I Throw Myself from Heights that Used to Scare Me

Work Release 
#1

 It was preview day, intentionally set on a Monday morning when there was low traffic - the changing of exhibits an arduous and necessary evil. The brunt of the work had been done by the experts the night prior after closing, but as always she had donned the standard white cotton gloves to assist in the tiny fine details now that everything was more or less done. She straightened frames of some of the smaller pieces as needed, strategically positioned sculptures before locking them safely in their thick glass cases.

 Her mood was pleasant - for Yana, at least ... her face was the same as always, impassive and serious as she focused on the task at hand, positioned the newest bit of ceramic with the tips of her index fingers alone. She was extra quiet lately, withdrawn as she focused on wading through her own affairs outside of the important matters where Malachite was concerned.

 She felt him far, far before she saw him - assumed he had used his key to the front door and kept her back to the open doorway as she stepped back and two steps to the left. Her eyes traveled from the light overhead and down to the display, tilting her head and deciding it was appealing before she pulled her gloves off one after the other by the tips of the fingers and stuffed them into a pocket. She pulled her keys from the other pocket, locked the display and glanced over her shoulder finally.

"Good morning, Mister Tucker."
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#2

For the most part, they had existed at arm's length of each other. Debts were paid, egos healed.

Now felt like as good a time as any to for Marshal to step up up to the plate. Having dressed appropriately for the occasion in accordance to his own standards, Marshal made the trek to Belle Vista for an audience with the Queen. He was hopeful, but he kept his hopes under wraps for the time being.

Art Release was blissfully empty; the man took the liberty of taking up two parking spots with his bike before venturing inside.

He found the Queen in her element, just finishing up the final touches involved in arranging the gallery's various artworks. "Morning," he said in return, offering a short nod when she acknowledged him with a glance. "I've got an idea you'd like to hear."

Hardly one to beat around the bush, Marshal seized the moment while Yana was unoccupied, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
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#3
 She was silent, quiet as could be as she considered his posture and the confidence behind his tone. It was probably the most he had said to her outside of meetings since their little spat. The meeting and the deal that he had not seemed to be particularly thrilled about. It was all water under the bridge now, old news - the board reset as far as she was concerned - it was nice to see he didn't seem particularly petty and spiteful about it either. "I'm all ears."

 "Would you like to head for my office or walk and talk?" She pocketed her keys, motioned and started out of that particular dead-end room of the gallery one way or the other. Despite any perceived personal shortcomings, there was little denying Marshal Tucker's prowess where business was concerned, if he had an idea that could benefit their group or her bottom line - she was here to listen to it.
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#4
"We can walk." That she left the decision up to him was promising, and Marshal wasn't particularly interested in stepping foot inside her office unless necessary.

As they began their stroll through the galleries, their footsteps echoing softly whenever they crossed a threshold from carpet to hardwood, Marshal began the the preamble. "Iron's is doing well now that riots and curfews are a thing of the past. Its success doesn't seem to be slowing down, either." With one of Iron's flashy competitors having burned to the ground sometime ago, Marshal was quite clearly confident in what the future might hold.

He looked over to his Queen and met her gaze. "I've been drawing up plans of opening a second establishment here in Belle Vista. It may not be on the Row, but there is potential here, room for growth."
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#5
 She kept her arms lax at her sides, a casual pace as she wondered from room to room and fell into stride with him at her side. As he started to dig into the meat of the issue, her head tilted curiously - she didn't interrupt though, kept her expression hard to read and nodded along with his explanation. "I'm glad to hear it." She knew it was succeeding - her bank account told her so, but still it was nice to hear it in so many words.

 And then he hit the nail on the head and she stopped short of another step to look at him properly, twisting her body towards hers and crossing her arms. "Are you? ... Is it safe to assume you might like some sort of aid where that is concerned?"
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#6
Marshal turned on his heel to address her fully, as she did him.

Her way of putting it make him smile. "I'm looking for investors, yes. Iron's was a small-scale endeavor, relatively speaking. From what I've been reading, a restaurant of the scale I'm imagining may require more resources." Not to mention that real estate in Belle Vista could kill a man.

"I'd also like to keep the coalition in mind, make it a place for our own." How exactly he would go about doing that, however, was another question entirely. "That's where I could use your help most of all."

Iron's, for all its success, had been built from the ground up to serve Marshal and him alone. While the establishment had served the coalition well enough by means of tithe and tribute, he wanted to build something for their lot that would last. Something grand.

The shine in his eyes betrayed such ambition.
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#7
 All people had a purpose - a set of strengths that shined above all else. There was no denying that Marshal had an eye for business, and maybe it was that common knowledge that had her actually entertaining the idea when she would have so readily denied such a hefty measure of trust to so many people. "A private section for us, perhaps?" She tucked her hair behind her ears, looked him over and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

 "If I'm footing this in any major way, I would like a degree of ownership - even if it's marginal." Sorry Marshal, it was just good business practice. "Otherwise ... I don't see why not." She considered what she knew of Alina's multiple ventures, not to mention the benefit of not having to travel all the way out to Larkspur for Iron's quality - something wonderful without the pretense of old money.
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#8
He nodded along to her suggestion, his expression steeped in contemplation. "Something along those lines." Whether such a private lounge would be cheetah-proof was another matter entirely, but there were options if they were quite literally building the place from the ground up.

At Yana's request, the man met her gaze and lifted his brows. "A partnership, perhaps?" He had considered the possibility long before broaching the topic with his Queen, and he certainly wasn't opposed to it. "It's crossed my mind."

In fact, it felt like a smart move going forward, bolstering ties and all that.

"Would naming it "The Serengeti" be too on the nose?" He allowed himself a smile, however subtle. If they were going to be in this together, then he hoped she could appreciate or at least endure his sense of humor.
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#9
 Maybe she was spending too much time in North Glenn after all - maybe it had a lasting effect. Because while she would have readily shot Marshal a leveling glare and dismissed the jokingly proposed name for their business venture, now she laughed. Her shoulders raised a bit - smirking as she kept going at last and briefly tapped him on the back of the arm to try to coax him to do the same.

 "We'll call it 'The Serengeti', our seats will be upholstered in the finest faux cheetah print. We can play nature sounds - an elevated Rain Forest Cafe, hmm?" Definitely too much time in North Glenn. "I feel like I sound like a broken record, but I do trust your judgement - where business is concerned, at least. " This was an idea she'd throw her hat in, particularly for one of her own.
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#10
Marshal had made his joke expecting a wholesome glare or similar disproving look from his Queen.

What he got instead was, well, unprecedented.

Had he ever heard Yana laugh before? Marshal didn't think so; he would have remembered such a rare thing. Still, he wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, offering a sonorous chuckle as he felt a gentle pat to the back of his arm. Then she stunned him further with a few sarcastic suggestions of her own, except Marshal wasn't entirely sure if she was serious.

Yana didn't do sarcasm.

"Thank you," he said when his Queen complimented his affinity for business. "It'll be grand, the talk of the town." Marshal spoke those words with the utmost certainty, his smile gradually gaining ground.
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#11
 Don't get used to it. There was some urge to diminish his appreciation, the surprised pleasure she received for her agreeableness. She could read it between the lines, the slight weightlessness of their banter in comparison to what had become their normal. It was as nice as it was bizarre - a whole new dialect of a familiar tongue.

 "I can't wait - I'll help in anyway you'd like." If they were going in as partners, she was ready to roll up her sleeves and pull her weight. "How have you been faring otherwise, Marshal?"
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#12
Everything in moderation—Marshal didn't count on this being anything more than a fluke, but he would appreciate it while it lasted. It certainly beat the status quo, which was comparable to a dentist's visit in terms of comfort.

"Lovely," he said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "I'm well. There's been a little more string in my step since the last meeting."

Yeah, that. While the curse of youthfulness had only been temporary, Marshal felt reinvigorated somehow. It was probably all just in his head, but it was compelling nevertheless.

He arched his brow toward Yana, that signature inquisitive look of his. "And you?"

Maybe the kittenish fiasco had done them both some good.
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#13
 "I take it that has not happened to you recently, has it?" She hadn't turned into a cub (thankfully) since that week. And while yes she'd enjoyed herself, chasing tails and mewing in the night ... it wasn't really conducive with survival should a fight arise. "It was apparently a mass issue, I've spoken to some of my friends ..." It was presumed, but still - in case he'd been living under a rock.

Surprise Marshal, everyone had had a baby muppets moment.

 "I'm -" Too much and she risked questions she didn't want to have to dismiss, much less entertain. Too little and they were back in the waiting room at the proverbial dentist's office. "I'm very well - I imagine that whole fiasco did all of us some good." A scapegoat for her, but it worked all the same.

"I was wondering - and this is going to sound very off color, but have you by chance heard about or experienced anyone turning into anything ... goat like?"
It wasn't her story to tell, but seriously - what the hell Maxine.
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#14
Marshal shook his head. "Only the one time." While it was entertaining at the time, he didn't fancy having to turn into a cub for the rest of his days. The man offered a sage nod when Yana explained that it had been a widespread phenomenon, which he hadn't considered before; the only Weres he really knew outside of the coalition were the jaguars.

Brow arched in anticipation of Yana's answer, Marshal smiled when she confessed to being well. "Seems so." Another nod was given as they walked.

But then.

But then.

What Yana asked next nearly stopped Marshal in his tracks, his expression one of confusion, skepticism, and even horror. "... No?" What had Yana seen? What did she know?

Did Marshal want to know?
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#15
 The jury was still out then - and while Levka seemed honest to god confident that one of his bears had turned into some sort of goat-based horror, she still had a sneaking suspicion they'd pulled some sort of elaborate joke on the King's expense. "Oh, nothing - I heard something about a Were shifting to hybrid and ... Krampus." It was visual, that was for certain.

"It's a peculiar world we live in, Mister Tucker."
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#16
Goats and Krampus—throw in some black metal, and they had themselves a story fresh out of Marshal's college years. While he had never been involved in that kind of crowd, it was definitely one of the first things to come to mind.

"Strange indeed." The man shook his head.

A goat monstrosity sounded like a nightmare. Surely it had something to do with the recent goat mania plaguing Mountainside.
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