Don't panic don't panic don't panic don't panic

Restaurant Row 
#1


Don't panic, Abraham.

This place was expensive. And Frank was kind of better than you.

But don't panic.

Asha had been proud of him for doing this. For coming out here. Abraham arrived very accidentally too early and spent time scoping out the restaurants. Pretending this was intentional. Remembering prior Belle Vista incidents.

Was Rhett still around, somewhere? Poor kid with his bad glasses.

He did need to get to know the area better. Make it feel like eventually he'd belong here. So far, he mostly felt a little underdressed, but Asha had picked it out so he'd just... trust her.

Waiting outside the restaurant, he sought for cool from the jaguar. It mostly paced.


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#2


This was shaping up to be a pretty jaggy weekend and he was looking forward to it. Meeting up for lunch with Abraham was unexpected and Frank hoped where they chose was good.

After parking and beginning to walk up, he waved at the sight of Abraham. This was a better meet up already since the last couple times had been because the guy had been passed out or before that, with scratches on his face and a hurt girlfriend.

He offered a wide smile. "Hey, how're you?" Frank would go to open the door for him.
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#3
Frank arrived looking...

Uh...

Kind of like. Like someone's dad. It was the first time maybe since they'd met that Abraham wondered if Frank actually wasn't younger than him? (This was a fact that probably everyone other than Abraham had already picked up on.)

He smiled, almost sheepish, as Frank approached. Of course the guy opened the door for him because he honestly seemed just classier in general.

"Hey, man. Nice to see you outside some kind of emergency or... uh, moon party," he said, heading up to the hostess and offering up his name for their reserved table.

"How you been?"
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#4
As they made their way in, he followed after. Moon party was a unique term and led to an amused look on his face as he took in the decoration of the interior before landing on the other.

"You too, and yeah, I've been good. Things've been pretty quiet."

With the hostess leading the way, he'd go to follow after Abraham again. "How're you? Everything ok?"
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#5
Quiet. Quiet was good when you were secretly harboring a violent, dangerous animal.

Abraham found their table set up... uh. With a little flower. It felt kind of gay. But Abraham was a manly guy? So? It was fine? Whatever?! Totally.

He settled into his seat, smiled at by the hostess as she left them with a carafe of water.

"It's been quiet for me, too," he said. "There's a... a new cat. Real young kid. So I'm trying not to get a headache over that."
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#6
Soon enough, they were at their table, flower included, and he sat down. Taking a hand to run over the menu, he listened, glad that things had been likewise for Abraham as well.

Frank looked back up quiet quickly at the mention of a... kid? And they were a jaguar too? That sent him a bit uneasy and his conversation with Sol a week prior surfaced. Had one of their group turned them? Had Abraham? Filling his cup with water from the carafe, he considered how to word this question.

"Did one of us?"
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#7
He and Frank seemed to have similar trains of thought. They drove on the same tracks. Or. Something.

"That was my first thought," he said. "I know it wasn't me or Asha. I knew it couldn't be you or Sol, because the thing bit his ankle and then ran off. And I know if it was one of you guys, he... well. He'd have more than an ankle bite."

Abraham glanced down at the menu for a moment and felt his wallet cringe all over again. It was probably nicer to offer some kind of appetizer? But they were all expensive and low protein but high cheese for a guy who didn't like cheese. Ugh.

"That leaves... Abel, who just doesn't seem the type."

Privately, deep down, there was some... unfortunate sense that it probably was Abel. It was all just too fucking convenient.

"But the kid's story is weird anyway. Says it just ran up to him in a neighborhood, bit him on the ankle, ran off. And also that it wasn't very big? And our cats are... uh. Not small."
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1

#8
Honestly, this was some weird mystery to solve. If the members of their group that remembered shifts and didn't in fact bite this kid, then what was even going on. The reasoning of why it wouldn't be Sol or him made sense as well, though he didn't even want to know what his cat would do in that kind of instance. Maybe it would attack and try to drag the kid up a tree or something like on those tv shows. That was an unsettling thought in its own right.

His brows furrowed at the kid's story. "That doesn't sound right. Aren't they like hip or so height?" Frank drummed his fingers in thought, a glance or two back down at the menu, half-deciding that while considering this whole thing. "And he's definitely like ours?" Maybe, it was a cheetah, those were theoretically smaller than their jaguar, not that he had seen any shifted to confirm that, but their animal counterparts were definitely stacked up like that.
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#9
Yep. Frank was following all of Abraham's paths.

"I was very sure it was gunna be some... wolf or coyote or something," he said. "But then sure enough, we shifted together, and it was a freaking jaguar. My cat wouldn't mistake it for anything."

Abraham shook his head, ready to add more, but the waiter was here asking about drinks.

"I'll take, uh, a pilsner, please."

A quick glance to Frank.

"Any appetizer you want? It's on me."
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#10
That was certainly unsettling to hear. Some random jaguar was going around changing people and they didn't even know who they were.

With the waiter arriving, Abraham put in his drink order and while he would've joined him, he was going to have more than his share later. "I'll have a coke." At the mention of appetizers, Frank smiled, but thought better of it for now. Out of everything on the menu, he honestly was just going to wait for the actual dish, plus, it seemed a bit too much already for the other to be buying his lunch.

"Nah, I'm good so long as you are."
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#11
Whoops. So apparently Frank wasn't a drinker. Abraham felt a little beer shame and sipped some water.

No appetizers either, which freed up some money in his life to make a shitty decision and kind of order the most expensive thing on the menu.

"That's cool. I'll, uh, take the... lamb, then?" he said, then wondered if he was rushing Frank into order. Being social was hard. Oh well.

He'd wait until the ordering process was done before looking to Frank, trying to remember the questions he'd told himself he would ask to keep things interesting.

"So you found a new job, I think I heard?"
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#12
What Abraham had ordered did look good, but one of the main reasons he'd chosen this place was the non "main dish" sections. He had a soft spot for pasta so after another quick look, Frank went with his gut. "And... I'll have the lemon poppy seed risotto. Thank you."

With their orders now being carried over to the back to be cooked, they were free to talk again. The mention of a new job seemed like such a long time ago compared to everything else. "Yeah, I work at an emergency center in Red Rock now. I'd rather have found something else here, but I think everyone heard about my freak out," he sighed lightly, a small smile still seen. There'd been enough time between then and now that it was almost water under the bridge... sort of.

Grabbing the wrapped up utensils in front of him, Frank unrolled it and kept them on the table, lightly laying the cloth napkin on his lap.

"You never told me what you do, by the way."
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#13
Abraham almost fucking choked as he sipped on his water. Lemon. Poppy. Seed. Risotto. None of these words were another word for an animal. Zero meat.

It was a good thing they were moving to Belle Vista, because apparently Frank belonged here. Classy as fuck.

Emergency care still seemed stressful as fuck, but he supposed Frank was used to it way before getting turned.

"Oh, I, uh. Work in a plant shop. I'm a manager. Nothing fancy, but the cat likes it, so that's all I can ask for."

He smiled, sheepish but sincere.
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#14
A plant shop manager wasn't something he ever thought would be an answer, but it sounded really wholesome. Bonus information here was that Abraham's cat liking it was stated in such a way as if it was a decision made for both being's happiness in the grand scheme of things. For some reason, it hadn't crossed his mind to even consider that when seeking happiness in a job, but of course, what could he pick up with that the cat would like too? If only his cat could be a calm nice plant kitty too, but for doctor things instead.

"That's really nice. I'll have to stop by sometime," he said sincerely. "I bet that makes it easy to take flowers home or herbs for cooking."
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#15
Frank stopping by would actually be really nice.

Note to self for later: Reach out to Wallace since he wanted to fucking work there.

"It's really nice," he said in agreement. "Has a rooftop greenhouse I can just go up and breathe in if a customer gets under my skin."

His fondness for it was obvious. Abraham loved that place, and he owed an immense debt to Sephi for ever letting him work there at all. And... continue to work there.

"It's called So Little Thyme, over in Ravenswood. Definitely swing by sometime. I always feel like the cats enjoy plants, even if they're just silly stuff in pots."
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#16
The more and more Abraham explained this job he could picture it quite vividly, the endearment perhaps making it more flourished in mind. With a name like So Little Thyme, pun most likely intended, Frank would easily remember and would make note to visit soon.

"If it makes you happy, and the cat, then there's nothing silly about it. Sounds like you got it made," he smiled kindly. Taking a drink of water, he continued. "Have you always had a fondness for plants?"
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#17
Frank was kind of right. Abraham did have it made at work.

His beer arrived, as did Frank's Coke.

"No interest at all, honestly. I got real lucky to be hired. I was a manager at a... fucking grocery store, then had my... cat incident. Lost my job. Got hired at my current place by some miracle."

He shook his head. Sephi was pretty much that miracle.

"You always wanted to be a doctor?"
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#18
He followed along on the job acquiring adventure, putting a straw into the coke with some crinkling of paper. So from a grocery store manager to a plant place manager, talk about depth and growth if they were going to go the pun route here. ”I’m glad it worked out,” he smiled, thoroughly meaning it. Even with a cat hiccup, Abraham seemed happy.

At the change of direction to him, Frank looked off to the side in thought for a second. ”No, I had the classic kid dream of being a cop or firefighter, maybe a pirate here and there. Mostly, I just wanted to get out of my hometown.” There was no doubt if pirates were real how they were in the movies he’d probably had jumped on a ship as a kid as soon as he could. A chuckle or two escaped him. ”Turned out I was most comfortable helping others and anything I learned from my mom was what I leaned towards first. So a doctor kind of seemed right around college I suppose.”
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#19
Frank didn't dream of being the thing a lot of people dreamed of being but became one anyway. Something about his mom -- maybe his mom was a doctor?

Did people with bad family lives become doctors ever? Probably, Abraham, just not you.

Whatever. Focus. Talk about good stuff. Be interested.

"Was your mom a doctor, or...?"

Then a gulp of his beer.
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#20
It seemed Asha hadn't talked to Abraham about any of this. That was fine with Frank. He could talk about his mom forever if people would let him

"She is, well was, one of the only vets back home," he explained, taking his own sip of the coke. "She finally retired."
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#21
A vet. Well. She probably never would have known her son would turn into a fucking animal one day.

Were life.

"That's cool," he said, kind of meaning it but... not very good at this sort of thing. It was cool, a vet inspiring a doctor. Abraham just had some jealousy issues to work through.

"Have you uh... heard from any of the cheetahs, by chance. Since the whole thing."
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#22
He smiled in agreement. Nice of Abraham to think so.

The next question had Frank's smile dropping gradually. That was a sobering thought to bring up that crazy night. While he had definitely kept in touch with Yana for a while as Mathis recovered, since the cheetah had went back to his own house, there hadn't been much news besides that. "Yeah, though the last time I'd heard from Yana was about Mathis' recovering. I hope things are going well for her."

Oh, also! "And I actually helped Mathis set his studio back up last weekend. He's doing a lot better, even good enough to teach me how to throw a bowl a bit." He wiggled his fingers a bit at that. That'd been a different, yet fun, highlight of the past week.
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#23
Oh. Well. So apparently Frank and Mathis were buddies. That was cool! Friends were cool. Abraham had Asha! And...

Yeah, and Asha! Sometimes Wallace would text him. If Abraham texted first.

All of that was nice and he had things to say but then Frank said a phrase that Abraham had to just, kind of like, guess the meaning of.

"Throw... a bowl? Like."

He brought two fingers to his lips reach casual like he was smoking a joint because pretending to take a hit off an invisible bong would look a lot like he was miming sucking a dick.
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#24
As Abraham did that movement with words, Frank's brows went together in confusion. What the heck was he on about? That was close to nothing he was used to understanding and Frank cleared his throat.

"No,... what're you doing there? Wait, no, I get it." It dawned on him halfway through asking. "No, no," he laughed out a bit. "We made actual bowls. Out of clay. Or at least, his looked like real bowls, mine need work."
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#25
Frank's confusion left Abraham confused, and he couldn't recall of wording that made less sense to him since...

Dough bread scene. Internal shudder.

But eventually the other jaguar seemed to catch on, and of course, Abraham, it wasn't smoking weed. Successful doctors with full control of their cats don't smoke weed you fucking dingus.

"Oh," he said, and there was more to say, but fucking priorities. Food was arriving, and the portions appeared... uh, fancy restaurant sizes. So pretty small. But it was meat, and it was all Abraham had not to grab his knife and fork like some kind of manchild while he waited for his plate to hit the table.

He'd find his first bite before remember conversation was a thing.

"So you guys buddies or does he do private pottery classes as thank you gifts?" he asked with food tucked into one cheek.
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#26
With that cleared up, Frank was still highly amused that Abraham had thought they were smoking pot as food arrived. Risotto with various colorful foodstuffs, including fennel sausage, was put down in front of him and it smelled heavenly. Abraham's too looked good, but they wouldn't know how good it was till they ate it so by all means they needed to do so.

Thanking the waiter, he made to scoop up a bit as Abraham seemed to go to chow town. Frank had just taken his own bite when the question was asked. Classic food conversations. Swallowing, he answered, stirring around some of the food on his plate so it'd mix together more. "Y'know, I'm sure he'd offer you a class as a thank you if you asked," he looked up at that before stirring and getting another portion on his utensil. The other jaguar had helped him fight off a vampire. That was no small thing. "But yeah, I would hope he'd consider us buddies. He was the first cat I met here and we get along pretty well." Frank said this with a smile before taking another bite. Thinking over it, yeah they were definitely buddies. They'd had heart to heart, laughed, and hung out, soooo, yep, definitely friends.
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#27
There was one thing Abraham was certain about.

"He's got nothing to thank me for. I just showed up after it was over," he said. One bite and everything was dust and deep down he wasn't even sure he'd actually gotten a hold on her. Maybe it was just... ash immediately.

"Not really a... pottery guy, anyway."

The clay would get stuck in his arm hair. And his hand hair. And his finger hair. Abraham had a lot of hair.

"That's cool, though," he said, his second use of that phrase tonight. Whatever, he was doing his best as here. "My very first were friend here" and anywhere! " was a tiger. Cats kinda stick together, seems like."
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#28
If Abraham wanted to be modest, he wasn't going to push, even though it was a bit sad that the offer wouldn't be brought up. Even though he was told what had happened, a lot could've easily went wrong and knowing that another were had been backup just seemed to have tipped the odds in a good way for them. However, saying he wasn't a pottery guy was a poor cop out and it had Frank lifting a brow as he picked up his glass and took a drink.

Placing it back, he was interested to hear that Abraham's own first were friend was a cat as well, and a tiger at that! "Kind of like, what's that saying? Birds of a feather?" But like a cat version. So cats of a whisker, clowder together? That didn't really work, but it was definitely the same jive. "That's great though. How long have you known each other?"
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#29
He huffed something like a laugh. Cats of a... leather- no. Definitely not. What did that even mean.

"Little over a year. Met him before my first..."

Abraham shoved some food in his mouth and took a quick glance at their surroundings.

"Shift," he said, quieter. "Cat that bit me didn't stick around, so he ended up showing me the ropes when he found me basically losing my mind."
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#30
Oh! So that meant he'd been a cat about that long as well. Taking another decent bite of the risotto that hadn't managed to fall off the spoon again, he listened. Frank could easily sympathize with this story, not knowing the cat who had turned him and certainly feeling a bit at a loss.

"That's a bit of a rocky origin story, but I'm glad he was there to help you out. It's almost a stroke of luck that you knew him before as well." That'd definitely help besides the alternative.
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#31
Thinking back on the degree to which Abraham knew Wallace before his turning could have made him laugh a little, honestly. Their one meeting had involved a level of rudeness that he tried not to ever sink to again.

But he kind of did. With Romeo. Who it turns out hadn't killed Chloe. (He sure as fuck hadn't helped her though, either.)

"Yeah," he said simply, forking more lamb into his mouth. "So has... Asha mentioned much about the group stuff?"
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#32
Taking another drink of his coke, Frank lifted a brow. Group things as in... what? They didn't have one like the other weres from what he was aware of. Well, he kind of remembered a group text about making drinks together when it became a thing, but he really hadn't registered that meant group group. His attention had been a bit distracted by some childish situation.

"She brang up something about celebrating when it became a thing? But, other than that I'm out of the loop." Back to scooping up a chunk of sausage and over glorified rice pasta.
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#33
Abraham realized as Frank spoke that, like. He, Abraham, actually only had a very loose grasp on group things himself.

There were groups. They had territories. They bought businesses for some reason he didn't understand. They had ranks. They...

Yeah. That was it.

"It's weird. The whole group thing. There's like... kings and... queens and stuff. Have you heard about all that before, or?"
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#34
Finally, someone that spoke about groups in a way he could understand. It was weird, thank you.

"I've heard about those and seconds, but to be honest, nothing else. I'm still hung up on why those particular terms are used as if we're in medieval England or something."

Look, it was still weird to say queen, much less king. Was a curtsy or bow involved in that, because he really didn't think he could play along with that without cracking up.
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#35
There was immediate relief and immediate kinship here. Abraham spoke with enough enthusiasm that he waved his fork a little.

"You know what's somehow worse? Before you can be a king or queen or whatever, you have to be a fuckin'... prince. Or princess. Until you somehow become strong enough to become whatever."

He shoveled some lamb into his mouth and shook his head.

"In Cedar Creek, the king is a dude. So her boyfriend or whatever is queen. Like. What."
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#36
Using prince or princess sounded so fucking fake and he started laughing as Abraham kept going on, leaning on a forearm on the table. And then? Cedar Creek just changing it up like Hatshepsut over here.

"You've gotta be kidding me. This is so much worse than I originally thought," he managed to get out, settling down a bit with a deep breath. "Next you're going to tell me that they're knights of the round table or something."

Frank sent a questioning, bordering on teasing, look to Abraham after taking another bite. "Are you suggesting that means we should be calling you prince and princess since you brang up the group thing?"
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#37
This was such a fucking relief. What grown man went around calling himself prince or king? Maybe it was less weird in Europe?

Then Frank brought up something that made him inwardly cringe.

"I'm just Abraham, always," he said. "Asha might have her own preferences there. But we're not a group yet anyway. There's some..."

He scraped up what little remained on his plate into a pile.

"You have to buy a business first for some reason. I don't know how that shit could tie into were-magic, but."

Abraham shrugged grandly.

"It's all just weird. But supposedly Asha will get magic powers that will help us all once it forms."

What a crock of shit.
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#38
It was a bit of a relief that he wasn't going to have to go around saying Prince Abraham this and that. If Asha wanted Princess, well he'd already teased her there on their first meeting and would continue to do so especially if she wanted that to be used.

Buying a business and how that meant anything was exactly how Abraham considered it, weird. Why would property bought even matter in the long run for that? The bit about Asha magic though he was familiar with.

Taking once last bite, he responded. "Well, I don't know about the business thing, but Yana told me a bit about the power stuff. That'll be nice to know we have around."
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#39
Abraham had a feeling that... everyone knew more about group stuff than him.

But it was too late to ask about it. He'd just have to pretend he understood it now.

Plate cleaned and sadly so, he set his fork down and looked to Frank.

"So does being part of all that... appeal to you? Like. Sincerely, not just because I'm asking."
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#40
Before another sip of the drink could be taken, the mood shifted to suddenly super serious and the question had him putting the cup back down slowly, eyes drifting towards the table briefly as Frank considered. "Well." This was the first time Frank actually been asked asked how he felt about all this. What his opinion even was on being a part of one with their ragtag team.

Taking the napkin off his legs, it was placed on the table next to the now empty plate, a smile playing on his features, regarding Abraham. "Sincerely, and not because you're asking, I'd like that." He reused Abraham's words just to drive the point home. He really meant it. "I'd already sort of considered us a group anyways. The magic and fancy titles are just nice official bonuses."
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#41
That was as nice an answer as Abraham could have hoped for. He gave Frank a smile as the check arrived, grabbing up quickly to make sure he'd be the one to pay for it.

"Well. Good," he said, then smiled kind of sheepishly. "We'll need someone around with a fancy title to help stitch us up next time we murder a vampire queen."

Hopefully... never again.

Hopefully they'd just find some other part of the world to go be queen in.
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