Fox got your tongue?

Two Moons National Park 
#1
@Katherine Wilson
Friday the 13th, about twenty minutes before midnight


Jamaal had made his way to shift somewhere new, a move that just seemed kind of smart? It was far and new and made him less trackable and all that.

Plus, last time he'd gone to this side of town, he'd met another fox, so... maybe he'd find that guy again? He kind of felt bad for just running out on him.

He was kind of early, it felt — if he was going by how quiet the normally chattery fox had been in his head, but in any case after some extensive hiking he found his way to an abandoned picnic table. It looked like sitting on it might cause it to rot. He tested it with a foot, found it held. Humming to himself, Jamaal slung his overnight bag onto it and dug out the first of several packed sandwiches. He'd found he wasn't as hungry as he usually was, but it was still important to eat.

A sound of softly crunching leaves caught his ear, and he turned around curiously to see who it was. Another were?
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#2
Katherine let out a heavy sigh, pausing in her hike to brush her bangs from her eyes.

It was quite late, and the bug bites on her arms were itching like mad-but that was normal for night hiking.
What wasn't normal, was the feeling of peace that had hung over her all day. A sense of inner calm that she hadn't felt in nearly a decade, ever since Darren had decided to forcible let her in on his little secret.

She took a deep breath and continued on. There was an abandoned picnic spot not far, an empty place she'd been using as a sort of base when she shifted ever since she'd moved to Cordova. Tonight would be no different.
Except it very much would be, as when she rounded the bend and the table came into view she saw someone was already there.

A young man was peering into the woods at her, a half-unwrapped sandwich in his hands.

Katherine blinked, her hands on her back pack straps clenching reflexively at the unexpected sight.

"Uh..."
Say something!
"...Nice...night for an evening."
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#3
Silvery blonde hair caught his eyes first, and then the rest of the face of the person it was attached to. He blinked as much as she did, and heard a soft muffled chatter in his head. Sleepy fox, calling out in a mumble. There was a feeling of similarity, too.

Whatever "nice night for an evening" meant, he offered an amused huff. She looked a fair bit older than he was — an observation made in the nicest way possible — but she was clearly caught off guard by him being here. Maybe this was her spot. "Night evening for a night," he said with something of a little grin. "You're a... you're like me, right?"

Might as well cut to the chase.
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#4
Katherine looked a little harder and raised her eyebrows at just how young the young man was-he couldn't be older than twenty, maybe younger. She couldn't help a snort of nervous laughter escape her as he replied to her stupid comment with an equally goofy response. As she did, the lazy fox snoozing inside her cracked a proverbial eye and she felt a prickle between her shoulder blades.

He smelled like her.

Eyes widening behind her round glasses, she nodded, taken aback at his blunt question.

"I...guess so." she took a couple steps closer to the rotting picnic table.
"You're ah, yeah...you are. Same as me." she stopped when she was standing at the opposite side of the table, looking up at him seriously.
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#5
She came nearer on her own, and he was kind of glad about it. He made a motion to take a seat though, if she wanted to. The table would hold for all it looked like it wouldn't.

"Jamaal," he introduced, extending a warm hand. "First time I came up here. Sorry if I stole your spot."

Not an apology that meant he was planning to give it up, more just because he seemed to have startled her a little rudely. But he had so many questions he wanted to follow up with, so he let out out on the heels of his last bit.

"Have you been at this a while?"
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#6
Katherine took the proffered hand and shook it with a warm smile.

"I'm Katherine, nice to meet you Jaamal." she pulled off her backpack and set it on the table before sitting down. She waved her hand dismissively at his apology,

"No no, its fine-I just, wasn't expecting to see anyone else up here. I haven't so far." Katherine knew very well there were other weres around, quite a few actually. She'd met a were rat not that long ago, but Jaamal was the first one she'd met in human form.

"Yeah actually, about...ten years now." she smiled warmly at him, inviting him to talk more if he wanted to. He seemed like he might need to.
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#7
Wow. That was even longer than King dude had been at it. Jamaal had to reach out to him again, by the way. See how things were going and if he was still on track to be back in a few months.

Anyway.

"That's cool. I don't think I've been at this longer than like, a year or so."

She didn't really feel particularly stronger than him, though, which was a curiosity in itself. "Know how it happened?"
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#8
Katherine unzipped a pocket on her backpack and dug around, pulling out some jerky. She unpeeled it and took a bite, chewing slowly as she thought about how to respond.
She sure did know how it happened, but decided Jamaal deserved better than her sob-story so she kept it simple.

"My ex-husband was a were," she finished the jerky and pulled out another strip.
"He turned me. What about you?" she usually wouldn't ask, but it seemed to be a night for sharing. Speaking of, she pulled out the rest of her snacks and set them on the table.

"Help yourself."
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#9
Oh dang, her ex husband. He wondered if she'd had any kids. Hopefully not? Or hopefully they were fine.

"So like, for the longest time I thought it was some dog bite," he dove right in, kind of with a sheepishness to his expression. "But I guess it was just some... fox who couldn't control themselves. I dunno if I'll ever run into them or anything."

At least, he had to assume it wasn't any of the ones he had come across.
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#10
Katherine had no children, and never would, and was grateful for it. She ate her jerky and listened as Jamaal opened up about how he'd been turned.

"Did that happen here?" she pointed to the table, but meant Cordova in general.

"Have you met any other were's before?"
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#11
"When I lived out on Red Rock, yeah," he nodded. "And, yeah! I've met a few. The one I know best is this cool jaguar guy. His name's Abraham. He's like, a king of his kind."

Which was all still strange, by the way, but how was it possible to not be friends with a king and be proud of it.

"Did you just move here recently?"
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#12
Katherine nodded; she wondered who had bitten him. She'd never met another fox were-besides Jamaal-and she was positive she hadn't bitten anyone.

"Hmm..I wonder who it was that bit you..." she moved on from the jerky to some crackers and tilted her head as he continued.

"King of his kind, huh? Well, that's pretty cool." she couldn't help a hint of sarcasm slipping into her tone. Darren had been 'king' of their Skulk back in Cali. She shook her head and smiled. This Abraham was probably a nice person.

"I did actually, a couple months ago-moved out here from California. How long have you been in town?"
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#13
"Cali born too," he thumped his chest with his fist, a little show of pride. "Moved out here maybe... six years ago or so? For high school."

Ah, back when things marginally made sense still. He kind of missed the simplicity of the weirdest thing in his life being his father's healing abilities and burgeoning megalomania.

"Did you... leave your husband because he turned you?" That was possibly prying too hard, so. "Don't need to answer that if it's too personal."
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#14
Katherine grinned as Jamaal thumped his chest.
"No way, really? Where from? I grew up in San Jose." how nice to meet someone from her home state! She settled on the picnic bench, comfortable and relaxed, inner fox still snoozing despite the fact that it was a full moon.

She grimaced and shook her head,
"Nah it's fine. That was part of the reason, yeah, although it took me eight years to work up the courage." she took a sip of water.
"Darren was into doing Molly and college girls and just, being a dick in general." she sighed.

"What about you, leave anybody behind when you moved?"
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#15
He listened, grimacing some at the... at how bad this guy had been. Bad enough he'd turned her, but to do drugs and cheat was a real measure of how awful he was.

"I'm sorry to hear all that," he offered. "Grew up outside of Oakland, left some friends behind but— I'm twenty, so. Nothing big." He didn't really miss them that much. They were grade school people who hadn't kept in touch, and neither had he. "Have a job here yet?"
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#16
Katherine shrugged and sighed, shaking her head.

"Thanks, that's nice of you to say. But that's all in the past-got brighter things ahead of me." she smiled.

"Oakland's fantastic-I did my thesis work in the Redwood national park. Are you in college?" he was the right age, but that didn't mean that he was. Katherine was firmly in the camp that you only went to college if you had a burning desire to; otherwise, why put yourself in that much debt?

Katherine grinned and dug around in her bag again, pulling out a DSL-R camera and held it up.

"I'm a free-lance photographer actually!"
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#17
Brightly optimistic was a good thing. He supposed that was the only way to really be at this point; what was the point really in wallowing sadly.

He gave a shake of his head no at the college question, but brightened considerably at the camera. "Oh wow, that's really cool. Do you carry this with you everywhere of or were you planning to take some pictures tonight?"
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#18
Still grinning, Katherine set the camera on the table.

"Well I don't take it everywhere-honestly phones now take pictures almost as nicely as these guys," she patted the camera affectionately,
"But I was hoping to try and get some shots of the moon before, well, you know." she gave him a double thumbs up.

"No more thumbs."
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#19
"Doesn't even seem like it'll happen, though. For me anyway. My fox—"

That kind of growing confidence in the wrong truth was exactly all it needed for the fox to suddenly, audibly shove forward, bones cracking cruelly at the base of his skull with more violence than he'd ever felt from the animal before. Jamaal gave out a near scream of pain at the unexpectedness of it all, leaning forward onto the table as he moved his hands to the back of his head. Why?!

The only answer to follow was for his hands and arms and legs to also all break — all while the very same was happening to Katherine. He struggled to get away from the table while his skeleton mutilated itself, his scrambled thoughts not even considering a reality where he would be growing to an impossibly large size, rather than the usual shrinking out of his clothing.
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#20
The camera was swatted aside as Katherine felt the shift come over her.
The familiar pain-no, not familiar-too much, different somehow and wrong.
Jamaal's scream was lost in her own raw cry of pain as she fell awkwardly back off the bench, spine twisting and elongating as she hit the ground with a sickening thud and snapping of bones and tendons.

This wasn't right, something was wrong; ten years of enduring the pain of shifting and she'd almost gotten used to it but whatever was happening now tossed any familiarity out the window. The skin on her face split and peeled as her jaw grew and morphed; the full harvest moon reflected in her yellow eyes as the pupils narrowed to slits.
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#21
Eyes rendered purple, he struggled and writhed along the ground. There was a point where he couldn't breathe as his entire respiratory system seemed to break and reattach and elongate, and when he could manage sound again they were edged in a roughened sort of grumbling that felt way too deep.

His body thickened as it never had before, chest expanding to a deep sort of barrel. His limbs were rendered stocky, first knuckles of his fingers retracting upward bizarrely as they coned out at the end into claws. Jamaal was very certain he was dying anew.

And then, the strangest thing of all — normally tawny fur was replaced with golden hues, smattered with black spots that, as he eyed further up his arms, seemed to dance into a pattern within rings.

What?
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#22
Normally pain came in waves-it was something you could accommodate with careful breathing, manage with mental excersizes; not get rid of, but make palatable.

This was not managble, not palatable.
Somebody had taken a sledge hammer to her entire body and was going to fucking town.

Feet and hands broke and then reformed, nail beds tearing as thick sharp claws forced their way to the surface. Freckled skin was subsumed by tan fur, short cropped and tightly laid across a far larger form than usual.

This wasn't even close to right.
Her breath came in deep ragged rough sighs, heavy sounds much deeper and slower than a fox's.

Her vision wasn't right either, her nose-usually a pointed black snout a fair distance away-was quite close and the same buff tan as the rest.
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#23
The fox — still feeling it was a fox, of course — was so confused. Jamaal, left somewhere in the backseat of this whole ordeal, was also confused.

He panted in heavy breaths and groaned in a voice that wasn't like his own at all, intending a gekkering whine and managing nothing of the sort. He looked to her, past the table, and saw not anything that looked like a fox but something that looked a lot... bigger. Broader. Stronger.

Shredded clothing clung to him, overlarge broadened paws trapped in shoes too narrow. His toes hurt. Intending to bite the damn things off him, he jolted back as his tail continued to grow — the only thing he felt some similarity, not for its form but for its length relative to the rest of him — and he sought to bite down roughly on one sneaker and pry it off.

He did succeed there, but at the expense of taking his own teeth against the foot of his skin. Far larger teeth than he was used to. Jamaal offered a complaining groan of pain, only for it to leave him in a sort of rumbling rooooo of noise.

Which was not a sound he'd ever made in his life. Welcome to jaguar communication, fox kid.
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#24
Katherine felt as if her scarf was strangling her, the thick fabric-usually so loose it fell away on it's own when she shifted-was wrapped taught around a powerful neck. She writhed in the dirt, feeling a long and narrow tail beat against the earth, so unlike the soft bottle brush it should be. Her fox-it was still a fox, somehow- yammered away inside her head but the sound that left her was more of a deep
MrrrRp?

That was startling and she started up, massive paws, so different than her usual dainty black feet, stretched and busted through the pathetic excuse for boots she'd worn. Panting, she swiped at her neck, thick curved claws shredding the scarf as she heard a rumbling rooo of irritation? Pain? From Jamaal's side of the table.

Struggling, kicking the shredded boots off she passed around the table to see if he was alright.
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#25
He was anything but alright, but she was standing, and as the finishing touches hit his shift he was... alarmed. His soul told him fox, his every other sense? This was an actual freaking behemoth of a lioness.

And he was no small fry himself, stocky and menacing in his form, but his brain was still that of a fox's as he scrambled up to his aching feet and moved to back away from her. His tail curled protectively around his hind, and he lifted his lips to give a foxy sort of reactive raaaaa warning. But a hiss left him instead, and again the sound was confusing.

All of this was confusing. His toes being pointed upwards in a relaxed position — confusing. He flexed them downwards, then startled at the sight of wickedly large claws poking through toe fluff.

And then he looked back at the lioness, tiny ears flat against a massive head. What was happening?!
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#26
Katherine padded around the table, shoulders nearly level with the top and that was confusing, her balance felt off and her perspective was...wrong, somehow. And as she rounded the corner, fox brain still grappling with the shift in height she didn't see a fellow vulpine, but a jaguar.
And a big one.

She spooked, jumping straight up, all four paws leaving the ground and round ears flat to her head; too-long, too-flexible tail whipping back and fourth in a panic as she hit the earth with a massive thud.

What the hell was going on!?
She sunk low, creeping back to peer at the jaguar. But it wasn't-was it? Her too short, too flat, too pink nose twitched and her great yellow eyes widened. Fox brain insisted that across from her was another fox, despite what her wrong-eyes told her.

She crept a little closer, tail low, and let out a curious Mrruap? sort of noise in Jamaal's-she thought it was Jamaal-direction.
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#27
She was just as off-kilter as he was about it all, if he was understanding her anxiety right. The foxuar moved to relax his posture, trying to just. Understand what was happening here. But it wasn't understandable. Not for an animal and certainly not for his very new to this human.

He stretched his head forward, seeking a sniff, but more than that feeling for the sense that she was indeed still a fox, only in a confusing and wrong form. And then, of course, it was followed by the most natural reaction any animal, regardless of form or size, could have.

He bolted away from her to hide behind a tree, peeking out from it. Or well, "hide." He was too big and round for any tree to do him justice as a hiding spot.
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#28
Wrong-nose sniffed and confirmed what her wrong-eyes lied; a fox indeed. She tilted her big head and stuck out her tongue.

As soon as the jaguar bolted for the tree Katherine took off back around the picnic table, tail whipping and sharp claws digging, ripping the grass up in chunks that flew into the air.
Long long tail held low, she peeked around the table.

The jaguar was perfectly visible behind his tree.
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#29
The lioness was perfectly visible behind her table.

He rumbled, an attempt at some kind of call or another that never left him as it should have. This was all so strange. Even being around another were while shifted was strange for Jamaal, but now there was this, and it was more than he was willing to deal with.

But, you know. He sort of had to deal with it.

He crept from his poor excuse of a hiding spot and into a crouch. An ear flicked; he could feel it was immensely, abnormally short compared to his usual ears. Anyway. Moving on. He was a ginormous spotted cat. She was a ginormous... lioness. And they were both likely hungry. So — hang on. Could he climb a tree?

Again, the jaguar about faced, attempting to do just that. Not that, uh. He really knew what he was doing. Forgetting to keep his claws out, he sort of managed up the trunk a hefty way and then... slid haplessly back down.
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#30
Katherine crouched behind the table, although it was far from large enough to hide her new, bulky form.

Calm, calm-this was weird but, okay. Her tail lashed, then slowed; she looked down at her big feet and flexed experimentally, big sharp claws sliding out and retracting, sliding out and retracting. She held a paw up and licked it experimentally.

Her ears flicked back as there was a scrabbling sound and she sat up, small round ears flicking forwards in curiousity.

The jaguar had attempted to climb his hiding tree with no success, and long lines were carved into the bark from his sharp claws.

Katherine huffed out an amused whuff of air and finally came out from behind the table, moving slow and keeping friendly posture; just in case.
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#31
The other came towards him, and he angled his head back to look at her approach.

What do, fox? He was kind of an apex predator now. He wondered who of them was stronger; she was taller by a bit, but he was much stockier.

Giving up the tree thing, he decided to turn and attempt a soft, gentle bat on her face with a paw. His claws were sheathed, thankfully. It was just strange to be so... capable with his forelimbs. He felt like he could really effectively grab, if he wanted to. Didn't cats like to wrestle?
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#32
The not-fox but-still-fox Jamaal batted her face, big soft paw booping her nose. Ears pricked, eyes squinty, she sat down, slowly raising her own paw to lightly pap him back.

This lion form was powerful, and she made sure to take great care to not smack him too hard-although the chunky jaguar body looked quite solid and sturdy. She was hungry - shifting took a lot out of a person - but more than that she had a sudden and overwhelming desire to play.

Her back feet wiggled out from under her almost of their own accord, changing her posture from a sit to a pounce-prep; she playfully batted at the jaguar's spotted legs.
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#33
He got her, and she got him in return. If anything, their moods seemed to be pretty naturally synced. And he wasn't a cat, but she had a ready tension on her expression, the kind that preluded intense play.

So naturally, offering a pantherine grunt, he decided to beat her to the punch and make a low leap for her, attempting mostly to bowl her over with surprise.

The fox seemed willing to roll with this, even if Jamaal himself was still kind of confused.



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#34
Shifting had been a lonely experience for Katherine for the past several years; her fox had been alright with this - in the wild, foxes weren't particularly social.

Katherine, however, was very social and so from where she was tucked away at the back of the lioness's brain, she was glad to have someone to experience this weirdness with. Cat eyes registering the shift in muscles a millisecond before the pounce and she changed her own forward momentum to surge upwards just before contact was made, getting hit in the middle and bowling over into the dirt with a low grunt, soft-paws bapping playfully away.
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#35
They collided enough for him to let loose another grunt, bodies fitting massively where the fox expected a certain sort of flow to it all. Still, cat bodies were kind of flexible. She batted away at him and he puffed and huffed in the grapple, convincing himself he was somewhat better at this than she was for no real reason other than being in his own head.

All these were the fox's feelings, anyway. Jamaal was more an observer than anything.

But now that they had established that he was the winning tackler (by whose rules???), he sought to mouth at her face and consider for hunger thoughtfully.

The fox still didn't entirely understand play, but he did understand that they were both very big, and that meant they could find very big things to eat and not risk getting injured from.

They should do that. Yes. Alright. Very abruptly, he would get up, paws possibly pressing rudely into her in the process. (An apology would be due when they woke up, Jamaal noted.)
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