A Cover Is Not the Book

Belle Vista 
 Saying anything at all, especially when she was interrupting, made Jackie want to melt into the floor and disappear. While she was a part of the coalition, yes, the blonde was usually so wrapped up in the human side of things that being involved like this was... abnormal for her. It wasn't that she didn't like it; it was simply a new, uncomfortable situation. Not only that, but the tension that filled the room was making her cheetah pace and pace and pace. It only worsened when Yana put Frank in his place.

 A glance to the man was made, fleeting at first before she looked away, then stopped herself and looked back at him. He was so... concerned about Florian. Did they know each other? Was it possible that he cared so much about a stranger? Of course it was, but Jackie was always surprised to see other people show so much concern. Today's day and age, she supposed.

 From Frank, she looked to Mathis, giving them both a weak smile before looking to the Queen as she was addressed. "Yes ma'am." She was, truthfully, glad that she had made the right choice in speaking up. That didn't make her nerves any less nerve-y but at this point, she would take what she could get. "I hope it's alright that I ask this," She looked to Yana, afraid that she would be overstepping but forged ahead, wanting to keep her dignity intact. "But is there somewhere ah, private...? I can shift?" Cue her sinking into the floor again! :D

Mathis had had his throat nearly torn out, he'd been frozen to the floor, he'd been hit by a car. But the bite of Frank's cold look in return struck him in a place he was unknowingly weak in. It smarted, and he found himself unable to look to anything but Yana after turning to her. Something to shift the focus on how it felt to have Frank blatantly disrespect Yana, to the point where he needed to be reminded of the fact that Mathis had been trying to silently implore. They needed to speak, after this. It wasn't something they could shelf.

Yana was not in favor of an alternative, and it was clear there was no arguing it. It was frustrating, that she wouldn't hear of it, but ultimately he did trust Yana in her judgement that she would make sure it was quick and relatively painless for Florian. Mathis took in a steadying breath, suppressing for now the tsunami in his chest as he looked to Jackie. Right. "We'll step out." Mathis spoke for himself and Frank, finally lifting his gaze to look to him, searching the defeated face for any sort of reluctance. If he found none, he'd move to extend a hand and place it against the small of his back as he moved with him from the room. Over the threshold, he'd drop his hand, but continue to move forward wordlessly toward the back patio door, intending to lead Frank into the back yard.

Jackie was turning to Yana here about where to shift, in his house no less, wasn’t helping matters. That should've fallen to him. It was hard not to think he wasn’t being used at this point. There wasn’t a kind way to tell her there was none besides where she stood and he waited a moment to gather less bitter words. She hadn't intended, but it was felt. Mathis speaking up and promptly informing that they’d both be leaving the room, was just further adding onto it. That was his choice to make, not Mathis’ or Yana’s or Jackie’s or even Florian’s. It was just the consideration of Jackie’s predicament here and of not wanting a cheetah shifting in his study and most certainly not his own room, of not getting into a damn fight over where someone changed, that had Frank agreeing.

The gaze from Mathis was caught and there wasn’t the same sharpness in Frank’s this time, more frustratingly resigned than anything. He'd go, whatever. With an glance to Yana make sure he wasn't about to overstep again, he turned to Jackie. “You can do so here or in the hallway bathroom, whichever you’d prefer,” he informed simply. He was putting a stake in the ground, owning some part of this, trying to get back a small part of the control that people kept wrestling away from him.

He tensed at the touch to his back, the cat swiping in aggression at the flash of cheetah that was more abundantly clear out of all of them surrounding him. There was the want to push the hand away, but he allowed it for the brief time it stayed to corral him away from the door. Frank followed through the house and realized the goal here was the back. So, he was more or less being kicked out of his house, leaving some poor girl to the fate of having a monster attack in an unneeded fashion. He couldn’t help shaking that this was exactly what he’d try to save her from earlier. His gaze dropped as hands went to his back pockets, fighting the urge to just ball them up as they shook. There probably wasn’t a choice here either.

Mathis & Frank stepped out for now


 Frank was clearly displeased with all of this, but that was a Frank problem - something she reminded herself of even as Mathis led him away like a good friend trying to deescalate a fight before he had a chance to really begin. Once Frank offered her options, she gave the girl a little smile, hardly much of anything but supportive all the same.

 "Up to you where you'd like to do this, but I'll be right behind you all the same." A little softer, somewhat more gentle without their audience at hand. "If you need a minute, no one would fault you for it."

Annnnd the attention was back on her. It was only Yana this time but even so, she felt cowed under the woman’s presence. Yes, Jackie had seemingly said all the right things in the last few minutes or so, but what if she hadn’t? What if she’d fudged everything up even more than she already had? Would she still be standing here?

Furthermore, would Yana think less of her if she couldn’t shift with people watching? She did say she’d be right behind her the whole time so Jackie wasn’t going to be allowed to shift in solitude which, admittedly, was probably for the better but also it was kind of like trying to pee with someone else in the room??? She had trouble even getting started.

Still green eyes flickered to Flo, expression crinkling in gentle despair. She had gotten her friend into such a mess and she wanted to childishly cry out that it wasn’t fair. But the laws of their kind often weren’t fair. She knew that. They all knew that, one way or another. Just like Frank had found these circumstances unfair. Just like her own infection hadn’t been fair. She hadn’t even had a choice.

The choice now was taken away too, the cheetah getting riled up with all the inner anxiety and turmoil, finally pushing through to start the slow and painful process of shifting. Agile fingers broke and reformed, bones lengthened in some places and shortened in others, carrying her through a grotesque malformation of the human body and, eventually, into the sleek, lean musculature of her animal.

Tail curled behind her, a soft mew drawn from her throat before she drew in that first breath. Initially, she was drawn to the queen, the pull of her power great and satisfying but it paled in comparison to the draw of blood. A meal One she wouldn’t have to exhaust herself chasing.

Careful, crouched steps brought her closer to the woman, pausing with each one to see if she would stir. There was no where to hide and the seconds she wasted were the seconds in which her prey could awaken. With a yowl, the cheetah lunged towards the couch and the woman that lay prone across it.

 She lay still, silent, chest rising and falling with slumber. The darkness that enveloped her was dreamless, save for silent shapes and faces that swam through her mind. No coherent thought could break through to her completely exhausted subconscious.

 The sounds of a body shifting into beast wasn't completely lost on her, entering the void of sleep, but it wasn't enough to rouse her, for she'd used far to much energy that night. It wasn't until the metaphysical pressure of power all but stifled her as the beast crept closer, but paired with the loud yowl inches away, that her eyes lazily pulled open, though her mind was still mostly asleep. It was if time slowed down for her. Was this a dream? The sight of the cheetah literally pouncing for attack was sobering, and she found herself screaming in the split second she had before the beast made contact.

 "JACK-!" Her scream was cut short as fur, fang, and body mass enveloped her. The roots below longed to leap to assist her but her gas tank was empty. The earth would grant her no more favor tonight.

 There was no thought. No response to the startled and fearful cry of her name, drowned out by the feline as she descended upon her prey. Teeth bit into the crook of her shoulder and neck, an open and vulnerable weak point on the two-legged body, the sharp and metallic taste of blood spreading over her tongue.

 In a perfect world, Ms Cavangh would not have bit the girl so close to her throat. She frowned, already decided that it would be a regular old fucking nightmare if Beringer came home to a partially decapitated Florian sprawled out in his spare room. Perish the thought. She immediately pulled on the tie that connected them, found it easy in the dark and tensed and put all her energy into it. Experience told her what her eyes only confirmed - it had to be a different sort of pain, sharp and scary in how quick it descended and with such a vengeance.

 Her fur hardly had time to lay, her bones hardly had a moment to settle, and she at once was calling them to break. "Jacqueline, that's enough." Firm, serious - more of a bark than a comment. Reached out all the same, little fear of the repercussions of it as she went to grab her by the back of her neck as if the physical contact had anything to do with the forced shift back to polite young professional.

 This day was getting better all the time. The large wildcat pounced her, hot breath hitting her flesh milliseconds before fur, and fang. Her scream was cut short as the pressure pushed her back into the cushions, blood further painting her dress and the surrounding fabric she lay upon.

 The words the woman spoke were lost on Florian as was the shift that took place after. Her already exhausted mind couldn't comprehend what was happening, her only available reaction was to grip the wound in a feeble attempt to stop the bleeding which, though she did not realize, was already slowing. It didn't take long for her to fade back into darkness, her body limp, and her breathing so shallow, it was hard to tell she was breathing at all.

 A girl can only take so much excitement in one day.

 She would be gentle as she leaned in when all was said and done, mindful as she waited for a beat before attempting to move the now still woman's hands from over the wound. It had done its damage, enough that it seemed like she would be replacing bedding and yet another bit of furniture thanks to Were related mishaps. But it wasn't gushing, wasn't actively growing the splatter and stain. And no she wasn't that sort of doctor, even in the best of times, but she was confident in Jackie's work then and there.

 She pulled a blanket from the bed, covered Jackie for the sake of her modesty and pulled her phone back out of her pocket to inform Mathis of the good outcome. After that, however, she'd begin a new message entirely.

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