Beagles and Giraffes and Bears

PFSC - Cerebral Deli

Warmer days mean less people in attendance at the mall, which means less people in attendance at the Cerebral Deli. It's the pre-summer slump, where the weather is warm enough to be outside enjoying the night, but not so hot that one needs to hide in the nice air-conditioned space of the Preston Forest Shopping Center.
Doctor Summer Houston has had a busy day. Two surgeries, numerous checkups, and a call to her colleague Doctor Kempenfelt over at the SMU. Not to mention a great deal of shopping before showing up to help Toby.
Barely stashed behind the counter is a large dog crate filled to the brim with dog supplies. Sure, it may be a few months yet, but why put off shopping?
Currently, Summer can be found leaning against the counter. An open crossword puzzle book with a pen poised at it her only form of entertainment this evening.

The coffee is good at the Deli, sure, but this evening, there's a completely different reason for Brett Coleman to visit. An extraordinary day requires sharing over a cup of coffee, and the person with whom he wishes to share happens to be there.
Wandering into the shop, Brett slows, and the lopsided smile takes up residence on his face. He studies her posture, the way her eyes flicker up and down the page, the way her shoulders move as her pen hovers as she reads the hints. "Hey," He's pretty sure she knows he's entered the shop, "evening, Miss Summer." Taking the final steps to the counter, near where Summer is leaning, the smile broadens. "I've got a couple of surprises for you."

"Now, Brett, I thought we did away with the whole 'Miss' and 'Mister' thing at the Water Gardens." Summer doesn't look up from the puzzle book yet, trying to figure out a clue. Her face lights up when she realizes the answer, and writes it in. Then she peeks up with a smile.
"Surprises?" Her eyes dart toward the back room, then she laughs. "Relax. Toby's not in tonight. He had a meeting down at the Grisly Bar he couldn't miss." Either something with Mr. Donato, or something else entirely, she didn't pry too much. "Can I get you anything? Coffee? A sandwich? On the house, of course." A deal for Shifters and friends.

"Yes, please. Coffee'd be great."
Well, Brett likes the appearance of being.. above board, as it were. Smiling in the face of the rebuke, he slides sideways so he's just a little closer, though at the mention that Toby is down at the Grisly, it falters somewhat. "What's up, there?" And is it something he should know about? Well, should is such a harsh word. Would like is much more civil, more genteel, and more to the point. Of course, anything that happens with the Pack, he really has no burning need to know. Like his father said, let no man determine your fate, but on the other hand, all fates are intertwined. So, Pack issues will eventually affect him, one way or another.
Shaking his head, Brett waves a hand, "Never mind. I don't want to know." More than he does already, that is, which isn't much.
"Met someone in the park today." Brett's brows rise, and his eyes gleam, "Do you remember 'Heart of the Wild'? My parents made me watch it over.. and over.."

"Coming right up," she says, sliding toward the coffee pots and checking how fresh it is. A peek up at the clock, and she nods. Still good. Grabbing down one of the larger mugs, she quietly pours the coffee and carries it over to the counter. Then she heads back to make a cup of tea, and while it's steeping, she turns to him.
"Hmm? Oh, I have no clue. If it was important though, he would have told me what it was." If it was Pack information, or anything she needed to know, she'd have been given full details. When he says he doesn't want to know, she doesn't offer any information about Monday night.
"Heart of the Wild?" Her brow furrows slightly. "That's the one that was similar to Crocodile Hunter right? I remember it being on PBS before we got cable…"

Brett watches Summer as she moves, his head canting slightly as she pours the coffee and brings it back before prepping her tea. "Thank you."
He grins finally as she rejoins him, and leaning on the bar, he slides into a seat. "Yup. And before that, my parents used to watch 'Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom'." He doesn't need to roll his eyes; his tones convey the message quite well.
"Anyway.." Brett takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, "I met Sebastian Reynolds, now Dr. Sebaastian Reynolds." Shifting to the side to remove his wallet, he digs in to pull out a card identifying the man as a consultant with the city's zoo.

Moistening her lips, she shakes her head. "You know there's nothing wrong with a good animal kingdom program, right? I think the only thing I watch these days is Animal Planet, or Discovery Civilization." There is much to be said for educational programming versus Star Trek.
"…" Summer blinks at Brett and then blinks again. Taking the card, she stares at it silently.
"You… met… Sebastian Reynolds? What the heck is he doing in Dallas?"
Moving toward her tea, she pours it into a little china cup and carries it out to a table, motioning for him to join her.

Picking up his coffee and replacing his wallet, Brett relinquishes the card. "He gave that to me to give to you," he begins. Following Summer to a table, he waits for her to take a seat before he sits down.
"As to what he's doing in Dallas, no idea, other than working as a consultant to the zoo." His smile gets broader, thus declaring that he has nothing that even resembles a poker face for 'situations' like these.
"We got to talking over a squirrel in the park, and he'd mentioned that he was going to be helping the zoo bring in and acclimate a sun bear," whatever that is. It's got to be exotic, right? "And aid in helping a giraffe .. calf?" He's not all that sure about the terms. Whelp, he knows. But what do giraffes do? Well, other than 'give birth'. "Have her calf."

"To give to me? Why would he want me to have his card?" Baffled, she sits quite unceremoniously and less than gracefully on a chair. The card is flipped over and over again in her hand, and she tilts her head a little.
"A Sun Bear? They sometimes use those as dancing bears, or they did. I wonder if this one is a save, or a capture." The thought of a captured animal reminds her of something. "I'm getting a dog," she says quite suddenly.
"A calving? A giraffe calving? Now that would be something to see. I've not had a lot of exposure to the exotics at all…"

"A dog?"
That throws a complete wrench into the works and Brett makes the attempt to work his way back over to where he should be. Where he wants to be. But, no doubt, he'll revisit the 'dog' topic.
"Yes. He wanted you to have his card because he invited you, us.. but mainly you, to watch the calving," he couldn't remember if the invitation was to assist, but once she's there, the request could be made in person, right? "And to watch and potentially help with the bear." Brett grins, "I might have put in a good word or two about you, and expressed your interest in the matters of exotic animals." His voice lowers to tease her, "And now you're telling me you're getting a dog?" Not very exotic!

"They are exotic in the veterinary world," Summer points out with a faint grin. "It's not every day a veterinarian gets to work on a giraffe." Though she doesn't mind. She likes the domestic animals just fine. Less chance of a mauling, or becoming a giraffe in the middle of Dallas. "You did that… for me? You got us invited to that for me?" Biting her lip, she looks across the table at him, then down at her tea cup with a smile.
Lifting said cup to her lips, she takes a dainty sip and then glances over at him. "A lab animal. She's just so adorable, and they're going to just dispose of her afterward, so I offered to take her in." The fact that the poor experiment already has a name in her mind has nothing to do with it. "A beagle. I've never had a pet, for obvious reasons but… I really couldn't let them kill her."

"I did, yup," Brett sits up straight in his seat before leaning over, his voice lowering. "And why not? You could always say no, but that'd be your decision. You weren't there to say 'yes', so I'm afraid I took the liberty of inquiring for you." He nods at the card, "He said to give him a call." The smile grows, and as he ducks his head slightly, his eyes rise to watch the pleasure move plainly across her face. To see that smile on her face makes him a happy man. "And I'm pretty sure he's expecting it, Dr. Houston."
Clearing his throat, Brett sits up a little and finally takes the first tentative sips of coffee. He needs the sugars, which he puts in quickly, but not milk. "A dog.. a lab animal?" He's.. surprised, sure. "She. They're letting you take her home?" Visions of electrodes and wires.. and direct contacts with the brain fill his vision. "Is that a .. good idea, or.." Shaking his head quickly, his hand also rises to dismiss that particular line of thought, instead moving back to, "They're giving her to you? I thought they didn't do things like that?"

"They don't," Summer says with a sigh. "Normally they…" She shakes her head, because honestly she doesn't want to think about it. "She'll be fine. Not a family dog at first, but a lot of abused animals aren't." That she considers lab animals to be abused speaks volumes. "She's my favorite of the bunch, she's so friendly and happy despite everything…" Another shake of the head is given, and she reaches across the table for Brett's hand.
"I don't mind that you said yes on my behalf, Brett. I'll call tomorrow at a decent hour. I don't know if I can convey how much I appreciate a treat like this. It's just so…" There's a lot she could say, and a lot she could do to show appreciation. All she says though is, "… thoughtful."

"Well, I'm glad. She couldn't have a better home." Brett's tones turn teasing, "And she'll have someone to play with, too." He fully expects a swat for that one, knowing full well that it's actually one of Summer's bigger fears. The way that he's always combatted fears it to cut them down to a manageable level through humour. Once absurdity enters, the fear is not long, instead replaced with understanding.. and knowledge. Solutions!
"Is that why…" He lets his voice trail off while pointing in the general direction of the crate and all the 'fixin's'. "When is she coming home?"
Summer's response puzzles him, but not in a bad way. She's speechless, in a good way, and surprised, in a good way. What he's going to be reflecting on later, undoubtedly, is the gnawing feeling that this sort of thing doesn't happen to her often. The random bits of 'I did this for you'. At least she's not asking what he wants in return, because that is so not why he did it.
It's for the smile.
It's for her.
"Well, I thought of you immediately, and it was an opportunity that I certainly didn't want to let pass by."

"She will have a great home and…" The expected swat comes, though it's playfully more than painfully. "Yes, that's exactly what I want. To come home some day and find you cavorting with my beagle pup." It's not that she's expecting him to be in her home, it's just that it's a comfortable thing to say.
"Ahh, probably not for a month or two, but the shopping bug hit me. I want to get Toby to build her a run in the back too, when he's got some free time." Her eyes don't trail toward the dog gear, rather they stay on him as he turns to point at it.
"It was sweet, and I'm not going to let the opportunity slip by either. It's a once in a lifetime thing. The zoo veterinarians don't generally like having us 'regular folk' around." Giving his hand a squeeze she smiles. "Thank you, Brett."

Oh, Brett knows that there wouldn't be any malice or anger in the swat. The fact that it's done makes him laugh out loud, and the mock accusation that it'd be him that would be playing with it rather than she? "Ow! Touche.." Of course, he'd meant that she'd be doing said cavorting, but the idea of his romping around her back yard, playing with the puppy? She's got him pegged. It really is right up his alley. "If your father needs some help," read 'free labor', "let me know and I'll get Cor out there too."
The warm hand in his, and the gentle squeeze is really thanks enough. Lifting her hand, his brows rise briefly before he leans slightly in to kiss her knuckles. "You are very welcome."
Straightening once again, blue eyes gleam. "Cor's out of town this weekend, but.. want to go check out the flats tomorrow and see what the prairie dog population looks like?"

"Why Mister Coleman," she teases, "Are you asking me out on a date. I do believe that's what Saturday nights are usually reserved for." Summer, who's not even really sure if she's even still in a relationship or not, is teasing him about such things.
"I'll let you know once I talk to Toby. I'm sure he'd love the free labor, since he makes a good businessman, not necessarily a good builder." Bookshelves? He can handle those fine. Working with chicken wire or other mesh? Might prove to be problematic.
The kiss to her knuckles definitely has her eyes widening a little. Staring at him, she colors slightly then focuses on drinking from her cooling cup of tea. "Prairie dog population. Check. I'll bring a clipboard. We can count them. Set up a course."

"Usually, my dear Dr. Houston, that is what Saturday nights are reserved for, yes." Is the question directly answered? No.. not really, but in a way there is that acknowledgement. Brett laughs again, soon after, at the imagery. "Perfect. You with a clipboard, and we'll count off the holes." It's great! "See how active they are. If they're lazy, we may have to go further afield."
The coloring of her face, her cheeks, is absolutely adorable, and quite becoming. His mother is going to love her.
"I'll flush them out for a test run, or would you like the honors?"

"I'll bring a pocket protector, and some taped up glasses as well. We'll get really mathematical on those prairie dogs…" Though Summer is far from good at math, she's just trying to focus on the conversation and less on the fact that her knuckles were only recently kissed. "Honestly though, mapping out where they are would probably be a good idea, just so we know how far to trek later."
Grinning, she shakes her head. "Oh, by all means take the honors. I'll make sure to bring towels, or a blanket…"

"Hair up in a bun," comes as an added suggestion. Isn't it always that way in the movies? Women with taped up glasses, pocket protectors and hair in buns are usually the hottest the moment the hair comes down? "Just.. to keep it from getting in the way when you're writing notes, that is." Good save. Real good.
Brett's grin remains, and grows brighter only to end in a laugh. "I like blankets. They're warm, cosy.. and great," he lowers his voice to a sotto tone, "to bury a nose in." It's true! Particularly as a coyote.

"I wear it that way at work on surgery days," Summer replies. It's almost as though she can follow his train of thought, and she snickers. "It helps to keep the hair out of the way, definitely." Must have been a good enough save, since she's not turning fire engine red.
"I was honestly thinking more of your modesty." Finishing off the cup of tea, she allows the faintest twinkle to appear in her eyes. "Or depending how late we're out there, makes a good ground cover for watching the stars."

Now it's his turn to pinken a little. Just enough color to accent the fact that, for the moment, he's rendered just a little speechless. Once more, Brett looks for the save, and finds it after those fleeting heartbeats. "Oh, that old thing…" his modesty, that is. "I.." Come on, you can do it! "burrows have worked before."
Settling down a little, his expression softens, and while there's that spark of pleasure in the teasing discourse, there's that momentary shift. "Though, I really like the idea of stargazing." Letting his voice lower slightly, blue eyes remain completely on the lady before him, "Watching the progress of the stars and planets above us, away from city lights and sounds?" <re>

At the mention of burrows, Summer's cheeks turn a slightly darker shade of pink as well. Likely because the thought brings up the reminder that she woke up quite bereft of clothing, in the cab of his truck. "Ahh… yes… well…" AHEM. "… there is that." Quickly getting up, she grabs the tea cup and runs it back behind the deli counter. She can still hear what's being said, but distance is definitely the best way to compose herself.
Returning with the pot of coffee to refresh his cup, she nods. "Stargazing, a small little picnic… lost in the natural world…" Really, those nights are Summer's best memories.

Brett barks a soft laugh, though he's certainly not mocking her in the least. He was.. and still sort of is in the same position. One of the drawbacks of shifting; unlike comic books and whatnot, they're not given the gift of having clothing back on immediately. Unless, of course, their clothes are nearby.
Watching her rise from her seat and turn her back on him brings that broad, lopsided grin right back into place. How could anyone.. well, there is no way he could ever ignore her. Look at her! Witty, considerate, with a splash of romantic thrown into the mix. His gain.
"Yes." Beat. "There is that."
And it was Summer herself that showed him the joys of burrows. Digging in the sand and laying down is great. Digging in the sand and rolling in it? Even better! Course, it leads to sand in the britches after the change back, but so far, it's a small price to pay. "I think I'll start leaving things in the back of the truck, though." Like spare clothes for them both, though he won't come out and tell her that. Not yet, anyway.
As she returns with the coffee refill, Brett leans back and looks up at Summer, "Why thank you," before reaching over to get another sugar packet. Breaking it open and pouring it in, he relies on osmossis for it to stir itself, as it were.
"Mmm, it sure sounds like it's a 'must do'."

Summer is doing her utmost to not dwell on the incident, and the lack of clothing. It is natural for Shifters to wind up in that position, and as she gains more two-natured friends, it shouldn't be something she stresses over. Still, it was awkward and…
Before she can get too lost in thought, she places the coffee pot on the table and slips back down into her chair. "That would likely be a good idea. Blankets, towels, I've got an extra heavy-duty tote that could handle being bumped around back there quite easily."
Smiling, she nods toward the deli counter. "Then you grab the clipboard, and I'll bring the food. Probably better to go out in the evening, it's cooler then, and they'll not be hiding in their holes so much."

"A heavy-duty tote would be great, but you may want something for your new truck too?" Unless she's already got that covered? It's hard to hide the appearance of a bounce in his voice; just a little thing like shifter provisions makes his heart skip the beat? Brett will definitely be heading to the church tonight to light a candle for whomever sent him this angel. Whoa.. slow down now. Proper courtship takes a good time.. Do things right, boy!
Brett looks theatrically disappointed, "I drive then, you're shotgun." Which means she gets to shift and flush their 'quarry', and he makes notes. "I'll have a nice warm, fuzzy blanket for you when we're done."

"I've got a few extra," Summer says with a smile. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she shrugs. "I was thinking of getting a permanent box back there, just in case. I'd still have room for a carrier or two as well." The bounce in his voice is noted, and she glances away momentarily. Mostly just to give him that moment if he wants to collect himself.
"You want me to… but I thought we'd agree on you having that honor. Then again, I suppose it is your truck, and I likely wouldn't drive it all that well."

"I can hardly carry a clipboard…" Brett raises his hands and wiggles his thumbs. "So, we're back to you being the pencil pusher? With the ever attractive pocket protector and little wire-framed glasses?" That's not to mention the surgical bun, of course!
Leaning forward, he wraps his hands around the coffee cup before lifting it to take another swallow. It's cooled enough, having been mixed with the slightly cooler that had remained in the cup before the 'warm up'. "Now, all that's left is to get a time to sneak out of time. We can schedule it around the giraffe dropping, if you'd like? I know things like that are sort of give or take a couple of weeks? So.. I figure, we can get in touch with Dr. Reynolds and find out the timing there.. just so your cell doesn't go off and you have no.." Again, Brett wiggles his thumbs.

For fun, Summer begins to twist her hair up into the tight little bun she wears when in surgery. She's got nothing to keep it neatly to her head at the moment, so she holds it there briefly before shaking it out. "Sounds like I have some shopping to do. Should I wear my lab coat and a little black pencil skirt too?" Winking at him, she then busies herself with cleaning up the table a little. Adjusting sugar packets, and creamers.
"Did he give any indication that it would be soon? If not, we may be able to head out tomorrow, unless you've got plans?"

Brett laughs and whistles, adding a little yip at the end, though that is much quieter. "Shopping? Towels and blankets, sure." Oh, he's very aware of what she's referring to, but to give it voice? Ah.. "A little black dress?" If he even thought about a lab coat and a pencil skirt, he head will probably explode right at that spot.
Brett grins at the wink, and clears his throat, his gaze moving down to look in his coffee, catching the movement of her hands out of the corner of his eyes. She's got great hands; soft, warm, but strong and sure. Confident.
His eyes rose again, and took his time to make his way back up to her face, where his gaze remains, "He'd said in the next few days, which is why I was concerned. But, tomorrow sounds great." No such thing as if. "I'll pack the truck tomorrow morning and let you know, just in case we're missing anything."

"I'll get to shopping before work tomorrow, pick up a few things. Call me as soon as you know if you're missing anything and I'll add it to the list." Summer generally doesn't make lists, but for this? A list can be written up. Especially if she's going to get specific enough to need wire-framed glasses, pocket protector, and the black pencil skirt for kicks.
The slow gaze upward causes her heart to skip a beat, and she glances away again. Maybe, if she's lucky, she can actually get a solid answer as to what's going on with Mischa before heading out tomorrow evening.
"I think the giraffe will wait at least one more night." If not? There's still the sun bear to see.

Brett nods and makes to rise, albeit with a little bit of difficulty. He's not escaping, no. Actually, he doesn't particularly want to leave, but he now has a goal to work towards. And unlike the female of the species, shopping doesn't really come all that easy to him. "I'll text you with my list. A second pair of eyes is always good."
Once completely on his feet, Brett shakes his head, a laugh coming easily. "Oh no. I did not spend years of my life watching nature shows for you to lose out on this opportunity. I mean.. a giraffe?" He looks down at Summer, his expression still amused, his eyes gleaming with humour, "Let it not be in vain!"

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