She sat at the end of the bar with the "minors not allowed into this section of premises" sign just a couple feet to her right, far enough away from the swinging of the door that light did not glare off the screen of her handheld game. She appeared to be the only one at the bar sitting alone. As usual there were plenty of people scattered in both sections of the bar; families and cubs in the front section tapping on laptops or smartphones, playing one of the rented game consoles bolted under the tables, or snacking while watching one of the many professional games (both sports and Esports) playing on big screens higher on the walls.
The bar was dark, one of the reasons the small fennec made it one of her regular haunts. The darkness was not unwelcoming but felt cozy, complementing the ascetic were polished stone walls and cement floor into which intricate carvings had been bored then covered with liquor for a smooth finish. hundreds of strands of white Christmas lights created just enough light that strobing screens wouldn't cause headaches for the bar's patrons.
The cast bar was the only real sports bar in her small town, not the only bar but the only one with decent TVs and certainly the only one clean enough to let a cub run around in, a far cry from the dives and titty bars that always seemed to be around every corner the first time you visited the town. It was a frank unspoken consensus that the bar was only as popular as it was for that very reason, if the town was big enough for another sports bar that didn't have the video game theme would probably win over the townsfolk, that was just how the people were.
The small fox babied her drink, she had spent the last of her money on drinks and a short gaming session earlier in the day but wanted not to feel like she was a freeloader, though strictly speaking she already felt like she was having only spent her fifteen dollars of disposable income. She wanted to stay until the moment she got kicked out, her home was hellish, her parents (along with most of the church she attended) found video games to be a sin, she had to hide her handheld each day before returning home and if her mother found out that she was spending her money here she would definitely be left with some bruises and without an allowance, not that she wouldn't already with how late she was out, the sun just barely dropping over the hills in the distance.
she sighed as she swallowed the last of her drink, the pattern of pink and white fur on her neck stretching and contorting as her tongue sought to find another drop of liquid in the bone dry cup. she began to stow her handheld, spun around on the bar stool and was just about to jump off when she heard a voice from behind her.
"Just a minute little miss" it was the low growl of the barkeeps voice, though he rarely spoke preferring to listen and nod or smile as acknowledgement she had hung out at the bar enough to know that his voice always sounded like a command, low toned and said with only enough volume to be sure that the intended patron heard what he had to say, but it still nearly made her jump out of her skin and turn around slowly with her hackles raised.
"You've been sipping that drink a long time, are you enjoying the atmosphere?" he asked, sounding genuinely curious, but Sara knew from experience that these kind of questions usually lead to bad endings, she wondered if it would end with her being booted out of the bar permanently, she always had known she sat at the bar too long and bought too little, but she had always thought that she always made an effort to spend when she could and the fact that she always cleaned up after herself might allow her to stay.
"yes sir, i love it here" she replied with as much enthusiasm as her terrified lungs could muster, nodding probably harder then was intended with tears she was determined not to let anybody see forming in the corners of her eyes. "I'm sorry i hang around for so long, its just that my mother is a member of the west side church and since she thinks video games and TV and things like that are sinful I can only ever play here" the words tumbled out of her mouth like a waterfall.
the big gryphon looked her up and down quizzically as he considered the cute pink and white fennec. he had originally stopped her because he needed to keep an eye on any cubs who were hanging around (especially those who were alone to make sure they didn't swipe anything alcoholic, he had been forced to kick out a group (chaperoned by two parents no less) who were not much older then her for trying to grab patrons beers while they weren't looking. he felt her pain, the west church was an orthodox group who basically thought everything fun was sinful, and he didn't want to send her back to a household like that with no recourse. On the other hand a cub hanging around without her mother's knowledge was a bit dangerous from a legal standpoint, so he took a moment to carefully think about his options.
the moment of silent tension was a bit too much for Sara, thinking that the barkeep was planning to find the best way to tell her to fuck off and never come back, she openly burst into tears. The other cubs who had previously given the fennec a good berth now began to openly recoil at what they saw as a show of weakness, the adults paid little mind to the scene, most of them having eyes riveted to football or already lost in a drunken haze, but every cub had their eyes riveted to the pair. Sara thought to herself that tomorrow at school would be hell, but that wouldn't be anything compared to losing her sanctuary here at the bar.
Mika, the big gryphon at the bar, was focused exclusively on Sara, when he found a problem he lasered in until he fixed it, which was one of the reasons the cast bar had survived in such a fundamentalist anti technology town for so long, and he was applying the full force of that problem solving to the issue at hand, though it was taking him time to sort through the pros and cons of each idea, though eventually one came to the front out of the mix, if there was one thing the west side church was fond of, it was backbreaking labor.
Finally he had it "just a moment little miss, I'm going to have to call your mother, please stay right there." he poured her another drink on the house and walked into the back room, counting on the little fox to be too emotionally drained to run off before the plan was completed, he (unfortunately) knew her mother as the head of the west side church protest that opened up when he had first opened his doors, and already knew the phone number by heart after the times his phone had wrung with an out of context loaded question from the older fennec. "hello ms Angelsong, this is Mika down at the cast bar, yes, yes, I believe we need to have a talk about your daughter..."
a moment later with the swoosh of his wings the gryphon stepped out of the back room to find the little fennec still crying into her drink "please come into the back with me for a moment little one" he said, quickly catching himself before he slipped into full caregiver mode and opening the section of counter that folded up to allow access.
as soon as they entered the back room (his office, a comfortable sitting room with a big oak desk and couches arranged around an intricately carved coffee table) he offered her a kercheif and asked if he could get her anything else, to which she replied with a sullen "no"
"in that case, lets get down to business little fox, how would you like a job?"