2019-06-15 - Braised Chicken Tastes Better When It's Mooched


Pepper meets the Jackal - as a jackal - and Talbot in the process. All are charming and charmed.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jun 15 03:41:01 2019
Location: Tavern on the Green

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Theme Song



It's later than late evening. It's fully night time already. The Tavern is actually set to close in just a few minutes, but one last patron is being allowed to linger. Why? A few reasons. She's hands down one of the BEST patrons they have, always being polite to the restaurant staff even if something in her order isn't correct. She's also a decidedly noteworthy individual in the world of business due to her employer and her position within his company. And, she's clearly got money, sometimes leaving tips in the triple digits for a simple meal.

Tonight, as the waitstaff are wiping down tables and inverting chairs inside the dining area, Pepper Potts is seated in the far back corner of the patio, the remains of her braised chicken meal sitting forgotten at her elbow as she focuses on something no doubt work related on her tablet. There's even most of a mixed berries dessert there on the table still untouched. She is rather absently taking sips from a nearly empty water glass.

On a wild whim, it seemed like a good idea to spend the evening flitting through Central Park, wild as the East Wind and pale as a ghost against the dark backdrop of the summer-greened sprawl of land. Ambrose is headed for the Tavern restaurant in particular because…just rarely…he can manage to convince a few silly patrons to give him leftovers. It's not that he needs them, being an extremely fit specimen of the species he's currently guised as, but…

It's a challenge to be surmounted and he does like to work an audience, a fatal flaw in his personality for good morals.

As such, near to the side of Pepper's patio, a cream-colored jackal appears. The black-backed variant appears to be lightened almost to albinism but for the brown saddle and tip of tail. His eyes, a muddy-green where his natural ocean-blues don't mix well with the jackal's amber, flick and land on Pepper in particular. His brown nose twitches. Sitting, he takes a moment to lift one back foot and itch the diamond-studded leather collar better into place and shakes himself out.

Then, with a quiet and inquiring 'urf' of sound, he appears next to her chair, his large ears perked and demeanor charmingly friendly despite his very wild appearance. He's no larger than a Shiba Inu at most, no more than twenty-one pounds.

Having been so thoroughly engrossed in replying to the work email she'd seen come across her tablet, Pepper is not at all aware of the little jackal's presence until he urfs at her. She doesn't startle, but she does look over with a faint frown and then realizes how dark it's gotten and how blind she is at the moment. She turns off the tablet and closes her eyes for a few seconds, then looks for the source of the small bark again.

"Oh, hello there." Yes, she's talking to an unleashed pet, if that collar's anything to go by. "Let me guess, you slipped your leash at the dog park and followed your nose."

The wee jackal glances back in the direction of the dog park he knows and then back at Pepper, his large ears flicked back as if in concern. Then, he simply sits down facing her chair. A few shuffles of paws and now what a statuesque creature he is, a living carving from the desert having slunk free of the Met. It might be slightly absurd, the nobility of poise.

Those big ears rotate forwards again and he tilts his head, taking brutal advantage of the tendency for humans to find the gesture appealing. He even ups the ante: one front paw lifts as if to say 'please'. The wiggling of his nose towards the tabletop is the final piece of the puzzle of the silent request: ooh, that chicken.

Yup, Pepper is by no means immune to that level of canine-like charm. The posture and raised paw elicit a chuckle from her. "Someone is spoiled at home, I see." She still hasn't gotten a truly good look at the little quadruped, so still thinks he's either a shiba inu-ish mixed breed or a half-grown puppy of some sort.

Glancing toward the restaurant proper as if to make sure that there aren't any waitstaff to see, she relents quickly enough.

Using her fork to spear a small piece of the chicken, she offers the morsel to the little jackal. "Let's see if you know how to eat off a fork." She's betting he does.

And indeed he does. With a delicate precision and not a second of fumbling, Ambrose-jackal takes the piece of chicken from the tines of the fork with his front teeth. He chews in a scissoring motion once or twice before swallowing the bite down. His pink tongue does a pass of each side of his narrow mouth before he looks back up at Pepper again.

Then, brazenly, he lifts up out of his sit to place two paws on her leg. He's barely tall enough to see the table, but he does glance from it and to her again, tilting his head once more with those ridiculous ears fully forwards.

Lookit me, I am so cute! Feed me!

Pepper also has the edge of being a red-head…and history has shown that the Jackal has a terrible weakness for them. No wonder he picked her as a target.

"Ahh, I knew it. Spoiled rotten little thing. Feet down, please." But, she's not hungry anymore so why let the food to go waste? As a challenge, though, the second morsel is a piece of carrot that had been cooked with the chicken. Will the cheeky little creature accept it anyway?

Even as she's offering the carrot to the little jackal, her eyes are acclimating and … this is an oddly proportioned little dog. The legs seems longer than she'd expect, and the snout narrower and the ears bigger. The only outward sign that she's noticed, though, is her eyebrows drawing together slightly.

Like the gentleman — er, polite canine — he is, the Jackal removes himself from the standing brace against her leg. He sits once more, proper and prim, with his tail wrapped almost cat-like about his feet as he eyes the carrot.

Challenge accepted. Again, with a dainty bite of ivory teeth, he removes the carrot from the fork and tries chewing it up. He loses bits here and there and after swallowing what he was able to salvage, he sniffs at the orange chunks. Those on the ground are ignored. Licking at his nose, Ambrose-jackal looks back up at Pepper again. He remembers to continue being ridiculously adorable. A little wiggle in place, as if he can barely contain himself at the generosity being shown, and he makes a soft whining 'murrrrrr', looking Pepper dead in the face.

The sharpening of her eyes will only keep revealing that the creature is not domesticated in the least. Its skull is more fox-like than dog-like and the rangy build from shoulders to tail is far too suited for traversing wild terrain.

Okay, then. Carrots are acceptable, apparently. Pepper rewards the cheeky little bugger with a bigger piece of chicken, even though her apparent humor at his behavior seems to be waning. This… isn't a dog. He's clearly from the fox family now that she can see him better, which would make him an exotic pet. He's clearly on the tamed side, considering his table manners.

To test him further, she reaches with her free hand to scratch lightly at the underside of his jaw near his ears and maybe check to see if that strangely elegant collar has any tags attached.

Ambrose-jackal appreciates the large piece of chicken just as much, if not more, than the first he was offered. He chews and swallows, licking at his black-lined lips with the little pink tongue again. Pepper's hand is leaned away from at first and sniffed thoroughly from wrist to fingers. She'll feel the whiffling of breath escaping the brown nose that twitches madly.

Skin. Lotion. Perfume. Detergent on clothing. Speck of grease from chicken earlier. Paper. The dry tang of metal from computer work. All of this goes into his jackal mind, committed to the face looking down at him.

Still…that's a good place to scratch and the creature lets out a pleased 'murrrrr' of sound again as he leans his negligible weight into it. There are no tags to be found, none to jingle or brush against her fingers.

The jackal suddenly starts and looks out over the distance of the Park, back towards the east half of the city. Then…with a roll of his eyes, he goes back to leaning into Pepper's hand.

No tags. Hm. Pepper entices the little creature some more, this time by offering a few blueberries smeared with cream while picking her phone up off of the table.

"JARVIS, RFID scan, please."

"Ready, Miss Potts," the phone replies softly in a surprisingly human-like synthetic British voice.

She then holds the fork for the jackal to lick at and probably pick off the berries while she reaches to scratch along his neck again, but with the phone still in her hand. It's a little awkward, but hopefully it'll keep him from shying away.

Mmm, blueberries. The scent of the fruit is rich and as blue as their name in his nose as Ambrose-jackal leans in. He works at the cream first, getting it upon his whiskers beneath his nose before licking it away. He's oblivious to the phone in Pepper's hand at least until he hears the brisk male accent coming from what he thinks, at first, is nowhere.

The canine freezes in plucking a blueberry from the fork to sloooowly look up at the phone passing nearby to his ear. Aforementioned ear goes back along with its mate as he unhinges his teeth from around the forkful of berries and cringes down an inch or two.

No microchip pings from the scan. Not even chipped!

"You're fine, you're fine," Pepper placates the little fox-like creature, scratching him a little more before looking at the result on her phone and looking concerned. She sets the phone back on the table and then offers him the last of the chicken.

"No tags, no microchip, but a very nice collar. Where's your family? And why are they so completely irresponsible?" She's still speaking gently, though, not expecting him to have a clue what she's actually saying.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 12

Whatever was the phone thing about? Ambrose himself is not aware of the ability of the phones to scan for things like microchips — it was all extremely odd to him, and he means to ask someone who knows immediately what a 'microchip' is. Still: the chicken is completely placating.

Smelling that there's no more poultry meat to be handed to him, he gives Pepper another head-tilt and listens as he remains sitting. Gee, she does sound pitying.

If only she knew.

Ambrose-jackal flicks one ear back towards the east half of the city again. He seems to shuffle in place before letting out a sigh. A series of sounds leave his mouth, quiet warbling vowels before he seems to click his teeth together. Then, there's another paw-lift and a shockingly-domesticated swish of his tail, completely abnormal in nature.

Pepper doesn't miss that ear flick. "You hear somebody, don't you? I'll bet they're calling, wondering where you went and worrying." She spears the last two blueberries to offer, but this is the last morsel.

"Now, will you let me lead you back toward your family, or are you going to bolt the moment I move to stand?" Still holding the fork in one hand, she uses her other hand to tuck the phone and tablet into the bag on the chair next to her before pulling out two extremely crisp bills and tucking them under the edge of one plate.

"Let's find out, shall we?" She then moves to stand as soon as the blueberries are gone and the fork is back on the table.

Oh, lady, Ambrose thinks to himself. If only you knew about the calling.

He takes those final two berries with the same poise as he's exhibited thus far and swallows them whole. Those large ears center it on her, along with his attention, as he watches her prepare herself to depart the area. Perhaps to be somewhat of a tease — who only knows with the Jackal — he does a middling amount of movement once Pepper stands.

The scootch of her chair has him dancing back a few feet to the grass along the restaurant's porch, but he doesn't disappear entirely. If anything, he watches Pepper with marked interest, his nose wiggling in spurts. Then, lifting his face to the air itself, he takes a deep, deep inhale before sighing it out hard.

Pepper is approached again and he rubs his head against her pants-leg, potentially asking for one last thorough scratching through his pale neck fur.

Yup. Cheeky little bugger. And, now Pepper is even more glad she chose this particular purse today. While he's dancing about a bit, she takes the longer shoulder strap off of her purse and hooks the shorter handles at her elbow.

When he comes back with a cat-like request for some more scratches, she does indeed oblige, but then deftly clips the strap from her purse to the slip collar as an impromptu leash.

"All right, I know you're now all kinds of unhappy, but let's go try to find your family." She waves good night to the waiter who heads toward her table, then takes a few steps eastward and watches the little fox-like creature to see how he reacts.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 19

Gasp. Bamboozled!

Ambrose-jackal immediately turns sideways to lean against the collar and plants his small paws in the grass. The angling is so he can't choke himself outright or lose the collar up over his head; the latter is less likely given its build as a veritable Martingale, but the idea of its loss — and the consequential shift back to human before this woman — is more than the master-thief can bear.

Hmm. Alright, new tactic.

Spinning about, Ambrose-jackal latches his teeth onto the thin make-shift leash and begins shaking it as if it were a tug toy. Either that, or attempting to saw through it with his shearing molars.

Of course the little vulpine flails when presented with a leash. Pepper should have expected no less. "Hey, hey, it's okay," she tells the little quadruped, kneeling down to try and calm him by rubbing at his ears and scratching under his chin. "You're fine, see? It's no big deal." If he calms down, she extracts her purse's shoulder strap from his mouth but keeps a grip on the collar, then in a quick move turns it so the impromptu leash clasp is at the back of his neck and held straight up behind his ears like from a professional dog show handler. She's trying to keep just enough tension on the strap so the quasi-martingale collar doesn't go loose, but not so tight it's putting any pressure at all on the little guy's neck.

Fingers crossed, this will allow them to get more than three steps.

Ambrose-jackal isn't going to give up that purse strap easily, not without some placation. It comes in the form of nails behind his ear and that's just enough to make him go soft-mouthed, if momentarily. Damn, there it goes, and he plops into a recalcitrant sit.

KENT. It flies across the kythe between him and his fiance, tinged with rueful amusement. Kent, my bloody evening — she's wrecking my goddamned evening with her damn purse strap! Pepper will see the jackal flatten his ears and go dead-weight in his sit, now trying the mulish "I Go Nowhere" technique. I can hear you laughing, STOP LAUGHING, you madman, and FETCH ME!

Still, just enough pressure beneath his chin has him rising and taking a few stubborn steps beside Pepper. All the while, Ambrose-jackal lets out a near-continuous low 'murrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr' that's the bridge to a much louder ruckus in the making.

…..you aren't trying to steal tourists' hotdogs *again*, are you? The outrage in their link is somewhat hypocritical, considering how Kent is frankly an alley-haunter and occasional dumpster diver in his own furry form. But he does tend to be supercilious when given the chance.

I'm coming. Give me a moment. I'll have to show up in human form, so I'll be a bit slower…. But it isn't long before a man in a pale gray t-shirt and dark jeans appears, heading towards the Tavern, yelling, like a man searching for a lost pet, "Rose! Rose?"

Pepper can't help but smile as the little fox-like creature does start to move. "There you go. Not so bad, see?" She takes a few steps to encourage him along, her eyes on the jackal and not so much on her surroundings.

She can tell by the set of his ears and all the little noises he's making that he's not pleased, but would much rather he be unhappy and unhurt than risk him bolting out into traffic. "I know, I know. The indignity. It's not forever, you'll be fine, I promise."

I have succeeded beyond hot dogs. Tonight was braised chicken, the Jackal informs his other half with a lofty (almost canine) pride in this factoid — along with the nuance of a nose-thumbing at having superceded expectations.

Pepper will find that her temporary pet keeps up the hesitant traveling, seeming to lift and pick each placement of paw as if he were walking on thin spring ice rather than the pathway.

The burgeoning yowl Ambrose-jackal makes abruptly cuts off as a nearby voice becomes apparent. His narrow nose arrows at Kent, likely indicator enough that Kent is the missing handler.

Hearing the name called out, however, has the little creature once again flattening his ears to his skull and staring at the approaching gentleman in horror. …oh, you bastard-flavored bastard, he grouses to Kent as he wrinkles his nose. It's THAT name.

No sympathy at all. It's not like I don't feed you at home, you beast, Kent's mental voice is richly amused.

His speaking voice, however, is all irritated contrition and affectionate scolding. "*There* you are, you little bugger," he says, as he hurries towards them. "Rosebud, how many times need I tell you that even in off-leash hours, you stay *close*." Pepper gets an apologetic smile. "I'm so sorry, ma'am, he never does obey." His accent's upper class English, of a kind that's very nearly extinct.

Oh, hey, someone's finally showing up to claim the cheeky little critter. "It's quite all right, sir. Though, you really should at the very least have him microchipped." She seems completely unaffected by the name 'Rosebud'. "After all, heaven forbid he gets hurt and the emergency vet has no way to contact you." She offers Kent the chew-damaged Hermes purse strap that's still clipped to the quadruped's collar.

"It's honestly a bit of a miracle that he didn't try to cross one of the streets." Because nowhere in Central Park is more than a football field's length from a major roadway.

No, but she had braised chicken! the Jackal retorts even as Kent approaches them. With his ears out to the sides of his skull now, he adds, And damned straight, I don't. Obey, that is.

When Pepper extends the end of the makeshift leash in order to hand it off to Kent, Ambrose-jackal makes another sudden swirling leap, all svelte speed and lean muscle, and grabs at the far end of it. Having scored his prize, he darts diagonally away at an angle to a spot on the grass no farther than a dozen feet from both Pepper and Kent. Then, with much gusto, he plops down facing them and begins chewing up that very expensive purse strap with apparent gusto. Little bits begin littering the lawn around him as he works at it like a piece of spaghetti.

If you can, on the sly, communicate that I do appreciate her concern, he lets Kent know even as he spits out a piece of leather with a flick of his tongue. She is rather appealing to look at. A flop of his tail is a unrepentant wag. Red-heads.

"He's a rescue," Kent explains. "And I will, the next time we visit the vet." He makes a show of examining the collar. "Oh, hell, he lost his tag," he adds, with evident dismay. Then he turns to Pepper. "Please, I'll pay to have it replaced or repaired. You're so kind not to just try and brain him with a rock. He's only badly trained - I've tried to get him to walk properly on a leash and I thought we were doing better but…." He trails off, sighing in frustration.

That is an extremely expensive piece of leather you just ruined, Kent points out, in fond exasperation.

The spiteful strap chewing only gets her to chuckle as she watches 'Rosebud'. "Well, he might have the leash manners of a beagle in a sausage factory, but he eats off of a fork about as daintily as I've ever seen." the quickly disintegrating strap only gets an amused headshake. "It's fine, I can get another one easily enough.

She then offers her now free hand to Kent. "Oh. I'm Virginia Potts, by the way."

Kent's commentary as to failed training is enough to make the creature snort. Again, with no shame whatsoever, Ambrose replies to Kent, It tastes of delicious freedom. Phfuh — there goes another small chunk of it on the grass. He's about up to the length remaining tucked to his shoulder and has to torque his head back in order to keep feeding the strap through the mincing machinery that are his carnassial teeth. It's ridiculous, but so satisfying; the Jackal doesn't even care if it has him balancing on his ribs sideways in order to accomplish it, a front leg extended in counter-balance.

Pepper introducing herself, however, has him pausing and rolling back to proper belly-down posture. The creature rises to his feet and pads over to Kent before plopping himself down precisely between the two people, off to one side. He looks from Pepper to Kent. Virginia, is it? Why do Yankees name their children after the colonial states? I have never understood it. The attached remainder of strap now hangs from the collar like a thin tie at his chest, frayed at one end.

I shall call her 'Ginni', I think, Ambrose-jackal muses to himself as he looks back at Pepper, now sporting a canine smile and perked ears.

Now that Ambrose is in range, Kent darts down to lifts him by the scruff, hastily, and scoops him into his arms. Cradling him in the crook of one arm, he takes her hand with the other, shakes it firmly. "Kent Talbot. Would that we'd met in better circumstances." If you want a mouthful of leather, I can help you with that later, Kent's mental voice has that distinct edged sweetness Ambrose knows very well, indeed. The Jackal is going to pay for this, one way or another. And I have no idea, darling. Who says you'll be calling her anything?

Pepper shakes Kent's hand with firm but not hard grip and promptly lets go again. An utterly professional handshake. "A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Talbot. And true, though it could very much have been worse. At least he's completely unhurt, even if his dinner is likely spoiled." She reaches toward Rosebud and after nudging the underside of his chin quickly unclips the remains of her purse strap from his collar.

A bit stunned by the man-handling, Ambrose-jackal remains where he is in Kent's arms without any fuss. He looks like a fuzzy swatted bug with those ridiculously long legs akilter in his upended state. The angle of his ears is indicative of mild concern, but only mild. You do know that I've met clams with more sense of humor than you, my heart? the Jackal asks of Kent with a syrupy tone of his own.

Obligingly, however, he throws back his head and yawns rather dramatically when the remanants of the purse strap is removed from the diamond-studded slip lead. Pepper's knuckle is given a little lick in passing and the wiggle of the jackal's tail flicks a few times against Kent's chest before falling loose over his arm again. Then comes the stretch of front toebeans up towards Kent's face to attempt to smoosh against his cheek. Streeeetch…!

Now he's looking into her face with a faint puzzlement. Where does he….."You run Stark Industries, don't you?" he says, with a sudden smile. "That's how I know you."

He shifts Ambrose in his grip, holding him with both arms like a ridiculous fur baby….and then his cheek is being smooshed. "Rose," he says, somewhat muffled.

Kent's recognizing her has Pepper smiling with just the faintest hint of embarrassment. "No, I don't run Stark Industries. I just make sure that Mr. Stark has everything he needs so he can run Stark Industries." But this explains the extremely high end leather bag at least.

Rose's antics are of course still amusing, and she reaches for one of those front paws. "So pushy."

Incorrigibly, Ambrose-jackal continues stretching his pawpads up against Kent's cheek. Your face does the most entertaining shift of skin when I do this. You must look quite charming to her, the creature teases even as he flops his head back to observe Pepper more. Stark Industries, is it…? I believe that's the conglomerate involving Anthony Stark, is it not? I remember hearing of his father in the news on and off. Something about weaponry.

Playing along in an effort to keep Pepper charmed with him at least, the Jackal relents with the shove of one paw in order to offer it out to the woman as if to shake. Lieutenant Ambrose Atherton, milady, and a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, he schmoozes, complete with another canine grin.

"Aw, Rosebud likes you," Kent coos, when Ambrose finally relents from his assault on Talbot's dignity. "Don't you, boy?" He ruffles the Jackal's ears.

Yes. Howard Stark was one of the great inventors of the twentieth century. I remember him showing up in newsreels during the war. His son has bid fair to do the same, but….I think he's gotten out of the weapons trade.

Yes, Rosebud is a charming little cad, and he very well knows it. Still very much amused, Pepper shakes the offered paw gently. "A pleasure to meet you too, Rosebud." She then glances at her wristwatch — yes, she's wearing an actual analog wristwatch — to check the time.

"I've probably kept you both long enough. I'm really glad you've got him safe and sound, Mr. Talbot, and you, Rosebud," she gives the little jackal one last scratch under the chin. "Stop running away like that."

Ack — malapert, you — the Jackal shoves at Kent's face again with his other front paw in retaliation for the ear-ruffle, for all the world looking as if the man and the creature are old college friends scuffling for the fun of it. He pauses, of course, when Pepper addresses him, even with that horrid nickname, because chin scritchies are delightful in this form.

I think I'm a helpless case, Miss Potts, but do keep speaking so sweetly like that, you might give my poor old man hope. The reply is to continue twitting Kent's nose, of course, but Ambrose-jackal still lets out a ridiculous 'rowr-mrorrr' sound — just in case he wasn't charming enough.

"Thank you again for your kindness in not skinning this little monster, Miss Potts," Kent says, as graciously as he can manage. Another set of toe-beans to the face, before he can snatch that paw away.

You are an incorrigible flirt, you wicked beast, he replies, even as he yields enough to rub Ambrose's belly.

"You are most welcome. Have a good night, both of you," Pepper says with a chuckle before waves and goes on her way.

Unusual pet, but really. Who is she to judge? She's going to make it a point of watching for Rosebud anytime she's in the Park from now on, just in case the rascal escapes from Kent again. It's only polite.

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