Meat Cute 
The Day After "Beeftoberfest", pretend the timeline isn't incredibly weird

He'd managed to get home, pass out in his back yard, and then wake up hours later. A guilty shower and an even guiltier rest of the night followed, but he managed to get some sleep. The next day, of course, was met with the immediate thought of; I have to go and fix this. He'd left a giant mess in his wake, and who knows what had happened to the girl he left behind. So. Here he was, taking an Uber to the building where he'd left his truck, which had thankfully been a hardware store next door.

It was like a walk of shame, first grabbing his phone and wallet from the cab of the truck to pay the Uber, then about-facing to peer at the building. In his mind, he'd exaggerated the damage. He expected the place to be in ruin. But from the outside, it looked fine. He knew it wouldn't be the same for inside. With a low sigh, Cliff marched on. The door was locked when he reached it, and he had a small twinge of guilty relief that maybe no one was there for him to have to speak to. But he could smell her inside. So. Knock, knock. Hi, it's the guy that destroyed your entire shop.

@Ayane Yamada

Getting back home had been rough. What she could remember — another gigantic bear trashing her store and her entire livelihood — had not been much kinder.

Ayane had come back as soon as possible to start cleaning up the mess. Most of the meat outside had spoiled without being properly stored away or eaten, and there was glass and paper and utensils just... everywhere.

The store sign remained closed for business as she got to work cleaning up. She didn't know who that bear was, why he'd had to wreck everything in her store, or how she was going to even make a living at this point doing anything else. Her life had been so comfortable before.

Her bear perked to the sound of approach, and it wasn't long before she saw someone at the door.

"Closed!" she shouted from behind what was once the display case, kind of angry and stressed about it. Batman kept grunting in her head, probably trying to eat him or something.

... Anyway despite that the door was unlocked.

Closed. Well, yeah. Cliff sighed and just.. tried the door. It was unlocked. He felt like a dick just coming in, but. He pushed the door open anyway, and looked to the woman with an apologetic frown. "Uh. Sorry, um." His eyes flickered down to the fucking wreck that was the place. She'd cleaned up for sure, but it still looked like... well, like a giant bear had torn through here.

"Jeez." He breathed, and looked to the woman again. The Kodiak mooed loudly at the familiar weird bear.

"I'm, ah. I'm the guy." That destroyed your store.

"I can pay to fix it." A pathetic attempt at a smile. This was at the top of the list for the worst things he'd ever done in his life.

He came in anyway. She could hear him coming in anyway. What part of they were closed did he not understand.

Her hands went to her hips, straight hair sticking out of her bun at all angles and falling into her face insistently, and Ayane watched him as he seemed like he was trying to say things. Her face, particularly around her eyebrows, got progressively more and more confused and frustrated.

"Sorry? Cheese? He's the guy?" What, the guy who's gonna sweep her off her feet and take her away from all this mess? She didn't think so.

Well. Until he offered to pay. Then she got REALLY confused.

"Pay to fix what?" Ayane huffed, wishing he'd make more sense. "What guy are you? Do I look like I have time for guys right now?" Her hands went up as she showed off all the mess of her store.

She did usually have time for guys, please like her, but also she had rent due. Like home rent.

Batman ricocheted around in her brainspace and she REALLY WISHED THIS DAMN BEAR WOULD KNOCK IT OFF. PLEASE.

God, so much confusion. He wished he could just rewind time and make this never have happened. Fucking kid. Why had he yelled?

"I'm the one who did this." He said, clipped as he gestured down to the mess. "And I'm sorry. Hugely sorry. I fucked up." Fucked up was an understatement, but that seemed to be the general theme of things lately.

Okay! Finally, full sentences and gestures that made sense to her. And! Guess! Who wanted to murder him!

Not her bear! Her bear had been trying to warn her, damn it. This was the guy. But she did want to murder him, in the figurative sense anyway. Her eyes all purple, she gave a very slow exhale, and marched right to him with all the confidence Ayane never had. (Again. Rent. Big motivator.)

She pointed a finger up at him, her eyes starting to tear up juuussst a little because this was just a lot. "You're gonna pay for this."

Why yes! That was what he said. She faltered for a half second and then tried her best to continue to be all four foot nine inches of formidable but also her voice was doing a bit of warblies.

"With... money. And fixing it. Physically. I can't do all this alone."

It all seemed to click then, and he was thankful that he wouldn't have to explain for a third time. But with understanding came wrath. Cliff took a half step back, much to the Kodiak's chagrin, as the girl marched up to him. She was shorter than him, which was comforting on a stupid masculine plane of brain space. But really, she was exceptionally short. Made him feel tall, kind of short. The finger in his chest wasn't appreciated, and the Kodiak huffed at the weirdbear in response.

"Well, yeah-" He said, blinking. He'd just said he would pay. But she was quick to carry on. Physically fixing it had been next on his list of things to offer. "I will. With money, and physically." He assured her, nodding exaggeratedly. "I'll do all the work." She didn't have to do any of this at all. His mess, he'd clean it up.

She felt... a huff. Not at her, but also at her? Batman seemed to low in alarm as something unspeakably large towered over her. Accidentally.

But this guy, mystery guy, was claiming to do everything. So she abandoned thought of that and marched over to where the big broom was, and walked it right over to him.

"Good. Here."

Her voice was quieter now. It was like being around her mother, but scarier. Getting used to that feeling of something interacting on the other side.

"So what's your name."

Broom. Okay. He would have been reluctant if this wasn’t entirely his own fucking mess. Cliff took the broom and set to work, going for a shameless look but probably failing.

“Cliff.” He said as he dragged the broom along the floor. “You know Levka?” A question he was falling into the habit of asking all bears he met.

His name was Cliff, because white people had weird names. Actually, that wasn't nice. Her name in English meant "colorful sound." Imagine being named that? She could.

His next question would stump her as she watched him broom around was whatever a Levka was.

"You mean Kafka? Yeah, I read him in high school."

Oh, those simple days.

What? Who- wait. Kafka, the author. Um. "No, he's. Uh, he leads a group of bears in North Glenn. So I guess not, then." There was a chance that she was like Natasha, and in that case he was about to sound even more insane than he already did. He really fucking hoped she had some grip on what she was, though. He couldn't do the "what to expect when you're expecting to turn into a giant hairy beast" talk again.

Ayane made some kind of squeak. "There's a GROUP?" she asked, aware he'd said it but needing to say it again for herself to make it reals.

Oh man oh man oh man. Her mother had been trying to make a group. That seemed messy. Wait. She squinted at him. "Are you trying to make me join the group? B-because like. Ruining my shop wasn't a very nice way to do that."

And yet, the thought of other bears had Batman making longing grumbly noises. Pipe down, you. She'll get some bacon in a second.

She was... excitable. Kinda weird. But he would take weird over trying to rip his throat out or sue him. But really, what case would she make against him? "This man turned into a giant bear and ate my shop"!

"There is," He said with a nod as he swept some glass toward a pile he was slowly but surely creating. "But no, I'm not- I don't belong to it. Used to, but. Now I just have a few friends like us, but it's nothing official." Really, he didn't know if it could ever be. If Maxine were still around, he might have encouraged her to try and take up some sort of leadership. Cliff, for now, was feeling like the others looked at him like some kind of de-facto leader. But really... he fucked up enough to not feel like that was an apt description.




"I've never been with a group before. My mom tried to make one but she and I didn't really get along. After the whole... making me a bear by surprise thing."

HAHAHA LOTS OF MEMORIES. She gripped her hands to each other. "Why'd you leave the other group?"

Probably drama. That was always why people left each other.

You know that gif of that white guy blinking?

Her mom fucking?? Turned her?? And it didn't sound like it was to save her life or anything. She straight up just turned her "by surprise." What kind of fucked up parent???

"Uh, just didn't see eye to eye with the King. He's kind of hands off, so. Not my style." The simplest way to put it, since he couldn't bring himself to say "controlling, narcistic, childish, irresponsible jackass."

"That's, uh, unfortunate. With your mom." Fucked up, really, but he was making a habit of censoring.

Yep. Drama. She gave a little nod. The bear pushed her to stay calm around this dude; they wanted friendship. Ayane just mostly cowed under everything.

He circled round back to her mom, and like, what could she say, really? "Yeah. I think she was trying to make it some kind of a family thing I think? I dunno. It was messy. I left after a few full moons."

Messing with her hair in her face, she leaned back against the broken glass display, in danger of cutting her arm on it and not at all remotely aware of that.

"Are you gonna be hands on with your friends then?"

What did that even mean?

"I woulda left, too." He said. Sounded like her mom was fucking nuts. He couldn't imagine damning his own child to this kind of life. Good thing he likely would never have one. As for her question, he raised a brow. Sounded dirty. "I mean, I'm there for them if they need help." He said. "Take care of 'em, when I can." Not that they'd been in much need of it. But the offer was always on the table, and he was always ready to come to anyone's aid.

She nodded slowly, kind of getting it. Kind of not? Only because Ayane had never, like, had anyone there for her. After the bear thing.

"Does it like... come with all the stuff? The cool magic power stuff. Like. How do you know someone needs help if someone doesn't tell you."

She gave a little scratch at her elbow. Asking people for help made them think you were annoying. It made her not do that very much.

The pile was growing, which was satisfying. Maybe it was like a mini therapy session, being able to fix his mess like this. He wished he could find the girl with the dog and apologize, or some how reverse what he had done to Riley. But, yeah. This would do.

"Uh, no. Not really. Its more just like a group of friends, I guess? There's only four of us, and we've only done one moon together, but." A shrug. "If you're looking for an actual group like that, though, it's not us."

"Oh," she nodded, sort of getting it. Again, sort of not. "I mean, I wasn't like. Looking for anything I guess. Just, you know."

She abandoned her elbow and went to scritch the back of her neck instead, looking at him.

"Batman gets loud in my head whenever there's others around."

Who knew what the bear got up to when she took over. Maybe they'd destroyed the shop together — Ayane would never know, and he was currently taking all the credit.

Sorta like Indra, he guessed. Not looking, but not opposed entirely. He would have given her some sage advice about Cobalt Ridge, but her next words had him pausing all together as he bent to get the dust pan. He froze, half bent with his arm hanging down. Batman. A laugh broke through his chest as he looked up at her. "You call your bear 'Batman'???" That... was probably the best one he'd ever heard.

She hadn't expected him to laugh, but when he did she... kind of admitted to herself that she'd sort of desperately needed that kind of reaction. Someone finding her funny. Likeable.

"Yeah," she said through a wavery sort of a half smile. "'Cuz like... well I've never seen her but she's the same as my mom. She has this weird white thing on her chest. It looks like the bat signal."

Batman gave a weird aaouoaoaooooahhh noise that implied her head was bobbing up and down while she being loud, as if she was aware she was being talked about.

Rude scaredy bear.

As a bear, he hadn't taken time to really study the cowering animal for more than a few moments, and it had just told him "weird looking." But now that he could take a second to focus, looking at her fully for probably the first time as a human as well, he spotted what she was talking about. "Heh." He said with a little smirk, then nodded. "Creative. I just call mine Smokey." A little quirk of his brow. Maybe she would get the joke.

"How long have you been infected, then?" He asked as he bent to finish scooping up the mess into the dustpan.

She did get the joke! Ayane gave a smile for it. Still mad at him. But he seemed nice, and helpful. Maybe she could make a friend out of this mess. She wondered what he did that he could pay for all the damage.

The question had her tilting her head in thought, forgetting how old she actually was and also wondering if this was a good or bad thing that she'd been at this so long but still kind of sucked at it.

"Like... nine years, I think," she said with a pause of hesitation. "You?"

Nine years and she still didn't feel nearly as powerful as even Indra? Definitely not close to Maxine. Weird. "About seven." He said with a raise of his brows. It had to be getting close to eight now. He'd been saying it was seven for a year. "How long have you owned this place?" Probably not bright to bring up the place he'd destroyed, but he was fixing it!

"Oh!" she nodded, sort of impressed maybe? But then, there was —

"Oh, no. I uh. I don't really own it, I just do most of the work in it."

That was the only reason she decided to go ahead and call it her shop.

Oh, what the heck.

"Oh, are you, um. The butcher?" He'd never met a female butcher. It was actually pretty badass. Better than a giant greasy fat man that they depict in all the TV and movies.

Enthusiastic nodding.

"It's a lot of meat to work around so I get to snack all day," she offered up as an explanation he didn't really ask for but it was great right?

"Do you own anything?"

"Im jealous!" He said with a feigned pout. He was pretty sure the bear would make him eat everything. Like he did. At the question, he hesitated. Saying "oh, yeah, I own two businesses" sounded real fucking cocky.

"I run my own carpentry business. And I inherited some of my dad's lumber mill." 'Some' was really supposed to be 'all' but back when he was a bigger piece of shit than he was now, as a human, he'd shoved off most of the responsibility to a family friend. Since getting clean and settled into life as a bear, he'd come back with a giant dick sucking apology and an offer to help. He really hadn't even wanted to get monetary benefits from it, but the friend had insisted. Not that he would tell anyone any of this. He knew how privileged it all sounded.

He was jealous! She found herself giggling! He answered also and she was like, god, this is exactly the type of guy amma would want her to marry.

Ayane knew better than to say that.

"Is that fun? I've never done woodwork before. I handle bone saws though!"

Look, similarities!

"It is! I do carvings, too." He said with a small chuckle. He was glad she wasn't trying to tear his throat out. This day had turned right the fuck around. "If you can cut bones, I'm sure you can cut wood." He assured her, then without really thinking on the implications... "You should come by sometime. I can show you the shop."

He said this as he moved toward a trash can that had been set out, and dumped the pan into it. "So long as you promise not to destroy things like I did here." He added sheepishly.

Big excited grin someone wanted to hang with her!!?

"Umm. Yes. I can try." Not that she could really control Batman but it was the thought that counted, right?

"Cool! We'll swap numbers. I'll need it anyway to connect with you about bringing things to fix the cabinets." With that, he'd finish up cleaning and make sure to get her number. It would take a few more days, but eventually Meat Cute would be back to the way it had been before his fat ass bear had decided to eat the entire building.


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