Waltz of Flesh

Interlude 3 - Becoming Fostern

One-Eyed-Joe challenges for rank.

Jason Spineripper, pack alpha, was leaving. After Shera’s rise in rank to Fostern, he needed to take some time to deal with Anja and her emotional and physical response to the death of Nathan Tanfield. Even though the immediate danger had passed, thanks to the fetish Antonine Teardrop had used to remove the Leech from Anja’s memory, he had left her in the care of his other Kinfolk, and felt overdue in checking up on her. After a shower and a shave, he was feeling more human, and left his apartment to his packmates so that they could heal and catch their breath. Joe informed Jason that he had decided to go challenge for Rank, but Jason decided that would either be done by the time he got back or could wait until his return. It was only going to be for a day, anyway.

Walking back from his meeting with Hundo Chunder, Joe swore silently. A guy would think that being in his home Sept, which is run by his own Tribe, he could catch a break. He had hoped that his challenge for rank would involve something actually suited for his Auspice, like mediating a dispute by pulling out some obscure piece of Litany or lore. What did he get? Fucking guard duty. For 72 hours in a row. A quick glance in a fountain pool that wasn’t quite frozen over showed him that no, no one had tattooed ‘Ahroun’ on his forehead. He just couldn’t understand it. Chalking it up as another bitter reminder that he would never quite overcome the sins of his parents, he choked down the Beast within, and went to report it to his packmates.
Understandably, since she was Ahroun, and occasionally dumber than bird shit, Shera didn’t quite grasp at first why he would be so upset about the whole thing.
“Guard duty?! Ye get to advance in rank so long as ye can stay awake! Sounds easy. What’s the problem, ye lucky bastard?”
“Because,” Joe replied in very measured tones, “that’s what YOU do, not what I do.”
“Weel then, I’d say yer damn lucky tae have me!” God damn if she wasn’t the most obstinate Scot ever made. “When does it start?”
“Er…probably now?”
“Right. I’ll be back with a coffee to prop yer upright.”
She returned to Jason’s apartment, and found a coffee maker, and some coffee…and her attempt to use them was pure comedy gold. She actually managed, after half an hour and a lot of snarling, to get a pot of coffee to brew, if by ‘coffee’, you mean a substance that looks and smells vaguely like tobacco spit. Shrugging, she poured it back into the reservoir and tried again, and it was at about this time that it began to emit a smell that was a cross between molten plastic, smoke, and spoor. Rushing to the back bedroom, she opened a window, then streaked to the window with the damned thing hissing and molding itself to her fingers, and chucked the contraption down toward the dumpster in the back alley.

With the last of the cash she’d taken from the hunters (and hadn’t spent on gas), she walked into the local Ahab’s coffeeshop (the one on the near corner rather than the far corner). As she strode in, half the regulars suddenly realized they had a Very Important meeting they’d been postponing, and the rest tried to convince themselves that it was just the espresso giving them heart palpitations. Oblivious to the ruckus that was rising around her, Shera snarled at the abstruseness of the menu. Honestly, what the fuck was it with these damned fancy places and their damned fancy names for coffee?!
“W-welcome to Ahab’s…uhm…w-what d-do you w-want?” The young man’s hand was trembling so hard that she was just going to get whatever kind of drink he happened to hit the button for.
“D’ye blighters just make plain damn coffee?”
“…yes.”
“The biggest one ye got.”
“Ok…J-just one m-moment, please.”
There was some frantic whispering between the workers, who huddled in the middle of their workspace, clad in their black aprons. Of course, they wouldn’t know that she had excellent hearing.
“Just make her a coffee and get her the hell out of here! I don’t want her hands that close to me!” the cashier whispered, sweat beading on his brow. Shera growled involuntarily, and at the sound, he yelped and fled the counter for the safety of the back room.
WIth surprising alacrity for slinging a white hot beverage, the woman who was left behind the counter filled a large cup with coffee and set it on the counter, quickly bustling about other business that turned her back to her leather-clad customer. A stupid move, Shera thought. What is it with people, they think if they can’t see you, you can’t see them?? Ultimately, she had in front of her the coffee she asked for, and what’s more, she got it free of charge, so she grabbed it and walked out of the shop.

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