Sweeping branches of evergreen pines form a sort of natural roof overshadowing most of this clearing. In the center is a fire pit with several old logs polished from use for seats. A separate stack of firewood is discreetly piled up at the base of an old spruce, protected from the damp by a tarp. At the edge of the clearing and extending back a bit into the woods resides a rough wooden structure with a slate tile roof. A stone slab rests off to one side of the clearing in a place of some prominence. Nestled in among the pines are a few hardy perennials--red alder, quaking aspen, and a big leaf maple or two--that, come spring, will create a profusion of color in the clearing.
A faint trail leads off to the east, and a bit north.
Compact is the word for him: wiry, maybe 5'6" in his beat-up black combat boots, with a sense of compressed energy and imminence like a coiled spring -- or a cocked gun. Never quite still for long, balance flowing through the balls of his feet. There's a striking intensity to his narrow blue-green eyes, the colour contrasting with his fair skin and spiky copper hair; just below the left is what at first appears to be a faint mole, but closer inspection reveals as a small, long-healed scar. His features are appealing, with high cheekbones and a good jawline, but it's the confident mien and roguish smile that most often seem to draw people in.
He's in a well-worn biker jacket of the traditional sort, all fairly closely fit black leather and silvery zippers and snaps. Beneath it, he's got nicely-fitting dark indigo jeans with a plain white tank, its ribbed cotton skimming close enough to hint at the musculature beneath. Over that, he's wearing a navy blue shirt, unbuttoned; judging by the round fleur-de-lis patch to the left of the collar, it was once part of someone's Scout uniform... probably not his. Okay, the 'Boy Scouts of the USA' patch over the right pocket's a hint, too. There's a couple leather-and-bead bracelets on one wrist and a length of ball-chain disappearing beneath his collar; his nails were apparently painted black some time ago, since they're starting to show chips. Late teens, most likely, and when he speaks it's in a mellifluous, southern-accented baritone voice.
Standing at four feet at the shoulder, this wolf is, at first glance, predominantly black and white. Theres greater emphasis on the former, beginning with a dark band of fur racing up along the bridge of her long, sturdy muzzle, and fanning out over her head, ears, and the outer edge of her cheek ruffs. The white, meanwhile, covers the remainder of her muzzle, bleeds out over her cheeks - save a thin band of dark fur accenting her cheekbones - provides a frame for her light amber eyes, and terminates just a couple inches down her throat. It picks up again at her chest, a bright locket of fur appearing where her dark mane gradiates to a dusky silver that spreads partly down her the insides of her forelegs, covers her ribcage, and gradually overtakes her hips.
Even in low lighting, this gradiant throughout her coat is clear to see, the bulk of her fur a light silver at the roots, and darker at the tips. She has patterning, as well, reminiscent of that of a timber or tundra wolf, the only places on her body that are truly black proving to be her mane, the dark saddle that runs between her shoulders to the base of her hips, and the tip of her tail. There is some subtle darkening at her extremeties as well, beginning at the midpoint of her legs and tail.
Though large for her species, shes a slender, sinewy animal. But be that the result of her diet, or simply her metabolism, its hard to say.
There is a single platinum hoop earring in her right ear.
It's been a surprisingly mild day for late July, leading to a comfortably cool evening. Middling humidity and a steady breeze bring only a slight bite to the air, but the temperature remains pleasant as evening turns to night, the light that dots the bawn - natural or otherwise - assisted by an uncovered moon overhead.
Within the compound, the cookfire is lit, the remnant smell of cooked meat lingering in the area-- and by it lays the most recent tenant - the Fury, of course, laying partly on her 'good' side in wolf form - that has been more or less undisturbed since her arrival, the Guardians that call this place home either off to find rest, or out on their rounds, leaving her to tear leisurely at an uncooked steak of some kind. Venison, most likely, based on the most recent hides.
She looks better than she had, the better part of her pelt covering wounds that have largely healed, save for the scarring. Not that scars are necessarily a bad thing, in this case.
With the turn of the moon phase, most Garou are feeling it slightly less -- with the exception, of course, of the Galliards. Currently in Felix's case the best indication of that is the fact that his approach is announced by the sounds of leaps and drops before the plain footsteps are audible, as each time he passes beneath a tree he thinks he can reach a branch of, he's doing so. Most of the time he's right, and there's a pause between leap and drop in which he swings or pulls up on the branch; when he's wrong, they're much closer together. He becomes visible in the clearing via a swing off an aspen branch, landing a bit awkwardly just past where the tree spacing broadens. He shakes his head once, and glances around, grinning when he spots the Fury. "Evenin'."
By the time he's there, Hide's no longer doing her best to divine who it is that's incoming, Felix's scent already familiar to her. She wears as close to an amused grin as her canine features allows, an equally amused chuff given as he makes his odd landing. ~Evening, Tarzan,~ she replies in the Mother tongue, though the latter is inferred more than stated plainly, her tail thumping lazily against the ground beneath her.
Felix laughs, and does a pretty decent Tarzan-yodel, mock-beating his chest, before sauntering the rest of the way over to Hide and dropping onto the log nearest her. "How's it goin'? All healed up? You're =lookin'= better," he decides, assessing her.
Hide offers another short sound of amusement, then cranes her neck somewhat to look at the wounds, though it's just a cursory glance. ~I'm not drugged up anymore, at least,~ she says, bowing her head back down to tear off a piece of meat with the help of her paw pinning it down, the sizable chunk bolted down with little difficulty. ~Guess I was more banged up than I should've been, or something, so-- they were worried something else was wrong. Wanted to keep me from moving around too much in case there was.~ She gives the equivalent of a shrug. ~Seems like it's all healing pretty well, though.~
"Surprised me how bad it got you," Felix says, with a small nod, "Guess I ain't that surprised the medical types'd wanna be sure shit was okay." A slight pause, and he adds, "Thanks, by the way. For distractin' it. Plan wasn't half-bad neither." He settles back a bit, considering her again, looking thoughtful.
If it's possible for a wolf to sober, Hide is doing a good job of managing it. She's still as relaxed as can be, in this instance, but that isn't much of a surprise. If anything, this form seems to lend to it. ~You don't have to thank me,~ she says, then. ~I mean--~ she lolls her tongue a little, adopting a somewhat wry 'tone,' ~it's not like this is the military. Letting the CO get murdered doesn't end in an instant promotion.~ She sobers again, then, worrying at the edge of the steak with her teeth. ~Anyway,~ she says, once she's done chewing, ~if you don't mind me saying, it seems to me there's something more than gratitude on your mind.~
There's a hint of the grin, briefly, with a shrug. "I know I don't gotta, but. Ain't sure everyone'd agree we ain't like the military, though. Promotions aside." Felix doesn't answer her further remark for a moment or two, reaching into his pocket for the tin that houses his smokes and lighter. He doesn't immediately open it, however, just turning it over in his hand, without looking. "Wonderin' if there's somethin' we could do to get you less banged up, next time. Maybe conditionin' shit, at least. No offense meant or nothin', you did fine runnin' with me an' J, but it ain't likely to hurt." The grin, suddenly, teasing and slightly wicked, "Well, not =much=."
The flash of the tin catches Hide's attention immediately, her ears pricked. She seems to know better than to think nicotine is in her immediate future, however, as her ears just as quickly flatten back in irritation, her teeth going back to worrying at the raw meat to distract herself, taking off small bits and pieces with no real dedication to bolting the whole thing down.
It's the little things, really.
Then comes the observation. It's either not entirely unexpected, or isn't cause for offense, as she barely seems to react to it, save to glance up towards him as he speaks. Otherwise, she's content to keep nibbling, swallowing what little she's taken in before responding. Even then, she seems to take a moment to think, looking out to the forest as if to watch for something.
<<You know,>> she says, <<about a week ago, I probably would've told you it wasn't a big deal. Would've said a lot of things.>> She looks to her wounds again. Though they aren't open, they're visible in the firelight, thick pink lines with jagged edges. Dry, but they still look raw. <<Chalk it up to pride, I guess,>> she mutters. <<When there's three or four people all asking about where you've traveled, whether or not you pissed off any spirits lately, or god only knows what else, you start to think a little differently.>>
Felix flips the tin open and takes out a cigarette, lighting up while Hide replies. He takes a good drag, then considers the wolf for a moment and leans to hold the cigarette so she can, theoretically, take one as well. As much as a wolf muzzle will allow, at any rate. "Well, maybe it really =ain't= a big deal," he says, "but that don't mean it's a bad idea, anyhow." He pulls the cig back to take another smoke himself. "...any interestin' answers to those travellin' an' pissin' off spirits kinda questions, though?"
Visibly tempting though the offer may be, Hide shakes her head to decline, her tail giving a brief wag of thanks, and her gaze going back out to the forest again, one ear turned to Felix as he continues to speak. <<None that I can think of,>> she replies. <<Never really got sick, either, just-->> She shrugs. <<I don't know. Pick your excuse. Didn't have time for conditioning, didn't have much reason. I had so many favors coming in from occasional visitors that we had the whole house fortified against anything even remotely threatening. And we had packs moving through, besides, most of which were already spoiling for a fight.>>
If it's the real reason for the falter - which is arguably not a small one, all things considered - it's not that easy to say. Even in her lupine form, she's not especially easy to read, and, aside from the speculative gaze she keeps on the bawn as a whole, she seems perfectly relaxed. <<Now, though,>> she says, <<I think that little wake-up call is enough to let me know that this isn't the best shape to be in.>>
"Sounds like a good position," Felix says, leaning back again as he smokes and listens to the rest. He seems relaxed as well, watching her attentively but casually. "Ain't many of us get sick much anyhow," he observes, "but managin' it'd be a shitty way to stand out." He taps a toe a couple times, considering. "You got much fightin' trainin' an' experience?"
<<Got enough that I can make a good show of it,>> Hide replies, the steak going ignored for now. <<Well... not as good a show as I used to, but I know what I'm doing.>> She gets up from where she's laying and stretches some, though she does so gingerly, and seems to luxuriate in it for a moment. After all that laying around, though, it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise.
<<It's weight training I slacked off on,>> she says. <<Weight training, cardio-- that kind of thing. Got wrapped up in working and counseling, and that was that.>>
Felix sighs. "I miss the gyms," he says, "Edgewood's garage had a decent set up, good punchin' bag, an' me an' J set up one of the rooms in the Library for workin' out. But with everyone havin' to evacuate 'cause of the Queen an' her fuckers..." He shakes his head, takes another drag. "Anyway, we oughta do somethin' about that."
After the stretch, Hide seats herself again, gaze turning towards the fire. There's a slight lull that falls between them once he finishes putting forth the suggestion, a sense of hesitation, and a note of tension that hadn't been there before. <<Yeah,>> she says, finally. <<Guess I could use the help.>>
Felix tilts his head slightly at the signs of hesitation and tension, and exhales a plume of smoke. "...did I mention just how it ended up with so many of us out here, urrah an' all? Evacuatin' all the safehouses when they ambushed Thane at the Shadow Lords' garage?" he asks after a moment, conversationally. "That was fuckin' frustratin'. Still is." Indeed, to someone as used to watching people as Hide, there's a clear spike of rage there -- well-mastered, well-concealed, probably invisible to most observers, but definitely there. "Anyhow, once we been here a bit I asked Thane what he's been doin' for workin' out without the gym in the garage, since he'd been stuck on the Bawn since he took Alpha. Ended up we've been sparrin' pretty regular since then, as part of it. You want, we could do some of that too."
Hide's lips pull back a bit at the mention of the safehouses. Though she'd managed to keep the reaction under wraps before, it comes through now, with a faint show of her teeth. Be it frustration or disgust, on her part, it's legitimately hard to say, but one thing's for sure: *something* about the topic annoys the hell out of her. She shakes it off, though, raising up to her feet to pace around the fire a bit, preferring that to remaining still, her movements still on the slow side, but given the appearance of her wounds, she has reason to be careful. Tearing them back open after all the help she's been given - as well as the recent freedom - would be a bummer.
She's still listening as she trots, however, though there's another lapse into silence-- some restraint put towards keeping her movements steady, her gait occasionally paused to again look back out over the bawn. <<Much as I appreciate the sentiment,>> she says, then, turning to look over her shoulder at him. <<And I do,>> she says. <<I appreciate it.>> Then, her attention returns to the bawn. <<That sounds humiliating.>> There's a pause. <<But it's not like I have a lot of choice in the matter.>>
"Why?" Felix asks quite simply. "It's fun." He shrugs again. "You got plenty of choice, there's lotsa ways to work out. That one's just more fun'n most." He leans over, ashing the cigarette into the firepit, and cracks another sudden grin, "I can think of some that're =more= fun, but I ain't volunteerin' on those. Anyhow. What you do's up to you, anythin' or nothin'. I'm just makin' offers. Ain't nothin' sayin' you gotta accept none."
It's her complete lack of reaction to the joke that marks Hide's state of mind-- or, at least, her level of distraction. Probably a bit of both, in this case. <<Maybe if it's the kind of strength training boxers do with their trainers,>> she says, circling around the fire again until she ends up at the meat she'd left behind, the reminder that there's insects that might want to sully the meal for her leading her to return to a lounging position on her side, though it isn't nearly as relaxed. <<But sparring's fine. Never expected to be doing it with a teenager, but I guess that's the price you pay for being lazy.>>
"Is it better or worse if the teenager's been fightin' over a decade so far?" Felix asks, just a bit too innocently for there not to be at least a little bit of a tease underlying it. "Seemed like you got thoughts about the safehouse thing," he observes after a moment, leaving the question just implied for now.
For the moment, Hide has returned to eating her meal, though she's a little less leisurely about it. Still not quite so enthusiastic that she's being disruptive, but, nonetheless-- once she's gotten down a few mouthfuls, the hunk of meat down to its last few bites, she cleans her muzzle with a swipe of her tongue, and says, <<Doesn't matter,>> giving no indication that the teasing is noted, though, more than likely, it is. <<Like I said, I don't have a lot of options-- and I'd rather get to work on it sooner rather than later.>> There's a pause-- a light huff through her nose. Then, <<Mostly because of that. Those 'thoughts.' But I already shot my mouth off at the moot, so I'm sure you know what some of those are.>>
"Riiight, those thoughts," Felix says, finishing off the cigarette. He pinches out the tiny bit remaining, and drops it into the firepit as well. The hunt of meat gets a bit of look while it's being devoured. "Figure you're gonna be here much longer, or are they 'bout ready to discharge you?" he asks then, apropos of nothing obvious.
The question earns a curious look. <<About ready for discharge,>> Hide replies, looking back at the compound proper. <<They want to keep an eye on me for one more night.>> Her ear flicks, and she raises a little, using her forepaw rather than the back to scratch lightly at it. Less to do with failure to remember she doesn't have hands, and more to do with not wanting to contort too much to give her back foot access, most likely. Shaking her head, she settles back in again, and says, <<Probably making sure the Shambler didn't pass on a wasting disease, or something similar.>> And from the sound of it, it has little to do with their earlier concerns, or the previous topic. Either way, she doesn't sound that concerned. Curious, though-- <<Why?>>-- certainly.
Felix gives a small 'heh' of a laugh at the question. "Just wondered," he says, "Seems like I somehow developed this habit of pickin' shit up for folks stuck here, so if you were gonna be here much longer..." A shrug. "Although hell, if there's somethin' you need for tomorrow, I can see what I can do."
Hide lolls her tongue, a more relaxed smile crossing her features. <<That's at least one bonus of being 'stuck' like this,>> she says, tail waving lazily against the ground. <<You don't want for much. Except booze, maybe. And cigarettes.>> She huffs at the last bit, the sound coming out like more of a grunt, the closest thing to <<Bullshit,>> that can be said in lupine language.
"If you need bullshit for tomorrow, I could probably manage to provide that, yeah," Felix says, "...assumin' I don't use it all up myself while I'm out tonight." A bit of the grin again, then, and he pulls out the Altoids tin again, tipping it toward her in a questioning sort of way. "The drinkin' part's worst, you ask me," he says, "Smokin' in Glabro's okay enough, but drinkin'..." He shakes his head.
The sound Hide makes is something like a mutter of distaste, wordless but expressive, nonetheless. <<Glabro,>> she repeats. <<How that's not just a dumb joke on creation's part, I'll never know. Has its uses, sure, but it looks so damn goofy...>> She bows her head, finishing off the remainder of the meat with a couple of bites, and settles in a little more. <<Could always pull it off in crinos, though,>> she notes, lolling her tongue in a show of amusement.
"I ain't that bad in Glabro," Felix says, shifting into a position on the log in which he looks almost offensively comfortable, shoulders back a bit and chin slightly lifted; the overall effect is decidedly cocky, though it softens fairly swiftly back to his normal level of confidence as he allows, "...though it maybe ain't my =best= look. Ain't actually smoked in Crinos... seems like you'd need somethin' bigger. Cigar, maybe. Big one."
Apparently, this is a challenge worth accepting. Raising to her feet, Hide stretches a little more, extending her front paws for a time, hindquarters raised, and as she pushes upwards to complete the stretch, well outside of knocking anything out of place, she allows for a slow, languid shift into a form that's anything *but* languid, remaining on all fours for a time, her height still allowing her to loom over the Gnawer. "Hand 'em over," she says, switching to English for what *may* be the over-the-top growl of her vocal chords. <<And the lighter. You manage to master it, it'll be the only thing you do in this form that can ever be described as 'dainty.'>> Which, to her, clearly means 'funny.' And, apparently, less goofy than hanging around in Glabro.
Felix grins again and does, in fact, hand the tin over. It's ridiculously small in a Crinos hand. "Lighter's in there too," he says; the contents once it's opened do indeed turn out to be his lighter, several cigarettes, and a couple joints. He watches her with clear amusement as well, to see just how this goes. "Can't say there's a lot I do in =any= form'd get described that way. But that seems like the form for it."
<<You'll love this,>> Hide assures him, carefully flipping open the tin with a claw, and fishing the lighter out in much the same way. She does it with what's clearly a *practiced* hand, palming the lighter and carefully drawing out a cigarette before closing the tin and handing it back to him. The cigarette's raised, clamped between canine 'lips,' such as they are, the movement infinitely gentle. Even the lighter is handled with precision, the tip of her claw settling into the groove of the wheel to one side of the metal band to administer a quick flick to get it started, her other massive hand raising to shield the fire from being blown out, a couple puffs lighting the smoke with little difficulty.
Just the smooth inhalation is enough to derive a rumbling sound of pleasure from her, the clearly-ingrained move to pluck the cigarette from her mouth - ever so carefully, in what could, in fact, be called a 'dainty' gesture, as advertised - done with such ease that it's... well. Comical. <<Do this in front of any posturing idiot who's riding around on their huffy bike,>> she says, slowly breathing out a plume of smoke, mouth formed in as much of a 'O' as a muzzle allows, <<and you'll usually send 'em into a conniption fit. Worth it every time.>>
Comical enough that Felix does in fact laugh as he watches the process, and when she finishes and returns the lighter as well, he shifts up to Crinos as well, in no hurry, to give it a try as well. He is, of course, not nearly so practiced at it in this form, this being the first time he's tried, but he does have plenty of practice in Homid, at least, and natural dexterity's on his side. As a result, though it's not nearly so smooth as Hide's attempt, he at least succeeds, and manages not to drop anything in the process. Given the size of the cigarette in a Crinos paw, it probably does end up about the daintiest-looking thing anyone around here's seen him do.
The sight of Justin can be seen heading down into the compound with a bored look written across his face. He has a backpack dangling over one shoulder loosely that has seen better days. It seems the half-tino is need for another haircut as well from the looks of his long, darl tangly curls that fall in front of his face. As he spies the two Crinos appear to be .. smoking, he gains an incredulous look upon his face. "The fuck are you two doing?"
Hide snorts abruptly at what she sees, a puff of smoke emitting from her nose as a result (should've seen that coming), the cigarette snagged from her mouth before a slight sputter sends it flying onto the ground. <<Nailed it,>> she says, rubbing at her nose with her free paw, her face just expressive enough to show a wide grin. Just as she seems to be recovering, she hears Justin, and an honest laugh raises from her at the question. Might be the placebo effect, but the cigarette certainly does seem to be doing wonders for her mood. The optics don't hurt, either. <<Having a tea party,>> she says mildly, in spite of her outburst, brow quirking a bit more subtly than it would in her human form.
Chugs-Mystery-Brew grins back, all shiny pointy white teeth and far too many of them; surely only another werecreature would recognize it for the genuine amusement it is. He stifles a snort at Justin's question, putting on the most innocent expression he can. There's a slight shift in his position as well, the way he's sitting and the way he holds his limbs also going more, well, 'dainty'. It would be incongruous on Homid-Felix. In Crinos it's nearing ludicrous. ~Can't you tell from the doilies?~
Rubbing a hand over his face, Justin squints at them again, then shrugs as he drops his bag down to the ground. "You two are super dorks." He rumbles out with a grin. "And I like tea. Can I join in too?" He plods over their way, shifting into this Crinos form as well as the shaggy more dog than wolf warform appears.
<<Excuse me,>> Hide replies, affecting a dry tone, even as that absurd grin remains clear on her face <<I think the phrase you're looking for is 'super cool.'>> The cigarette is raised for a full drag, nearly taking it down to the filter, and loosing one hell of a plume of smoke in the aftermath, lips pulling back a bit to show her teeth. <<Damn, I needed this.>>
<OOC> Hide says "Add a gesture for Justin to join in there somewhere, ack. Still settling in from work."
~Says the guy runnin' around huntin' little monsters that don't exist,~ Chugs replies in the closest to a drawl Mother's Tongue and the Crinos voice equipment allow. He nods to Hide, making an 'exactly' sort of gesture toward her with his cigarette in response to her correction. ~Sure, pull up a fancy armchair, have a tiny cake.~ Alas, no tiny cakes are actually in evidence. It is a terrible oversight. The way Hide takes that drag gets a soft laugh, and he follows suit rather less intensely.
~I have to fight monsters that /do/ exist. It balances out.~ Mouse Trap says as he flops down next to his packmate, then gives a glance about at the lack of tea and tiny cakes. His ears flick backwards some. ~So besides dog tricks, what else is going on? We all healed up I take it and ready to go back to work?~
Hide smirks at the dejected response the lack of cakes gets, settling on her hip and non-wounded side, unintentionally giving a show of the jagged marks along her side. She glances at them, then, pulling in the last of the cigarette for a decent hit before carefully - and, yes, daintily - flicking the butt into the fire with the precision of a trained marksman. ~Got one more day under watch,~ she says, ~then, apparently, I'll be allowed back into civilization. Just as God intended.~ To Chugs, she says, ~You got another one of those? I'm making up for lost time, here.~
Chugs-Mystery-Brew doesn't have any pockets in this form, so he does have the tin immediately handy, and passes it over obligingly at the Fury's request. ~Don't make it less dorky,~ he informs his packmate, though it's somehow less judgemental in tone than the words would suggest -- just an unfortunate fact. Alas.
There is a loud snort from the Ahroun as he folds himself down to his knees. ~I was thinking we should take a peek at the library and see if any of those uglies are actually hanging about there or not. It's been months. They got to have moved on by now and on to other projects. We never had any evidence they 'were' crashing our hot spots.~
~What 'uglies' are we talking about, here?~ Hide asks, performing the same feat she did before while barely paying attention. Either she practiced this deliberately, or flubbed it enough while trying that she learned quickly.
~Brings-the-Pack said they weren't,~ Chugs answers Mouse-Trap, ~Remember, I asked him to check it out? Said they weren't there, wasn't any indication they were gonna be. It just got decided it was safer stayin' away anyhow, not riskin' leadin' 'em there or anythin'. So it'd stay that way 'til this shit was handled.~ He takes another good drag on the cigarette, the Crinos lungs making a visible dent in the length, and exhales, watching the smoke float away.
~Yeah, well, I may go back home seeing how we aren't actually handling any shit, nor are they doing the same. I want to get some stuff there anyways. You wanna come with me later?~ Mouse Trap asks as he pushes himself up and runs a large paw over his thickly furred chest. ~You can come too.~ He says to the Fury. ~I'm going to get a lake bath though and then find some dinner. I'm starving and the cakes here aren't real filling.~
~I can't help but notice that no one answered my question,~ Hide says mildly, taking a drag off the freshly lit cigarette, still smirking (as much as she can, anyway) at Chugs' own display as she exhales. ~You have fun, though.~
~Might wanna give Slug a heads up 'fore movin' back in,~ Chugs says, ~He's the one decided it'd be better we held off. But yeah, I'll go with you for grabbin' shit, what the fuck. Lemme know when you got in mind, headin' into town soon anyhow.~ He finishes off the cigarette, pinching it out and flicking the remnant into the firepit as well, before explaining to Hide, ~Wraiths or BSDs or any other Queen-shit.~
~Yeah, if I can even track Slug down.~ Mouse Trap grumbles as he gives a thumbs up to the pair, then heads out with a werewolf lumbering stride.