Starling Hills hunters on the go
#1
The truck roared into the driveway, stopped roughly, and then went silent. Grabbing his water bottle from the center console and checking the back to make sure he wasn't leaving anything back there that was liable to get stolen before he locked the truck up for the night, Grant felt himself move, hurried, to get inside.

It had been a long afternoon. The desire to get home and proclaim his experience to the one person who would care had been very strong, indeed. It had him not taking off his shoes when he entered the side door into the kitchen. Left his keys and the bottle on the counter and roved further into the interior, seeking.

"Barukh! You'll never guess who I met today!"

That'd flush the old man out, no doubt. Couldn't leave a mystery a mystery for long.

Grant was sun-baked and thirsty (the water bottle had been empty) but there were more important things, first. If he kept this to himself for much longer he was liable to combust.
#2
From the study on the second floor, Barukh, dressed in silver stripe pyjamas, was inspecting a handful of financial papers for a local company and thinking about how they needed to fire their accountant and hire a better one. Their money was all over the place. That paused as Grant rolled into the driveway, and without moving anything other than his other hand along the plush curtain to pull it aside, he peered out through the window. What a ruckus. Had someone been celebrating? Barukh could understand, because Barukh could relate.

Assuming he was inebriated or something other, the old man made no plans to descend. Grant had his quarters. Barukh had his. That was the nature of two gentlemen living together.

Just as he returned to his assessment, his name was called. Immediately, the phrasing gave rise to suspicion. Leaving his things as they had been, he walked out towards the stairs with a slight hunch, hand running along the ornamental railing. "... Who?" he asked very carefully, head angled to a listening forty-five degrees.

Surely they hadn't been followed by that witch's cronies all the way to Ridgefield city. If that was the case, they would live to regret it.
#3
There, upstairs. Grant puffed up and went to the bottom of the steps to stare up into the space overhead where the person who knew him best waited, watching and as curious as Grant had wanted him to be.

He had some stupid notion to lead the man along. To give facts about his day without getting to the point so easily. But seeing the older man set any idea of joking or playing around with it aside. The boisterous energy plus the nature of the news was too much. He didn't beat around the bush even for a moment.

"I met a jaguar," he informed with that energy of a man on the cusp of epiphany. And though he hadn't planned to jump right down the throat of the matter, either, he found himself adding promptly. "And I think I know where to find more."
#4
A nondescript jaguar was so much better than what the worst was, that Barukh spread his arms in wide applause. As though yes, finally, they had made contact with others. "You devil!"

And yet he didn't walk any closer to the staircase as he continued.

"Where are they?"
#5
Grant came about halfway up the stairs, feel ferociously good. The first time he'd ever said something about another jaguar and not been met with caution or worse.

"Downtown, apparently. I met the one out... west side of the county. But he told me to go downtown. Friendly enough."

He wanted to go right now but he'd already waited years upon years. What was a night, or a few more days? He knew this, logically, yet he still brimmed with the feeling of that broad skull under his hand, the sniffs on his wrist. The danger and the trust of it all.
#6
There was always a chance that what was being relayed right now was a trap. Especially when the jaguar Grant had met and the direction he'd been given were different. Paranoia crept in with age, because at some point, Barukh had become aware of his mortality. But he wouldn't sour this moment that was leaving both of their chests puffed and tails lashing from healthy nerves.

"If you don't have plans, we'll go first thing tomorrow," he decided. "Did this stranger have a name?" Barukh added, keeping his chin high.
#7
Immediately Grant was shaking his head, having gone halfway up the stairs and stopped. If he did have plans, they didn't matter. He wasn't thinking about anything else right now. It had been hard enough to get through work today with this on his mind, the concept of more was intangible.

And the head shake didn't stop at the question of the name, but did taper off. "Not too chatty. He and some... lion were shifted. I happened upon them when they were playing around at a site I was working today."

Which... "It was sure something to watch, until they noticed me."
#8
Playing. That sounded so innocent. Good riddance to any lion who Barukh ran into.

"I can imagine you hiding," he mused, tickled.
#9
Hiding sounded like he was scared, he made a face but didn't correct it.

"Wasn't sure... you know, how friendly they'd be. How the jaguar would be. Paid off when he didn't bite my arm off or anything."

It had really happened.
#10
He was aware that this was likely shaking the core of Grant's world in a way which it would not do to him. The boy had had so little contact with jaguars aside from Barukh, and were Grant not as loyal as he was, he would have worried that he'd been abandoned by him in favour of self-discovery throughout the years.

But Grant had always stayed.

"Only I'm allowed to do that," he said, only somewhat meaning it. There was a feline sparkle to his eyes and slow smile. "I never wanted to keep you from others, Grant. You know that."
#11
They smiled together, really. It was an easy way for them to be. And Grant let Barukh temper him somewhat. No point in going off the rails just yet, but it was hard to ignore the fact that some life he'd denied himself this whole time was finally opening up before him.

Yet.

"I know." Said seriously, forgiving without new thought. It was no secret that Grant would not have stayed in exile with Barukh if he hadn't want to.

But he owed the man a lot. And had gotten a lot in return for his dedication. It wasn't as if he had been left bereft. But now... they could both feast.

"Maybe this'll be like... good for both of us." Hopeful. A thought retraced, too, seeing as this had been maybe their underlying reason for leaving the place they'd both known for so long.
#12
It was unspoken, but in the same way a retiree could be wheeled away to a retirement home, Barukh felt a need to group together. He had Grant, of course. And he supposed he always would. But he was vain enough to not want the younger jaguar to feel and see the burdens of him as more and more time sunk in.

If he continued to live solitary Barukh would grow to be no good. In a group, he wouldn't. He knew. It was instinct.

The old man gave the slightest shrug. "Always better to have friends than enemies," he said, still twinkling. Paused. Smiled with the corner of his mouth, moustache quirking. "Drink?"
#13
Well, Baru would know best, wouldn't he.

Feeling eager to take more steps into a world of jaguars--and happy to celebrate it--the younger man found it easy to flash his teeth at the offer.

"The good stuff, yeah?" Trying to prod the older man into giving up something more than your average Friday night bottle. But you know, either way, he could stand to have a sit and a drink and let this buzzing energy percolate into reality.

He'd seen a jaguar today, and it had told him all he needed to know.
#14
He was no miser himself, not when it came to his preference of drink. So Barukh chuckled his agreement, already angled to head back to his study as he invited Grant with a straight inwards wag of his finger.

By the doorway was a polished drink trolley. He reached for two tumblers and a bottle of cognac.

"I've never had to draw out a jaguar before. Or jaguars, we could say." It'd always been about avoidance in D.C., but wasn't the idea of summoning a prowl dangerously thrilling? "There's a possibility we could be waiting ten minutes or ten hours. We should play it by ear and go sightseeing, that way we're somewhere public and obvious enough to be found."
#15
Up he went, easy to follow with the promise of refreshment and conversation. The work day itself was far behind him now as Grant began to ponder a very exciting future. He barely even knew what to expect, but fear was a long way off. He'd be wary when he needed to be, but no sooner. Besides, he was basically as good as Barukh at playing politics when he needed to. It came with the whole cloak and dagger life of prosecution.

Which, of course, he'd put behind him. But the skills were still there, if he wanted them.

"Make a day trip of it and hope they're not napping, huh?"

He tried to imagine what it would be like, to feel the power of a prowl around him and not be looking for the neatest exit.

Finding himself a seat to drop into, he was casual but not relaxed--too energized.
#16
He poured the cognac into both tumblers, holding them firmly in his palms before he walked over to where Grant had settled. "Exactly," Barukh smiled knowingly in time, handing off the drink. "Though I'd be surprised if the jaguar you met doesn't tell them he saw you by daybreak."
#17
Took the drink, cradled it--part of the process. Feel the tumbler in his hand and let the scent perfume the air before he gulped any of it down. No rush...

"Hey yeah, good point," he agreed. "Imagine... someone looking for us." Marvel, marvel, marvel. "Seemed a friendly enough guy. Wonder what his name is."

Already he was daydreaming about what it would be like to know more. To be more.
#18
It wasn't farfetched to imagine. Though Barukh didn't believe a downtown prowl would be conducting a manhunt, keeping eyes and ears peeled had been the norm when rogues appeared in D.C. It was important to be informed.

"I wonder what his relation with the prowl might be," Barukh built off the sentiment, sinking into a seat opposite Grant. His study was spacious enough to afford room for a couch and an armchair.
#19
"Yeah... imagine he's one of them?" Though... hmm... had the guy felt like a part of something bigger? Grant wasn't in a great habit of feeling around for that, and he couldn't remember. He'd been fairly overwhelmed by the sheer fact that there had been a whole, strange jaguar right in front of him.

He sipped--pleased immediately by it.
#20
Though there was no way of finding out tonight, it seemed likely. ”Unless he prefers the company of lions.” A small silly musing that came from it being late in the night.

Crossing one leg over the other, he took a sip from his tumbler.

”Lions, jaguars, and tigers on TV. We have joined the zoo.”
#21
Grant really liked being in a zoo. Hopefully that novelty would last.
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