Collaborative fiction by Caelyn and Auri, set in Cassandra Marshall’s ‘Generation 4’ universe.
Part 1: Cats and Dogs Living Together
Opening the door, Rory found herself in an aging but spacious apartment: sparsely furnished, with carpeting that could be described as “unnecessarily plush,” along with a couch, set right in the sun. Said couch currently housed a tanned, black-haired woman who did not bother to get up when Rory walked inside.
She watched Rory drag in her few possessions, then said: “‘Kay, go… make yourself at home, I guess?” Her voice was soft, monotone, and seemed to have a different, but equally slight accent every third word. She had not bothered to introduce herself.
“Aw, nice,” the new roommate drank in the surroundings with wide-eyed wonder. “Nice! Real nice! Aw it’s damn good to meetcha. I’m Rory, Rory O’Coyne. You knew that from the thing, though, yeah? Nice!”
The woman who’d barged into Jenna’s apartment and life was tall, and muscular, and animated, and had a presence best described as ‘invasively earnest’. Her shaggy, chin-length reddish-brown hair bounced with every step, and she flashed big teeth with every frequent grin. She also had an aggressive Southie accent, but that was sort of to be expected.
“Right, so, that’s my room right there? That one, with the nice bed and the clothes?”
Jenna laaaazily turned her head, the slowness of the motion making it look like it was quite the monumental effort. Her eyes narrowed. One ear twitched.
“..Are those your clothes,” she asked flatly. “..Because I didn’t unpack them. And you didn’t unpack them. I think that answers that?” She might have sounded ruder if she weren’t so damned monotoned.
“Yeah, sure, I hear ya. So where is my room?” Rory turned, then, and her jacket shifted a little, and this big fluffy tail slipped out, wagging rapidly with excitement. “I do get one, yeah? Ha ha!”
UGH. PEOPLE. Why can’t they just- UGH.
Jenna slid off the couch, all liquid grace and dexterity. Not that Rory was looking. “Yeah okay. Follow me.” She was wearing a plain tee and plain slacks, muted, dull blue with a flash of pink on the shoulders and another similar flash on the hips.
She led the way into the kitchen. Gestured lazily. “Kitchen. Get food here.”
“Ha ha, nice!”
Jenna pointed at a door outside of the kitchen. “That’s the bathroom. And your room is…” She led Rory to the only other room in the apartment.
The room was already furnished with a bed and a wardrobe. The bed was queen-sized, and someone more inquisitive than Rory might have wondered, A: How she got it in here, and B: how she managed to make it fit into the pretty cramped room with the wardrobe, without making it feel cramped. Rory just chalked it up to “she’s a wizard” and that was that.
“Here we are. How fancy.” That was probably sarcasm, but again, monotone.
“Wicked fancy! I love it!” The looming girl didn’t seem to be capable of sarcasm.
Finally, Rory decided to bring up her roommate’s more unusual features. “Hey, pretty sweet ears! We kinda match some, yeah?” Another really toothy grin. Pointy toothy. Rory tilted her head, revealing a pair of partly-pointy, partly-floppy ears the same color as her hair poking through. “Like we’re meant to be together!”
Lazy yellow-green eyes drifted to the tail. The teeth. The ears. Jenna thought for a moment about what to say, maybe whether or not the commentary deserved an answer. It was hard to tell. “One-in-how-many-billion,” she drawled after her momentary pause. “Is it eight? Or nine?”
“Ha ha! I don’t fuckin’ know!” Rory seemed absolutely delighted that she did not know. “So you’re a para, right? You fight crime?” She dropped her army duffel on the floor of her new room with a distinct wham. How heavy was that thing?
Jenna looked down at the duffel. Back up to Rory. “No. Why would I do that. Ah, yes. Stop evildoer. Or I will meow at you.”
“Nah,” Rory’s tail went whap whap whap against the doorframe, “well I mean yeah, sure, but it’s fun as hell! That’s a way better reason. Hey we could be a superhero team! Yeah? I mean I still gotta move in and all, but.”
Ear-twitch. “My idea of fun does not include drawn weapons or physical danger. All fine and well if yours does. I would not expect me to participate, though.” Jenna sighed. She was now stuck in this conversation. Why.
“Ah, fine. Well. You’ll come around. Ha! Damn, it’s kinda muggy in here. This weathah!” Rory shrugged off her coat and tossed it on the bed, then crossed both arms in front of her body.
Oh my god she was going to take her shirt off right here.
Jenna brushed right past her, leaning against the other side of the wall. “Anything else you need, Rory?”
“Thanks fer askin’! Didn’t mean to kick you out, just changin’ shirts.”
“Yes. I couldn’t help but notice.”
She emerged a moment later, her t-shirt replaced with a light tank top. “What are ya up ta? Can I take ya fer dinner? Feel like I ain’t hardly got to know ya yet!”
This was cutting into valuable napping and sitting in boxes time. Ugh. Okay. But it was food. … She tilted her head left. Right. Scratched one ear. “Where?” Yes. That was the determinant. Good idea, Jenna. Also rude.
Shrug. “I dunno. Where’s good? And isn’t, like, real damn expensive?”
“That depends on what you want to eat.” She listed off a few places that were within walking distance, started to list another one and then said “No. I work there. I don’t want to see those toolsheds.”
There was this awful moment where Rory smiled real big with all those teeth and for a split second, Jenna thought she saw text near the top of the screen reading Rory will remember that. Oh. oh no.
“Well damn, all you hadda do was mention that there’s a churrascaria within walking distance! Let’s hit the meat faucet! I could murder a dozen chicken hearts right now. It’s on me this time.”
“That sounds fine, I suppose.” She was sadly now aware of her error, but it was too late to do anything for it. A beat. “..chicken hearts.”
“Hell yeah!” Rory crossed to the door with long, heavy strides. “What, you ain’t never had Brazilian BBQ? It’s the shit! Juicy, tender steak! Three kinds a’ sausages! Chicken hearts. All the meat you can get inside ya.”
(Jenna stifled a gigglesnort.)
“Yes. That will do nicely. I have no idea how expensive it is, since ah. I have never deigned to go. Generally, I cook here.” Somehow, someway, despite not seeming to even try, Jenna reached the door in short order. “I take it we’re going now.”
“Yeah, I could eat!” Rory said with the certainty of someone who could always, always eat, leading the way out the door. “Aw this is gonna be great. You and me, we’re gonna be best friends. Hey, you like to run? I run every morning.”
What terrified Jenna was how damned certain Rory sounded about them being best friends. “No. And please try not to make much of a ruckus in the morning. I need my beauty sleep.” And then she vanished for a brief moment, returning with slacks that were pink with blue instead, though these did have a hole in the bottom.
Her tail was almost embarrassingly fluffy.
“Oh, is that how you get so pretty? Nice! Love the tail. Fluffier’n mine! Go figure. So you work at a restaurant, huh? I’m a personal trainer. It’s the best.”
Was food worth all this talking? …Unfortunately, yes, because it was free. Jenna reached back and smoothed her tail. This accomplished very little, although at least it looked intentionally fluffed now. “Yes. I’m a bartender. I give people drinks. They give me tips for being nice.” One may assume she did not get many tips.
“I bet you get lots of tips!” Rory laughed, galumphing down the stairs. She… she wasn’t being sarcastic. That tail was still going a mile a minute.
PLEASE BE LESS EXCITED CAN YOU DO THAT. …things she wanted to yell, but did not. “I do. Yes. Smile and act nice. Not hard.”
“Of course not! It’s the easiest thing in the world.” Once they were outside: “so, uh, which way is it? I never make it out to this neighborhood.”
“Debatable. There are more difficult things though, I am sure.” Maybe if she sounded real disaffected and disinterested… “This way.” She smoothly stepped in front of Rory and lead the frustratingly excitable dog-gal along the sidewalk.
They definitely got more stares as they walked than Jenna was comfortable with. Yes, she had unusual features, but that grace and dexterity usually allowed her to slip through a crowd without much notice. Now that she had gained Rory as a party member, that no longer applied. The dog girl was over six feet tall, muscular, enthusiastic, and loud. Not to mention the hideous fact that they matched, and that made people associate them more. And pay attention more.
Rory didn’t seem to notice any of this, of course.
Jenna immediately noticed it and couldn’t stop, and hated it.
Ughhh people. PEOPLE. Okay. Breathe. Let’s just walk. Try not to hurt anyone unduly. (but it’s so due. It was so. Very. Due.) She debated telling Rory to shut up. Eventually, decided against it, and tried to be polite.”So… personal training. What. People pay you to be peppy and way too energetic at them?”
Rory was far too sunny to notice the shade. “Got it in one! I’m an expert motivator! And I love exercise. Hey, let me know if you want a discount on my services. I’m real good. Swear to ya.”
“No. I’m fine. Thank you, though.” Her tone clearly implied that she was fairly sure that exercise was one of the cardinal sins. Or at least pretty evil. “Sounds like good money, though.”
“Ha ha!” Good god, she was loud. For an instant, Jenna’s ears flattened. “Maybe if we didn’t live in Boston! I mean, it’s all right. Pays for food, pays for rent. What else do I need, really? ‘Cept pleasant companionship, right?” She elbowed Jenna’s shoulder lightly.
Her ears stayed flat for a few seconds, gradually returning to normal and perky. God, of course she got the hypersocial one. Why would anything else ever happen. “If we didn’t live in Boston applies to any and all amounts of money earned. That’s why we’re where we are right now.”
“On our way to the meat faucet?”
“More directly, roommates.” Shudder. “But that too, yes.”
“Aw, you’ll come around,” and there it was, the occasional acknowledgement that Rory understood that Jenna was disgruntled about their arrangement. “I’m real fun. And I like you already. Oh hey, we’re here!”
“If I didn’t think so, I would’ve politely asked you to move along.” How nice! Jenna didn’t hate her, at least. She just.. Hadn’t warmed up yet. Or something. Who knows how the mind of the catgirl worked. “Oh, so we a-”
She stopped dead. Her ears swiveled forward. Her tail rose in the air. Twitched. And then she darted off. What— oh, chasing a big bird.
Rory just stared for a moment, then burst into window-rattling laughter. “HAHAHAHAHA YEAH! Get ’em!” Oh no, she was cheerleading.
The display was as dexterous and as quick as it was attention-grabbing. People stared at her, mostly, but a few laughed, shook their heads and kept walking, having seen this behavior before. She did, ultimately, manage to catch the bird unharmed, and in that moment, clutching a live bird, her senses returned to her along with a look of abject horror.
Releasing the startled bird, Jenna slunk back over to Rory. Her look plainly said that if Rory ever mentioned that, nothing good would come of it. Rory would be jealous of that bird.
One second. Two, three, four. “You sure you don’t want a better outlet for those hunting instincts?” Toothy dog grin.
A variety of responses occurred to Jenna. The problem was that she felt she should not say, ‘they will never find your body.’ Maybe if she had known Rory for more than forty five minutes, she could pass that off as a joke. She had not. “Yes, I’m sure.”
“You’ll come ’round,” ugh, this was some kind of catchphrase. “Let’s go rend some flesh, yeah?”
“What a…wonderful choice of words.” If sarcasm had weight, Rory would be crushed under it.
Part 2: Fish Sticks in my Craw
JENNA & RORY’S APARTMENT
“Guess who’s hoooome!”
It was not hard to guess who was home.
“I brought more fish stiiiiicks! And a surprise!”
Jenna peeked up over the arm of the couch. While all that Rory could see were her eyes and ears, she could probably imagine the rest of Jenna’s face was set in that permanent disappointment that seemed to be what passed for neutral. “There is only one other person that could be home, Rory.”
“Oh yeah? Who?”
“..You. Because you live here. I don’t—for anyone else, this would be a place they are visiting.” Why. Why this.
“Ah yeah,” Rory grinned and held up a white plastic shopping bag. There was… a box? In her other hand. “Fish sticks!”
And then there weren’t fish sticks in Rory’s hand anymore, and there was a tail disappearing around the corner to the kitchen.
“Wh—hey!” Rory frowned. “Don’tcha wanna see the surprise I got ya?”
A pause, during which Rory could hear the freezer being opened and shut. “Yes. I suppose.”
Rory dropped her gym bag, walked over to the little kitchen table, set down the box, and opened it.
“Ta daaaah!” She lifted… a potted plant? Out? It was a potted plant. “I got catnip for my cat roomie!”
Jenna turned around, her perpetual disaffected look replaced by a real frown. “Oh my God, that’s so – That’s like. Racis- How would you feel if I got you dog biscu-”
…She stopped. Slitted eyes narrowed on the potted plant. “..Bi-biscuits…”
“Well I dunno about no dog biscuits, those don’t taste like much,” she said, with the clear knowledge of someone who had tried dog biscuits. She was waving the plant around in one huge hand, wafting the smell of the catnip around her and toward Jenna. “But if you got me a rawhide bone—“
Her eyes followed the plant. “We- We’re better than those things, Rory! We- um.” …She obviously just lost her train of thought.
Rory gave her a biiiig fanged smile and tore off a small portion of catnip from the plant, then offered that handful with open palm, extended toward her roommate. The freshly-torn leaves smelled really strong.
“Giveittomerightnow.” She didn’t say please, which was somewhat telling of the effect. Except for that one time earlier today (Rory had eaten the last of the fish sticks without replacing them, so pretty much any degree of response could be excused), Jenna made a point to say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’ She was a bit rude in other regards, like everything else… but her manners were precise.
The paw holding the handful of torn leaves went forward, open-palmed, offering the stuff. The one holding the pot? That one went up and away, as if to say the stuff in my hand first.
Jenna was no longer paying attention to the pot. She slunk closer, snatched the handful of torn leaves and started gnawing on them. At that point, she stopped noticing Rory entirely, standing in the middle of the living room with some leaves sticking out of her mouth, chewing away.
“Even better than I ‘spected,” Rory murmured, pulling out her phone and recording the display as she set the pot down on the table.
Jenna flopped back down on the couch, purring. And rubbing her face on the arm. She was scent-marking it. And everything else she could reach without getting up.
Rory followed, recording the whole thing and trying to hold in laughter. “You doin’ aight there, roomie?” She asked, grinning broadly.
“..yer … “ Pause. Stare. “…according this,” she said, sounding like she wanted to be … angry? Offended? Plain Ol’ Jenna? It did not work very well, but she made a feeble grab for the phone.
Making an attempt at the phone proved a bad idea, though, because now she was in melee range. With a triumphant laugh, Rory lifted Jenna with one arm, tucking her phone back into the pocket with the other. “Oh, you wanna wrestle?!”
Jenna meow-whined. “Pumme dowwwwwwwn.” She flailed, and Rory could intuit that she was trying to ensure that if she managed to wriggle free, she’d land on her feet. She must not be that far gone.
“You do wanna wrestle? Just ask next time!” Rory guffawed, but tossed Jenna back onto the couch, as strong as Jenna was graceful. Well okay, as Jenna was graceful when she wasn’t high off her gourd.
Properly on the couch again, Jenna didn’t seem at all troubled by the aerial method she’d taken to it. She curled up. Purred some more. Shot Rory a look that was probably intended to be her Death Glare, but mostly looked like she was squinting.
Rory dropped her substantial weight onto the couch, sitting next to Jenna’s curled-up form. “Ya know? You’re real fun. This is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.”
“What.” She did not clarify which part she was questioning, shifting a little to stare at Rory through half-lidded eyes.
“After all, I ain’t on the lease,” Why was Rory musing this aloud? “If ya really didn’t want me around, you could tell me to go kick rocks. Butcha haven’t. That means ya secretly like me.”
More staring. Another, slower, “what.” She stopped purring quite so much. Shook her head like she was trying to clear it. “What,” she asked again.
“Hah!” And here came that meaty paw and oh god she was petting Jenna’s head “Don’t worry about it!”
Oh no. Oh no. Jenna seemed, horrifyingly enough, very much fine with that. She even crept a little closer.
Rory chuckled, obviously pleased at the validation, and kept petting her roommate while she pulled out her phone and played with it to pass the time otherwise.
About ten minutes later, Jenna abruptly pulled away. “What the hell.” oh yeah. She’s back to normal.
Looking up from her phone, Rory blinked a bit sleepily and replied: “Pettin’?”
“Ughhhh- Were you actually recording that. Do I need to- To-” She couldn’t settle on a threat. She instead settled on sitting upright, folding her arms, and giving Rory a dirty look.
“Only in the beginning,” Rory replied as primly as dog girls ever get, “but I didn’t record the pettin’. That’s an intimate roommate bonding thing that ya just don’t share.”
She sputtered. It was as though Rory had revealed a litany of sins, and Jenna simply could not decide which was truly the worst. She went with continuing to look at Rory like she’d admitted that she enjoyed arson and making children sad.
The offending roommate smiled toothily, transferred her phone to the now-freed hand, and shook her other arm to loosen it up.
“Yer allowed to like stuff like pets, ya know.”
“I am not a pet. No.” More glowering. Her anger was more comical than genuinely off-putting at the moment, if only because she couldn’t seem to manage any big words yet.
“I wasn’t callin’ you a pet, fer cryin’ out loud,” Rory slipped the phone back into her pocket, “I was sayin’ it’s okay to like bein’ pet. I mean, I do, and I ain’t a pet neither. Human affection! What a concept, eh?”
“Gross!” … Yes. That was her grand defense. “Besides! I only liked it because of the catnip.”
“There’s truth in the vine,” came the sagely reply, “or, you know, equivalent leafy green thing. Oh speakin’ of which d’ya know where I can buy weed around here? Watchin’ you be high off yer gourd reminded me.”
“What? No, why would I know that?” Why indeed, when she could buy totally legal catnip. “Just. Follow your nose? I don’t know.”
“Hm. Yeah, all right.” Rory scratched said nose, then leaned her head back. “D’ya wanna maybe put the rest of the nip in a plastic bag or somethin’?”
“Why would you even… augh. That’s still – augh.” She failed entirely to communicate. “…Yes. Fine. That works.”
“I know!” The couch lurched as Rory vaulted off of it. “I’ll keep it in my room! That way the smell won’t bother ya all the time. And y’c’n just go in there an’ get it if you want some when I’m not around!”
“We. We have. Cupboards. Or we could leave it in the pot and just put in the sun. I think that’s how you grow plants.” Speaking of sun, Jenna adjusted her position so she remained in the late afternoon sunbeam.
“Yeah but if it’s in the cupboard, no sun. If it’s out in the sun, ya smell it even when y’don’t want. If it’s on my windowsill, it gets sun and it’s outta your way.” And there she was again, and there was the pot of catnip, and there was another whiff from those broken stems, trailing away as Rory went to stash the plant in her room.
Jenna covered her nose and breathed through her mouth until the smell went away. Ugh. Rude. Who just buys catnip like that.
Why, who but the epitome of rudeness herself, who now leaned against her own doorway and grinned real big at Jenna.
“Hey, wanna go to my favorite bar sometime?”
“I- .. I bartend. I have a mixology degree, Rory. Why would I go somewhere else?”
“Meet new people? Hang out, get drunk? Not be working?”
“I don’t drink that much. I don’t like new people.”
A thoughtful face. A scheming face. “You can watch me get drunk and record me making an ass of myself for revenge.” Well. No one was going to accuse Rory of being inscrutable.
“…But if you do that anyway, it’s not nearly as horrifyingly embarrassing.”
“Nah, I never record it.”
“Their fish and chips are real fuckin’ good.”
“You’re trying to bribe me.”
“Don’t change the subject.” Wink.
“I’m not. I’m pointing something out.”
“Why are you so intent on this.”
“I’m makin’ friends!” Said the actual dog eared dog girl, who was a dog.
“We. Are friends?” This was said in a tone that suggested it was the most obvious thing in the world. By the actual cat cat eared girl who was a cat.
“Then it’ll be a friendship bonding activity.” Rory’s tail was going a mile a minute, ugh.
“There is no collection of words I can say that is going to prevent this from happening, is there.” By now, Jenna was back to that flat, deadpan, mildly disappointed look she wore when not high as hell.
There was a beat as Rory peered at her. “If you sincerely tell me, right now, ‘Rory, I am actively uninterested in going out and having fun with you and do not want to do it,’ I’ll back the fuck off. How’s that?”
Beat. “…Ugh. When.”
Whap whap whap whap whap, went Rory’s tail against the doorframe. “When’s your next free evening?”
Sighing, Jenna checked her phone. “Tonight. Tomorrow.” Oh. So that’s why she was still asleep at two in the afternoon.
“Tonight and tomorrow it is!” Rory declared cheerfully.
“No. Only one of those.” She sounded oddly final.
“Ha ha! All right, just tonight this time.” Wink. “You’ll come around.”
Part 3: Booze Hound
“Here we are! The ole watering hole.” Rory led the way inside. The pub was unassuming but fairly clean. A bit crowded, but not too populated. Music was playing, but not too loud. This could be—
“Ay, boys, it’s the Hound!” The bartender prompted, and a few of the patrons replied with a muted howl.
Much to Jenna’s chagrin, Rory howled back, much louder.
Four seconds in and Jenna wanted to leave. Already. Why. Why is this happening. Ugh.
Rory greeted the patrons she knew. “Ay, it’s Tom! Barry, all right. Len. And there’s our bartender Seamus.”
“You got a date, Rory?” The man behind the bar had a fairly distinct irish accent, as was probably required by Boston Ordinance. Minimum one tender with an irish accent per pub.
“Naw, it’s my new roommate! And get this: she’s a cat! C’mahn in, Jenna, yer gonna block the door.”
Narrowed eyes. An ear twitched. She stepped in, and to the side of the door. Sure. Fine. “There.”
“C’mon in, let’s take a seat. S’all right, I won’t make you talk to nobody.”
LONG-SUFFERING SIGH. “Sure.”
Rory led the way to the bar and took a stool. “Two Harpoon IPAs, an order of fish and chips, and a burger, if ya would please Seamus.”
As she sat, Jenna caught notice of somebody skulking in the corner, hoodie pulled up and head turned away. Of course, that was basically what she was doing too, so she didn’t think much of it.
The bartender swung by, placing one beer in front of Rory and one in front of Jenna. Jenna peered at Rory (who picked up her beer to drink from it immediately), then at her own beer, then back at Rory setting down a half-empty pint glass what.
Jenna stared at the beer one more time as if it would perhaps have had the courtesy to vanish like Rory’s. “I’m not- I said–”
Rory set down her empty pint glass. “So don’t drink it,” she said cheerfully, then rapped on the bar twice. “But if you want it, it’s there.”
Seamus set down another beer. He must have been pouring it immediately after setting the first two down. Rory always did this?
“Do you just have like – coke. Or lemonade. Or tea. Or something.” Jenna’s lack of enthusiasm was near-tangible.
“Yeh,” replied the bartender, “d’ye want I should mix ’em all together?” The men further down the bar guffawed.
“..no. just- just the tea.”
“And d’ye want that hot or iced, love.”
“Loosen up, J!” She felt one of those huge hands on her shoulder, giving her a jovial shake. “You can relax a little. Yeah?”
“…I could. Yes.” Her tone said that while yes, she could, she had no intention of doing so.
“So why don’tcha?”
“I don’t like people?” She side-eyed Rory. “…And there are a lot of people here. And a lot of them are excited.”
“You kiddin’?” Rory turned around and cast a baffled look into the crowd. “It’s dead in here!”
A glance. “…this is dead?” She did not sound like she liked that.
“Well yeah, lookit all the empty seats!” She swung back and fixed Jenna with an appraising look. “So you don’t think yer gonna have a good time, huh.” She set down her empty beer glass and rapped on the bar.
“N-not. Really. No. I don’t- I don’t like a lot of people- there’s-” She falls silent. “Feelings. When I’m tending bar I can ignore it.”
Rory nodded thoughtfully for a few seconds, then reached into her pocket.
“Well. Aight. What if I handed you this.” She set a plastic baggie on the bar, and immediately Jenna caught a whiff of that fucking smell coming from inside it. Sure enough, there were several cut stems and bruised leaves of the catnip that Rory had brought home.
She slapped a hand over her nose and just gave Rory a look. “No danks,” she said, nasally.
Rory looked at her face, sighed, then picked up the baggie. “Ahh, aight. D’ya wanna just go home?” The pup’s disappointment was palpable.
Jenna sighed. “No, no. I said I’d come. I’ll try and loosen up. S… Sorry.” She sounded like that made her a little sick to say.
“No, no, look, I don’t wanna force you to try to have fun if yer not feelin’ it. Let’s just… I’ll think of somethin’ better for next time, and—”
Bang! Someone slammed the door open and stalked inside. He was tall, and broad, and stubbly, and angry-looking.
“Where the fuck is he,” the man growled. “Where is he!”
“Y’might wanna be a bit more specific, sir,” Seamus answered, voice a bit cold, “and lower your voice.”
“I’ll talk as I please!” The man yelled. “Tell me where my piece of shit son is!”
Rory turned slowly, eyes narrow and intense. Ears twitching, Jenna followed suit—a bit grotesquely, since her head seemed to swivel a little further than it ought to have.
“We don’t know who your son is, man,” Seamus was starting to sound a little concerned, and his eyes flickered over to Rory. “If you’d just—”
“There!” The man jabbed his finger at the hoodied figure in the corner, and took several steps forward. “Eddie! What the fuck are you doing here!”
“It’s none of your business!” The kid in the corner threw back his head, and the hood fell. He was white, with a near-shaved head, and appeared to be in his early twenties.
“Like hell it isn’t!” The man snarled. “You’ve got work you can’t just walk away from.”
“I never applied for no job!” Eddie shouted. “Leave me alone, Pete! I ain’t part of your shitty para gang!”
“Get up and come with me,” the man growled, “or I’ll make you.”
“You wouldn’t d—”
The bigger man raised a fist and brought it down on a nearby hardwood table, which split in half.
“Come. With. Me.”
Rory stood, but Jenna was already up, taking silent steps toward the intruder. “Hey. Friend. Pretty sure he said no.” Jenna felt Rory looming behind her, silent backup. The Hound of Fort Point didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t the one doing the talking.
The man turned and stared at the roommates. “Are you fuckin kidding me?” He laughed, once. Harshly. “The Legion hiring furries now?”
“We’re not Legion. That just means I don’t have to abide by any laws,” Jenna said with a pleasant smile.
The man turned the rest of the way. “Are you threatening me, kitty girl? You wanna end up like that table? Just let me take my worthless son and leave. This ain’t none of your business.”
She yawned. Pointedly. “You made it everyone’s business when you came in here with an attitude, friend.”
“I strongly advise you to leave, sir,” Seamus said from the bar. “If that girl is anywhere near as strong as the one standing behind her, you don’t wanna be talkin’ tough to the Pet Shop Girls.”
what the fuck did he just call them
The man’s face turned red. “I ain’t leaving. Without my son.”
“I ain’t going nowhere!” The son yelled from the corner.
“You could leave. That would be the best choice. Point of fact: Were I you, it is the choice I would make.” To emphasize Jenna’s statement, Rory cracked her knuckles, grinning with a mouth full of knives.
“Well I ain’t you,” The man leaned in real close, smelling of stale cigarettes, cheap whiskey, and halitosis. “Thank. Fuck.”
“You aren’t. That’s a pity.” Beat. “Rory?”
Jenna could feel the impact of her roomie’s fist against the man’s jaw, like a heavy bass drop shaking the very air. He flew backward, slamming against a hardwood booth divider, cracking it. He staggered forward a step, then charged, lightning quick, and there was a slam noise, and this time it was Rory who tumbled backward from the impact of a heavy, superpowered punch.
She rubbed her jaw, stumbling to her feet. “Nice,” she admitted.
Jenna couldn’t hit nearly as hard as her roommate, but she was very good at being distracting, and seeming to exist in every location where his fists weren’t. She darted in from the side- his lef- no, rig- n-… then she was under his arm, and with a bit of help from his own momentum, he just about threw himself across the room.
“All right there, ladies, mind the furniture please,” Seamus requested politely.
“You hit pretty good!” Rory caught the man as he stumbled toward her under his own redirected momentum, lifting his entire bulk. “But I bet I can outlast ya.” Then she dropped him on her knee, his back hitting it with a sickening thunk.
A normal person would be utterly incapacitated by the attacks that Rory and Jenna had already landed, but evidently they made bricks pretty strong in Southie. The man reared up, grimacing in pain, grabbed Rory’s collar, headbutted her with enough force that the crack nearly echoed, and then started to haul himself to his feet while Rory staggered.
Much as the man tried to regain his footing, Jenna did not care for the idea. As Rory staggered away, Jenna did what Jenna did best: pounce. A little over a hundred and fifty pounds slammed into the man, with plenty of extra force behind it. “No.”
“You fucking furries,” the man snarled, grabbing his head as it bounced painfully off the floor. He struggled to get her off, and once he realized that she was stuck, he lashed up with both hands, gripping Jenna’s neck with superhuman strength. “I’ll choke you out!”
“Nah,” said a giant Irish Setter from nearby. “Get your filthy hands off my roomie.”
A moment later, great jaws clamped around the man’s neck, sharp teeth ready to tear it out if he moved too fast or didn’t let go. His fingers slackened a little.
Yep, Rory was a giant dog now. Not even, like, a wolf, or some kind of dire ancestor of the dog. Just… an irish setter three times too big. Well okay.
“So,” Jenna said cheerfully, pulling her neck free of the man’s grip. “Here’s what’s going to happen. Y’gonna. Get up. Walk out that door. And I am never. Ever. Going. To see you again. None of us are.”
A bright, toothy grin. “Sounds fair, great, equitable, all that, yessss?” A faint hiss.
“Fuck you,” the man rasped, then gasped as the jaws around his neck tightened a little. “Fine! Fuck! Fine. Just lemme go, you fuckin freak.” His hands released Jenna’s neck completely, and he tapped the floor like some kind of scuzzy, drunk wrestler.
Jenna leaned over and patted his head. “Good boy.” And she stood, brushed herself off, and went right back to the bar. “Rory? Do make sure he’s good on his word, won’t you?”
“Ha ha! You got it, boss!” Rory got up from her hands and knees, no longer quite as doglike as she’d been seconds ago. “Get the fuck outta here, brother. You might not wanna get seen in Southie for a while, yeah?”
“Fuck you,” the man said, backing toward the door. “Fuck you! This ain’t over, ‘Pet Shop Girls’. You… you just signed yer death—”
“You just got your ass kicked by a dog and a cat. Shut the hell up.”
“Christ, blow it out yer ass!” Rory planted her foot on his chest and shoved, causing the man to stumble over the doorjamb and hit his head on the concrete behind. He stumbled to his feet, visibly dizzy, and fled.
“Let’s hear it for the Pet Shop Girls!” One of the men shouted.
The sparse crowd cheered.
“Rory, how do I make them not call us thaaaaaat.” WHINING.
“Whew!” Rory sauntered back over to the bar. There was a huge red mark on her forehead, and some bruising along the edge of her jaw, but she otherwise looked okay? Maybe? “That was exciting. I need another few beers to take the edge off, eh Seamus? You sure you don’t want that catnip, boss?”
Jenna turned toward Rory with one raised brow. “…Boss?”
“Of our superhero team! You really took charge there, it was great! You’re a natural, yanno?”
“Our- … Our what.” Jenna looked even more dubious than usual. “And no. No, I don’t need or want any catnip right now.”
She took a sip of cola. “..sorry ‘bout the furniture, mister.”
“Well, all things considered,” Seamus eyeballed what damage there’d been, “that coulda been much worse. Thank ye fer keepin’ the peace, there, miss. Oh, and!”
He disappeared for a moment and returned with food-laden plates. “Your food’s on me this time. Nice to see that the Hound has a team, now! Me an’ the boys worry bout her from time to time.”
“Ah, thank you. It’s appreciated,” Jenna squinted, “but I’m not sure that we’re… a team…”
“No?” Seamus laughed. “Y’mean to tell me that there’s cat and dog paranormals livin’ together, and the two of ’em fight together with a kinda chemistry like they been doin’ it for years… and they’re not a crime fightin’ team?”
Rory blushed into her beer.
“…W- Er. No. We- This is the first—” Jenna flushed, sulked, and stuffed some fish into her mouth.
Hey, it was pretty good.
“Aw, yer first time together!” Seamus cuffed Rory on the shoulder, and the dog girl buried her face in her burger. “We witnessed something big today, then didn’t we. I’ll leave you two to yer victory meal.”
Typically, that would have been the point where awkward silence reigned for a little while, forcing the girls to restart a conversation somehow. But in a Boston bar that just had a brawl, awkward silences were anathema. After a few moments of the patrons chattering excitedly, they started a chant: “Pet! Shop! Girls! Pet! Shop! Girls!”
Jenna tried to bury herself in her drink.
If Jenna had been counting—since Rory very clearly was not—she would know that Rory was now on her fourteenth beer. She’d been to the bathroom a lot, but it wasn’t until beer seven or so that the Hound of Fort Point had started to really show any inebriation.
By now? She was drunk off her townie ass.
“Let. Let me tell ya. Jenna. You’re. A natural? Do you take, martial arts?” Rory seemed to be hanging onto her own thread of conversation through force of will alone.
Jenna stared at Rory. “I did. Yes. canyougethersomewater,” she added as an aside to the bartender. “Um. Why- why do you ask?”
“Ha ha! Nice! Nice, that’s wicked. Wicked nice. The way you judo’d that asshole. Wicked badass. I never… I never took no martial ahts, I jus. Hit people.”
“A first dan- I mean- I was. I don’t think you were. Um. Kind of surprised I remembered how to do that.” She let herself show the faintest hint of a smile. “Good eye, though.”
“You move really cool,” Rory moved her hands in the air in a manner that presumably was supposed to indicate cool movement but really indicated ‘drunk person’. “Sexy, like. I wish I could do that! Ha ha. I don’t do nothin’ graceful, I just do it BIG!”
Rory then glanced at the glass in front of her and frowned. “This is water.”
“Yes, yes, it is water. You need to drink some.” Her tone was firm. “And I have to do things that way. It’s not really a matter of choice.”
“Whazzat mean?” Rory reluctantly picked up the glass of water and drained it in one long draught.
Jenna sighed, then reared back and punched Rory in the face.
Rory blinked, then looked kind of hurt. Not, like, physically, but… “you hit me? Wh… what’d I do?”
“I was showing you why. That didn’t hurt, right?”
“Wull. No. But my face is pretty tough.”
“Yeah it wouldn’t hurt anyone. So I use what they do against them.” She finished her fourth glass of coke. There’d be no sleeping tonight.”
“Ha ha! You’re the fuckin best, Jenna!” One heavy arm draped across Jenna’s shoulders, and Rory pulled her close and tight. “We make a helluva team!”
Jenna wore an expression that communicated deep affront, but all she managed to say was, “…I- I don’t- really want to- crime—”
Rory took the other girl’s face in her huge hands and looked at her intently with big brown eyes. “Look me in the face,” she whispered, beerily, “and tell me that kicking that dude’s ass didn’t feel like the best thing ever. I saw it in your face.”
Jenna was trying to figure out if she had a contact high or what. “What. You did not. There was nothing to see in my face.” Such a liar. She looked …well, like the cat that ate the canary.
“You fuckin loved it.” Rory grinned, letting go of Jenna’s face. “You loved the hell out’ve it. You were born f’this.”
“Uh. No. Not really. I- Uh-” Sputtered. She’d lost ground and she knew it.
Rory kept grinning for another few seconds, then leaned in a little. “Also, you’re really fuckin cute, did you know that.”
Jenna just got whiplash, she’s fairly sure. “…wait. What? Can we back up?”
“Hmm?” Rory blinked, eyes a bit sleepy. “Where.”
“I’m lo- Maybe we oughta just getcha home, yes?”
“Ha ha! Yer place or mine?” Rory had evidently just made the best joke ever conceived of by anyone. “Ha ha ha!”
The most deadpan stare ever seen in Boston landed on Rory. “..Serio- … Ugh- Yes.”
“Ha ha okay! SEAMUS!”
“Christ, what the fook, Rory.”
“Wanna close out my tab please.”
“Taken care of. This time.“
“You’re such a sweet old man,” Rory drawled, pulling out a twenty and setting it on the bar.
“Call me old one more time and yer payin’ after all.”
“Aw, you’ll come around.”
“Go home, Rory, you’ve caused yer roomie enough trouble.”
“That’s- That’s the plan. We’ll see you again. I’m sure, since I have a feeling Rory is going to do her best to get me out here a lot.” Jenna accompanied that sentence with a long-suffering, pained look. “Alas.”
She slid off her stool. “C’mon, puppygal.”
Rory giggled, vaulting off her seat and stepping into line behind Jenna. “Right behind ya, boss!”