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Jun 2 2018, 10:19 AM
It had only been a few days yet it felt like weeks. Wait, no, that wasn’t exactly right. The memories he couldn’t get out of his head were so clear he might have sworn they happened minutes ago, but the time since he’d last slept felt weeks back. But it had only been days...at least Bongani was pretty sure it had just been days. The hours were all starting to blur together so he wasn’t 100% sure about that. What day was it now? And what day had it happened? More importantly, what time was it because that would affect how many days it had been.

With a groan, Bongani kicked the sheets tangled around his legs off and rolled over to gaze at the little glowing alarm clock sitting on top of his dinged up dresser. 12:47 A.M. flashed brightly back at him, a pathetic 30 minute different since the last time he’d checked it. So 12:47, that would make it...today? Wait, no, tomorrow. Except if it was tomorrow then it would be today, just a new today and--

God, he couldn’t even think straight anymore.

Frustration and despair made so much worse because of his exhaustion welled up inside Bongani so that he took in a shaky breath as he reached up and rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes. Like every other time when he closed his eyes, images of blood and gore, of lifeless eyes and mangled throats, burst to life in front of his vision and he quickly pulled his hands away, opened his eyes, and sat up with a gasp. Nausea threatened to rise up in his gorge as the images then led to the tastes and smells from that day that were equally as strong and the shifter quickly reached over to grab the glass of water he’d started keeping on his bedside table. A few quick gulps fought the nausea down but did little to help everything else.

Bongani started to lie back down but what was the point? He couldn’t sleep, he just couldn’t, and trying and failing was almost more distressing than doing stuff while exhausted to his bones. Maybe he should just get up and tidy up the apartment or go for a walk or watch a movie. Bongani groaned again. No, he didn’t have the energy for the first two and the second...well right then the thought of doing that alone made him feel very alone despite the warm, furry body that would hop off the bed and join him in the living room the moment he got up and walked out.

As he turned to sit on the edge of his bed, Bongani looked to the clock again and bit his lip. Would Clint be asleep? Of course he’d be asleep. It was late- or early depending on your view. He was probably snug in bed and already drifting through dream land. It would be selfish of Bongani to wake him. Selfish and childish. He was a grown man, damnit! He didn’t need somebody to hold his hand. He could get through this on his own, he could!

With a determined snort, Bongani jerked the covers back and slipped back under them.
Twenty minutes later he was at Clint’s door, Rafiki at his side. Bongani, a big fan of sleeping nude, had slipped a Natural History Museum T-shirt on over his chest and grabbed the first set of boxers he could find- which happened to be green with black paw prints all over them. The nerdiness of it didn’t even register as he, with eyes gone red and a face gone pale from lack of sleep, reached up and knocked lightly on Clint’s door.

Hawkeye
Apr 13 2018, 12:39 PM
How could so much go so wrong so quickly?

For once, Bongani allowed himself to believe his adventure into the realm of cooking was going well. The stuff on the stove was sauteing as the recipe made it sound like it should and the vegetables he was roasting in the oven were...well roasting. It should be fine, he saw no reason for it not to be fine.

Then again, it was probably his fault for trying to do two cooking things at once when in the past he often failed to be successful with one.

The roasting veggies were the first to go. One moment, Bongani was smiling to himself and humming a song his new Pandora station had introduced him to and the next he was sniffing the air and catching the definite scent of something burning over the smell of the food in the pan. Eyes widening, stomach dropping, he hurriedly reached down and opened the oven door only to get a face full of steam and- oh yup, there was smoke mixed in there. With a sound of complete bemusement, Bongani looked over at the old fashioned little white timer on the counter which had told him ten minutes ago that he had twenty minutes left.

It still said he had twenty minutes left.

With no time to wonder why or how the timer had stopped working, Bongani quickly rummaged through the drawers in his tiny kitchen until he found the oven mitts and used them to pull the steaming, smoking tray of veggies out of the oven. They continued to sizzle as he dropped it on the side of the stovetop he wasn’t using and quickly began fanning the air above it, uncomfortably aware of the smoke detector lurking silently not far behind him. Thankfully, they weren’t smoking too badly so maybe--

The pan started smoking.

“Oh nononono!” Bongani pleaded as he quickly reached for the pan he’d forgotten...and promptly burned his bare hand on the handle because the oven mitt was in the other hand. Yelping, he stuffed his singed fingers into his mouth as his free hand turned the heat off, forgetting that the stove was electric, not gas, and the heating plate below the pan didn’t immediately cool off. More smoke rose and the thing Bongani had feared most happened.

The smoke alarm screamed.

The loud, high pitched sound shot right through the shifter’s sensitive ears and he winced as his dog, lounging in the living room just a few yards away, leapt to his feet, ears forward in alarm. “It’s okay, Rafiki, it’s okay,” Bongani hurried to assure the pit mix as he moved to the tiny kitchen window and shoved it open, hoping to air the place out before the--

The smoke alarm in the living room went off next.

It sent Bongani’s heart skittering and he wanted nothing more than to slam his hands over his ears as he literally felt his ear drums pulse with the screeching beeps. Knowing that airing the place out was the only way to get it all to stop, the young Kenyan, clad in a loose tank and some workout shorts, his feet bare, scrambled toward the door and opened it, allowing both whiffs of smoke and screaming beeps to radiate out into the hallway beyond.

Scarlet Witch
Apr 1 2018, 05:34 PM
The rich scent of the sugary chocolate chip pancakes, seasoned breakfast potatoes, crispy bacon, and ooey gooey butter flavored maple syrup ready to liberally pour on both radiated so strongly from the plastic bag hanging at his side that it seemed it should fill the entire mansion with its goodness. At least, to Bongani’s sensitive nose it sure felt that way and he was not at all complaining. Well, alright, his stomach was making some noise because he hadn’t ripped into the containers and devoured the food yet, but the shifter just quietly and firmly shushed it. This food was only partially for himself, after all and he wasn’t going to take even one bite- tempting as it was- until the intended recipient was able to help herself.

Dressed in a pair of cargo pants and a green T-shirt over his UM uniform, Bongani walked quietly up the stairs and down the hall toward Merry’s room, some of the hesitation and timidity he'd lost back again thanks to the...incident of a few days prior. At least being back at the mansion helped. True, the beautiful school was no longer his home, technically (even if it had only temporarily been so), but they’d made it clear he was welcome back any time and he'd quickly grown comfortable within its walls. But, even if he hadn’t, even if the school had left him with bad memories, he’d be here regardless because his friend was hurting.

Bongani felt his chest pang at the thought of the little imp who was missing and the siblings left behind who must be drowning in worry. Thinking of what could be happening to sweet Neena made him want to start running through the city shouting her name and she wasn’t even his. Just six years old and missing. True, her powers were strong, but the fact that something had happened to her despite those powers was troubling. Did they know anymore about what happened to her? What was being done to find out?

These were questions Bongani wanted to ask Merry, but he reminded himself that he was here to comfort her and therefore needed to let her direct the conversation. His desire for answers meant nothing compared to the pain she must be feeling. Whatever she did or did not want to talk about would be up to her. Nodding to himself, the African mutant reached up and knocked on her door. “Merry?” he called, holding the bag up to the door even though she couldn’t see it from inside. A fresh wave of the delicious aromas inside washed over him and his stomach threatened to growl. “I come baring pancakes.”

Menagerie
Mar 24 2018, 10:16 AM
He’d needed this.
The dark, the quiet, the stillness. The scent of budding nature that was finally strong enough, with the arrival of spring, to overpower the constant smell of exhaust tinged with sewage, the classic and ever pervasive smell of a city. As he paused in his stroll through the park, Bongani breathed it in, slow and deep, and imagined for a moment that he was back out in the wilds of the American forests.

Or back home.

The latter was an image that he could only get to flicker to life briefly. The sounds were the same, but the smells...no. Under the same miasma that came with people crammed into a city, Nakuru had smelled differently but--well he couldn’t let himself think on that or he’d get depressed and he was out here trying not to be. Bongani had been doing a good job of it too until he’d let his mind wander back to the home he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to go back to.

Shaking his head, the shifter forced a smile on his face and started forward again, his sneakered feet landing silently on the greening grass. Despite having left the paths, and therefore the lights, long ago, Bongani’s eyes saw easily in the darkness around him. To most, the park probably would have seemed empty of life, but he caught the quick bursts of movement from the night time animals, heard them scurrying around in the plants around and above him and the more he heard the more genuine his smile became.

Yes, this was what he needed. The apartment had felt too claustrophobic after he’d woken up from a nightmare that had melded his time in a cage with the horrible labyrinth he and the others had been caught in. He’d needed space. Open space, nature, some quiet time to himself and--

The stink of cigarettes- not lit but steeped into skin and clothing- hit Bongani first as the gentle breeze around him shifted direction. Then he heard it, the heavy breathing, the rustle of fabric, but just as the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and the Kenyan turned to move away the man stepped out from behind a nearby tree, advancing on him quickly. Metal flashed in the stranger’s hand as the man, rough and hungry looking, stopped close enough to make a dangerous slash with his knife but not close enough for Bongani to do anything with his empty hands.

The would be mugger- whose eyes darted around them so wildly Bongani thought he must be on something or otherwise extremely paranoid- demanded he fork over his wallet in a voice graveled by the same cigarettes making Bongani want to sneeze, and the shifter raised his hands, heart rate increasing but...not by much. Really, in comparison to what he went through in that fascinatingly terrifying jungle, a mugger was nothing. Well, nothing as long as he didn’t get stabbed of course.

“I don’t have my wallet,” Bongani answered honestly. He didn’t even have his keys as he’d simply chosen to leave his apartment door unlocked. It was just him, his sweats, and his sneakers. Clearly not believing him, the man made a threatening swipe with the knife and made his demands again, this time louder and with more panic? Anger? Bongani wasn’t sure which.

The young African figured he’d probably didn’t have a lot of time to think before the mugger decided to cut and run (a not so funny joke, that), so he did the first thing that came to mind. He started to strip. He needed to anyway if he was going to shift and not get tangled up and he’d seen a (what were they called? Memes? Yes) meme once of two guys about to brawl when one started stripping instead and the other fled in shock. If that didn’t work, well Bongani figured he could just change into a cat and flee.

But just as he got his shirt half way off- so far so good, the man looked more confused than hostile for the moment- he heard something that didn't make any sense at all.

Angel
Dec 28 2017, 07:39 PM
Bongani was not sure he liked New York City. To be fair to The Big Pear (wait, Apple), he was pretty sure that it was due to everything that had happened to him over the past few months rather than anything wrong with the place itself. It was a world renowned city, after all, and when he’d first spotted it, its countless towering skyscrapers gleaming in the winter sun as they reached for the clouds, its arching bridges stretching across dark waters, the African man had understood why it featured so prominently in American movies (and seemed to be where all invading nations or aliens felt an attack would striker hardest at the American people). It was glorious in its overwhelming way. So full of life and sound and smells and activity. Even before he’d crossed its invisible borders Bongani had been able to tell that things there never truly settled.

And had Bongani been there on a voluntary visit, on a vacation, he likely would have found it fascinating...if still also a little overwhelming. After the past...oh he wasn’t even sure how many months now, after how frayed he felt, both body and soul, it made him feel small and jumpy like a mouse that knew a cat was lurking somewhere nearby but couldn’t figure out from where it would be pouncing.

The irony of that was missed on him because the shifter was also exhausted. It showed in every bit of his body language, from his hunched head and shoulders to the way his arms just hung from the pockets of his large, worn coat where his hands were seeking refuge to the trudge that made his too small shoes scrape the pavement with each step. The dog at his side, at least, seemed a bit more energetic and certainly more alert. Ears forward, tail up, eyes alert, Rafiki watched the new world passing by them, nose twitching with each fascinating, tempting smell the soft, cold breeze blew around them. He saw the buildings they passed, the people walking by, even the threat rolling slowly down the street behind them. Unfortunately, the mutt understood the importance of none of it.

A car door slammed shut, a voice called out. “Hey, you, with the dog.”

A little bleary eyed, Bongani looked up and around, not realizing at first that the voice came from behind him but quickly spotting why trouble was stirring. Dark eyes lost their sleepy glaze and the Kenyan felt his heart begin to patter as he took in the sleek, crisp store fronts with their fancy clothing, the well tended trees poking out of decorative grates on the sidewalk, the people who all looked important, clean cut, and like they belonged in the penthouses no doubt above him…

Oh...oh no.

Rafiki moved a few more steps forward before pausing to glance back at Bongani. The young man stood frozen, acutely aware that he did not look like he belonged there. Dirty, clothed in worn, stolen, mismatched clothes too big or small, he stood out on the tidy street like a injured finger and he caught more than a few uncertain, slightly hostile glances tossed his way. Swallowing, Bongani reached up to pull his hood down lower and tried to think invisible thoughts as he quickly hastened forward, eager to find a quick exit out of the wealthy neighborhood he hadn’t even noticed he’d blundered into.

The voice called out again, more forceful.

Bongani looked over his shoulder and felt his breath catch at the sight of two uniformed officers, one climbing out of the car parked at an awkward angle against the sidewalk, the other already walking toward him. Their expressions mirrored those of the people around him (many of whom began to back away from the confrontation they saw coming), but there was a hard, suspicious edge to their eyes and a menacing feel to their steps that made Bongani certain he was already in trouble despite what the nearest one said next. “We just want to talk…”

The shifter bolted.

“Hey!”

(Note: while this is open, it might be fun for somebody to think the guy running from the cops is the badguy and intervene. Just saying http://files.b1.jcink.com/html/emoticons/happy.gif)
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