she does glance at Elan and the door.
Reads-In-Dark barks once quietly in greeting, tail thumping against the floor. Hey, how come no one's scritching =me=? I'm cute too! She makes puppy-eyes at the room in general. Effectively, given the form.
The mutt sniffs busily at Elan's shoes a moment, tail wagging in greeting. He then licks at Anneka's hands, and despite the happenings, it's ol' yeller here that looks like the most sane among these crazy gah-row people.
Elan turns and looks at Anneka, the youth giving her a smile after glancing at Kaz and the others.
Kaz tells Elan, "This here's Anneka. She's new. We ain't told her much of anything, other than that we exist. Anneka, this here's Elan. He's kinda the boss around here."
Anneka blinks at Elan, twice, then straightens up and sticks her hand out. "Hi, I'm Anneka. I'm verrry confused." Maybe her big green eyes have more of a yellow edge to them, but only maybe. She's not trying to run anymore.
Elan flashes the girl a smile that is, hopefully, reassuring. "It'll get worse before it gets better." He looks to Kaz. "We know what moon she is, yet?"
Kaz seems to defer to Elan slightly, but not significantly. "Anyway. So. As to what and who we are -- we kinda defend the world from the forces of evil. I would think you'd wanna fuller explanation than that, though." She shakes her head at Elan. "Only gotten so far as to, well, show her what we are. Details, we ain't got yet."
Elan also shakes Anneka's hand firmly.
Yi finishes up her quiet clean up of Coke, and comes up sans trash to scritch at Bernie's ears.
Anneka sort of mouths out 'defend the world from the forces of evil' while she solemnly shakes Elan's hand. Her brow furrows and she tangles her fingers in her hair again. "It'll get worse?" She takes another deep breath, but isn't shaking anymore, and her heart has slowed down to something near normal. She looks up at Elan, then around to everyone else, gathered about the room. "What moon--?"
Kaz explains, "He wants to know what your birthdate is. So we can figure out, well, what your job'll be, kinda. Me, I don't deal with that til later, but hey, I ain't him."
Elan nods quietly, perfectly serious, to Anneka. Then he relaxes and smiles again. "Do you know your birthdate?" He nods to Kaz. "The training, no, but I do like to know what we should emphasize." He pulls out a battered yellow book and looke to Anneka.
Reads-In-Dark's eyes half-close in happiness at the scritching, and she gives a little sigh of contentment, lying down for now, muzzles atop her paws.
Yi tilts her head towards the conversation, petting and scritching away. "Well, moons sort of tell how your personality is like. Uhmm.. " she searches for the word. "Horoscopes."
Anneka blinks a few times, then starts counting on her fingers. There are elements of ritual to this. "December-- twenty-seventh. And I'm fourteen-- so-- Nineteen eighty-seven!" Which is to say Philodox, on the waxing half moon.
Elan looks at the book, turns a couple of pages, then nods a couple time to himself. "Philodox; half moon, the moon of judges."
Reads-In-Dark glances up, and stretches. Okay, enough scritching for now.... she wriggles back up and shifts back to human form, a little slower so Anneka can get just a touch better look at the in-between forms as she goes.
Kaz explains, for those needing more context, "See, the moon you're born under kinda gives you different instincts, different abilities, different jobs. You're the judge; me, I'm the gibbous moon, th' talespinner, the one that keeps the memory of our people an' connects people together. He," she adds, jerking a thumb at Elan, "He's the one that connects to the spirits, the crescent moon. Bern there's the no moon, th' trickster an' questioner, and there's also fullmoons, the fighters and battle leaders."
Yi grins as Bernie shifts back, and levers herself up to the couch, leaning against the edge. "Which I'm not... shame." She chuckles at Kaz. "I'm a new-moon, like Bernie. Though I'd say I am more scout than trickster."
Anneka is curious this time as she watches, staring, and flexes her fingers a little. "That's so weird." She blinks, and looks to Kaz, then-- "Spirits?" She rubs at her forehead. "There's a lot of weird stuff-- Howcome no one sees it? No one sees-- us?"
Kaz explains, "Spirits, yeah, but they're mostly in the Umbra -- a world humans can't get into. An', well, the ones that get out, we got a lot invested in keeping 'em secret. Imagine how humans'd react t'seein' one of us changin', after all..." She trails off, and adds, "Also, it's one've our laws. Don't let 'em know about us."
Elan smiles a bit. "Well, most spirits hang out in the Spirit World; it's a place that's just a half-step from here, where most of the weird stuff really lives. And the reason no one ever hears about it is that we are very very careful that no-one /does/. Or if they do, it gets covered up as something different. There are a /lot/ of things out there. Vampires. Monsters. Pretty much everything you were ever taught to fear is real, in some form or another, some place or another."
Yi pipes out, "Weredragons, werewolves, werefoxes, werebirds, werecats, wererats... there's a lot to see. Though I have not seen a piece of cheese shapeshift to warform yet. So if you're afraid of cheese, it's ok." Yi smiles, sweetly.
Kaz mutters, "I ain't never seen no werefoxes."
Elan, as an aside to Kaz; "And that's a good thing, if they exist."
Anneka 's curious expression flickers to something more practical. She fidgets with her fingers a bit. "Oh. I guess people'd be really scared. 'cause, I was kinda. An' it makes sense -not- to tell anyone, 'cause then they'd get scared-- like, a lot at a time. People do really weird things when they're all scared at once." There's another blink, then. "I hope I didn' eat werefish."
Kaz says, "Bingo. People're... Y'know, they work in herds. Herds, they don' think." She snorts quietly. "Ain't never heard of no werefish, neither -- but I bet it'd tell you it existed, b'fore it let you eat it."
Bernie pops into the kitchen for some paper towels, and cleans up the soda mess. All they need's a rampaging Get Ahroun pissed about her floors.
Elan smiles a bit. "OK, I like her. People usually shit gold brinks when I tell 'em vampires really exist, too."
Yi glances at Kaz and Elan, then ohs quietly. "Well... hey if weredragons exist, then werefoxes certainly do. They'd love today, if they knew about it. I keep hearing things about it being April Fools or something."
Kaz mutters, "I hate April Fools. I keep lookin' over my shoulder..."
Anneka tilts her head. "I was -thinkin'- about that." She looks at Bernie. "But--"
Bernie facepalms, dropping back onto the couch, and picks up her own Coke, opening it. "Oh, great. We =would= have to do a cubnapping on April Fool's..." She grins, and takes a sip. "Oh well..." Trailing off, she gets a thoughtful, musing look, and glances over her shoulder down toward the room she'd earlier laughed in.
Kaz says, "Believe me, this ain't no prank, kiddo. This is real."
Yi follows Bernie's glance down towards the bedroom. She glances back to her fellow nomoon. "Is it still pink?"
Anneka nods, slowly, then blinks. "There are vampires, too? Like-- in the movies?" She looks around about at everyone again, then slowly sits down on the couch, curling her legs up, sinking back and rather abruptly looking like she doesn't quite want to move from the spot. "You said somethin' about th' forces of evil."
"Yup," the younger Ragabash replies, in a tone of satisfaction. "I know Max's s'posta repaint it sometime, but I guess she hasn't hadda do it yet." She sips the soda, breifly unfocusing apparently in thought before returning her attention to the conversation at hand.
Kaz perches back onto the arm of the couch. "Yep. You want the long explanation, or the short one?"
Elan nods to Anneka. "No, not really like in the movies, like we're not like in the movies. Except for the sunlight and stake things. But don't worry too much about them, yet. They are just part of the larger problem. But..this is really kaz's area, since she's the talespeaker." He sits down.
Anneka looks confused for a moment. "Paint the forces of evil?" Then she shakes her head, glances up at Kaz. "Th'long one, I guess."
Yi's smile about the pink bedroom wall fades at mention of vampires. Her jawline tenses, before she's finally told herself there is no leech in the immediate vicinity. Her gaze flows to Anneka, then Kaz.
Bernie pushes a stray curl behind her ear, and adjusts her glasses, mostly listening. The idea of painting the forces of evil makes her grin, though. "Nah," she replies, "I don' think th' wall of Signe's bedroom counts assa forcea evil..."
Kaz takes a long drink of Coke. "OK. I'll do that, then." She contemplates for a moment, and then looks back to Anneka. "You ever feel like the world is somehow... wrong? Somehow outta balance? Like you think it should be better, somehow, in some way you can't define?" After a beat, she goes on, "Well, it is, and it oughta be. See, the thing is, the world, what we call Gaia, is supposed to be in balance between three forces of nature, between order, destruction, and pure bloomin' constructive chaos. Us Garou call these three forces Weaver, Wyrm, and Wyld. An' the Weaver, it's outta control, which is a problem, but it ain't the main problem. The main problem's the Wyrm -- /it's/ both outta control /and/ corrupted. It's... become a force for evil, and it's destroyin' shit all over the place. An' that, in both the spirit world and in this world, is what we're here to deal with." She contemplates her can briefly, and then raises her gase again to the cub. "An' -- the thing is, there are spirits that are the incarnation of Wyrm, really gross shit, that we can fight with tooth and claw, and that we /do/ fight with tooth and claw, but there's also other symptoms that're harder to deal with. Hatred, despair, abuse, shit like that. We gotta work against /both/ th' mere physical an' the intangible shit."
Yi flickers her gaze from Bernie to the bedroom to Kaz and her words. She nods at the explaination. "Just some very Bad Things out there, and the word for it would be Wyrm." She pauses, then adds, "With a letter 'y'."
Anneka listens, quiet, nodding towards the end. She's leaned forward a little, her eyes wide and green. She nods, then stops still and looks away, frowning. "'m not old, but when th'water's bad, I can see that. An' when d--" She nods again. "Mom said that people can-- break." She sits up, this is important to her-- obvious in the intensity of her eyes. "They do, an' then they get so they fight an' stuff, and break other people. And then-- then--" She shrugs. "They don't stop, an' it gets worse. Like people leavin' stuff on th'beach, and not carin' that turtles eat stuff 'n get sick, or that glass hurts if y'step on it, 'cause it doesn't-- They just don't." She frowns. "That's the Wyrm happenin', a little, isn't it?"
Kaz listens to this, her eyes picking up on Anneka's intensity. "Yeah," she says, quietly, "It is, a little. The Wyrm happening in the small stuff. In the stuff that /matters/. It's pokin' everywhere, not just into the big shit. Into families." There's a brief pause, and she adds, looking at her Coke, "Into /our/ families, sometimes." Gaze drifting back up, she goes on, "Into the shoreline, an' into pollution, an' /alla/ that. I mean, not all of it's directly Wyrm related, but it /helps/ the Wyrm, eventually. So. Pick somethin' shitty, an' we're against it, basically."
Bernie flashes a grin at Kaz. "I like this one," she remarks, "...she c'n stay." Not as if there was any question of that, or it were up to her anyway. A nod to Anneka, and, "Yeah. You got th' basic idea, there. Th' stuff like that, that everyone sees, as well as freakier stuff kina like in th' movies."
Yi gives the new cub an approving smile, leaning into the couch. "See, this is why I shouldn't cubnap. Things I do end up... worse than they ought." She glances at Kaz. "Or maybe this is just a good catch."
Kaz shrugs. "Good catch, I think. Got her the same way I did Bernie -- crash space. So I'm jus' lucky, I guess?"
Anneka nods. There's a rough edge to her voice. "Dad usedta make stuff before he got sick. And now he just--" She shrugs again, looks down at her hands. "It looks like somethin'," she says, quietly. "It has a face." She closes her hands tight. "Oh," she whispers. "That makes sense." She isn't changing, but at that moment she isn't far from it. She looks up at Kaz again, uncurls her fingers. "An' we're all Garou?" She looks about at everyone, even Nevada sleeping in a corner. "Are there more of us?"
Kaz swallows. This was why she looked down, before, to give the cub her privacy, but she keeps her gaze on her now. "We're all of us here Garou, yes. An' there's more. There's like 50 or so of us around here, in St. Claire, and lots more'n the rest of the world. All kinda different Garou. There's folks like us, there's Celtic types, there's noble types... We're broken up into tribes, an' we're the Bone Gnawers. We's y'new family, kinda. Workin' t'defeat th' kinda stuff that's eatin' y'birth family. One step at a time."
Elan grins at this, again.
Bernie finishes off her soda, setting the can down. "So welcome, an' all," she adds, and curls up more in the corner of the couch.
Yi nods, and shifts a bit in position to resettle upon the couch. She gazes to Anneka with a raised eyebrow and short smile, as if to ask, 'So, what do you think?'
Elan watches Anneka closely.
Anneka nods slowly, as color starts to return to her face. Slowly, she starts to lean back into the couch. "Dif'rent kinds, like dif'rent moons." She shakes her head slowly, rubs at her forehead. "I'm not dreamin'," she says. A statement with the edges of a question. "I feel really weird-- I hafta know. Know-- somethin'." She looks at Kaz. "What's it mean t'be a Philo-- a judge?"
Kaz takes a long sip of Coke. "Well. Keep in mind I ain't one myself, right? But to /me/, a judge is the person who... Well, you have the laws, the Litany of the Garou. 13 laws. A philo who ain't got a real brain, they'd say their only job was to judge when someone did somethin' wrong. But a half moon with a real brain, they'll take th' Litany, and apply it to real life, and sorta /balance/ things. Make sure Garou life is properly balanced, make sure people aren't fuckin' around, make sure people're doin' /right/ by each other." She shrugs. "I guess in a way, the judges is both one type've investigator an' one type of community builder, all in one."
"An' they mediate shit, too. Keep people from fightin' among themselves unneccesarily an' all," Bernie adds to this.
Yi tilts her head in thought. "My Sifu.. uhm.. teacher. My mentor, other than Grandmother, was a halfmoon. Of a different group, but he was one who told me, that halfmoons are like seekers of balance. In life and in spirit. Sure, he acted as the judge for a rank challenge, or decided punishment when it was necessary to, but he also took the Litany and showed us how to use it in our lives. Not so much that he stood over our heads and beat it in us, but gave us reason, /why/ we were supposed to keep the laws."
Anneka gets the strangest expression-- surprise and something else. She almost smiles. "Mom said-- says I'm a-- habit--habitual bridge-mender." It takes a lot, for some reason, for her to say that, but she does.
Kaz starts to smile, gently. "That is as good an explanation as any I've heard in awhile, Anneka. Sounds like you got the right kinda instincts already, yeah?"
Elan says "I like that."
Anneka smiles, for real this time, but there's a lot of pain behind it, and almost tears. "If I'm s'posed to be, tho-- why do-- Why are?" She curls her hands up. "No one would sit with me on the bus. An' b'fore I got here, Jeff wouldn'-- he's like my best friend, and he wouldn't talk to me. He wouldn' even -look- at me." She looks to the folk gathered about her. "You are." She nods, smiles again.
Elan says "That is part of being Garou. Normal humans feel uneasy around you once they stay around you for some time."
Kaz sighs. "That, well, see. To be able to be good fighters, to be able to really /work/ against the Wyrm, we got more than our fair share of anger, of Rage. It makes us quicker, stronger, but people can /feel/ it, too. People can /feel/ that we're predators. It's... Kinda disruptive t'everyday life. It's another reason why we don' tell people who we are."
Bernie nods. "'s good, 's onea th' things we need y'all for, 'cause we're all real good at doin' things t' hack away at th' bridges. 's parta th' same thing where people're weirded out by ya, 'cause like Kaz says, somea 'em c'n sense it." She grins again, fleetingly, "...I useta volunteer readin' stories t' preschoolers at th' library? But they made me switch t' th' reference desk 'cause all th' two year olds'd start cryin' for their mommies an' hidin' under chairs an' shit. An' I think I'm pretty calm an' nonthreatenin', as we go. So."
Yi raises an eyebrow at Bernie, then smiles wryly and shrugs. Her eyes watch Anneka quietly, though, sensing something beyond her smile.
Elan gets to his feet. "I'll be around later, but I have to run a patrol, now. See you. And good luck, newest cub."
Kaz grins at her ex-packmate. "Awright, boss. Laters."
Yi waves to Elan as he departs. "See you, Big Dog. Oh... ah, Rotem is looking for you. Sort of. He wants to ask you about the farmhouse and things."
Anneka looks from Elan, to Kaz, to Bernie. She swallows, once, looks down at her hands. "I don't want t'scare people." Her hands turn over, fingers stretch out then curl. "I never b'lieved there were monsters unner' th'bed, or in th'closet, 'cept when dad wanted t'save me from 'em, 'cause dads wanna do that." A pause, then. "I don't want t'scare people." She blinks, midst a thought-- waves to Elan, even. "Bye." Because seeing someone off is at least a little bit of something normal.
Elan waves and walks on out.
Kaz turns back to watch Anneka as she says this. "Yeah. I've always lived like this, because I'm a metis, I grew up with the Garou. But alla them, Elan, Bern, Yi, they had to deal with suddenly realizing /why/ they scare people. It ain't no fun. But it's better'n never knowing. Better'n livin' in ignorance, an' hatin' yourself for it."
Anneka's unspoken thought, telegraphed as she looks at her hands, is she didn't have to worry because the monster under the bed was scared of -her-. But she nods, and nods again. "I guess it would be bad to turn to a wolf somewhere people'd see." She makes a face.
Bernie waves idly at Elan as he leaves, and nods at Kaz. "'s weird, an' all, but y'can't help it. But, y'know, people don' always =like= th' things that're good for 'em. like, I never heard anyone real enthusiastic 'bout seein' th' dentist or takin' antibiotics or, I dunno, other stuff like that. But those things're still there t' protect 'em, inna way. An' yeah, gen'rally, that'd be bad. Onea th' rules is not t' Break the Veil, which means not t' let people know we're 'round. An' when we go t' th' big half-man, half-wolf form like in th' movies? People seriously, seriously freak at that." Pause. "I heard. I haven' done it yet."
Kaz says, to give the effect a name, "'s called th' Delerium, but I just call it them goin' bugshit."
Yi nods slowly. "Don't see many of the crinos running around." She glances to Anneka, then to Kaz and Bernie. "How many licks does it take to get to--" she shakes her head. "I mean, how long do you think it takes to tell a cub the Litany? And more important, how long does it take for a halfmoon to get it?"
Kaz speculates, "Prolly til the end of their lives, t'completely understand it, but t'absorb it? Pretty quick." She glances at Anneka. "Wanna?"
Anneka looks to the door, then back to Kaz. "I kinda did--" She peers at Yi, then. "Thirteen rules, right?"
"I had it enough t' be safe out on my own, or relatively, in, what, a week or so? Somethin' like that. An' that was partly 'cause people were busy t' do it at once..." Bernie pauses, tilting her head at Anneka, "Yeah, wait, someone toldja it already?" Her brow furrows.
Kaz blinks. "Kinda did what?"
Yi blinks back at Anneka. "Thirteen rules, yes. What were you saying before?" The no-moon quirks her head.
Anneka tilts her head. "I was sayin' that I was afraid, at first, 'cause Bernie turned into a wolf, but I'm not now. I guess lotsa people just get scared?" She pauses. "An' Kaz said there were thirteen rules."
Kaz nods. "I did. You wannem? Slowly, I mean?"
Anneka nods the sort of nod that suggests there is a genetic, if not spiritual imperative at work behind it.
Bernie lifts her head back in a slow nod, and grins. "Oh, a'ight, got it. Confused me for a minute there." She curls up in her corner again, getting comfy.
Kaz glances at Yi and Bernie and then back to Anneka. "OK. Works f'me. First one is... Fairly straightforward, if annoyin'. 'Garou Shall Not Mate with Garou.' Because, see, you get a metis, like me, with birth defects. An' the eyes ain't my only defect, neither. An', also, we're sterile. An' stuff. So. Y'know. Don't."
Anneka looks at Kaz, green eyes meeting yellow, opens her mouth then closes it again and waits, listening.
Kaz, slowly, shifts into glabro. "That what you were gonna ask?" She's a little roughter voiced than before.
Anneka squints, tilting her head. "You can stop like that? Can--" She looks down at her hands, almost frustratedly, then back at Kaz. "I was gonna ask, but then I wanted to know what alla th'rules were first, 'cause y'can't just go an' ride onna half-pipe without doin' ollies, first."
Bernie nods. "We c'n do it all in one an' then do questions, or we c'n do 'em after each rule, either way y' want it. Or both."
Kaz looks a little blank at this metaphor, but nods. "See," she continues, still gravel voiced, "We got five forms. Human, wolf, the warform, and the two in between. Big assed human, called glabro, an' big assed wolf, called hispo. An' yeah, we can pretty much stop at anyone've 'em we want, once we got the practice in it." She adds, ruefully, "I was stuck in glabro til I was 10."
Kaz has, evidently, chosen answering stuff, just by accident.
Yi looks at Anneka, then looks at Bernie. Confusion about the cub's metaphor crosses her face, and she blinks. "Great," she murmurs. "Another one to try and decipher like Matt." Her eyes go to the others after a short rest. "We can go one by one, answer some questions. No rush, right?"
Anneka ohs, quietly. She looks about as blank back. "I thought when y'said that you were metis, first, that it jus'meant you grew up with other Garou." Then she blinks. "Oh-- it's skateboardin' stuff. I broke my bike, an' mom 'n dad wouldn't get me another one, so I started ridin' a 'board. Ollies are--" She looks around, presumably for a board to demonstrate with, then shrugs. "I can show you, they're easy."
Kaz shakes her head. "I grew up around other Garou, so I don' think like humans, /and/ I was stuck in fuckin' glabro, which believe me ain't no fun. So I'm just a bundle of fuckedupedness."
Kaz then adds, "I'd love t'see, sometime."
Anneka adds, almost as an afterthought. "I kinda lost my 'board, 'cause I left it in th'livin' room, an' I didn' go that way when I left. Oops."
Kaz says, wtih a faint grin, "You c'n 'borrow' another one. Y'want the next one now?" Slowly, she shifts back down to homid.
Bernie nods a little to Anneka, "Yeah... questions on number one, or ready t' move on?"
Anneka nods, watching the change back. "Move on, 'guess." There are questions in her eyes, but they can wait.
"A'ight, then. Number two," Bernie begins, leaning against the back of the couch, "'Combat The Wyrm Wherever It Dwells And Whenever It Breeds.' Meanin', we're in a war, here, an' we gotta stay focused on our objectives; we also gotta not get too blinkered an' ignore when th' Wyrm does t' people in th' city in favour of jus' fightin' big blobsa ooze in th' spirit world or werewolves that serve th' Wyrm in th' forest or somethin', gotta fight =alla= it. Doesn't mean t' immediately run inta battle screamin' th' second y'see there's a problem, though, 'cause then you might die uselessly. Better t' plan an' fight wisely 'f y' can."
Kaz finishes her Coke and goes to get another one, listening as she goes.
Yi looks to Anneka, to wait for the questions that might follow.
Anneka, skinny, and likely as tall as she'll ever get, doesn't look like someone who fights on a regular basis. Nevertheless, she nods, and there is a certain hunger in her expression. She tilts her head a little, after a moment. "Big blobsa ooze?"
Anneka makes a face.
Kaz says, "We get all kinds," and rummages in the fridge absently.
Bernie grins at the expression, and nods. "Yeah. First Wyrm thing I fought, it was this bigass purple oozy glob thing in th' spirit world, with, like, digestive frond-tentacle things. We killed it an' all, though."
Anneka furrows her brow, then, her expression changing quick as anything. "Wait, wait, wait-- There are Garou that do stuff for the-- the Wyrm?" She holds her hands up over her mouth, and mumbles, muffledly. "I'll ask after, I promise."
Kaz nods, soberly, coming back with some fried chicken. "Black Spiral Dancers. Remind me to tell you the story, sometime." She glances at Yi, eyebrow raised.
Anneka's eyes are drawn to the chicken. It has been a while since she last had much to eat, and the pizza in her satchel is mostly forgotten.
Kaz, in fact, has a bucket, and offers Anneka some, absently.
Yi considers sitting upon the couch crosslegged, but for mannerisms moves down to the concrete to sit upon instead. "Ooze, tentacles, very sharp claws and teeth, the Wyrm seems to like that sort of thing. Usually really bug-like, but that's a different theory of mine. The Dancers... well. They got caught up in the Wyrm's madness a long time ago, which Kaz should tell you, sometime yes." With a short run of fingers through hair, she thinks. "Ok well... third point. Respect the territory of another. Kind of makes sense when you think about it, don't touch things that aren't yours. But it goes more so for us. Garou are, part wolves. And dogs, you know, like to claim things and area. It's disrespectful to just barge in on people and dogs alike."
Kaz adds, "In the woods, you can tell easy, 'cause they pee on things and you can smell territory markers. Around here, you gotta pay attention t'taggin' an' shit. An' just use good sense."
Anneka reaches for a leg and gnaws on it, eagerly. "Thanks--" She blinks once, then nods. "'s like that in T'coma. If you're skatin' someplaces, y'hafta bring beer so the people there don' bother you. 'Cause they live there, an' they're pretty mean."
Kaz nods. "Yeah. Kinda like that. Though we don't gotta offer people shit, at least most of the time. You want the next one?"
Anneka nods vigorously.
"'Accept an Honorable Surrender.' 'Course, to see why we'd need to have this as a law, you gotta understand that our leaders are determined by challenge. It don't gotta be a fight, sometimes it's a riddle challenge or just a staredown, but it's a challenge. So, y'know. Acceptin' an honorable surrender's kinda vital, y'know?" Kaz pauses to munch the chicken.
The girl's face grows a bit grave. "Sometimes people fight an' they don' 'cept that-- They jus' keep fightin', even when th'other person's tryin t'run away." Anneka makes a face, her eyes distant for a moment. There's probably a story in that thought.
Bernie reaches over and snags a chicken leg herself, giving Kaz a quick you-mind? look before actually pulling it over to eat it. "Yeah, otherwise there'd be people killin' each other all time. Works better if they don't." She grins, and adds, "Comments, question, want th' next one?"
Anneka nods. "There's lotsa rules."
Yi nods at Anneka, knowing that fact all too well too, though she doesn't move for the chicken, waiting for Bernie to tell the next one.
Kaz offers it to Bernie quite willingly.
"'s only thirteen, 's not th' city penal code, at least," Bernie remarks, still grinning, and takes a bit of the chicken. "..okay," she says, once she's swallowed, "Next: 'Submission To Those Of Higher Station.' Basic'ly, for you, tha's alla us, right now. But if y'pay 'tention to it, y'oughta be able t' feel how th' hierarchy goes. We got diff'rent ranks, t' start with, levels thatcha earn like in a role-playin' game or th' army or whatever, 'kay? You start out assa cub, that's what you are. Then, after y'learn enough, you go onna Rite of Passage, an' y' b'come a Cliath. Tha's what we all are in here. Th' next one's Fostern, an' that's what Elan is, an' Signe, who this place b'longs to, an' prolly Kaz, real soon now. Then there's Adren, an' I think there's more 'bove that, but I dunno anya 'em yet. So what it =means= is, people who are ranked higher'n you, you're s'posta respect 'em an' do as they say. 'cause they're s'posta know better'n you do yet, or you'd be th' one outrankin' =them=, right?" She pauses, running that over in her head. "That come out right?"
Anneka tilts her head. "Kinda. If someone knows more stuff than you do, they-- know more stuff. An' if they know more, then--" She shrugs. "Well, they do. It's kinda like swimmin'. I can, but Jeffy's like a big rock, so I tell him not t'do dumb stuff, 'cause he won't float. An' he listens, mosta th'time. It's like that?"
Yi nods at Bernie. "Came out fine. And after Adren, is... what Robert is. Athro?" Her own hesitation comes in the not-quite-statement. "It doesn't mean you shouldn't just bow down and lick their boots, mind," she tells Anneka, smirking at the simile. "Just means they usually know what to do. Usually." She looks towards the ceiling innocently.
Kaz grins faintly. "Mostly, it just means, respect 'em. Don't tell 'em to their face that they suck, and life'll be fine."
Anneka looks at Yi for a bit, head canted, then nods. "Uh-huh. An' sometimes they don', but y'hafta 'member that they think they do, an' that-- Like a bad teacher? They're stilla teacher 'n stuff, an' y'can't just say they're ugly, or somethin'."
Kaz, who is ugly, just nods, grin rising. "You gottit."
Anneka grins back, almost bouncing on the couch. "Okay!" She gnaws on the chicken leg, or what's left of it, glances at the bucket. "Who's Robert?"
Yi leans back against the couch. "Robert is one of the Garou around. The big Garou, for rankwise. Seems everyone I have seen around him looks to him. Fought alongside him once, and he was.. one awe of a fighter." She shakes her head to clear it. "So anyway... next one. First Kill for the greatest in station. The best deserve the best, that sort of thing. So, like, when I went on my test for becoming a cliath, we brought back a lot of good stuff. Besides the huge fishing boat, there were some nice jade statues of Rat and things. We gave those to Grandmother. Why? Because she deserved it. Sort of a, thank you for all you've given us, thing. And the rest of us worked out the rest of the goods separately. Keeps the higher ups happy to let them go first." She chews her lip briefly, looking to Anneka. "Make sense?"
Kaz adds, "An' a lot of the time, th' big dog turns around an' gives th' little dog stuff right back. It's just... Th' right order gotta be kept up."
Anneka squints a bit, but nods. "I kinda get that-- Like, if somebody was a really good skater, and you found a really cool place t'skate, y'let them go first. 'Cause-- it's r'spect, I guess. Like y'said."
Kaz grins. "Exactly. So. I don' think you'll got no problem with this one. 'Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans.' Which, well, there's a long story behind why this one's needed, but I'll tell it later."
Yi nods to Anneka, and then at Kaz. "I heard we don't taste very good either, so that's a plus."
Anneka puts the last bits of her chicken leg down, her skin turning just a little paler. "Ugh. That's-- ugh." She covers her mouth with a hand, nods.
"Think they kept that one up there so the wolf born Garou wouldn't attack some poor fellow out there in the woods trying to scrape up a meal," Yi notes quietly.
Bernie nods. "Yeah, mosta us don't exactly find that one real restrictive of our desires, 'f y' know what I mean. I'd rather stay hungry." She makes a face herself.
"...so, next, 'Respect Those Beneath You -- All Are Of Gaia'," Bernie continues. "This's kina th' partner of the last one I did. Jus' 'cause yououtrank someone, tha' doesn't mean you're inherently better'n they are, or that you oughta push 'em 'round jus' 'cause you can. Also works for people an' animals who aren't even 'rou. Basica'ly, treat others right."
Anneka says, quietly, "We're all in th'same boat."
Kaz says, also quietly, "A fuckin' men." After a pause, she adds, "Next one'd be 'The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted,' which is to say, don't tell no one about us. Well, no one but Kinfolk -- humans that're related to us. But since you dunno who's who yet, just assume you can't tell no one."
Yi nods slowly. "Can't have werewolves running around and scaring people, because some people might not be scared... or might not even be people."
Anneka squints, scrunches her face up a bit. "I guess people would really freak out. Werewolves! Vampires! Blobs of stuff! It'd be scary." She reaches up, brushes her hair out of her eyes. "Real scary."
Yi continues, "So, next one, is Do not suffer people to tend to thy sickness. Basically, don't be a baby and whine if you have problems, because everyone's likely to have some problem they need to deal with and don't need another person to spill their rocks onto their shoulders." She thinks some, then adds, "But if you have a problem, you have lots of others to turn to. Me, Kaz, Bernie, the Gnawers, and others of Garou all around the place here. We're werewolves, but that doesn't mean we don't have heart." She smiles. "So... if you fall down, don't just sit there and yell for someone to help pick you up when you can stand up on your own."
Kaz corrects, a little disquieted, "Tend thy sickness in death. That is, if you're, like, paralyzed or bein' eaten alive by some cancer or somethin', don' stick around. But --" She stops. "D'you know about our healin'?"
Anneka flinches, visibly, but shakes her head. "No-- not 'bout healin'."
Kaz shifts up again, into glabro, and finds a knife. She moves over toward Anneka, so that the cub can see her arm, and slices into it, deeply. And in seconds, it's knitted together, without even a scar. "So," she says, trying to find and hold the cub's eyes, "It takes a lot to fuck us up to that degree. OK?"
The girl snuffs, once, looks away-- then back to Kaz. Anneka's eyes draw along the woman's arm, then green eyes meet yellow. She blinks, nods. Kaz, watching her that closely, sees her bottle something up, her expression drawing to something neutral, if a bit guarded. She nods.
Kaz is watching her that closely for a reason. "What?" she asks, very gently.
Anneka looks down at her hands. "Mom had cancer," she says, evenly.
Several things flash through Kaz's eyes. "Shit, Anneka. I'm sorry. I picked exactly the wrong metaphor. I didn't mean --" Then she breaks off. Quieter, she adds, "This," she gestures to her arm, "Couldna helped her anyway. It's a Garou thing. An' we got healin' Gifts, but they don't work. On stuff like that. But--" She's close, now, to the cub, so she reaches out her other arm for her shoulder. "I'm sorry."
Anneka is trembling. Not a lot, and it's easy to hide under a big, bulky sweater, but she is. "'s okay. You didn' know," she says, quietly. She looks up at Kaz. "You didn'. I'm not mad." She keeps trembling.
Yi tenses a bit, and then shakes her head. "They say some of it's caused by the Wyrm. Sometimes it's just bad luck. Sorry, Anneka..." Yi looks a bit lost for any words of comfort.
Kaz, who really doesn't have much blood on her arm at all, looks at Anneka for another moment or two, and then just gathers her into a hug. This may be dangerous, but she doesn't seem to care.
Bernie is quiet for the moment, just watching.
Maybe, just maybe, the girl's teeth are sharper than they should be, her eyes yellow when she closes them, but then Anneka is just shaking quietly, and taking gasping breaths, and not crying. Not a drop.
Kaz doesn't speak. She just hugs, as tightly as seems necessary, for as long as seems needed.
Yi waits, as quiet as Bernie, watching Kaz hug the girl. She wets her lips, before softly asking, "Going to be ok?"
It takes a very long while for Anneka to quiet, to roll back into the couch and rub at her eyes with the back of a hand. Her lower lip is bleeding a little, but she doesn't seem to notice until she starts dabbing at it. She nods, draws up a faint smile. "More rules s-still, huh?"
Kaz lets go, and heads back to the couch's arm. "Yeah. Bern?" she asks, not looking at her semi-packmate.
"Yeah," Bernie says, quietly, "A few. 'The Leader May Be Challenged At Any Time During Peace.' That means, as long as there's no clear an' present danger, the person in chargea whatever it is you're doin', if you don' like how they're leadin', you c'n challenge 'em t' take over an' prove you c'n do it better yourself."
Anneka draws her legs up, wraps her arms around them, not unlike the way she sat when Kaz and Nevada met her, the day before. She shakes her head a few times, her hair tumbling down over her eyes. She nods slowly, her voice quiet. "That way there's always someone new, things're always changin' when no one's fightin' b-bugs."
Kaz says, "Yeah. An' the next law addresses th' fightin' bugs part. When it's bad enough that we're at war --" she breaks off, and then begins quoting. "'The Leader May Not Be Challenged in Time of War.' Because, basically, changing horses in midstream is a fuckin' stupid idea."
Yi nods slowly, waiting for questions that might come up from the cub.
Anneka nods slowly, canting her head so one green eye is visible behind the veil of her curly, tangled-up hair. "It's weird thinkin' that there's a war-- Like, grown-ups talk 'bout it, an'--" She stops. "But there is one. An' we're th'ones-- t'fight--" She grits her teeth a little, closes her eyes for a moment. "'Cause my mom couldn't."
Kaz says, quietly, a little hoarse, "In honor of her. And in her memory." Then, she glances at Yi.
Yi tilts her head and averts her gaze towards the door, letting a slow sigh pass through her lips. "Well... when you need a break, there's a place we call the caern. The caern, it's a sacred part of the earth, or as we call her, Gaia." She turns back to the cub. "The last law, is that you should take no action that would cause a caern to be violated. The caern's a place of power, of hope, of healing, whichever you'd like to think of about the good things of life, the caern's got it. It's our strongest connection to Gaia, so we take good care of it, and make sure nothing tries to mess it up." She wets her lips again and adds, "And once things are secure there, we go out and fight the nasties. You'll get to see it. And then you'll know."
Bernie smiles a little, and nods. "It's... well, you need to see it. Definitely. On both sides."
Yi thinks, then pips in addition, "Then again, it doesn't have any boards. Or ice cream. But it's still a good place." She smiles at the cub, hoping to lighten the heavy mood that seemed to have settled in.
Anneka blinks twice. "It's home?" She's changing, really, before she's aware of it, tumbling forward from the couch to crouch on the floor. Her hands first-- fingers growing longer, talons growing that pull a sob from the girl-- Then racing up along her arms to her face-- Her eyes grow large, and larger, gold lanterns, then with the snap of bone and teeth she has a muzzle, a crazy, tangled ruff of fur around pointed ears. She gasps, rocking back on her heels, looking at her hands--
Kaz takes one step backwards, and then she's grinning. "/You/," she says, almost triumphantly, "Rock my world. Let it go, absorb it. Feel it. Feel what you are. Feel what it means."
Bernie smiles, and nods again, unfolding herself to sit on the edge of the sofa. "Careful with the balance; took me a bit to figure out what to do with my tail... oh, an' you won't be able t' talk to us yet. So don't panic about that. We'll teach ya soon 'nough." She watches the girl. "...you feel all right?"
Yi blinks with some surprise as a crinos joins her on the floor. She wiggles her fingers, and smiles with a quirk of her lip up a side. "That was unexpected..." she chuckles lowly.
She's young, and rail-thin and these things stay with her when she changes, bones singing as they stretch out-- Her clothes don't, tearing from her, stretching then shucked off like skin as the cub gets taller and taller still-- Her tail snakes out of her rear, curling, her feet stretch out to change her stance, and then sandy fur races out along her body. She cries out, stifled at first, then louder, howling. A howl cut short, soon enough, when the pain of shifting stops. She stays there for a moment, crouched, staring at her hands, then slowly looks about with her lantern eyes.
Anneka cants her giant head to the side, ears turning to Yi. She opens her mouth, tongue lolling out, and-- manages something between a growl and a bark, before turning an ear back.
Kaz crouches down, onto the floor, fairly nearby. "You're a star. But you can't talk yet, an' that gets frustratin'. Do you wanna explore, some?"
Bernie suddenly laughs. "...oh, oops. Th' clothes, again..." She shakes her head, grinning. "Hope those weren't your faves. We'll find ya s'more. An' later, someone'll do this trick that makes 'em stay with you, like mine do."
Kaz waves a hand. "Me. I finally learned it. An' yeah, Sig's got clothes somewhere."
Bernie oohs, and nods. "Kickass. Teach me sometime, then? Be handy t' know." She hushes, then, as the cub explores the new form.
Yi blinks at the crinos looking at her, and reaches out unfaltering to give the cub a short scritch between the ears. "Reminds me about that. If you want to learn, Bernie, there's Kaz. Or I can teach you, since I know it too." She looks at the cub. "Sniff." Yi holds her hand under her nose. "Smell's one of the more interesting things I found about being Garou."
Anneka stands, slowly, stretching up, wavering on jack-legs, her tail swinging around like a gaint brush behind her. She's somewhere over seven feet or so, taller than any human, but small and gangly for Garou in Crinos-- a cub, still. She blinks, eyes closing for a moment, snuffs deeply. A large, damp nose brushes Yi's hand.
Kaz's smile is small, and quiet. To Bernie, she says, "Yeah, sure, bug me," but all of her attention is on the cub.
Anneka 's ears turn forward and she blinks. There's a curious whine, and she snuffs again. This time, she nods slowly. Her tail waves about behind her. There are still tear-streaks along her fur, under her eyes.
Bernie adds, almost at random, "...it won't us'ly hurt that much, either. Jus' the first time or several. Then you'll get useta it an' all." She pulls her legs up onto the cushions again.
Yi grins as the nose brushes along her hand. She pets along Anneka's muzzle, scritching lightly. "Smell the world. Maybe you can tell what I used to cook at the restaurant. Or where I've been lately. Same with Kaz, same with Bernie. And your ears, they can hear a lot more than humans. Like, say, a car's engine a few blocks away. And the feel of the fur, gives you a hint of space, and what goes on around you."
The crinos looks down at herself, at her giant hands and the claws curving from her blunt fingertips. She looks at the door. I can't go out, can I? Then she blinks.
Kaz glances at Signe's clock, and mutters, "Fuckin' patrol. Nope, not yet." She seems to pick up on this lupus comment in Crinos, and then blinks. Grinning, she adds, "Not til you got more control of yourself. Couple days. 'Kay?"
Anneka nods slowly. She takes a few steps towards the door, though she's not looking at it-- She's looking down at her feet, her tail waving about behind her. She nods again.
Kaz mutters, "Good." Glancing around, she adds, "Later, folks," and is quickly out the door, relocking it as she goes.
Anneka looks at the door for a long time, then turns back to Bernie and Yi. Lantern eyes blink, once.
Bernie waves a hand at Kaz, and looks to the cub. "Some cubs," she remarks idly, "mostly from other tribes, but sometimes with us, though I think maybe it takes more... anyway, somea 'em get grounded to one place for =ages=, they misbehave. Got two friends, they were restricted to just this one house for, I swear, like months. Sucked royally. We're lucky; we behave, learn quick, we get t' go doin' things wherever we like within like a week."
Yi looks back at the crinosed cub. "I'd ask how you feel, but might be hard to reply in that form." The Canto-Gnawer leans back against the couch as Bernie tells Anneka about the other cubs. "And you know the laws already, on your first night. So... there's some other things you can do now. For one, you can shift two ways from your form right now. One, is to your glabro, near-man, which is what Kaz shifted to, and your human form, which would be human... or the other way, which is down to the hispo, the near-wolf, or lupus, or wolfdog form that Nevada and Bernie did."
Anneka chuffs out a laugh, even reaches up to cover her mouth with a hand, though she ends up bumping it on her nose. She closes her eyes, sneezes, almost manages a thought in lupus tongue, and then she's watching Yi and Bernie, ears turned forward. She's hunkered down a bit though, and after a moment opens her mouth wide in a tongue-curling yawn that ends with a solid snap of teeth.
Bernie nods at Yi, and adds, to the cub, "'f you wanna try t' shift back t' homid, jus' think 'bout how you us'ly look, how it feels t' be you mosta th' time, stuff like that, an' try. I'll scrounge ya up some clothes. Yeah? Nod if that sounds like a plan."
Anneka, after a moment, nods slowly. She looks down at her hands-- then down at her clothes, or the remnants thereof. There's something of a rueful groan and her ears turn back. She looks down at her hands though, furrows a giant, furry brow.
Yi looks up towards the crinos. "Or, you can go the other way and try your first night sleeping as a dog. It'd be warmer, maybe a bit strange." She glances at Bernie. "We'll have to repay Signe for the clothes."
Bernie nods at Yi, "Well, yeah, she could, 'cept for me it was a lot easier t' know I could get back t' bein' =me= b'fore I went on t' th' other forms. Y'know? An' I'm pretty sure there's some back there jus' for cubs. Not like =Signe's= clothes're gonna fit her!"
Anneka tilts her head, ears askew, then closes her eyes. The change is quicker than that to Crinos, but no less painful for drawing inward. By the time she's curled up on the floor, she's shaking though her smile carries something of a triumphant edge. "I-- d-did that. That was r-really me."
Yi chuckles at that mental image, before looking back down at Anneka. "There's clothes back at the church too. The pain... " she pauses there. "The pain goes away. You'll get used to it." She looks over at Bernie. "Guess all that's left is a hot shower, clothes, and a good night's sleep." She gazes back over to Anneka. "Feel up for that? One of us should get you going in the morning, breakfast and things."
Anneka pushes herself up with her skinny arms until she's sitting, her damp hair strewn about. She nods and looks about until she finds her satchel, where it had tumbled to the floor. "There's clothes there," she says, quietly, smiles.
Bernie grins. "You did it," she agrees, pushing up from the couch and heading toward the other rooms, "That was really you, skaterchick." She pauses as Anneka rummages in her bag, and laughs. "Hey, prepared, too. A'ight, then, we oughta be set, I guess. Oh, but don't touch th' stereo, an' don' paint anya th' walls pink...."
Anneka nods. "I'll 'member." She's asleep by the time she's manages to find stuff to wear.
Yi grins, and blinks as Anneka curls up to sleep. She looks over at Bernie, then the couch. "Looks like we have ourselves a new cub." She smiles.
Bernie aws, and shifts up to glabro briefly, scooping up the new cub and lying her on the couch. More comfortable place to nap. That done, she shifts back down, putting her jacket and backpack back on. "Sure does. S'pose we oughta leave Signe a note," she remarks as she changes.
Yi leans over and brushes a strand of hair from the cub's nose before standing up. "Yeah. Don't want a Get Jarl to be angry at us for dropping cubs off. Looks like Nevada and I should put some extra locks on our door. Then we could use the place as a cub holding base." She thinks. "Then again, the discipline wouldn't be the same."
Bernie nods, and finds a pen and piece of paper to write a quick note. A moment's thought, and she pulls a safety pin from somewhere in her bag, carefully pinning the note to what remains of the girl's shirt. "Yeah; Matt was thinkin' of takin' carea cubs too, so I oughta talk t' him 'bout maybe locks..." she shrugs, adding, "but you guys'd be a better place, for Gnawer cubs, y'know?" She glances over the room, and nods. "A'ight. 's go?"
Yi nods slowly. "More locks are a good thing anyway. It'll keep out robbers." She pauses. "Well no, not really." She moves over to the door with Bernie. "Let's go." She glances at one of the locks, giving it a short look before it slowly slides open. And she grins at Bernie. "Going to have to thank Joey again and again for this one."
Bernie grins. "Kickass, innit?" She, however, opens the smallest pocket of her backpack, and pulls out a key, swiftly undoing the other bolts. She lets Yi out, then locks the door behind her. "Pr'ductive day," she remarks as they head up and out, "...I like this one."