Stray

Squealing Hog 
#1


The scent of beer was heavy and potent, and Iago found himself somewhat keen on the scent. He wasn't drinking any himself, not tonight, not wanting to be the drunk bastard that started a bar fight when his goal was to prevent them from going sour. He liked to pick spots, locations, and as the weather warmed up and people started to congregate and get rowdy again, he liked to watch. No underdogs would lose teeth tonight. But for that, the lion needed to remain sober. And sure, he could have indulged in one and not suffered any for it, he knew better than to tempt himself into the 'just one more' trap.

That didn't, however, stop him from putting away a platter of smoked meats with quiet ferocity. There was something perfectly primal about picking meat off the bone, whether or not it was cooked, and his beast was as placated by it as he was, even as he dipped into coleslaw or nibbled on cornbread on the side. Some would think that eating alone was something sad, but he honestly preferred it. No one asked to share if there was no one to share with.

But his eyes darted the crowd from where he sat and ate, assessing everyone discreetly, gauging conversations as his teeth tore sauced flesh from a rib bone. The man behind him was talking about an affair to his buddy. The words had his attention, even if his eyes were currently trained on a few bikers at the bar, each bigger than the last.

There was a lot to be considered in a room this large, this packed with bodies. Sight, sounds, and... scents. Something unexpected drifted on the air and Iago lifted his chin a little. Not the beer, or the food. Something else.
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#2
He was a king of the bbq and grill, but Remington’s meat stocks were a bit low after the move, and having finished another long day’s work fixing up the homestead, he decided someone else could do the cooking.

He opened the doors to the bar and stepped in. The rat was immediately on its toes, pink nose tipped up as it scented the enticing aromas, the smell of sweet sauces and meat causing the rat to lift its front quarters in a bid to inhale more of it. But then — oh, it smelled something different. The rat recoiled in his mind, whiskers twitching and fur bristling as it detected a cat.

Don’t worry, little buddy, it’s all good. Just stay in my pocket! Haha!

It was his first time here, but Remy strolled in with the comfort and nonchalance of a regular, tipping his head and grinning as he passed people by. He honed in on the other predator, the man’s bright sweater just shining in the dim lighting, and took a direct route. Remy plunked down next to him. His arms were on the table and his hands rubbed together in anticipation of some good grub. Remy he leaned over a tad, not the least bit shy about inspecting the guy’s plate.

Grinning, he asked, "dang, what flavor of sauce is that? Looks good!"
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#3
Rat.

It was a scent that Iago knew nearly as well as he knew his own species' signature. There had been a whole colony in the town he'd lived in when he'd first been turned, years ago. Having gotten to know them quite well, even his lion did not seem to think much of them in the way of being prey. They were allies, no matter how small--far be it for someone like Iago to judge based on size. A rat was very good at seeing things that no one else did--and go unnoticed while doing so.

What he did not expect, however, was the size of the man who approached with the musk of rodent heavy on his person. Very large, and very not shy. At his table, no less! The absolute abandon of social normalcy somewhat delighted the lion and he squinted up at the wererat with a close-lipped smile.

"It is good! Kansas style for these ones," he said, tapping the plate by the ribs he'd half-finished. "I recommend them, if you're looking to eat."

Did he need to say the man was welcome to join him? The rat did not seem to think he needed permission. Much as Iago preferred to eat alone, and as drastically as this was breaking his concentration on what he'd been doing--the conversation went on behind him, unheard for the moment--there was no turning away someone this bold.
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#4
"Kansas style in Colorado! Perfect." He grinned more — truly, there was a seldom a time when Remington was not smiling and grinning and living the good life. He tipped his chin up as he caught the eye of a waiter passing by. "I am never not looking to eat," he quipped with a wink to his new friend. The waiter arrived to take his order. "I'll take a round of these," he thumbed toward the man's plate. "Oh and a glass of Forty Creek. Thanks."

The waiter smiled and took the order away.

"So..." His attention turned back to the fellow beside him as he leaned back in his chair, one arm resting on the back and the other hand resting on the table. "This your neck of the woods or is this really the best BBQ joint around?"
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#5
It seemed he had gained himself a table companion as the man ordered and settled in like they were old friends. It was strange, but perhaps refreshing. Normally it was Iago who was being the heavy-handed nuisance. To have the tables turned, well... unexpected, and it did make him a little wary, but more than that he was rather pleased.

"I live close enough. But yes, I would argue this is some of the better food that Mountainside has to offer," he offered by way of true-enough explanation. "As you can see, it is very ah... popular." Already he was reaching for food again with his unclawed hand, a little more mindful of how he ate now that he had a direct audience. It was difficult to hide his peculiarities while eating, and he wasn't too worried, but all the same.

"Where'd you come from?" he asked right before he took a bite.
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#6
Remington took a moment to have a long gander around the establishment, nodding his head approvingly. "Yep," he agreed. "It sure is." He turned his attention back to the man beside him as the man reached for his food. Remy was almost tempted to make like a bandit and snatch a rib but felt that temptation restrained. Hm. It was entirely in his impish nature to do so. It was even in the nature of his beast to pilfer food— ah. It's you, isn't it Squeaky? 'Fraid to steal from a cat, ain't ya? Ha. He was getting accustomed to this; feelings that were maybe not quite his own (and yet, in the end, when it came right down to it, they indeed were).

"'Bout 5 minutes down the road," he grinned. "I bought a place and some land. Name's Remy," he offered as he extended his hand.
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#7
With food in his hand, Iago had to somewhat awkwardly reach to shake with his left, but didn't seem to think twice on it too much--even if that was the hand that also still sported several curved claws. In the company of another were it was still often a strange subject to discuss the lingering traces of his animal, but not damning like it often could be with a human.

"Five minutes from here, very fortunate. I am across town, closer the river." Far away in Cedar Creek. When he retracted his hand, he added, "I am Iago. I have known many like you when I lived in Venezuela," he said, meaning the fact that the large man was unmistakably a rat. No reason to fear the lion, he promised without so many words.
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#8
He offered his hand at that moment partially because the poor guy was eating and Remington was devilish like that. Iago was good natured. Awkward or not, he took Remy's hand without hesitation and the two shook. That the man had claws did not go unnoticed. Remy's eyes flicked to them and he grinned. It was the first time he had seen someone with such remnants. He wanted to make a comment, ask a question, but reserved them for some other time and in some other place.

"That so?" He grinned even broader, appreciating the solidarity implied. This man was Remy's kind of man. "Doesn't seem to be a lot of the likes of me around here I'm afraid. I just got here though so maybe soon..." Remy shrugged, truly not bothered. "My place is marked with a wooden sign that says RKT on it. On the east side of the road. Stop in any time," he said, extending the same invitation he had extended to Alex. Given enough time, he would open his door to the whole zoo.

"So what brings you 'round here then?"

It was a long way from Venezuela.
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#9
This big rat sure did have a lot of confidence with his place in the world for a man who had just moved here! But well, better to own what is yours with certainty than bow and scrape at every local you came across. Remy didn't even know how fortunate he was to hear that Iago had spent any time in Venezuela at all. The spark of familiarity with rats had spurred a rare truth between strangers.

"Generous of you," he commented sincerely as he withdrew his hand, back to eating with both and guarding his plate only a little from his otherwise good company.

"I came for work." Simple enough, really, as boring as it sounded it made for the easiest kind of answer.
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#10
"No point in having something nice if you can't share it," Remington grinned. The waiter slid by then, dropping off that glass of Forty Creek that he had requested. Remy's mouth formed an obvious oooo as he beheld the drink.

"Have you found work then?" He asked as he reached for the glass and took a good swig. His enjoyment of the taste was clear on his face as he momentarily closed his eyes and savored the whiskey with an slow, appreciative shake of his head. "I'm setting up my own business," he shared. "I'm a taxidermist."
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#11
The idea of a ratty taxidermist delighted the werelion and he perked up in visible amusement. "Only way to get near animals, eh?" he teased. "I am not so interesting. Carpentry... mostly framing and roofing. Always needed. Easy to find work for." Especially if you new how to finagle your way onto a job, which was what he was best at.
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#12
Remington chuckled heartily.

"Haha, you're not wrong," he said, taking another swig of the whiskey. That was one thing that Remy missed (pets and other friendly creatures), but he restrained from comment as his companion went on to describe his trade as a carpenter. That had Remy's ears perking. "Carpentry, hm?" He let go of his glass to scratch ponderously at his beard. The man had said it was easy to find work but even so. "If you ever find yourself short of work shoot me a text. 555-Remy. I bet I could find something for you."
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