First Draft 

Upstairs in the late afternoon, Romeo sat in a further corner at a table. Though it was a little early by the estimation of some for drinking, edging just past four, Romeo had acquired a glass of Zinfandel and was sitting with it as his only companion for the moment. Not that he minded.

After the incident in Lavender Heights, as utterly humiliating as it had been for a myriad of reasons--but also eye-opening--he had decided that he was due a bit of time to himself. Staying around home, taking time to recuperate. And though he'd never admit to it, he was making aims to be a little more mindful of the fox, at least for a bit. Hopefully some time with Kuzunoha in the near future would soothe some of those nerves in the easiest way. Much as he begrudged it, associating with the other fox did make life easier.

Slipped once, would not do it again.

So he'd had lunch and ended up here. Maybe going out to the wilds and letting the fox loose would have been better. But a comfortable, stress-free environment for them both did enough of the trick.

Forgoing books, Romeo was shuffling a deck of cards over and over while he watched the quiet surroundings of other ongoing games and solo ventures, and a reading club in the corner, speaking in quiet tones about The Undomestic Goddess.

Outfit + sneakers


Katya scooted up the stairs with her chocolate milkshake, following the scent of the trail. Her eyes shifted over the floor, and she very nearly mistook the figure she was looking at as Wilhelm.

Male. Older. In a suit?

But reassuringly, it wasn't, and so she made a beeline for him.

"How do I play?" Katya asked pretty loudly with a nod to the cards, putting her giant glass on his table. The reading club gave her an immediate scolding, and she did little more than glance to them before looking back to the guy. She grinned, eyes flashing a dangerous yellow as she tried to figure out what he was.



He smelled her as soon as she swept towards him--surprising enough in and of itself--and he sat up a little straighter, and inherent tension playing out in the first second.



A deep breath and he realized the fox was pushing not out of any fear of the the non-fox, but out of curiosity. So deprived, it seemed practically any were would do, and if Romeo was trying to make his own life easier with some adjustments for the time being, well...

Tolerance may have to start being part of that. Or maybe just for today. Heaven knew he didn't want to be making best friends with your average were anytime soon, but this one was young, eager, and oddly charming even as she was flashing her eyes. Probably a newbie. Well, best not offend her and have her putting wolf paws--he knew what she was--all against the establishment's nice floors.

Tilting his head a little, he didn't smile but his tone was light. "Depends on what you want to play," he said. A standard deck of cards, which he had now in hand, worn from so many hands over its lifetime here in this place, could be used for a lot.

”I don’t really know any games.” Microsoft solitaire?? ”What’s your favourite?”

She wasn’t being denied, at least not openly, so Katya planted herself in the seat across from him. All she had was coyote guy and the wall behind him to stare at, so, hopefully he was full of secrets. :3

She was definitely a curious creature, and while a serious part of him wanted her to just go away, enough of him was feeling tolerant that he almost found her odd enthusiasm endearing. He had seen and dealt with a lot of people in his life, but it took a certain sort to approach a stranger with such confidence.

A brief thought, as he really did not play much, especially these days. But a slight mental throwback to slightly better days in Cataclysm, moments spent feeling rather human and he reached for another rubber-banded deck of cards at the end of the table. "Ever played Hand and Foot?" he asked, unwrapping the band from around the second deck. They'd need two for this one.

Katya knew nothing about cards and sucked with numbers, so in retrospect this was probably a bad idea. But she tended to love doing just about everything she was the worst at, so.

”Nope,” she shook her head eagerly, watching him unwrap a deck.

”Are you one of Jo’s?”

"Yeah, are you?" A familiar voice (to Romeo) called out. Was this another coincidence, or had Kuzu been missing her Romeo? She herself wasn't particularly sure, nor did she particularly care as to the rationale. Questioning the psyche of the fox was enough to drive anyone mad. Still, this wasn't what Kuzu had expected to find; Romeo in cahoots with another of the weres. Judging by his expression, she thought, this probably wasn't on purpose.

Oh, well! Time to make it worse.

"I don't actually know who Jo is. They sound cute, though; I take it they're another enthusiast?" the meaning behind her words was clear. She offered a slender hand to the were-smelling girl. "I'm Kuzu. Friend of this handsome fellow's. Sorry for the interruption."

The question took him a little off guard, if only because to himself he obviously wasn't a coyote, certainly didn't belong to anyone these days, and while he knew of the local Band, he had never sought out Jo's name before.

But before he could answer, another, sneakier presence made herself known and he felt himself flush the very faintest bit at the unexpected arrival of one of the few people in this town who felt like maybe they mattered after all.

"Kuzunoha, this is unexpected," he said after the younger vixen had put in her introductions to the wolf. "I'm afraid I don't know how Jo is, either," he offered factually to them both. He found himself moving over in his spot to offer the fresh arrival a spot at the table if she wanted.

That said, he was definitely self-conscious of a public attention alongside his fellow fox.

Katya was genuinely stunned at the new voice, and maybe a little peeved at being eavesdropped. She froze, visibly, before looking up to the girl. She smelt the same as the guy.

She apologised for interrupting, so Katya guessed she could forgive it??? Mostly, still surprised.

"She runs Larkspur," she informed, taking the hand and giving a weak shake. "Katya."

Kuzu arched an eyebrow, eyes trained upon the flimsy hand that grasped her own. Not exactly the confident grip of an innate predator. Ah, well; probably for the best that Kuzu didn't intrude upon some great lion or bear with an attitude problem.

"As you are all too aware, Ro, unexpected is very much my style." She purred. "You love it, though -- or at least, you tolerate it. And I can live with being tolerated. We don't get to have a lot of friends on this bitch of an earth, you know?" A quiet, confident giggle followed. Kuzu definitely seemed happy to see Romeo, at least.

"Can I get the two of you anything to drink? First round is on me. I want to catch up with my old friend -- and hopefully make a new one, yeah?" She flashed a genuine smile towards Katya. Sure she wasn't a fox (probably?) but she was still a shifter, and therefore a possible friend.

Tolerated. This was definitely tolerance. That said, getting tolerance from Romeo was an accomplishment in and of itself, so there was no reason for Kuzu to doubt herself.

Nicknames, casual assumptions, relationships of any fashion--these were all things he afforded very few people of any sort, but Kuzu took them all with such confidence from him that he almost didn't have it in him to fight her.

Could have left town, if he'd wanted to truly avoid it. Take that for what it was worth.

"Ah, the coyotes," Romeo said softly when Katya explained who Jo was. He knew where they holed up--avoided it.

Kuzu offered to get a round of whatever for them, and Romeo made an idle gesture at his mostly-full glass of zinfandel. A polite decline, probably. "I was about to teach Katya how to play Hand and Foot, if you're interested, Kuzunoha. But we will need another deck."

All the facts, but he did put down the deck he'd finished unbinding and reached across the table to offer a hand as well as an official greeting now that Kuzu had set a new standard. "Romeo."

Okay so these two were definitely a thing and she was probably intruding. But the bitch of an earth girl wanted her to stay and be friends or something.

"I'm good with my milkshake, but thanks." She nodded once to the chick with a faint smile, having another hand appear in front of her. She shook it to not be impolite but didn't understand the sudden need for it, Romeo??

"So if you're not a coyote what are you," Katya asked nobody in particular, sipping her drink.

"I'm a Libra," Kuzunoha replied with a smile. It was an infuriatingly playful response, albeit one with a courtesy hidden behind it. It wasn't her place to out Romeo, even if she did not particularly care whether other shifters knew about her particular vulpine inclinations. Easier to let the ball land softly on his side of the court so that he could judge whether or not to return serve.

Her eyes scanned over towards Romeo, giving him a little wink; Up to you, friend, the glance seemed to say. For better or for worse, discretion was a vital tool in the gentlewoman thief's skillset.

Ah, ever the question of the hour. If there had been any pride in him for being what he was, maybe this would have been easier. As it stood, he mostly sighed into his glass as he took a sip. Kuzunoha, up to her usual antics. His fox had sidled over to shove his flank into her vixen's and so he didn't roll his eyes, the residual affection making it... ugh.

It was a warmth his vixen friend knew how to take advantage of, he was afraid. Awkward as their first true encounter had been, sometimes he felt like she made up for it by being overly attached. Or maybe that was natural. He was very bad at this, so he wasn't certain.

Still, the question was shoved more or less to him, and he looked at the young wolf with a healthy dose of skepticism, but, in the end, what difference did it make? With Kuzunoha here, he felt as though his hand was played already, anyway.

"Vulpine," he supplied, sounding a little grim. Then, lest he have to explain with a prompt, he just clarified. "Foxes."

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