Sep 24, 2019 5:32 AM
Ari finds an exceptionally strange cat
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Driving to work one morning, early enough that it's still dark, Ari hits something - some piece of junk, probably, although it's hard to say with the lighting.  She misses it with her tires, but it's taller than it looks and swipes her undercarriage, and there's a kind of terrible noise like something on her car maybe fell off.  It takes some effort to coast her way into the parking lot but she manages.

She waits till after her shift to call the towtruck, since it seems unlikely to get worse immediately.  A while ago, this would've been a financial disaster and she'd be panicking, but now she's stable enough that even if she has to cut back a bit she's not too worried about getting by.  Still, "cutting back" probably means she shouldn't get a taxi, and she doesn't know or trust any of her coworkers at the hotel well enough to ask for a ride, and it's not that far to her apartment, even if she definitely wouldn't want to have to walk it every day.  So she starts making her way home on foot.

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As she rounds a bend, there's a cat, sitting on the side of the road, staring intently at her, flicking its tail.

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Oh gosh, how surprisingly delightful.  She could use a quick rest anyway; she'll just, without any sudden movements, face a quarter-turn away from it and squat down and act super interested in doodling in the dirt and playing with this leaf.  You're probably not supposed to pet cats you just find places, but she doesn't actually expect this strategy to be successful in anything but delaying it from running away for a little while, so what's the harm.

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Cat slowly comes around so he's in her line of sight, tilting his head.

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It takes her a while to notice, enthralled as she appears to be with this leaf and bit of dirt, but she can't quite sustain the willpower to not look up at all.  She smiles at the ground and does her best to fidget interestingly enough that it'll want to come investigate.

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Sniff. Stalk closer. Freeze. Sniff sniff. Slink a bit farther -

And then he's close to her, eyes focused alternatively on her leaf and her hand.

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This is definitely the best thing that's happened to her today.  That'd probably even still be true on days with less inconvenience!

...Maybe it's okay to pet cats you just find places if you're very careful about moving slowly and smoothly and watch really closely for any indication they don't want to be touched and stop if you notice that?  She decides that the dangerous part is probably risking getting bitten or scratched, and not the actual petting.

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Creeping ever closer - 

And batting at her leaf. Rawr leaf, die!

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She's careful to make sure her hand stays out of the way of claws.  "You're incredibly ferocious," she states, faux-serious, grabbing another leaf by the stem and rolling it between her fingers close to the ground.

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Leaf gets slapped down. He then pauses and sniffs her hand.

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She holds so still.

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Sniff sniff sniiiiiiff -

Curious headbutt?

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Very slow and gentle forehead petting with the back of her fingers!  Paying careful attention to body language!

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Cautious purr.

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(eeeeee)

Scritches?

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Scritches are acceptable!

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Best cat best cat!

"Wow.  Thank you.  I really appreciate you letting me do this.  You're very handsome and pretty and gorgeous!  Did you know that?"

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Cat seems to know that, but appreciates the reminder!

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"I bet you do!  I bet everyone tells you that all the time, because you're such a handsome pretty gorgeous - and sweet and generous - kitty!"

She'll probably continue with the petting and compliments until he starts to seem annoyed or something interrupts her.

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There's a loud sound off in the woods that makes him jump after a bit.

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She startles too, jerking her hand back and snapping her head in the noise's direction.  She waits a moment to see if anything makes itself apparent.

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The cat hisses at... Whatever... (There's a flash of white maybe?)

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Okay, probably time to immediately start walking home.  She refrains from giving any final goodbye pats on the head and - ow her legs hurt from squatting so long; she would've sat down if the ground weren't so wet - briskly continues in the direction she was originally going.  Or as briskly as she can with waking-up legs.  "Bye kitty; really appreciated the petting; hope I see you around," she says, low and fast, as she goes.

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Cat is still freaked out by the mystery thing and runs into the undergrowth on the other side of the road.

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It's unfortunate that that ended so abruptly, but once it's clear that whatever-it-was isn't coming after her, Ari finds herself in a pretty good mood.  After she gets home and changes out of her work clothes, she sets about making herself a slightly higher-effort meal than usual.  Maybe she should get a pet - it would've been a bad idea before, but now that she's living somewhere she intends to stay in and has a job she intends to keep, she lets herself actually consider it instead of immediately dismissing it to the realm of "that sure would be nice" fantasies.

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The next morning there's a somewhat familiar cat sitting in her kitchen window, peering inside.

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