Never Learn

Meyer's Zoo & Aquarium 
#1


 There was something to be said about the chance of lightning striking the same spot twice, the statistic improbability of it. It was what she chose to focus on when she'd bought her ticket for this a couple of evenings ago. That and the fact that this was a public location, an attraction, that so many people had RSVPed on the Meyer's Zoological Park official Facebook. This was a safe space, as long as she was smart about parking - as long as she didn't wander into any little alcoves in the park with a stranger like a dumb ass.

 Adults only night at the zoo, from the hours of six to eight - not a lot of time to get through everything, but the zoo tried to compensate for that with food trucks and stands that proudly offered local craft brews. It would have been great were the lines not so long. Just a quarter past six and the sun had set, she'd accepted that the three-fourths full plastic cup in her hand would be her first and last drink for the night, not wanting to squander her time waiting in line.

 Nice and quiet, bizarre without the presence of fifty million strollers and screaming children roaring at the lions or howling at the wolves. She kept her pace leisurely, wandered into one of the smaller buildings further down the trail that housed all of the nocturnal creatures. A personal trick, start at the back of the zoo and work your way forward to avoid running into the same annoying people over and over again.

 She stopped in front of a large wall of glass, watched the two-toed sloth behind the glass and the purple dim lighting of the whole space. More active than she'd ever seen him as the hideous little asshole slowly, cautiously, reached out to hook one hand on another branch. This alone probably could have taken all two of the alotted hours.

 
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#2
A zoo exhibit at night in winter could be a dangerous sort of thing to attempt. But it was an event, and he was curious, and forever somewhat amused by the reaction animals had to his presence.

Well, when they were capable of any sort of reaction. As he approached the exhibit and some other woman present, the sloth here seemed to be doing its best, but it was in the name what speed they were capable of. He offered a headshake.

"Getting the boring exhibits out of the way first," he approved with a friendly sort of commentary, though it was not certain if that was what she was doing.
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#3
 Putting it into perspective, really he made for about the most exciting and active sloth she could ever recall witnessing. Still glacial but in comparison a goddamn Secretariate. Not so enthralled as to not notice the other guy, she scoffed, nodded to herself. "Pretty boring now, but y'know sloths used to be the size of like, elephants and shit?" Only doubting the credibility of that little bit of trivia once it was too late to take it back.

"That would up this thing's street cred times four."
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#4
As she spoke, he realized her hair was died in two different colors. Quite a combination, and something he might have done in his youth at some point for the shock value. His hair was thankfully protected from such decisions now after every shift.

He did chuckle some at her knowledge, and nodded. "Yes indeed, there were many giant mammals once upon a time on this continent. I believe the term is megafauna, and most of them died out because of human-fauna."

Well, that and climate in general, as far as he recalled.

"It made a lot of steaks, at least if it moved at this same pace."
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#5
 Oh. She looked back to the sloth and the dopey look permanently across its face, chuckled as he volleyed back another fact. "That's cool. ... Do you work here or just an interest?" Nothing wrong with either, even if she was sort of distracted by the mental image of a sloth that was giant and also moved at anything faster than a crawl. Terrifying, to put it lightly.
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#6
"Just interest," he smiled. "I don't think I could actually work with animals."

Funny, considering he housed a very difficult one, and was now first point of contact for a second one.

It was terribly selfish, but with such a new one under his wing, a part of him hoped for more to be made through her. Accidents he could welcome into what was no longer a solitary life. Surely she would slip, and he would be there.

"Do you?"
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#7
 "Oh, no ..." She shook her head, laughed at the idea and then motioned loosely into the atmosphere as if there were a map stapled to the ceiling. "I do a bit of everything - food service and retail, mostly." But no expert in animals or their care, sadly. Just an oversized child who'd watched more Blue Planet than she would pounce to admit.

 "Just wanted to get out of the house and see some cool shit, I guess." Better than being cooped up inside, alone a perfect atmosphere in which to cultivate paranoia about her life as of late. Namely, the walking dead creep from the ally and the sheer lack of self-preservation that came with freely following a stranger into a place like that.
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#8
"That is very fair," he nodded, seeing as her job wasn't exactly glamorous. A break from a boring life was always needed.

"Daniel, by the way," he introduced. "Are you more a fan of the aquarium or the zoo?"

He invited her to keep walking, knowing that whenever they came upon a more lively animal, things would get... interesting.
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#9
 "Dakota, it's nice to meet you, Daniel." At least it seemed to be, not that her nice introductions meant much considering her recent history. Happy to keep moseying along under the dim purple lighting of the building. "The zoo, I've never really understood the interest in fish. ... Not that there aren't some cool ones, I guess. No offense, if you are ... y'know, a fish guy."

 Half distracted as she looked around the exhibit and stared at a curled lump to the far left of the next enclosure. Turning a bit to skim over the information plack to get the basic rundown about civets.
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#10
"None taken," he chuckled. "Not a fish guy, though I find most of the fish can be relaxing to watch. Zoos can be a bit of a toss up for me."

Not that he was advertising why, but as they approached the civet exhibit and the animal was curled up peacefully, it perked its head up to stare in their direction.

And then, with its elongated back curved, sought to slink away past a decoratively thick tree branch where it could feel safer.

His crocodile stirred certainly, eager to crunch on something alive. The man gave a soft snort and looked back to Dakota before glancing out over the rest of the room.

"What animal are you looking forward to the most?"
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#11
 Okay, in the future she was definitely going to attend more of these night exhibits - apparently the secret to a good zoo-going experience. At least that was what she deduced when she stopped in front of the glass and the civet got up as if it were animatronic and she'd stepped on a pressure plate that brought the whole thing to life. Much better than when she'd wander the pathways to see one dozing mammal or reptile after another.

 She cupped her hands around her face, narrowed the glare on the glass from the necessary bit of light overhead to get a better look, catching the back half as it slunk back and into cover.

Lame, civet.

 "You ever seen a hyrax?" She turned towards him, snapped her fingers as she tried to find a good description. "It's sorta like an oversized rat and a ... I don't know, a prairie dog in one? They're fat and they have stupid teeth, but they sleep on the side of rockfaces and they're just funny looking." He probably knew this, ah well she didn't ask - Daniel asked, thank you.

"What about you? Don't say the tapirs."
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#12
He chuckled warmly. He was, in fact, familiar with the hyrax, a cute and very edible little thing.

"Definitely funny looking." Most likely, she'd get a good look into their mouths if he was around to scare one with his presence.

"I lean more towards the predators. The crocodiles, for instance, tend to be lively."

Likely not in her experience.
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#13
 "Lively, huh?" On to the next as she searched for ... some sort of little bug-eyed monkey if the plack was to be believed. "I always thought that croc's and stuff were pretty slow going outside of the hunt?" A fair number of evening reruns on animal planet reruns as she glanced back. "They're cool though, big ass dinosaur." Leaps cooler than a giant dopey looking sloth in the very least.
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#14
"Mmm, they can be surprising."

She stopped for some other small animal, and he kept a lookout for it until a flicker of movement in a high branch had him squinting through the leaves of the exhibit. He tapped her lightly on the shoulder, gesturing up.

The aye-aye was watchful as it chewed away at some nut or another, but somewhat secure where it was far up there.
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#15
 "You from somewhere with a lot of crocodile's or something?" Glancing over at him before she followed his finger up. Overly cautious as she leaned in, squinted and scoffed at the freaky not-so-little eyes that looked back at them. "Big leap from Mountainside." The aye-aye and an environment suitable for giant dinosaur lizards.

 She turned away fairly quickly, sighed as they neared the double doors out of the nocturnal building and held the first one for him, turning round as she stepped to the side.
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#16
Well. True, but.

"I spent some time in Australia. You get to see quite a lot of those out there," he chuckled. "Some time" wasn't a full truth, but it was enough. "Though it seems as though Mountainside has its own collection of strange animals on the streets often enough."

Well, likely everywhere did after the supernaturals were outed, but there was still some notability in it.

He'd follow her out, reaching for the button on his sweater to help him through the cold, though it would take some minutes to truly heat up.
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#17
 "Yeah man, shit's crazy." A little bit more excited to be on the topic of their immediate surroundings versus the personal assorted movements of crocodiles and likeminded creatures. "I haven't ever met a shifter -" She quickly corrected, glanced back at him. "That I know of, of course. But I ran into a vampire a little while back and that was ... not great."

 She tugged up the zipper of her jacket a bit, shivered as she pulled her beanie further down her ears. "Wasn't a fan, but I'm trying to tell myself that it was him and not just -" She trailed off, finding that avoiding generalizations was a bit more difficult when your life was on the line.
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#18
He could see fairly clearly the interest in the topic, and offered a small smile as he pulled up his hood, an attempt to keep what heat he'd gathered in the other building to himself.

"No one blames the deer when the wolf stalks him," he answered, shoving his hands into his pockets. Did he have handwarmers? Yes, and thankfully they had not yet gone cold despite being in use for several hours now. (Shameless plug for Hot Hands™. Genuine life savers, a solid ten hours of heat, very good.)

Closing his fists on them, he drew on them for their heat gratefully. "So did the deer end up kicking the wolf away?"
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#19
 Truly and deeply she didn't like to think of herself as a violent person, didn't like to pretend that she was bigger than she was. But, well - skirting a vampire without the good fortune of a passing car or stranger felt like something to boast even if she couldn't. "She sure did." Keeping her head down and mumbling as she said it.

"People like to talk a lot about what they would do if it happened to them, but it's a hell of a lot different in the moment." Like most things, it seemed.
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