Shadow was having trouble sleeping.

She’d been feeling a sense of tiredness all day, not that it’d been an issue what with all the exciting happenings that’d been going on. She had been so amped up she hardly noticed the strain.

But now that night had come, and the thinkers had set up camp and gone to bed. Well, Annie had gone to bed at least, it seemed Jonas was staying awake, watching the cave entrance? Regardless, she was finding she was wide awake despite how long she’d been up. She’d tried to settle down but she felt like she should be waking up instead.

It had been exciting watching the pair go about the process of setting up the area. They had unpacked all sorts of things from their backpacks and arranged them around. They had bedrolls, a pot, ropes, stakes, and all manner of other things. They had even created a fire with some flint and steel and wood!

She was learning all kinds of words once she got her question across to Annie. She’d pointed at her mouth and done her best emulation of the speech sounds (still not great…), then pointed at the new object she wanted the name of. It took a bit, but Annie got the idea, and then Shadow ran around pointing at all kinds of things. Annie dutifully told her the words for everything she pointed at. Annie had been smiling the whole time, which she learned meant happiness for thinkers.

Shadow had started trying to smile too, but it seemed to distress Jonas when she made the expression, so she’d stopped. No need to rile up the touchy thinker any more than he already was. He was far less friendly than Annie.

She moved on to learning the words for actions as well, generally by performing one and then pointing at herself, or pointing at Annie whenever she did something new. Annie was quick on the uptake and Shadow’s vocabulary was rapidly expanding. Her mind was taking in all the new words like water running into a bottomless pit.

She’d learned other stuff too, like cooking. She’d been wondering why they had bothered to make the fire, as awesome as it was. It turned out they used it to cook the hopper (rabbit!) she’d given them earlier, in a pot with water and some other things (onions, potatoes, and peppers!). They basically burnt the whole mix on the fire, but it didn’t really burn? It wasn’t blackened like what happened when something got stabbed by a flame horn, it just got soft and smelled really good.

Annie had given her a bowl filled with the mixture and it had tasted good! Nothing like anything she’d tasted before. The concoction, unfortunately, made her sick in short order, and it ended up back on the ground before long. This prompted Annie to give her rubs, water, and distressed looks. She heard the word meat said a few times.

Maybe she got sick because of the non-meat in the mix? It normally wouldn’t have tasted good, so she would have avoided eating it. However, all the different tastes had sort of combined in the water, making it all taste really good! She hadn’t hesitated to eat the cooked plants when they tasted like that.

She supposed it wasn’t good for her though. Oh well.

She was currently creeping over to some of Annie’s armor and clothes which were folded up on the ground. She wasn’t quite sure what the distinction between them was. The armor seemed to be thicker, and perhaps made of some sort of hide? Whereas the clothes seemed thinner and softer, made of something else. Annie had been wearing both at the same time, with the clothes under the armor. Was it just the order they put them on that made the difference? Or was it the material? She wasn’t sure.

She’d tried to compare with what Jonas was wearing but he just shooed her off when she got close. He was as bad as a brother…

But back to the point, she was curious about the whole ‘wearing stuff’ thing and thought she would give it a try. Or attempt to at least. The clothes were not exactly the right shape for her, but they were pretty flexible so she thought she could work something out.

However, Jonas was still looking out and she’d rather not give him a reason to be mad at her, so she figured she should borrow the clothes on the down-low, thus the creeping. She was planning to return them, and would have tried to ask Annie, but she was sleeping and Shadow didn’t want to wake her up for something so… trivial? She would have definitely let her borrow them. Definitely.

She had activated her shadow fluff and made it to the pile without issue. Jonas had looked over but didn’t seem to notice anything, to her relief. She slowly extracted the top piece, where their arms and head and torso went, the shirt. It was the only piece of clothing she thought she had a chance of getting to work right.

After a few light tugs, her extraction was successful, and she slinked over to the stream, shirt delicately held in her mouth. She made her way to a sufficiently secluded corner, and relaxed her shadow fluff. She tried to lay the shirt out flat on the ground, and after a little finagling, she got it all spread out.

Here we go!

She walked around to the big hole at the bottom, and made her way in.

It was… very large for her. It was more like she was in a small cave looking out entrances than a piece of clothing that was supposed to fit on her body.

They’re so much bigger than me…

But no matter. She could make this work. She stuck her head out the little middle hole, and carefully gathered up the sleeves to poke her forelegs out them. She made sure to keep her claws in, not wanting to damage the soft thing.

Now comes the hard part.

She leaned back, balancing her weight on her back legs only, and brought her forelegs up off the ground. It took a few tries but soon enough she was balanced, forelegs pointed straight out, clothes bunched up all along their length.

She laughed in delight, the sound coming out like a series of clicks.

I’m doing it!

She was still standing on the inside of the shirt though, so she shuffled her back paws backward. She worked them towards the hole in the back, making a fine effort. She'd managed to recover every time she almost fell over.

Her paws found ground and she looked down at herself.

She looked like… well, like a tiny thinker whose shirt was way too big.

She cackled some more, and slowly shuffled herself over to the stream. She was trying to catch a reflection of herself in a calm section for a better view, when she heard a sound behind her. She spun around and saw Jonas standing there, towering over her, but only for a moment. She wasn't quite good enough at this standing thing to pull off a maneuver like that.

She toppled over backward into the water, and instantly got herself tangled in the now-wet garment. Suddenly it was clinging to her, dragging her under.

I can’t see!

It was over her eyes. She was underwater. There was no air.

She started to panic. Her claws slashed out, fighting desperately with her entrapment.

I can’t breathe!

She bit at the clothes; all sense of orientation lost in her entrapping prison.

Then suddenly a great force seized her and she was dragged from the water, gulping in the air.

She found herself looking into Jonas’ glaring eyes, seized with one hand gripping her around her chest, under her forelegs.

”If you bite me I’ll throw you at a wall.” The man grumbled.

She recognized bite, throw, and wall, and had theories about you.

Along with his threatening tone, she thought she might understand his intention. She stayed very still.

He quickly stripped her out of the shirt, and she started making a pathetic whining noise when she saw its tattered state.

I destroyed Annie’s shirt!

Annie was going to be mad at her! She hadn’t meant to destroy it!

Jonas stomped back to the camp with her in hand, carrying her like she weighed nothing at all.

He set her down on the ground nearby and glared at her, pointing one of his fingers.

“Sit. Stay. Sleep. Don’t mess with our things, they’re not for you.”

He then turned around and walked towards the fire, shaking his head, holding out the torn-up garment. He laid it out a few paces in front of the flames, then went back to sitting, watching the entrance of the cave.

She got the gist of his command. She wasn’t supposed to move around anymore. She supposed that was fair after she had gone and ruined Annie’s clothes… She would need to do something to make it up to her, and… Jonas was making weird noises. What was… was he laughing? He was laughing!

Jonas was sitting over by the fire doing his best to stifle his laughs, but only succeeding in forcing them into under his breath wheezes.

How dare he! It’s not funny! I almost drowned and I ruined Annie’s shirt!

“Like a kid, eh? I guess I can see it.” He whispered, laughs slowly subsiding.

Upset, Shadow forced herself to curl up and close her eyes. She still wasn’t tired and now she was feeling indignant and wet on top of everything. She didn’t want to risk being caught again though, so she stayed put.

It took a while, but she did eventually drift off to sleep, worries of an angry Annie and a laughing Jonas haunting her dreams, as she ran away stumbling on only her back legs, with too-large clothes slowing her down.


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