Cry Me a River of Onions

Cedar Creek 
#1
Outfit minus that necklace, for her antler one


First day of school! And it was this close to being the worst day since starting work here. The kids were great, their icebreakers went well, this year would be great, but it all came down to the parents. So many of them had stayed back, they'd called, left notes and whatever else ridiculous nonsense. When it came to the kids being picked up, it felt like an interrogation at times and a lot of asks were out of her hands to make decisions for. It had been mentally exhausting going from one thing to the next.

Now walking out of the quiet school she had an opportunity to just breathe. Boris had stayed put in the apartment with a lot of grumbles as it would've just been too much in the flurry of the first day to also keep track of a dog. It would've been nice though in the grand scheme of things. But he didn't deserve her coming in a sour mood either. Any hope for a walk or a fun activity was quite quickly squished when Natalie realized she needed actual food at home. That'd been something in the farthest reaches of her mind till right now, keys in the ignition. A giant sigh escaped her before starting the car and making the drive to the local grocery store, not wanting to go to the one so close to her house when the temptation to just go straight home would be at the all time high.

Within a few minutes, Natalie found herself in the store, hating the buzzing fluorescent lights and trying to steer clear of every single person she could. She'd rather just be home. Get in and out was the plan. Grab some nice apples, a bit of lettuce, a few onions.... and oops. A bunch of said onions decided to take the opportunity of one leaving the stand for a lot of them to make a break for it and fall dramatically in a rush to the floor. They then began a roll through the aisle, much to her dismay. "Oh noooo," the last note of 'no' long and getting quieter as it went.
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#2
She wasn't trying to spiral. Honest. Since losing her kid, she hadn't gotten arrested, or punched anyone, or woke up naked anywhere other than for were-related reasons. She had loaded up her stupid car and found a new motel to stay in, in a new location where she might distract herself from Vittolessness indefinitely, until she didn't care anymore. And she was going shopping for hamburger meats in anticipation of a solo shift this weekend, where perhaps she could get into some good healthy hyena trouble.

And the arm thing? Well...

That could've happened to anybody. And it didn't hurt that bad, and it would be healed up in a few weeks at most, probably. She'd just stuck it in a cloth sling rather than involve doctors with her magically accelerated bone growth.

Pete was not a big fruit eater, but she'd spotted some candy apples on display by the boring apples and was moodily striding her way over to them when an onion interceded, twisting one foot to land at a ghastly angle briefly before the rest of Pete crashed forward. She brained herself on the produce shelf, sending a small rain of apples down, pain and stars and anger blinding her; Becky pushed into control while Pete flailed to understand what exactly had just happened, and she realized with horror that she was starting to shift.

That is to say: SURPRISED YELL, CLATTER-THUMP, grrrOOAAannnnrrrrcrack crack. Face down under the apple stand, her free arm grabbed the top of her head in a claw-grip.
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#3
It was pure luck that had Alina at the grocery store that day. She needed food and didn’t want what was currently in her house. Sooo here she was, dropping items into the basket held in the crook of her arm so that she could grill food out on the deck later. Tired of steaks all the time, the Wolf King figured that a small barbecue for her and Sullivan and anyone else that showed up at her house would be suitable and different enough to not be boring. Maybe she’d call Avery and invite them over.

She just needed a few more things, which were all found closer to the produce section. Kielbasa. Onions. Peppers. Mushrooms. Hyena.

Full stop.

Hyena?

The Wolf took a deep breath, inhaling the scents of the grocery store. There was indeed a hyena and it wasn’t Avery. The pale wolf showed vague interest but it was not a wolf and it was not anyone they knew, so that interest waned quickly. Alina’s, however, remained.

She moved towards where the scent grew stronger, conveniently drawing her towards produce, just in time to see the spectacle of two people tripping and —

Oh. Oh no. She saw that clawed hand, Hyena. No way.

Alina walked very quickly over to where both of them were and knelt by the hyena, one hand lightly touching her shoulder. "Are you okay?" She asked before speaking again in much softer tones, keeping up appearances that she was checking on them. "Deep breaths."
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#4
Immediately, Natalie began picking up the onions she could, but it seemed some had already gotten pretty far. There was suddenly a loooot of movement that had her catching the exact moment a person started flying forward into the apples. The culprit? A particular sneaky onion now vaulted further down the aisle as it's victim crashed to the floor in what sounded like a very painful drop. Apples began to scatter to join the roots and she was spurred into getting to her full height and and made to rush over to check on the lady that had just fallen, eyes wide in alarm. Oh no no no, they were probably super hurt! But someone beat her to it and seemed to be checking on them.

Feeling considerably guilty and very concerned, Natalie still made her way over. "I'm so, so, sorry, they all fell and then you and then ahhh. Oh my gosh, are you ok?" She stopped a couple feet away as she said that last bit, not wanting to overcrowd completely, but not able to see just how hurt the other person was with the woman kneeling so closely at that angle. "Is there anything I can do?"
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#5
There was a hand at her back. One knee, the one above the unsprained ankle, pushed up to press against her ribcage as she kept her hand fisted in her hair, turned her head to keep her snapping face obscured.

"Deep breaths." Becky was shrieking with the need to whip around and sink 1500 pounds of bite pressure into whatever had hurt her. She gulped in a huge breath and held it, aware of the flaring pain in her foot and her head and her jaw, which was widening with the sound of snapping sinew and gristle.

"Tell," she slurred out, feeling her spine try to retract into itself. "Tell me, where we are." Because that was a wolf touching her, a wolf her beast was ready to fly at regardless of the power that radiated from her. This was her chance at not going Full Asha and she would fucking take it.
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#6
The human immediately crowded them, apologies profuse and unimportant. The wolf wanted to snarl at the girl to make her back off and had she not been so focused on the Hyena, she might have. But right now was not the time. The Hyena was reaching for the help that Alina was offering and she couldn't ignore the proverbial outstretched hand in this case. "We're in the Safeway in Cedar Creek. Produce section." That she was asking where they were was a good sign, at the very least. It meant that she was fighting and Alina would take it.

"She's fine. Water and an ibuprofen would be great." Hopefully, that would at least get her to back up a little bit. Maybe send her on a small mission. Having her out of the hyena's direct space was probably beneficial right now.
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#7
What met her ears from the hurt lady didn't sound fine, especially as their face remained hidden. A person asking where they were was never a good sign and her concern only rose. If her onion fiasco led to a concussion she would never forgive herself. Any hostility towards Natalie being there wasn't registered as she merely looked on, unsure of what to do as an answer to the question was provided. Perhaps, at this point, calling for help from an employee or an actual ambulance would be good? Especially since they didn't know where they were?

An answer to how she could help was given by the woman checking in on the person that had fallen. Well, alright then, that was something. Natalie had ibuprofen on her, but water was a no go. "Alright, I'll be right back." With that, she hurried to the front where she'd grab a cold water bottle from the mini fridges there.
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#8
Pete held her breath until stars began to go off at the back of her eyelids, her heartbeat throbbing in her ears like a Jumanji drum.

It was fine. She'd hit her head, twisted her ankle. It was fine. She let out the breath in a long, wet hiss; the air she took back in tasted like apples.

She was in a Safeway.

A Safeway, Becky. So calm the fuck down.

She felt her beast begin to back down, still making a great deal of noise but not actively trying to crawl out of her face. She tried to breathe deeply around the pain. At this point she wasn't sure if she could put her face back or if she needed to leave the store with a bag over her head and go shift under a bridge somewhere; she had surprisingly little experience at reversing a shift that had already kicked off.
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#9
Relief flooded her as the girl walked away. Had she refused, the tension would have skyrocketed once more and she'd really fucking prefer that some Hyena stray didn't shift on her turf. That would just end in bloodshed and mayhem and Alina hadn't penciled that into her nonexistent agenda, alrighty? That was not the life she'd signed on for this morning.

"It sounds really fucking stupid but say the alphabet backwards in your head. Or outloud. Whatever works. Just keep your cool and I'll buy you a drink later."

Alina's own attempts to pull back her shifts when she had first become a Were had been largely unsuccessful but over time, she'd learned. Also through trial and error, which was a fucking bitch, but if this woman didn't want to shift in the middle of a fucking grocery store, it was now or never.
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#10
Pete's hand released from the hair at the base of her neck, traveling clumsily to feel at the mess that was going on in front. Her jaw had split, Becky perhaps cleverly arranging for Hyena Bite to be an option even as the rest of her stayed pink and squishy; her nose had domed out to form a muzzle, whiskery and sparsely furred.

The wolf at her side told her to say the alphabet backwards. A snort of laughter that more or less meant well, fuck me cackled out of her, and so she obliged.

A, B, C. Nope - that was forwards. She forced her eyelids shut tight and thought, Z, B, A.

Her leg ached plaintively but she held her breath again, forcing her brain through elementary school lessons and boring her hyena, eventually, into subsiding, paws to feet, haunches to hips. At last a piercing headache smashed her skull plates back into place, and for all else that was going on, she was about 95% sure she was all human. If for no other reason than that she was fucking exhausted. She sank further onto the floor in a hyena puddle and groaned, mostly for sympathy.
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#11
The laugh was a good sign. Laughing was human (for the most part) and so was the sound of everything righting itself. It wasn't one particular sound but many; Little cracks of bones, less panicked breathing, the groan that she let out as she puddled on the floor. Crisis fucking averted. For today, anyway. Alina gave the woman a few moments to bask in the "holy shit I didn't shift" moment before offering a hand to help her get to her feet.

"Bet you feel like shit," The wolf quipped at her, a slight grin on her face. The comment was good-natured, really. It took a lot for a Were to be able to reverse their shift and the internal fight to keep it all in basically drained any and all energy you had. It was a feeling she remembered well. "Should probably shell out on steak or something for tonight." Sate that hunger, feed the beast until you could get away and hunt in animal form. All that shit.

The human was due back any time now with some meds for the Hyena's head. Not that they'd last all too long but at the very least, they'd take the edge off.
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#12
Rushing to the front, she'd managed to grab two bottles of water just in case and also went to guest services and promptly told two staff there what she knew. If that lady had really hurt herself the store needed to know. Calling emergency services seemed a bit much considering nothing seemed to have broken and there wasn't blood, so she'd leave it up to the employees to figure out.

With that done, she quickly made her way back. Turning the corner she was greeted to the sight of the woman on the floor and the other helpful one offering a hand to help her up. That could only mean things had deescalated for the better. Sidling up, she scrounged around her purse for the meds and getting a few out before opening one of the water bottles. "Here you go," she offered.
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#13
"Five steaks," she mumbled as she offered up her good arm, finally revealing a face slightly groggy and lipstick-smeared, but human. She allowed herself to be pulled up to her feet, by which she meant foot, as the ankle who'd met the onion was already swollen and stiff. She'd have to drive home using the other foot, probably, which was interesting.

Other people were showing up, one of them possibly from her initial fall; she mostly just remembered the wolf and the feeling of brain trying to escape her skull. She smiled unconvincingly, taking the pills and letting them sit in her hand, everyone around her moving too quickly for her to catch up. "Thank you." She clenched the pills in her fist and shook them encouragingly in the air, addressing everyone. "I live to shop another day."
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#14
 Her hand embraced the Hyena's forearm, gripping there for a better hold as she helped her to her feet. That touch didn't linger; as soon as she was up, Alina's hand dropped to her side and she watched the interaction between human and Were quietly from where she stood for a moment before deciding that she needed to buy her shit and get home.

 "Glad I could help," She stated before turning to go her own way, on a mission to pick up the last few things she needed so that she could go home and start up the grill.

Alina exits.
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#15
Meds taken, the joking response from the fallen woman had her smiling concerningly. Natalie was still kind of fretting that there might be some internal damage of some kind and was practically forcing herself from hugging the stranger in relief that everything seemed ok now.

The woman that had come in to help was about to leave after a moment. Natalie turned on her heel to give a wave as she walked off. "Thanks!"

Turning back to the person still on the floor, the water bottle was offered again, not wanting to take no for an answer here. "I'm sorry again, but I'm so so glad you're ok. Do you want me to call anyone?" Like her family, a significant other, a friend maybe to pick them up?
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#16
The wolf-king left without Pete ever knowing who exactly had saved her from wrecking a Safeway. It seemed like a strange move not to take names before leaving, but a baller one. Pale, wide eyes took a moment to watch her go.

Then this other woman with the water and pills was still in the foreground, and she blinked dully and smiled, growing a little brighter as she spoke. "Yeah, don't worry about it, sugar. This ain't the worst that happened to me. I can tell everybody I got messed up taking down a bad guy." With a full toothy grin now, she winked; even a gently concussed Pete still liked to dance for the spotlight. "He was huge, you shoulda seen 'im."
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