Crystal Springs 
Wearing whatever work uniform.

The last full moon had been good. Safe, warm, uneventful. She, obviously, didn't remember any of it aside from preparations of finding a spacious hot pool, and then waking with a towel over her. Presumably, that was Daniel who'd covered her, which was a kind gesture but also something that sort of wigged her out a bit. She was naked, completely, and unconcious for some amount of time. And he had definetly seen that, to some degree. Meike wasn't making any assumptions, and definitely didn't want to assume that the man could be anything less than as kind and repsectful than he had been to her thus far. But still, it made her kind of wiggly. And since there was no avoiding the nudity, because crocodiles couldn't wear clothes, there was really only one solution. Which was making herself more comfortable with him. Trust, you know? Him being like her made things easier, there was already a great deal of connection there. But maybe she wouldn't feel as uncomfortable with everything if she knew more about the dude.

So here she was, near the end of a shift, tracking down what room Daniel was in. He was tidying with the door open, but she paused anyway and knocked on the door. "Hey," She said, when he turned, and took it upon herself to enter. She couldn't flop down on any chairs or beds as much as she wanted to, so she sort of just stood there holding one of her arms above the elbow. "When do you stop blacking out?" She questioned, giving no context because who needed it.

@Daniel Horn

It would take him another half century to get used to the feeling of another crocodile existing, he was sure. Even just having Meike in the general facility sent his crocodile into an alert sort of perkiness typically reserved for prey. Except not murderous. It was endearing, in a way, if perhaps pushing him a little towards a boyishness he resolved to keep in his mind.

As she neared, he was aware on a crocodilian level, the rumbling greeting from his crocodile reverberating through his awareness. He smiled as he looked to her, though her question earned a brow raise.

"As far as I am aware it is different for everyone, how long it takes. But at some point, your mind and your crocodile's mind stop feeling so disjointed and start learning to connect. Then you will be awake during your shifts."

So, in other words, he didn't know. Mikey did her best to keep from frowning, but it was kind of how her face was anyway, so she just focused on keeping the line between her eyebrows from etching too far in. Eventually, he said, her brain and the crocodile brain would become more joined. It sounded a little like bullshit, but who was she to try and call him out for trying to sell her on some spiritual connection become-one-with-yourself type shit. He'd been doing this for a hell of a lot longer than her.

"When was it for you?" She asked after a pause and a brief nod. Maybe it was just his mellow disposition, but he seemed like the type of guy that didn't find it hard to connect to anything.

He tilted his head back and smiled to the question, remembering it fondly. Life was never easy after being changed, but coming to terms with what he was certainly made it easier.

"I went through a few months of confusion, much like you. But. There were others in my tribe. Not the same animal, and they lacked our temperature setbacks, but they helped me understand the basics of being a were better."

He leaned against a broomstick, humming.

"It was... curiously timed with my naming ceremony. After that was my first shift where I remembered everything. I'll never really know if it was a matter of my spirituality re-aligning itself or just a coincidence. But I can say that the acceptance helped us both."

Proof she really didn't know a lot about Daniel. He'd been a part of an actual native tribe, or maybe still was. There'd been others to help him, and... after his naming ceremony is when he felt the connection. Meike's face turned into a rare smile, both at how fondly Daniel recalled all this, but in something of sheepishness. "Can you explain that to me? The naming ceremony? I'm not entirely cultured." Which was pretty true. For someone with two non-western parents, she really didn't adopt or have any interest in her heritage. Her dad had tried to get her to learn Mandarin, but she'd always refused. The Afrikaans came from living in South Africa and needing it to get by, but it wasn't anything she ever took seriously.

Explain? He lifted a brow, pondering it. How does one express the breadth of a culture to someone succinctly, including all the important parts, without monologuing on and on? And yet, also, without giving too much of it away, keeping that which was sacred from being exposed to be picked at or mocked? He remained protective of it, even now.

He hummed, considering words.

"One of our seven sacred rites, and sometimes one we go through several times, if our lives change significantly. It's... you have to request a new name from the elder. And if the request is approved, the elder will take some time to consider all factors and decide on the name that fits. He keeps the name secret until the end of the ceremony, after we've all gathered, and the prayers are said, and so on. And then acceptance of the name, which sometimes takes a long time. You cannot use it before you've been decided worthy of it. It took me a few weeks until it was all complete."

And then his first shift after, and... memories.

Meike found a place on the wall to lean against as Daniel explained, did her best to follow along. It sounded, honestly, like a lot of work. A lot of commitment. Changing your name in the middle of your life didn't entirely sound out of the question. Meike really rarely went by Meike. It was Mikey, or Mike. But she hadn't been granted those names by her elders, and there certainly hadn't been a weeks long ceremony to go through. It sounded cool, if not a little bit like a movie. Foreign.

"Do you still talk to them? Your tribe?" It all sounded like stuff that happened hundreds of years ago, but Daniel was only like forty or something. It was bizarre to know that all these traditions were still practiced in modern times. Huh. Her ignorant child brain was showing.

"Of course. I visit them as well, usually once or twice a year, sometimes more." For different reasons, but all the same, family was family.

"When was the last time you saw yours?" Hopefully before she was changed, but that was very recent, so he expected as much.

Well, that was more than her. At the question, Mikey huffed through her nose some and moved to grab at her elbow, glancing to the side some. "I saw my dad this time last year." She admitted. "And my mom, uh, six months before that. She still FaceTimes me sometimes." Usually, she ignored it. Really the only thing she talked to her parents about was financial stuff, and it was always a fucking horrible experience every time. Her dad always ended up telling her she needed to come back and study to be better, and her mom would usually tell her that she needed to stop coloring her hair and wear more makeup, so. It was better off this way.

Daniel wasn't a mindreader, and so when she answered, he just nodded. "It will be some time before you can see them again, at least in person. Phone calls and all of that will be important until then."

He was, of course, a man very firmly rooted in family.

"What are you studying?"

"Well, I won't be missing much." She said with a slight lift of her brows. It was for the best, anyway. She was pretty eager for the topic change, so she offered the answer presently. "Computer science. Not sure what I'll do with it, yet, but..." She shrugged. Most of her life was one big giant shrug. "What'd you do before this?" She gestured to the room around them, but meant, you know, the entire job. He was older. Was he married at some point? Did he have kids? Two things she wasn't entirely interested in, so maybe he was the same?

Computer science. She could probably teach him a few things, then. He chuckled.

"Anthropology. Studying human development through cultures was always a big interest of mine, though the crocodile killed any chance I had for a professorial career. Instead I... worked on the rez, took care of my mother until.she passed. I can't complain about where I'm at now though."

Her other questions went unanswered, because she did not ask them.

She had taken exactly one Anthropology class and hated it. But it was there for somebody, and Daniel was one of those somebodies. What he said about the crocodile ruining things had her furrowing her brows, and she really only half listened to the rest. "How... did it ruin things? You don't think someone like us could work in a professional setting?" If that was the case, she was fucked.

She'd misheard him. At least he had to assume that.

"Professorial. I wanted to be professor. I'm sure I could have pursued a profession in anthropology adding my name to others' papers if that was my plan all along."

He chuckled.

"As for a profession in computer science, I'm sure you have better options in that sector."

Oh. Shit, yeah. She’d defintiely heard “professional”. Still, he elaborated with some comforting words, and she managed a small smile.

”Sorry. Yeah, not so sure what I’m gonna do with it, but maybe I’ll try for something strictly behind a screen.” She still had a few years of school to go, so it wasn’t like she was going to be dealing too much with high tension environments or busy offices while she still barely had a hang of her shit. She was just skimming by and school as it was. But that was better than turning into a giant cocodile in the middle of calculace.

"Behind a screen, working from home," he agreed. "I should let you know I've ordered you a couple of the sweaters I use. You'll find it very useful until it's warm outside again."

A pause. "When the night time temperature reaches around... the fifties or sixties or so, we can do shifts outside. Your crocodile will appreciate it."

The dream, honestly. Who needed to interact with people?

The next bit had her raising her brows. He'd? Bought her things? Meike's lips pressed together. Honestly, the last time someone bought her something... well, aside from coffee, was when she was like, fifteen. After that her parents were big on her getting a job and making her own money to pay for things she wanted. So to have a sort of weird almost-friend-crocodile-buddy just straight up buy her clothes to keep her warm. Meike blinked, unsure of how to take that. "Er. Thanks." Was all she could come up with. At the idea of shifting outside, she grimaced some.

"What if the crocodile, like, slithers away somewhere far? I just wake up naked in the middle of nowhere?" No thanks.

He exhaled with a smile at her question. Truthfully, he didn't know the answer, but based on his understanding of his own crocodile and on reptiles in general, he was willing to take a guess.

"For one, I will be there. As for the reptile... no need to worry about it. She's not going to be going very far."

For the most part, the animals were relatively sedentary, unless excited by something in particular.

She... guessed that was true. Which circled back around to him seeing her naked. Well, for what it was worth, he felt a little less of a stranger now. So, mission accomplished. "Maybe I'll start remembering things by that point." New goal set. As if she had any control over that. "But, uh. Really. Thanks. For everything." The job, the place to shift, the advice, the sweaters? It was a lot.

"Of course."

He'd hold his arms out nicely for a hug, if she wanted. His crocodile certainly did want access to hers, filling the metaphysical soundspace with protective rumbling.

Okay, so. Meike was not a hugger. She'd hugged her parents as a child, but it was about as much of a habit as chewing on the ends of her hair was. She'd grown out of it. But at the offer, there was that fishing-hook tug, almost comical in how it metaphorically yanked her forward like she was being reeled in. Still, it wasn't something she fought. It would just be a side hug, sort of stiff but not cold aside from their body heat. The crocodile did what it did, rumbling and simmering and bobbing close enough to the male to brush against it. Weird, weird, weird, but not bad. When it felt like a good enough amount of time, she pulled away.

The crocodile rejoiced in being able to rest his head over hers, rumbling gutturally and with a sense of peace. The hug did not last exceedingly long, but it managed to feel sincere.

That was enough for him.

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