Redhawk Caldera Say it soft and it's almost like praying
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All Welcome 
1000 yeeeaahhhh

When dawn broke and a narrow shaft of light came in through the den's mouth, it landed upon Bronco's muzzle. Slowly, it crept up toward his temple and seeped into the corners of his eyes which, for the first time, were not swollen shut. He yawned and stretched, slowly pulling his legs toward himself as he blinked a few times, trying to clear the blurring of his vision. After having been swollen shut after ten days, it was nice to be able to see again. He'd been worried that his eyes might have been damaged, though the clawmarks ended just at the edge of his brow. The thought of being blind made him feel both frightened, and ashamed of being frightened. He'd decided in the end that he wasn't sure he'd have the strength to recover and learn anything nearly as well as Fennec had, and that he'd simply end up being someone's shadow for the rest of his life. 

Fate had spared his eyesight, though, and the swelling in his temple had begun to subside. The top of his head still looked slightly misshapen, with the clawmarks leaving long, raking sounds from his poll down to his brow, but he had been tended to very well. He moved his left shoulder around a bit, and while it was sore still, it was improving. And while he wasn't necessarily restless, he was urged by some deeply ingrained sentiment to get out of the darkness, and breathe in a bit of the light, fresh air. As carefully as he could, he picked his way out of the den, and out into the mid-morning light. 

The sky was grey, but it couldn't be seen very well for the snow that fell in massive clumps of snowflakes. It was the sort of snow that some might find pretty- that beautiful, 'snowglobe' kind. And while there was something charming about it, he knew enough about the different kinds of snow to know that this kind added up. If it continued for a couple hours, they would have a foot or more, at least. 

He didn't feel fit enough to stray more than a couple feet from the den's entrance, and though she snow fell all around him, dappling his back and hindquarters as he lay down, it still did his soul well to get out, into the light. And he needed a bit of that right now. 

Alyx was still recovering, and the news Meerkat had brought to him about the bear attack in the Glen...He was still in denial, and struggling with the heavy, sinking realization that slowly began to creep its way into his reality. Desdemona- the silent, spidery guardian of Moonspear- and Toad- the bright, intelligent role-model he looked up to, and one he leaned on in pack hunts- were dead. He heaved a sigh and tried not to think about them too hard- but it was impossible not to allow himself to ache with grief for his lost friends. It was all he could do to set his muzzle down on one of his stretched-out forelegs, and concentrate on his breathing so he could try and deal with the lead-heavy sadness that plagued him.
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#2
Aniuk's head spun atop her narrow shoulders. She had heard the dogged breathing of something low-to-earth but was not concerned. Not until there came the accompanying sound of weight against the snow.

Morning had come unceremoniously; the dawn brought little warmth, the light itself thin and pale. It was sharp enough to make Aniuk squint if she turned towards it. She was thankful that the snow continued to fall because it meant she could remain hidden; hunting would certainly get easier for her as the snow gathered.

Beneath her roamed a wild thing. Where the light could touch upon its hide the snow glowed a faint golden-brown. Aniuk did not know what it was until it flattened to the ground again. The sound of its body crushing the snow made her turn to look.

Two large yellow eyes peered down at the wolf from the boughs of a hawthorn tree. After a moment the woman turned to preen at the feathers on her wing and tugged free a small tuft of white; this fell away and joined the true snow below, inches from the wolf's face.
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He stared out over the snow-laden horizon, though his gaze was distant, unfocused. In the still silence that he allowed himself, he wondered...How was he supposed to manage? How did anyone manage, when all lives would inevitably come to an end? Was there a point in becoming attached to others and holding them close when some day fate would tear them away and leave nothing but pain? So suddenly and cruelly both Toad and Desdemona had been killed within days following the cougar attack on the Caldera. He could have easily lost Fennec and Alyx both. He went through the names of his family and friends- all those he loved. Would he have to suffer through their deaths as well? 

The grief pulled a chord in his heartstrings that had sounded before, and it made his memories of those he had already lost burn again. His earliest memories of his father, of Elwood and Finley- all now pulled back into sorrow's touch by the loss of recent friends. He considered the pain he felt in thinking about them- and now would have to face the fact that he would miss two others as well. The pain of losing his father was quiet, from the passage of time- but ever-present even if it was little more than a whisper at the best of times. But in confronting the death of more he loved, he found the embers had been fed with fresh, dry kindling- and he mourned them all, all over again. Would this grief ever go away?

The morose thought made his throat clench, and he wondered if he could simply hold his breath until th world went black, just to make these thoughts stop buzzing. He wanted a break from it- but he ended up inhaling softly when something caught his attention. Silently, a cloud-white feather had fallen to land only a few inches from his face. He lifted his head to look at it, and felt his heart lurch suddenly. 

It was a sign.

In that moment, the coincidence felt too uncanny to have been mere chance. So when he looked up with glossy eyes and saw the most magnificent bird he had ever seen, he gasped. He felt a surge of what felt like pain and relief at the same time. Some small gesture it had been for the bird to loosen and drop a feather toward him- but its significance did not go amiss. Who might have sent the owl? Was it simply one of them, or all of them together who saw him in such pain, and had sent it to remind him of the beauty in the world? With a voice soft and fragile, he bid his trembling lips to speak. 

"Thank you."
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Aniuk had known plenty of hardship in her own time; a time which extended beyond the short span of a single wolf's life. Had she seen in to this one's mind perhaps she would have commisserated. 

The loss of some down feathering was of no consequence to the woman. She continued to preen, raising a wing, extending it, trying to tuck her head under and pluck at the reeds of her feathers.

A moment later she shook out her plumes, staring straight ahead with her eyes squinted against the snow that continued to swirl.

When she raised her arms a second time she was aloft; a black-scalloped flight feather fell from where she had roosted and stuck in the snow beneath the tree, the only indication she had been there at all.
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since I think this is set pretty much right after...

Fennec was still absolutely pissed when she came limping back with a mouthful of green and a head full of fuck everything right now.  She'd overdone it on her shoulder, so as much as she wanted to head towards the bramblepoint and stew on this for a while, there was no way in hell she was up for pushing through that level of snow hellscape.

She was too distracted to notice Bronco or the owl winging away.  But when she got back and spat the plants out, the first thing she realized was that he was gone.  Fucking...  She immediately started in, exasperated, as she poked her head out.  Her first assumption was that now he'd gone off on a border walk, and hypocritically she was fully prepped to give him a piece of it for walking on his shoulder like that.
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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The owl paid him little notice as he sat and watched it with sad eyes. He watched as one of its large, rounded wings unfurled and stretched out, revealing long, white feathers tipped with black. It continued to preen, until it seemed satisfied. He saw the claws clench and unclench from the branch, and following a slight crouch, the owl spread its wings and soared off, wingbeats quieter than the breaths Bronco took. And down from the boughs of the hawthorn tree fell a much larger feather, which landed softly alongside the other. It was a fine gift- fluffy and soft, and had landed with its quill pointed down into the snow, so that it stood upright. His heart lurched, and he gazed off after where the bird had gone- but it was out of sight. The meaningful gesture, however, had not been lost on him. 

The fragile beauty of the moment was, however, brought to a close when he heard someone approaching with a quick but heavy step. It didn't sound like how Niamh, Phox or Towhee would walk, but when Fennec came into view she had something in her mouth, and a frustrated expression on her features. He was only a few feet from the den's entrance but silently, he watched as she breezed past him and walked inside. He heard her swear, and he grinned. She poked her head back out into the daylight, and it amused him to see her disappointed that one of her patients was not inside the den, where she figured he should be. Seeing her, in the wake of getting affirmation from the owl, cheered him up significantly.

"Ah seen that chewed-up scratchin' post of yers waulk out of the den earlier," He said, putting on the strangest accent he could think of. He ended up sounding somewhat like Foghorn Leghorn. "May's'll just let that one go- he's nuthin' but coyote meat now anyways." He said, hoping that belittling himself might bring a smile fo her face, if his goofy accent didn't.
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Fennec sighed, then walked out and sat down with a grimace.  Right, maybe she'd asked for it for trying to plant Penn's nose in the snow, but no amount of karma was going to convince her he didn't deserve it.

She could tell it was Bronco immediately, though she had no clue what he was doing with his voice.  The confusion did help to lessen some of her frustration, but it didn't exactly bring about the smile he was hoping for.  She'd been deep in her own thoughts and the change in both tone and context was jarring.

Yeah, well.  If you see him, tell him good luck with that.  She replied.  Then she tipped her head back and let out a breath.  She really didn't want to take any of this out on him, but the temptation was lurking way too close for comfort.  Wishing the coyote luck instead seemed like bad form, particularly when it wasn't Bronco she'd like to have eaten at the moment.
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 wasn't havnig his impression, nor was she playfully throwing comments back at him. Fennec was genuinely in a bad mood, and it made the faint smile on his face fade away. So much for the momentary glimpse of a nice distraction. He sighed and went to settle his muzzle back down onto his forelegs when he looked for the feathers again, as though to seek some comfort from them instead- only to realize that the soft, fluffy down feather had been blown away by the breeze. Still standing with its quill embedded in the snow, though, was the black-tipped flight feather. 

"C'mere," He said, softly, invitingly. Whatever it was that had made Fennec upset, he figured he might be able to at least give her a bit of comfort if she came and lay beside him for a moment or two. He didn't say anything else, hoping that she might simply obey his request, and come close enough to be influenced by his calm, steady energy.
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#9
Fennec considered the offer for a moment, weighing warmth and contact against getting up again right when she'd settled down.  Then again, maybe laying down (and getting some snow against her shoulder) would help.  It wasn't his fault that Penn was an asshole, though she knew if she brought it up, likely all she'd get was a vindicated 'what have I been saying' from him.  And she really didn't have the energy to deal with that right now, so she wasn't about to risk it.

She got up and made her way over, then laid down carefully, leaning the weight of her shoulder and right side down into the snow with an exhaled sigh.  You're feelin better, she remarked, assuming from the fact that he was out here and the fact that, for the first time, he was (kind of?) making sense.  At least a part of that worry could fall away, though she hadn't really let herself consider what would happen if he'd knocked himself silly for good.
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 looked sore when she moved, and he regretted making her get up and come to him, though she seemed to relax a bit once she was beside him. He caught a glimpse of the wounds along her shoulder- and he'd thought that they'd been healed better than that. Perhaps she had moved the wrong way and had torn them open again, or perhaps his memory still wasn't back to what it should have been; it was impossible for him to separate his recent dreams from real memories.

Her question didn't sit well with the grief he felt in his stomach, but he figured she was just asking how he felt physically. "A bit," He said, though there was no real conviction to his voice. "Just wanted...Bit of fresh air," He said, though there was a heaviness in his words. There was so much else that he wanted as well- but there was no way he could possibly go back in time and try to fix things. "You OK?" He asked, hoping that switching the topic to be her might keep her from asking the hard questions he would inevitably have to answer.
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Ah.  His tone dropped quite a bit, though Fennec didn't have the heart to feel guilty about it.  Or the energy. She could pretty well guess what was wrong.

Yeah.  Just tired.  It wasn't a complete lie, but she had zero interest in rehashing Penn right now.  Fuck that entirely.

Guessing Meerkat talked to you.  She said instead.  Apparently they were going to play subject tag today.  Sorry.  It was a little awkward, just as it had been with Meer, but she did mean it.  She couldn't imagine very well how the two of them were feeling.
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 sounded tired. He thought he heard a bit of frustration in her voice as well, but it was hard to tell the difference between exhaustion and frustration sometimes. He reached over to touch his muzzle to her cheek, before he lifted his head to smoothe out some of the fur on the top of her head with his tongue. When she mentioned Meerkat, he frowned. She'd caught the grief in his voice, or had picked up on his energy, and he shouldn't have been surprised. So he nodded quietly, and uttered a soft "Mmhmm," in reply. He wasn't sure what to say to her apology, so he cleared his throat, and pressed his temple gently into the fur just behind her jawline. For a few moments, all he needed to do was breathe, and feel a bit of closeness. 

His breath, now pointed toward the small amount of space between them, caused the feather to stir against his leg. He pulled away and looked at it for a moment. "Hmm." He murmured thoughtfully. "Hold still. An' gimme a minute. Trust me?" He asked.
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#13
She didn't push it any further.  There were times when she'd poke at wounds and times when she'd leave them be, and this wound was a raw and real one.  Besides, what he was doing felt really nice.  She felt herself growing heavier as she sleepily relaxed against him.  It wasn't naptime, so she shifted a little more upright, but let her muzzle rest against his while he pressed his head to her jaw.  

They remained like that long enough that she was threatening sleep, but she snapped to alertness when he pulled away and the cold air hit the spaces where he'd been.  Mostly, she responded, amusedly curious.  She listened for what he was doing, but did hold still.
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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"Good enough," Bronco said, and grunted softly as he got to his feet. He knew she wouldn't be able to see what he was doing, or know what he had planned, but if she at least half trusted him, she wouldn't have anything to fear. He picked up the feather and carried it toward a spruce tree nearby, pausing for a moment or to to investigate it before he pushed his way through the prickly branches and toward the trunk of the tree. He set the feather down and carefully placed a paw on it so it wouldn't blow away- and grabbed a thin branch with his teeth. He crunched through it just enough to pull the branch off, which made some sticky sap dribble down the side of the trunk. He liked the scent of it, and he picked up the feather, to dab it in the sap just enough to get a bit on the quill, before he backed out from the tree branches and limped back toward Fennec. 

He slowly slid back down to the ground beside her, before he reached out, and poked the feather into the fur near the point of her shoulder. He'd done something similar to Meerkat when she'd been very young- but had stuck the feather on the top of her head to make her look ridiculous. Now, though, he thought the ivory owl feather was actually a decoration meant to be pretty. He nuzzled it into her fur, hoping the sap might help it stay in place. "There. Witchy." He commented with a smile.
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She tried to listen and follow what he was doing, but it didn't make much sense without the context of sight.  She didn't know about the feather, so it sounded to her like Bronco just snapped a branch off of a tree, then walked back.  Her expression was puzzled and her head tilted involuntarily when he walked around beside her and poked at fur near her shoulder.

She caught a whiff of the sap when she turned to investigate.  The spice of the pine was good, but she really didn't follow.  Didn't think I smelled that bad, she drawled playfully.  She couldn't twist around enough to feel what it was (not for lack of trying... she probably looked like an weird goose, craning her neck around like that), so she settled for waiting and seeing if he'd explain.  Whatever it was, it was probably great, and it felt (uncomfortably) par for the course that it was going over her head again.
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 almost chuckled when she tried to nose at the spot where he'd laced the feather into her fur, and her comment made the corners of his mouth lift a bit, from the heavy frown that had settled into his features over the past week. "It's a feather," He said, reaching over to nose it slightly, so she might feel the gentle pull of it in her fur. "An owl feather." He said, and he felt his throat tightening slightly even when he thought of it. He still felt that the owl had been a sign- and its significance was still fresh in his mind. "It looks pretty. And yeah, it smells good too," He said, finally relaxing enough to allow a bit of mirth into his voice.
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Nowadays it was rare for Fennec to acknowledge her blindness internally or for her to wish she could 'see' something in a way she vaguely remembered doing so as a child.  Barely remembered, honestly.  Her reality now was a world that she perceived in a completely different way, and usually that way was enough because it had become a fact that it needed to be.  She'd adjusted wholly.  But at times like these, she felt just a brief flash of regret, because she really would have liked to have seen what an 'owl feather' looked like, and be able to respond to this entire situation sincerely, beyond just taking what he said and knowing that he meant it.

Good, we'll find one for you next, she responded.  All she had were jokes.  She was pretty much coming up empty on anything else because it all sounded weird in her head.  Wish I could see it was useless, and any comments about 'pretty' felt weird even to begin to make.  

Then she remembered something.  When Fig and I were little, I always wanted an owl companion.  Kind of like the hawk mom used to have.  I never found one, of course, but... I've always thought they were really cool.  She didn't know what the feather looked like, but she did really like the thought of rocking a piece of a rad bird.  

Where'd you get it?  She asked, curious.  It was a pretty random thing for him to have, though she was glad for it.  And probably should have been, because though it didn't even occur to her to worry, maybe the smell of the sap would hide that she'd been in a tussle pretty recently with Penn.

I didn't even realize initially but if she literally just came from that, Bronco could reasonably notice lmfao.  Up to you though!
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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Something about Fennec's suggestion of finding him a matching owl feather to wear in his own fur made his heart flutter. He hadn't thought of that- and perhaps he was reading into her suggestion a bit much, but it encouraged him significantly to hear that she might want him to match her. His expression brightened considerably, until the sting from the healing wounds on the top of his head urged him to change his expression. He'd hold onto that touching moment, though. "Okay," was all that he could manage without spilling the beans about how he really felt with regards to the idea of them having matching feather decorations. She'd probably laugh at him and rescind the idea if she knew how much it tickled him. 

While he'd already considered the owl to be a sign perhaps from the loved ones he'd lost, he found it even more coincidental knowing now that Fennec liked owls, and wished that she had one to follow her around. He'd heard stories of the hawk that Towhee had had, and the more he considered it, the more he found himself liking the idea as well. Maybe, if he ever saw that snowy owl again, he might have a chance at persuading it to stick around. "It was here, just a minute ago, before you got here," He said. "Perched up in a tree...It pulled the feather out, and then just...Flew off," He said softly. "Maybe it'll come back later," He murmured.
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If she knew her suggestion had made him happy, she'd have been shocked.  Trust him to take a joke about him smelling bad and make it romantic.  Though Fennec did have a thought in mind, something of an idea that she quite liked, and she did hold onto it for future use.  

Weird.  She listened out of habit, but as expected, didn't hear anything above them.  Bronco would know that it had gone, obviously. It isn't night, is it?  It didn't feel like it, but she suddenly second guessed where they were in the day.

She didn't mind either way.  She had no need for an owl when she had other birds, though a part of her still found the idea awesome.  It didn't even occur to her that Bronco might have taken the idea on himself, but it was honestly doubtful she ever would catch on to his gift-giving preferences.

Mentioning the time like that reminded her it was almost time she grabbed food for them, and checked them over again.   She pushed herself stiffly to her paws.   Either way, I should probably go take care of some stuff.  What are you hungry for?  she could see if they had it.
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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"Nope," he replied. The owl had been out in broad daylight, but to be fair, it had looked very calm- sleepy, perhaps. Hard to tell with those round, owlish eyes and that expressionless face. Still- if it had come around once, without objecting to his presence, it might come around again. He could only hope. 

He stretched slowly and carefully when Fennec suggested she might go and get some tasks done- which involved finding some food. The thought of a meal made his stomach rumble audibly. "Uh, ex-scuse you," He said, to his stomach. "I'm pretty sure that means anything will do," He said, a bit bashfully. It felt strange, still, to have someone else do the hunting for him- he liked to be the caregiver, after all- but he knew that he was incapable of doing so, and that it likely brought Fennec a bit of joy to know she was basically saving his life.
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I'm going to choose to take that as a thank you,  she jibed back, directing the comment at the loud rumble his stomach had given.  It did actually make her feel amazing to flip the roles for once.  

There was no way she'd be actually hunting, or even really trying, but it was still a little something she could do.  She liked little somethings.

One anything, coming right up.  Almost without thinking, she leaned down and touched her muzzle to his cheek... then turned and limped away, heading off to find both him and Alyx (and maybe herself?) something to eat.
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)