i always get up now to see what's next

Red River Brewery 
#1
It was a quiet weekday evening. There hadn't been a patron in the brewery for almost an hour. She had finished up the dishes and the tabletops were clean. Stomach growling, Kenzie took advantage of the lull to order herself up a round of hot wings and a glass of one of their house beers. Sat at the bar, she was licking her fingers clean after having stripped the last of the meat from a drummette when she became distracted by a commercial on the television. It was a dog food commercial, but there was a wolf on it, and that had been enough to catch her attention.

In the quiet came the loud sound of crunching and cracking and Kenzie absently picked up the bone of her drummette again and started gnawing it between her molars, swallowing fragments and chunks as the screen returned to a sports blooper reel. Soft giggles mingled with those sharper sounds.
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#2


To be perfectly fair and honest, Natalie was feeling a bit lost. She hadn’t been able to officially cut off her friendship with Amber and now was in a weird in between. Anxiety still ate up her belly when she thought too much on it. The idea of going to the brewery just to see some familiar faces seemed nice, at least the wolf suggested as much that it might help. Sad? Hang out with pack. That was the animal brain messing with her own, but she herself was a social person that was feeling significantly more isolated after changing to working at home and now this. It couldn’t hurt at least.

Surprisingly, it was dead. The drone of a tv above the bar and the sounds of a weird crunching met her ears. Hesitantly making her approach, she loosened up at the familiarity that this was a pack mate though they’d never officially met met besides just seeing at moons. Pulling her own stool out, the sound of cracking had Natalie wincing, turning to really scrutinize the girl. Wait, what? Were those chicken bones being bitten down hard on? ”Umm, excuse me, are you eating… are you eating bones?” There was a slight bit of horror dripping into her tone while the wolf merely cocked its head in interest.
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#3
The feel of a packmate nearby drifted in the background as she chewed the bone and watched some unfortunate soul rip the seat of his pants during a wrestling match.

The girl's question as she sat down beside her at first raised a soft hmm?

"Errr..." Kenzie's grey eyes fell to the half demolished drummette in her fingers. One knuckle and most of the humerus was gone. "Uh..." Gracelessly, some of the splintered and crumbled remains tumbled off the tip of her tongue, past her lower lip and onto her plate. "No?" She grinned, a bit sheepish but not as awkward as she might have once been or if she had been in the company of someone other than a packmate. "I mean what am I, some kind of animal?" Hee hee.

Her wolf was wagging its tail and crooning at its companion, wanting to be nearer.

"Natalie, right?"
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#4
There was a look to the bones and then more fell from her mouth and Natalie couldn’t help, but scrunch up her face. It was such a great punchline and a reprieve from her own internal insecurity that a giggle left her mouth. An animal, gosh.

To the question for her name, Natalie offered a nod. ”Yep! That’s me.” And she, didn’t know the girl’s name at all. Lots of potentials floated up, but none of them felt right. ”Um, sorry, I know yours starts with a ‘K’, but.” She gave an apologetic look, hand coming up to her temple to scratch some for a moment before sitting down on her own stool.
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#5
She returned the gnawed drummette to the pile and nonchalantly nudged her plate aside.

I wasn't chewing on bones. Nope nope nope.

Her packmate had taken it in good humor at least. Inwardly, Kenzie was wondering what the heck had come over her, but outwardly she was smiling and angling herself to face Natalie. "Kenzie," she supplied without any offense taken. There was however a pang of guilt. She had been with the pack for a handful of months and had spent little time with them except to roam with them on four paws. It was safe to say that her wolf knew their wolves more than she knew them; a thought that she would ruminate over later and something she would aim to remedy.

"I don't blame you for forgetting my name, I haven't been around that much. Gonna have to fix that!" She thought of Liza and the suggestion to have a girl's champing trip. Summer was setting, the window of opportunity was closing fast. "Have you been with the pack long?" She reached for her beer and tipped it to her lips.
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#6
Kenzie! Natalie gave a smile and would try her very best to keep that name in her memory. The apology felt a bit unneeded and her eyes widened some, quickly waving it away. There was no need. She herself had been pretty absentee from the pack in lieu of trying to detach from human life, which was turning out to be pretty hard.

”Same! It’s been a busy few months,” she tried to reassure. As for the question, she did a quick recount in her head. ”Umm, its been since February?” Was that right? Or did the count officially start when Dante had bit her? So, January then? Wow, it’d been kind of half a year in either case.
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#7
"I think I joined in..." Her tongue poked out between her teeth to play along her top lip. Brows gently furrowed as she thought back. "I think it was late April," she said after a moment or two. Her arrival to Cordova had been on the heels of a marathon run in which she had barely pitched in one place for more than a night over the course of many months. She had arrived in March and never even noticed her birthday come and go, so tangled up in turmoils was she. She could be forgiven for not having the clearest timeline in her mind.

She tipped another mouthful of beer back. "Somewhere around there anyway. I'm lucky to be here." To this she smiled. "How'd you find the pack?"
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#8
Late April wasn’t that long ago, but that meant a whole summer had gone by and they’d never met. Oh dear. Well, at least they were now!

Taking her bag off and looping the straps around themselves, she made to hang it off the stool as best as possible. “Lucky” was a term Natalie hadn’t considered and her brows knit. Luck hadn’t been what drew her into this, but at least it was working for Kenzie.

The bag began to slowly fall and Natalie quickly trapped it between the chair and her hand. Looking at Kenzie with a momentary sheepish expression, it soon became somewhat careful, a look to the door and a double check no one else was here. ”Well… umm… Dante attacked me so.” Her gaze landed finally on the girl at that last part, biting her lip some as she drew the bag into her lap.
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#9
Oh.

That was... not the answer she was expecting. It was not even an answer she considered possible. That one of her packmates would be such solely because another had attacked her and... what? Made her join their little g—

Kenzie clenched her teeth. Uncomfortable with the idea that sprang into her mind. She reigned in her judgement, mindful that the story could be any one of a hundred things. "I... uh..." What do you say to that exactly? Kenzie had questions but she also didn't want to be rude and pry. Besides. She had noted the way Natalie had checked their surroundings before replying and figured she was concerned with more than human eavesdroppers.

"I'm sorry," she said for lack of anything better to say, brows furrowing and grey eyes warm with concern but also searching her companion's for better understanding. Though she held her tongue from what she was wondering, her gaze and her expression were not so silent.
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#10
Natalie sincerely had not meant to change the mood so drastically. It felt like a pit had opened up, but that had been the truth. There was no reason to lie about some happy reason she’d joined when the reality was startling. She was still dealing with the ramifications.

She gave a sad smile at the try for speaking, met that warm gaze, shaking her head some. ”It’s okay.” In an attempt to figure out what to do to fill the silence and direct this to better more easy conversation, her gaze went up to the tv some again, trying to figure out what it was.

”Is this, umm, wrestling?” Natalie motioned to the tv.
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#11
She reached out and grasped her packmate's wrist. Her eager and wriggling wolf took that bridge and cuddled up to Natalie's with rubs and licks. It was strange, these interactions. She could see them clear as day in her mind's eye. She knew not what to think of them though. It was maybe less an actual wolf that shared space with her thoughts and more a manifestation of the energies between her and those who shared the affliction (she needed a better term for it; this manner of thinking did not align with her ambition to accept who and what she was). Magical imagery.

"If you need a friend or ear, you can have me and both of mine." Kenzie smiled and then drew back her hand, glancing to the television as Natalie asked about it. "It was a blooper reel of different sports," she answered as she started to rise from her stool. "But yeah there does seem to be a lot of wrestling clips on there." Scooting around the bar, Kenzie took up a glass and poured her friend the same house beer she had, and slipped a bill into the till to cover it. As she took her seat, the beer was set down in front of Natalie.

"I don't really watch sports," she commented. "Don't mind these sorts of clips though. But the rest of it I find kind of boring. Cartoons or documentaries are more my style."
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#12
An unexpected hand came out to hold her wrist and she started some. The wolf took full advantage of the touch to run forward and sniff and play bite the familiar other.

Natalie softened some to the words, giving a nervous smiling nod to them. It was sweet of her. Maybe, once she knew Kenzie more that could be a possibility, but right now it felt like her chest was always wobbling, ready to crack with emotion and it didn’t feel quite right to let the deluge out on her. The sentiment was truly appreciated though.

Just a blooper reel. Ah, that made more sense as some other event was shown now that she took another look. Settling some, her eyes tracked Kenzie making her way behind the bar with a curious expression. Oh! She was pouring herself something to drink. OH! It was for her which was made clear as the golden liquid topped with froth was placed in front. ”Thanks.”

Her hand played with condensation on the glass as she listened to what the girl’s interests were, brightening at a familiar topic. They weren’t exactly Natalie’s favorite media, but they were up there. ”I definitely understand that. I’m more of an adventure and horror movie girl myself. There’s something about those old cheesy black and white ones too.”
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#13
"Oh yeah? I've never watched and old black and white one. But sometimes I like those really silly B-movies, the ones with bad graphics and terrible acting and really ridiculous monsters. Like a sharktopus!" Her glass clicked against her teeth as she grinned while raising it for another sip. Those movies were less horror and more comedy. "I haven't seen a movie in a long time," she commented, letting her gaze sink into her beer as she tried to call the last time she had been. Too long. "Have you seen any good ones lately?" She lifted her eyes to Natalie's.
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#14
Sharktopus was a new one. B-movies really did have all sorts of monsters that were off radar and there was a certain charm to them. ”They’re charming,” smiled in agreement, fully meaning it to both the black and white and b-movies. As Natalie listened, she sipped on the beer, thankful for the free drink.

Kenzie hadn’t seen a movie in a long time, what?! That was one of her favorite past times. Leaning a bit exuberantly closer as the question came up, she was quick to respond. ”Yeah! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was really good and close to the book monster design wise. Then there was, oh! The new Spiderman movie.” Excitement was evident in her voice as she patted the bar in quick thought.
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#15
Natalie's excitement stretched a grin to Kenzie's ears. This girl sure liked her movies and Kenzie sure liked her energy!

"I haven't heard of either of those," she commented, sinking into her shoulders a tad, and lifting them in a silly half-shrug as her brows rose over her bright grey eyes. "But maybe you and I could go grab a movie sometime? I'd be happy to go see anything, really!"

Perhaps a younger Kenzie might not have said that but nowadays she was making an effort to be more accepting of experiences and to go along with things more in a new me, new life sort of deal.

"Here," she said, reaching into the pocket of her denim for her phone and popping open a new contact before she offered it over. "Let's exchange numbers?"
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#16
Kenzie hadn’t heard of any of them? It was hard to hide her surprise at the admittance, eyes wide, eyebrows up. The follow up of offering to go to the movies was something she happily took hold of. Movies were her favorite pastime and if what Kenzie said was true, then it would be a good start into introducing her to a lot. ”Yes! I’d love to.”

Watching as a phone was taken out and offered, she took it. ”Sure.” Typing in her information, Natalie would send herself a text before handing it back. ”All set. Let me know when you’re free and we can set something up soon.”
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#17
Eee! Her phone was returned to her pocket and she wiggled her shoulders side to side. "I can't wait to have some theatre popcorn!" She grinned. The bagged stuff from convenience stores was a poor substitute, and anyway it had been ages since she had any of that either. "What would you want to go see do you think?" Did the local theatre sell Pepsi or Coke products? "I'm free... uh... what is today?" Kenzie squeezed one eye shut and glanced upward. "Maybe we can go... Tuesday? Probably cheaper then too."
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