Place : Two telephones, and Anji's apartment.
Weather : Currently in Saint Claire, it is a cloudy day. The temperature is 48 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). The wind is currently coming in from the west at 6 mph. The barometric pressure reading is 30.05 and rising, and the relative humidity is 82 percent. The dewpoint is 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius.)
Moon Phase : Currently the moon is in the waxing Half Moon phase (57% full).
Somehow, the piece of paper that KL scrawled Anji's number has survived being in her pocket for five days. Not unscathed, however, it's severely creased and has a stain that looks faintly like tomato ketchup on one side. She walks up to the pay phone outside the Walmart in Kent Crossing and pins the paper to the wall with two fingers. With the other hand, she scrabbles for the change, feeds the slot and dials the number.
The cellphone rings twice, three times, four... and a breathless Anji answers. "Y'ello?"
"Is that Anji?" KL asks, speaking rather too loudly for the connection.
There is a moment's silence before the voice at the other end confirms "Yes, this is her..."
"Hiya! It's KL! How're you doing?" The fury ahroun is obviously trying to bypass the weaver-tech via sheer volume.
An excited squeak comes down the line into KL's eardrum. "Hey honey! You've got timing! I got me a place to live, I'm sitting there now in the middle of boxes and flatpack furniture. You want to earn yourself another dinner by coming to help me unpack and put things together?"
"Sure! Where am I coming to?" The volume decreases slightly, but only because KL is holding the phone a small distance away from her ear as a result of the squeak.
"Don't you go anywhere, honey," contradicts Anji. "I'll come right out with the Goddessmobile and pick you up. Y'at the same place I found you a few days back?"
"Yes! Give me half an hour to get back and I'll meet you there!" KL on the telephone - imperative city.
"Oh KL, you're /such/ a life saver!" Anji chirrups ear-piercingly at the Fury. "OK, half an hour it is!"
An old and basic, but clean, apartment. The front door opens straight into the living area, at the far side of which a door leads through to a small kitchen. A side wall leads into a small passage off which may be found a bedroom, a bathroom, and a large cupboard (or if you prefer, a small storage closet). The bedroom and living room walls are covered with posters of various vintages and subjects; for instance, a gothboy holding a guitar aggressively is juxtaposed with a New York Gay Pride advert from three years ago, and alongside these two is a cute blow-up photograph of a raccoon perched atop a garbage can. Notable furniture includes a fold-out sofa-bed in the main room, as well as a large blue corduroy bean-bag strategically placed near the television and music centre, while the bedroom boasts a rather full clothes rail and a double bed whose bedspread is embroidered, seemingly by hand, with the image of a reclining striped cat.
On the dot of thirty minutes Anji is there to pick up her new friend, and within the hour the two women have been transported by the Furymobile to a large, rather run-down midtown apartment block. Anji shows KL into the ground floor apartment, which contains a medley of boxes, bags, heaps of clothes, kitchen utensils, and suchlike personal junk. In amongst this chaos are several large, flat-pack items of furniture bearing the Ikea logo.
KL looks around the room with interest. "Nice apartment!" she enthuses, standing in the middle of it with her hands shoved in her pockets. "And what an amazing amount of stuff you have." She lightly prods a box with a foot. "So, where do we start?"
Anji grins. "It looks more than it is, really," she says. "Apart from the furniture, every bit of it was crammed into the back of the Goddessmobile and came with me from New Hampshire. I'm very good at packing, thankfully. Just not so good at unpacking. I'd guess, essentials first... like the bed." She indicates that item.
This gets a giggle from KL. "Having a car does strange things to your head, obviously." She moves over to the indicated box. "The bed's in here? Shall I open it?" She crouches down and runs a hand over the box and inspects the tape that's sealing it.
"Best to move it to the bedroom first," Anji advises. "We can do it between us, or you could probably do it with one hand if you wanted to..." She looks to the window, and thoughtfully pulls the curtains closed, in case KL wants to take a form that could carry a flat-pack bed in one hand.
"You just want to see me shift!" KL grins, and does so, muscles expanding, face contorting and hair lengthening as she shifts into Glabro. In this form her grin is suddenly a more horrific, more intimidating, expression. "Well?" she says, her voice a good half-octave lower and with the hint of a growl about it. "What do you think?" Using both hands, she picks up the bed and carries it easily into the bedroom.
At about five and a half feet in height, this girl resembles an ugly and slightly diminutive German weight-lifter. Her hair, which is a deep dark brown-black, stretches down her back in stringy clumps. Black hair also sprouts from her armpits, visible around the stretched red tank-top she is wearing. Her forehead slopes down to a bulbous nose, perched above lips that are pulled back to reveal elongated and sharp teeth. As well as the tank-top, she is wearing a pair of faded and beaten-up blue jeans, that through some miracle of construction manage to be a little too big for her.
If any doubt remained in KL's mind about Anji's claim to kinfolk status, it must be challenged further by Anji's reaction to the ahroun's shift up to glabro. Anji merely gives a broad smile and a little giggle. "Ooh, KL, if you'd looked like that in the pizza parlour, what d'you think those brats would have called us then?"
"They'd probably have asked me for a date." KL says, gruffly. "Anything else need moving while I resemble Helga the Shot-Putter?" Another unpleasant grin accompanies this, and she folds her arms over her chest.
A shortish, plump woman seemingly in her early twenties, Anji Kyriacou gives the impression of somehow containing more energy within her body than its size and shape would normally hold with comfort. Perhaps it's the mass of tightly curled dark hair that runs in spring-like coils down to her shoulders that suggests tension. It's held out of her light olive-coloured, round face by a headband. Her brown eyes are bright and her cheeks frame a mouth that's just that little too close to her nose for her to be thought of as beautiful, especially when taken into conjunction with her rather stout form. She might qualify as pretty, though, at least in the eyes of some. She's generally smartly dressed in blouse, jacket and either neat female trousers or a skirt, depending on whim and weather. If encountered in working hours, she may well be wearing a namebadge on her lapel with her name and the St. Claire University logo.
Anji looks around. "The futon and TV are staying in here, so no, it's just fixing the damn things together now. I swear those instruction leaflets are composed by Albanian mule-wranglers and translated into English by unemployed Icelandic actresses. You any good at them?"
KL shifts back to homid, take a couple of steps further into the room as she does. "Um..." she says, informatively. "If I were to tell you that I've never put together a piece of flat-pack furniture, would you send me to stand outside? I mean, I've built an outhouse from wood, but this? No! Does it need hammering?"
Anji just grunts. "In theory, no. In practice, well, anything could happen... up to and including us finding that that bed which looked so comfortable up in the IKEA showroom in Seattle is actually a bookshelf, or a device for drying fruit and turning them into a refreshing Swedish fizzy beverage."
The construction session goes according to plan, until a chest of drawers shows up minus a couple of parts, and with a particularly blurred and ambiguous instruction sheet. KL, who has been getting quieter and quieter as she puzzles over it, having neatly divided the contents of the box into piles, suddenly stands up and slings her screwdriver against the wall with an overhand pitch, digging a piece of the plaster out and sending the screwdriver rebounding across the room, though thankfully a long way away from Anji. "Fuck this fucking Swedish fucking shit." she shouts, kicking at the cardboard box. "Fucking piece (a) with screw (2) in holes (k). Fucking incomprehensible shit."
Anji retrieves the screwdriver calmly. "Hmm. What's the moon?" She checks her wrist, which carries a chunky digital watch of unfeminine style. "Half. I shouldn't go asking you to help fix furniture when she's on her way up, should I?" She applies feminine pronouns to the moon without the least trace of self-consciousness. "Nuts to the chest of drawers -- it can be fixed later. And don't worry about the wall, the letting agent seemed quite candid about the number of chips and bumps around the place already. I'll put one of my posters over it. Let's break for food and drink and a rest. Been up to anything since I met you the other day?"
KL breathes in deeply and slowly regains control over herself. "Sorry." she says eventually. "Didn't mean to lose it quite like that." She smiles. "Yeah, I met with my prospective pack alpha and it went really well. She's pregnant at the moment, and we shared ice cream and talked about stuff, and assuming the pack beta doesn't hate me and the totem accepts me, then I'm in." She looks genuinely happy about this. "I've missed being in a pack so much."
Anji retains her calm, soothing tones. "No need to apologise for having rage, hon -- Gaia would be in a pretty pickle if you didn't." She opens up the fridge in the kitchen area to one side of the main room, displaying various basic groceries within. "Juice? Coke? Iced tea? Or I can do coffee if you like." She greets KL's news with a smile. "Packs are good. They're one of the things I envy you. Knowing you've got someone defending your back like that. Who's the alpha? Whereabouts does the pack run? Is it a large one?"
"Signe." KL says, a shiftiness creeping into her eyes. "And sort of over there." Another KL-patented hand wave at the western...or northern...part of the city. "So, assuming I get in, you'll be able to see me quite a lot. There's two other Ahrouns, a theurge and a Galliard. Emma's in it too." She walks over to the wall that she attacked some moments before and strokes a finger across the divot. "Juice?"
"Orange?" asks Anji, selecting a carton of that variety of juice. "Emma, she's the non-hormone-poisoned Get you were saying you liked, yes? Don't think you mentioned Signe before. As for seeing you, well, any time you need me, or need a hidy-hole in the city, feel free to use this place. If your whole pack needs to hole up here at full moon, though, I hope you'll excuse me if I get myself a motel room for the night."
This gets a snicker from KL. "Usually, the Ahrouns get shipped out to the farmhouse for full moons." she says, with a grin. "And Signe's place is...reinforced. Yeah, orange is fine." The Ahroun looks around. "Hey, we managed to put several things together before I lost it! Not bad."
Anji pours a generous glass of juice for KL. "And there was about half a tree's worth of fast food delivery leaflets in the mailbox when I looked inside," she adds, "so we can grab some food now, too, if you like. The farmhouse? You have a farm out here? Growing organic vegetables and so on?"
KL blinks. "I don't think it grows anything. It's a sort of out-of-town safehouse, where they take cubs after they've changed for the first time. Big old barn to spar and exercise in." She considers for a little time, head cocked on one side. "It would be cool if it did grow vegetables. I'll suggest it. Something for the cubs to do."
Anji gives a little 'ah' of understanding. "Kind of like the old motel back home. We've got this abandoned motel, off the old highway, it went out of business when they built the Interstate through, and for years now it's been where they raise cubs and where garou live who don't have anywhere else and so on. I suppose a lot of septs must have a similar kind of place."
"Yeah." KL agrees. "There's a safehouse in town as well. Owned by the Glasswalkers, but they have a section for other tribes too." She takes a draft from her glass and sighs appreciatively. "I've stayed there a couple of times when I've got stuck in town, though I usually like to go home." She pauses. "You mentioned food?"
Anji picks up the aforementioned half-tree's worth of fast food menus from the kitchen counter and holds them out to KL in a fan. She has, in truth, exaggerated -- there's barely more than a quarter of a tree. Or a dozen leaflets. "Chinese, burgers, pizza again...? Let's get the food ordered, then we can talk about the city properly, when our bodies aren't crying out for calories."
"Chinese, this time?" KL suggests. "We had pizza last time. It's all rubbish, anyway. I'll have to run home to atone. But it isn't sandwiches or my famous stew, and that makes it _absolutely fantastic_."
Anji snorts amusedly and lets KL fish a Chinese takeaway menu from the bundle, returning the rest to the kitchen counter. After KL's selected her choice of eats, she dials the number on her cellphone and places the order. "That's... oh dammit, what is the street number here... 2603 Elson, Apartment 111. Okay!" Ending the call, she tucks the cellphone away and says "Twenty minutes," to KL. "Run home, girl? That's, like, ten miles or more. You full moons sure are gluttons for punishment."
This gets a massive smile from KL. "Depending on time and conditions, and how lazy I'm feeling, I do go on all fours occasionally, which makes it much quicker, but I've run it in homid loads of times." She considers. "Do you think I should enter a maratheon? Or would it be cheating?"
Anji snerks into a broad grin. "That's true, I was forgetting that once you're out of the city you can do the rest as a wolf... Winning a marathon would probably be too close to a potential veilbreach, wouldn't it? Pictures in the papers, yadda yadda?"
This gets a grunt of agreement, and a slightly morose look from KL. There's a moment before she replies, during which time she looks down at the floor, hair falling to cover her face. "Can't go wolf if you're carrying anything, though. Well, unless you carry it in your mouth, and that's a pain in the ass."
Further discussion is halted by a buzz on the doorbell. Anji scoops up her purse and after a moment talking at the apartment door, returns with several steaming containers of Oriental goodness, which she presents to KL with a smile, and then fetches plates and cutlery from the kitchen. "Western knives and forks only, unless they've put some chopsticks in the bag," she apologises.
"Do you like having implements thrown at your walls?" KL enquires, the corners of her mouth twitching. "Because if you think I got frustrated when dealing with fucking flat pack furniture, you should see me and chopsticks when I'm hungry." She looks at the containers with a predatory expression. "That smells good."
Anji gives a slightly exaggerated sigh of relief. "I can never handle sticks either. Let's both use forks and just agree never to tell anyone." The food is served out and the two munch happily; the dishes may perhaps have a little more MSG than is strictly desirable, if one is concerned about healthy eating, but they're awfully tasty, especially to hungry workers who've been labouring with Allen keys and screwdrivers for a few hours. "Damn, that's twice I've bought you dinner in a week," Anji observes. "People will start to talk."
KL stiffens at this comment, fork freezing in mid air. "They will?" she asks. "I mean, it's not like...well...our tribe has this reputation, you know, and we both know it's not entirely untrue." A momentary pause. "Fuck 'em. I'll rip them into tiny fucking shreds of flesh if they so much as comment. Which reminds me," she continues, in much the same sort of tone, "this isn't the best area ever. If anyone gives you shit, let me know and I'll have words."
Anji eyetwinkles at KL. "I'm just joking, hon, just joking. I'm all for out-and-proud-and-in-your-face, but I have to admit that throughout my life, the sum total of other women I've slept with is... well, it's a round figure. There was one once I might've if things had been different, but it never happened, and she was from another tribe, and she's dead now anyway, so..." She regards KL with a slightly regretful expression. "Let them have their stereotypes, is what I say. If they're bigoted enough they don't want to have a bunch of dykes save their asses, serve 'em right when some nasty chews their ears off."
"I'm sorry." KL says simply, looking up at Anji. "And yeah, as I said, fuck 'em. They just want something to yell at me anyway. Might as well be anything." She tucks back into the chinese food without saying another word, fork working busily.
Anji also devotes herself to the food once more. "That restaurant's a keeper," she decides aloud as she finishes, and pins the menu to a bulletin board which is presumably going to hang on the wall somewhere, but which is presently resting against the wall. "Well, I've got a bed to sleep in tonight which isn't a dreadful lumpy motel bed, and tomorrow's my first day in work. You're welcome to veg out in front of the TV with me for a while if you like -- or are you going to be virtuous and run back out to the country, like you threatened?"
KL considers. "Well, I really don't like TV, and I could do with the run." She looks around the room at any unopened boxes. "You going to be OK with the rest, or do you need my help again?" she asks. "Either way, the house phone will be working again shortly, so I'll call you with the number?"
Anji sighs. "I'd be a quivering wreck without my regular dose of reality TV," she says, ruefully. "Goddess speed your steps, sister. I'll try and find out about the ritual thing for you soon. Whether there's any special elements involved for garou, I mean, as opposed to the one I had when I came of age. And if you want to come by, feel free. I'll trust you to know how safe you are to be around when the moon's at her fat times. I'll understand if you can't, of course."
The Ahroun stands up, and takes a couple of steps towards the door. "Thanks. And don't worry. I'd have to be a long way gone to hurt you. My control's pretty good." She sniffs and then grins mischievously. "Of course, your fixtures and fittings may not always be so lucky." One hand goes out to the handle. "Goddess watch over you!" she says, looking slightly embarrassed, and opens the door.
Anji gives a wide, natural-seeming smile of farewell to the garou as she exits the apartment. As KL leaves, she may hear the sound of a television coming from the room she's just departed from.