Firefly Glen the finite and the infinite
All Welcome  January 14, 2021, 08:50 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
It was dark by the time she finally reached the glen. She wanted to call for one of the leaders鈥攎ost likely @Atlas鈥攋ust to touch base after being gone so long. But something compelled her to trek into the middle of the glen without seeking anyone at all. She skirted the site of last week's tragic events and found herself wandering sort of aimlessly toward the bluff near the lake and curling up in the very same divot she and Toad had shared that rainy autumn night.

She sat there a long time, simply thinking about her dead friend. She cried, a little, but soon her tears dried and Meerkat simply stared into space, her face blank as her thoughts wandered far and wide. By the time she blinked herself back into the present, snow had piled up and nearly closed her into the small space. It made it a little warmer, though she found herself suddenly rising and pushing out of the cozy space into the frosty air.

Meerkat began marching through the snow with a sense of purpose. She made it to the meeting site with the boulder and stopped beneath it. Despite the late hour, she threw back her head and sent up a low howl, the icy wind carrying her voice as she summoned her beau by name.
January 14, 2021, 09:37 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

The sound of her voice should have sent warmth through him. He turned in the direction of the call and frowned, unsure whether he had the mental fortitude to actually go to see her. Atlas feared that he would make a fool of himself again, and when he felt uncertain of his place in the world as it was... well, he thought it was best if he kept himself painted in as nice a light as he could.聽

After several minutes of mental squabble, the inkjet figure pointed himself toward where her voice had sounded and began his journey toward it. The journey wasn't a long one, and when he arrived where the younger girl was there was a stirring in his stomach that made him nervous. Atlas attempted a pathetic half-smile that only ended up looking like a grimace on his face. The expression he wore was fractured; he was not the same as he had been in their last meeting.聽

"Meerkat," his voice sounded hoarse and ragged.
January 14, 2021, 09:50 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
He didn't make her wait. When their eyes met, Meerkat didn't smile. Her gaze gently probed his face, reading it in the flurried darkness, recognizing the grief and sorrow etched there. So much had changed since their last snowy rendezvous. Everything had changed, in a way. There was one thing that hadn't changed at all, though.

"I want you to be my husband," she said into the silent stillness of the night, apropos of nothing. She took a soft step toward him, paws crunching lightly in the snow, then several more to close the space between them. There was no merry sparkle in her eye, no upturn of her mouth. She was gravely serious.

Toad had wanted such simple things out of life: a husband and children. She would never get to have these things now because she'd died before her time. She'd died suddenly and without warning, ripping a hole in Meerkat's life and forcing her to stare into the chasm of grief it left behind. And it shifted a lot of things inside her, made her aware of her own fragile mortality.

What if she died tonight? Tomorrow? Meerkat realized now that life was short. Any day could be her last. Her paw shot out to grasp at Atlas's as she tipped back her head to look him in the eye. Toad had died but Meerkat was still alive. She wanted to make the most of it, live every day like it was her last if it came right down to it.

And she'd decided, at some point while staring off into space in the hours past: she wanted to grab life by the balls and live it with this man by her side.
January 14, 2021, 09:59 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

There was something different about the brown-eyed girl. He watched her with an unshifting gaze, noting the strange seriousness of her posture and features. He was certain he'd never seen her that way before. It was difficult not to think that he might have done something she would have wanted to condemn him for.聽

Where were you when they died? Where were you? Hiding? Like a fucking coward?

'I want you to be my husband.'

The inkjet figure furrowed his brow slightly at this. He lifted his head up to stare at her, leveling his gaze with her own without hesitation. Atlas didn't understand. Life had been a fever dream since his brother had been ripped from it. Somehow this girl wanted to commit her life to him? And have him commit his to her? She had only known him a short while. They had only started to confess their feelings for each other and she wanted to lay it all on the line for him?

Atlas knew that he should ask why. Not that he was bothered, but logically there should have been something that told him to talk through the scenario with her. They were both still so young. She had only just entered the adult ranks, or so it felt that way. There should have been some reason in him that spoke up and tried to understand what would inspire her to come to him with such a heavy request.聽

"Alright."

The shadow's voice was plain. He did not carry an ounce of emotion in his agreement. What did it matter anyway? They were all headed to the same place.
January 14, 2021, 10:11 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
Some part of her knew it shouldn't happen like this. They should talk about the future they envisioned for themselves and with one another, make certain they were compatible beyond their cutesy little romance thus far. It should be a happy moment, much anticipated and long in planning, the summer sun shining down on them and their faces aching because they couldn't stop smiling at each other as they entwined their lives.

Meerkat gently pushed these thoughts away and reached for him once he uttered his quiet, "Alright." Her forelegs wrapped awkwardly around him as she pressed her cheek somewhere between his throat and chest. She didn't make a sound, though tears sprang to her eyes and slipped down her face as she thought, again, of Toad. She swore to herself that she would never take life for granted, nor this man in her arms.

Subtly wiping her face into his comfortingly soft fur, Meerkat slipped back to look into his face again. "I didn't mean to be gone for so long," she said a little thickly. She didn't mention the scare with the bear at the caldera, nor make excuses about losing her way in the snowstorm. "I'm glad to be back here, with you..." Her voice trailed off for a moment before she quietly asked, "Did I miss the burials?" Where had they laid Toad to rest? And Desdemona? Were they here? Moonspear? Or somewhere in between?
January 14, 2021, 10:17 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

And that was that.聽

Meerkat accepted it, or she appeared to be fine with his dismal response. She closed any remaining space between them and pressed herself to his chest. The warmth was comforting in its own way and he wondered if it truly would be alright, just accepting the proposal without a second thought. Anxiety should have spiked inside of him, but he found himself slipping away in his thoughts. It was nice to be there with him, she'd said. He hadn't answered her but his eyes were locked on the ground.聽

'Did I miss the burials?'

The shadow blinked once but did not shift his gaze.聽

"Burials," he repeated absently, unable to comprehend even the idea of laying his brother to rest in the ground. Meerkat didn't even know, but he wasn't aware of any of that. Her head seemed to be swimming with its own thoughts while his was drifting further and further away from the man he had been. Atlas wanted to tell her that he was thinking of leaving. She should go with him, right? If they were to be wed... but he didn't say anything.
January 14, 2021, 10:21 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
The way he repeated the word reminded her of his stupefaction on the night of her first snowfall. She knew better than to hold it against him, especially after what they'd been through. It was hard for her to talk about it too, though she drew in a breath and mustered her strength to elaborate.

"Did you guys bury Toad? And Desdemona?" Meerkat willed her voice not to shake, though it wavered anyway. Her lip quivered a bit too. "I'm... honestly not sure I'm ready yet but I'd like to visit them. Would you come with me?"
January 14, 2021, 10:26 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

She tried to get him to clarify by providing names of the members they had lost during the first bear attack. Atlas felt his stomach lurch at Desdemona's name. She had been his friend. He had enjoyed his time with Desdemona more than he had ever admitted. She had made him feel normal - like he was enough for a change. It was difficult to imagine that she had just been there in his life only months ago. The two of them had talked on the side of the mountain.聽

Atlas frowned deeply at Meerkat's request. She wanted him to visit the site of their bodies? She wanted him to go see where they were... in the ground? The thought made him ill and he was forced to swallow a large lump in his throat before shaking his head.聽

"No. I can't d-do that."

Where would Osiris be buried? And Leta?聽

Had he ever had the chance to tell her how he'd felt?
January 14, 2021, 10:35 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
In answer, he frowned at her. There was something different about this expression. It wasn't just sad, it was... distasteful? Before Meerkat could decide if that word fit, he spoke. He turned her down, said he couldn't do that. The slight stammer made her heart clench, only to drop into her stomach in the next beat as she processed the entirety of his sentence.

She paused, several emotions suddenly welling up inside her. She felt strangely shaky as she tried to gather her thoughts and sort out how to respond. He said he couldn't go with her. What did that mean? Was it too hard for him? That was the natural assumption. In that case, should she try to coax him along anyway? They were鈥攖hey were mates now, weren't they? They should do things together, support one another.

But her inner counselor reminded her that trying to force him to do something he wasn't ready to do would be unkind. And this wasn't some petty issue. They were talking about their comrades' graves. It was understandable that he might have a hard time facing them. Meerkat's lips twitched downward into an echoing frown, which felt strange on her face. It was almost as if the muscles didn't know exactly how to flex that way.

Although she worried that he might not be able to articulate, Meerkat decided on asking, "How come?" Her voice was as gentle and hushed as the snowflakes that tumbled around them.
January 14, 2021, 10:51 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

'How come?'

Her voice was soft and kind. She really did have a remarkable gift for speaking with others. There had to have been something in her that allowed her to empathize well without losing her cool. It was a gift that would have likely done Atlas well. Instead, her question pressed against his mind with a force that had not been applied by her. His own head seemed to twist her words and make it seem as though she was impatient with his failures and his issues.聽

"No, no, no, no, no... I can't, I can't, I can't... I can't do it, no, no, no..."

Atlas seemed to be slipping as they went on. He shook his head repeatedly, feeling heat rise into his cheeks and fill his head. Tears welled into his eyes and he turned his head away from her, shame burning hot in the pit of his stomach. He felt so angry with himself but he had no means of explaining this to the young girl. Panic and rage had spilled into his head and created a toxic sludge. He was scarcely a man in that state.
January 14, 2021, 11:03 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
By the time the third "no" slipped free, Meerkat instinctively moved closer to him again, a strange mixture of bewildered and sympathetic. "Atlas?" she said dumbly over his heartbroken chanting. "Atlas..." She began to reach for him again but he ripped away from her, causing her to whip her paw back as if scalded. Despite his effort to turn his face from her, she glimpsed the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.

She'd heard about panic attacks and wondered if that's what was happening. But beyond a vague guess, she was at a loss here. Her own inner turmoil didn't help her as she tried to make sense of what was happening and how she could help. What should she do? Should she try to comfort him? Should she leave him alone? Why did she feel like she was about to completely fall apart too?

"You don't鈥擨'm sorry鈥" Meerkat tried, quickly losing her coherency. She quite literally wrung her paws for a moment before making a snap decision and pressing closer, trying to wrap him in a hug again. "Atlas鈥"
January 21, 2021, 04:11 PM
Atlas
Approved Members

She was apologizing to him.

The dark figure couldn鈥檛 even grasp the idea that Meerkat was trying her hardest to make sure he was alright. He knew he didn鈥檛 deserve it. He knew that her kindness was lost on him鈥 that it would do so much better for anyone else. It hurt more than he cared to admit.

Atlas might have been confused, but his feelings for the brown-eyed girl were always the same. He cared for her so deeply he was afraid. That fear had gripped him. That fear had pulled him to the depths of his frightened, anxious pleading. Try as he might to focus, to look at the girl he liked, he could not pull the image of his brother鈥檚 eyes from his mind. The glimmer of green that had been struck from the world.

鈥淲hy did they take my brother鈥︹ he sobbed. Why did they leave me behind?

Another wash of shame and Atlas pulled away from Meerkat, unable to face her, unable to think of what might happen if he were to lose her. He knew what he needed to do. He knew that he did not have a place in Firefly Glen anymore. And he knew that she deserved all the happiness the world could bring her, but if she was forced to fulfill her proposal to him鈥 she never would be.

The inkjet figure pulled out of her touch, unable to look her in the eye. He breathed a shaky breath but could not tell her what he wanted to. Instead, he turned and cut a path for the borders of the glen and then the wilds beyond. His heart aching with devastation.
January 21, 2021, 04:53 PM
Meerkat
Firefly Glen
Delta
He pulled away from her and she quickly retreated again, scared about making matters worse by forcing herself on him or pushing him in any way. He sobbed something about his brother and Meerkat's heart broke for him. Her arms ached to hold him, to offer the only comfort she could.

She was so flustered, Meerkat didn't even properly process the words until Atlas slipped away from her, running for the borders. She made an abortive attempt to run after him, only to go very still all of a sudden. The mouth which had opened to call his name again froze in a moue of stricken horror.

His brother...? She only knew of Desdemona and Toad. Meerkat felt her blood run cold as she realized there must be even more devastation than she'd realized, that Atlas was reacting to more than just the deaths of their comrades. Something had happened to Antares or maybe Osiris.

"Atlas...!" Meerkat shrieked into the night, finally running after him. Only, it was too late.