Russet Dog
Haha, the bar's been around in one form or another for years.. I think this is the first time I introduced it in a formal RP, though. And with Jet at the helm, no less. She's very different from the way I used to RP her.

Russet Dog

"Al!" The girl heaved a box up on the edge of a dusty table, glancing back toward the front door with an expression of simultaneous resignation and irritation. "Al!" she barked again, only long-studied control keeping her jointed, metal tail from lashing. The tail annoyed her almost as much as the young, blond man who was standing just outside the door, pretending he couldn't hear her. She grimaced.

"Alphonse Germaine Fredericks!" she roared finally, "Get your butt moving boxes, or I'll change my mind about pressing charges."

He jerked once at the sound of his name, then again at the renewed threat of legal punishment. "My dad wouldn't let you --"

"Move the goddamn boxes." She stalked out past him to the truck, where a large, black dog was lounging, half-asleep, on top of a crate. It lifted its head at her approach and made a low whining noise, tongue lolling out in a pant so heavy it was almost exaggerated.

"Then go inside," she told it snippily, reaching up to grab another box. "It's not so hard," she remarked to the reluctant Alphonse, who was waffling half in and half out of the doorway. "You walk over to the truck. You pick up a box. You walk inside. You put it down."

The dog sprang down from the truck with a 'whuff', jogging past the blond-haired human boy, who slithered hurriedly aside. "Come on, then, Em," he grumbled, and a slim Reploid with sea-green hair straightened from where she'd been slouched in the shadows. The cyborg woman, halfway to the door, stopped and scowled at them both.

"Oy, Al, I did not say 'order Em to move boxes'. I said you move boxes."

"But --"

"Not to say she can't move boxes too, or anything, but if I catch you slackin' --" She shot him a pointed, menacing glare.

He attempted to return it, but he succeeded only in looking utterly cowed. His companion said nothing, snatching up the crate that the dog had been sitting on and starting after the woman. Al gazed after them sullently for a moment before grabbing a box of his own to take inside.

They had made real progress by the time the sun reached its noontime high, and Alphonse had recovered his courage at least enough to complain that he would melt into a puddle if he continued to work under these conditions. Em would have toiled on without complaint, but even the cyborg woman was about to call a break for lunch, when a familiar voice trilled from just up the sidewalk.


The woman paused where she stood, the very picture of disgust and resignation. "You're early, Hana," she said finally, turning to face the approaching figure. "We don't even have the liquor unpacked."

Hana was slim and probably quite pretty, but her constant state of drunkenness left her with a surreally wide smile and very unfocused gaze that was most unsettling to someone not long acquainted with her. She also wore a smart -- if very rumpled -- dress suit, hallmark of the time when she held a job.

"'S okiie," she said cheerfully, tossing a lock of her brown hair clumsily over her shoulder with one hand as she drew the other up triumphantly, wrapped around a whiskey bottle. "I brought my own!"

"Huzzah," said Jet. "Then go sit down and stay out of the way. And try not to throw up on anything."

Hana sniffed. "She's so mean, isn't she, Al?" She slung an arm around the young man's shoulders, ignoring his near-frantic attempts to escape her clutches. "I haven't had near enough to get all pukey yet."

Alphonse twitched, but Hana did not release him, instead ambling toward the indoors and dragging him with her to a bench, temporarily settled against the wall just inside.

"Hana, get your paws off the hired help." Jet herself jumped up on a table, tail curling limply behind her. "He's gotta eat, and then he's gotta work." She unwrapped a sandwich and started eating it.

Alphonse stared at her miserably.

Hana made an attempt at a delicate sniff, but it came out a riotous snort, and she slumped back against the wall, kicking her feet petulantly. Released -- at least for the most part -- Al made his escape, scurrying over to snatch up his share of lunch basket before Muzzle could make it his own. The large dog rested its chin on the table and sighed soulfully, but he ignored it.

"It's not bad, is it?" Hana remarked. "Not quite as big as the last place, but ..."

"For the price I was offered, it's perfect." She grabbed a bottle of soda, twisting the cap off in an almost-smooth, one-handed motion, and took a long drink. "Different place, slightly different clientele -- it'll be like starting over from scratch. Which it almost is anyway." She shot Alphonse a look, but he was absorbed in his sandwich and didn't notice.

"I don't know 'bout the clientele -- drunk people and people who wanna get drunk are the same wherever you go." The young woman took a quick gup from her bottle and sighed. "Aren't any of the regulars gonna follow ya?"

"Dunno many of them who'd want to drive two hours for their fix." She gave Hana a piercing stare. "That was unusually philosophical. You sober, or something?"

Hana rolled her eyes and wagged the bottle again. "Jetty, would you ever catch me sober?"

The cyborg scowled. "Not unless I was dreaming, and even then it'd be a stretch."

Muzzle, having finally given up on receiving the slightest handout from anyone, gave a whuffling sigh and flopped under the table, tail occasionally slapping the floor as the others finished their meal. Tossing the sandwich's wrapper carelessly aside, Jet jumped down from the table, ears swiveling automatically toward a sound from outside. At first, lost in the other sounds of the street, it was difficult to identify, but it became clearer as it approached, and finally there was no mistaking it, as the motorcycle's engine gunned once for the drama before its brakes screeched, dragging the machine to a halt almost directly in front of the door.

Jet scowled.

The others, also acquainted with the newest arrival, took the safest route and paid her very little heed as she swung down from the motorcycle, whipping her helmet off dramatically and running her fingers through her hair as she stepped through the door. All, that is, except Muzzle, who jumped to his feet (nearly upending the table) and trotted over to her, tail wagging and tongue lolling. The cyclist gave a squeal of delight, tossing her helmet aside in favor of hugging the huge dog around the neck and cooing. "There's my big boy! You still love me, don't you, Muzzle?"

"That's because a: you bribe him with food, and b: he's stupid." Jet shifted slightly, attempting with very little success to keep her ears -- cybernetic affairs to match her tail -- in a neutral position. "What the hell do you want, Natori? I will get the damn restraining order."

The other woman tutted her, rubbing under Muzzle's chin while the dog panted ecstatically. "What a way to talk to your only sister, Jetta, dear -- and here I was just stopping in to help you with your house-warming." She darted a quick glance around the room, mouth twitching with unsubtle amusement. "And what a house-warming it'll be, hm?"

"Sorry if the dust musses your catsuit." Jet affected a yawn. "You've had your look into my life of squalor and misery, you've had your laugh at my life of squalor and misery, and now you can go." She gave Natori a flinty stare. "Promptly."

The amused smile grew into something that left behind any trace of pleasantness. "I only want the best for you, you know -- my only blood relative, living in a place like this? It's --"

"Bad for your image, I know." Jet grinned at her, ears flattening slightly against her head. "It's okay, sis, I try not to admit to anybody we're related. Now why doncha get back to your pretty high-rise and your man du jour and let the working class play in the dirt?"

At this, the woman scowled slightly, but she promptly smoothed the expression into one of martyed generosity. "Well, I suppose if that's the way you're going to be --"

"It is."

"-- then I'll be on my way," she finished a little snappishly. She rose abruptly, abandoning Muzzle to retrieve her helmet, which she pulled over her hair unceremoniously. "I'll keep in touch," she said, managing to make it sound less a threat than a dire warning. Seconds later, she and her motorcycle were roaring away down the street, leaving Muzzle looking abandoned and puzzled.

When the last sounds of the engine had faded, Jet clapped her hands together with affected cheer. "Right! Boxes." Then she stalked out to the truck.

Hana watched her with some bemusement before looking over at Alphonse, who wore an expression of deep concern and thoughtfulness. She tilted her head. "What's eatin' you, honey?"

He frowned slightly, forehead creasing. "I'm not working-class," he said at last, then flinched when Jet's voice roared in from outside.


He sighed, sliding down from the table, and Hana gave him a cheery smile as he walked out the door. "Might as well be!"