Firefly Glen Stay away from the motion and madness
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The tracks he had found led him along the river, and past the place where he'd nearly been entombed. It looked strange to him now- this sunken pocket of earth which would likely remain as a bit of a dievt in the land until the frost pushed it back out in the springtime. He couldn't help but feel extremely guilty- maybe he just wasn't as good at den digging as his mother was...And he even went so far as to consider taking a trip to the Caldera to ask his mother what she did to dig out a den safely, and how to tell if the ground would crush him or not. It would take a bit more guilt for him to go that far, though- but he hoped to escape that by presenting @Fennec with the gift he'd found at the beach.

Her trail led him down alongside the river near where the waterfall was- and his gaze was drawn up along a rock ledge, to where he could see a dark chamber leading into the embankment. This, he guessed, was her new den- but for some reason, the fact that she'd kept it a secret implied that she wasn't welcoming his company. Perhaps his invitation to share a den for the winter had been ruined when he'd accidentally ruined her den; maybe he really did want to go ask his Mom for advice after all...But then again, if he did, would Fennec even allow him to help?

Her distance had spoken volumes, and he had done what he could to give her space- but he thought enough time had passed, perhaps, for her to have forgiven him for what he'd done. And if not, then it was at least time for him to stop giving her space, and begin grovelling.

So he'd tracked her to what he assumed was her new den- but even without approaching it or peering in, he could tell that she wasn't home. Still- he didn't just want to leave the gift for her without offering any sort of explanation, so he settled down on the ground near the riverbank, and waited for her to return- however long it took.
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Fennec had returned from her little stint out of the borders with a renewed spirit.  She'd managed to catch a beaver all on her own and, while it had been a bit of a lucky break, she was immensely proud of the achievement.  She'd taken it to @Kukutux to see if the woman could tell her how to cure it the way she had her own, but she hadn't stuck around much longer than what was necessary to gain a few pointers.  Her new mentor had seemed in an odd space and Fennec hadn't been much interested in asking what was going on.

She'd left the beaver near her new den, buried in the soft soil along the ledge.  She meant to give it a try now, the instructions from Kukutux fresh in her mind, but she stopped when she caught Bronco's scent.  Her most immediate response to it was annoyance; of course he'd discovered her new spot.  Maybe she should have tried harder to hide the scent, but it had only been a matter of time.  She was frequenting it more and more as it got closer and closer to being finished.  This one was progressing faster too.  The stone roof meant that she didn't need to take care in digging too far up or measure much.  The only consideration she took was, every so often, walking the length and comparing it to the length and breadth of the ledge above.  She had a sizeable hollow already and was nowhere near close to running out of space.

Have a nice trip?  She asked the open air.  If he had already left then no one would be around to judge her for talking to herself, but the scent was distinct enough she was sure he was.  She was willing to treat this as if none of the past few weeks had happened.  Her reluctance to spend much time around him had been equal parts embarassment and denial; she'd needed space to get back to a place where she felt like the echo of what had happened, and the way she'd reacted to it, wasn't hanging over her shoulders like some awkard and looming shadow.

WC: 364
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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He'd zoned out, and had allowed himself to drift off into a sort of mindless state with his jaw hanging open and his muzzle drooping until it nearly touched his paws when Fennec spoke, causing him to wake up with a jolt. He instinctively sucked his tongue back into his mouth, and with it the tendril of spittle that'd started to drip off the end of it. There had been a few moments in his life where he had been glad that Fennec couldn't see him on account of his facial expression- but out of all of those moments, this one definitely took the cake.

“Uh,” He said, and cleared his throat. “Yeah, uh, it was a nice trip. Meerkat got to hang out with her friend there, for a while,” He said, trying to claw back some of his dignity with an answer appropriate for an alpha, had Osiris come to question their journey. Still somewhat disoriented due to brainfog, he asked Fennec a question then, finding himself unable to recall what the answer might've been, if he knew it or not. “You've been out to the coast before, haven't you?” He asked.
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That's nice, she thought, and despite her best intentions a little cattiness did enter with it.  She'd already yelled at him about this exact thing once before though... and she knew right now she didn't have a leg to stand on with it.  She'd been avoiding him, after all.

Still, if he'd bothered to stick around longer than an instant, she probably would have asked to go with.

Twice.  Fennec answered easily instead, recalling both.  One had been a rather extended jaunt along the coast, and the other had been with Penn.  Once with the bitch and once with...  well, both times with a bitch I guess.  She said with a half-hearted snort.  He'd earned that title, fair and square.  I liked it.  Kind of hard to move and feel where things were in the sand, but everything smelled and tasted extra.  Would be nice to go back sometime, see what sort of plants and healing they have.

She couldn't resist tacking on the passive-aggressive afterthought.  It was a subtle one, but at the very least it was a hint that might get his wheels a turning next time he planned some kind of an outing and peaced out with barely a word.  She knew full well she could ask for an escort anytime and get one; part of the perks of being in a pack was support exactly like that.  But she also knew full well that for her it was a different story.  When Meerkat asked Bronco along, she asked because he was a friend and she enjoyed traveling with him.  When Fennec asked, she'd like it to be the same, but it wasn't.  If he said no, there was no trip, and an obligation was never what she wanted.  So she only ever asked when she absolutely needed it.

Was it stupid? Yes.  Would it ever change?  Likely not.  Fennec was too stubborn for that shit.

As she spoke, she drew a little closer to his voice, coming to a standstill just off from the entrance to her new den.  Here she sat down and set her ears towards him expectantly, though her mind drew back to the beaver for a second.  It would need to wait.  She couldn't pay attention to Bronco and do the steps Kukutux had given her; she was in no way practiced (obviously) and it would take some amount of focus to do it by touch alone.  She assumed he'd come there for a reason, so she settled in for a bit of a conversation first.

WC: 424
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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His natural response to hearing anything related to Penn was to feel jealous. She had chosen him over Bronco, and that fact still stung- but it stoked his pride immeasurably to hear her refer to him as a bitch. And not just a bitch- the bitch. As jealous as he was that Penn had been the first to take her to the coast, he was selfishly glad that it had obviously left a bad impression. He hadn't asked much about her travels with Penn- and while part of his yearned to hear her complain about him...Part of him wanted Penn to disappear from her memory altogether. Jealousy was an ugly creature and he didn't mask it well.

So when she mentioned going back to the ocean, he didn't interpret it as being a comment on being left behind when he and Meerkat had gone. No, he was too oblivious to pick up on that, even though she hadn't been terribly subtle. He was still musing on the fact that Fennec called Penn the bitch, and how wonderful that felt- and he figured that this was more of an invitation than a guilt trip. He fell into it, happily, especially when she came a bit closer. He sat up, then, so he could be on eye level with her, and he smiled. Maybe this was her way of showing that she forgave him for being a literal den-crasher.

“I'd be happy to go with you,” He said. “Even if it's just to help carry whatever it is you find there. I'll....Try not to be a bitch. Oh- and speaking of carrying,” He said, and he reached down to nudge the coconut shell toward her toes with a push of his nose. “I brought you this. I found it, on the coast,” He explained, “And I thought of you, and your garden...” He said, his voice softening a bit. Funny how he felt so self-aware, whenever he was slipping into the gentler side of his character. “It can hold water, so...If there's a drought, you can use it, to carry water like...To your plants.” He said with a soft shrug.
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It apparently sailed right over his head.  She was briefly annoyed and her knee jerk reaction was to question why he assumed she was asking him?  But being asked and offering were two very different things, obviously, and when she took a beat to actually use her brain she came around to realizing it was the latter.  (It wasn't like she had a whole complex over the difference, I mean...)

I'll....Try not to be a bitch.  The reference made her frown, near imperceptibly.  These last few weeks were really coming to illustrate to Fennec that, for some jokes, timing was everything.  She didn't defend Penn like she might have before, but what he'd done he'd done to her, and she was the one who'd lost a friend out of it.  The worse part was that Bronco had called it.  She hadn't forgotten that little detail either.  Fennec had argued, insisted Penn was better than that, and been wrong in the end.  She didn't mind ripping on him with Bronco if she was driving the charge, but anything else felt a little too close to an 'I told you so'.

Fortunately he was already moving on.  He'd brought her another gift, but she gave his direction a playful, long-suffering look when yet again he presented something as "this" with absolutely zero description.  His elaboration was minimal, but he did push it forward and tell her it was something for watering plants.

He seemed to have no end of presents for her, and while her delight at the first one's uses had masked any other feeling behind it, this time she had no such luck.  Maybe he'd found it by chance and brought it back on the way, but that still meant he'd been thinking about her while he was there.  It was what she'd been bothered about, right? Missing out, feeling forgotten.  But it still made her feel a kind of way she wasn't used to feeling, and for once, Bronco had managed to push Fennec out of her comfort zone.  

Oh, how the tables turn.

Thanks.  She bent down to where she'd heard him nose it and felt.  The bowl shape was like nothing she'd ever come across before, and the texture was kind of wild.  What's the occasion? She asked.  Then  she stuck her nose in it and breathed, visibly relishing the lingering scent of salt and brine.

Damnit.  She was going to have to figure out something to get him, wasn't she?  Fuck.

WC: 415
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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Her reply was simple, and it wasn't as satisfying as he thought it might be. He'd thought himself practically genius when he'd noticed the coconut could hold water, and he'd waded into a ravenous ocean in order to get it back so that he could bring it to her...Maybe he should have made his story a bit more heroic, so that she'd be more impressed, or at least crack a grin at him. As it was, she seemed grateful- and she seemed to appreciate the smell and feel of it, but she wasn't exactly leaping about and tripping over herself to show her gratitude. Not that Fennec was the sort to gush about anything, anyway- but he had hoped that her reaction would have been a bit more exciting.

“No occasion,” He insisted. “I just...Saw it and thought.” He said, with a simple shrug. He had to wonder- for all the times he saw things, and met wolves, how often he found himself reminded of Fennec, and comparing others to her. But did she do the same for him? Did she think of him when she heard heavy, clumsy pawsteps or the scent of dust? He couldn't exactly ask. He gazed down at the coconut shell, for a moment, before he got another idea- one which, fortunately, pulled him swiftly out of his brooding thoughts.

“Oh, hey, I alllso thought,” He said, grabbing the coconut shell by its rim, and lifting it up. “Ish cubbe ushed like dish,” He said, and tilted his head back suddenly, so that the coconut shell flipped up, and landed with its concave side down, upon the top of his head. He then lowered his head, and touched the underside of Fennec's muzzle gently with the top of the coconut, which he now more or less wore as a very under-sized helmet which sat atop his head like a ridiculous bowler hat. “Head protection, in case uh, you ever let me near your den again.” He said, with a sheepish smile.
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So he did just happen across it.  Not a big deal... she thought about him all the time, but she thought about Fig all the time too.  And Penn, before everything, and Towhee, and everyone she enjoyed spending time with regularly.  Then why did it kind of feel like a big deal?  She wasn't about to bother digging into whether that was a good thing or a bad thing because she had enough shit on her plate right now.  

She had no earthly clue what he was doing now, between the muffled words and the scraping, but then he touched the bottom of her muzzle.  She ran her chin over the surface and hit his ear, then snorted out a laugh when she realized how he was wearing it and what he'd said.  Yeah, right. She retorted, in a voice that very much indicated as if that will ever happen.

She could have leaned into it, cracked some joke about how he was a walking disaster and with his luck, he'd probably ram the wall and bring the whole thing down because of the helmet.  But even referencing it lightly, she had to go back to how it felt dragging him out. His dead weight, hanging limp between her teeth, and how sure she'd been....

Nope.

She slammed the brakes on that fucking train of thought like a drift racer rounding a turn.  She didn't have a proper gift for him, but since the cat was already out of the fucking bag, might as well let him off the hook on her joke.  Besides, it was basically done, and she'd pretty much confirmed there was no way this particular den was coming down.

Like you need a harder head, she added, then turned and walked towards where she knew the entrance to be.  She'd learned this patch of the cliffs pretty much by heart already.  Reaching the entrance, she beckoned with her tail without turning and tossed a quick C'mon. over her shoulder.

She'd widened the entrance tunnel some, mostly to let Bronco's thick head in.  The tunnel sloped down at a decline that clearly followed the base of the stone above, then leveled into a semi-wide den space.  Fennec had been working the past couple of weeks on it, and had hollowed a space nearly a foot taller than she was out.  The ceiling was stone, the floors and walls earth, and there was a mound of dirt to the side that she still needed to relocate outside at some point.  At first, she hadn't intended to make it so big, but in the end she'd dug until she barely felt she was underground.  She wasn't sure it was necessary, or the stone overhead, but there had been only one thing on her mind when she was creating this place; if she'd been the one buried, she'd never feel safe sleeping in an earth den again.

What do you think? she asked, nonchalant despite her nerves.  She really wanted him to like it.

WC: 504
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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For some reason, when Fennec's nose ran over the surface of the coconut, he felt the inclination to tap his foot against the ground, the way he might if someone had scratched his belly. But when her nose reached his ear it tickled, causing him to scrunch his nose up and sneeze, which naturally caused the coconut shell to tumble off his crown and clack to the ground with a pleasantly high, hollow noise. He gasped- but sighed with relief soon thereafter when he realized it was still in tact. It would have been a pretty sorry helmet had it broken after falling from his head.

The distraction was fleeting though, and wasn't enough to permeate the disappointment he felt when she spoke. “Yeah right.” There had been sarcasm in her tone- but he knew by now that sometimes she sounded sarcastic even when she was being serious. And when she didn't crack a joke, he noticed. It wasn't often that Fennec didn't knock a joke out of the park with the finesse of a major leaguer, especially when it was set up so well.

Her next comment was a bit too delayed for him to count it as a retort, and she'd begun to walk away, toward her den without a word, leaving a wilted and sullen Bronco behind. He stood, and would have begun to walk away had she not beckoned for him to come and check out her den. Like a loyal hound, his ears perked momentarily, though the woebegone expression on his face didn't quite fade yet. She'd invited him to see it likely because he'd brought her a gift. She was probably just doing this to be nice, taking pity on him and if that was the case, then it was an empty gesture...But he was a hopeless sap, after all, and he couldn't turn away from her invitation. He picked his way up the slope with exaggerated care, slinking with hs body close to the ground so his steps were light and nimble; the last thing he wanted to do was slip up now.

The first place he looked when he reached the entrance to the den was up- noticing the ceiling was stone, as though she'd managed to dig between layers of rock and earth formations, and find a sweet spot wherein her den would be stable and well protected. She'd put some thought into the angle of the entrance, which had just enough slope to it to keep rainwater from pouring in. The ground felt sturdy under his feet, so he ducked his head carefully and stepped inside, until his shadow blocked the light and the shaft of the cave became dark.

Something thick and strong wrapped around his midsection, quietly forcing the air out of his lungs. He didn't notice it so much, at first, but a second later when he went to draw a breath in, he realized that he couldn't- and that was when the panic seeped in, like a hidden dagger. He froze and tried to suck in a breath, but nothing happened. He couldn't even gag. The walls were too close, the scent of the earth too strong- and Fennec's voice sounded like it came from miles away, with the faint echo of having been spoken underground. A high-pitched ringing suddenly vibrated in his ears and he stumbled backwards as though he'd been struck in the face with a plank of wood.

He didn't make a sound as he scrambled out of the den tail-first, and tripped down the step-like path up the side of the ravine, tumbling over himself twice before he landed on the shoreline, coughed out a mouthful of air in surprise and bounced (more or less) into the shallow part of the river. The cold water immediately caused him to inhale a strained, gasping breath, and he remained where he was, hyperventilating, his muzzle just a few inches above the surface of the water bewildered beyond belief by what had just happened. He shook like an autumn leaf, barely clinging to the branch, and his fur stood on end as though he'd just been struck by lightening- and by the expression on his face, he might as well have been.
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She heard a scrabbling sound and then he was gone.  At first Fennec just sort of stood there, but after a moment, she dug her claws into the dirt at her feet and pressed... violently.  She'd spent weeks down here, hollowing out the space, making it deeper and wider.  She'd combed the area for the perfect spot, put as much into it as she physically could, and he hadn't even made it into the fucking door.  Okay, you know what?  Fuck it.

She didn't have time to deal with his damage.  It wasn't her fault, it wasn't her job, and she wasn't trying again.

She didn't hear him fall, nor did she hear him hit the water.  She'd been too wrapped up in her own head, but now she slipped out of the entrance and listened.  When she didn't hear him breathing in the immediate vicinity she gritted her teeth.  Guess it's going to be a cold winter, she called out, a slight mocking edge lurking behind the comment.  Just a moment ago she hadn't been able to make jokes, but that was before he took a figurative shit on all of her hard work.  Now the jokes were targeted.

Fennec wasn't about to bother going after him.  Bronco had essentially just kicked her in the fucking emotional throat (or whatever you want to call it). She was perfectly willing to let him sit with whatever the hell that was alone.  Instead, she turned and began to sniff for the beaver carcass she'd buried.  Unearthing it, she carried it over to a spot near the den entrance and settled in to try and follow Kukutux's instructions.  

She'd probably accidentally shred the damn thing.  She just needed to sink her fucking teeth into something.

WC: 293
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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Between the strained gasps he made, he felt the high pitched noise in his ears begin to subside, and as he sat in the cool ankle deep waters that continued to flow around his backside and paws, he slowly came back to reality, once he could breathe again. He could hear his breaths, and he could hear the soft rustle and flow of water over stones, the gentle hush of the waterfall not far away. Slowly, he came back to himself, but above the hypnotic sounds of water, he finally heard a voice speak- and he registered it as Fennec.

“Guess it's going to be a cold winter.”

The words stung him, as did her tone. Once he was a bit more aware of his surroundings, he glanced up toward the den's mouth, but he couldn't see her. She hadn't bothered to come down and see if he was OK, and he knew that possibly, she hadn't realized that he'd taken such a fall because she couldn't have seen it. But the coldnes in her voice told him that she'd taken offense to his reaction- and that she'd still not forgiven him for collapsing her other den. This, he thought, was simply adding insult to injury, and he'd really pissed her off now.

It wasn't fair. He had no idea what had happened, and he had no way to explain himself- and the worst part was that she didn't seem to care whatsoever about what he'd just gone through, or if he was alright at all. His shoulders and hips smarted from taking a tumble, and he'd scraped his elbow when he'd fallen into the water, but when he looked up to the den, he didn't even consider going up to see if Fenn could fix him. Why should he bother, if she cared so little? Maybe it was time for him to care a little bit less aboout her, too. So finally, leaving her to her new throne, he pulled himself from the water and deftly shook the excess from it. He pulled himself from the river and padded past the coconut shell, before he halted.

He glanced down at it, and then back up toward Fennec's new den. She still hadn't come out to check on him. The fur along his nape bristled, and in a swift and sudden movement that conveyed his pent up frustrations, he lifted a hind foot and deftly kicked the coconut shell- sending it flying into the river so that it could float silently downstream before he sauntered off.
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He didn't bother to come back... she didn't even know if he heard her comment, but selfishly, she hoped he did.  She hoped it hurt.  She didn't want to care, she didn't want him to care, and maybe finally after this he'd stop trying.  Just like Penn did.

She didn't need or deserve his gifts, and fuck him for pushing them on her like she was somehow supposed to appreciate them.  And fuck him for not being able to appreciate the one thing she'd thought, maybe, she could give him back.  Even if she knew it wasn't his fault... that changed nothing.

She didn't even get to making the first bite before the tears came, and she left the beaver sitting discarded, out in the wide open, to retreat into her den so that no one would see.  Except, it turns out, she'd made the damn thing for three.  Which means, for one, it was an open hollow, echoey and impersonal and cold and wrong.  It was useless.  She couldn't stay here.

She stayed in the back corner long enough to cry herself out, but after that, the place would be storage.  Nothing more.

WC: 194
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)