Heron Lake Plateau My disintegration.
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Tags for reference. Post dated in real time, so a week+ after this thread. Please let Remedy post first, then it's open! :)

Having made her call at the neighbors', Towhee returned to the plateau. She trudged up the slope, the weight of everything that had happened lately resettling on her dusted shoulders. (In that vein, she missed X's familiar weight very much...) She had enjoyed the brief throwback and respite from reality but it was over now and it was time to face the cold, hard facts. She went straight to the place where she and @Phox kept house with the pups.

She planted herself on the grass and tended to her shoulder. In the week since her altercation with @Tegan, the wound had mended well enough. It only hurt a little now. Mostly, it itched. She wished she could ask her sister for some help but she couldn't bring herself to go to the Alpha female just yet. She passed her tongue over it a few times, then sat up straight. She pointed her snout skyward and bent her spine, cracking her back. Towhee rolled those weighted shoulders, then let out a breath.

Her heart began to pound as she said, "I think it goes without saying that we're not really welcome here anymore." She glanced pointedly at her shoulder, fighting the bile rising in her throat. Was she really ready to leave the Redhawks? It felt monumental: schema shattering. But aside from @Raven, was she even leaving anything behind at this point, truly? She'd held off as long as she could, kept her silence and gave herself time to heal from Tegan's attack, though Towhee could feel the ground rotting beneath her feet.

All she needed to do was look at @Fig and @Fennec to steady herself and remember why she was making these choices. Once, pack fealty meant everything to her. Now they meant everything to her. She would be an oath breaker, for them, though she did hope that any bridges burned would one day be rebuilt... yes, even including the particularly charred one spanning between herself and Tegan. Surely their notion of an alliance was still as viable as the Firebirds'?

"I know we wanted to wait until they're older but I think it's best if we just go," Towhee continued after a lengthy pause. Better to be gone before someone else attacked them over their decision. Or before Raven kicked them out to keep the peace. She sucked in a breath. "Today." But not just today. "Now."

[Image: l93ggztr76031.gif]
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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Towhee hadn't explained everything to him, but he knew that she and Tegan had fought when she told him they were leaving. It hadn't been much, or so she had made it seem, but something about the way she'd said it still hadn't quite felt right. Not like she was lying, but... not like she was telling the complete truth, either. Phox hadn't pressed her for the details, and she hadn't brought them up, but it appeared that's what she was doing right now.

Because of Tegan? he asked, already knowing the answer. It wouldn't be the first time Tegan had caused him an inconvenience, and he doubted it would be the last. Phox had never really seen much in him, and he had never understood why Towhee seemed to think so highly of him. Hell, he had been beta, then ran off? What kind of idiot did that? At least when Phox had run off, he'd been a child, not somebody in charge.
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Fig's performance at the 2019 Towgan Showdown hadn't exactly been what one could call... impressive. I don't want to say he had acted cowardly, but he hadn't responded very well to the pressure either. He hadn't charged ahead like Fenn to defend their Aunt Aunt Mom Adoptive Mom FUNCLE yes, that one. He hadn't charged ahead like Fenn to defend their Funcle, but he had at least gone after her in spite of being scared silly at putting himself on the front line. So all in all, ...it could've been worse.

In any event, the boy was determined now to make up for it and show his family he could be brave too. Days since the incident had been spent with him protectively pacing the perimeter of the area outside of their den and hovering watchfully at the entrance while Fenn or anyone else napped inside. He had even gone as far as to mark their little play area and scratch his bitty peets against the ground to make it very clear that no Papa X killers were allowed in their space. It was his damnit, and he was going to protect it!

Assuming the Papa X Killer didn't appear... All bets were off if he actually showed up.

That's where Fig was when Towhee began her conversation with Phox. He glanced over at them with some interest, but quickly snapped his head back to glare wide-eyed at the plains around them as a gentle breeze went by that could absolutely have meant a murderer was around. So yeah, if you need him...

skippable!
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
Fenn is welcome at all times and will in fact make me sad if she doesn't show up.
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Instead of immediately agreeing or disagreeing, Phox seemed to want to hash it out a little bit. Since this wasn't a decision to make lightly or hurriedly, Towhee nodded and replied, "That's part of it. I think Rave wants us gone too. I haven't actually talked to her," she was quick to add, "but you two looked like you were about to start a smack-down when I walked up that day. She didn't take it well. Tegan didn't take it well." She laughed humorlessly at the understatement. "X is gone." She swallowed. "I'm sure Qui would prefer if we fucked right off. I think it'll just be best for everyone if we got gone."

Would it be best for Fig and Fen? Towhee turned to look at the boy as he guarded the den, a behavior he had taken up since the altercation with Tegan. Her jaw set. They were two months old now. If they were ready to move to a rendezvous site, said site could be somewhere outside the plateau. They didn't mean to go far. And nobody really provided for them save for their parents, so Towhee was confident they could make it out there.

But that didn't mean any of this was going to be easy. "I just hope that once the dust settles, we can still be allies. Things were fucked up with the Firebirds and now we all get along, right?" Towhee's attention returned to her brother's face, her own expression very torn. She'd literally just returned from a visit with Niamh, which gave her hope. Just because they planned to cut ties with the plateau's ranks, it didn't mean they were turning their backs on everyone.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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Fenn, on the other hand, didn't have many thoughts post altercation.  Everything seemed to calm down in the days that followed and she assumed that, sometimes, adults yelled and fought.  She had no reason to believe anyone would come back and hurt them, though she did try to sneak up on Fig once or twice while he was "standing guard" over her.  She was pretty bad at it.

Fenn was rolling in the grass when Towhee and Phox began having their adult chat, but she picked up on a good amount of it.  The reality of what it meant for her didn't occur quite yet... "leave" meant maybe for an hour or two, to return later, and she assumed then maybe she and Fig would have some time to get into trouble.  She giggled and kicked her paws up.  Good!

random and also skippable! I got shadow posted but am not gonna update :P
Fenn is blind, and as she's older, will take all of her character insight from tone.  If you are ever uncomfortable with an assumption she makes, please let me know!
Fig is always welcome (as if she has a choice <3)
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She was right about Raven. But Raven was both their mother and their sister, and Phox didn't imagine she would actually kick them out. Besides, he wasn't about to let Raven and Tegan make any decisions for them. Phox wanted to leave on his own terms. But maybe that just wasn't possible. Maybe there were too many things working against them now. If it had just been him and Towhee, things would have been a whole lot different. Figment and Fenton were their primary reason for leaving, and they would need to be kept safe.

Unaware that they were surfing the same brainwaves, Phox spoke again. What if the pups' rendezvous site wasn't here? When I was scouting, I found a nice, open forest east of here. What if we move them there? he asked. He wasn't sure if that meant "today" or just "soon," but he could at least envision them settling there.
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"I was thinking the same thing," she said right away, "and I fully trust you on the where, it's the when that we need to figure out." Towhee let that hang in the air a moment, watching as Fen giggled, a sound she would never hear but she could see, plain as day. "I think we should go now," she repeated after a beat, gaze returning to Phox. "Why wait?"

The sooner they kicked up the dust, the sooner it would settle. Truth be told, Towhee was so worked up about the entire thing, she just wanted to be done with it. She realized her skin was crawling with impatience and she sucked in a breath. If her brother didn't want to go right this moment, she wouldn't force his hand. Fig and Fen belonged to her too now, though they were his first.
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"Why wait?" was a fair enough question, but something held Phox back. He couldn't quite put his paw on it. The plateau had caused him nothing but grief (save for the two bright children who would be coming along with them), so what did he have to lose? He would miss Raven, but that was one wolf amongst many, and the three others he cared for the most would be coming along for the ride. Phox inhaled, exhaled, and tried to think of a good reason not to leave right now. And honestly, he couldn't fathom a single one. Raven already knew they were planning on leaving, and she seemed to want them gone anyway. What difference would it make to her?

Alright, he said after a very, very long pause. We go now. But you have to tell Raven we're leaving. Phox switched to ptero. -We know how terrible I am at breaking bad news. I'll take the kids and you can catch up. I don't want them here when she finds out we're leaving right away.- He really didn't want to leave without giving Raven at least a little bit of a heads up.

Once Towhee had agreed, Phox began to herd Fig and Fenn toward their new home.
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He relented to her reasoning and Towhee's heart began pounding even harder, faster. Phox told her that she should inform Raven of their departure, while he moved the kids. A few protests rose in Towhee's throat, though she slammed her lips shut against them. She nodded her assent to the plan. She wasn't sure how Raven would feel about Phox sneaking off with the pups, though if Towhee could smooth out some of the wrinkles, he could always come back and say his proper goodbyes at a later date.

"I'll see you guys soon," she said to Fig and Fen, kissing their heads. She exchanged a look with her brother, then blinked blankly at the den site they were leaving behind. Towhee had been stewing on this decision ever since returning with Z's body, so she didn't linger. She'd made her peace with the places she was losing, just like she'd done at the caldera. And it was still only ground.

Loping away toward the place where @Raven and @Quixote lived, Towhee rehearsed what she wanted to say. She wanted to emphasize that, yes, they were leaving and some of their reasoning was contentious; nobody could or would deny that. But it would be good for everyone to finally do away with all the interpersonal strife, right? Perhaps they would be better neighbors than pack mates. The mercenary would also like to point out what a powerhouse the family at large would become, whatever their chosen surname or allegiance, as a third pack joined the alliance.

She just hoped her sister would accept it, even if she didn't like it or even totally understand it. At the very least, her reaction couldn't be half as terrible as Tegan's. Towhee's steps slowed as she approached their resting quarters, trying to marshal her thoughts and ignore the fluttering bird in her chest.
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Raven's emotions were all over the place. She vacillated wildly between depression, grief, and fiery anger, and each of those was amplified tenfold by the rampant hormones of her advancing pregnancy. Everything felt like it was spinning out of control around her. She couldn't shake the feeling that she had failed Wildfire, and now somehow she'd failed Towhee and Phox and hell, probably half the rest of her pack as well. She'd only been back in leadership for a short time and already she was contemplating ragequitting it again just to go back to the simpler life of being a minivan for fetuses and a crazy plant lady.

She dwelled bitterly on things as she lay in the sparse little copse of trees under which she and Quixote had always made their home. The logical side of her had urged her to go to Phoxhee and try to reason with them, try to convince them to stay, promise she would mediate the issues they had with Quixote and try to find some sort of resolution. But the more emotional side of her dismissed this as a waste of time. Maybe Towhee could be swayed, but Phox was stubborn as the bovine creature that made up the latter half of his name. And frankly, she didn't want to look at him right now anyway.

The sound of someone approaching distracted her from her pessimistic thoughts and, for the briefest of moments, she thought it might be her mate. But the footfalls sounded different and she quickly realized it was none other than Towhee. She couldn't help the upswell of affection and gladness she felt at the sight of her beloved sister, but that was quickly eclipsed by anxiety and dread. Nothing she was coming to say could possibly be good, Raven thought. The alpha didn't rise to greet her sister; rather, dejection and sadness were written in every line of her face as she watched the wolf who was breaking her heart in entirely new ways draw near.
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She saw no sign of Quixote, though she discovered the pregnant Alpha female sprawled beneath the shady trees, dappled with June sunlight. Towhee paused where she stood, regarding Raven from a short distance, noting her demeanor. She saw the moment when her sister noticed her, only to look back dejectedly. They hadn't seen one another since the day Phox had broken the news, despite the stiffened wound on the Beta's shoulder.

Without a word, Towhee slipped up beside her sister and dropped down on her belly beside her. She desperately wanted to just get this over with, though she exercised some restraint and drummed up some patience. She gave her heartbeat a moment to slow down a little. She took the time to organize her thoughts a little more. This was one moment where Towhee definitely didn't want to shoot from the hip. And it was her last to just sit here with Raven, beneath these trees.

"It would mean everything to me if we could be sister packs," the mercenary spoke at last, her voice strangely quiet, "someday, if not now. I want to have the space we all need to keep the peace and bring up our own families but be close enough for visits, play dates and shit." But if Raven couldn't promise that, she'd get it. She'd needed time to come to terms with the Firebirds split, so she could hardly fault Raven for any anger or sadness she felt or begrudge her whatever time it took to see this development in a favorable light. But Towhee dearly hoped it was at least a distant possibility.

"Anyway," she continued after shifting her weight, rolling so she could nip at her sister's ear, "it's time. I didn't want to leave without seeing you." There was no possibility now of walking this back, though Raven deserved a chance to speak if she liked, as well as proper notice and farewell.
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Despite the bitterness she felt toward them -- mainly Phox because her brother was a turd -- she had no ire or ill will toward either of them. If this was truly what they wanted, then she hoped for nothing but happiness and success for them. She'd been sad when Wildfire had decided to move but she had understood and in the end, it had worked out well. She was confident it would be no different in this case. She just hated to lose them right now, particularly in the wake of Wildfire's death.

As Towhee spoke, she sighed softly and looked at her sister with eyes full of regret. She regretted that the friction between her mate and her brother had driven them away. She regretted that her life seemed like a constant stream of goodbyes without nearly enough hellos. She regretted that she'd reacted the way that she had to Phox's attempt to be honest and transparent with her, and now he was probably pissed at her. Most of all, she regretted that home no longer felt like home to them. "Tow," she said when her sister had finished speaking. -"We'll always be sister packs. You don't need to worry about that. What's mine is yours -- always. I'm really not mad at you or Phox. It's just...you know how I am."- Few knew her better than Towhee did, so perhaps that was all that needed to be said. She had a hard time letting go of loved ones. -"I'm really glad you came to see me."-
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Raven's lips formed the first syllable of her name and Towhee's heartbeat ratcheted up several notches even as she stared raptly, hanging on her sister's every word. The caregiver began to sign too, spelling out a message that made her heart thump in a whole different manner. Raven had barely finished signing the last word before the mercenary was on her feet again, a foreleg slung around her sister's neck, her face buried behind one black silk ear.

"Always," she said, voice even thicker than usual as she repeated the word Raven had already said twice. She peppered Raven's crown with a few sisterly licks, then nibbled at the other she-wolf's ear again before drawing back to look in her in the eye. "Love you, Rave," was the only other thing Towhee felt she needed to say. Her lips twitched into a hopeful smile, even though this was a rather bittersweet moment.

Duty was calling her to go and find Phox's trail, wherever it might lead, but she was reluctant to simply take off now that they'd gotten past the hard part. "It'll take some time to settle, wherever we do, but once we've done that, we'll come visit, let you know where we've set up shop. And then we'll visit as much as we're welcome after that. And vice versa. Same goes for all those boneheads over at Firebirds. You know, we're going to make one hell of a powerhouse in this corner of the wilds."
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Mobile posting distractedly from work between customers and lurking bosses, so pardon the crap quality lol

Her sister’s embrace was a balm on her spirit, and Raven couldn’t help the tired smile that took up residence on her face as Towhee kissed her face and head. She could never be mad at her little sister. She’d always been putty in the hands of the younger Redhawk, and while maybe it was a little inconvenient at times, Raven didn’t mind. It all came down to love, and even though they all occasionally wanted to strangle each other, there was a hell of a lot of love to go around in this family.

When Towhee drew back, Raven listened to her thoughts and nodded in agreement. She hoped she’d receive word soon about where they’d chosen to settle, and she definitely hoped it was close. When Towhee had finished, Raven replied, -”Love you too, Tow. Let me know if you need anything. And if things don’t work out, you guys always have a home here.”- She smiled at Towhee again, indicating that they were good and there were no hard feelings, and touched her sister beneath the chin. She knew Towhee was probably ready to roll and she didn’t want to keep them any longer than necessary. She didn’t want them traveling late into the night, wherever they were going. -“Go on now, before it gets too much later. Give Phox and the kids my love, okay?”-
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It was such a relief, knowing there was no bad blood between them, that the future was brighter than Towhee had dared hope for. When she left—not before showering Raven with a dozen more pecks and a proper farewell—her gait was buoyant as they led her toward the borders. She found her brother's and children's trail and began to follow it south, the spring in her step slowly ebbing away and the weight of what she'd just done settled on her white-streaked shoulders.
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