couch surfing

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Jo spent the rest of the evening stressing over their suddenly necessary move from Cordova, and no matter which way she sliced it, there was no convenient and immediate solution. They had few enough belongings that the actual, physical process of moving would be trivial, but they still had to find an apartment they could afford after breaking their lease. They'd gotten lucky with their current flat, its rent driven down by the perfect mix of shitty construction, obnoxious neighbors, and seedy location.

HEY so

She paused, wondering if this was inappropriate, and then decided she'd never cared about appropriateness before. But maybe she should run this by Amalia first?


can you put up Lia for a few days?
I'm crashing in my truck until I can find a new place, and it's a little too cramped for both of us
if you say no then I'll have to ask Kai !!!
She suspected Kai would appreciate the request even less than Alex.

 She had just finished her morning walk around the surrounding neighborhood, some sort of desperate attempt to get used to the layout of her new home. She sat her phone down on the granite kitchen counter, moved to grab a beer from the door of the fridge, and - o? It wasn't that she was opposed to the contact, she honestly wasn't. It just ... wasn't ... expected. She tried to consider how to approach the first message before the rest came in a sudden barrage.

 She moved to type sure, the girl was technically her responsibility, after all. She stopped herself the more she thought about it - thought about the tepid arrangement she had with Levka and how he didn't seem particularly susceptible to her charm.

I would, honest to god - I'd let you both crash. But uh ... I live in like, bear country? Like ... there's a big scary Russian bear and he doesn't even really talk to me in English all the time? But we have a business agreement so I can stay here without getting mauled by ole Smokey but I don't know if he'd take kindly to house guests ...


... we have bears?
What fucking animal didn't Cordova have? Jo tilted her head back against the wall and groaned out loud. After Alex had name-dropped North Glenn, Jo figured that would be her best option. But apparently not. That meant Cordova, North Glenn, Cedar Creek, and whatever the hyenas had were all out, unless she approached one of the groups for help. She hated the idea of owing a favor for something so dumb as getting chased out of her shitty apartment by the undead.

this friggin city is sliced up nine ways to heaven
which part HASN'T been claimed by some variety of monster?
And why hadn't the coyotes gotten in on that action?

Wait, that was a good question.

and why haven't the coyotes gotten in on that action!?


We got bears. Big ole' asshole ones.

 Despite Jo's apparent surprise, no one was more stunned by that realization then she was personally. She pulled up a map of Mountainside on her phone, wrinkled her nose as she zoomed in and considered the different districts that made up the area before offering a response to the series of questions that followed.

Larkspur, I think ... Red Rock, maybe? Uh ... the sticks if you're feeling antisocial ...

 The topic of a band though, that made her cringe - shifting a bit uncomfortably and running down the list of the usual suspects one after the other.

Well, there's only ... five of us?
I shift when someone farts too loud.
I'd rather lick a public urinal than call Kai my Queen.
Ben is a dick.
Lia is a baby by Were standards.


Jo couldn't help but bark out a laugh at Alex's replies. Well, at least she was honest.

good thing I've got my shit together then !!
call me the new dickboss and hand me a crown
She was mostly joking. She'd only been in Cordova for a few months; she still couldn't even name all the different cities that made up the area, much less point to them on a map. She was still practically a stranger.

"Practically a stranger," even though she'd already shacked up with Kai and shared a bed with Lia, no innuendo intended.

but seriously, we should figure something out before we're shoved out of Colorado entirely
I know I'm preaching to the choir but
She shrugged to herself but couldn't find the words to verbalize that expression, so she left it at that.

 She liked Jo, honest to God - she thought she was a nice lady. She was taking care of Lia for her, she was sociable without being a doormat, and some inherent force in her own coyote felt certain that the woman could wreck her shit if she wanted to. But, she had a body count as long as her arm - she spearheaded an arms operation. The more people that was close, the more trouble that was - the more likely it would be that she'd let slip what she did. Still, companionship sound nice, security sounded ... she huffed as her own beast seemed to wiggle excitedly at the idea, the sociable little shit.

So you wanna start a band, is that what you're saying?

 No, not like that - she'd googled this shit when she was first turned, it was a group of coyotes. Hopefully Jo knew that if she was even like, marginally serious about the idea.

... Any way I can help?


Sure, maybe she'd been fishing a little, testing the waters to see how receptive another coyote might be, but she didn't expect Alex's tacit approval. Did she want to start a band? She'd been in them before. About fucking died both times, when they devolved into in-fighting from poor leadership or picked fights with the local wolves.

I want us to have an edge
if that means starting a punk rock band, so be it

She paused, considering the line-up Alex had presented. She didn't know jack about Ben but would take Alex's word for it. She figured Lia would be game; the girl meant well enough, even if she was practically a pup. Kai probably wouldn't even entertain the concept.

you're into the idea?


 Well ... she could appreciate not wanting to be sheets in the damn wind, but this felt like a mountain of politics and bullshit. Still - all she had to show for going it alone was a near death experience at Night Vision and a naked night on Kai's couch. So ... maybe ... well. Her mind wondered back to her word, to her general hands off approach where connections were concerned. You can change, dipshit. The question was - did she really want to deal with all that fuss?

I don't know if we ever talked about this, but Kai bit me - I've only been a Were for ... less than a year.

 Was that snitching? Possibly - but she didn't really give a shit one way or the other. If home girl was really going to try to reinvent the wheel where their hot mess presence was concerned, she deserved at least that much transparency. She did not, however, give any detail about the sticky circumstances of her infection.

Uh, I know we don't like - really hang out but ... I'm not very good at people? Like ... you might not want me in your dingo punk rock band.


Well, that was rather surprising. But it did maybe explain some of the tension she'd gotten a whiff of.

literally none of y'all are good at people
and I still put out the idea

She didn't need the coyotes to be best friends. She just needed them to, yknow, not try to kill each other. And maybe answer a bat signal every once in a while; grouping up was worthless if they didn't have each others' backs against outside forces.

 Now that text message earned a chuckle, a bout of laughter that gave way to a groan as she rubbed at her face and closed her eyes for a moment. Did she want to entertain this idea? She wasn't one hundred percent sold, but good ole coyote was doing spins at the idea and there was no contractual obligation and ... "Fuck it." Grumbling to herself, propping her elbows on the counter and picking her phone back up.

Hold my hand, how can I help you? Like - if I say yes to this I don't want to just sit there on my hands and look stupid. I know people ... I can like - I don't know, what would you need?
Well, we need, I mean.


a home base, I guess
all the groups have one of those. like the wolves' brewery or whatever.

Meanwhile, Jo didn't even have a home base for herself! Ahh shit, and she still needed to figure out where to put Lia since Alex was a no go.

no hold on, roll back a sec
first we'd need to convince all these other assholes to join up
you know them better than I do

Which was easier said than done, but she decided not to dwell on that bit.

then we need to find a slice of town that hasn't already been staked out
THEN figure out a home base
then print out flyers to advertise our new punk band and tell everyone else to fuck off

Fuck, she didn't have the money for that. She'd have to pull some out of her savings. Whatever, she wasn't likely to live until retirement anyway.

I have a storage facility - we rent units, I keep about half of them for personal use.
It's in Cordova though so I'll be moving and selling as soon as I get my affairs in order. If we can come to some sort of arrangement, I don't mind sharing my business space for band practice until you find somewhere you want more. Or like ... indefinitely or whatever.

 Could she have made that any more vague? She didn't think she could of - but it still felt like, crazy fishy. So ... she hit send before she could back out of the offer. Whatever, it was done now - might as well try to solider past any possible questions.

Who should I start with? You might have better luck with Lia then me, but ...


what would you want in return?
Nothing came free, not even among kindred spirits. (Kindred animals? Whatever.) And now that she thought about it, she had no idea what Alex did for a living. The offer sounded kind of strange, but Jo wasn't about to turn up an easy, if temporary, solution.

I've got Lia
and I have some stuff I probably need to worth through with Kai first

Stuff. Right.

how are you with Ben?


Well, you can't pay me so ... how about we just leave it on the table for now? That's a long way away. And when it comes time to pin down a location if you decide to take up the offer or at least consider it, we can talk shop? I'm sure there's something.

 She could appreciate the fact that the other woman wasn't an outright idiot, that she could recognize that even common ground was not immune to good business. And if nothing else that was something Alex prided herself in - not necessarily wholesome work, but smart work in the very least.

 The bit about working through shit with Kai made her snort, laughing at the screen of her phone. She had ten months worth of shit to work through with Kai, ten months of long coveted disdain. So - best of luck with that one, Jo.

You have fun with that, I don't envy you.

 She thought about her birthday dinner with Ben, the picnic table of shit they had shared while they talked about their mutually loose sense of morals. Plus the guy had let her crash during the Were broadcast, so ... how was she with Ben? Probably better than some, hardly best bitches - but she'd wager they had more common ground then Jo had with him.

No promises, but I'll try to get him on board for you. He's very ... selfish.

So was she - but this wasn't about her, sorry Ben.

Jo suddenly felt strangely small. She and Alex were the same age, right? And somehow this bitch had her life together enough to own and rent out a storage facility; probably her own business of some sort. Meanwhile, Jo lived out of her truck as often as not and when she didn't, she split rent on a one-bedroom flat just to sock away a few extra pennies a month. And not even that, because apparently the undead were kicking her out.

fair enough
Leave it on the table. Jesus, this was out of her realm of expertise.

then you're game?
Just one last confirmation because shit, this was really happening. They'd gone from zero to a hundred in—Jo glanced at the time—ten whole minutes.

 This text made her nervous - the last one asking for a final word one way or another. She reminded herself that this was not a legally binding contract, but still. Jo was cool, she didn't want to yank the lady around if she didn't have to do it. Coyote Alex was all but doing back flips, seemingly more and more intrigued by the thought.

 Maybe that was the part of her she was trying to appease, maybe she was some sort of sucker for stress. Either way she typed the message and set her phone down, she finished her beer and picked it back up at last, hit send. Screw it, you only live once.

Yeah dude, let's make a fucking band.


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