A tower for a princess

Cherry Hill 
During the Sep. 1 cheeguar BBQ!

@Charlie Major @Sol Fay

As people slowly started to mingle, Asha set her sights on Giant Jenga, because every princess needed a tower, or some archaic nonsense like that. She was just giddy, feeding off the good vibes she felt for the most part.

She squeezed Sol's arm gently, with a smile, letting their cats snuggle. "Hey! Let's set up Jenga and see if we can trap a Cheetah," she invited, and honestly if Asha's inviting you to something she's also kind of holding onto you while she's taking you there, sorry Sol.

In particular she eyed Charlie — waiting for any passing eye contact from him, she'd motion him over. "Hi! Wanna do this Jenga thing with us?"

This was all pretty nice, actually! He missed having big group meetups. New people were fun and interesting and knowing that everyone here harbored a secret animal made the solidarity pretty immediate. Isolde had been super wary, and admittedly he couldn't blame her. A couple of these jaguars had turned up on tv down the road from where he lived and had worked for a long time and stuff... so yeah, close to home.

But actually seeing them, and knowing full well that he'd had his own weird moments in time where things had not exactly gone according to secret plan, Charlie had a hard time judging. Look at them, they were just people, having a nice time and playing games together and eating way too much food. A proper labor day picnic.

So after he'd stolen a couple of handfuls of chips and sated some of that perpetual cry for sustenance, he'd caught the eye of one of the lady cats. Uhm, Asha, he was pretty sure. He had pretty good name game. The other one started with an S, but it was one of those he hadn't quite managed to visualize the spelling of, so it hadn't stuck.

"Oh hey, uhh, sure!" was offered and an immediate approach course factored in. He glanced back to see where Isolde had gone, but ultimately wasn't scared to strike out on his own or anything. "Fair warning that I'm completely great at this."

Well, the small version, anyway. But same basic premise, right?

Sol stared at others with an underlying urge to mingle. (Most likely because her cat was going nuts.) But the shy baby were vibe was strong. She felt like a high school freshman again and she hated that feeling.

Her head turned away when Asha snatched her arm. There was a wave of relief at finally being distracted by something. A grin appeared on Sol's face as she followed after her to the Giant Jenga set.

She tucked some of her hair behind her ear when Asha called one of the cheetahs over. Sol looked over and waved.


Asha laughed.

"Then I can't wait until I steal the crown," Asha grinned as she set it up, carefully feeling her hands around the body of the tower as she made sure nothing was uneven before the fun even started. "Okay, okay... I think — Charlie, right? Charlie should go first, then Sol, then me."

She stepped back, all excited as hell to see Charlie eat dirt. Or maybe Sol would win.

"Charlie, yes, that's me," he agreed, glad to be remembered. Glad, also, that Asha offered up the other girl's name in the same moment. Sol, right. Like the sun. That was easy to remember now that he'd taken a moment to actually bother. He beamed at them both, successfully feeling like something other than an older dude hanging out with very young women. The general cat vibes put him comfortably somewhere beneath Asha on the totem pole, and... maybe above the other.

He did rather like not being the newest newbie on the block, but he still remembered super well what it was like to be exactly that, so he was gentle the the concept.

"Alright, let me show you how this is done, alright? Are we doing one hand rules? Or two?" Because little jenga demanded single hand, but these blocks were a whole lot bigger. Either way...

The first move was entirely too easy. A couple taps to find a loose block and it came out and was set on top on one of the edges without so much as a wobble.

"I vote two, cuz smol hands."

And Sol was kind of eh at playing Jenga so the more hands, she thought, the better.

She couldn't help herself from holding her breath when she moved her first piece, even though it wasn't that difficult.

"Small jazz hands," Asha teased and did jazz hands she didn't know why it just happened sorry guys.

Anyway, now it was her turn! She poked delicately around, and when one slid easily, she froze and watched the tower do absolutely nothing, and then she proceeded to remove it carefully and place it on top.

Asha. Was. Giddy.

Two hands did feel totally fair, and he watched with a faint grin as they both took their turns as well. No unexpected tumbles--which was fair, the game had just started and the tower was amazingly stable.

Or so he thought! He got a little careless. Pulling his block out went just fine, but a slightly offkilter placement had it wobbling ever so slightly when he put it back down and he watched with some anticipation, before laughing when it clearly settled. "That would have been embarrassing," he decided resolutely.

"So... where do you guys live?" he asked as the turn moved onto the jaguar ladies.

Sol went for an easy-looking middle piece and gently nudged it a bit out of place before taking it and replacing it atop of the tower.

"In Cedar Creek," she said.

"Yeah it would've," she laughed with Charlie, happy the game wasn't over yet. Sol piped in with her answer and her move, and Asha moved to do the same, feeling for another loose middle piece because those were the easy ones. Having found one, she tapped it out, and then tilted over to get it out from the other side.

"I'm out in Magic—"

And then pulled it out at just enough of an angle that it shoved out the looser piece next to it, and then... crash.

Princess Asha stared at her defeat in open-mouthed shock.

Cedar Creek, with the wolves, and further south in...

Well, easy enough to assume Magic Hollow. Which, even a he was stepping back from the tumbling tower with a laugh, he mentally acknowledged was pretty far from Belle Vista.

"Welp, that was fast," he said before he'd really thought it through, but was quick to add, "I thought for sure it was going to be me to do that in a second here." Not really true. "Big Jenga seems harder." Maybe true.

Sol forced back a laugh, pressing her smiling lips firmly together. She watched the tower tumble down. Sowwy, Jagmom.

"Probably," she said. Sol thought it was likely easier to see everything with the smaller original version of the game.

They laughed and she couldn't help but laugh also! Fine! Okay! It was funny!

"Soooo unfaaair! I demand a rematch, if you guys are down."

Please please please.

"Heeeck yeah, I am. That was short-lived and I'm not done showing off, yet." As if he had shown off at all. But he crouched down and began to gather up the blocks. He knew how to set up jenga. Not that it was terribly hard, and if they both pitched in, it would be pretty short work, considering.

"You guys like Belle Vista, then?" he asked, approaching the topic with some amount of caution, not really sure how much of the 'we could be territory friends' was on the table for discussion by your average cat like him.

"Yusssss." Having not been the one to topple it over gave her a bit of a confidence boost.

Sol helped with resetting the game.

"It’s nice and fancy," she said. Cedar Creek was a bit dark and gritty, but most similar to the places she generally stayed whenever she travelled.

"Yeah! It's clean and pretty here."

She helped set up, and thennnnn would motion to Sol to start the game.

"Have you been part of this group a while?"

Clean and pretty and fancy. Accurate. And a good place to be setting up Jenga with a couple of young ladies who you didn't really have anything in common with other than brain cats.

"A while! Since uhhh, well, since I woke up confused after my first full moon, actually. Yana kindly found me in Larkspur and she's been babysitting me ever since. Since like... November? Last year? Got bit broadcast night."

Worth divulging, he felt. It didn't really stress him out anymore. It was nice to realize it was that far back in the rearview mirror.

Broadcast night... she tried to think of any times she saw any giant animals on the news but it was way before she moved to Mountainside. She would have asked more about it but her interest in it faded as she tried to judge which piece to take first.

Sol tapped and poked one of the middle pieces before pulling it out and placing it on top with no wobbling!

Sol went, and Asha listened to Charlie while she kept an eye on the tower. Be. Careful. This. Time.

She was, but as she pulled her piece out and held it, her head gave a thoughtful tilt. First of all, broadcast night. Wallace not even being fucking breathed on funny for outing their entire kind. She remembered that night, being human still, the traffic, Robbie, seeing Abraham change in front of her eyes, being terrorized by his cat, feeling so terrified, but taking care of him after.

She felt so different from that person. Distantly, what felt like an increasingly smaller part of her missed being that person.

And then there was Larkspur. That he'd been found there. A place where she knew a cheetah to be.

Realizing she was holding the piece a few seconds too long, she placed it atop the tower easily. "Do you know who bit you?" she asked, making an effort to seem casual.

But really.

Was it Marshal. Marshal who dropped her for her own mistake like nothing.

Asha seemed... a little distracted. Nothing major, of course, but a little lingering over the game and a gaze that seemed to him to say that she was actually considering the story he had just offered her. He hoped he wasn't about to get a lot of sympathy, because he didn't really need it. Well, some of it still sucked. Being out of his career of choice, not being able to go off and see his family any old time, especially with all the down time that his new lack of proper job afforded him..

Still, though, no pity party for Charlie and Timeshare, they were coping just fine.

What she asked instead surprised him a little, and he reached for a piece as he 'uhh'd' for a moment in his unexpected moment of coming up with an answer he knew perfectly well in the sense that he knew nothing concrete at all. Thankfully, the piece came loose with zero fuss, and as he placed it up on top between theirs, making the first layer of the new game, he shrugged.

"Nah, not really. No one in the Coalition. Yana's pretty sure it was just some rogue passing through." Certainly no one they had encountered afterward, anyway.

Sol remained silent, listening to the conversation. Her newness made her a little hesitant to join in. She was not even sure what exactly to say, anyway. Nonetheless, it was still a bit of a learning experience, in a way. Like when a kid listened to their parents talk to other adults.

Sol was a toddler, basically.

She found another that was fairly easy to remove and placed it on top.

"Oh, that's good," Asha nodded, going for another piece. There wasn't so much here to say after the fact, so she just kept her suspicions to herself.

"So do you do anything for the group? I know there's like... different positions and stuff."

Yeah, definitely good. Charlie liked not having to wonder if any of his friends were jerks for changing him, really. Better that his sire was gone with the wind and he had people like Yana to pick up the bits of him that would have fallen of otherwise. Between his Queen and Isolde, he felt quite intact, thank you.

Asha's question took him a little off guard and it gave him pause as he poked various blocks to see if they were loose. Not so much, and as he pushed one a little too hard the whole thing wobbled and he held up his hands like he could air grab the whole thing with the Force or something but... not so much. He stepped back with a noise of surprise as the whole thing collapsed.

"Well, no, not yet, and maybe this is a good illustration of why." He laughed, shaking his head. They weren't even getting the tower all that high before it died! "I'm a... well, a former school teacher," he confessed, already dropping to a crouch to pick up the mess he'd made, hoping nothing had landed on anyone's feet.

Asha's question had intrigued her. She was curious moreso about the types of positions than whatever Charlie was in particular. However, instead of a response, the tower had tumbled once more.

"What positions are there?" she asked Asha before crouching down to help pick up the blocks.

"Oh my god," she broke into a laugh as she hopped back, a little catlike in the move. "I think this means Sol wins?"

She stooped to help out clean up, and tilted her head to both their words.

"Isn't there a teacher kind of role? You can also be, uh... kind of like a medic for the group in case anyone gets into some bad scrapes. Or a group protector type. And there's Seconds and Thirds too, right under the leaders. And something else I'm forgetting, I think."

"Sol win!" Charlie agreed. Sol, who was fresh enough she still had many questions. Thankfully, Asha seemed real up on top of all of this, so he didn't have to hum his way through too much. But he did provide a sum-up! "Mentors, medics, soldiers... And I think you're missing guardian. Isolde is Yana's. Mathis is our Second."

Information offered simply because he felt it was worth noting.

"Really, though, from my experience it really is just everyone doing what they're best suited to."

He patted one of the planks into his palm and smiled brightly to Sol in particular.

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