Glitter & Gold

Iron's Craft Brewing Co. 
#1


 Truthfully, with every breaking news intro she found herself pondering more and more why she stuck around. Perhaps she wanted to be there for those that remained - some sort of makeshift primitive support system if Jackie or Adam were to need it (not that they were particularly close). Maybe she was waiting for Ares to come back. Perhaps she was just trying to skirt around having to sleep cramped up in the damn backseat of the Camaro for who knew how long.

 Maybe it was a little bit of all of the above, she realized - a revelation that was as comforting as it was disturbing. Since when did she give two shits about Pride's and support systems, since when dd she mind the fleeting sting of waking up with the stitching of the backseat imprinted on her cheek after a night of deep sleep? Since Mountainside, apparently. That thought merited another round of scotch which she welcomed with a two finger salute.

 She stared down at the glass, setting a finger on the rim and tipping it as far as she could without toppling the whole mess over. Her thoughts wondered - annoyed at herself for the blind moment of optimism where she had allowed herself to think that maybe this time, maybe ... she wanted to punch something.

 That thought made her look up - reaching out to catch her glass before it could spill everywhere. The idea a tempting one indeed, the opportunity to curl her fists and break the skin of her knuckles and - this place looked fancy. Rustic in the way that some furniture was made to look like it came out of a fuckin' barn. The problem was, if you knew shit about barn's - they really weren't half as great as they looked on Pintrest.

 She pushed a majority of her hair to the side, absently brushing her fingers over the scruff of the shaved bit of her scalp, a habit when she felt restless or overwhelmed. When she felt stuck, even though no one was holding back. Get in the car, go. She turned, shifted on her bar stool so she felt her keys jingle on the caribiner that kept them clipped to a belt loop. ... Or, punch something. That made her smile a bit, a lopsided and fleeting thing as she turned towards the stool to her left and waited for her staring to pay off with some sort of acknowledgment. Why solve your problems when you can hit things - practical.
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#2
Abraham wasn't here to drink. Sincerely. So fucking sincerely that he had a glass of water along with his basket of wings. (Which he wasn't telling Asha about. He would totally eat second dinner when he got home.)

Abraham was here to scope things out. Specifically, he was sniffing for other weres behind the counter. For any sense that Asha's potential future workplace was were-friendly. It was the jaguar that made him do this. He swore it. And once again, he would never, ever tell Asha about this because she'd probably think he was fucking nuts.

Sitting in a bar and not drinking was a difficult thing. It left him a little irritable, turning his water glass against the counter over, and over, and over, and over.

He was not the only were here. There was... some kind of cat beside him, but the jaguar was supporting his interest in behind-the-counter snooping. Every waitress, busboy, bartender. He regarded them with interest, with some desperate need to determine that fucking any of them weren't human.

Except, he kind of felt eyes in the side of his head. Running his tongue over his teeth to clear them of any lingering wings, he then turned to see... Christ. Some kind of fucking edgy chick. Staring at him.

"Can I help you?" he asked in a tone that did not imply a willingness to help.


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#3
 Admittedly, her social graces were limited on the most positive of days. Regardless, she wasn't completely inept when it came to reading a room. The old guy beside her was Were - not tiger, sure as shit not lion. She reached out and took hold of her glass without actually looking back to the bar itself, taking a sip and reveling in the radiating burn.

 Her attention wondered to the basket in front of him - a half eaten order of wings and what appeared to be a glass of water. That made her lean forward marginally, curious about the thought of someone coming to a place like this without even a damn Blue Moon to show for it. His offer for help was lackluster at best and frigid at worst, and she took some comfort in the knowledge that it made her feel a little less guilty for picking on someone who seemed to be notably older than her.

 She shifted in her seat as she opened her mouth to say something intentionally abrasive. The stool wobbled, she looked down at her sneakers and the legs of her perch. Most places like this one - they bolted this shit down. Iron's was trusting, apparently.

 Don't do it. She flinched and held up an index finger as she finished the rest of her scotch. Okay, do it. "Yeah." A casual one word answer, even as she moved decisively to kick out at the stool underneath him with as much force as she could muster, to hopefully knock him off of it.
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#4
Something weird was going on. Like, weirder than this chick's general fashion sense. Wasn't she a little white for dreadlocks? And why did everyone around here have tattoos? Where did they get the cash for all this ink? (Also wouldn't it, like, fade really fast with all the shifting?)

One eyebrow rose, and he watched every step with growing confusion. Like. Obviously she was about to do something, or say something, but Abraham was pretty fucking lost as to what exactly that would be. The jaguar stirred in warning, but he ignored it. He could handle insults just fine.

Except, this wasn't an insult. It was an assault. His eyeline was entirely too high to notice fine details like the windup for what would ultimately be a pretty fucking solid kick to his chair. If she were boring basic human, it likely wouldn't have been enough.

But she wasn't human, and was followed felt like slow motion.

There was a chair, and then there wasn't a chair. One hand reached dumbly for the counter, with all the speed and... well, intellect of the jaguar. It landed narrowly between the wings and the water, touching neither, and he was lucky to have that going for him.

Cats always landed on their feet, but Abraham wasn't entirely cat.

Instead, he landed on his ass slightly behind her stool, legs tangled up in his toppled over chair that was lightly leaning seat-side toward her, wedged between its neighbors. He curled enough that his head didn't hit the floor, though he eased it to the ground in the seconds after. The shock was clear on his face, as was the green in his eyes, and he was too stunned to even get angry right away.

"What the fuck!" he yelped, and his hands hovered near his face, fearful that she might kick him there. His legs struggled noisily against the stupid fucking stool, and the bar had gone from noisy to whispering in a fraction of a second.
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#5
 Her measurable success merited a fleeting flash of hazel, a few precious seconds in which she was more impulse than woman. She ignored the ruffled feathers of those surrounding, back positioned to a majority of the bar and it's patrons. Drink empty, she pressed her hands together and sandwiched them between her knees, heels on the footrest of the stool.

 Surprised by the lack of initial backlash but not upset by it, she didn't take long to decide against kicking a man while he was down. The idea wasn't to go looking for an opportunity to beat the shit out of someone, it was looking for a fight itself. And there was an intoxicating breed of freedom in realizing there was no higher power where lion was concerned that would come by at any moment to rub her nose in it, no king of Larkspur. For some reason that rubbed her nerves raw the more she thought about it, and so she settled on something so entirely feline that it was almost comical.

 Alright, it was comical as far as she was concerned - ignoring his question and reaching out for the glass of water. Silent as she nudged it, moved to topple it and it's contents over with a gentle swipe of her hand. Curious to see what she could shake loose, if she could get something beside pissy and defensive.
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#6
Abraham literally didn't understand what was happening. It was beyond his ability to fucking comprehend. He'd been picked on through much of his youth, but when you hit adulthood, people didn't kick chairs out from under you for funsies.

He saw the water on the edge of the counter from where he lie on the floor, light catching the rippling in the clear glass.

And as it fell, he freed his leg, managing to kick with surprising accuracy, catching it in the air. Regrettably, that just sent it spinning with greater force, and he timed it perfectly to send the half-glass of water splashing across his face and neck. The glass itself did land with a thump at his stomach, and it was only through some miracle that it didn't break.

But in the end, it didn't matter.

This woman was attacking him, and the jaguar wanted in. He managed to sit up, hands slipping briefly on the wet floor, and he felt a thousand eyes on him.

Not here. Not now. Get away. Try to understand later.

He felt it in his chest, and there was an audible popping, several ribs pushing in unison. Abraham shuffled back on the floor, ass meeting where water hit the wood and not giving a single fuck. The jaguar was all snarls and teeth and hissing, swiping for the distance between himself and the bitch.

"You stupid bitch," he snarled, and he could hear the bartender calling for someone. Probably a manager. Security. Something. He panted, struggling up to his feet and backing away as he got to them, eyes on her.

Defend yourself. You could start swinging before you even shifted. You've been practicing almost every day, Abraham.

Nope. Don't. Do not hit women. (Except vampires.) Do not hit anyone. Leave.

Abraham staggered backward, attempting the latter, and the jaguar crunched his ribs for dinner.
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#7
Marshal wasn't sure which was worse for business. Vampires, or curfews.

There was no telling if the most recent vampire attack had been in Larkspur, but he supposed it didn't much matter if Larkspur was put under the same curfew as the rest of Mountainside. Thus, today's venture was going over the figures and calling whoever he could to determine when might the curfew end. There was a large number of businessmen like himself whose business would be affected negatively by the recent turn of events, and Marshal wasn't above colluding with his fellows to have the curfew lifted sooner rather than later. America and free enterprise and all that dandy bullshit.

If push came to shove, it was ultimately less money filling Yana's coffers if the curfew became a long-term thing, so at least Marshal wouldn't suffer alone.

A distant but weighty thud soon garnered Marshal's attention, however. Even from his office, it sounded like something more than a dropped platter. The silence and shouting that followed quickly alerted him that whatever had happened was likely no accident.

The man was already emerging from his office by the time the bartender was calling for him. It seemed like a fight had broken out at the bar, or there was about to be one.

Not in Marshal's fucking bar.

"What's going on here?" He said, voice booming and beast bristling with anger as he made his way around the bar, sparing a glance towards the two bouncers who were also slow to respond. Marshal was surrounded by idiots.

Naturally, the two suspects were cats themselves. Marshal recognized the lion perched on his bar stool in an instant, but he couldn't quite place the sad bastard on the floor.
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#8
 There. We. Go. Like a perfect pattern of domino's that she had knocked down with a simple flick, a house of cards that toppled in slow motion - she saw it. The slow unraveling of man to beast that was just as exciting as it was ill advised. Was it smart to go poking at a hornet's nest when she was just as likely to lose her hold and shift in the middle of Iron's? Certainly not, but the beauty was that she had nothing tying her to Mountainside. Trouble hit, she could hopefully get to her car and get the hell out of dodge before it all came toppling down on her head.

 "I think he got dizzy." The stink of pissed off cheetah rolled in like a tidal wave and she felt the lioness knock it's head hard against her resolve. She didn't put too much stock into her excuse, didn't try to sell it to the best of her ability as she picked up the empty glass in front of her and shook it just so, the half melted ice clacking against the sides. "Can I get'a nother scotch, please?"
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#9
He had a lot to say next about what happened next.

But regretfully, so did the jaguar.

She was out of her fucking mind. Abraham was the kind of guy who, honestly, deserved the seat kicked out from under him on a lot of occasions.

This? This absolutely was not one of them. Every part of his body tensed, and as this second fucking asshole came rolling out entirely too late for this situation, Abraham had a lot of words to explain the situation.

But again, he would be allowed none of them.

The jaguar at his throat, he was at his feet and pushing through the crowd in a slight hunch, heart racing enough that it sounded like drums in his ears.

Get away. Call Asha. Call Wallace. Call someone. Do human things. Get in your car. Do not shift in your car.

If that yelling asshole had any sense in his brain, he would not be inclined to stop the man he would likely recognize as quite viciously fighting a shift.

Door. Soon. Please. Abraham would not make it to his car. All of this would hit at once the moment he was somewhere not immediately surrounded by people.

God fucking damnit.

Water dripped down his face mixed with sweat.

Please, just let him get outside.
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#10
By the time he had arrived at the scene, Marshal was only partially concerned with who was responsible for it. The lioness quite frankly didn't convince Marshal when she claimed that the other guy must have had an accident, perched like the cat that ate the canary. Both man and cheetah would have been suspicious of a lion's involvement even at the best of times.

With the other guy quickly losing it, their current predicament hardly struck Marshal as the best of times.

In an instant, the other guy had taken of, shoving his way through the amassed spectators toward the door, doubled over and visibly distressed in a way that any experienced Were ought to recognize.

Goddamnit.

"You," Marshal addressed the lioness, an accusing index finger thrust in her direction. "Have until I get back to pay up and get out." He didn't care who was to blame for this mess; he wanted her gone.

Turning on his heel, Marshal then made off to pursue the other guy. The last thing he needed was some other cat shifting in his parking lot. Fortunately, Iron's was seldom a full house on a good day, so catching up to the afflicted Were didn't pose too much of a challenge.

"I need you to keep it together," he said to him in a low voice, clearing the way to the door by ushering or otherwise forcing any others out of their way, "Come on."
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#11
 Like a forest fire in the middle of a drought or a car accident that piled violence on top of violence, this night just kept on giving. The old guy was halfway to a shift, the threat of total anarchy in a location that was decidedly cramped and well maintained enough to give her own beast a run for her money. The temptation was there, the urge to just let go and see what could come of it. She resisted, turned her eyes to settle on the sharp dressed gent that had come flying out of the back.

 She honed in on the accusatory finger pointed square at her face, tried to imagine grabbing it and bending backwards until it touched the back of his hand. Instead she sat quiet as a church mouse, waited for him to go play the roll of in house crisis counselor and leaned over to grab a wing from the now abandoned basket of food. Seemingly unfazed by the threat itself as she called over her shoulder "I don't think he's keepin' it together, man."
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#12
He heard someone else approaching, someone following, and the jaguar surged with threat if it was that goddamn madwoman. With a headstart on shifting, he could chew her to pieces before she had a chance to grow her fucking whiskers.

Do not. Do not do that. Do not shift. Breathe. Think human thoughts. Think about-

The other guy was here, and Abraham couldn't stand to look at him. Abraham heard the words, and he was trying, but there was a certain intensity to this shift that was hard to shake. She was taunting him. Prove her wrong. Or don’t prove her wrong and fuck her the fuck up.

Pushing out toward the door, oblivious to whether he opened it by crashing into it or someone else opening it for him, he wheezed into the cooler air.

That stupid cunt. What the fuck had he done to deserve that. The urge to go back and grab her by her fucking edgy dreadlocks and claw her goddamn stop it.

Abraham shoved his hands to his armpits, fingers gnarling agonizingly, growing leathery at the pads. There was a tickling of fur along his back which still hunched forward in pain and forced contortion.

Still, he nodded, strangled voiceless but doing his best to indicate he was trying. It was growing difficult to walk, and he wanted somewhere private that he could just sit and… either turn into a jaguar or chill the fuck out without walking on stretching muscles.

Some words struck him belatedly. Pay. Abraham hadn't paid for his food. He had to stay human to pay for his food. It was an almost comically motivating factor, so utterly human a concern as it was, and he clung to it and repeated it madly in his thoughts.

He would wander where directed, and if undirected, it would be to try to round the back of the building.
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#13
An annoyed growl would roll in Marshal's throat in response to the lioness and her distant voice. Still, he had a much bigger problem at the moment.

Fortunately, the mystery cat seemed to prove the woman wrong as Marshal half-followed, half led-him out of Iron's. Step one complete. Now he just had to keep the poor bastard from shifting in the parking lot and potentially eating him. What could possibly go wrong?

The two gentlemen briskly made their way around the building, and Marshal couldn't help but grimace at the other guy's visible pain. About the only thing more gruesome than watching a shift was experiencing one.

At the very least, they were no longer surrounded by potential witnesses, unless there was someone hiding in Iron's dumpsters.

Now what?

"Alright," Marshal sighed. "You're safe. Just... got a name?"

Part of him acknowledged just how incredibly stupid it was trying to talk down a shifting Were, but what choice did he have? "So sorry that happened. We don't usually have trouble like that here."

Come on, other guy. Give him something to work with. Marshal liked this suit and would prefer not to die or shift in it.
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#14
Something struck him distantly as he wandered like some testicle-kicked hunchback around to the back of the building, wheezing hard enough that he was drooling a little.

Fighting back a shift was an ugly process. Sorry, world.

Anyway. What he realized was that this guy was at very least some kind of manager, and also he was definitely not human, so.

Hope for Asha.

He shoved his back against a dumpster, slumping to his ass on the cement.

"Ab’r’hm," he grunted through clenched teeth.

You’re safe. You’re fine. This guy doesn’t even care that you’re shifting. Chill the fuck out.

He panted ragged, at very least staying where he was and not progressing forward. But there was definitely fur on his back, and his fingers were in various stages of body horror.

But.

Not a jaguar yet.

Help him, asshole.
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#15
Given the jumble of sounds that came from the other guy in grunts, Marshal went out on a limb and translated it to Abraham. Or Ahab. One of the two.

"Abraham." Marshal decided that it was the more likely of the two possibilities. "Marshal Tucker."

Hello, pleasure meeting you. Please don't turn into a ravenous beast.

What the hell was Marshal supposed to do about this? How could anything he said help this poor bastard?

The shift seemed to come to a grinding halt, if nothing else. He would take that as a good sign.

"You're doing well." Just... don't fuck up. "Focus, tough it out. Until the cat knocks your lights out, you're the one in control." Abraham didn't strike Marshal as a cub after lasting this long, but reassuring him seemed like the best course of action. It wasn't like Marshal had much experience talking down Weres mid-shift.
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#16
The guy talked and frankly Abraham barely understood what was being said to him, but he could grasp the tone.

And it was appreciated. There was an essential sense that he wasn’t being judged.

The immensely stupid reminder that he hadn’t paid for his food stuck in his head. You can’t pay for your food if you don’t stay human.

Also, he probably wouldn’t be allowed back if he shifted, problematic if Asha worked here.

Slowly, he calmed, head flopping back against the dumpster.

"Fuck," he breathed in relief. His shirt was already soaked with water, but there was sweat, too.

"Didn’t pay. But you can run my card."

Frankly a little delirious, he lifted his ass from the ground slightly to fumble for this wallet.

(It was the wrong pocket.)
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#17
Crisis averted, it seemed.

Marshal heaved a sigh of relief as the other guy slumped against the dumpster. He was getting too old for this sort of thing; Marshal was ready for retirement.

If only there was such a thing for their lot.

Shaking his head at Abraham's comment about paying, the older fellow said, "Don't worry about it. It's on the house." Consider it in recompense for the bitchy lioness looking to start trouble.

Well, now seemed like an appropriate time for Marshal to reach into his coat for his flask, feeling an acute desire from some alcohol to soothe his nerves after such an encounter.
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#18
On the house.

That was a phrase Abraham had some pretty specific not great feelings towards, though it was hardly this guy's fault. He breathed out a "thanks" before running a hand through his sweaty hair.

With the madness fading, he was acutely aware of where he was. Hiding behind a bar, breathing in rank dumpster air. For fuck's sake.

His eyes flicked jealously to the flask, but honestly, water sounded like the nicest thing. Just. Not delivered the way that catty bitch had offered it to him.

"Just gunna... get to my car and get the fuck out."

Phew. He breathed a sigh as well.

"Thanks. For that." He waved a descriptive hand in the hair to indicate the whole talking him down thing. "Promise I'm not the kind of asshole to make a scene like that regularly."

Seriously. What the fuck had that been all about. He still didn't understand as he rose from the ground and let his shoulders slump a little.
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#19
 She bowed her head and cleaned off the pad of her index finger and thumb. All that was left was the basket, the parchment lining it, and the sticky residual of the sauce that had coated her stolen meal. She pushed it to the side, away from her stool as if to underline she wasn't paying for that shit. Instead she pulled the cash out to cover her rounds, stole an amount sorrowful glance at the abandoned topped over stool. So close to some excitement, but then cheetah dad had to happen. The wings, while not ideal, were a suitable consolation prize.

 She instructed the bartender to have a good one and slid out of her seat, stretching and sighing at the warmth that loosened her body, the barely there effect of her drinks. Without any warning or preamble she slipped out the front, determined to avoid getting herself unnecessarily tangled up in red tape.
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#20
"Probably for the best."

Not that Marshal had this man pinned as the instigator of whatever the hell just happened, but home was likely the safest option for everyone involved. A single nod was given in response to Abraham's thanks, accentuated with Marshal tilting back his flask only to discover that it was empty. Damn.

"Good to know," Marshal said with a sigh before stowing away his flask. "Hopefully tonight was a fluke."

Well, there wasn't much more to be done or said here. Marshal still had work to do concerning this damned curfew.

"Take care of yourself, yeah?" With that, the older fellow took a step towards the front.
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#21
It was over pretty painlessly, really. Well. Minus the horrific pain that came with fighting off a shift.

But in the end, it felt like an accomplishment. He nodded the other cat guy away and then slowly ambled to his car.

Well. Almost.

The jaguar had always been an ambush predator. Timing was everything.

It would begin work to finish what it started before he managed to open the door, and this time, there was no random benevolent bar employee to stop him.

Whoops.
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