Fur and Claw

She tried to claw his face off again and he narrowly bobbed his head back fast enough to dodge.

He was hungry, both for food and for physical affection, and also still he was sad with the very human dread that he was almost definitely going to explode into spots in the back of a cop car and die in the near future.

So for now he rose up some, seeking to just... smush his face along her side if she'd let him. On the way to go get some food.

She'd let him, flopping on her butt and watching his face rub against her. Also she was also hungry. Why weren't there deer here. A deer would be a more efficient meal.

The jaguar rowled as if she was a cub, her voice deepened for it. She wanted to be outside, climbing trees and all, but even as an animal, knew better at this stage than to break out of this house.

Instead she decided to go to him and groom him at the hip. He was not in his usual playful mood and even her inciting him into action didn't seem to work much, so she settled on the next best thing, which was not being the usual spoiled princess she was.

She was nice, and he appreciated it, and distantly so did Abraham.

Hungry and honestly wanting some of the Taco Bell he'd ordered for himself, he nosed into the back, snuffling loudly at the food inside.

Deciding to start simple, he grabbed somewhat gingerly at a taco inside, holding it in his teeth like a fragile living thing.

And then he dropped it on the floor, nosing a few times at the wrapper before deciding it still didn't trouble him to eat it whole. He'd lap it into his mouth with a dumb giant cat tongue, crunching the mess noisily as he leaned his hip slightly toward the other cat.

Okay but he was eating. :( She wanted to eating too.

Her grooming would grow more distracted, and she sidled up along his side, aiming to approach the food pile also.

Like, that burrito she'd started on earlier. She could lap it up and lap at him too. So nice of her to groom and eat at the same time.

It was nice, and he was keenly aware of that.

Eating was a quiet affair in terms of activity, though he wasn’t the quietest eater as a whole. There was definitely a human desire for her to eat more than him, but the jaguar would push to keep things even.

It wouldn’t take him long to clear his half of the mess in the bag. Left with a lot of anxious energy and nowhere to put it, he lingered for a moment before setting off to pace around the house if she’d let him, wide and deliberate paths to nowhere.

She didn't know what to do aside from finish eating. He didn't stay still, so she just watched him pace.

Maybe the humans needed to handle their stuff if nothing was going to happen here. Meowsha wasn't tired enough to knock out, but if you lay down very still and close your eyes, maybe it could happen.

She watched him and willed herself into a slow drowsiness.

It was a dumb loop around the kitchen and living room that he followed.

Very much an animal in captivity, he took each step at a steady and mindless kind of pace, occasionally glancing to Asha where she lay. Maybe he should have stopped to cuddle up with her, but it was... difficult.

Human worries rarely meddled with the jaguar's time, but they would today. Nearly an hour would pass before he'd settle down, and Asha would likely be herself again by then.

Yeah, well, this was harder than it should have been. The ladycat lay there, waking every so often as he swept closer, hearing random floorboards creak for his weight.

Fat cat.

Once, her tail thumped, and then she stilled it because movement wasn't helping.

Heavy sighs. Twitching toes. Restlessness even flat on the ground. The cat ached for action. The girl had been inert for so long now.

He lay by her eventually and she decided to nibble very nicely on him.

Why was everyone so sad. What would he like to do about it, because sadness wasn't her deal. Aside from that time he'd abandoned her.



The nibbling was nice. He breathed a sigh through his nose.

The jaguar liked her very much. More than anyone or anything in the very small world he'd been granted to live in.

Regretting that he'd spent the last hour walking around her instead of huddling up next to her, he groaned a little, nosing at her and lapping at her wherever his big dumb face could find in reach.

He wanted to cuddle, and sleep, and maybe that would last long enough that he would wake up sometime after the danger had all passed.

Probably not how this would work.

Closeness was more comforting. He settled against her and even gave her attention, finally, and as he lapped away at her she felt much nicer.

She relaxed and moved her head over on top of his after some time, one smaller paw draping protectively over him.

Eventually, when they were both out, she'd finally change.

The jaguar would take all the comfort he could get.

Abraham would sleep for some time, waking well into the night to find the mess they'd left behind.

Piling destroyed clothing and shoes into the trash, he wouldn't entirely follow his usual routine.

Asha would wake in bed, as usual, but Abraham would be... uh.

Well, in the closet, but. Not that kind. The actual kind, where he was sitting on the floor next to an overstuffed suitcase. He was on his phone, searching for something. Something very, very important.

"automatic fish feeder"

She came to alone. That wasn't odd. What was odd was the sounds he made.

"Abraham?" she called out, a sleep-groggy child still.

"I think I need to, like. Not be living here for a while."

That was probably a hell of a greeting. Sorry, Asha. He spoke with his voice slightly projected, though he didn't really need to.

There was an automatic fish feeder he could pick up at Walmart before the sun even fucking rose. It was good for up to three weeks. That would be enough at least to sneak in a visit and clean the tank an refill the feeder.

"There's a place in Ravenswood. It's supposed to be safe for weres who are in trouble. Sephi told me about it. I thought- I'd- you could come with me."

Not living here for a while.

She let the words hit her slowly. The reality that was their life. Why the fuck was Abraham wanted.

And he wanted to go to a safe place with her and Asha knew she had to go back to work and also she was supposed to be building her empire but instead they were on the run.

She sat up slowly, grunting softly for the effort.

"Did you pack my stuff too..." she asked, which she didn't recognize to be a test even if that was what it was.

She sounded tired but not... panicked or extremely depressed, which was an improvement.

"I got your suitcase out and put... like. Some of your shirts I like in but I don’t really know what chicks need."

As if they were an entirely separate species. They kind of were.

His knees crackled as he got up to walk into the bedroom, looking at her with a somewhat neutral frown.

It was a rule. Reality was slow to hit her after waking.

But it settled like a sinking stone in her stomach, like too much food, leaving her in a daze as she stared at him.

She could tell him, right. That it was all her fault. That they were doing this because she'd changed Fray and lost her cool and lost her job and lost Larkspur and Abraham had been seen on video and now suddenly the law was after them.

Sure. She could tell him.

"I'll..." she started, and that was about all she said before she started getting up and joining him for The Packing.

"Do you. Think it'll be worse. If we run."

Now they couldn't move to Wallace's house. Avery probably wouldn't welcome them back. Kai would probably fire her.

Everything was so fucked.

"Not running," he said.

Definitely running.

"Going on a low budget vacation. Maybe they have a pool."

The humor wasn’t quite there in his voice despite the attempt of his words.

He’d return to the closet and sit on the floor next to his suitcase.

This was definitely how you became a criminal.

If she was nervously biting her lips before with Margaux, she was double time shredding them now.

He sat as she worked away at her clothes, pulling out essentials. That was all they needed, right? Essentials? A low budget vacation.

"I don't. I don't get why you'd be wanted. And if Cass and you met before, I—"

She shook her head, dropping clothes in after only kind of folding them. Underthings. Shirts. Dresses. Her work pants. Her polos.

Would they arrest her at work if she went? Him? "I should just turn myself in, it's probably me they're really looking for."

She muttered this, wondering if whatever tone he spoke in to deny her that would be convincing.

"Stop fucking saying shit like that, Asha."

Whatever levity had been attempted before was utterly absent now. He looked directly at her with an obvious flaring of anger.

"Just fucking stop. Stop it. Stop thinking shit like that. Stop saying it. I’m trying to fucking- I’m trying to get us out of trouble here and you just fucking say shit like that. Stop it."

The anger was very, very wanted. All this time, Abraham had put up with her shit, patient and calm and getting by with just sighs.

But. It also didn't help do anything but push her. How was running away — for a low budget vacation one town over — how was that meant to help them?

"You should get out of trouble and go. I'll be here if they come back, I– can take care of our fish, and."

The royals. That's what he'd been talking about in his text, she realized... really belatedly.


She wanted him to go by himself. That stung, especially because...

Well. It was his fault for turning her in the first place. Everything came back to that. But she hadn’t learned lessons in each disaster she lived through. Asha was intelligent, but she didn’t often act like it.

"What the fuck are you going to do if they come here? Turn yourself in? Shift and end up fucking dead?"

He’d regret it later, but for now he was too upset to keep to polite and supportive remarks.

She'd be lying if she didn't think those were her exact thoughts. The question was, should she lie to him too?

"If they want the cat to kill it, then..." she rose her arms, a silent gesture of "here I am."

"Better me finding that out than you, right?"

He rose up, furious, wanting to fling the stupid fucking suitcase across the room. Abraham could put it through the wall if he tried.

"After every fucking thing we’ve been together, you look at me and think, yeah, this guy’s the kind of person who is into the idea of me fucking killing myself. That’s really fucking rich. Thanks a lot for that insight."

He would storm out of the bedroom assuming she didn’t grab at him, only making it as far as the dining room because where the hell else did he have to go.

Of course he'd try to guilt her. And then leave her.

"Please stop."

There was little she could do if he didn't. She didn't know his intentions.

Now she wanted him to fucking stop and all he wanted to do was just... throw something.

But he didn’t actually own a lot of objects. So he got as far as the mattress and put a foot at the edge to just... shove it dumbly, like something his jaguar would do.

"I’m not a bad person!" he shouted, literally shouted, if mostly to himself. As much as you could shout to yourself in a space shared with someone else. "I don’t deserve this! I’m fucking trying and I shouldn’t be wanted for fucking anything!"

He thrust his fingers into his hair, wanting to rip it out of his scalp like that would help at all.

He didn't stop. Instead he started yelling, and she flinched, not used to him at that volume so close, and wandered from the closet to look at him. One hand lingered on the jamb.

"You're not," she said quietly, meaning it. Her insides seemed to shake with a chill.

Abraham had only ever done his best. He hadn't run through a city and caused a spectacle. He hadn't killed a woman. It had entirely been her.

He'd said he'd turn all the cops back then if they came for her. What would she do for him?

"I don't. I just don't know how else to keep you from all these... stupid fucking mistakes I keep making."

She wished he'd be angry at her instead of the furniture and his life.

Kicking the bed was kind of humiliating, and as soon as the moment was over, he felt a wave of humiliation and shame for it.

But how, honestly, had his life come to this moment. Abraham had never been perfect. Far from it. Rude, hostile, curmudgeonly, inconsiderate.

And yet, he'd never been a bad person. For all his shitty mannerisms, it wasn't his way to intentionally hurt anyone. Turning Asha had been a horrible mistake, but just that. A mistake.

Running from the police was the last thing he'd ever expected to do with his life, even in the face of Asha's literal murder of an innocent woman.

Even he couldn't deny some desire to turn himself in for... whatever this was. Almost definitely. But it would mean actual death, not just for him, but for whoever was around him when he shifted in a final horrifying panic.

Asha said something and he heard it only belatedly, so focused on what felt like the edge of a very deep plunge.

"You learn from them. And you listen to people who are trying to help you. And then they stop happening."

What he said wasn't new. She just felt like maybe she'd never reach that point. Everyone else seemed able to gain control of themselves. Asha only lagged behind.

Sure, some people took years. Those people didn't have cops breathing down their necks.

What if they never stop happening, Asha wanted to ask, but the words never really made it out of her.

Instead she turned around with intent to put more stuff in her luggage.

Not a word in response.

Overwhelmed, Abraham sat on the crooked mattress, elbows resting on his knees and face in his hands.

This was the wrong choice, but it was the only one he could think of.

Eventually, he'd get up wordlessly to assist with packing. They could take care of the fish food situation later.

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