It's not for me, it's only fit for our survival

Cobalt Ridge Ski Lodge - Sleuth Only 

Saturday, November 17th

@"Esperanza Castillo" @"Jackal Volkov" @"Kroc Saurturi" @"Wren Morrison" @"Beata Hall" @"Hollis Campbell"
hey guys, sorry this is a bit late! meeting and party time~ let's try and keep everything in this one thread, but if you have a solid reason/desire for a side thread, feel free

The day was upon them, the sun already going down, twilight at 5pm. It made for a chilly evening, no doubt, but the third story of the lodge was warm and inviting, door propped open for the first time in forever while arrivals were waited on. Couches moved off to the side for sitting, and a long table set up in the middle of the room.

Admittedly, Levka didn't know thanksgiving terribly well. It was a fringe awareness he had thanks to popular culture and the way American television had a way of getting around. But some help from the lodge staff and plenty of internet searches and he felt like they had done a very fine job. A couple of turkeys and more sides than you could shake a stick at and not twinge your wrist a bit. The staffers who had helped him set up probably believed he had a full twenty person party going on up here, but no... just half a dozen weres, give or take. Wine and vodka on hand, as well as a few others over at the wet bar. No one could complain, he hoped.

It was a day of celebration, a few new faces--hopefully if Beata could get away from her family, please--but also of warning. But more and more he felt the need to be proactive, to do things different. Lee's departure had shaken him, left him wondering what he was doing wrong.

A year ago, the idea of patching holes in something that should have been inherently good based on his experience would have made him very surly indeed. And while admittedly his fur was a bit ruffled... he had some steely optimism about all of this.


 It had not been a great day. The kitchen had been short-staffed and it was busy, leaving her no time for a break and thus underfed. Her babysitter was too sick to watch Alejandra, which meant the toddler had spent her mother's shift sitting in the dining area, bored and vocal about it. The full moon lingered less than a week away, making all of this and every little inconvenience in between enough to make her yell at employees when they made mistakes. It was so rare to see her in such poor form - none of them had ever been unfortunate enough to be shouted at in Spanish by the normally sweet woman - that most of them shuffled around her quickly and quietly for the rest of the day.

 She left feeling frazzled and cranky and distantly ashamed of herself. Even Alejandra was extremely quiet for the remainder of the afternoon. It would seem both of them were looking forward to being at the lodge with the Sleuth. They would be in good company with an abundance of hot food that she didn't have to cook - which was, for once, a good thing. Both mother and daughter seemed to relax as the great property came into sight, but even as they walked up to the doors, Ali would not hold her mother's hand, clinging instead to the teddy bear she'd brought along. Such a sensitive child. At least the soft mention of Jackal being present seemed to elicit some anticipation from her.

 The pair made their way upstairs, and even before they hit the steps she could feel her King, and was immediately soothed some for his presence. She heaved a great sigh as she grasped the handrail and began to make her way up, inhaling deeply to see who else was around.

Of course he'd known well beforehand that Esperanza had not had a great day--he'd felt her more serious moments of irritation in that unsettling way that he coudln't quite hope to describe--but he'd taken some heart in knowing she would be arriving here this afternoon. It would make them all feel better, wouldn't it?

So when she made her appearance, her daughter in tow, Levka greeted her at the threshold of the open door and ushered them both in. Offering the briefest of grins to the young human first, he turned enough to shout, "Шакал, твой маленький друг здесь!" towards the bulk of the third floor. Doubtless he was heard--and doubtless Jackal already knew, as sharp as he was. But sometimes you just needed to yell good things at the people you liked.

Rounding back on Esperanza, he'd offer an arm of greeting and all the warmth man and bear could offer someone far more maternal after a long day. "Come, you are first, but there is food and the others are not far off."

"Jackal, your small friend is here!"

 It had been quite a while since Kroc had properly interacted with the Sleuth as a whole. This had made her bear obscenely grumpy, something that just Levka and Jackal's presence couldn't soothe. In her own way, she missed Esperanza and маленький медведь. She also wanted to meet the new bears, the ones that she had seen from a distance but never up close, never personal interaction. So, she would accompany Levka and Jackal to this get together, a single handgun loaded with silver-shot tucked away in a holster under her jacket. Safety on, of course. She wasn't a идиот.

 Espy had arrived, clearly signaled by Levka's yelling and Kroc huffed a soft laugh as she looked over at Jackal. "Маленький друг, хм?" The larger polar bear had undoubtedly taken a shine to the small child, something that she was sure the girl would benefit from as time went on. To have an over protective bear Guardian as a friend meant that the child would never face a threat alone, that was a fact.

 Jackal in tow, Kroc descended the steps to greet Espy with a smile and a nod, the smell of food also drawing her attention. She would not go to it until their King ate, however.

Little Bear

"Small friend, hm?"



 The problem with an alleged bear Thanksgiving, was that there were a lot of problems with bear Thanksgiving. Mainly, she was back in North Glenn and staring up at the ski lodge that had once felt like a good employment opportunity. Namely, the jagged seam that didn't quite match up as she wanted to turn round and go home. But it felt like bears, like familiar territory, and that had a different part of her all but wiggling happily. Also, what was the dress code on this thing?

 She watched her breath come in puffs, raked her fingers through her hair, fussed with the sleeves of her sweater and straightened up her bangs before she headed up and tested the door. There was food here - she'd never made her request to Esperanza, never specified what she wanted. It was green bean casserole, but that was a moot point.

 Everything was so steeped in bear it was hard to pinpoint, a whole bouqeut of different flowers. She rubbed at the back of her neck until it was red and splotchy. Slowly starting towards the stairs and clearing her throat. "Sup."


She glanced at her watch several times while she walked up. Late, late, late, was all she could think. Traffic was much more unexpected and it threw her whole schedule off. But alas, she sighed, flattened down her dress, and continued on through the door. A variety of scents, food and bears, assaulted her senses and was slightly overwhelming but she powered through it. A bottle of wine in tow, she shuffled in and headed towards the stairs.

The anxiety of not knowing anyone was slowly knotting in her gut, but Wren kept a strong face. The worry was still eating at her when she arrived at the stairs, a few people gathered. She took a deep breath and put on her best smile, even if it did look a little fake. Robot Wren activated. "H-Hello," she managed to say through a tight jaw.

 That Levka was there so quickly was so nice. It reminded her of her parents coming to the door when she went to their home for holidays, pulling her in over the doormat to hug her tightly. She understood the Russian version of Jackal's name as their King yelled it, chuckling to herself, glancing down at Alejandra. She might not understand the word, but there was an expectant sort of expression on her face as she scanned the place. Esperanza inhaled deeply, and released a sigh that made her cheeks puff some, returning Levka's hug with a palpable gratitude. Yes, this was much better.

 "Kroc, Jackal," she would greet the guardians with a weary but no less warm smile, and instantly Ali had moved from her mother's side to wander over to the enigmatic, tattooed pair. She had undoubtedly taken a liking to them. Making herself at home, Espy would shed her coat and put it down somewhere appropriate along with her purse. The smell of food was painfully alluring, but she would at least wait until the whole "family" had arrived. That was the polite thing to do, and she had a lot of making up to do in the manners department.

 She could smell and feel Hollis arrive. It was hard to miss the person whose life you accidentally ruined. She smiled softly at the young woman, in a way that was both fond and eternally apologetic. "Hello dear," she would greet her. An adopted daughter of sorts - one who didn't really want much to do with her and was a world away from her actual daughter.

 The next to arrive was an unfamiliar face, a slender red-headed woman who greeted them quietly. Esperanza would smile at her as well. "Good evening." Her maternal instincts were driving high, between Ali and Hollis and now this girlish bear who seemed like she was more lost than a small child in the woods. "You brought wine! You must have good taste."

Esperanza needed a hug, and it was evident to him pretty quickly upon taking her in arm that it did a world of good. Did him some good, too, as he'd been a bit worried over her. There was a lot on his mind, which didn't help, but any level of Espy being unhappy was a strange unsettling. Just not right. He'd never met anyone quite like her before he'd come here.

Still, she was here, and Levka would have tried to urge Alejandra away from her mother and instead to go hang with Jackal and/or Kroc if she had not done so boldly of her own volition. Good for the quieter ones to mix and mingle, and better for all of them if the young human girl did not cling to her mother. Especially as Hollis arrived, and Levka had to restrain himself from descending on the yet-rogue presence in his den with an unappreciated intensity. His bear eyed hers most keenly, eager to claim her as kin but showing remarkable patience.

"Hollis, been a while," he said to her, urging her further into the room so that she might not bolt for the door first chance she got. It might be odd for her, considering he was certain he knew her better than she knew him.

But before he could make more on that, Wren was here, looking as downright timid as ever. He still did not understand her, did not understand how a person with a bear as part of themselves could act as though they were in awful danger. But like he was being forced to more and more by the young bears he brought in, he was realizing so bluntly clawing at these flaws would earn him no love.

So instead, he came over to touch her shoulder and join Espy in greeting. "Esperanza, this is Wren. Wren, this is the woman who co-owns and runs the diner I had you meet me at."

Connect all the dots, cinch everyone together.

"Everyone, come, eat all of this or I will start to wonder if you are bears at all!" Get them all settled with food and then he'd get on to the point of all of this.

 It felt like she was settling in for a team huddle like everyone there were different parts of the same machine. What was more unnerving was the ease of it, how readily some present and a sizeable part of her mind was to settle in and find a niche in the room. When Levka acknowledged her, she dropped her eyes to avoid staring and nodded, respectful but not quite so at ease as she was with Esperanza.

 She didn't say much, but she listened - stored away names and bits of trivia as she heard it. Noticing the hard to miss the presence of a lot of Eastern European as she half tiptoed her way to the table and started to load up a plate. Discretion took a backseat, big meals were expensive and not so easy to come by - she would take this one without complaint.

There were more people here than she anticipated so early into the party for which she was grateful, no need to spend as much time standing around awkwardly.

Someone acknowledged her and the bottle wine she held dear like a baby. She smiled, revealing her pearly whites and blushed. "It’s nothing too extravagant!" Really, she just went o the liquor store and picked a bottle out that was in a mid range price and had good reviews online. Though she had to flag down an employee to help her find in the store.

Wren swallowed hard and sensed her leader approach. She turned her smile towards him, eyes adverted, as he introduced her to the woman. Esperanza. She committed the name and face to memory. She was an important one to remember indeed.

"It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m really excited to meet everyone,"she said shyly, with a hint of fake confidence. She would’ve extended a hand but it was cradling her wine baby.

Levka’s booming voice hollered out about food. Her bear grew excited at the thought of a feast. With the others, she waddled towards the table and began to serve herself only as the others did, setting her wine down with the other drinks.

 Hollis was quiet - unsurprising, and somewhat disheartening, but there were worse things to be without a doubt. Wren seemed like a sweet girl, and Esperanza would smile warmly at her. "The pleasure is mine," she assured the redheaded bear, with a quick and gentle squeeze to the shoulder.

 Yes, food! The mother bear grinned, casting a glance at Ali, who seemed to be wholly uninterested in anything her mother was doing. Perhaps she would eat if one of her Russian friends did, too, though she certainly expected them to find some other room to hang out in. So she put her trust in them and turned away, moving to the loaded table. Everything looked as enticing as it smelled, and Esperanza was mindful of everything she put on her plate, anticipating the meal to come.

 "How are you?" she pried cheerfully as she neared Hollis. She didn't expect much, but some sort of response would feel like a victory.

 She trapped the very tip of her tongue between her teeth when what seemed to be the only other new bear in the room went on and gave her welcomes and her gratitude. She lifted her middle finger within her pocket, petty and undisruptive but comforting all the same as she looked over the different platters and bowls laid out for what felt like it should have been twice as many people.

 She kept one eye on the main attraction, made a mental note to always keep some sense of where he was to avoid getting caught off guard and roped into some weird conversation or another. Instead, she got Esperanza, still a strange cocktail of comfort and unease. She glanced her over, cleared her throat and barely lifted her shoulders in a shrug as she started to load up her first plate. "Been worse, I guess - haven't gone on a bloodthirsty rampage just yet. ... You?"

It was a sufficient gathering, and after they had food and were settled, Levka would get on to business. It wasn't much, but in the end, it was less about himself and more about all of them together. He was content with them as bears, but perhaps he was learning his lesson about needing to be content with them as people as well.

Winning Hollis over was perhaps one of his bigger hurdles, but he was determined to do it. Beyond that, he was... oddly grateful for each of them. And he'd even tell them as much after the drinks broke out.

A good holiday, he ultimately concluded, and one he'd hope to have more to share it with next year.


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