Redhawk Caldera Voltage
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#1
All Welcome 
The nights had begun to get a bit more cool, which didn't help Bronco, who was still having difficulty sleeping peacefully. He wanted to move closer to sleep next to Fennec for warmth, but the viciousness of his dreams meant he still woke up surrounded by bedding that had been scuffled and scattered by his flailing paws, and the raking clawmarks in the dirt. He wouldn't risk injuring her or Killdeer so he slept away from the both of them. 

He awoke with his fur still messed up from another night of interrupted sleep and left as the horizon began to brighten, to get a drink from the lake and then perhaps take a nap somewhere else to rest up a bit. There was a light mist, but no frost yet. Still, he could tell it wouldn't be long until the frost came. 

He meandered along a rocky outcrop, which was where he picked up Towhee's scent. A day old or so, which meant that she was back from her trip. He wondered if Alyx had come back with her- he wanted to see his younger sister, and see how she was handling the news about their mother. He had yet to meet their younger siblings yet but....He wasn't quite himself yet. He was still underweight and gaunt. Tidy now, but still somewhat skittish and isolated by his own fears. 

Still, he figured he ought to seek out @Towhee at some point. As he reached the lake's edge, the first glimmer of sunlight began to peek over the horizon and spill across the lake.
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Towhee bowed forward, legs stretched out in front of her and rump in the air. Downward dog, she mused, lip twitching into a smile. Her eyes remained closed against the early morning glare as she inhaled, exhaled and inhaled again, just like Raven had taught her. She didn't feel silly anymore, at least not until she cracked open an eye to see she was no longer alone.

Feeling a little awkward, she straightened onto all fours and turned her body to face Bronco further along the water's edge. "Hey, stranger," she called out to him, tail waving gently. He looked a little better than last time, just like she did, she supposed. But he still didn't look like himself and Towhee still wanted to know what had happened to him.

Padding toward him, she wanted to ask, though she decided she would feel out the situation a bit first with a more generic but no less genuine, "How are you, Bronco?"
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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Stranger?

He heard the voice and recognized it, but he still flinched and whirled to face the wolf who'd spoken. No one else sounded remotely like Towhee, so his cheeks immediately fkooded with heat, knowing he probably looked like an idiot, getting startled like that. He didn't realize it, but he'd crouched and had with the sudden movement, had released a bit of urine in surprise. Fortunately, he'd been ankle deep in the water- there was a chance Towhee hadn't seen him urinate in fright. 

He tried to recover with an ashamed shake of his head. -"Getting there,"- He said, hoping she understood. He wasn't himself yet, but he was trying. He remembered the abrupt way he'd left her- obediently following his mate's lead- the last time he saw her. -"You look better, though. How was your time with...Raven, isn't it?"- He'd never met the medic; he had only heard some whacky stories from his mother about her past alpha, and her milk-toast mate, whatever that meant.
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She drew in a breath after noting his startled response. Something had definitely happened to him, something traumatic. Her lips pursed, wondering, but still she didn't ask outright. Her orange eyes fixed on his face as he spoke, inquiring about her trip. It was technically small talk, though Towhee didn't mind. She had been gone long enough that it was actually quite valuable in catching up with the caldera's happenings.

-"It was exactly what I needed,"- she replied. -"It turns out I needed mental help more than anything. Once I got that, everything started getting a lot better. I did get some medicine, though Rave gave me some other... tools, for lack of a better word. Uh, I don't know how much you saw but I was actually just doing something she taught me. It's called yogurt."-
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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He was impressed that Towhee had had such a good recovery. He wasn't sure how long she'd been gone- it was hard to keep track of time when his sleep was interrupted so much. But it felt like she'd not been away for long, and now came back in a much better physical and emotional state. 

Whatever Yogar was, it seemed to have worked for her. 

He padded out of the water and sat down. It was always a bit easier to speak to Towhee when he was sitting, and had the full use of both forelegs. -"I didn't see anything, actually. What's, uh, Yogar?"- He asked. He used the same sign for the word she'd introduced him to, though his mispronunciation was a reflection of her unique articulation.
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He said he hadn't seen anything and Towhee coughed a laugh. She really needed to shake off this sheepish shit. She couldn't let something like embarrassment get in the way of her continuing recovery. She really did credit most of her healing to Rave's meditative tactics, more than the weird leaves her sister had made her eat to soothe the ulcers. The stress had been the root of the problem, after all, the bleeding in her stomach merely a symptom.

-"It's basically a bunch of breathing exercises combined with stretching. It's supposed to be meditative. It helps with anxiety, depression, stress... that kinda shit,"- Towhee did her best to explain what Raven had told her. -"It sounds like hippie crap but I swear it works. She made me do it twice a day and I started feeling better on, like, day four. It probably would've been sooner except it felt completely whacked at first,"- she admitted.

Bronco took a seat, so Towhee moved toward him and reclined too. She looked at him a moment before saying, -"I could show you, if you want."- She paused, glancing sideways, then back at him. -"I bet it'd help you. It seems like you've been through some rough shit too."- Her gaze rested on his face, inviting him to tell her about it if he wanted, though she didn't particularly want to pressure him. "Rough shit" didn't really seem to cover it, if his looks and demeanor were anything to go by.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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His expression became worried when Towhee mentioned things like depression and mental health. Not comfortable topics, and they were things that needed more communication, sometimes, than medication. To be fair, Towhee'd been through the ringer; he couldn't help but feel guilty for contributing to some of it, whether it happened through his mother's lunacy, or his disappearance. 

He was still trying to process how to handle Towhee's admission to him when she suggested he should learn. This meant, to him, that she was acknowledging his own weakened, fearful state, and it made him feel awkward and vulnerable to be noticed. But he was thankful she didn't pry. 

He wasn't open for talking about it. But he was willing to try her suggestion. -"Show me some of your yogar things?"- He entreated humbly.
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ITT: Towhee probably does yoga all wrong because I know very little about it and I figure she's hardly a yogi, lol.

When he didn't fill the space she'd left open for him, Towhee only nodded in understanding. Now he knew he could talk to her, even if he didn't want to right now. What Bronco wanted was some "yogurt" and Towhee inwardly rolled her eyes at herself when she realized how properly excited she was to teach him.

-"Okay, but before we begin,"- she replied, pointing a toe at him, -"you should know we're probably gonna look like a couple of ridiculous Samanthas. And you'll probably feel pretty dorky doing it. But I swear, it's worth it."-

And without further adieu, Towhee dipped forward into one of the most classic positions: downward dog. It was a rather natural arrangement for a canine's body, so Bronco shouldn't have any trouble with it. Of course, there was more to it than simply contorting oneself. Even as she breathed in and out—it was becoming second-nature to her—she thought of how to instruct him.

"Okay, so, this helps you stretch... obviously," Towhee said, foregoing signing since her forelegs were currently preoccupied. "It also helps with blood flow and shit, which is important, I guess. And, oh, yeah, try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take slow, deep breaths, really fill your belly with air."

She felt like she was probably trying to do too many things at once and jumbling it a bit, to boot. Towhee let out a huff of laughter, just hoping she hadn't already lost Bronco. Because she wanted this to work for him like it had worked for her.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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Samanthas? What were-

Oh, right. It had been one of their inside jokes. It should have made him laugh- even sheepishly, considering he'd forgotten about their encounter with the wolf version of a Karen, but instead he felt a bit ashamed of himself. He blinked, and tried not to show how disappointed he was in himself for not remembering something had been so hysterical at the time. Being disconnected from being happiness also seemed to have disconnect him from the things that had once made him happy. 

She dipped down into a playbow, and with a little bit of careful hesitance, he slid his paws along the ground in front of him until he too was in somewhat of playbow position. He winced a bit as he felt some pressure in his lower back that sat there like a weight, but slowly began to spread away as he mimicked her breathing. 

He lifted his head to check out the way she had her paws, and the line of her spine from her nape to the arch of her hips and tried to mirror the same posture. He didn't realize he'd allowed his belly to sag a bit, but he could definitely feel the weight of the blood that began to pool in his head. It made him feel a bit more...Mellow, somehow. He uttered a soft groan, let his head just dangle, and waited for more instructions.
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She watched Bronco, who gave no indication that her instructions were confusing, so that was good. Towhee found herself critiquing his form, which made her smile. Did she think she was some sort of yogi now, after only weeks of doing this? No, she wouldn't say anything. She didn't think there was any benefit to getting too technical about it. It was about clearing the head, not filling it with nonsense about perfect form.

"Good, good," she said when he looked over at her expectantly. "How's it feel?" she asked, maintaining her own pose for a moment longer before pushing upright and giving her body a little wriggle. Her muscles felt a little looser, though that wasn't the only part that mattered. She drew in a few slow, deep breaths.

"Okay, that one was downward dog. Now we're gonna do upward dog, which is kind of the same move, only flipped. Like the name implies, I guess," Towhee quipped, her pleasure still tinged with a bit of self-consciousness. "You sit," she continued, demonstrating as she spoke, "and then throw your head upward like you're going to howl, like, the most intense howl of your life. Really arch your spine, bend over backward. Pretend like you're trying to touch the top of your head to your back, though don't actually do that," she rambled with a laugh.

She fell silent as she bowed her own backbone, feeling a delicious series of pops and letting out a little groan. She remembered to do her breathing while she was at it and reminded Bronco to do the same.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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He settled back down onto his haunches once it seemed like he'd completed the move she'd showed him. It didn't seem like to new of an experience to him, so he wasn't sure quite why she saw that this was such a life-changing exercise. He stretched most days when he woke up and this really didn't seem much different. But he wasn't about to dismiss this yogar thing, if it was what had helped heal Towhee. 

-"It feels pretty nice,"- He admitted, which wasn't a lie at all. Stretching out his sore, tired, and still healing muscles would do him some good. She explained the next move, and he watched as she flexed her spine and threw her head back. Bronco, still somewhat new to the process, was a fair amount more timid about striking the next pose. 

He arched his lower back toward the ground, which felt a bit funny; it caused a bit of compression in his vertebrae, but helped to stretch out his abdominal muscles. He started to tilt his head back, but felt the skin of his throat tighten, reminding him of the healing puncture wounds there. Not wanting those marks to be seen, he flinched, and bowed out of the stretch. He cleared his throat, and sat back down. "-That one...Makes a funny pinching feeling in my back.-" A lame excuse, he thought, and he felt sheepish about bailing when she was just trying to teach him something. -"Looks like you got a bit more flexible than me,"- He suggested. [/b][/i]
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"Shit, don't hurt yourself," Towhee was quick to say when Bronco mentioned he felt a pinched nerve in his back. She quickly exited her own pose, wondering if he needed to call it a day. But he looked none the worse for wear—his generally rawboned appearance aside—so she tentatively decided she would wrap it up with a third and final pose.

"Let's do child's pose," she said to him, well aware that he wouldn't have the first clue what she was talking about. So Towhee quickly assumed said pose, first by repeating her downward dog and then sliding forward and simultaneously dropping her butt closer to the ground. She felt a familiar burn in her white-streaked shoulder blades as she dropped her head between them.

Glancing at Bronco beneath her own armpit, Towhee grunted, "This one makes it a little hard to take those deep breaths I mentioned. So I take quicker, shallower breaths, then..." She pushed up and out of the pose, assuming a rather typical seated posture and rolling her shoulders a bit as she shifted her weight.

-"So, that's one part of it. The breathing stuff is also really important, so's the meditation. I'm still pretty bad at the latter, 'cause it's about emptying your mind and I'm... well, I'm really bad at that. But I can try to walk you through that too, if you like."-
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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He watched her expression to gauge whether or not she'd seen the scars on his throat. She didn't look too horrified or surprised, beyond the concern she showed for the twinge in his back. And rather than asking him about it she suggested another pose so he sighed softly, grateful that he might've escaped the need to explain in any detail what he's been through. 

Child's pose sounded easy enough, and looked somewhat like a crouch, with the head tucked down. He didn't quite catch the fact that he was supposed to do upward dog first, so he just sort of stood, kind of awkwardly with his bum up slightly before sliding a bit gracelessly onto his belly and tucked his nose against his chest. It felt nice to stretch the back of his neck out; the hairs along his scruff lifted and separated, like tufts of grass filtered by a breeze. He rested his temple against the earth and heard her say something muffled, about breathing. He wasn't sure what she was trying to say, but it wasn't exactly easy to take deep breaths like that. Maybe he was doing it wrong. 

When he lifted himself out of the pose, she was sitting up, so he did the same. He drew in a breath, now that he wasn't folded up so much, and to be honest, he did feel a bit better. 

Emptying his mind though, felt like a suggestion, or a comment, that made him feel a bit self-aware. Had Fennec told her anything? Or was she just offering this stuff about meditation because it was what she'd learned? He awkwardly tried to dismiss his own anxiety and paranoia. 

-"I'm not so sure I'd be good at it either,"- He admitted. He wasn't comfortable trying to learn about mental health, at that moment. He wasn't ready. He needed something as a distraction so she might not press him. Time to default to an old inside joke. "You know who would be good at being mindless though? SA-MAN-THA."-
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She smirked and snorted at their inside joke, quipping, -"I bet life would be a lot easier if we were dumbasses."- Towhee cackled quietly and then added, -"Rave told me to pretend I'm a leaf floating through the air or maybe downriver... just focus on that image and try to drift with it. If you're anything like me, you'll have all sorts of thoughts trying to intrude so you have to try to kinda smack them away. Like I said, it's challenging and takes a lot of effort, though you do get better at it over time..."-

And well, that was it, really. -"Now that I'm all limbered up and whatnot, I ought to head out on a patrol. Wanna come with or you gonna stay here and work on your yogurt?"-
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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His attempt at changing the topic worked- but only for a moment. He listened while Towhee exained a somewhat odd way to try and help clear his mind, but in all honesty it felt like something he was absolutely sure wouldn't work. Pretend he was a leaf floating down a river, without getting distracted? He wasn't sure that was something he could do. It sounded like he'd have to zone out a bit, in order to do that, and he still wasn't willing to take that risk. He was still in a vigilant mindset. 

And the mention of going near the borders caused his eyes to widen a bit. He blinked and cleared his throat. He shrugged, and relalized only then that his shoulders had tensed too. -"Nah, I, uhm, I think I'll stay around here, and do a bit more of that uhm...Child's pose,"- Or something. Whatever it was he had to do in order to stay away from the borders. -"But...I'm glad you're back, Towhee,"- He faltered slightly, but was genuine nonetheless.
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She wouldn't have thought anything of it if he'd simply declined, though there was a slight nervousness to his response. Towhee inhaled, her curiosity stoked once more by his behavior. What happened to you, Bronco? she wondered, though Towhee didn't say anything about it.

-"Thanks, I'm glad too. It's good to be home."- Wasn't it? Her orange eyes lingered on him a little shrewdly for a beat before she waved her tail and departed with a, -"See you later, Bronco."-
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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