220101025 - Pard Pile at the Cottage



Survivalist Compound - Ivy Cottage: Front Room - Wauconda, Illinois
The little cottage faces to the north, letting in the best light through the diamond-paned picture window in the northern wall. Centered beneath that window is a claw-footed, camel-backed sofa upholstered with emerald green velvet. Tapestry pillows rest at either end of it for comfort. A colourful rug extends from the front edge of the sofa to end where the kitchen begins. A pair of leather armchairs bookend a pedestal table across from the sofa. Holding down the middle of the carpet is a massive coffee table that displays a collection of candlesticks. Books are stacked up beneath it. Near the northwest corner of the room is the sturdy wooden door that leads out to the garden and the road.
The small fireplace in the west wall has a blackened interior and a smoke-stained mantel. Nothing clutters the mantel's surface between a matched pair of silvery candelabra. Just beyond the fireplace, the south side of the room holds the kitchen. Dark cupboards line the southern end of the western wall. They extend along the southern wall as well, but are broken by a double window above the deep sink with its old-fashioned hand pump. A black, cast iron cookstove sits against the southern end of the eastern wall. The door to the bedroom is nestled between it and the armchairs. A small, round table with four chairs sits mostly in the kitchen atop the polished, wooden floor. Cheerful, golden curtains hang on the kitchen and living room windows and stained glass suncatchers add a splash of colour to the floor in the daytime.



Midnight is approaching and both Cale and Jandra are staying overnight in the cottage. His dark blue hatchback is parked outside and inside he's settled in comfortably. Which, for him, is having just a loose pair of pants to wear. The lights are low, since they're the only ones in the place tonight(or perhaps quiet ones are sleeping in the back) and he's brought along an old, portable TV and married it with an old videotape deck, both of which are set on the floor near to the couch. He's just bringing out a bowl of popcorn, with a small pile of blankets and pillows set up on the couch for general use.

Jandra is settled, curled up on the couch, wearing a man's ancient t-shirt. The popcorn is awaited eagerly and she is sitting crosslegged, the t-shirt just covering her, her ponytail still in place, but no makeup shows. "Don't forget the drinks…" She comments, reaching for the popcorn, clearly not planning to move and fetch it herself, the grin affectionate and amused.

There's been a car in the driveway all day, a rather beat up blue sedan that many who come to the cottage would recognize. But it's owner has been absent, although there was a duffel bag by the door, along with a pair of sneakers. The return of the owner of both bag and car is first signaled by a scrabbling sound at the door, as something large, but without meaningful fingers, tries to get the door open. After a try or two, he succeeds. A moment later, there is a large gold and black feline pushing through the door. He looks across the room, sniffs once, and grabs the handles of the duffel in his jaw, then proceeds to drag it across the room, towards the bathroom.

Cale hands over the bowl and, with a melodramatic sigh be concedes, "Yes dear.." His turn theatrically listless for a moment before he falls back into his casual ways. It will be when he's emerging with two bottles of soda that the door is tried. He moves up to stand beside Jan, but his eyes are on the door as it opens. And the cat comes in. Not surprised, he cants his head slightly, studying Lucas for a moment before he hands Jandra her preferred bottle and wonders aloud, "Will it be three then?"

Jan twists to peer at the feline, her eyes widening slightly. "I guess so…" She uncurls from the couch, putting her bottle and the popcorn on the floor. She pads over to the door, closing it behind the feline, and turning to watch him tug the bag to the bathroom. "I don't think we've met…" She murmurs, moving over towards Cale once more, touching him lightly as she moves into his body, a subconscious protection requestion.

Lucas drags his bag into the bathroom, and pushes the door closed behind him. There is the faint sense of his power from the other room as he makes the shift back to human, then a minute or so of the small sounds of someone getting dressed. When the door opens again, Lucas walks out barefoot, but in a pair of jeans and a white sleeveless t. His face lights up with an almost impossibly bright smile as he adresses the two other occupands of the cottage, "Hello. Didn't recognize the car outside, so I figured it'd probably be better if I got my clothes before I shifted." He looks at the two with golden eyes that failed to shift back with the rest of him.

Cale will give Jandra a close hug when she wants it, brushing her cheek with his own lightly. But only a moment before he smiles at her. "Get settled, I'll look to that one," he suggests. Giving her a squeeze before releasing her slowly. While Lucas is changing, Cale goes back into the kitchen. He pokes about inside a few moments before he finds a plate of cold chicken. HE considers it a moment before he nods and pulls it out. It'll be ready when Lucas emerges, held lightly in hand as he steps up to the side of the couch again. He greets the man with an easy grin and replies, "I don't mind. You might have made Jan blush, though. Not always a bad thing." He gives her a sidelong glance before he lifts up the plate in offer. "Not sure if you're anything like me, but after a shift I don't get real picky about what I eat."

Jandra slides her arms around Cale, turning to look at the man who comes out of the bathroom. The room is set up for the movie night of the century, with coke and popcorn beside a couch covered in blankets, and Cale, in jogging bottoms, and Jandra, in a t-shirt, are stood next to it, facing Lucas, who wears his jeans and a t-shirt. "I don't blush that easily anymore." She reaches a hand across to poke Cale, giving Lucas a shy smile, "Eat it all if you want. Cale can make more." The offer holds a hint of amusement.

Lucas gives Cale a look like he's just found his new best friend, and reaches out to take the plate of chicken from him. He says just, "Thanks." before filling his mouth with food. He backs a step away from Cale, then speaks after he's downed that first bite, "The nudity thing doesn't bother me, either, but I seem to have an amazing talent for having to make first introductions wearing nothing but a smile. That is always annoying." He flashes a bright smile at Jandra, "I'm Lucas, by the way."

Cale grins as he gets poked, then shakes his head. "Don't listen to her, I don't know a thing about cooking if it isn't laid out for me in a list and involves mostly machine work. I'm Cale and this is Jandra." His hand lifting to himself and then her. "We were about to settle in for a movie, but you're free to join us. Drinks are in the fridge. I brought a few sorts that will probably disappear quick over time."

April has just not pushed the door open to enter the cottage, entering with a bright smile. "hi people." she skids to a stop when she sees Jandra and Cale together and grins at them. Her gaze moves over to Lucas as she lifts her hand. "Hi, and do you have more food?"

"He can open packets and make popcorn." Jan rubs her cheek against Cale's shoulder, before coming out from behind him. The shy smile for Lucas broadens into a wide grin as April arrives, and she steps around Cale to offer her cheek to the other woman. "He can make more popcorn…" She offers a hug to April and glances over her shoulder at Cale, lowering her voice. "I need to talk to you about Matt sometime… I think I messed up."

Lucas says past another mouthful of chicken, "Messing up with Matt has never been difficult. There's been a string of it in this Pard." He shrugs, and moves to the kitchen to grab a drink out of the fridge. Soda and cold chicken in hand, he moves to sit somewhere comfortable. He looks towards Cale and Jandra as something occurs to him, "Umm, kinda late to say this, but if I'm interrupting anything… personal, I can head out…"

"I think I'll have to now," Cale says in response to Jandra's words and April's arrival. "Four it is!" He looks back to Lucas and his words, but seems inclined to let such a topic slide on his end. He goes into the kitchen with Lucas, but lingers a bit longer, getting more popcorn set up for the popping. He looks back towards lucas after the machine is working on heating up the kernels and shakes his head. "Not a problem, man. We don't come here to do strictly private things. That'd be a bit silly, don't you think?"

April gives Jandra a quick hug then shakes her head as she pulls back. "Messed up wtih Matt?" she eyes Lucas but doesn't say anything for the time being. "Messed up how?"

"I didn't fight with him." Jan hurries to reassure April, her anxiety levels rising, as she glances at Lucas, her forehead wrinkling. "I was trying to help, trying to sort things out. Cale and I, we met Crystal, and she said some things and I wanted to know if they were true…" Her worry shows on her face as she watches the other woman and she reaches out to touch her lightly, more for reassurance. "I think I just made him mad with me."

Lucas remains silent for the moment, not wanting to let his mouth get him into unneccessary trouble, and just munches contentedly on the chicken, washing it down from time to time with the soda. He watches carefully though, those feline eyes of his eerie, and missing nothing.

"That might just mean you hit home," Cale offers from the kitchen, watching the popcorn kernels heat. "Truth can hurt. But I dunno, I wasn't there. Could be something else entirely. But his past stuff does seem like a pretty tangled ball to be digging at." He leans against the counter, considering the others outside the kitchen.

April steps back to look at all of them then turns her gaze toward Lucas. "you know Chrystal too, don't you, Lucas? Since I've see you being so chummy with her." she looks at Jandra and Cale. "What did she say about Matt?"

Jan's frowns, glancing at Cale, worry in her face. She shakes her head at April, rubbing her own arms with her hands, before she speaks. "She said a ton of stuff that doesn't fit with the person I know. About Talen, and Jeremy, and some other guy, and I thought …" She shrugs, shaking her head, glancing over her shoulder at Lucas. "I'd never met her before."

Lucas looks at the other three, "I know a lot of people. I've been in this Pard since I was infected, and that's been close to 5 years now. Sometimes it takes me a while to meet new arrivals, but…" he shrugs, "Lets face it, we all run into each other once a month, right?" He puts down the now mostly empty plate, "I won't talk about other people's problems, but yeah, there's been a whole lot of drama around Matt. I try not to take sides, but I can't say I'm happy how he treated some good friends of mine."

"I'd say it might be best to talk with him about it anyway," Cale says as the popcorn starts to pop. He eyeballs it, but leaves it lie otherwise for now. "Or them, if they want to. Probably both would be better. But Jan.." He looks towards her. "If you want to start digging into things, best to be in it for the long haul. It could get rough. Sadly, some folk around here aren't like you and I." Which he leaves lacking in detail for the moment.

April crosses her arms over her chest. "so, Crystal spouts a lot of crap about Matt." she nods at Lucas "and mr old hand here, just says oh it's drama around him. Well, I do know this. There was drama, created by Talen. And who is my brother's lover. Yes, Talen." she closes her eyes and calms herself before she continues. "A man that lives for the drama he can create about him. and lies about Matt to have him turned against. Well, my brother hangs out with Matt. He's not found him worthy to be kicked out of the pard. But two people come in, that we've not met untill recently and all of a sudden they are experts on Matt." she shrugs and lowers her hand. "maybe they just came back to see how quickly they could destroy the family again."

Jan returns Cale's look, and nods slowly. "I know." Her gaze moves between the others, tension radiating from her. "I… he was really good when he helped me the other day. I don't believe those things she said." Her voice is low, almost angry. "I'm not an expert on Matt. I'm just … I didn't believe her." Her voice is low, and she takes a step back from April, warily. "I've met Talen too, and …April, please. I didn't mean it like that. I meant that …" She shakes her head, biting her lower lip. "I like Matt. He helped me, and he is a kind person."

Lucas looks at April, and his eyes narrow, "You want to know why I'm not a fan of Matt? How about this.. before Talen was ever a member of this Pard, Matt almost caused a war between us and two other shifter groups, caused a major shake up in our leadership, and managed to break the heart of someone who I'd thought of as my brother for years. I'm not saying he was entirely at fault. And, to be perfectly honest, I haven't dealt with him in a awhile, maybe he's changed. Some of the 'newcomers' in this town are people who cleared out or went to ground because, guess what, unstable shifter groups get weak shifters killed." He looks at the other people in the room, "I am not defending Crystal, since I don't know what exactly was said. I am not attacking Matt. But I am saying, get your facts straight."

"Hey, hey.. don't get me wrong. Every story has two sides," Cale says, straightening. "Me, I don't know enough to be sure. And even if everything they say about him is true, that don't mean that's who he is now." He shrugs. "You know me, April. I know all about changing, right?" He grins lightly. "I don't really agree with everything the guy says, but I'm not breaking anything up or trying to. Maybe some grievance airing and some apologies all around is what is needed to calm it all down." He glances towards Lucas, then nods. "A bit conversation is probably what would clear this all up.. maybe. Probably wouldn't be pretty, though."

April moves closer to Jandra and Cale, touching him on the arm and reaching for Jandra's hand. "Yea, I'm pissed. Mostly because of someone going behind the backs of other and spreading tales." she looks at Lucas. "and if there is so much of that going on, why not speak up in a meeting or talk to my brother. He was invited back into the pard by Bo. Now my brother is Nimir-Raj, how about speaking to him. And if I see the cat Crystal around, I'll tell her instead of spreading rumors of whatever, how about talking to Forest and have proof."

April's reaching out brings a wave of relief across Jan's face and she steps forward, taking the other woman's hand. "As Cale says. We said they should talk. I went to Matt to suggest it." She bites her lower lip, the worry returning, and she shakes her head. "He didn't seem keen." The words taste close to a lie, and her expression speaks for how badly he responded. "I dont' see Crystal nor Matt talking this one out." The amount of bad news she is bringing April shows in her face and she lifts the other woman's hand, brushing her cheek against it lightly.

Lucas looks at Cale and nods, "You are almost certainly right. Conversation would be a good thing. The trick is to get both sides to talk without trying to rip each other's hearts out. Which is a real problem when both sides have the strength and the claws to do it." He stretches, leaning back in his chair. "It's hard to prove things that are only known to people who were involved at the time, especially when the people involved don't exactly keep written records. But I do agree with you guys on one point. The past is the past. I'm willing to move on, willing to believe that people change. But that doesn't mean I trust unconditionally, either."

Cale lifts his hand to touch April's shoulder and give it a squeeze. "Moon is on the rise. Though just after when the beast is most quiet would be the best time, I think. Less chance of misfortune if things get hot." He grins, glancing over to the new batch of popcorn as it slows in popping. "How about now, though, we settle and relax a bit. Too late for heavy talk and there's a lot of popcorn to get eaten.. and a movie. What was that one you got again?" A question lobbed at Jandra as he gets a second bowl to pour the popcorn into.

April nods at the others. "just what I was meaning. Only there are some, like Crystal, that would rather do things different." she shrugs as she looks toward the stove. "yea, popcorn sounds great to me."

Jandra's mouth curves into a smile for Cale, her face relaxing slightly, "Uh, werewolf…that 1950s film?" She is trying not to laugh, watching Cale's reaction, the corners of her mouth pulled down. She releases April's hand, moving away to curl on the couch, dragging one of the blankets over her bare legs, reclaiming her coke at least. "It's all queued."

Lucas laughs at Jandra's choice of film, "Always fun to watch werewolf movies. See what they got right, what they got wrong…" He shakes his head, "Always amazes me how many more there are of wolves than any others. Ah well." He settles back in his seat, "Heard about an indie film that supposedly used no special effects. No one ever seems to have a copy of it though."

Cale smirks a little at the movie. "Fitting," he says, his tone light. He brings the second popcorn bowl over and looks to April. "What sort of drink do you favor? Got a selection in the fridge." He sets the bowl down and then grins at Lucas. "One with the real deal, huh? That's.. odd. Don't see too many that like to be open about it."

April smiles at Cale when he returns with the popcorn and she looks toward the fridge at the mention of various drinks. "oh, I'll get mine. I hope you have some beer." she calls back as she heads for the fridge then opens the door to stick her head inside.

"I was trying to find a wereleopard one but they seem rarer." She glances over at Lucas, hesitating before offering part of the couch to him, her hand held out. "More comfortable over here?" She suggests, with a glance towards April, before she grabs a handful of popcorn.

Lucas smiles and moves over to the couch, "I never turn down a kitty pile." He settles in beside Jandra, "Yeah, I really only know of one were-cat movie of any type. I do know that some of us have let Hollywood cheat on animal films. Much easier when the cat in the script can actually read the script, you know?" He shrugs, "Even a few cats in this Pard who've done photo shoots that way."

"There is some," Cale confirms as April goes back to look. He dips down n front of the tape deck and television. Pushing the tape in. Old VHS, becoming a dinosaur these days. The TV looks like its seen a good number of years as well, but its big enough and positioned to be well seen. He gets back up and comes to the couch to drop in on Jandra's other side. "I've been thinking of taking up photography," he comments lightly as he glances towards Jan and Lucas. "I've always been a bit secretive though.. except for those you can't really hide from unless you're good at it."

April comes back with a bottle beer and settles in on the other side of Cale, so there is girl boy, girl boy on the sofa. She kicks off her shoes then pulls her feet up onto the sofa as she leans a shoulder in to rest on Cale's and starts munching on the popcorn.

Jan settles against Cale, rubbing her head back against him, leaning her legs against Lucas. She doesn't speak, munching her way through her bowl of popcorn, occasionally offering a piece of Cale with a smile. "Photography?" The single word is echoed questioningly.

Lucas looks over at Cale, "I've spent more time in front of the camera than behind it. Though, not recently." He shrugs, reaching for some popcorn, "Hard to find modeling work if you restrict the shots to ones where you have sunglasses on, and the new eyes might do more harm than good to sales." He drapes his arm across Jandra's legs, touching her lightly, but not timidly.

The screen goes black as the tape starts to roll. Though he doesn't pay much attention to it. He leans into April a little to brush her cheek with his, then reaches for some popcorn himself. He grins at Jandra and nods. "Its almost like painting.. but faster. Instead of.. making up the framing of an image, you frame it by hand. I could get into it." He gives her a playful look as he goes on, "Maybe get a gig shooting models. The scantily clad variety. That must be a good job." His tone lightly laced with humor. He nods to Lucas. "Yeah.. the eyes might creep some people out." But not him, he doesn't seem bothered. Perhaps a little curious, but he doesn't express it in words and even the expression is brief.

April takes a swallow of her beer then dips her hand into the bowl to bring up the salty snake to eat, making humming sounds while she waits for the credits to start on the screen.

Cale's suggestions of scantily clad models earnt him an elbow in the ribs, Jandra's eyes narrowing as she gives him a mock glare up at him. "Male ones, I assume?" Lucas gets a touch, an absent one, her hand rubbing up his arm. "The eyes are pretty…" She comments softly, her eyes on the screen.

Lucas looks at Jandra and grins. That smile of is is entirely too good, even with the kitty eyes above it. He lenas back in his seat, "Trust me, the scantily clad models are not nearly so glamorous when you're fighting with them to get the shot you want. I used to model for a lingerie company as a side-line whenever they needed a guy. We even did a couple of shoots with Jeremy in leopard form. You'd be amazed how good a couple of sexy models and a big fuzzy leopard can be at selling lingerie."

Cale winces more than need be, recovering quick and quite amused as he lifts a hand to brush the back of his fingers against Jandra's cheek. "How about I start with you? And April.." His eyes roll towards her humor lingering. Though he does quiet his voice a little as the movie starts, black and white credits rolling. He glances to Lucas and chuckles lightly. "I suppose competition is everywhere."

April giggles at Cale's suggestion and moves forward a bit so she can look at Jandra on the other side of him. "woooooo," she flutters her eyes as if she was trying to flirt with the other woman. "oh babe, babe, we can be soooooo sexy."

Jan rolls her eyes and throws a handful of popcorn at April. "Bit of a catfight?" She muses softly, her gaze moving to the screen as she snuggles down between the others. "I don't think I'd be very good at it." She begins to eat more popcorn, watching the film.

Lucas settles in to watch the movie. His hand moves idly on Jan's leg, but it's more like you'd pet a cat than anything else. He looks at Cale for a moment and winks, "If you set up that photo shoot, can I help? I mean, I'm sure you'll need someone to help with the set-up. Or the processing! I may not know cameras, but I know Photoshop. And web design."

April giggles as the popcorn is tossed and she holds up a hand to grab what she can of it. "naughty, naughty. That's just the scene they would like to shoot, you tossing popcorn at me." she flutters her lashes again while eatting the peices of popcorn that she had caught. "Can't wait," she winks then settles in to lean on Cale again.

Cale grins, looping an arm over Jandra's shoulders as his other hand busies with the popcorn he still holds. Lucas's suggestions get him a broad grin and he nods. "You're on, man. Partners." He settles, quite comfortable with the company kept. The movie is, of course, campy in the way of 50s horror flicks. It starts off after a brief list of names with setting and characters coming in to be explained, though Cale only watches it casually, his eyes drifting a bit towards the two women flanking him. Thoughtful.

Jan is settled, watching the film for a good part of it, but slowly dozing as she leans her head against Cale's chest, snuggling between the two men, and then she is asleep, her eyes closed well before the end credits, the pot of popcorn unfinished in her lap.

Lucas laughs at something onscreen and reaches for more popcorn. He tries to avoid disturbing the dozing Jandra in the process, and stops running his hand over her leg as he sees her nodding off. Instead, he just watches the film, and occassionally the other people on the couch, enjoying the always comforting presence of other Pard now that the earlier tension is gone.

April is curled on Cale's other side, silently eating the popcorn one peice at a time. Her beer is long gone and the bottle sitting on the floor to one side of the sofa.

It is a good time spent by all, Cale smiling as he notes Jandra's sleeping. HIs head leans against hers lightly for a little while before his neck starts to complain quietly. Then he lifts his head again and relaxes some. The popcorn soon left off in favor of draping an arm over April's shoulders as well. Though he doesn't laugh too much himself, an amused grin lingers on his face for much of the movie's run. And as it comes to a close, the credits rolling, he looks to the two still with him for the moment. "As good as I remember it. For an old movie, anyway." He looks to Jandra then and adds, "I should get her in the back, more comfortable."

Lucas offers, "Want a hand? I'm sure you can lift her, but probably a better chance of doing it without waking her if I help." He looks at Cale, waiting for an answer, but glances at April to see what she's doing now that the movie has ended." Either way, he has to wait, as the sleeping Jandra is draped partially across him as well.

April licks her fingers having finished the popcorn and rolls away from Cale so he can get up to tend to Jandra. Her eyes meet Lucas's over the others when he looks at her then she slips her feet to stand up as well.

Cale nods to Lucas. "Help me get her," he murmurs lightly. He'll shift slowly, arm lifting from April to slip under Jandra's legs carefully, waiting then for Lucas to get her shifted a bit more firmly into his grip before he'll rise. A delicate operation, but they are all gifted some added grace.

Lucas manages to get a better grip on Jandra's legs, then rise in coordination with Cale. It's not the first time he's carried a sleeping kitty to the back room. He gestures with his head to Cale to let the man lead the way, and once they have her on hte bed, he leaves Cale to get her situated. He comes back out and heads to the fridge for another drink.

Cale lightly carries her back with Lucas. Getting her settled won't take long. Pulling the covers up, then leaving her with a light peck on the forehead and brush to the cheek. Well, there is the few moments of looking too, but hey. He slips back out into the room and grins. "Haven't had a night like this for a few months. It felt nice," he says, looking between April and Lucas. "And not any worse for having the extra company."

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