Saved daylight time

Jade Gardens 
It was a little after six, and Abraham had a good... at least forty-five minutes of sunlight left.

He was happy with the time change, happy that it meant an extra hour vampires couldn't ruin his night.

Speaking of ruined things, this place had been long made awkward by that crazy Claire chick who called him creepy, like. Ten million years ago. But he was back now, deciding the walk would be worth the chance of running into her again. Abraham was a more chill guy now, at least in the sense that his jaguar wasn't quite so ready to consume other human beings.

The place was as quiet and aggressively serene as it had been last time. Significantly less green, though, and that was kind of a buzzkill for the garden aspect.

Maybe he was too used to spending all his spare time around Asha, but wandering alone was sort of lonely?

He paused at a statue that had relatively little meaning to him, but as something to do, he casually... uh, copied the pose, standing there staring at it.

Nailed it.



Today actually wasn't horrifically cold. It was threatening spring and Astrid was actually pretty okay with this. She was adjusting to a more nocturnal life now what with the new job taking fruition, but she did look forward to sunny afternoons and pleasant nights.

She'd come up this way for tea, actually. She'd discovered several months back that the Jade Gardens had some really nice ones that she was into enough that every now and again she'd treat herself and come up to buy a bit to take home and brew up there. They really really nice about it. And she felt like maybe she was being a little extra, going out of her way for something that she didn't necessarily need, but life was a crazy thing and you might as well choose your quirks when you could.

With the evening as nice as it was--and that extra hour of sunlight she was also marveling a little at--she had decided to stash the purchase in her bag and take a walk around the gardens while she was here. It was pretty dang quiet, and she toyed just a little with a breeze, letting it pick up until she shivered and willed it away.

Sometimes she did wonder, just a bit, what the point of being able to move air was. At least being able to heal Erik up when he put a nail hole through his hand made sense, but the breeze?

Then she spotted the guy up ahead, looking at a statue. She might not have noticed him at all if she hadn't realized he was mimicking it, and she was probably a little too close for her unexpected laugh to go unheard. It wasn't loud or mocking, he was clearly harmlessly caught up in his own sense of privacy, but it was just absurd in a nice way.

He heard the approach of... someone, but honestly, he was pretty focused on what he was doing here?

Abraham wasn’t sure his right hand was in the right spot, and he had to side eye a little to look at the statue while keeping his chin angled the way it was.

Okay. That was perfect. Now if only he had someone to take a picture of him, he could turn around and stand side by side with the statue. A solid embarrassing pic for Tinder one day.

Except when he thought “someone” he really meant... Asha. Or Wallace. A friend. This was not something you wanted to be caught doing by, say, a stranger.

The laugh absolutely got his attention, and he turned sheepishly, except the hand under his chin was still in place which he FIXED QUICKLY to flop at his side. Along with his other hand.

"Uh, sorry," he said and immediately was pretty sure he had no idea what he was apologizing for.

Whoops. Well, of course she had been heard. It wasn't like she was in any more a private bubble than he had been. She got a better look at him as he turned and she giggled a little more at his clearly picking up on what it was she was amused by, covering her mouth in her own way of apology even as she couldn't help herself. And yeah, her eyes were definitely lit up happily and quite mercilessly at his expense.

"You're fine," she insisted, "I'm sorry for laughing. It was just..." Cute. She realized she was going to say cute and saying that to an older sort of stranger was probably not the keenest route she could have gone.

Clearing her throat Astrid dropped her hand to fold across her chest and walked a little closer, peering at him, then statue. "Going for the enlightened look?"

As he got a better look at whoever it was that was giggling at him, he noted that she was, like. Tall. Taller than him. What was with tall chicks, uggghhh. The jaguar noted she was small enough that they could definitely crunch her with one good leap, and that wasn’t helpful, thanks.

She apologized, which was nice, and he broke into an embarrassed smile that reddened his cheeks a little. Of course she was, like, half his age, because everyone was. Except Sephi. (But even she looked younger than him.)

He looked from her to the statue as she asked her question, tilting his head left and right in the universal sign of “ehhhh kinda?”

"Don’t think it’s for me," he said, though a hand did move to his chin in thought, thumb resting beneath. It wasn’t entirely a move he realized he was doing. "Never been a super enlightened guy."

For someone she'd been literally just laughing at, he took it with quite a bit of grace. Most dudes would have gotten angry, right? Instead, he humored her, and her smile softened from mirth to something more congenial. "Me either. Honestly, I'm just here for the tea. Decided a little walk wouldn't hurt while the sun is still up."

She glanced back down the path towards the entrance, or at least in the general direction thereof, but really there was not really anyone around, and the air was rather still.

"If you're not looking for a bit of inspiration I suppose you'd had the same thought?"

Oh, right. Tea. Tea was a thing people consumed. Abraham had never been a fan, infantile as his tastebuds were. It seemed like a drink for someone more refined than a guy like Abraham Barlet.

"Uh, yeah. About the same," he said, feeling his own capacity to carry this conversation sputtering to a halt. "It's all, uh. Peaceful and shit. Which is nice since everywhere else basically isn't."

That was great. Super great. Way to go, Abraham, you're one insightful guy.

She pondered his response pretty briefly, shrugging a shoulder. "I don't know about everywhere, but yeah. I live down in Crestview, so like... well, you know."

Astrid wasn't particularly fluffed by the news that had come out of her neck of town. It hadn't been right down the street or anything and she hadn't seen anything first hand. Holing up with Erik had felt safe enough, their neighborhood quiet for all the chaos of the world. But even she couldn't ignore what was going on.

But her brother was an invisible wall-walker, so deeming the unknown as inherently scary was a little difficult.

"We've definitely had a year."

At this point sometimes it felt like discussing the supernatural was passing conversation that you brought up just long enough to decide if someone was weird or not. Like Trump or global warming.

He felt a little dismissed in her first answer, but she was also... just. Like. A human chick. So she really hadn't the slightest idea of how crazy everything was in her general vicinity all the time.

How had Abraham ever lived like that? Sometimes he envied that world, but more and more, the idea scared the hell out of him.

And, hey, she was in Crestview!

"You... see any of it? Like there animal people or whatever in Crestview."

Man, what a question, really. The fact that it was an honest inquiry with an expected sort of answer, she just...

It was incredible in its own way, that they lived in this world like this. Granted, she'd known for a long time that not everything was as it seemed. But there had been a long time when she'd wondered if it was just her and Erik with these flashes of strange magic. Eventually she had grown up enough to realize that they probably weren't special, but...

Shifters and vampires really sort of upped the entire game.

"No," she admitted. "But my brother and I made a point of laying low while everything was going on. We're, you know, not the riotous sort."

No fun to be had when you weren't looking to lash out in fear or loot. She'd been mostly interested in keeping her dog inside and safe when there had been reports of people taking it out on actual pets.

She wasn't going to ask him if he believed in all of it, because the way she saw it only idiots didn't believe it at this point.

Abraham forgot people had brothers that they liked enough to mention in a sentence.

"That's cool," he said, then realized he hadn't really been listening. "Er. I mean. Not rioting and shit is for the best. I never understood why people felt the need to set cars on fire because they heard something that scared them."

He shrugged because he was just a normal human guy you know yes totally.

Glancing back up to the statue he'd been mimicking, he-

There was a squirrel on it. Creeping up. Onto its head. Which was fine, Abraham was a normal human guy and that was fine!

Except, like. You know. His eyes changed from brown to a bright, intense green.

Not that he had any idea as the squirrel inched upward, staring very directly at him as he started back.

"Right?" Astrid agreed, always reassured when she met folks who weren't like... absolutely psyched out by the whole thing. Her own ability to roll with it probably came from her own dabbling in things that weren't "normal" but this guy seemed...

Uh... wait, nope.

The only reason she caught the brightening of his eyes was the fact that she was very familiar with it. Both in her own reflection and the flicker of her brother's. It was usually a sign in Erik that he was about to do something she didn't particularly want him to, so she was a bit trained for spotting it.

This dude's eyes had definitely not been that particular shade of green--or maybe any shade of green--before, and she... watched him warily. But nothing seemed to happen and she followed his gaze to the squirrel.

Maybe he was like... telepathically talking to the squirrel. Because little rodent looked pretty intent on this guy, too. She wondered briefly if she should leave him to it, thought about calling him out but didn't particularly want to share her own little secret. Least not with a stranger. Not right here in a garden for no better reason other than calling him out would have been easy.

"Squirrels are out. Must be nearly spring after all..." she commented carefully. What a normal thing to say.

Tail flick. Tail flick. The squirrel was looking at him really intently and Abraham felt unnerved by it as his jaguar rumbled with interest.

No. Nope. Don't. Do not. It's just a dumb rodent.

"Yeah. Pretty ready for warmer weather honest-"

That was when it advanced by a few steps, down the front of the statue, head tilted up to stare with its beady squirrel eyes very directly at him.


Abraham didn't move a muscle because it was just a dumb squirrel and who cared about squirrels haha whatever.

"You from Colorado?"

She was actually getting a little worried that this squirrel was just going to fling itself from the statue and onto this guy's face. Like, she'd seen youtube videos where particularly unwary squirrels just jumped right on the camera of the person recording them. She leaned a bit as if anticipating this, but otherwise stood her ground, figuring it wasn't her that the fluff-butt was interested in, anyway.

"Warmer weather sounds divine, actually. I've only been in Colorado for a little over three years. Still not entirely used to the winter. Moved from San Fransisco and honestly I don't remember even seeing snow as a kid. Maybe some freak flurries one year when I was a teenager, but other than that it's like... yeah. Colorado is a different beast. "

Over three years felt like a lot for "only," but he wasn't gunna comment.

"Winter here blows," he agreed. The squirrel seemed to somehow only to grow more intense as it stopped moving entirely, maybe, like... making squirrel plans.

"The snow is hard even now that I'm used to it," he said, then took a careful step back from the increasingly irate rodent.

But. This would prove a bad life choice, and Abraham watched in slow motion as the squirrel made a mad leap right for the center of his chest, its scrabbly little paws scrambling to hook even smaller claws into the fabric of his shirt to keep hold.

For his part, as a solid initial response, Abraham pretty well screamed.

Okay, maybe it wasn't green-eyed curiosity over here that was telepathically linked to the squirrel. Maybe it was Astrid. She seemed to have put an idea into its head. Or maybe it had a nest nearby that it felt inclined to protect from what it apparently perceived as threat?

Sorry, she just didn't see any of this a friendly squirrel behavior. Maybe she had a bias.

But the little bastard went right for the guy and rather than having any intention of helping him remove the squirrel from his person, she squealed herself, half-giggling, half-horrified, and backed up several paces, his own horrified noise giving her a case of chicken skin.

Astrid wasn't about to run off because of a little squirrel pouncing, but she was also a bit wary of getting close enough to have an encounter of her own.


He had were reflexes, but he also had to... not make a scene? Because the jaguar wanted him to grab this tickly motherfucker in his bare hands, rip it in half, and then eat the NO NO NO NO.


The squirrel seemed equally alarmed by all this, making a panicked run... downwards. And honestly, Abraham was maybe even more alarmed by this than if it had gotten close to his face?!

So with a single targeted and frankly pretty powerful slap, he backhanded the furry little fucker a good seven feet through the air and into the grass as he gave out a somewhat squeal-y "fuUuuUuuUCK" as a general summary of the entire moment.

It landed face first, then tumbled, and then...

Was still. He could see its tiny chest rising and falling, but it made no other movement.

Abraham clapped this hands over his mouth and stared at it in paralyzed silence.

Astrid was reasonably glad she'd decided to step back and not go into problem-solving mode on her own. The squirrel had gone to action pretty much as soon as she would have gotten there anyway, and as it darted down he reacted in a way she felt was perfectly reasonable.

Though, man, he hit that thing hard. It sailed through the air similar to how she imagined it would have gone if he had literally flung it, and though she was still caught up in the knee-jerk horror laugh, she winced at the thud when it hit the ground. "Oh my god," she said, clutching her arms across her chest.

There was a moment where all he did was look, and she just looked, too, but then a little concern took her and she started carefully forward, watching for any movement that would indicate that it was either alive, or perhaps more importantly than that, that it was preparing to get up and go for another attack run or whatever the fuck it had been doing.

Had he knocked it out? She was weirded out by the idea of an unconscious squirrel more than by a dead one. She'd seen roadkill, but...

Please, squirrel.

Stay with us.

He waited for a few seconds of steely silence, and then...

In a flash, it jerked to its feet and made a wild dash away from them, rocketing up a tree with speed that could startle even a werejaguar.

Abraham's shoulders slumped, his hands flopping to his sides as he stared up at the sky for... like. Why.

"Christ. I think this is a sign I'm supposed to go home and stay there."

Within a few feet she'd realized it was breathing, at least, and she had stopped, thinking maybe they would need to collect it and maybe call a rescue or something? But nope. Squirrels were made of tough stuff and though it had been seriously dazed, it was up and bolting before she could really make a firm decision.

She jumped, then sighed in relief, laughing again, but having to rub at her eyes as she felt a little overwhelmed. Turning back to her acquaintance, she felt bad for him.

"You okay?" she asked, going back the way she'd come to rejoin him now that there didn't seem to be any imminent rodent threat. "That was... crazy."

The laughter was honestly appreciated. It helped soothe a little of the what the fuck of the entire situation.

In retrospect it all made sense. Animals did not like weres, even dumb little animals. Maybe especially dumb little animals.

"I’m alright. Hopefully it wasn’t a were-squirrel," he joked kind of boldly, but his eyes were brown now and guess what he never even knew they’d turned green!

It was starting to get darker, so he... turned some toward the path that trailed to the entrance, but didn’t immediatley move to head that way.

She caught his eye when he made his joke and laughed in spite of herself, even if her brow knit a little when she confirmed that his eyes... were definitely not green.She wasn't one for imagining things like that, so she was curious but...

Same logic as earlier, Astrid was the sort to let things slide. She didn't much care for digging around when what was flat out in front of her was more than enough. Sometimes not knowing something was easier.

"Were-squirrel, huh?" she repeated, moving sort of in the way he seemed inclined to go, not afraid to take a bit of the lead in perhaps taking them both back to the entrance. "Far cry from tigers and lions. Must be the short end of the stick to end up a rodent."

Made her wonder how much truth there could possibly be in that. But she'd never rule it out because these days so little felt surprising.

"I'm, uhm, Astrid. By the way. For later when you have to tell your friends about the squirrel."

Abraham had known a rat were once. Honestly, and don’t tell the jaguar this, that almost seemed like a nice life? You could leave out a few snacks for yourself and shift in a closet. How fucking sweet would that be every full moon.

"Abraham," he said in return, content to follow her toward the exit. "I actually, uh. Live and work in Crestview. Hopefully next time we bump into each other there’ll be fewer rabid animals."

(Could squirrels get rabies? Could weres get rabies? Anyone?)

Abraham. She didn't think too much on the name other than making certain to remember it. It was kind of an old-man name in this day and age, but her own name wasn't the most common thing, so no comment.

Smiling brightly at him, she nodded. "Oh yeah? I like Crestview. Good to know we could practically be neighbors. I used to work not too far from home but I got a new job recently out in Larkspur. Needed a change of pace. Where do you work?"

She figured some office space somewhere, but work talk was a normal conversation track.

Please don't be neighbors, Astrid. Abraham's house was kind of noisy depending on the night.

"It's a... plant shop actually. Called So Little Thyme. Like, uh. Thyme like the herb."

Puns! Puns that were harder to express out loud.

"Mostly stuff for cooking and some flowers." And "witchcraft," but, she didn't seem the type. "It's a chill enough place to work, anyway."

The parking lot was in sight, and he glanced briefly down at his shirt to look for squirrel tears. Nuthin'.

This dude was full of surprises. From provoking squirrels to working at what sounded like a kitschy kinda old-side-of-town shop. He didn't look like a hipster, but it took all sorts. Or maybe she was just leaning in the wrong direction with her mental image of this place because of the pun. Honestly, she was more of a 'one word' or 'classic vibe' gal when it came to naming things.

"Chill is good, if you're regularly accosted by wildlife otherwise," she teased, inevitably going to remember him as the dude who had screamed when a squirrel had jumped on him more than anything. "Sounds like fun." Well, maybe. Honestly, she wasn't sure how she would have felt working with plants as a job. Or working in a store.

Astrid had no idea the degree to which Abraham was accosted by wildlife. This was, of course, a good thing.

He pushed a kind of chuckle and shrugged to her assessment of fun.

"I’ve never had a fun job, but I do like it, so I’ll take what I can get."

Spotting his car and pulling his keys from his pocket, he glanced to her with a half smile.

"See you, uh, around. Maybe."

That wasn’t awkward at all! To confirm as much, he headed toward his car and wondered when he’d learn to speak like a person.

Liking a job was really the crux of it. She liked her new one so far. It was nice to know that even in a strange world full of supernatural problems and attack squirrels, they could still find some solace in finding a job they didn't hate.

"Yup, see ya!" she agreed, digging for her own keys, half a wave with her other hand as she turned to find her cooper in the nearly empty lot.

That had been a good diversion, and a story to tell Erik when she got home.

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