The Original Rump Shakers

@Adina & @Miranda!

 Running from perfume de pooch, Calvin packed his pillow and his night light, setting both items on the passenger seat as he made his way to Larkspur. Traffic was a special kind of shit, allowing him to think of all the things he didn't want to. His sides still hurt from where that dog had chomped on him and he couldn't drive past a McDonald's without glowering. All that said, he felt....different. Not bad, per say, just not himself.

 Hoping it wasn't some unfortunate after effect of the vampire's influence, Calvin sidled up to the apartment door, kicking it since his hands were full. "Yoo hooooooo, Would ya like ta learn bout yer Lord an' Savior Jesus H. Motherfuckin' Christ?"

 "Shut up!" It was a knee-jerk response geared towards the door as she turned at the sound of the commotion on the other side. It was best that Calvin lived in the goddamn sticks, good that he could be obnoxious and live unscathed for it. In an apartment of high-stress college kids and generally young working adults, that wasn't a luxury that the apartment provided.

 She answered the door before she noticed it, pulled it open and froze as she looked him over and frowned. It was her own beast first that took a moment to settle with the reality of their circumstance. Eager to see him but a little more careful in the way it leaned against him, a little less quick to bully. "Have you been feeling ... okay?"

 Her frown was contagious. Shifting his things to one hand, he touched his neck and his face and his forehead. "What's wrong? I been feelin' wonky as a honky tonk tune." Leaving out his embarrassing fast food adventure for now, but willing to share if she saw something he didn't. Shuffling in, it was only when he was inside that he bothered to notice the warm reception his cat was getting.

 "Ya look shorter." Not in inches, maybe, but in power.

 She scoffed at the comment on size, ignored the fact that it made her a little prickly as she shut the door behind him and turned the lock. Slow to turn round and leaning against it as she looked him over. "You look taller, you stupid bitch. Congratulations."

 The puzzle pieces didn't go together easily, but with a little crisco and will it all finally clicked.


 He dropped his shit on the couch and adopted the kind of smile the Grinch would envy for its smugness. Chest puffed out, he let his cat take a victory trot around her, tail high as he pranced in a circle. "Well ain't that some neato shit. Ya proud a yer boy, Marta?"

 It didn't take long for her to dig her claws into the victory parade and pop a balloon or two, her cat swiping at his when he took to showing off. She chose not to think about it, moving to pull him into a tight and quick hug. "I am proud. Guess you can finally sit at my table, slow poke."

 Squeezing her tight, he let his stubble rub against her cheek in a weak, brushing kiss before he pulled away. "Miranda here?" A little more awkward now, feeling like he should take his fucking shoes off, though subjecting them to his foot stench would be just as unpleasant as traipsing round the house in ratty shoes. "Or is it just us chickies?"

 She averted her eyes when he pulled away, scoffed at the question as she went around the couch and moved to flop down beside his things. "It's just us chickies for now." The term making her brows knit a bit as she pulled his pillow into her lap and hesitated at the other item. "That a fucking night light, Meynard?"

 He rushed over to sit beside her without a lick of shame. "Ain't it cute!? Watch." Taking the squishy cat from her, he squeezed its middle to turn it on, making it light up in alternating neon colors. "Then ya can squeeze it again if ya just wanna steady glow."

 She hesitated for a moment, set the pillow down on her lap and patted it in a quiet offer as she reached out to squeeze the cat. "Do you need this or do you just enjoy being frivolous?"

 "If yer askin' can I get ta sleep without one, yeah I can. Just helps me ta not feel so alone at night." His one room shack in the boonies filled up quickly, his presence enough to trick away the creeping solitude, but the house in Louisiana had felt as empty as he had when everyone left. "An' it reminds me of me an' I'm a cute motherfucker." Playing off the sentiment a little, trying to lessen his dependence with a joke.

 She scoffed, rolled her eyes at the reasoning and nodded to the coffee table as she kept herself busy picking at a nail and leaning against the arm of the couch. "Alright then, do you - set yourself up."

 "Ya got a blanket I can borrow or do ya need all a them cuz yer so cold all the god damn time?"

 She turned, looked over at him and lifted a single brow as she stared. "Want to run that by me again?" A second opportunity to rephrase the question in a less aggressive light.

 They worked best when they were at odds with each other, each poking boundaries with claw-sharpened sticks. Deciding to commit to his comment, he was at least smart enough not to repeat himself and shove his other foot into his mouth. Instead, he started rummaging around their living room, looking for a throw or a quilt he could use. "You gonna be around fer dinner?" The bigger question being did they have anything worth cooking in the house?

 She ran her tongue over her teeth, watched him get comfy from the corner of her eye before she wordlessly stood and started down the hall towards her room. "I'm off for the rest of the day - besides I'm not leaving you alone here." Calling back to him as she went to grab a spare blanket.

 "Why don't we have the other cats over fer dinner?" He asked, following her down the hallway, pretending that he was getting closer so she wouldn't miss a word but knowing all too well that she could hear him fine. Really, he just wanted to see her room. "We can talk over take-out an' finally get our ducks in a fuckin' row."

 She scoffed when she heard him coming, on the tips of her toes and pushing winter coats and haphazardly tossed clothes out of the way to get to the quilt folded on the bottom of the shelf. She didn't bother glancing around to look at him, didn't care much if he had anything smart to say about the space. A few abandoned articles of clothing, a couple of succulents she had yet to kill on the windowsill, bass, mattress on the floor and the blankets a mess. "Why? We in a big rush now that you know the way around your own dick?"

 He sneered, closing in and grabbing her by the crook of her elbow to whip her around. "Ain't I the one who thought you should go fer it in the first place? I think we should fuckin' talk ta them cuz apparently real estate is goin' quick an' we're vulnerable if we aren't tagether. Really tagether. I might be stronger but I still got chomped on by some rando fuckin' cujo dog in an' mind messed with in a fuckin' McDonald's cuz a vampire was feeling real protective over some chicken nuggets. An' that was just since our date!"

 It was cause and effect, eyes immediately gold as she glared up at him, listened close and slowly tugged herself away. She felt her cat bristle at the idea, felt her muscles coil as she turned her back to him to mask it and pushed the folded blanket to his chest as she turned back. "Tell me everything that happened. Are you alright?"

 His hold was easy to get out of and he allowed her to slip through his fingers under the guise of looking for that stupid fucking blanket, fleetingly curious as to whether he could have kept his grip if he'd wanted to. Taking what he'd been given, Calvin hugged the fuzzy, folded layers, fighting his skepticism. Was she actually concerned or was she mining for mistakes to hold against him?

 "Do ya know there's a swamp down in Magic Hollow? I was pleased as punch ta find it an' I shifted there. Place was deserted so I wanted ta do some good ole' bog huntin'. But outta nowhere this dog fuckin' comes up ta me an' starts nosin around my business. it smelled like a fuckin' vampire but it acted like a dog, just like one. It licked me an' his rancid mouth juice got in mah fur an I scratched the shit outta his nose fer it. Then he clamped his mouth round my torso an' threw me ta the ground like a sad sack a shit."

 Grimacing, he lifted his shirt a little, revealing a skewed bite pattern of purple bruises.

 She didn't interrupt storytime, shuffled a bit to the side and frowned as she reached out, gently set her hand briefly over the marks to make sure they didn't feel too terribly hot in comparison to the rest of his skin. "Jesus." A low murmur as she slowly pulled away and moved at once to swat him in the arm. "You could have fucking called me! Not like Magic Hollow is all the way across the fucking world."

 He kept still. "I ran an' the fucker chased me like a proper poodle fer a while till he got bored I guess. Then I run inta this hoity toity ho who's tryin ta be all up in my business when I was just tryin' ta get some free chicken nuggets. She forced me ta tell the truth in front a everyone in that fuckin' place, an' thankfully it was only bout somethin' small and pointless but -- what if she'd forced me ta say somethin else? What if you'd run inta someone like that or if Parker met the one that nearly killed me in Cordova? With mah home feelin' the way it is now....I just wanna feel secure s'all." He reached for her again, tried to coax her to turn around. "I'm sorry if my new an' improved dick is crampin yer style. Yer still the baddest bitch, Dina Doo."

 She turned about, frowned as she shook her head and pulled him into another hug. Lifting onto the balls of her feet as she laid her head on his shoulder and stared out the window in the process. "It's okay - it's good that you'll be safer now." Stiff as she tried to relax a bit, be a little more verbal about her thoughts.

 He hugged her back, throwing the blanket on her mattress so he could hold her properly. His beast was eager to do the same, affectionately rubbing up against her side, a purr warming his chest. "Ya know when somethin's so hard an' tough it gets brittle? Jus' feels like that's all a us right now."

 She frowned, slow to let go so that she could look up at him properly. "I think you lost me a little there. What do you mean, all of us?"

 He huffed, moving to pick up the blanket and walk out of the room, pausing at the doorway so she knew he wasn't snubbing her. "I just mean we've all been doin' the solo rodeo long enough. I didn' think I'd ever get ta where I am an' I know I couln've it I hadn't been around all y'all fer the last lil bit." Mostly her, but he aimed for casual.

 "Oh ... yeah." She sniffed, smoothed her hands along the thighs of her jeans as she looked around the room. "Well, if you want to throw up the bat signal and see if you can get everyone over for food, then I'm down for ..." She turned, tossed her denim jacket on the bed and pulled his leather one free from just under it. Giving it a gentle shake before she held it out to him. "Before I forget."

 "Thanks." He folded the jacket over his arm on top of the blanket he was carrying. "Ya know I could get ya one that fits ya. We could be sizzlin' sisters an' match." Waggling his eyebrows at her before he moved back to the living room and pulled out his phone.

 "Don't tempt me I'll take you up on it - shit's comfortable." Calling after him as she shut her bedroom door and fell in step just behind. Curious enough to not hide her prying as she watched the screen of his phone over his shoulder.

Miranda was not qualified to have an opinion on all this, she felt. As she arrived back home she mostly just felt kinda out of place, for all her inner grumpy cat was all sorts of a more relaxed grumpy.

"Hey," she offered a teeny smile that was mostly nervousness and moved to find a place to sit.

 Though he was the bog man invader, he hoped to be a friendly presence to the young cat coming in. Letting his beast make a more demonstrative greeting, the cat trotted up to Adina's furry daughter, craning its head in an eager hello. "Howdy, Miranda. Thanks again fer lettin' me crash. I owe ya the breakfast of yer choosin' tomorrow." A safe show of thanks -- what Were didn't eat breakfast?

 In her defense, she didn't think it was inherently bad that she felt particularly defensive about Miranda, as long as she acknowledged it and didn't make an ass of herself. Still, she watched Calvin when Miranda came home, cat ambling between the two to keep things pleasant for everyone. Quiet as she went to collapse on the far end of the couch and set her phone down. "Make me toast and eggs while you're at it, Calbert."

Cat stuff was still all weird. Hers looked away from his and focused on Adina's while Miranda herself tried not to do the same for the sake of being polite.

Also, it was weird that he was thanking her? He was like in his fifties or something.

"Um. It's okay. Eggs and toast is fine if you're already making them."

Outfit w black kitten heels.

It would be a short while later before Parker arrived. She'd had to finish up her duties at work, make sure with her mentor that there was nothing else needed of her, then make the drive from Ravenswood to Larkspur. When she arrived, she would still be in her dark, formal attire she was required to wear to work, and smelled very strongly of both the chemicals used in the process of embalming, but the smell of death itself that only those with noses sensitive as the people she was visiting tonight would be capable of picking up. Still, she did try to mask it some with a small amount of perfume. Aware there was little she could do to help it, she would move from her car and to the apartment indicated twice in the text message chain.

The cat was immediately aware of the proximity of others, even before she rapped her knuckles against the door. There was an edge of apprehension in doing do, born out of reluctance to face Calvin again, and the idea that a significant decision was going to be made tonight. She still was not entirely sure what a group would mean, but she knew that the cat urged her to be with the others. Belong to them. And so, aware that sating the cat would make her life easier, she would do as she must. It did help that she was fond of at least a few of them, unlikely as that seemed. When the door opened, Parker would greet whomever it was that did so with a soft, meek smile in the corners of her lips, and step inside.

 Toast and eggs was a flaccid choice of breakfasts, but he'd oblige. Cat respecting the boundaries Adina set around the younger cat, his beast dipped his head and padded a comfortable distance away, belly swaying as he walked.

 Sensing the presence of another some time later, Calvin jumped up off the couch to get the door. Sure he knew who it was based on the sharp clinical scent that preceded her, he smiled wide and moved to pull the young woman into a tight embrace. Cat licking in between her ears, he rubbed cheeks with her, puffing a little so he could show off his newfound strength. He didn't think less of her because of what had happened, as painful as it had been to have those memories plucked.

 "It's good to see you, Parker."

 She had been relaxed, for the most part, eyes shut and focused on the sense of comradery as she tried not to dwell on whatever was about to unfold. Quick to sit up but not quick enough to beat Calvin to her feet, watching over the back of the couch and smirking to Parker, neglecting the smell as she offered the woman a little wave. "Evening Parker. Drinks in the fridge, got water, a couple of ciders, and maybe a coke or two."

Parker came in with a wealth of bad scent and Miranda would have really rather not had to smell that so intensely! How did she even work with that?

She gave a strained sort of smile as she waved her hello. They were both on the quieter end but it didn't exactly make it easier for Miranda to like magnetize to her.

Though she appreciated people she could be quiet in a room with, sometimes.


 Suri came bearing gifts! Really, it was a case of knock-off sodas that had been gifted to her from excess stock at work. And they were not cold. Oh, well.

 One hand carried the brightly colored box of cans while the other yanked her hair out of the ponytail that had threatened to give her a headache for the last hour or so. Up to the door she waltzed, and feeling a bit emboldened by the idea of putting some dang magic into this litter box, she would open the door and let herself in without knocking.

 "Mazel tov!" she greeted them all, warm with excitement. Suri was absolutely not Jewish, and didn't really know what the words she'd spoken meant, but she understood the context of them - celebration! With a grin, she gestured towards the door. "Guess I should lock that behind me so no one else gets the same idea, huh."

Of course, it would be Calvin to answer the door. And despite her apprehension to face him again, there was a smile on her lips as he pulled her into a hug. She returned it tentatively, if only for the sake of the cat pouncing her companion excitedly. In the embrace, she noted something particular; he felt different. Not in a negative way, but it was startling. He felt... like Adina, whom was speaking to her. And Suri, would would likely be arriving soon.

"And you." She'd say to him as they fell from the hug, and she would nod thankfully to Adina, smiling in greeting to both her and Miranda, her hand moving into a small wave. At the offer of a drink, she would mumble a thank you, and move into the kitchen to fetch herself some water. Soon enough, Suri was making a boisterous entrance, and Parker would chuckle to herself as she greeted them. "Hello." She'd say, among the chorus of the rest of her compatriots greeting their fifth and final companion.

 She hardly had a second to settle back into position before the door was opening again like this was the start-up of an episode of Friends, arriving one after the next. She smirked, waved with a wiggle of her fingers and found that it was more instinct than anything else that made her glance over very quickly to Miranda to make sure she at least seemed alright with each change in the apartments metaphysical atmosphere.

"I'd appreciate it, the apartment's only so big."

 Already enjoying the swell of comfort with all of them there, Calvin scratched at his beard. He'd never felt uncomfortable speaking to the group before, but this time he felt like less of an impostor. "Well, why don't we get down ta talkin' an then we can order food after ta celebrate?" Wanting to hold their attention and laser it on a single thing at a time. "Dunno how casual er formal we all wanna be about it, if any of us three wanna make our case er?" Might be most practical.

 He shrugged. "Well, I've never been in a group before let alone lead one but I got lots of business experience runnin mah lil truck that I think would help with settin' up our hub. I got big boy pants on now an feel stronger than ever. I'm a good fighter," graciously leaving out the part where he'd held his own against Adina (twice), "an' I'm here when y'all need me, if ya do. I've gotten chummy with the wolf King an' I think Queen Spots wouldn't turn me away from a hoedown neither. Whatever happens I'm here, an' I ain't goin nowhere. An' I'm glad we found each other."

It was a lot! A lot of talking, a lot of being. Her cat loafed with a grumpy squint, privately content to be here but not overwhelmingly interested in letting that show.

It all left Miranda confused. So they were definitely just jumping into this? Did she ever plan on sharing how she felt weird being in a were gang?

Probably not, no. She felt like the kid at a table for adults, so she just glanced to Adina and then Parker and Suri to find if they had anything to say.

 "I don't think we should do closing speeches." Breaking the silence as she smiled weakly to Calvin in a form of apology, not wanting to interrupt him when he had seemed eager to get it all off his chest. "I got an idea but it's ..." She looked over to Suri, the only other one amongst them who had any goddamn sense about how all these group shit was supposed to work. "If we are doing this, voting is already unorthodox. But I'd like to take that a step further, or at least pitch the idea if y'all don't mind ..."

 Suri grinned, locking the door with a little extra pzazz, and would shuffle her short form into the kitchen, keeping an ear out as she found space to stick the sodas in the fridge. Calvin was diving right to the thick of it, and she'd be listening even before she returned to the living room and found a place to plop into sitting. The one man in their midst had some business experience, he was surely feeling stronger - tangibly so - he had connections, and he was glad to be there. Suri grinned warmly at him, and then Adina as she redirected their collective attention.

 She wasn't so into speeches, but she had an idea, something beyond voting. Suri had already shirked herself of expectations - she would find a niche no matter where she landed on the hierarchy. "I say fire away," she said of the noble home owner - content, for now, to simply be here.

 "I can't speak for Suri but I can speak for me, there's a standard on how this goes ..." She looked to Calvin, Miranda, Parker, wanting to keep them as much in the know as she could. "The strongest leads until they fucking die and then you scatter like leaves or you vote in the next strongest. You call them King or Queen and that's that - I mean, there's benefits and ... but that's how succession works, outside of an uprising." She cleared her throat, feeling like she was babbling - talking more than she normally would.

 "And everyone seems real happy to just keep doing that but - I don't know you as well as I'd like ..." She pointed to Suri then, dropped her hand and watched her. "But you're fucking comforting to be around and you're level headed from what I can tell. And I'm not a fucking saint but I have priorities and it's you guys and that's that and -" She looked over to Calvin, frowned. "You've grown so much and you're charming, you'd be good at networking. Parker's talented and detail-oriented, Miranda's adapting to this better than I can expect or hope. And I'm not trying to say let's all stroke one another but what if we reconvened on this shit every six months or a year? You can't use one fucking paintbrush to make a masterpiece I don't know why we need to seal ourselves in to one set of skills when we all got something going for us."

They would step right into it, and Parker would listen as she was very accustomed and comfortable doing. The talkers would talk, and she would follow along, as best she could. She felt very much like she was sitting in on a discussion she was unfit for. A freshman walking into a senior class. Criteria above her grasp, being spoken about as if it were common knowledge.

Calvin voucher for himself, and she agreed that he would be a good fit. A business background was a strong sign of initiative and organization, she thought. And he was stronger now, so it did not matter if he was the weakest of the three options. He had come to her aid a number of times, and he’d gained a certain trust in her she did not afford to many people.

Adina spoke up, opposed to speaking of herself but prepared to share an idea. Parker would not protest, and decisive Suri would encourage her to continue. Thus, there was some explanation in how a group was usually meant to form. The strongest among them lead until death, then either the group would disband, or the next in line would take it. It was a complex hierarchy Parker felt vastly underprepared to understand. King and Queen, succession. It was nothing she had ever had to experience before.

They seemed to be different, though. Going adjacent to the norm, in terms of selecting a leader. Natasha had seemed unsure about it, mentioning her Cliff had been the only option, had been the sole purpose they formed, essentially. This was not the case here. To Adina’s point, and her puzzling show of compliments to each of their characters, everyone seemed fit enough to continually revisit who should be leader. Parker was taken aback by the idea of it. She was not fit for it, no matter her cleanliness and preciseness. She was not a leader.

She fit in well with the other medical professionals that she had met at the fight night. They seemed secure in their groups, acting as a medic for those in need. Those were her talents, and would continue to be. As for the others... it was well established each would be a fair fit. Miranda was adjusting quickly, for as withdrawn and like Parker in regards to how talkative she was. Adina was a natural born leader, direct and confident and certainly physically capable. Suri was warm, inviting, responsible and had gone out of her way to help Parker in her time of need.

The idea of letting one of the potential candidates lead for a time before revisiting if it was working well was... perplexing, but it did sound better than a succession or hierarchy in which one person was to lord over the group until their death, or they were overthrown. In theory, it sounded fair. It sounded as if it could avoid the potential of a coup, however that may look in a setting like this. It also established a grounds for open communication, which was being practiced here right now. In theory, yes, it sounded good. In practice...

”I...fear jealousy.” Parker would say, very quiet, but hoping to be heard. ”If someone is voted... down, when they do not think they should be. I don’t think any of your are jealous people... but, what are the ‘benefits’?” Maybe she had been told, but it was a lot to take in. She immediately feared they would be upset at her for repeating a topic that was already covered. A chapter she should know, that the class had already gone over.

 Adina carried on, and Suri nodded her head. She had almost ten years of group time under her belt. Death or a challenge was the usual form of uprooting for a leader. The other woman went on to explain her idea, that maybe this was something they should have a group huddle over every now and then - it struck her as a little too complicated. She opened her mouth to respond, but would close it as Parker picked up her response - it was a good point. Would someone get jealous? Power hungry?

 "A title that brings a certain kind of respect, and a certain kind of power," she said to Parker with a little grin. "And, if a leader is strong enough to be a true Queen or King, they can... sort of feel their territory. Know if one of the rest of us is in trouble, or if there's a rogue sniffing around." There were possibly points she was missing, but she turned her gaze back to Adina, and then Calvin. "Look - I am happy to take up a role of mentor or even soldier. I'm not dead set on running this ship. I just want to be able to help the rest of us." She gestured between the two other big cats in the room, grinning a little. "I think either of you would totally have this on lock."

This was all a whirlwind to take in, not the least of which was that she totally didn't get what Adina was saying until Parker commented. Wait, like. Stepping down and having a new leader every six or whatever months?

Miranda didn't know anything about groups, or politics, or anything. She wasn't sure how comfortable she would feel with learning. But all that was a long way away from now.

Suri talked of roles, another thing Miranda had no bearing on.

She held her tongue, still, because she really didn't feel experienced enough to have a handle on this, to have any input she wouldn't feel embarrassed about. Her success was due to Adina helping her, being there for her, guiding her through it. She would never vote for herself if better options were around.

 He shot Adina a look. No closing speeches, COOL, now that he had his dick in his hand. Grumpily, he quieted, falling back and listening to what everyone else had to say. As ready as he thought he was to lead, his ignorance on the nature of groups and the magic it carried daunted him and what Adina was suggesting wasn't making it any easier to swallow.

 "Hang on. I just gotta get my thinker wrapped around this. So are you proposin' we rotate this shit? Like a new leader every year like a fuckin pass the crown hot potato?" Unable to keep his opinion from slipping in at the end. "Er are you sayin' like....the king er queen ain't the end all be all -- like they're beholden ta the rest of our opinions on how their doin', and we'll review it every once in a while?"

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