Big Salmon Lake I got used to living without you
Redhawk Caldera

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#1
All Welcome 
She'd made good on her promise, but that day again, Fennec had woken up to find Killdeer gone. When she went looking, she found him.... with his cousins. And though she was tempted to grab him away, as she had done previously, today she didn't. She didn't have it in her today.

The anger that had been whirling in her these past few weeks, slowly growing, was beginning to burn her out. She'd succeeded in pushing just about everyone in the Caldera away, even her mom, and at this point she wondered if she should just take Killdeer and go. This wasn't what she'd wanted her life to be.

Slowly, Fennec made her way along the lake's edge, occasionally trailing towards the water as her mind raced through reasons to stay, reasons to go. Places she could hide, names she could take up, lives she could lead where she could forget everyone and everything here.

Finally she found a place where the shore led, in a soft slant, into the water. Fennec waded her way in and let it submerge her up to her shoulders, then ducked her head beneath. It cooled the heat and it helped her to think. She stayed there until her lungs protested, then broke the surface again, taking only a step toward shore. She had a while before she needed to get back.
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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#2
-sees temptation and doesn't resist it-

Only a couple hundred metres away from where Fennec would enter the lake and submerge herself, Bronco had been resting, dozing in and out of a restless sleep. His dreams were vivid and violent, and even though he forgot them as soon as he woke up, the anguish dogged him like a shadow for several hours afterwards. He kicked and bared his teeth in his sleep, silently protesting his dreams only to wake up still tired, and resigned to what reality had become for him. 

The sudden inhale of breath when Fennec broke back above the surface startled him. He'd fallen asleep on a grassy bank that rose a few feet above the lake's surface after having had a drink and spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find and catch a fish. The effort had tired him so he'd chosen to rest there, hoping perhaps he could try again later. 

He lurched up, propping himself up a bit as he scanned the lake, and at first he didn't recognize her. With her fur slicked and only part of her visible from that distance, she could've been anyone...But the hue of her coat narrowed the field significantly, and while he was too far away to note the colour of her eyes, he felt sure it was Fennec. 

If he stayed still, said nothing, qnd perhaps if the wind stayed low, she might not notice him. He'd already anticipated that he might get cold feet, and that he might instinctively want to just cut and run, and never go back. He felt simultaneously drawn toward her and paralyzed with fear- which made him essentially helpless. He couldn't move toward her but in frustration a soft whine came unbidden from his throat that surprised him so much he almost yelped. He froze, hair lifting along his hackles. Had he just given himself away?
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#3
!! <3

It was quiet. Normally that wasn't her speed and she'd have been off to find something a little more interesting, but for some reason, she basked in it now. With nothing but the water, a couple of birds, and the gentle breeze, she could separate herself from the shit she'd said to her mom. From how hard it had been, lately, to deal with Killdeer the way she should.

She wasn't a shitty mom, but she'd never been ready to do this alone. She wouldn't take the blame for that.

Fennec wended her way carefully along the edge of the water, cutting a lazy circle with her feet firmly planted in the lake's bottom. She'd swum out in it once before, but if she wasn't careful, it was pretty easy sometimes to forget which way was land. She didn't tend to attempt it when she was out here alone, not since that first time.

Or... not alone. Her ears flicked as a slight sound came traveling across the water. She couldn't tell where from, but it didn't sound too far off, and it did sound like a wolf. Well.... that or something similar enough. She stopped where she was and both ears lifted, but she didn't announce herself just yet. If she was mistaken and it wasn't something friendly, being caught in the water wasn't exactly a good plan. Carefully, and quietly, she lowered her shoulders so that only her head was above, listening for any further sign.
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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#4
He suspected shed heard him, but from her response he assumed he hadn't been quite loud enough for her to recognize his voice. He felt relieved; it wasn't out of her realm of possibilities to launch herself at him in anger for having disappeared- and she couldn't see to know just how decrepit and fragile he was. 

She responded by sinking down, and listening for another sign, like someone suspicious of being followed. He looked out around the banks of the lake. There was, of course, a chance that he had been followed. Perhaps he shouldn't have come back yet, not until he made sure everyone would be safe...But he'd needed to see them, and at least tell them something. 

He carefully picked his way down the bank and into the water. At least, if nothing else, water could disguise his scent. It might even keep anyone from being able to link him to Fennec, as well. This was probably as close as he could get, without risk. 

""F----. St-- in th wat--" His croaking voice cut in and out in a hoarse whisper, realizing only then just how bad he sounded.
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Something was getting in the water and, without making much noise, coming closer. Her skepticism started to turn to fear as her pulse began to quicken, and she let out a warning growl as she took a step back. She wouldn't be able to fight here if whatever this was attacked her and she couldn't run without compromising her footing.

The croaking whisper didn't do much to set her at ease, but it was familiar enough to make her freeze. If whoever this was was messing with her, now was not the time.

Who are you, and what the fuck do you want? She asked, taking another step back. She had to lift her head now some to keep it clear of the water, and if she took another she'd be swimming. This other wolf didn't sound like much of a threat, but they didn't sound all that friendly either, and it was a possibility they were full of shit with the voice. She didn't find it funny... in fact, she was furious. They sounded like someone she knew they weren't and if they weren't careful, she'd make them pay for 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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#6
There was no reason for her to have forgotten him- but it was clear that she disn't know who it was that was approaching her. His voice hadn't been a voice at all, and his scent was likely muddled by dirt and neglect. She looked defensive, ready to flee at an instant whether by swimming or running away from him. Had something happened while he'd been gone? Had they come here too?

He stopped moving in hopes she might not run away from him...Though, he was also prepared for her to take off or charge at him when she realized who he was, too. Had he been in better spirits he might've cracked a joke, teased her, or said something self-deprecative so she'd know who he was, and maybe it'd break the tension. But he wasn't in better spirits, and he had no idea how to deal with this situation. 

"Fenn," His voice was a hoarse whisper, strained in an attempt to make his vocal chords work without success. "It's m--. Bronc-." His voice caught, forcing him to try and clear it with a cough, which came with a soft rattling from within his chest. "S'Bronco." His voice cracked, but it was probably the loudest he'd been able to speak in a while. His ears turned back, as though in an admission of guilt, as he awaited her verdict.
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#7
The conflict of emotions that reveal caused would have been pretty apparent. Disbelief was the first, but something else too. Relief? Anger? She was speechless for a moment. But she couldn't trust it to just that, and she had to see for herself.

She moved towards him with somewhat uncharacteristic purpose. Normally she might have made it seem like a game, or approached with aggression, but there was none of that. Instead, aside from her earlier expression, there wasn't much of anything to clue in to what she was thinking.

She'd move until she found him by touch and, feeling, brush beside until she could confirm it was him by scent. He sounded bad, like he needed attention, but that didn't explain anything. Why was he here? Why wasn't he...

Fennec's throat tightened with thick anger, compounded by both relief and confirmation of all of her fears at once. She pulled away and her ears went back, down, as she did. Defensive again. Where were you?

She knew where he'd gone. He'd told her he was leaving and she'd agreed, but she hadn't agreed to months without word. She hadn't agreed to raising their son without a father, and she certainly hadn't agreed to finding him here, half-dead and acting like that was okay. Bronco, what the FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE?!

The venom in her voice, and the volume, would mostly hide the shaking behind it. She didn't know what she was saying or what his reaction would be, but it was this or run. And she couldn't bring herself to leave him here, despite a part of her screaming that she should.
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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#8
It was both impossible for him to move, and unbelievably difficult for him to not want to bolt away when she moved toward him. He shrank, but remained rooted to the spot. A fleeting wave of relief crashed through him at the thought of her simply putting him out of his misery without a word.  

He stiffened as she sniffed him, but as soon as she reached out to touch him he began to shiver. Incapable of controlling the rattling and shuddering, he clenched his jaw to keep himself from biting his tongue and held his breath. His tail was tucked tightly between his hind legs, a mark of fear and cowardice as he stared straight ahead, frozen in place. 

It didn't feel like she was reassuring him, or trying to reconnect. It didn't feel like she was trying to hurt him either, but the sensation of touch brought nothing but fear to his heart. He was silent still even when she stepped back. As she did, so did he- awkwardly stumbling a few paces back in the water to put some space in between them in the hopes she wouldn't touch him again. 

She was angry. He still hadn't taken a breath, but he gasped when she shouted at him, and hurriedly sought to shush her. "Shh shh shhh!" He whispered urgently. "Don-- yell," He croaked in a dry whisper. Even without tone, there was fear in his trembling plea. He scanned the banks of the lake and licked his lips. His teeth chattered quietly and he clamped his jaws shut to try and stop it. His jaw ached from having to do this so often, now. He feared this might have been a bad idea. "Fenn, I c-can't come b-back," He whispered through his teeth. "N-not. Yet. N-not. Safe."
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#9
It would be hard to describe what she felt when he pulled away from her out of fear. That was nothing compared to the one answer he did give. I can't come back. She barely heard the next part. He was obviously terrified, and she should care about that. She should find out why, discover what would keep him away from them. She should assume the best and not the worst.

When had Fennec ever done what she should do?

Fine. You could practically hear the lid clicking shut behind that single word. Fennec stood up straight and turned, beginning to leave the water. We don't need you. Go. She couldn't say anything else. She was shaking now. She wanted to scream.... she wanted to grab him and drag him back to the caldera herself. More than anything, she wanted him to feel the same way she had about the last few months.

When she got out of the water, she kept walking. If she stopped she was going to turn around and she couldn't risk 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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While he didn't expect much empathy- it was never her first response anyway- he thought at least she might demand more of an explanation from him than that. Maybe this meant she hated him so much that she really didn't give a shit about what he'd been through, or why he'd been gone so long. He'd never hesitated to take her back, nor had he shunned her but he never should have expected her to extend the same courtesy to him. 

The one consolation that he got was that there was a "we." Which meant, to him, that Killdeer was still alive. But the way she shook fiercely when she spat those heartbreaking words at him was cruel enough to make him collapse into the water as she turned and marched away. And he knew he couldn't follow her- if his pawsteps followed hers, he'd leave behind a trail that could be followed, and she'd become a mark as well if she was associated with him.

So, maybe she was right. He couldn't follow her to the Caldera, and she wouldn't have him there anyway. "Tell Kill---" He squawked, but cut himself off. There was no point. He didn't even have parting words for the son he'd not been around to raise and cherish. Nor did he expect Fennec to pass on whatever words he might have had, either. He wilted. All he could do was apologize, but that would never be enough- so why bother?

If his assumptions were correct, he couldn't go back to the Caldera without risking being hunted. And they wouldn't stop- he was sure of it- but there was one way he might keep his family safe, and that was to make sure no one found him, that his trail ran cold at the bank he'd stepped off from moments before. He turned slowly in the shallow water, feeling how soft the mud was beneath his feet, and began to tread into the depths.
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#11
He wasn't going to come after her.

She should have known, but he always had. The fear in his voice had been real, but she struggled with what it meant. He was here, could have been for weeks, while she... no. No. For weeks she'd told herself what she'd do when he came back because the scarier option was always that he wouldn't. If she promised herself she'd be the one to kill him, then she wouldn't have to face the fact that he might never come back.

Tell Kill..

She didn't think she'd ever felt pain like this. If she walked away right now, that was it. He wasn't coming. She could hear it in the way he swallowed the words. Like he couldn't even say the name. She stopped, rigid, as panic began to eat away at her fury. He didn't want to come back. He hadn't missed her. But the thought of him disappearing again envoked such a wall of desperate fear that she almost lost it.

No. NO! Fennec whirled. I don't care. You don't get to run away from this. She was crying. She didn't know when she'd even started doing that. Not without us. You can't leave me behind again. She wouldn't let him. She could pretend that she didn't need him all she wanted, but that was an absolute fucking lie. If she let him walk out right now, her life was done. She'd never forgive herself 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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#12
It might have made all the difference if he'd seen her turn. Maybe if he'd even been a bit less lost in his thoughts, he might've heard the way the water splashed as she pivoted suddenly. He likely would have been fine if he'd heard her stop in her tracks, but the white noise inside his brain needed to stop, and he felt it growing quieter as the water reached his chin. 

There wasn't anything beneath his feet when he stepped next, but he caught her voice the moment before his head slipped beneath the water's surface. In his surprise he drew in a sharp breath but a moment later he expelled a gurgling burst of bubbles from beneath the lake's surface. The dropoff had been as unexpected as Fennec's change of heart.

He began to sink almost immediately, silently, fighting against the water that swallowed him. He couldn't scream or yell, not with his voice as hoarse as it had been, and he was hanging onto what little oxygen he'd had left. But as exhausted as he was, as thin as he was, he was no longer buoyant. The more he fought, the more the dreams that had plagued him began to weigh him down, causing his movements to become laboured and slow as he drifted into the reeds growing from the bottom of the lake.
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#13
Fennec heard him disappear and, without a single pause, she plunged in after him. The sound of it would haunt her after, as would the thought of what might have happened if she hadn't turned around. She'd almost kept going.

If it turned out differently, that is.

Her only thought was finding him. She swam frantically, thrashing towards where she thought he was beneath the water, grasping for anything she could hold onto that could be used to pull him to the surface. Every second she met only water drove her further down. She wouldn't come up without him.
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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#14
At first, he thought he'd struggled against the water simply out of survival instinct, and out of surprise. It was a natural reaction to flail and try to swim to the surface when submerged, but it just didn't make sense. He continued to pedal helplessly even when the surprise wore off. But why? He'd just made up his mind that this was the only way he could keep his family safe. He was doing the right thing. If his body was found here, or if his trail ran cold, it would all be over. No one would ever think to associate him with any of the wolves he loved. 

But even weakly, his limbs moved, paddling more and more softly. He saw the surface of the water above him ripple and glitter, multi-faceted like a liquid diamond. And it occurred to him then, seeing something that reminded him vaguely of the sparkle in Fennec's eyes, that he was desperate to know what it was that she had tried shouting at him before he'd stepped over the dropoff. He needed to know...

Something blocked the light, and he exhaled a small gasp of bubbles into the new darkness. He lurched when water broke past his clenched throat, and made his chest heavy. He panicked, and thrashed, stirring up mud from the bottom of the lake. It brought him up a few feet- but there was no air left in his lungs. He saw nothing but darkness, and could hear nothing. He felt what he thought was the familiar and reassuring clasp of his mother's teeth at his scruff. He was a pup again- blind, deaf, helpless, and she was just picking him up to carry him somewhere safe. So he stopped his flailing, like a good boy, to let her carry him away.
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This wasn't the first time this had happened. He was dead weight in her jaws just like the last time and, just like last time, she fought like hell to get him to the surface. Fennec wasn't a large wolf and, even as underfed as he was, Bronco was a lot for her to carry. Her air was running out and she felt her pulse threatening to burst from both ears as she kicked frantically at the water and, finally, the lake bottom.

She let out a sobbing cry of relief from around his scruff as her head broke the surface, but she didn't drop him until she'd managed to pull them both up onto shore. Then, coughing, she immediately began to shove him. Bronco. BRONCO Anything to get a response. She didn't know if he was breathing.

This had to be a nightmare. Better he'd never come back than this.
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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#16
Some primal part of him felt reassured as Fennec grabbed him by the scruff and began hauling him toward the surface. He slipped from consciousness as one might relax into the arms of a loved one, willingly and peacefully. For the first time in a long time he was quiet and still, and his subconscious didn't plague him with horrific dreams. 

But he jolted back into reality when something cued his body to expel the water from his lungs with a gurgle, followed by hacking coughs. He rolled over onto his belly even though he was barely conscious, and felt his stomach clench. He wretched the lake water from his system until there was nothing left for him to heave up, and still he coughed until his ribs and back protested. He shuddered with each breath, but with each breath came a return to life that was only his to have because Fennec had once again pulled him from the depths of inevitable suffocation. 

He was still quite bewildered and weakened, and hardly aware of what had happened and who was beside him. It was all he could do to keep gasping for air and blink as the blurriness slowly cleared from his vision.
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This was the second time Fennec had saved him from suffocating, and perversely, it was also the second time she'd let herself open up like this. Compared to last time, she'd essentially screwed the top off of her heart and dumped the entire damn thing at his feet.

And, intentional or not, he'd nearly drowned himself in a lake.

When he began to cough, Fennec turned away and collapsed to sitting with her back to him. She listened to him, reassuring herself with every heaving breath, while she just shook. Part of it was shock, part of it was anger, and part of it was shame. She was an idiot for thinking she could ever force him to do a damn thing. Nothing was ever going to go right for them.

Cursed, Kukutux had called her. She'd laughed it off then, but for the first time, the words came back to her and she wasn't amused. Fucking explain a lot, wouldn't it? Then the laugh started, coming out somehow wrong, and before she knew it she couldn't stop. She was in full hysterics, shaking with it even harder, though thankfully her laughter had always been mostly silent. This variety was more choked than usual and she was wheezing by the time she managed to get it somewhat under control.

Fucking cursed. That was all she managed to get out. She didn't have anything else to say, and at the point, she didn't know if she was going to keep laughing or burst into tears again. Flip a damn coin, universe.
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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It took some time for him to fully regain his awareness, and even when he could see clearly and had stopped coughing and spluttering he didn't respond right away. Fennec's clucking and wheezing went mostly unnoticed, or was written off as heaving from the effort she'd juse used to haul him from the water. 

But he did hear her statement, which seemed odd. He didn't know the context, but given what little he knew, and the small amount they'd spoken of the topic, he assumed she was talking about him. Cursed? Probably. "You're the w---" he coughed, his throat still hoarse. "Witch. Whatsit. Cost t-- r--verse it?" A glimmer of humour perhaps, though it didn't reveal itself in his tone or expression. He might've even sounded fairly serious about wanting whatever curse it was that was kicking him down, repeatedly, lifted.
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She managed to get herself under control. It was hard to parse what he was saying, but she got the gist. With it came a dousing wave of clarity.

Oh, good. Now he was making jokes.

All of her earlier panic had been washed away in the tidal wave that followed the rescue and now she stood up. Maybe she was the one who was cursed, but she wasn't the one giving up here.

You don't get both. You don't get to leave me behind and then expect me to solve it. She'd have chosen to risk it fighting at his side without even thinking about it, every time. If he didn't feel the same way then maybe that was all she needed to know.

I loved you. And if there's any part of Bronco left in there, I'm sure he knows how much bullshit this is. The words were level, and the admission slipped off of her tongue so easily that she barely noticed it. If you decide to give a shit about us, you know where to find me. But Killdeer deserves better than a coward for a father.

It was cruel. So was walking away and leaving him here, weak like this. But so was allowing fear, and some unknown threat, to tear apart their family. There was no quarter in her expression and instead, more challenge than anything else. Tell me again, the favor you are doing me here. I dare you.

This time she really was leaving. He was a big boy - he could figure it out. She had a son to get back to and had already been gone too long.
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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#20
He felt the weight of his choice weighing down upon him, crushing his confidence. Injstice stung like rock salt poured into a wound- and she criticized him without knowing what Hell he'd been through. Could she not tell by the way his pelt hung off him like a soggy, oversized bathrobe, that he'd run himself nearly to death trying to get back to her- and all she cared about was the fact he'd been driven away by what she assumed was cowardice. 

She'd never once told him that she loved him- but now used that admission as a means of making him feel even more guilty. He could fling it all back at her, he knew. He could probably make her regret being so cruel to him. He wanted to be understood, and he wanted her to forgive him, not manipulate him into accepting that she was the victim in all of this. 

He didn't appreciate that she thought he was being a coward. If he hadn't run, he'd be dead. He had run, and was still barely alive. She seemed more content to run on her assumptions than actually ask him what had happened.

"I loved you too. But if we're gon- try, I need you t- stop jus- walk- away from me when thi- get hard. Or that's exac- what Killdeer will learn to do." He croaked. "Ask. Listen. Talk. You don't know why I was gone. But yelling an' manipulating and running- that is what cowards do."
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Don't you dare make this my fault! Well, he got her to stay. She rounded back, ignoring that he'd just said the exact thing that she had, that they'd both admitted it (albeit past tense).

If I hadn't come here, would you have even bothered? You haven't said shit besides the fact that you can't come home. Stop fucking acting like you're doing me or him any favors. Cowards don't fight for what they want. I'm not the one making bullshit excuses. She was spitting mad again.

She'd spent months wondering if he was alive, and she could forgive that if something had happened. She wasn't stupid. What she couldn't forgive was his willingness to give up now that he was here. Or the conclusion that she drew, unconfirmed, that he'd been hiding from them for a while now.
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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#22
"It's n-" He blurted but his voice cracked and she was prepared to talk over him anyway so he clamped his mouth shut to listen. It was exhausting, being yelled at over and over. He felt strongly that if she only knew...Her perspective might shift. He also felt it was somewhat indicative of how dysfunctional their relationship was, given the fact she hadn't given him any opportunity to explain himself. She'd expressed no empathy or concern, just anger. Was this a relationship that was even worth fighting for? 

Whether or not it was, it was a relationship that he had been conditioned to accept. The yelling, the running away, the temper...He wasn't perfect, but at least he didn't choose to bail on her, or so he felt. He got the feeling she felt as though he had chosen to leave her, and he knew how she hated being left behind. 

"Will you let me ex-" He coughed, and cleared his throat. "Explain?" She'd said he was making excuses, and to be fair, he was. But he certainly hadn't crucified her for running away. He could call her out for having those double standards, but he knew better than to add fuel to the fire. At least, for as long as he had patience to do so.
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#23
She was tightlipped as she stood there after her tirade. She didn't give any real indication of agreement outside of her silence, but she didn't leave either... just waited for him to go on. Her optimism on it making any difference was burning low. He could try.

The swap rankled her. How he could go from practically running away from her to some sort of superior, high-horse act about needing to suddenly 'talk'. She didn't stop to consider that maybe she'd misunderstood... instead it felt like he was purposefully switching the script to make her out as the villain here. She was giving him what he wanted, wasn't she?

He hadn't even asked about Killdeer. Maybe he could explain that too, she thought, nursing the bitter hurt in her chest. All he was doing was drawing out the inevitable, and there was only one question that Fennec was interested in answering right now. Too bad she didn't know where to even begin asking 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)
Redhawk Caldera

Master
1,238 Posts
Ooc — Jess
Trapper
Warrior
Master Guardian
Offline
#24
It was hard for him to believe she'd allow him to speak without interrupting, or waiting long enough ti just scoff at him and tell him he was still in the wrong for the decision he'd made. And if she cane at him that way....Then maybe that'd be the final straw, and he'd be able to cut himself free from this toxic relationship. But he needed to give this one more try. See if she had any empathy at all.

"It wasn't Mom's scent. I was wrong. It was another wolf, with two little toddlers. He admitted. He'd been so sure it might've been her, but it wasn't. "Sh'd been c-. Caught. Used as bait. I th-. They made her cry for help, so I went, and th. Then I was surrounded."

There were things he couldn't say. Explaining himself made him quake with fear. His teeth clattered softly so he clenched them. "Th. Hunters. Take prisoners, then set them free. Hunt them down, attack their families. Th...Saw my scars. Asked me to join. They ask wolves with sc-scars to join. I refused."

He could feel something wild and instinctive begging him not to tell her the truth. And maybe he could hide a bit...Spare himself the misery of admitting what he'd seen and been through, and spare her feelings for knowing what they'd done. "They starve, torture...Anything. Then set you free, hunt you down, kill anyone whose path you cross. An' they don't stop."

He'd heard the screams. He'd seen a wolf become as helpless to fear as a cornered rabbit. He'd heard the sharp, piercing cry, the gurgle of breath, the excited shouts of the hunters as they closed in on their quarry. It was a sport, an obsession. And they'd been mad with bloodlust.

"I...Ran. Until I think I lost them. I don't know how long...Then kept running. I didn't recognize the mountains or lakes....I went further and further inland. They...Caught me once, but...I fought so they let me go so they could hunt me again after..." He shuddered. "I did everything I could to lose their trackers. Waited until their howls became distant. Ran and ran until...I got lost. I found my way back. And I thought...I don't know if I really lost them, but I'm far enough ahead at least, I thought, when I saw you in the water...I could talk to you. They wouldn't catch your scent and associate it with mine. I want to be home...But I can't see them do to you and Killdeer...What they did to their last bait." His voice broke into helpless sobs. He'd been completely incapable of protecting her or her two children. Or the elderly male they'd caught. Or the brothers about his age that he'd thought would have a chance- but for their loyalty to each other. The only one who seemed to slip their grasp had been an Arctic wolf who had been damn near impossible for them to really pin down anyway. And in their frustration, having lost one captive, they'd redoubled their need for satisfaction and had tortured the rest of them.
Redhawk Caldera

Tradesman
I'll never know unless I try
1,162 Posts
Ooc — Starrlight
Offline
#25
She did let him finish. She was silent through the entire story, listening. It did answer her question, but it wasn't the answer she wanted, because she'd been right. He was going to leave them. And maybe he thought he had a good reason for it - maybe he even did have a good reason for it. But she couldn't accept it.

Fennec wasn't heartless. Not even she could hear a story like that and go at him like nothing happened. She hated the fear in his voice, hated the wolves who put it there, and she knew if she found any trace of these "Hunter" she'd tear them to fucking pieces. But none of that mattered.

How long are you planning to run? she asked, quieter at least. Killdeer.... he doesn't ask anymore. He doesn't even know you. And you're going to let them do that. She didn't ask because she knew. That was why he was here instead of fighting to get back to them. I hope they do find me.

If he wasn't going to fight for them, then she would. And if he was going to take that choice from her, she stood by her earlier assessment; she deserved better than 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)