[P] [M] Hoofbeats In The Dirt
For Wayne <3
#1

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: .

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Ooc: Backdated to the beginning of October. Set in DCG territory and then Northern Tides.

It had taken a few weeks and much coaxing, but at last Raj had broken and begun to talk. The mercenary wasn't very cooperative at first, but upon realizing there would be nothing but more misery, pain and loneliness for her if she continued to evade questions, cuss out her captors and be rude and crude as she could possibly be, the woman calmed. The first legit bit of information gleaned from the remaining Aripaya twin was that her sister and her had left their horses in the care of young, inexperienced coyote lad off in the neutral lands and by now they'd all need attention if they'd not all stolen away by now.

Having gotten the general location of the hollow they'd left the horses at, Anya brought the information to leadership and gotten permission to go out to retrieve them and bring them back safely to the pack lands. Wayne insisted upon accompanying the Outfitter as she was still healing from many of her injuries from the raids. At first the Ashen woman protested, but realized that there wasn't really any harm in having an extra pair of hands along.

She hadn't really spoken with Wayne one on one in quite a while, so the ride out of Del Cenere was the perfect chance to catch up with the Dark Rider. Buck snorted loudly to remove a fly from his nose and tossed his mane, bringing Anya's attention back from wherever it had wandered. She gripped the stallion's reigns tight, wincing as pain shot up her forearm from the still healing gash upon it from Raj's blade. The twisted wound was taking forever to heal and still bothered her when she flexed her arm.

She knew she had a lot of questions to answer. She had been questioned by Nazario and others already and it was lucky she herself hadn't been thrown into the Drunk Barrel for suspicions against her. But she had been deemed trustworthy in the end. It was true she had had nothing to do with the raid and the twins had acted alone. But she definitely would have to be more careful these days, if Thane was sending assassins after her, and they'd successfully found her... Anya glanced from under her hat over at Wayne riding just to her side upon Cochise and folded her ears. She didn't want to think about the consequences of Thane himself coming to the Gang.

With a sigh Anya clucked her tongue to pick up Buck's pace, leading the way out of Ganglands. After a while of riding in silence, she finally spoke up, bringing Buck up parallel to Cochise so the riders could talk. "I'm sure you're just bursting with tons of questions and wonders about me and what happened..." She started voice slightly shaking. "But before you ask 'em...First off I just want to say I'm sorry.... Sorry for bringing my old mess to your home. I never meant for it to happen." She bowed her head and allowed Wayne his space to respond. She rubbed absently at her throat which still ached from the pressure applied to it during the raids. She recalled the feeling of breathlessness as she was being choked to death and closed her eyes, focusing on the sound of the horses' hooves over the earth to help ground herself.

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#2
Ooc here

[Image: heashot.png]“It ain't my home,” Wayne started, turning to her with a pale eye and nothing more. That look was there for only a moment before his attention set ahead. Fingers tugged at the tip of his hat, pulling it to better shade his eyes from the sun that managed to peek through the overcast sky. If the Ganglands were his home, the Ashen would feel like brothers. Half of them were leavings from the Del Mar that cursed their near history, the other half were bodies, to be disposed of the next time leadership created chaos with folks like the Del Mar, “There ain't no goin' back to my home. Del Cenere... I jus' live there.

It was a completely different situation to digest, but the matter at hand was not his own. Anya had the spotlight on her today, and she made it so with how she'd started the first of the conversation they'd had since they'd left the Ganglands.

“But-,” The hardness in Wayne's tone was waning. He'd be the pot that called the kettle black for damning her with the very same sins he'd endured. Though, he kept the fight away from the Ganglands, he did bring one of their sinners to their door, “Don't apologize, unless you were th'one that planned it,” A sigh slipped from his maw as he leaned on the saddle horn and turned his features to face her fully.

“As many questions as I got, you got yer own,” There was mind to pay, and he was in debt if he was the one asking questions, “Tell me what you know about what happened,” Having been absent of the heart of the ganglands and verily on his own for when the raid happened, he'd missed it. It wasn't sorry for that, either. His wouldn't be the next death on the Ashen ticket that it seemed every Ashen would eventually get to pay. Sights slipped to the new wound that still healed upon Anya's arm. Everyone had their time to go with their captain at the helm. The captain, however, never seemed to be the one losing his life. Only bartering for the ones beneath him, abandoned by their Rey Salvaje.

”If you-,” Clearing his throat as it shook, he offered his own givings to what it was she knew, “If you tell me what you know...” A hesitating breath moved him, but it didn't make sense to keep these things from Anya. She, somehow, was different, “I'll tell you why yer sins ain't enough for bein' damned. At least, not by the likes a'me,” Cochise was pulled straight on the reigns as his head cast to turn, and the Coydog atop him didn't have the mood nor the time for his games. They were on a mission, but their destination could be nearer or farther, and the stallion needed to focus. If anything happened while they were out here, Wayne would see to it that Anya made it home. While he wouldn't pay his life for the Rey Salvage, he would never defy the loyalty that she had shared.


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#3
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Ooc:

The abrupt sound of his voice caused her eyes to snap back open, her ears flicking to attention to capture his words. She frowned and nodded slowly, understanding his disdain. While she was not privy to much of the previous goings on in the Gang involving the Del Mars and not, she did know Del Cenere held a dark and bloody past. They'd fought hard to hang onto what they had. As far as she was concerned however, the Gang was now her new home.

To Anya, "home" was a feeling of belonging, not a place. Back when she was in the pack in California, she never once felt like she truly belonged. Sure she felt useful and on occasion maybe even felt pride in some of her work, but never did she belong. So she was never actually at home. The kind of occupation she held, required to remain in the pack, didn't ultimately sit well with her. She'd tried to protest, but that had only earned her punishment and a new scars. Thankfully her Mistress was a skilled healer and made sure the marks would never detract from her natural beauty...

Any blinked a few times to clear her head of the unpleasant memories. Orange eyes found blue for a moment before flicking down and away again. He had a point. She hadn't planned shit. But she felt responsible none the less. She had escaped her former life, her former...living situation (she tried to think of it the way Wayne did), and the consequences of her doing so continued to catch up with her. Couldn't a woman follow her dreams and live for herself without the world slapping her in the face for it? Apparently not.

He then prompted her tell him what she knew about the latest raid upon Del Cenere and her hands tightening on the reins, her legs squeezing a little harder against Buck's sides, unintentionally speeding up their pace a bit. His voice shook as he made his offer and her brows knitted in sympathy and concern. She folded her ears and once again sighed heavily.

"I don't know much..." She started honestly, keeping her voice soft but loud enough for her company to hear over the sounds of the hoofbeats. "What I do know is the background and personal ties of two of the raiders and where they come from. The rest of 'em, I heard they're connected through Freddy." She told the Dark Rider. "The one that went after me directly that John saved me from, and her twin sister that was killed by Hosea and Cent." Her eyes became darker and a small snarl fell upon her maw as she spoke next. "They're called Raj and Nazjure Aripaya. They come from the far West, in a pack...more of a gang really, near the coast." She paused adjusting her grip on Buck's reins, slowing him.

"I too, used to live there." She told Wayne, the shame practically dripping from every word as she said it. She closed her eyes and continued. "We were pretty much all just a bunch of thugs and thieves. I was...left in the care of my cousin, Thane, at a very young age. I don't remember my parents hardly at all. When I was young I was quickly indoctrinated. I learned everything I could from the various members. That's where I picked up my skills with the knife, with animals, and eventually discovered my passion for textiles and sewing clothes. As I got older, I was kept in the brothel." She paused, catching Wayne's eyes before hurrying on. "I did not officially become one of the girls, no. But being around that kind of energy, that work...you pick up things." She blushed a little and cleared her throat.

She had perfected sewing, learned what it meant to care for another individual, learned how to take care of her personal hygiene to an almost obsessive level and more. The brothel at least had been a more or less peaceful time of her life. "It was when Thane started using the girls as drug mules that I couldn't take it anymore." The Outfitter growled. "Too much death, too many good people were hurt. Even Mistress was at wits end by the time I decided to do something about it and my own situation..."

It was around this part in her narrative that she realized how tense her body had become and that the bandage under her blouse that was covering the spear gash on her side was beginning to blossom a pinkish hue through the fabric and causing her quite some pain. She cursed softly and twisted slightly in the saddle to glance down at her torso. "I'll need to change this soon." She muttered to herself before straightening in the saddle, wincing before masking her pain and trying to continue on like nothing happened. She technically shouldn't have even volunteered for this trip in her half healed state, but she had convinced Nazario she was in well enough condition to make the journey.

"Raj and Nazjure, they--." She stopped again mid-sentence as the look on Wayne's face as he stared pointedly at the blossoming color on her side made her feel like a puppy being scolded for being caught trying to hide something they'd done wrong in plain sight. Pulling back on the reins, she brought her horse to a gentle halt. "....What?" She asked slowly, feeling his icy eyes boring into her and her heart beginning to thud faster in her chest.

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#4

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: violence.
Ooc here

[Image: heashot.png]Wayne listened intently at the story that was being spoken, unraveled by the woman that traveled aside him, with the sound of working hooves filling in the background. A place from out West, which could be anywhere since the ocean sat to the east, but the mention of a coast did him only so much good. There was too much out there for him to pinpoint where she was from, so instead, he quietly absorbed the words she spoke.

Raj and Nazjure. One name he hoped never to hear again in death, and another who had a life on borrowed time.

Anya's upbringing turned out to be the flip side of the coin that Wayne was raised on. She was brought up by the lawless, while he had been raised by the judges. The mention of a brothel caught the pale blue eyes sharply on her, but she was quick to still any further thoughts from him, because surely the soul in the cell would meet their end by the Ashen's very hand had she been treated any lesser than she'd spoken of.

Thane. Using sentient, living beings as mules for the cravings of lesser men was sick in and of itself. The fact that the women were paid for their services by their very lives brought his hackles to rise and his eyes slipped away from Anya again. It was the very brand of sinner that he'd been after his whole young life. Those that deserved their fates at the end of a slit throat, and nothing more than that. Funerals were for better men.

It was then that the story took a change of pace. At the mention of her bindings, Wayne's sight found her, scrutinizing what he could see of the wraps that covered still healing wounds, “Mmm,” The thrum of a hum rattled in his throat with her muttering. Her pain was clear on her face, and she made a point to situate herself on her saddle before finding him. She was able to utter those two names again before she noticed the hardened eye that remained on her own. There was a demand there, wordless and stern.

“We'll rest here,” He declared, not so much as giving her a chance to argue it. Gloved hands pulled Coach to a stop and with a quick motion, he was off the horse and on the ground. A few steps crossed the earth, Cochise trailed behind him at the behest of the reigns, until he was left hitched against a tree. From there, Wayne moved to Anya's horse, holding the bridle at the animal's face and offering a hand of his own for her to take. She was taking a rest, and he wasn't going to let her continue until the bandages were clean.

“Where are the clean wrappings?” Black lips split as he watched her eyes for what it was she was thinking, “I ain't no Thane. I'll help ya'with yer injuries,“ While it might have been a bit soon to assume the rest of the story, it wasn't a leap to assume that, given how she spoke previously, Thane had put it in her head that herself was of no concern, “We ain't goin' on until I do.”


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#5
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Ooc:

She had spoken of her past with a glassy eyed look upon her face. It was obvious that she held some very intense, and painful images of that time in her mind and that some part of her was living those memories over again as she divulged them to Wayne. She was ignoring her needs, the throbbing pain in her ribs and the ache in her wounded arm as she relived her story for him. It was true she was used to putting herself last, not first. So when Wayne gave his command, tied off Cochise and came over to her and Buck, holding onto the buckskin's halter and offering her his paw to take to dismount, Anya felt for the first time a rush of confusion, gratitude and something more towards the Dark Rider.

She could tend to herself just fine. But the intimacy of the man's offer had struck her deeply. Folding her ears and swallowing hard, the Southpaw woman looked down hesitantly at Wayne's offered arm before lifting her own to grasp his and carefully, but firmly utilize the support he gave to dismount from the back of her steed. She leaned heavily into him and felt her breath catch as the front of her body just barely brushed against his as he gently lifted her free from the saddle before setting her upon her feet on the ground.

In that moment, where her feet were hovering off the ground Anya's heart raced and she met his icy blue eyes once more with her fiery orange ones. A small, shy smile graced her maw before she touched Earth again, but she still felt as if she were floating.

"Th-thank you..." She said quietly, smoothing out her garments, a deep red riding skirt, with khaki riding pants underneath and a simple white blouse and black riding gloves. The cowboy hat upon her head, she removed and held against her chest respectfully. "I was going to wait until we hit that ridge just up there, but...you're right. It should be tended to now." She said agreeing with his assessment of her injuries. She felt silly for trying to push through them now. Of course he would insist they take care of her first.

She turned towards Buck and the saddlebag he carried to his right and began to untie the tie on it, her fingers slipping on the strings in her flustered, embarrassed state. She frowned and tried to get her head out of the clouds, but Wayne was still standing so very close and the scent of him, the heat of his body close to hers in the brisk October air was undeniably welcome. As she fumbled with the saddlebag she tried her best not to look at him.

He was nothing like Thane, indeed. Anya hated Thane. But Wayne... Wayne was someone who made her feel feelings she never thought she'd feel in a setting outside of the Brothel. And that was both exciting and new, as well as frightening and uncertain to her. For now she decided to just ride it out and see where the feelings would bring her. Only time would tell what would become of the warmth that nestled itself deep in her core whenever the Dark Rider was present.

She gave a soft growl, managing to tie the strings in an even bigger knot. Now if she could just get the damn saddlebag open she could maybe hurry along the process and get at the clean bandages!

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#6
Ooc here

[Image: heashot.png]His features, stoic, his eyes, intense, but within him he was wildly torn.

Wayne, by desire, wanted to be warm and kind. He wanted to be the knight in shining armor that he once was a lifetime ago. Yet, he couldn't. It was instinctive, learned behavior, that erected those walls that closed him off and away. The man still did not understand, nor could he control, how his jaw tightened and how the battle within him displayed in his sights.

Hands gripped her hips as he lifted her up and away from her saddle, and though he held her tenderly and with care, his eyes strayed. Sight wandered away from her, to mask his own internal conflict, until the hue of her own set into him. Pale blue snapped to hers, and there they were trapped, in the fiery light of tangerine glow, captivated by her and the small smile that found her features. Imprisoned by the what-if and the could-be.

Yet, no glow radiated from him, like it did her. The wound of his past, still fresh in ocean eyes. An honest man at risk of a secret he offered to tell, should Anya break her silence. He had time, he knew, to decide. She had more to tell, that much was clear.

He settled her on her feet and she thanked him. To it, he tugged at the tip of his gambler, while words failed to form on his lips, but near her he remained as she tended to her clothing. A nod followed her next words, and he let her busy herself with gathering what it was she'd brought to change out the bandages with. There, behind her as she fumbled, he started to lose himself.

There it was again.

The ringing in his ears and the pang in his chest, the twist of his stomach into knots that wrapped around him like a lasso and cemented his feet to the earth. Without the presence of her eyes, and having felt this before, he was caught completely by surprise, but what exactly happened to him every time that she got close to him, he couldn't explain. A hand lifted to his brow, rubbing at his face until he shook his head free, trying to rid the dizziness from the fore of his mind.

As he started to return to reality, he saw her hands working the strings, still, letting lose a small growl of frustration.

“Here,“ Taking a step forward, he denied the sirens that blared in his psyche and offered a hand atop her own, to still her frustrations in a quiet offer to untie the pack for her. Carefully he drew her fingers away, before putting his attention through the knot that she's worked into the cord. When she finally relented, he pulled one of his gloves away from his hand and tucked it beneath his arm. There, he worked at the knot, with a claw, refusing the temptation to look back at her, as well as battling within himself from his nearness, from her vulnerability.

“Ya been through a lot, Firefly, but y'can't take care'a nuthin' if ya'don't take care yerself,” Words found him finally, a statement that he knew he was guilty of ignoring in his own right, especially right now, but it wasn't himself he was concerned with. He'd stopped caring on that fateful night. He had to, less Laird find a grave of his own in the wilds.

With a clearing of his throat, the pack drew open and he stepped aside so that she might gather what she needed. The other glove came off, then, and the two leather work gloves were tucked in the waist of his pants, one flopping over the other, “Y'got wounds need tendin'. The likes' of'em won't wait fer th'ridge. Infection's a hell of a thing,” It might have seemed like he was beating a dead horse, and he was about to say something to it, but his words caught in his maw again.

He was doing it because he cared.

Blue eyes watched as he rinsed his hands with a waterskin, sure to save enough to rinse her wounds with if she needed it.

He wasn't used to caring. Not like this. Not anymore. Not sense then.

So why did he care so much now?


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#7
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Ooc:

At last, the damned ties came apart with the help of the nimble fingers of her pack mate. Flustered and holding back a flurry of emotions Anya moved in to retrieve the items needed to treat her wound. He'd called her firefly and she knew that that was a special nickname just between them. To hear it would be rare. Her mind went back to the night she'd frolicked in the grasses amidst the cloud of fireflies and how she'd had to lead him back home after he'd collapsed exhausted before her. She felt a warm cozy heat settle in her core.

"I guess I'm lucky I have you here then..." She said softly handing over the materials to Wayne after he tucked his gloves into his belt and finished cleaning his paws in the canteen water. She approached him, untucking her blouse from her riding pants and revealing the reddening bandage upon her flank. She winced as he mentioned infection. "I am used to tending myself. But I do admit, keeping the right amount of pressure on this one has proven difficult." She allowed him access to the wound.

"Raj got me good with her spear. I wasn't fast enough." She frowned, not looking while Wayne began to work on the injured area.
"Raj and Nazjure used to be guards for the brothel. As far as I can tell from my interrogations of Raj, the twins lost their way and started to act as mercenaries for Thane shortly after I left. Raj says she hadn't expected to find me alive, and regrets her attempt on my life." She snorted. "Only time will tell how sincere she is."

Tangerine gaze fell back upon ice. "What I do know for certain is the death of her sister has profoundly affected her." She knew that loss had a funny way of doing that to people. She knew very well what it was like to lose those close to you. After a moment, Anya mused softly to herself. "It's strange...having someone care about me like this again." She folded her ears and did not meet Wayne's eyes. She recalled the last people who ever cared anything for her previously. As far as she knew, they were all gone. Dead.

Anya's heart clenched uncomfortably as her fur brushed so intimately against Wayne's while he treated her. Would she lose him too? They were only barely getting close. She sucked in a breath sharply in time with him pressing on the wound to cover the small emotional whimper she was about to let out.

She couldn't think about it. For now, the Dark Rider was here, and... it looked like he wanted to say something? "What is it Wayne?" She asked tipping her head and clasping her paws together to give herself something to hold onto during her internal turmoil and while he finished up with the wound upon her side.

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#8
Ooc here

[Image: heashot.png]Hands tenderly touched the edge of the wrappings where it was fastened, and fingers worked quickly to untie the knot that was there, careful to the flowering red that seeped through the fabric. While Wayne undressed the wound gingerly, hands gently unwrapping it, Anya explained more of the complexity of the situation. She carried on to tell what had happened with the injury, that Raj had done it, and the why. Working with Thane after what Anya had explained meant one of two things. Either the twins were afraid, or they were as rotten as Thane himself.

Neither were really forgivable.

“Better t'never trust th'sincerity of th'one that ran you through,” He, of course, had his own opinions about what exactly that meant, but his capacity to trust was beginning to become too difficult, even for himself to make heads or tails of. The easy solution was to trust no one, but as he sat here, letting the wound breathe in the open wind now that it was unwrapped, he couldn't rely on the elementary solutions.

How easily she put her faith in him, even at her weakness, her wound, she relented and allowed him to help her, simply as he had asked to do so.

“Mmmm,” He hummed as she carried on to explain how the death of one had affected the other. Death made folks do funny things. Before he had too much time to really deliberate the notion, her words brought his eyes away from her wound, the clean wrapping spun about his hand as he lingered there. Pale azure washed over her features as her ears tucked and her eyes turned away. If he read her right, then she'd been hurt in the very same way.

They all had.

Eyes blinked before he lowered them again, working with the fabric to wrap tight a newly cleaned wound. Pressure from his hand upon the wound was held for as long as it took to get the fabric around her, and the motion repeated several times before he took his palm completely away. He could feel her tense, hear her sharp breath, as he worked. His hands only grew more gentle.

Digits then worked at the wrapping to tie it tightly, but not so tight that she wouldn't be able to move. The pounding in his chest, unrelenting. When he backed away from her, he turned his sights away under cover by the brim of his hat, and her voice threatened to give rise to that memory he hadn't the moment for not long ago.

Her question was met, initially, with silence. He didn't yet have the courage to face her, to say what it was that he wanted to say. What he needed to say. A breath in marked the first thought of his reply, but it had fallen short.

“I don't-...” He started, second guessing his disdain for trust while his hunger for her presence in his life blossomed like a parade of pale night flowers upon a verdant, moonlit vine. He couldn't forget the face that looked at him within his mind and the emerald eyes that burned with fury and betrayal. The black threads of tar that turned to poison, framing the countenance of a feral creature, once sane, now gone.

Buried beneath the fork of a cedar tree, silent and cold, but ne'er forgotten.

Icy sights looked up at her, finally, and there was more in his eye than the anxiety that burnt in his chest and the ringing of his ears. In his skylit eyes, there was pain. Hurt. Suffering. Horror, but most of all, Guilt. Every one of these sad notions in his eye sat quietly within him, never once releasing their grip on him, no matter how he covered it with drink or cheeky mirth. Now, he had neither, as Anya had chosen to trust him, despite it all.

He was the reaper himself, burdened to carry that death wherever he would go.

“I been good'n I been bad. Sometimes on purpose,” He spoke, busying his hands with gathering up his gloves from the waist of his pants. One by one, he tucked his fingers into the leather, one of the ten digits left loose where a finger had once been, “But you trust me an' I can't figure out fer why,” Folding the empty finger of his glove inward, he fastened it to the inside of the glove against the palm of his hand, “I ain't Thane. I ain't Raj'r Nazjure, but I don't pretend t'be any kind'a good fer you,” Words came more like an apology than an answer to her question, and for another moment, he was silent, the cogs of his mind turning. His memories threatening him like no blade ever could. Hadn't he learned his lesson?

“But,” He stated sharply against the quiet of his own creation, “I know loss, too. I ain't aiming fer nothin', one way'r th'other,” He declared, an unspoken deal within himself to let come whatever may, and that with Anya, he wouldn't fight it. No matter how it gripped him in the chest or strung him dry in the throat, “I jus'... I ain't payin' that debt twice,” He wasn't sure as to if she'd ever learn what that debt was, or if he had the heart to tell her today, but one thing was sure. He'd never leave her to suffer in the wake of his own selfishness. He'd played that game and came out the loser no matter which was it was cut.


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#9
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Ooc: *silent fangirl screaming* <3

The fact they were out on a mission to find the twins' abandoned equines was still on the Southpaw woman's mind and she glanced towards the hill she'd originally been aiming for. Anya gave a soft snort in response to Wayne's comment about being run through. She knew he was right, of course and she was taking everything Raj said with a grain of salt, but it really did seem that Raj had nothing left to hide. "Well, let's hope she's being sincere, else you and I are just out here on a wild goose chase..." She smirked a little at the lame joke then drew in a sharp breath as Wayne began to wrap the wound and he pressed against the her side a little firmer.

From then on he was very careful, and if she winced he would apply even less pressure. Such a gentlemen he was. Anya smiled softly to herself and sighed gently, keeping her ears folded. She admired his skill and attention to detail and was grateful for his assistance with the new bandage. At least now she wouldn't need to worry about it for a while. Looking up she met his eyes again as she asked her next question which seemed to catch him off guard. This time she didn't look away, for she caught the emotion he shone in his gaze, not held back this time.

Her breath nearly caught in her throat. Gods, the man had been through hell and back just like her... They each had their pain, their agony, their loss. As she slowly lowered her blouse back over the freshly wrapped wound, Anya turned to face him, listening to his response with intense orange eyes fixed upon him, the desire to understand strong in them. He began pulling on his gloves and spoke with emotion in his voice she'd not heard before.

Trust. It was a funny thing. Why she so readily gave it to him, and not to others was an oddity to her as much as it was Wayne. Anya couldn't deny the attraction, more than just physical, that drew her to the Dark Rider. There was something about him that spoke of familiarity, comfort, and safety, even as dangerous as she knew he could be. There was a kinship she felt deep in her breast when around him, and she clung to that notion. Like looking across the surface of shimmering water at the appearance of a dear friend thought lost and now reunited. That moment of realization that you're no longer alone. That same longing to be together, painful, yet so sweet, filled with rejoice and hope returned after thinking you'd be drowned in darkness forever...

That was the kind of emotion that Wayne made Anya feel every time she was around him. She couldn't ignore it, she had to trust in that feeling. Her heart told her to. Even if her mind questioned it every step of the way. She was drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

A soft, sad, but understanding smile played across her maw as he concluded his speech. Stray hair tickled across the Southpaw's face as she took in the man who stood before her. Reaching forward, she gently took one of his paws in her own, tracing the tough leather of the gloves he wore. "Wayne. I... I don't pretend to know what I'm doin' nor that I'm any kind of good for you either." She paused and took a deep, steadying breath. "There's a lot that I know we still have to learn about one another... but... if there's one thing I do know?" She chuckled softly, shaking her head slowly. "It's that when I'm around you, you make me feel better about this life than I have in a long time... There's something about you that makes the days worth waking up for. And I don't know if it's the same for you, but that motivates me to want to know more, do more, ...be more."

Taking a step in closer, her thumb rubbed over a particularly rough spot on the man's palm as she felt the heat rise in her cheeks. Her fiery eyes shimmered with emotion. "We can take things slow." She spoke quietly. "I'm afraid too..." Anya admitted, bowing her head, taking his other paw in hers and holding them both close to her heart, between them. "But..." She glanced back up splaying her ears.

"I really like you Waynescott Wyatt." She whispered and smiled ever so gently. "And I think you're worth the risk..." She finished, her muzzle hovering just inches from his.

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