Without a Jacket

It was January. A new year, filled with so many possibilities for everyone. New resolution, new plans, new adventures. For Casey, however, it was just cold. 

It had been four months now since Casey's 16th birthday, since her first change and her discovery of what she was. Since her abandonment by her parents who must be terrified of what she had turned out to be. Her pale face was dirty, with dark circles under her cool green eyes. A winter hat barely contained Casey's hair, keeping it out of the way. About a month ago she had cut it, making it far easier to manage but still a pain when she couldn't properly clean it. A light winter jacket was all she had to keep herself warm in the blistering winter, she hadn't been able to afford or steal anything heavier as she dragged her tennis shoes through the fresh snowfall on the sidewalk that had yet to be shoveled. 

Every part of her ached, she was exhausted and starving, but she had no where to go. She had no money to spend on food at the moment, so she'd have to go without eating for another day. As the sun started to set, even though it was only the evening, Casey decided she had walked enough for the day, and began looking for a place to sleep. Not that far ahead of her on the street was what looked like an apartment building in progress. Fences around the border of the property were easily scaled, and the plastic sheets protecting the openings on the outer walls was easy enough to tear through. Once inside, Casey found an area that was shielded from the wind and view from outside, and let herself sit down to rest. With her knees pulled up to her chest and her head resting on the plywood wall, Casey found herself asleep. 

It wasn't until Casey heard the loud voices of men that she woke up, sun light filling the surrounding area. She rose a hand to wipe the sleep from her eyes, only to realize that she had shifted once again in her sleep. A fox now laid tangled in her coat instead of a human girl, causing her to whine in frustration. 

"Hey, ya hear that?" Came a man's voice from somewhere nearby. There were a couple mumbled responses before foot steps started approaching Casey's hiding spot. Shit. Shit shit shit this was bad. Casey struggled to free herself of her jacket, ending up shuffling backwards to get out from the bottom opening. The foot steps were getting closer, following the noise of her struggle. She couldn't change back now! Her clothes were laying on the ground beside her, she needed to take them with her, she--!


Three men entered the room, all wearing large coats under yellow safety vests, helmets, and tool belts. Construction workers. The three of them stared at Casey, while she stared back. Slowly, one of the men smiled, crouching down. "Well look at that, a little fox." He said, his voice calm and friendly. He didn't perceive Casey as a threat, which was true, but Casey didn't know if she should be thankful or worried. One of the other men spoke up. 

"How the hell did that get in here? Should we call AC to get it out?" 

The third man eyes the full set of clothes Casey was standing beside. Her clothes. "What's with the coat and shoes?"


 The first man shushed his partners. "It just came in here to get out of the cold I bet, look at it, it's not gonna hurt anybody. Right, little fox?" Casey remained standing still, watching the men. The first man stood with a sigh, seeming disappointed that the fox gave him no respond. He turned to the two others. "Well, out of the doorway, it can't leave if we're blocking it in. Move your ass outa the way." The three men departed the room but still stood by the doorway, watching Casey, waiting to see if she'd actually leave. Should she? Were they just going to try and catch her as she left? What about her clothes? Unfortunately, it seemed like her clothes would need to be left behind, she didn't have a choice about that. 

The second of the three men spoke up again. "What, is it stupid or something? It should get the hell out before I make it." He and the third man laughed as the first glared at them. Taking the moment of distraction, Casey bolted. Fast and agile as the animal she was impersonating, she ran out the door and followed the men's snowy footprints outside. A section of the gate had been opened for a truck to be driven up, and Casey escaped through that gap. She didn't stop running until she was behind what she believed was a grocery store, panting in the alley as she came to a halt. 

Casey remained there for the rest of the day, eating food that had fallen out of the dumpster. Looks like they had been throwing out a lot of their bakery goods, so she was able to eat some cold and stale but thankfully not moldy bread rolls and muffins. And surprisingly, Casey found herself rather comfortable in the cold weather. She still felt cold, but too a much lesser degree, to the point where it was more than tolerable. Like taking a cold shower, it was refreshing. Gods, when was the last time she had gotten to take any kind of shower?


Looking down at her own paws, leaving little foot prints in the snow, maybe Casey could...stay like this for a little while. No jacket, no hat, but soft fur and easy running. It wasn't ideal, but honestly, Casey would take any form of comfort right now. And if she needed to stay as a fox to do so, to stay warm enough to not be in pain, to be able to more easily find a place to sleep and hide, so be it. She'd stay like this.

At least until she found some new clothes. 

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