Christmas Eve Tigger

Characters: Hunter, Grace Choi
Rated: PG
Summary: The tiger comes to find Grace, playful in the snow. Then Grace finally meets Hunter.
OOC Date: 2018-01-11
IC Date: 2017-12-24
Where: Manhattan

It is rare indeed that the Tigress of Mutant Town leaves her domain. She doesn't come out that often, period, and when she does it is usually because of a threat right there in her territory. But sometimes there are other considerations.

Sometimes the tigress does not want to surrender and go back to merely being Hunter, the homeless woman.

The tigress is well aware that there is a special place here in the East Village where a magical woman calls her kip. And the tigress has decided to go exploring, looking around.

Owing to the panic induced by the sight of a twelve-foot long tiger roaming the sidewalks, the tigress is making her way along the rooftops right now. She has even paused, now and again, to roll around in the the snow on those rooftops.

But as she reaches the end of one rooftop and considers the next, the tigress catches whiff of another familiar scent. Her rump drops and she skids through the snow, sending a wave of it cascading off the rooftop towards the street below. Then she follows that wave and peeks over the edge, looking down as that big nose of hers snuffles about, looking for the source of that familiar scent.

Grace, completely oblivious to the fact there might be a tiger, in fact, one she is probably at this point quite familiar with, hunting her or even in the vicinity. Instead, she is leaning against the wall of an alley … counting $100 bills.

"One, two, three, four, and five." She smiles, then, sharply, smugly, and - well, a bit humored at the very annoyed looking man, rather, men, surrounding her. One of them is sitting on a chair, of which a barrel is in front of and another chair opposite. "Sorry, boys. But, it seems that none of you have what it takes to be able to best little old me."

The men grouse, and grumble. There's a few choice names, but none of them seem interested in turning it into a melee, or attempting to hurt Grace. Perhaps they suspect better of it.

Grumbling more, they mutter to themselves how she cheated, and they'll get her back one day, another day, sometime, and head off. Chuckling to herself, Grace pockets the money and tells herself, "Well, got half the rent with five minutes work. Not half bad."

As Grace moves to head out of the alley, the barrel and chairs are suddenly covered in a sheet of snow that rapidly falls from the rooftop above. Grace gets some of the cloud of it in her clothes, in her eyes and she backs away, slowly, frowning some. "Whose up there?"

The answer to the question is a huge orange, white and black furred head, peeking out over the edge of the roof, ears perked out. And the tiger gives a huge, lazy yawn, flashing those pearly white teeth at the woman below. Then she raises one paw, waves … and knocks a bit more snow off the ledge, down towards Grace and the chair.

The wave is somewhat - odd. Disconcerting, even. Grace exhales, "Jeezus," she declares, mildly, at seeing the tigress' face. As more snow is knocked off, towards Grace, she can't help but catch some of it on her head, down her shirt, and she steps away, making a slight racket at the infusion of cold against her skin. She looks back up at the tigress, "Okay, what? Are you following me now?" She asks, dryly. She looks torn between frustrated, and amusement, and unable to decide which is paramount in her emotions, presently.

The prick-eared head tilts one way, then the other, watching Grace. Following her? No. But she has found her! And what a lovely game! The tigress' next move in the game is to bound off the roof, down into the alleyway with a massively heavy 'thwumpf' as she lands in the snow and the hidden refuse. Then she pads over towards Grace, tail swishing in amusement, as if to say 'look at me? aren't I cute?'

"Uh-huh." Grace shrugs, "I don't have any steaks. And, I don't have any fights. But, I expect your kind of tired, being a bullet sponge, eh?" She gives the tigress a grim smile, "So." She folds her arms, stubbornly, and then leans once again back against the alleyway wall, unconcerned about any dirt that might get on her leather jacket. "Do I need to file a petition or license or something for you? Because one of these days, someone's going to call the police, you know."

The tigress pads over to Grace and rubs her cheekruff against the gigantic Amazon. She doesn't seem to be looking for a fight, or any steaks. She's just glad to have come across Grace, or so it seems. But she does seem a bit curious - if the head-tilting thing is any clue - about the petition or license thing. Of course, her 'mrow' does not sound at all like something from a housecat. Way deeper and grumblier.

"Yeah." Grace rubs her face, "Jeezus," she says, still torn between amused, and - well, another emotion now. Not quite frustration, more, bewildered. She shakes her head some, "I figured as much. So, I have a intelligent tiger who apparently has developed an affection for me, and occassionally wanders around the city. I don't suppose I get to find out any more about you, huh? Seeing as I don't exactly speak feline."

The tiger strops herself against Grace, a deep rumbling purr sounding from her chest like thunder, transferred through their physical contact. But as smart as the tigress is, she cannot make people words. Not like this, anyway.

"So, what's your sign?" Grace asks, wryly, chuckling to herself, shaking her head again, and she reaches down to run a hand through the tiger's thick fur, affectionately. "Wish I know where you came from. Or that any of this made any sense. You here for a reason?"

The tiger gently headbutts Grace's hip, then strops her whole body length against the tall woman's thigh and side, and strolls past, out onto the street.

There are predictable results. Shocked gasps and cries from the folks on the sidewalk. Honking horns and such from the cars. But the tigress actually walks - quite calmly, thanks - right over to the crosswalk and stands waiting until the symbol on the light changes, then strolls across the street and down the sidewalk until she stops in front of a small shop called Strange Curiosities. She snuffles around the door, then paws at the glass a bit.

"Okay. I'll play follow the leader," Grace agrees, shaking her head again. Her left hand juts into her coat pocket, while the other hand moves to open the door to the shop, "Let's hope we don't get arrested, huh?" She says with a dry tone, and half-smile. At least they're getting out of the street, though? Grace prepares for a very freaked out, angry, and confused shopkeeper.

With the feline equivalent of a harrumph of annoyance, the tigress pawbats once more against the glass door … and then turns to look over her shoulder at Grace. The rest of her follows her head as she twists around and walks away from the shop, heading down the sidewalk until she finds an alleyway. She pads into the alleyway and then stops again, wuffling at the ground, and spies a plate left out by a door. A door that would be the back entrance for that same shop.

The tigress' tail swishes, and she settles down, nibbling at a cookie - actually, a miniature mincemeat pie - left on that plate. Along with, it seems, three or four more such treats. All on a Spode Christmas plate.

Someone actually left out Christmas treats for a tiger.

"So you have other friends, I see." Grace shakes her head again, rueful, now. "Well, I should've guessed I wasn't special," she half-jokes, still utterly unsure what to make of all this, but content as it is to remain with the tiger, while she noms meat cookies, to see where else she will be taken on Tiger Tours.

The tiger actually looks up at Grace, then lifts a paw and pushes one of the mini mincemeat pies over towards Grace, still on the plate. The invitation should be pretty clear. The others, though, will be gone soon enough. Yum!

After the tiger is finished hers, if Grace has not taken hers, the tiger finishes that one off too. Then she hops to her feet, tail swishing happily. She backs up a few feet … and then she bounds into the air, paws hitting the wall of the alleyway, and then leaping off, doing the reverse on the opposite wall, and then bounding away again, on up to the rooftop above. Then she turns around, looking over the edge, watching Grace.

"Nice trick," Grace calls, appreciatively. She, however, does not seem too inclined to go wall-and-rooftop hopping, not in this cold weather with snow and ice abound. Despite herself, and her confusion, she smiles some, "Take care of yourself, tiger, tiger, burning bright." She gives a little wave.

The tiger perches there on the roof, leaning out over the edge, looking down on Grace a bit forlornly. She offers out a deep rumbly mrow, Are Tiger Tours over so soon?

Grace is a sucker, it would appear. Or, maybe she thinks if she spends more time with the tiger she will find the answers she is looking for. With a resigned sigh, and a faint chuckle she sighs, "Alright." And, then she's looking for the nearest fire escape. Slowly she climbs the iron-wrought steps, and makes her way onto the rooftop, neither nearly as easily or as gracefully (ha) as the tiger. Still, she's there. She warns, "I am not doing any rooftop jumping."

The tigress is waiting, patiently, when Grace gets up to the rooftop. And she takes the opportunity to rub her furry cheekruff against the Amazon's cheek when her face comes over the edge. Then she backs up and waits, patiently. She gives a put-upon look as good as any housecat as Grace protests no more rooftop jumping, but she chuffs aloud and rolls her shoulders. Then she pats her paw right in front of Grace's feet. And again. And again. Here, she seems to be saying. Here.

Myabe 'stay here'?

Then the tigress goes tearing off very quickly, dashing across the rooftop and leaping to another, and another in the distance, and another.

Yet she does not leave Grace alone for all that long. Within a little over five minutes, the tigress comes bounding back over the rooftops, skidding to a halt when she gets back to the rooftop with Grace on it. But as she returns it becomes apparent that she is carrying something in her mouth. A big, floppy mottled tan something.

A desert camouflage backpack.

The tigress drops this at Grace's feet, and then backs away to the middle of the roof and lays down, watching Grace.

Grace seems at least to get the gist of what the tiger is suggesting, even if she remains utterly confused. She eyes the tiger, speculatively, not in doubt of the tiger's intentions - or the nature of them, but really — what does one expect a tiger to do on a rooftop? Show her the big mutant bird the tiger ate? Grace half-wonders if she's about to be brought something, or someone, the way housecats bring mice.

But Grace isn't left alone too long to dwell on that thought, instead she's brought … a bag? A backpack? Again, Grace squints, and picks up the backpack, hefting it up, feeling the weight of it, and looking at the tiger oddly. "You found this?" She frowns, thoughtfully, and carefully opens it up, to peer inside.

Inside the bag, Grace will find clothes. Old clothes. Heavily worn clothes, and all of them army surplus. A large olive-drab coat. desert camouflage pants. A desert tan t-shirt. A web belt. Army field boots. Also a belt-mount holster, holding a simple huge handgun - a literal hand cannon, probably a 13mm, as well as a razor-sharp and well maintained all matte black combat knife. There's no ID of any kind, no wallet, no credit cards or cash. And the clothes, though not filthy, are not freshly laundered. Indeed, they smell … well worn.

But while Grace is checking out the contents of the bag, she is not really concentrating on the tigress herself. Lying there. Until the first sounds can be heard: the popping of ligaments; the snapping of bones; the unsocketing and resocketing of limbs. It sounds incredibly painful, and it is, as that ginormous tigress slowly distorts, twists, and shrinks. The process takes several agonizing minutes, as fur recedes into flesh and the flesh itself reshapes from a quadropedal form twelve foot long from shoulder to rump down to a human female bipedal form at most three feet long from shoulder to rump, until what is left is a naked, trembling figure of a moderately unclean, greasy-haired ashen blonde woman.

After a long several minutes in the cold, she twists around and reaches towards Grace and the backpack. Given a chance, she gets dressed, quickly and without ceremony or much of any body modesty. Once she is dressed she climbs to her feet, shakes off the snow and wet, and tucks her coat firmly around herself.

"Hi." she offers, softly. Grace often wished she could communicate more clearly with the tiger. Well. Now may well be her chance.

What does one do, when one watches a transformation of beast to woman? Well. One is pretty much transfixed, it's sort of like watching a car wreck, it's horrible, but you can't look away. Your brain won't let you. And, it's several moments before Grace's brain registers that she is, in fact, holding onto Diya's clothes and that the woman is naked. In the snow, and cold. "Uh, here," she says, a bit too flabbergasted to say much else. So much so she doesn't even still seem to process how fit, or how pretty Diya might be if she were to 'clean up'. It's not until the other woman is, in fact, fully dressed and still a few more moments of silence pass before Grace manages, "Well. That explains a lot."

The homeless woman - honestly, it's pretty damned obvious - nods to Grace. "Probably does." Her words are mushy-mouthed, with really poor diction. It would be almost impossible to pick up any accent like that, which is why she chooses to speak that way: it keeps others from realizing she's Russian, because her Russian accent is really strong and razor sharp, virtually impossible to miss. Unless she speaks like this.

"You wanted to know more." Diya offers. "This … is more." And makes further communication much more possible, even if it is all mushy.

"That is sure a hell of a lot damn more," agrees Grace, casually, because - well, what else is she supposed to do? Yet, she did get what she asked for. She sticks her other hand in her coat, wraps it about herself as she continues to mentally process the situation going on. "Huh. Can't say I've heard of … were-tigers? before? Damn. So, you … go crazy at the Full Moon too? Or is that just a wolf thing?" Stupid question, but it's the first thing that pops in her head. And Grace isn't known for holding back her thoughts.

Diya shakes her head. "The full moon amps things up. Makes me want to change. Don't have to." She shrugs a little. "Don't know any wolves. Don't know how they work." She has had to figure out how she herself works the long, hard way, all on her own. "Do know, silver doesn't do anything to me."

Grace sort of laughs at that, "Good to know. Hope you didn't have to learn by - experience." She exhales, then offers, "Appreciated your help. Glad nothing serious happened. But, … I suppose, well, I should start really by asking for your proper name?"

The other woman shrugs her shoulders. "Most just call me Hunter." she answers, honestly. She doesn't claim that to be her name, as that would be a lie. She's not going to lie to Grace. But she's not going to give out her legal name, either. "You're welcome. You're Grace?"

"What, like that crazy beautiful chick in Neverwhere?" Grace eyes Diya, thoughtfully, "Well, wrong skin tone. But, right build, I guess. Sure. Hunter. Whatever you want, babe. Yeah. I'm Grace." She offers her hand, then, along with a friendly sort of smile. "Good to meet you. Well. Officially meet you. The girl behind the fur. Or, whatever."

Hunter looks at Grace confusedly. Neverwhere? Another woman named Hunter? She has no idea about any of that, and it shows. But she does step forward and take the giant woman's hand in her own, revealing her callouses; she works and fights for a living, obviously. "Good to meet you. What is Neverwhere?"

Grace gives a wry expression, offers, "A book. A story. Good one, too. Maybe I'll let you borrow my copy, sometime." If she notices the hardness of the other woman's hand, the callouses, she doesn't say anything. Instead, she only suggests, "So. I don't usually hang out on rooftops. I leave that to Batman. You?"

"I use rooftops. Few look up." Hunter offers, honestly. "I do not mind walking streets. But as a tiger …" Yeah. Probably a better choice to do the rooftop highway. "Most of the time, though, I just stay in my alleys. Or sometimes in the tunnels below the city."

Grace nods a little bit, "Not a good night to sleep on rooftops, or in the tunnels. Though, I know they're a bit warmer than this shit. And at least there's no snow." She tilts her head, "Got some chicken alfredo leftover in the fridge. You wanna head back to my place, get something to eat? Not too fond of just - standing out in the winter weather chatting, if you know what I mean. BUt, I suppose cold doesn't bother you as much."

Hunter shrugs a little. "Not as much, no. But if you would rather be inside, I can come along." She makes a face. "I'm not terribly clean." she admits. "Most wouldn't want me in their homes." But if Grace doesn't mind, she's not going to complain. She has apparently decided to answer some of Grace's questions. Easier done if they're together.

"Who is?" Asks Grace, non-chalantly. "Come on. Let's get off this fuckin' roof, first," she says, slightly humored. And, with that Grace starts to lead Hunter towards the fire escape she herself had climbed up to get there and then she's leading Hunter down the street. "It's not far, but, what's mine is yours well enough," she promises. Then, she chuckles, low. "Figure if you didn't maul me when you were 1200 lbs with eight inch claws that could tear me apart, you aren't going to cause trouble now." This thought seems to humor her well enough. "Got some frozen fish fillets, or frozen pizza. Your choice for dinner."

Grace is no cook.

"Maybe, if not frozen?" Hunter teases, as she climbs down and proceeds with Grace along the streets. If Grace pays enough attention it won't be hard for her to pick up the signs of hypervigilence and tension; the tigress isn't like that, but the woman definitely shows signs of PTSD. She is dealing with it, controlling it, but far from cured. "My tiger likes you. Has since the day you met." Her accent is still hidden by exceptionally mushy pronunciation.

Grace winds through a few streets, moving at a steady pace, quite certain Hunter can keep pace with her. Streetwoman as she might be, Grace can tell when someone is in good form or wasting away. It's her livlihood, afterall, to assess threats. "She'd better. Risked my ass for her. Least I could do after she saved those people and took a few bullets. Cops would've called animal control. That woulddn't have gone well."

Grace shrugs, casually, and moves down towards the street, appearing to be heading towards a rather nice looking set of spacious apartments. Not high class, far from it. But, certainly spacious, and comfortable.

Hunter follows at Grace's side, though she does move to the other side of the sidewalk, preferring to put her shoulder into the walls of buildings rather than be out where the cars zoom past heedlessly. Her hackles are definitely up.

"She risks herself for you, too." Hunter comments to Grace. The alliance of her tiger and the powerful Amazon is not all one-sided. "You are right, though. Animal control would be bad, for her. They do not understand her. They fear her. And in their fear, they would set her off. You did well for her, and for them."

"Figures as much. So. You and - her - know each other, then. What happens? That's good. I imagine it'd be a lot tougher - for everyone involved, if she and you weren't as close as that," Grace allows, using her key to enter the building, and moving up to the third floor.

Grace's apartment is about 1,000 sqare feet or so. Spacious, for a single person indeed. "I'll throw some food in the oven," she announces. "You're welcome to use the bathroom and shower, if you'd like. Don't get any fur in the tub though," she deadpans, though there's humor behind it.

"Otherwise, you can grab a beer in the fridge, and crash on the couch. Your choice."

"Yes." Hunter answers. It takes her a while to figure out words to say anything more about it. "It was not always that way. Didn't start that way." she admits. "But eventually, we figured out how to work together. How to be and live together." And that was a challenge and a half. Makes it pretty clear she wasn't born this way, too.

"If you really don't mind, I will take the chance to clean up. Thank you, Grace." A beat. "And no fur in the tub."

That said, Hunter does indeed step into the bathroom and close the door. Water starts, clearly heating up. She will be gone a while in there.

A while is okay. Mainly because, as we've established, Grace isn't the best of cooks. It takes a bit for the oven to heat up, and then the pan sounds off when the frozen fish fillets are dropped into it like rocks, and she shoves it into the oven to cook. The timer is set, and Grace pulls out four beers, sets them on the counter. The lack of a kitchen table suggests the counter is probably where Grace takes most of her meals.

Then Grace goes into her room, grabs a spare shirt and a spare set of cargo pants, both clean, and a belt she has laying around and gently tosses them into the bath, figuring Hunter might like some clean clothes to go with the clean skin. But hey, no pressure. Just something left there for her to take or leave at her preference.

When Grace opens the door to the bath to toss in clean clothes, she will find Hunter's clothes draping, damply, from the shower bar, with Hunter now on the other side, scrubbing for all she's worth; apparently she agreed with Grace's idea, but didn't want to beg for the other woman's clothes to accomplish it. But maybe the dry clothes will be welcomed once she herself is clean. As the woman on the other side scrubs vigorously enough that it's obvious by sound, she sings wordlessly. Her singing voice isn't operatic quality or anything, but it's good, and strong. The tune is haunting and powerful. Whether Grace would recognize it for being a Russian anthem is anyone's guess.

Grace tosses in a bag of frozen-veggie mix into the microwave, taps the time and the thing can be heard whirring. Grace then turns on the TV, finding some cheesy 80's movie to watch on some oddball cable channel. It seems that 'The Running Man' is on. Grace does happen to like movies where people get garroted with barbed wire while wearing outlandish lighted suits, and everything.

She opens a beer, starts to drink, watching the movie idily without either being bored, or hurrying her guest. Dinner, afterall, is still a few minutes out.

The singing stops, as then does the water. Rough and ready, quick efforts with the towel can be heard faintly, followed by the rustling of fabric. "Thank you, Grace." is offered just loud enough to be audible despite the noise of the TV. Soon enough the ash blonde woman emerges from the bathroom, freshly scrubbed and probably four pounds lighter for the loss of all her dirt.

"Very kind of you to let me borrow the clothes." Hunter offers as she joins Grace, visibly swallowed up by the larger woman's clothes. "I appreciate it." She eyes the 80s faire somewhat cluelessly and settles down.

"Kind of pointless to take a shower and get back into old greasy clothes," Grace points out. "Bit bigger than you," but then, what woman is as big as Grace, "But, should fit you well enough. Return them whenever you want." A gift. Or, not a gift. Grace understands the fine line between assisting, and tromping on pride or seeming like she's a charity. Which she most certainly isn't.

The bag of veggies is pulled out of the microwave, "Help yourself to a beer. You and I each get two. Hope you can hold it. I got water if you don't drink. Glasses are in the cabinet there, and there's the tap." Groceries Grace isn't big on, it'd seem.

The breaded fish pieces are pulled out of the oven, and four pieces each are put on a plate, along with half-bag of veggies for each plate too. Grace hands a fork, and only a fork, to Hunter, and takes one for herself too. "You been around long?"

Hunter nods, agreeing with the point about the clothes. "Mine should be dry enough in a couple hours. Then you can drop these in your laundry, and all will be well." Because she doesn't want to take charity, and if she took the clothes she'd need to find a place to get them cleaned before she returned them. This is easiest for her.

A beer? Hunter takes that, no problem, and the second one though she doesn't open that one yet. She does sip it right away, proving she has no issues with it. "Thank you, for dinner." she murmurs, accepting her plate and heading for the sofa to join Grace.

"Around … ?" Hunter questions. "You mean around here? New York? Close to six years, I think. I lose track of time a bit." Calendars don't do much for the homeless, who are usually pretty jobless, too. "You?"

"Just don't remember seeing, or hearing about a huge bullet-sponge-soaking criminal-eating tiger before. You, though?" She considers Hunter mildly, "You'd be forgettable enough, no offense met. Hell. Used to be the same. I lived on the streets for a few years. I know how it goes."

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