Ouroboros Spine kuli ⧫
Moonglow

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Limit Two 
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being vague! plz lmk if this doesnt work for any reason <3

the ache in her ankle forced the duck to at last stop. her pale wings winded, kukutux curled next to a boulder upon the rocky shoreline, facing vaguely toward a long stand of peculiar yellow spruce. they were not like the ones she had known and yet they were familiar. 

aya, the snow-duck had flown too far from her ulaq. she thought longingly of the comfort the place might bring, but was soon soothed by the soft rush of the lake against its banks. light glimmered across its surface; she watched a proud colorful bird dart down toward the waves and come up with a minnow. she smiled sleepily, jaws parting in a long yawn.

kukutux wished to rest, but her place as moon did not give respite. softly she called @Zane to her, holding back the second name until she and the second-hunter had spoken.
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Ay, Duchess was calling.  Wondering what she could want with him (maybe his groundwork had paid off?), Zane lazily made his way to meet up.  He'd been lounging in some trees near the base of the claim and wasn't entirely eager to get up, but he wasn't about to leave a beauty like that out in the cold either.

Zane Ostrega, at'cher service,  he said with a little bow and a willing (slightly suggestive) smile.  Normally last names felt like he had the same stick shoved up his ass Sarge did, but this time he liked the way it rolled with the greeting.  Besides, she (and junior, who he'd finally met) seemed to eat that formal shit up.
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ostrega? the moon's eyes changed for a moment, caught between knowingness and sorrow. "the ones who lived upon the mountain were called ostrega. it was my married-title. sialuk was born beneath the sound." 

"we have a kinship tie between us." her voice was softer, marvelling at how large the ostrega clan must be. "but that is not why i have called you."

kukutux gazed at zane for a long second. "you have more years than me, my brother. now that i know i am your kinswoman, i will speak more directly. two moons ago i went to search for those who had no husband or wife. now that is the moon of returning white hawks, it is the time to honor what i have said."

a pause, for often had her way of speaking confused zane. "i had met one of the firefly clan. she is a traveller. to the age of wanting a husband but perhaps she is not ready for children." kukutux suspected it was not so for her newly recognized relative, but men took their pleasure everywhere. it was not something over which she had previously been given control.

but now she was taqqiq in moonglow. "i wish to make a meeting for you both. now. it is only a meeting. she says she does not want one with many roots." one pale ear flicked. her kithman had not sought to place himself higher among the hunters; despite the new notable connection between he, the moon, and the star, kukutux felt that raimo would place adrastus before the ostrega in the hunting circle.

curious to see if her decision would infuriate him, she leant closer. "tell me of your thinking upon this, zane."
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Oh, well shit.  He knew his family had some ties around here, but it was weird to see that look when she said it.  On occasion he'd met chicks into names and he'd played it up, even convinced one or two he was some kind of royalty.  Didn't seem like her reaction, and he shrugged it off, pointedly ignoring the deeper emotion in her expression to instead try and parse whatever it was she said next.

It was hard to follow.  His mind drifted once or twice in the middle... first to wonder what the fuck a white hawk was, second to wonder if this traveler she mentioned meeting was hot.  Chicks who were travelers themselves were most prone for turning him down, but that didn't mean he didn't always try.  In fact, kinda pushed him towards the opposite.  Dude had a bit of a complex by now.

It took a moment for what she was implying to register.  So she met a chick who doesn't want kids, wants us to meet, why the fuck... wait.  Did she say husband?. First he cracked a grin, then he started laughing.  Holy shit that was a good one.

Look, Duchess.  Don't get me wrong, I'll meet this girl, specially if she's gorgeous.  But I ain't no husband.  And I definitely don't need any wife.  I got more than enough wolves pickin at what I do without that shit.  He answered, clearly entertained still.  

In his younger days he might've lied about it in order to increase his chances with Duchess here or this unknown chick.  Not anymore.  Proof that even a guy like Zane could grow out of some things.
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his answer was not well-received. kukutux listened with ears falling back in at last an open distaste for his tone. for a long moment the duck only sought to pin her newly-realized kin with a green-dagger glance, though inwardly she quailed. she was unaccustomed to such expressions, and it folded at once back behind a more amiable demeanour.

"you are ostrega. i am ostrega. you did not know them upon the mountain. but i am bound to their name. and as long as we exist together in this village, we share in this." her ivory ears swept forward at last. kukutux had come to enjoy zane's presence, even if it was not understood, but she simply could not understand why a capable hunter of his years would not already have rooted himself in a land that was his to lead. "you do not need to make a decision today on whether or not you have more time to become a husband." her springjade eyes were dark.

zane traded ambition for lack of expectation; he was content to not rise so long as his pleasures were fulfilled and he was not given instruction. kukutux was no longer sure that she could find respect in this, now that she knew they had come from the same clan.

she lifted her chin. "this woman is beautiful indeed, but she is more than her face. and you are more than what you show, zane ostrega." with the air of a woman kneeling and carefully arranging her skirts about her, kukutux smiled finally, a small bow that chased her eyes into a brightness. "shall i call her now, pilannulik?"
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Zane didn't bother to read into others much as he spoke, so he passed completely by the way his words caused her to stiffen.  The name that meant so much to her didn't mean shit to him outside a nice sounding addition when the mood took him.  He'd as well toss it if it meant he had to take a wife to keep it.

From what I hear, there's more'n enough of us to keep that tree growin without me havin to sprout any damn leaves.  He answered idly, with another laugh.  But he shrugged.

Sure, go for it.  Her last statement did bring a look to him though, much as he tried to keep it nonchalant.  Duchess didn't know shit about him.  He was exactly what he appeared to be, no more, no less.
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this time she did not move to correct him. kukutux did not mean that zane should be father; he had no interest and was not even ready to think of becoming a husband. settling. building.

but she tilted back her crown and called gently for @Melaine all the same, hoping she was close and could attend this meet. the firefly was skilled and shared reservations for the future. and both enjoyed the pull of wanderlust. perhaps they might only enjoy one another's company for now.

i have a name for you

she waited, hoping that zane would not try to impress this woman as he did with the one he called duchess.
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Given the chaos of the last few weeks, Lane had more or less forgotten the pitch Kukutux had made to her back in the Heartwood-- her offer to find Lane a boyfriend, or a mate, or whatever. Lane certainly wouldn't have faulted Kukutux for dropping her matchmaking side project in favor of, you know, delivering her pack from ruin and establishing a new claim with herself at the helm. It was the kind of thing that took a considerable amount of energy and attention, Lane imagined. 

Drawn in by Kukutux's call, Lane trotted deeper into Moonglow's territory, taking the opportunity to look around and absorb her surroundings. For the most part, the Glen refugees had taken up on the fringes of the claim, disinclined to impose too much upon their sisterpack's goodwill. This was the first time Lane had ventured into the heart of the territory, and she had to admit, the scenery was breathtaking. 

Her thoughts drifted back to Kukutux's words, "I have a name for you."  Would it be a Moonglow man, then? Lane was a bit surprised that Kukutux hadn't approached her or, as far as she was aware, anyone else from the Glen about staying more permanently. Kukutux was building a pack here, after all. It would only make sense for her to recruit the displaced wolves who were already on her border. But perhaps hooking Lane up with a Moonglow man was her (admittedly sly) way of doing exactly that? Either way, Lane was curious and eager to have another conversation with Kukutux. 

But the duck was not alone. 

"Hey, Kukutux," Lane greeted the woman with warmth in voice and curiosity in her expression. Her amber gaze flicked to the man present, but only lingered momentarily. She wasn't a creep or anything. "So, you have a name for me? Someone who needs medical attention, or...?" ..Or the other thing? The boyfriend thing? Lane didn't want to assume anything, of course.
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Kind of put a dent in his competition, Duchess attempting to pair him off with some other chick.  Zane might have felt offended if he saw the deal as being exclusive, but that wasn't how he worked.  His promise to chat with this new girl didn't change his plans one whit, and while he wasn't (overly) pushy on the matter, he was pretty damn determined to show ol' sticklebutt up in the wooin' department.  Things might have been different if the man hadn't set a clear perimeter around Kukutux's den or whatever the hell other word she called it (ooloo?).  

Well, she was cute.  That was the first thing he noted about her, immediately, as she wandered in.  Didn't really spare much of a look his way, but hey, this was a free setup right?  If this chick was desparate for company he was more than willing to deliver, free of charge, since there was little he enjoyed more than sharin his time with anyone who happened to be in need.  Despite his earlier arguments, when he smiled at Lane, there was nothing but charm.

Hey, name's Zane.  And I hear you might be in the market for some free 'n easy company.  Thankfully he at least restrained from making any kind of innuendo out of the comment, though it was tempting.  Look, he was a shit most days, but if this girl liked to travel... he actually found that interesting.  And if that travel meant looking for someone to tag along on a trip now and again, hell, he'd accompany.  That sounded a good deal more fun than sitting around here and kickin rocks.
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lane appeared. kukutux stood to greet the firefly, wincing inwardly as zane spoke. but he had not made a joke of it. she would have liked to make their introductions, but too late now. "he is apt hunter in moonglow, but he makes paths upon the mountains. not yet bound to us," she smiled softly, an allusion to the other's suggestion of less establishment.

she knew perhaps it would be a surprise for lane, but she had long ago accepted that her ways were not done in this land. her look was fond as she tipped it toward the firefly woman; she leant closer, and with a voice only for her companion did she say, "it is only a meeting," assuring and with a steadying look as she leant back again.

"if it is pleasing to you, lane, i will remain here. if you wish to speak with zane, we will share words after this." formal, perhaps more than was necessary, but kukutux had not done such before.

she wished, zealously, that the other would not be offended now that they had come to it.
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Zane spoke up, simultaneously introducing himself and revealing Kukutux's intention in calling them together.  Zane's overly-casual introduction stood in such sharp contrast to Kukutux's usual formal and flowery speech that Lane couldn't help it; a chuff of laughter escaped. She wasn't sure how Kukutux normally conducted these meetings, but there was no way that was scripted. 

"Did you really?" Lane answered, injecting a note of surprise in her voice despite the humor pulling at the corners of her mouth. Her gaze lingered on the man as Kukutux described him aloud. Hearing his bio dictated in such a way, Lane had to wonder what information Kukutux had provided to him about her, before it was decided that she should be called. What was it that had piqued his interest? 

Kukutux reassured Lane with a whisper that it was only a meeting. Lane blinked, wondering why Kukutux had felt a disclaimer was necessary. Was it because Zane seemed to lack Kukutux's sense of decorum and dignity about all of this? Lane didn't mind at all. She would even go so far as to say she appreciated the casual approach-- it made the whole thing less awkward and stilited. Lane wasn't much of a joke-cracker herself, but it was a quality she appreciated in others. 

Kukutux went on to describe how the meeting would go.

"Sure, Kukutux." Lane agreed. "And.. thanks. For keeping me in mind." Lane was not a member of Moonglow, and the moonwoman owed her absolutely nothing. Truly, it was Lane who was in debt to Kukutux, for sheltering the Glen refugees and now for honoring their previous conversation and making this meeting. Lane would find a way to pay this debt back to Kukutux, just as she had repaid the Glen for their hospitality. 

Lane tilted her head toward one of the boulders at the water's edge, indicating to Zane that they should move off a ways. "I'm Lane," she said, beginning to move toward the shoreline. She couldn't remember if Kukutux had mentioned her name. It did not escape her that their names rhymed, and Lane dearly hoped that odd detail was not the basis of this match. Surely Kukutux had a more complex algorithm that that. Surely..

"So, uh, what did she tell you about me exactly?" Lane asked the very millisecond they were out of earshot.
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Her laughter was definitely encouraging.  It was wasn't often a chick was into his brand of humor (though he'd barely scraped the surface here, let's be real.). Pretty face and a good sense of humor, two checks for the ol' list.  Zane's interest was piqued and he summarily ignored Duchess completely.  Not that she pointed any of her warnings or attention his way either.  

Lane and Zane.  Easy to remember.  He liked a straightforward name and most around here seemed like they had somethin to prove with theirs.  Hers seemed to fit her fine, though he wondered if he couldn't find her a nickname too.  And she was makin some nonsense claim about a husband.  He winked, then laughed.  That shit's wild.  I mean, you're gorgeous, don't get me wrong. Everything here just feels like some kind of game everyone else is playin, y'know?  Rules on rules.  And I ain't big on rules.

Fuck it, he'd feel her out.  She was the first one here who hadn't looked at him like he was full of shit for even trying to be here, so maybe he'd found some kind of kindred spirit.  He still wasn't lookin for any kind of wife but maybe Duchess was wrong.  Maybe she wasn't lookin for much by way of formalities either.  So I guess I'm more interested in hearin about you myself.
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A husband? That wasn't exactly what Lane had requested... She wasn't opposed to the idea, but she also suspected that Kukutux had pressed Zane with some of her own aspirations for the pairing. 

Gorgeous?

If wolves could blush, Lane might have. Despite being keenly aware that she was average-looking at best, she was still young enough that his flattery worked on her. She felt herself nodding along, a conspiratorial half-smile forming as he drew her into his sedition. Yes! Finally! Someone who could see through the bullshit! She had thought that all pack wolves were just glorified monkeys, dancing in lock-step. Finding a free-thinker hiding among the sheep was the last thing she had expected out of this meeting.  

"I feel that," Lane murmured. Rules were not her strong suit either. The first and last rule her parents ever had for her was, don't join a pack. And just look at what Lane had gone and done. 

He wanted to know about her? Why? Lane wasn't anything special. "I'm not--" she began, shaking her head, but then her words faltered. Meeting someone like Zane had thrown her a bit, and it was taking her a minute to find her angle. Maybe the angle was that she didn't need an angle with himMaybe? It seemed worth a shot. 

"I'm a traveler," Lane said, "I've been a gypsy my whole life. I know a thing or two about herbs and medicine, and it gets me by. Those rules for being in a pack, or whatever? I don't even know what they are." It felt really good to finally admit that out loud. Up until this point, Lane had been just fumbling around blindly, hoping she didn't fuck anything up to the point that someone realized that she didn't belong here. 

"Look.." Lane began, letting out a long breath. "I don't know much about anything. This pack, or the voodoo religion here, or what marriage means to them.. but what I do know is that on the inside of a marriage, we're the ones who make the rules. No one else gets to tell us how to do it. So if we wanna go wherever, whenever-the fuck, and do whatever with whoever-the-fuck, who cares?" 

If being "married" was going to get them brownie points with this pack... if it would make the Kukutux and moonwolves trust and respect them more... what on earth was stopping them? The obligation to each other? Couldn't they just get rid  get rid of that part, since neither of them seemed to want it? She tilted her head, wondering if Zane would think she was talking crazy.
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At the beginning, Zane was totally following. She was agreeing with everything he was saying, and apparently she wasn't much for pack life either. Fuck, weird to find a chick who knew what that was like? He'd met loners, sure, but usually they were the strong silent type who could 'handle themselves' or whatever. Not that he couldn't, it was just different when packs ran at a speed you couldn't gel.

But then she went completely off. Zane's expression went from surprised, to intrigued, then to suspicious as she finished her commentary. You're shittin me, he said, flicking an ear and looking over her shoulder for Kukutux, who clearly was having a big old laugh at his expense. There was no way any girl, anywhere, would be chill with what she'd just laid down.

I buy the travelin thing, that's all cool. Pack rules are kind of shit anyway, and cept for the meals and the protection, they ain't worth much. But you're tellin me you don't buy the whole mate thing either? He looked at her, brow raised, clearly skeptical. Cause sweetheart, that's surprising. Wouldn't you want some dude who just, I dunno, promises to jump off the nearest cliff before betraying ya or some shit like that?

In all honesty, Zane's view on marriage was pretty fuckin limited.
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Zane didn't believe her. Funny that the one time she came at someone with the total and honest truth, that was the time she got accused of bullshitting. 

Zane finished with a description of some dramatic scene, with some lovesick guy throwing himself off of a cliff to protect a girl's honor. That was supposed to be love? Lane wrinkled her nose. 

"Pass," she said, with a shake of her head. She was a medic, for fuck's sake-- the last thing she wanted was someone else's blood on her hands. If it ever came down to a choice between death or betrayal, Lane only hoped her hypothetical mate kept his back-stabbing knife sharp. 

"I'm sure it works for some people," Lane allowed. It might even work for her, someday. Who knows? "I'm just saying, why can't we make the rules for our marriage, instead of marriage making rules for us?" Lane had no words to describe the idea of open marriage, or any precedence or experience to base it on. She imagined that she was probably the first one to come up with the idea. 

Lane turned away, gazing out over the water. "I'm tired of pretending that I'm better than I am. It would just.. be nice to have someone I could be myself with." She wasn't looking for any more responsibilities. She wasn't looking to make anyone responsible to her. If that's what marriage had to be, then it wasn't for her. 

"What are you looking for, Zane?" Maybe Lane had put the cart before the horse here. Maybe, despite all of his joking, Zane was actually a traditionalist at heart. Maybe he was looking for the girl who would make him want to jump off a cliff, or whatever (was that really the ideal??). Since Kukutux had summoned her here, that meant that Zane had asked her to find him someone, for some purpose.. right?
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Hold on. Hold on a fuckin second. Was she actually serious? Like, for real serious?

Zane watched her (a little stupidly) as she spoke, scarcely believing it. This had to be a setup because there was no way a chick like this existed and even less than 0 chance she existed here. In this pack, run by Duchess, queen of all things proper. This had to be a joke.

But she didn't sound like she was joking. And as much as Zane refused to believe it, what she said resonated well enough with him that he was stunned into absolute silence and left looking at her, mouth slightly agape, as she asked him what he wanted. Well fuck.

Bro, was this love?

Not a chance, but he was thrown off enough (and infatuated enough by how ideally cool she was) that he questioned it. Mateship was something he'd always avoided because he knew there was no way he could ever settle for a life chained to one thing. It had never even remotely crossed his mind that he could redefine the concept and Lane was blowing his mind a little. She was either a fucking genius or batshit crazy. Either way he was deeply into it.

Well shit. He finally managed, shaking the dumb look off but still staring at her. Didn't figure I was looking for anything. Guess I was just thinkin' too small. By the time he'd finished, he'd settled on accepting that she was just a mad fucking genius, and the look on his face was pure impressed.
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"Guess I was just thinkin' too small."

Lane tore her gaze from the river to settle her amber eyes on Zane. That last line of his sounded dangerously like agreement. She was not a great reader of faces, but the look Zane had fixed her with appeared to be something akin to awe. Flattered, the yearling flattened her ears demurely, and her eyes flicked toward her paws as she fought to keep a small smile from flitting across her expression. She was still a very young lady after all, quite a long way off from the day when she would be impervious to a handsome older man's praise and attention.

Lane's intentions were fairly straightforward. Marrying Zane would earn her a quick green-card into the ranks and the hearts of the moonwolves, and her status would elevate yet again if she managed to become a mother. Lane had surmised all of that from her own conversations with Kukutux. 

But what would Zane get out of the arrangement? Only Lane herself, it seemed. In her own self-deprecating opinion, that was hardly a consolation prize. Would Zane earn any additional rewards or comforts from the moonwolves? As she had stated before, the ways of pack wolves were still mysterious to her. 

"Will it work?" she asked, bringing her gaze back up to meet Zane's. She clarified, "Will it be worth going through with it, I mean? Like, as far as the advantages outweighing the costs." He was the one who knew these wolves, after all. Lane would trust his estimation of Kukutux's reaction over her own. Would marrying elevate both wolves in the eyes of the leader? Mutual benefit was important to Lane-- she liked to avoid being in anyone's debt, if she could in any way help it. She would move forward with this as long as they both had everything to gain, and nothing to lose. 

"Not that-- I don't mean to make it sound like just some scheme--" Lane shook her head. Down to earth as she was, she often favored cold logic over feeling, and when she debated a choice she occasionally forgot to pay lip service to the emotional side of things. "I would like to have.. like.." She bit her lip. The emotional side of things was definitely the hardest part to voice. "...an actual connection." Her gaze trailed off over the water once more.
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He was still surprised, but as the shock wore off, he was smart enough to know she wanted some kind of answer. He'd come here dead set against the idea of a wife but, funny enough, now that resolve was wearing. What she was talkin hardly sounded like marriage. He didn't know what the fuck to make of it.

This last comment of hers was a little worrying. He didn't tie himself down because when push came to shove he'd be gone. And where did that leave her? This sounded fun for a while but he didn't expect this pack gig to last forever. Give it a year and he'd probably be off to better things. On the other paw, who said he couldn't fuckin enjoy himself while he was here? And passing this up seemed stupid as hell.

They didn't make em like this often, obviously.

If it doesn't, say the word and I'm gone, Zane said, confirming with a roguish, toothy smile. I don't do shit that ain't worth it, but this seems like it would be worth tryin. He might not be able to give her whatever kind of 'connection' she wanted but no harm no foul if that was the case. He could disappear for her sake just as well as he could for his own.

She was gorgeous, young and obviously lonely. He'd never been above taking advantage of that before, though this was the first time he'd really promised long term and meant it. Because it came without the promise he wouldn't wander. I think, though, we may want to keep the details between you and me. he added, taking a step closer. If they were going to do this they should probably get acquainted. He wasn't necessarily intending to jump her right now with Duchess waiting nearby, but he was about to test her boundaries and see what a little grooming did for her... if she let him.
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"Say the word and I'm gone."

"..The perfect man," she joked, trying to cover for the fact that she was surprised. It seemed pretty clear that if things didn't work out, he intended to be the one to pack up and go. That was unexpected.. he was here first, after all. He was the one who was actually in Moonglow. 

He wanted to do it. He wanted to do it secretly, but he wanted to do it. It was only in that moment that Lane started to feel the weight of what she had suggested. It was rapidly turning from a what-if situation into a we're-actually-fucking-gonna-do-it situation. Could she really follow through? 

It wasn't even the marriage part that was tripping her up. As Zane pointed out-- if it sucked, it was easy enough to just disappear. It was the lying and pretending part that bothered her. She had never been good at either, and she knew Kukutux deserved more than half the truth. As skeptical as Lane was about marriage, the moonwoman really believed in it. Lane didn't relish the thought of deceiving her. 

"That seems wise," Lane allowed. It was annoying that she could come up with such a great idea and then only have one person she could share it with... but Zane knew these wolves better than she did. If he thought they wouldn't go for it, she trusted that. 

Zane moved toward her, and Lane sidestepped him. In the same motion, she bent and lapped some water from the shallows, as if that had been her only intention in moving away. She wasn't phenomenal at the flirting thing-- teasing was more her forte. Her eyes found Zane's, silently tantalizing him. Daring him to move again.
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And she herself was full of surprises. Zane always had one foot out the door, even in the best of circumstances, and he'd never met a chick as slick about it as this one here. He was getting older, much as he refused to act like it, and some company sounded pretty damn nice. No promises it'd keep, and no pressure. She could tell him to get lost tomorrow. He could decide to get lost himself.

As long as the two of them were down for it, he saw no reason anyone else even needed to poke their nose in it. Obviously Duchess was keen on settin folks up and, if that was the case, she'd likely be over the moon Lane hadn't decided to snap his nose off. Zane wasn't so dumb he couldn't sense how Kukutux had expected this meeting to go. But shit, who coulda called this anyway?

She backed off and at first he was full on waitin for a take-back. But that was a challenge if he'd ever seen one, and his smile grew. He was wise to that game. It didn't take much to lead Zane on, especially in that direction. He sidled forward, more to the water than to her... before lunging playfully sideways, not to actually hit her, but to envoke the intention of the game.
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Zane moved toward the water himself, and Lane tensed, eyeing him through a sideways glance. Was this capitulation, or retaliation? 

Zane didn't make her wait long to find out. 

Lane hopped, pretty much vertically, in reaction to his sudden movement. It was a fairly lousy defensive move on her part, which was only to be expected given her grievous lack of combat training. If he had been aiming for a direct hit, it would have landed no question. As it was, the little lunge fulfilled its function, spurring Lane to an energetic reprisal. She snapped at the air behind Zane's ear and withdrew swiftly, luring him away from the river. 

It was her intention to draw him into the woods, away from curious eyes-- Kukutux's, in particular. She felt that she might be persuaded fairly easily to try out some, ah.. marital relations. Just for practice, you know. Don't buy the cow before you try the milk, and all that. That was how that saying went, right?
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Ooc — Starrlight
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#22
want to fade this one out? <3 I've been struggling to keep up lately and Zane's been esp slow as a result!

Now that look needed no explanation. Fuck yes, let's have a little fun! He wouldn't pressure her into shit if she didn't seem down, but even a little playful flirting would be hella welcome after months of bullshit. Felt good to just cut loose and focus on a cool chick for a bit.

So focus he did. As she led him away she followed, making a game out of it but also making it pretty damn obvious he was more into the chase than he was the catch. Though that could change in a heartbeat depending on the signals she gave off and how into this play she was.

Shit, it didn't have to be that. He was shit at sparring but a game was a game either way.