[P] Horse Whispering
OOC: Backdated a few weeks


Remy stood up straight, feeling a twinge in his back from having been bent over for so long.  Standing on two legs was definitely over-rated, but it did mean he could work with the horses, so he’d give it that.  However, ever since his first change, Remy had felt off balance, and all the stuff that was happening right now, wasn’t helping. 

Looking around, the youth realised he was the only one left in the stockyard.  Moving to the stall entrance he glanced out of the stockyard’s entrance and noticed that the sky had darkened.  Remy guessed it must be past dinner time, the inhabitants would be settling down to sleep soon, but there was probably a little more time to wait, and besides, Yuma could do with a groom, and since they were here, he might finish off with something that was enjoyable. 
The mare had come to him through luck, and she had been a little nervous of him at first, but if there was one thing Remy possessed it was a kind heart.  So he’d watched her for a while, letting her get used to his presence, and he’d spoken to her, keeping his voice even and gentle.  At first Yuma had pretended not to listen, but the youth had watched her ears twitched and grinned to himself.  Now, she nuzzled him and listened to him without pretence or comment, and Remy had grown accustomed to speaking aloud his thoughts as he groomed her.

”Hey there lovely girl.  Sorry I’ve been workin’, but now it’s jus’ you an’ me.”

He leaned forwards and kissed her soft nose.  Yuma snorted indignantly, but didn’t turn away from him.  Remy smiled briefly, but as he thought of things to talk about, he was reminded why he was working so late, and he hesitated, Yuma watching him expectantly.  With a sigh and a shake of his head he started to brush, gentle and even strokes.

”I guess y’ wonderin’ why I’m hangin’ round s’ late.  Nothin’s wrong if that’s what y’ thinkin’.”

Remy had begun getting up before the rest of his family and coming after everyone had gone to sleep.  He made sure to never be unpleasant and he loved them dearly, but because he was an idiot, his brain wouldn’t stop thinking. 

”Evie and dad got some new pups.” Remy grinned as he remembered them ”There’ll all fluffy and kinda chubby, and they crawl all over the place, but only if they escape Evie and dad o’course.  Pretty sure I weren’t ever that small.” he chuckled, and slowly moved around.

”No problem with the pups.” Remy’s voice drifted off, and only when he was slapped with a swish of tail did he realise he’d disappeared into reverie. 

”Ah’m feelin’ that Evie don’ need me no more.” Remy was no tale singer, and it wasn’t always easy for him to say what was on his mind, but he was taken aback by his own words, and once again the brush paused, but only for a moment this time.

”Was kind o’ Santiago and Evie to look after me, but I ain’ there’s, not really.  Ah don’ look anythin’ like ‘em, and now their own family is getting’ bigger.  Don’ really seem right t’ keep takin’ up space.  Ah guess ah was thinkin’ if ah spend more time out, they can be a family.”

He took a deep breath as his final admission came.

”Also, more time away ah spend, might make it hurt less when ah don’ fit in there anymore.”

As he spoke the final phrase, Remy felt his voice crack a little.  He didn’t want to be selfish, and burden the parents he loved, with his worries, besides he’d still get to see them right?  He didn’t want to make it awkward for the only family he’d ever known, or overstay his welcome.
Gaucho prompt Wrote:Help care for some of the communal animals - feed birds or livestock, brush horses, or help someone to care for their own animal!
Dusk was drawing its obsidian curtain and already the first stars were twinkling cheerfully down at the creatures that loved and lost and lived and died all across the earth below. The sun was only a sliver on the horizon now, a brilliant flame at the edge of the world, but still the heat of summer hung heavy in the humid air.

Despite everything, Evelyn grateful for this moment in time.

She moved without haste, following the well-worn path down from the Old Charmingtown Mill to the Stockyards. As she neared, flies and gnats gathered in legions. The smell of manure and horseflesh comforted her. She slipped silently past worn wooden fences and relished the peace and quiet of this snippet of a moment away from her youngest brood.

They were old enough now that she could leave them with their father for increasingly longer periods of time. And while most of the time that she did Evelyn had a reason to do so, tonight was different. Tonight, with the buzz and pressure and anxiety of all that was happening within Del Cenere bearing down on her, she just needed a moment to herself.

To herself, but not alone.

She thought to see to Blackjack or Dutch, or to check in on their mares and foals, but there wasn't enough distance between their home and the Tejada Stables and Evelyn wanted to be away for a while. But just for a while. The Parish and Debouille Reserve were too far, never mind Tierra Amplia, so she settled on the Stockyards of Charmingtown.

A horse snorted nearby, followed by the gentle tones of a familiar voice. Evelyn slowed and paused, listening.

Her elder children were all adults in the eyes of Del Cenere now, and she no longer scrutinized or questioned their comings and goings as closely as she once had. But she was not yet at the point where she did not wonder and, chief among her thoughts was Remy.

She saw him rarely these days, and talked to him even less. He was a man now, the same as Calhoun, but it would always remain true that he was the younger of the two and her eldest son came by to see her more often than Remy did.

And that was why she listened in on the secrets that he told to his mare and felt as her heart floundered in the anguish of his words.

"Remy," Evelyn murmured impassively as she stepped from the darkening shadows of dusk and into the light of the lantern. Her cold, dead eye caught the light and glowed with the color of the flames.

Blinking away the flare of the flames, Evelyn stepped nearer her middle son and turned her head to glance at Yuma. "How is she comin' along?"

[WC -- 470]
The sound of his name being spoken, made Remy jump.  So intent had he been on his thoughts and his mare that he’d completely missed the sounds and scents of another approaching.  With a gasp of surprise, Remy dropped the brush to the ground, and turned startled eyes on a figure that, immediately, made him relax a little.  Remy knew that there were those who felt awkward around Evelyn’s injuries.  The scarring and milky eye spoke of a pain that not many cared to contemplate, but Remy had never suffered from any awkwardness.  He still remembered as a pup asking her about them, pointing out that she looked different.  In the tactless and guileless way of the young, he extracted all the information the adult had been willing to divulge and had never felt a moment of awkwardness. 

As Remy had grown, his feelings never changed.  When he looked upon Evelyn’s countenance, there had never been revulsion, pity or awkwardness.  There had only ever been a deep and all-consuming love, the adoration of a child saved from death by a generous soul.  Remy saw Evie.  The fire had doubtless changed her life, and formed a crust around her, but the adopted son’s golden gaze penetrated it, and saw the goodness and the kind heart and his love blazed in every inch of him as she appeared.

There was guilt there as well though.  Remy had been speaking for Yuma’s ears alone, and the thought that his beloved Evie might have over-heard anything, made his stomach squirm.  He was in a quandary though, if he asked her what she’d heard then he would have to admit that he’d been speaking of personal things.  When Evie asked after Yuma, Remy relaxed, but only a little.  It could simply be that Evie was trying to put him at his ease, or she didn’t wish to address it.  However, his thoughts didn’t stop him from smiling welcomingly at her, and he bent to retrieve the dropped brush.

Yuma’s reaction was curious at a new person, but irritated, as the grooming had ceased, and she looked indignantly at Remy and annoyed at Evelyn.  Remy had been an attentive owner though.  Yuma’s mane and tail were clipped, her weight was maintained well and her coat gleamed as though she’d been dipped in wax.  His kind and patient ministrations had won the well natured but nervous mare to his side.

”She’s beautiful.  Do wahte’er y’ ask her as long as y’ ask nicely.” Remy’s tone was soft, his volume a little low, as though the stockyard at this time of night demanded a certain hush.  ”She jus’ wants what we all do.  Love, respect and to know where we’re going to sleep and what’s for dinner.” he chuckled at himself, before leaning over and kissing Evelyn’s cheek in greeting.  So he might be a grownup now, he never intended to stop kissing his Evie, he loved her with an intensity that could never be quenched.  She was protection, she was safety, she was the warm touch which had helped him sleep during those early days, she was family.

WC: 521
She was met first with a jolt that suggested she had startled him and, though her hardened heart refused to allow the feeling to touch her lips, she felt a small and fleeting sense of humor at the sight. Had he still been but a whelp, she might have given him a guarded smile and a murmured apology.

But Remy was no longer a whelp and he did not require such padding. He was grown and independent and capable, or so she thought.

How quickly time passed.

Evelyn watched as her adopted son bent at the waist to pick up the object -- a brush, she realized later -- that had been unintentionally lost upon her arrival. Though she gave little attention to the horse, what few glances she awarded the mare were enough to take stock of her state of mind.

Ignoring the mare, she turned her full attention upon her son when he rose and addressed her.

"Hn." Turning her head, Evelyn considered Yuma fully before she sensed movement and recognized Remy's intentions. Stiffly, she twisted and allowed her son to peck her cheek.

Why he insisted, and, perhaps more curiously, why she accepted, such shows of devotion was beyond what Evelyn was interested in considering.

She only knew that, as a mother, she should, and so she did.

"That's good work, Remy," she said flatly despite the substance of the words. "There something that you're aiming for?" she asked as he looked back upon the mare and wondered what skills she could excel at.

[WC -- 258]
As Evelyn asked her question, Remy turned back to Yuma, his hand scratching the back of his neck contemplatively.  Remy had no doubt that there were Luperci who were cleverer or quicker witted than him, but he always did his best to consider his answers to questions, especially ones posed by family or pack.

”When I first got hold o’ her, she was quick both quick to pick stuff up and fast.  She’s got stayin’ power Evie, but she was skittish and could be unfriendly.  My first goal was t’ get her settled and more trusting, so I jus’ spent time with her, talkin’ groomin’ walkin’.  Not easy t’ rush trust I guess, so I didn’ try, just kept at it.  Now she’s there, ah’m thinking she’d be good for travellin’ with.  She has stamina and she can be quick.”

His smile was warm and there was a hint of pride in his expression.  That pride gave way to a conspiratorial glance.

”Y’ gonna think it’s stupid, but I’d love to get DCG known for its horses.  If we use beauties like Yuma and a few others, we could build a stock that’d help get us resources and become more independent.” 

What he didn’t add was that it would help them cut ties with the Del Mar.  Remy decided that his strength of feeling in that department, would probably get him into trouble if he began waxing lyrical on the matter.

”How are the pups?” The youth asked, doing his best to try and stop his expression from becoming sheepish. ”I’m sorry I’ve not been around to much.” he said pre-empting any questions ”Chores, and working with the horses, it’s been keepin’ me real busy.” Remy knew he’d never be able to lie to Evie, not because he found his adopted parent intimidating, but because he wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt.  Besides, as a pup he’d tried to lie, and no matter how hard he’d done so, he clearly had a tell she recognised, either that or magic.  What he wanted to say was that he’d lost track of time and that he had meant to come and eat dinner with them, but both of those would have been a lie.  He would have liked to eat dinner with them, but Remy would rather let the family bond and become closer.  Evie and Santiago had done their work well.  Remy had survived and had flourished, and now he should let them enjoy their new family.

WC: 418
She was reminded of the time, not so long ago, when Remy had displayed similar care in his response to Ronnie. He was a thoughtful and gentle boy, and, though there was plenty that a cunning and perspicacious mind could achieve, there was a great deal of value in exercising caution as well.

No matter the inner workings of his mind, Evelyn would never judge her son for acting with prudence.

Listening to him speak, his smile warm and his expression proud, she couldn't help the tiny upward tug at the corners of her lips. "No, I reckon it is not," she agreed about the difficulty in rushing trust. Evelyn knew firsthand that the more you rushed trust, the harder trust pushed back. "Seems you were just what she needed."

The sliver of a smile she allowed him vanished the moment he suggested that she would think his idea stupid and she flashed him with a sharp look. "Now you tell me straight," she said flatly. "What stupidity do you reckon I would see in an idea like that?"

They were horse people, Santiago and she. Santiago more than she, truth be told, but she had grown up with horses all her life and it seemed nothing short of brilliance to have a style of horse that the Gang would be known for. "Your daddy and Mister Winthrop might like to help you," she continued after a time, nodding approvingly.

A balmy, late-season breeze tugged at the light scarf covering Evelyn's patchy mane and pulled at a cobweb clinging to the upper corner of Yuma's stall. Its opaque filaments caught the light from the nearby torch, drawing her attention momentarily. When Remy mentioned the children, her eyes snapped back to his face and she was silent while she allowed him to continue.

"They're well enough," she replied. At least the girls were. Thiago, though... "That so?" Evelyn stared at Remy with her fire-kissed face and her terrible eyes. "You wanna tell me straight what's kept you away?"

[WC -- 344]
Somehow, and Remy wasn’t entirely sure how, his quiet evening and pleasant company had morphed into an awkward confrontation.  Evie, like a blade to the ribs, drove to the heart of an issue.  Her directness and straightforwardness had always been something that Remy had greatly admired, and was pleased that she rarely was offended by his direct answers, but the questions she was asking now?  These were queries that the youth would have preferred to avoid.  So he decided to answer the doubtless rhetorical question first, it was a clear avoidance, but Remy really had no desire to face her other avenue of questioning.

”Well, ah was jus’ thinkin’ that ah ain’ much with horses yet, and figured if someone ain’ thought o’ the idea yet, then there probably was a reason.  Ah’ll sure talk to dad about it and see what he thinks.”

At the mention of his adopted father, Remy realised he’d fallen into a natural progression to answering Evie’s real question.  Remy shifted his weight uncomfortably, his ears twitching anxiously and his gaze going to Yuma, or perhaps just avoiding Evie’s.  If it were anyone else, he might laugh the question off with a light hearted lie or a joke, but his mind drew a blank as Evie confronted him.

”It really ain’ a big deal Evie.” Remy said turning away, not able to look at his adopted parent as spoke.  The youth made his way to the front of Yuma, his taking hold of her reins while his free hand stroked her soft nose.

”Ah’m grateful for e’erythin’ you done for me.  Y’ took me in, no doubt ah’d be dead if it weren’t for you.  Gotta wonder why my ma’s attacker didn’t finish me off as well right?” Remy smirked, the gesture quite an alien one on Remy’s features, and quickly vanished.  It was quickly replaced by a shameful and melancholic expression, and there was hurt there also, though is tone did its best to remain matter-of-fact. 

”But I ain’ a pup no more, and y’ got a growin’ family.  What am I there? Jus’ gettin’ in the way.  An’ I jus’ gotta face that ah ain’ y’ pup and not really part o’ family.  Ah thought ah’d give y’ some space and time to bond.”

What he couldn’t face the idea of saying was that, the more time he spent away, then perhaps the less they would notice him not being there.  He felt his heart hammering against his ribs and could barely himself speak over the sound of blood rushing in his ears.  He was voicing his logical arguments, but Remy also feared that Evie might agree.  As he stroked Yuma’s nose, he felt his hand trembling lightly.  All Remy could hope now was that she’d speak quickly, let the cord be cut here and now and all of that uncertainty would end, one way or another.

How could he explain the fear of being replaced?  How could Remy put words to the debilitating dread of being abandoned.  Of course, Evie and Santiago were both part of the gang, but it felt like he was losing them, and his stomach churned, rumbling and growling in the quiet of the stall.

WC 537
"Not all ideas are made of dirt," she chided gently. Some were made of greater, more valuable stuff and, as such, less common or harder to come by. "Sometimes you got an idea nobody else had simply 'cause nobody else got it first. That don't make it stupid."

Despite the substance of her words, there was no scorn or reproach, hidden or plain, within the flavor of her voice. Rather, in her own way, she was praising him; reminding the young man that his thoughts were worthwhile and his ideas were important.

Remy's posture and expression shifted as one conversation eased into the next. She recognized his uneasiness for what it was but drew no attention to it. Unless he aimed to hide himself way or act out in an aggressive fashion, Evelyn would allow him to behave as he would.

But she had no intention of making it easy for him.

Her eyes bore into his back as he turned away from her and faced Yuma, her lips pulled into a tight, thin line. She said nothing and she would continue to say nothing until Remy continued. Perhaps it was some occult impression, inscrutably evoked by her cold silence and hard stare, that urged him to carry on. Or it could have been that he was intending to all along, having grown up with such mannerisms of hers. She didn't care, so long as he offered his explanation.

Evelyn had known for a good long while by now that words could cut as deeply as knives, but it never made the bite hurt any less.

She was quiet for a long while, with only the sounds of their breathing and the crickets and Remy's rumbling tummy to fill the void. "You turn around, Remy Debois," she said at last, her tone without inflection. "An' I want you to look at me."

Once he had, Evelyn regarded him with neither malice nor pity. "Now, maybe you ain't got my name, nor Mister Tejada's neither, but you ain't never gonna stop bein' a part of this family, do you understand me?" There was firmness in her voice now, peppered with disappointment. But as her words faded into the surrounding dusk, so did the hardness of her face and the sharpness of her eyes.

"I may not be your true mama, but you will always be a son of mine."

OOC: lmk if the minor PP of Remy obeying her is no good! I'm happy to edit. <3
[WC -- 405]
As Remy stood there, stroking Yuma’s soft nose, his mind flashed back to a lifetime ago.  A small pup huddled beneath the dying warmth of a parent whose spirit had long ago departed, offering him the final shelter she could.  He remembered a coaxing voice, speaking to him gently.  The pup had done his best to rouse his mama and have her see of this stranger, but as the cold began to creep in, the lure of the stranger became ever more irresistible.  Remy remembered sure hands lifting him up, one beneath is rump and another on his chest and tucking him securely into her clothing.

As Evie commanded him, he turned.  Remy’s golden eyes were large, intelligent, but there was uncertainty there.  As he watched her, his mind flashed back once again.  Being shown to Boone, and being fed.  He remembered the soft nest of other pups.  He remembered the fire and he remembered being washed.  Never had there been hesitation.  Never had the family begrudged him anything, or made him feel as though he was different.  Yet somehow, that seed of doubt had grown, ever since his first change.

Evelyn’s words had a visible effect on the youth.  Remy felt lightheaded as he expelled a breath he couldn’t remember holding.  Fine tremors rippled through him, and though Remy never stared a challenge, he couldn’t take his eyes from his Evie.  He understood her words and her tone.  Remy knew the softness that was inside of Evie, and he could see it, even when others may not.

”Thank y’.” He replied, swallowing hard, not sure what else to say, or even if he could.  Remy felt his eyes glistening, and he was worried about looking like a pup.

”E’er since I shifted, ah’ve remembered the night mama died, and my brain won’t let me stop thinkin’ stupid thoughts.  Ah get worried, and y’ know, sometimes…scared I guess.” he finished, as though admitting something so unmacho was being drawn from him.

He broke his gaze with her then, looking to one side for a moment, before looking back, the soft sighs of the animals filling in the pause. 

”Ah love y’ Evie.”
Life had dealt Evelyn a variety of traumas over the years; loss had reminded her that nothing was forever and grief had taught her how to close off her heart. These truths, and the lessons she learned, had made facing death just a little bit easier.

Evelyn allowed Remy to transport her back to that cold dusk and to the image of a lifeless woman who had given her child the last ounce of protection she ever would. The woman's death did not bother her, unfortunate and violent though it had been. But she had been scared -- scared that the aggressor would return; scared that the child wouldn't survive; scared that Del Cenere wouldn't accept him.

Never had she given those fears a voice, and she had no intention of doing so now. "That ain't polite to think of your mama's final moments that way, Remy," she upbraided gently. "Them thoughts ain't easy to be with, but they ain't stupid. There's things to learn from in memories like them, I reckon."

The sounds of dusk collapsed in around them as the silence stretched between them. "Hn," she grunted warmly when Remy voiced his affection, giving him a nod. "Plenty of food left over from dinner," Evelyn said. "If you're hungry. Could go on home now, tell me what's got you scared along the way."

Lifting her eyes from Yuma's soft face, she waited for her son's response without impatience.

OOC: I'm happy to continue or we could start wrapping this up. Whichever you want! <3
[WC -- 251]

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