[P] Transformation comes, tempered by the flame
P. Jimena
Location: The Ivy Grande (Irving) || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime

For once, Rafaela Tejada was without one of her horses. In the wake of the raids that had left several of their number wounded, no doubt in ways that were more than just physical, La Mesteñera was among those whose wounds were still healing. Mercifully, she still had full use of her hands, but the laceration to her shoulder had been deep and it hurt to move it too much. Granted, that didn't stop her from performing her duties as a Caballista. No, the cut was nothing compared to her other wounds.

She learned very quickly that there were few agonies worse than burns.

Wrapped in an ochre bandana for embellishment, the bandages that covered the ugly, fire-eaten flesh of her right arm extended from just above her wrist up to her elbow. And the pain never seemed intent on letting up. No matter how much it healed, it felt as raw and angry and hot as fire itself. In a way, it offered her a little better perspective about her mother, though she desperately hoped that the pain wouldn't last forever. Eventually it would quiet and still. Eventually it had to stop. Or so she hoped.

She breathed out a sigh and glanced around her, lifting her nose to scent the air. Although they were growing out again nicely, her whiskers had been singed during the fire and the cool breeze tugging at the stubble was still taking some getting used to.

"Jimena, Esperanza!" she called from outside their new home.

With her kid sisters out of their childhood home now, they weren't as accessible to her as they were when they all lived together. And after all of the events that had unfolded since they found Freddy, she wanted to check in on them. Mostly Jimena, though. From what she understood, Esperanza had been smart enough to keep herself out of danger's way. But not Jimena. Of course not Jimena.

"¡Es tu hermana! Déjame entrar." She paused a moment, and then added,  perhaps a little begrudgingly: "Por favor."

[WC -- 347]
OOC: Set some time after the Calloway Raids. See also this [M] related thread for details about the fire. Hover over Spanish text for a translation!
word count - 575


Jimena had been lucky when it came to her fight. Most of the females injuries were superficial, there were no stab wounds or broken bones to attend to which she was thankful for. Wiping at a tawny brow, Jimmy toddled about the house the two youngest Escuella siblings had chosen for their own.  While her head felt fuzzy for a few days after the raiders had been dispersed, the swelling distributed through her limbs had mostly cleared up. It was a blessing she’d healed quickly, though an ache still lurked in the Tejadas bones. It could have been worse, in truth. So much worse. A shudder slid up her spine at the thought of Lyssa’s expression, desperate and pleading, the monstrous face who’d assaulted them both reflected in the Ashens glassy golden eyes. 

Purposefully Jimena pressed the ends of her claws into the flesh of her palm, using the sting to keep grounded and not get sucked into those memories. The pinpricks of pain blossoming against the meat of the females hand had the desired effect and with a breathy sigh Jimena jerked to attention, finding her orange irises trained on El Paso. The growing colt had quite the personality that was shining through the more time Esperanza spent with him, and often the silver and pewter coyote would watch the horse when nobody else was around to catch her grinning at his antics.

Sometimes he’d follow her golden sister, velvety muzzle nosing at the ashy blonde strands that the petite female would pile on top of her head, or tuck into an easy ponytail while she worked outside. Othertimes, like now, the colt would chase the bucks and does who’d quickly outgrown the hutch Jimena had built for them. One of the does had been pregnant, and the entire lot wasted no time in breeding with eachother. It would soon be time to cull some, and she could further hone her skills with processing pelts and hides and turning them into finer creations then what had been produced so far. Mulling over the steps Bennett had painstakingly taught her over the past few months, a furrow had creased the space between her eyebrows as the female daydreamt of her lessons.

A familiar scent drifted through the broken window and Jimena shook her head, turning towards the door the same instant Rafaela called out for her siblings. Glancing around she quickly deduced Esperanza was not present which left her to receive their sister. Inhaling sharply, the events that had recently befell the Gang played like a reel within her mind, Jimena pausing to cringe at the audible snap of the raiders neck as it echoed loudly in her elongated ears. It wasn’t a memory she would soon forget. 

Flexing her fingers, she strode towards the door and peeked outside, noticing the bright color of Rafaelas bandana and the bandages wrapped up the sooty females arm. Frowning Jimena crossed the threshold and quickly closed the distance between them, cocking her head as she stared accusingly at the blatant injury. “ What is that? “ It wasn’t anger that flared in the copper of her irises, but concern. It was hard not to reach for Rafaelas arm, but it would be foolish to aggravate the injury further.

Instead Jimena wrapped her arms around herself, forcing her gaze to meet the intense greens of her sisters. “ I didn’t know ya had been injured. Is Remy okay? “


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
I've got a heart like a silver dollar
I may be s m a r t but I'll never change
And I might sparkle in the right light
But I'm always worth the s-a-m-e
Location: Charmingtown || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime

Before long, Jimena's fiery eyes, set against a pewter face, appeared in the doorway and closed the distance between them. Rafa regarded her carefully, looking her over for any obvious evidence of injury, her expression a mixture of scrutiny and worry. When she saw nothing transparent on her sister's body or movement to suggest she had been harmed, Rafaela's feature softened.

"A bandana," she answered vaguely, and then reminded herself that Jimena was an adult now -- she had celebrated her Bautizo ceremony and was instrumental in finding Freddy. She could no longer keep the negative aspects of the world from her. Rafa shrugged. "Got a little burned puttin' out a fire one of them raiders set in the stables. Good thing me an' Remy were there, elsewise we'd of lost all of 'em we got in them stalls."

The idea of it made her shudder. Had she not been so incensed by that scrawny bastard's attempt to cause them harm, smoke and the fire and the fear could have been enough to send her fleeing. She couldn't imagine being a horse trapped in the stalls with no way out. She jostled her head subtle to shake loose the thoughts.

"He got a good knock to the head and a mean cut acrost his chest, but he'll be fine, I reckon." Rafaela left out how she had noticed Remy's absence in the stables in the wake of the trauma, however, and how elusive he had been since then as well. She hoped he was just taking it easy.

Casting her gaze past Jimena to the house behind her, Rafa nodded approvingly.

"How's bout givin' me a tour?" she asked, her verdant eyes back on her sister's face. "An' tellin' me 'bout how things been goin'?"

[WC -- 304]

wc – 312

Jimenas eyes remained fixed on Rafaelas, but the urge to look and investigate her sisters injury was strong. The normally stern expression on the darker females seemed to soften some, relieved for some undiscernible reason after looking Jimmy over. Her spine stiffened involuntarily as Rafa went onto describe her own harrowing experience. A pit of dread yawned open beneath her and with a lurch Jimena felt sick – sudden panic bleating like an alarm between her ears.

The idea that both of her siblings could have been lost without her knowing rocked the coyote and subtly she leaned against the doorway for support. The next few moments were spent inhaling through her mouth and exhaling out her nose. “ G-good to know them horses were saved. I know they are important to the both of you. “ Rafa promptly moved on to the next subject, letting things remain unsaid as they always did. The silver and pewter female hadn’t missed the shudder but did not comment. They all had their own nightmares, as was the Tejada custom.

“ ‘Course, right this way. “ Jimena sighed, pasting a banal smile on her face. “ It needs some work, but I’ve got some help lined up. “ She said cooly, pausing before leading Rafaela deeper inside. “ It’s quiet. Empty, for now. “ Glancing at the ruined staircase she marveled at what might lie undiscovered upstairs.

The longer they spent inside wandering around the more relaxed the El Elegido grew. Esperanza hadn’t joined her yet, but eventually the idea was that she would. “ Me n’ Lyssa came across some of those raiders too.. “ Jimena offered casually, carefully wording it as to not raise alarm. Gulping deeply, the coyote pushed down the helpless feeling that had spurred her into action during the fight. The image of Lyssa’s distress would not be forgotten anytime soon.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
I've got a heart like a silver dollar
I may be s m a r t but I'll never change
And I might sparkle in the right light
But I'm always worth the s-a-m-e
Location: The Ivy Grande (Irving) || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime

Subtle as it was, the way that her sister swayed and leaned against the threshold of the door was not lost on Rafa. But in a measure of steady breaths, Jimena responded and the elder Tejada allowed the moment, and her concern, to pass on by unexplored. A verdant eye kept closer stock of her, however, just as her sisterly (perhaps even maternal) instinct demanded of her.

She dipped her head once, acknowledging Jimena's validation. "Yeah," she said, glancing at her sister's home. "Would'a been a big damn loss for th' whole of th' Gang, ain't no doubt about that." Horses aside, they would also have had to rebuild the stables had the fire taken.

Glad for shift in topic, Rafaela followed her sister inside without another word and cast her eyes wide around the entirety of the rundown house. It may have lacked the cleanliness and rehabilitation of their childhood home, but it felt cozy and it felt comfortable. Rafa felt none of the turmoil or tension of the Old Mill and that alone made this humble abode a preferable location for her sisters.

"This's is a real nice place, Jim," Rafa said approvingly. "Even if it needs a bit of work, I reckon it feels good t' have your own place, don't it?" She glanced at her sister for a response, her own expression impassive.

With the family horses and her own stubborn, inexplicable sense of duty to her parents, Rafaela felt stuck at the mill. She spent most of her time outside of the hose itself, though, and preferred to sleep in the little barn. It was as good a place to lay her head than any, she supposed, and significantly more comfortable than inside the home where Luciana and Thiago had died and where their father was losing himself to drink.

Jimena's disclosure about her own involvement with the raids drew Rafa's surprise. "Jest th' two of you?" she asked, her concern in her voice. "What happened?"

[WC -- 339]

wc – 410


It felt good to have her sisters approval as much as she might loathe to admit it. Evelyn was harder to please, her affection given as sparingly as there was rain during the winter – Rafa was easier and mellow by far. Even as stern as she could be. Jimena had always seen the darker, older sibling as the real head of their family. It had dawned upon her weeks ago that the quiet, lime-eyed coyote hadn’t really been given a choice.

Reaching up to rub her face wearily Jimena nodded in thanks, distracted now as the features of her sister morphed into something far less pleasant and a whole lot more vulnerable. “ Yeah, just the two of us. “ She mumbled, large ears ears downcast. The room became uncomfortably warm in that moment and absently the coyote drifted over to a window, glass long since knocked out of the frame. Pushing open a creaky shutter, the silver and pewter sister inhaled a breath of the cooler air, crossing lithe arms across her chest before finally speaking again.

“ I was distracted, sneakin’ along the side of some building ‘round Charmingtown.” It was hard to recall anything else besides Lyssas face, the blood vessels that had burst in her eyes as they bulged under the suffocating grip of the males hands. Jimena glanced down at both of her hands, the paleness of the fur and how it was unmarred, pristine even. Why did it feel like they were stained in blood? “ He got the better of me, or would have I reckon' – but Lyssa intervened before any real harm was done. “

Jimena wanted to stop there, and that should have been the end of it. “ He was bigger then the both of us, y’see, he flicked her off like she was just a bug. Before Lyss’ could get up again he was choking her, I-I… “ The words became tangled in her throat then, and she sighed again – quick, one full of frustration. “ Well – I couldn’t just let him kill her! Not after Freddy… “ Not after Luciana, is what she wanted to add but that would do no good. There were too many degrees of separation between her late sister and this situation, but Jimena knew Rafa would understand the implication. No more.

Silver lined the edges of her molten gaze, all the fire extinguished for just a moment. “ So I killed him. “


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
I've got a heart like a silver dollar
I may be s m a r t but I'll never change
And I might sparkle in the right light
But I'm always worth the s-a-m-e
Location: The Ivy Grande (Irving) || NPCs: -- || Form: Optime

Not unlike the way a fat cloud can blot out the sun and cast its chilly shadow over the land, Jimena's demeanor seemed to become similarly gloomy. She mumbled a confirmation of the fact that she had only had one other, Lyssa, against an attacker (or attackers) of her own. It sounded dull and melancholic to Rafaela's ears, which stood tall atop her own head as Jimena's drooped. Something told her that this would not be a good story.

"Jimena..." Rafa said firmly, but not unkindly. "What happened?"

Remaining where she stood, the elder Tejada followed Jimena's movements with pensive eyes. The cool breeze tickled her singed whiskers and fondled a loose lock of hair. Rafaela did not say a word as her sister spoke, did not move a muscle. Oh, but her heart did. It picked up its pace and pounded hatefully against her chest. As Jimena's words derailed into starts and stutters, she forgot how to breathe and, without realizing it, she set her jaw and clenched her fists and began to bristle.

Oh, no. There was nothing good about his story. But Jimena had done no wrong in Rafa's eyes.

"You wanna look at me, Jim?" she said with more confidence than she felt. "You done what you had to," she said after a measure, taking the moment to compose herself. "You understand that, don't you? If it weren't for what you done, might be we'd be holdin' two more burials." She didn't like to think about that and gave her head a swift shake. "You're tough, Jimmy, and you done what you had to."

[WC -- 279]

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