Behind The Bars (Chapter 1)
Night in the Woods - Shelter AU
Fandom: Night in the Woods
Characters: Mae Borowski, Bea Santello, Greggory Lee, Angus Delaney, Casey Hartley (Mentioned), Selma Ann “Selmers” Forrester, Jeremy “Germ” Warton
Warnings: Abuse, Character Death(s), Usage of Drugs
Word Count: 2293 Words
Disclaimer: I don’t own Night in the Woods nor the characters.
Summary: Mae Borowski was Possum Springs’ troublesome stray until an animal shelter caught her. Adopted and returned countless of times, the shelter decided to put her down… until Bea Santello decided to step in.
Author’s Note: First story for the NITW fandom and an AU too so, I’m sorry if it’s not good. This story is inspired by my cat, Julius who is now a huge lazy furbaby. Credit to Fuzzinator23 for proof reading this story.
Chapter 1 - The Storm
A loud yowl pierced through the night and rain. Heavy footsteps chase after smaller ones, splashes of water drowns into the rain as if god doesn’t want anyone to know what happens.
Another yowl comes through; angry, agonizing, desperate. Aluminium cans falls over as a small figure runs out of one of the cans. The figure is cornered, trapped between a huge wall and two shadows looms over it.
A net is thrown. Yowls and hisses follows as it struggles. One of the larger figure approaches and scoops it up, “No more running for you, kitten,” a low growl comes through.
The cat in the net stops struggling, probably due to exhaustion or fear. Storm still brewing the town. The cat shivers and curls up, letting out soft mews. The net is slung over a shoulder and is taken into a van.
Damp, cold, dark, all the words runs inside her head. Her body shudders, her fur is wet and the floor is cold. She wouldn’t be surprised if she ever ends up sick.
Back to the prison. Cold, dark prison.
She doesn’t want to go back there again.
The smell of morning after the rain had passed is refreshing, calming you could say. The soft light of the sun rises from the horizon, a perfect time to take in some fresh air outside and say hello to the neighbors.
…or stay in bed in the weekends.
Which is something Bea Santello would gladly do.
As she lays in bed in a tank top & shorts and blankets over her body, due to how cold last night has been, she regretted to not wear long pants & a shirt with sleeves but she could care less.
Except the fact her clock has been buzzing for a while now.
A claw extends and knocks it off the nightstand. At least the sound of the impact startles her enough to elicit a groan from the woman and forces her to move to the edge of the bed. Opening an eye halfway, she glances down.
Shit. Overslept again.
She picks up the digital clock and places it back on the nightstand before getting up. The gator yawns as she stretches herself and gets herself into the bathroom. Taking a quick hot shower and brushes her teeth, Beatrice gets herself ready for the day.
The store ain’t gonna open by itself. Ugh.
Even on weekends like this, she must open the store.
She puts on her signature black dress and hangs an ankh necklace around her neck. She looks at herself in the dresser mirror. If she looks closely, she could see the bags under her half-opened eyes. As if her dull blue eyes aren’t enough to tell how tired she has been.
There’s no use complaining about it now. She has done this for years. So, she sighs. Last night’s coffee would be good enough to provide the energy for the day.
For the day.
She still needs energy for night as well.
Chugging down a jug of coffee sounds like a good idea. Well, she was fixing to do that when she got to the kitchen, if only she didn’t glance at the clock.
But she still chugged down the coffee like how she wanted to.
She grabs a box of cigarettes and lighter from the counter and heads for the door. Hastily puts on her boots, she puts a cigarette in between her lips and lights it up, inhaling some of the nicotine from it.
It doesn’t really go well with caffeine.
Might as well, the horrible taste will keep her awake enough to go through the day.
Like any days in autumn, it is a very long day.
Well, for Bea at least.
Everything in her life IS a very long day.
Puffing out smoke, the smell of nicotine engulfs her and fills up her nostrils. It might have reached her brain and slowly killing her.
Eh, she wouldn’t mind being dead. So long she didn’t have to stand behind the register and check stocks in the store.
Ol’ Pickaxe has been standing for as long she could remember. She basically runs the store now, considering her father wouldn’t bother handling it himself. The tip of her tail taps on the floor to fill the silence in the empty hardware store.
She sits on a stool at the side and grabs a pamphlet from the counter. Might as well read while waiting for anyone to walk in. But the paper has been the same; all about the dead mines Possum Springs had once long time ago.
Possum Springs; a middle-of-nowhere-and-dying town. A hole which she would gladly leave, if it weren’t for the fact that her father needs help from his only daughter. Stays on the couch, watching tv, drink or sleeps are the things he has done. .
Ever since her mother died.
Which she really doesn’t like talking about.
Or bother thinking about it.
So, her dad shuts down and, like it or not, she has to stay and help him recover; starting by taking over the shop.
Which is what some people would say.
Bea sighs as the cigarette in her mouth has shorten. She takes it out and stamps it into the ashtray nearby, before taking out another cigarette from her dress pocket and lights it up as she places it against her lips.
Sucking in the smoke, she sighs heavily. Her shoulders slumps, the taste of unsweetened coffee still lingers in her mouth.
Eh, works for me, she thought.
The sound of the bell from the door rings. She looks up, seeing a familiar bear tipping his hat as he approaches her. “Good morning, Bea,” Angus says.
“Hey, Angus,” she says. Angus places his hat back on his head and his ears perks up.
“You look worse for wear. Is something the matter?”
“Stayed up late. Overslept. Drank a lot of coffee this morning and wish that I could die right now.”
“You do realize smoking and coffee are bad together, yes?”
Bea shrugs. “Eh, so long as it keeps me awake. And I smoke to release my stress… which is all the time, mind you,” she says, squinting her eyes at him.
The man sighs and adjusts his glasses, “Then why not take up my offer, will you?” he says.
The gator is silent for a moment and Angus patiently waits for an answer.
But she already raises her hands. “I will not have a pet, Angus. I have enough things in my hands and I do not need a pet. I’ve been doing fine for quite a while now,” she protests.
It isn’t the first-time Angus suggested it. He has been telling her to get a pet, said it will help her to release her stress much effectively and they can be a good friend to her.
But also, there will be more mouths to feed.
As if her father isn’t enough to look after for.
She turned them down so far, but the more she did, the more frequent Angus brings it up to pique her interest.
Angus sighs once again. “Well, if you already decided that then. But could I ask a favor from you then?”
“Uh… sure, I guess. What is it?”
“Come with me to the shelter.”
Bea stares, trying to process what he just said, “…what?”
“Come with me to the shelter,” he repeats. Her blue eyes squint at him again as if trying to eat him whole.
“Angus, I told you-…”
“I’m getting a pet for myself, Bea. And the shelter is at the other side of town, so I need a ride from you.”
She was going to say something about it but she decided not to. She had seen the shelter once when she went there to deliver the tools they ordered. It is pretty far from where she lives and if it isn’t for Angus’ asthma, she would’ve turn it down.
Plus, she’s driving.
She can get out of work early since she’s the only one in the store today, like always.
So, she agrees.
She’s not the one that’s adopting… right?
Cold. It was literally cold when she steps inside the shelter. The inside, unusually, looked no different from a medical center and the air conditioner’s air is so strong she could’ve died from freezing to death here. It was white, excluding some plants, toys and magazines on the coffee table.
This place reminds her of the hospital.
She hates it.
Angus goes up to the reception while Bea decides to stay in the lobby to read the magazines as she waits. He’s led to the back by the receptionist, who is a goat. Already, she’s bored after leafing through few pages of the magazine in her hand. She closes it and was fixing to light up a cigarette, but the shelter has a strictly “No smoking” policy.
So, her tail taps on the floor impatiently. She looks around, trying to take in the interior and sighs. She really hopes Angus would be quick because she’s bored to death.
Which is not, the kind of death she wanted.
Still, she looks around and her eyes settles on a cage. An obvious black cage amongst the whiteness of the walls and floor. There’s was someone, or something in the cage curling up.
Is it one of the pets? Did it just get here?
She gets up and approaches, kneeling next to the little cage. Whatever’s inside is shielded by a cloth so she pulls it off. A cat. A small, navy blue cat wearing a brown and red shirt and black pants. The tip of the hair is red along with it’s tail, which wraps around it nicely.
And covered it’s face.
Bea makes sure no one’s around before she gently pokes the cat with her claw. The ears twitch and she immediately pulls away, slightly shaking the cage when her claws hit the bars. The ears perk up; she could see the right ear was notched, making it look like a bite mark.
The cat yawns and stretches itself as much as it could. It opens it’s eyes, which are larger than any normal cats she has seen in the neighborhood. Red eyes, brighter than Bea’s, blink several times before they stare at the young gator.
“Can I help you, miss?” A gruff voice greets from behind. She turns to see a bear, much older than Angus. She could see the faint wrinkles on his face and a name tag on his shirt written; Hank, dressed in all white, so she assumed he’s the vet. She scratches the back of her head.
“Just… checking this little fella here,” she says.
“Oh… I’m sorry, but she’s not up for adoption anymore.”
This pique her curiosity a bit. She looks up to the older bear. “What do you mean by that?”
Doctor Hank lets out a heavy sigh. He seems reluctant. Bea was about to say something but the man cuts her off, “She had to be put down,” he says with a low voice.
Those words… ‘put down’, are poison to her ears. Irritating, hurt. Her usually tired, dull blue eyes widens in shock. She glances at the cat in the cage who now tries to stand, but she couldn’t due to how small the space she’s in. But she stares, beaming at her.
“Is… she sick?” Because that’s the only reason a doctor would be putting down someone. Sickness, a terrible sickness that has no cure.
Like her mother.
Shit, why the hell does she have to remember that?
“It’s more to her behavior. She’s… too violent, even to other pets in this shelter. It’s one of the reasons why she’s inside the cage instead at the back with the rest.”
Behavior? Violent? Is that why they want her dead?
“She’s that bad?” Bea asks, her tone hardened without she realizes.
Doctor Hank notices that and sighs, “She has been adopted four times this month and returned in the same day. The longest she’s ever been with a foster family is a whole day. But the next day she was returned. And the complaints are the same; stealing food, bullying others and vandalizing homes,” he explains.
Those things should have be enough to convince Beatrice to not adopt a pet. But she kept glancing at the cat, who now approaches the bars and reached one of her paws to her. Bea doesn’t move, not even when the cat grabs one of her claws.
Curious like a child, she thought. She has seen other pets who are a lot larger than her, even other cats in the neighborhood. She looks innocent enough to not cause all that.
Well, maybe she would but it couldn’t have been on purpose.
“What’s her name?” Bea asks.
“Her name. What is it?”
“Mae Borowski. 20. But too small despite her age. Probably a disease regarding to her growth.”
Dwarfism, she thought. That could be it. Maybe. She’s not very keen with all those medical terms. She looks at Mae for a moment and, unexpectedly, she opens the cage. Doctor Hank tries to stop her, but he stood at the side when Bea holds up her hand.
Mae crawls, no, rolls out of the cage like a ball and sits up to look at Bea. The gator gently pets her, her fur is oily and sticky. She feels slightly upset by how Mae was treated, even though Hank said she will be put down.
Poison. Those words are poison.
Behaviors can be fixed.
She can be fixed.
Bea looks back at the man. “I’m adopting her.“