[P] [M] Barely printed on the dot
Liam del Morte | Trailside Inn
#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: drug use (weeeeeed).

“So? What does it say?” Willow's leg jiggled up and down nervously. The letter had been delivered to him a couple of days ago by the same messenger he had used to tell Liam he could not make it to New Caledonia. Paninya had refused to be his escort a third time without good reason.

It was only when the wolfdog left and Will stood there staring at the paper he'd received, he realized he should've asked the guy to read it to him. He'd shoved it in his room and hadn't bothered to ask around for who could read it until this morning.

Alonso cleared his throat. Dearest Willow,

“Oh, great,” Willow ran a hand over his face and pushed his hat over his eyes, feeling a rush of embarrassment, though he couldn't place exactly why. Why did these Caledonians have to talk so weird?

Alonso ignored him and continued, though his eyes flickered with a mixture of mirth and pity. I understand that you cannot return to New Caledonia at this time. As such, I will be coming to visit you Ashen this time. Expect me at the Trailside Inn a few days from when this letter is dated. He paused.Sincerely, Liam del Morte.

“Is that it?”

“Hmm. I won't be bringing Lorien. Don't worry, it'll just be me.Alonso shrugged. “Liam del Morte rings a bell. Peony liked him. Though, I have never met this Lorien character to my knowledge.”

“He's horrible, ya don't wanna meet 'im. Good thing he ain't showin' up too.” Willow told him quickly, standing up and pacing about. He felt horribly anxious about how others would view this. Would it be seen as Will having brought a wolf onto their doorstep for no good reason? As he began to chew on his claws, Alonso reached a hand to pat him comfortingly, sensing his obvious distress.

“What's all this about? If it's trouble, you have your fellow man to rely on, you know.”

Willow took a deep breath and relaxed. It took some effort, but he gave Alonso a reassuring smile. “Nah, 's all good. Liam can't be all that bad if the Bella Dama liked 'im.” He paused and added: “'m pretty sure he's got some 'yote in 'im.” To Willow, it could be the only explanation. Even though Liam being a full blood was as plain as day, Willow having his prejudice couldn't reconcile between this fact and that Liam had been kind to him. So, he convinced himself it had to be because Liam must have some drop of coyote in him without knowing it.

Whether Alonso believed him (or even cared) was hard to say, but the man nodded in agreement with him nonetheless.

“Anyway… A few days from when the letter is dated? When's that?”

“Well, when did you receive this letter?”

“… A few days ago.” Willow's shoulders slumped.

Alonso smiled, more pity than mirth this time. “Probably sometime today, then, mi amigo.”

A beat of silence fell over the two Ashen. Willow remained stiff, then announced: “I gotta go clean my room.” The young Encender rushed up the stairs in a mad dash, forgetting to take the letter back at all.
(554) | pNPC: Alonso de los Santos
racism not reversed, liam is just secretly a coywolf, clearly
dated jun 21
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#2
Liam did not anticipate being absent for too long, which was likely for the best if it were to remain that way. Kule was due soon and Liam did not know what he would do once they were gone. He thought it best to put it out of his mind the best he could. At least for now. His child needed him to be strong in the face of what was to come. The best thing he could do was relax. Buzzing around his soon-to-be-ex would only make matters worse.

Willow would hopefully be a reprieve from all this. Del Cenere Gang had been hospitable to Liam in the past. He recalled Jimena, Alonso Peony and any other Ashen having treated him well enough. Really, he had not had a negative experience with any of them. Not once. He was not worried one bit. He looked forward to this visit and an opportunity to forget about it all for a while. To facilitate this, he brought with him some cannabis that he had received from Lorien and a few other sources. He knew for a fact that Willow smoked weed, for he had mentioned getting high with a Caledonian and even offered to pay Liam off with some once. Nevermind that it was half a blunt and definitely not enough. They were going to have fun either way, he was willing to put that mistake of Will's behind them.

He travelled to the Gang on Lili's back. She was happy to be travelling again, having found that she actually preferred it over being stuck in the Rhovanion. And there was no shortage of places to put horses in the Gang, it seemed. They arrived with little fanfare, much to his relief. He dismounted and found a safe and appropriate enough place for Lili before entering the Trailside Inn. He had stayed here once before and was content to enter the upbeat and warm atmosphere once more.

It was when he was adjusting his bag's strap on his shoulder when he spotted him. Willow. He seemed to be disposing of some trash, assumedly from his own room. Putting on a friendly and lopsided grin, Liam waved.

"Hey there Will," he called. "I brought something along with me that I think you'll like. Where do you want to smoke?"



OOC: Look dad's got the good kush
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#3
The coydog froze for just a moment upon spotting Liam arrive some minutes later. He was embarrassed at being caught in the midst of cleaning, but quickly resumed depositing off the various trash that he had bundled in his arms, clearing his throat. “'ey there.” He greeted the Caledonian with a small wave of his own. The Encender's hesitation upon seeing the large wolf became easily dispelled by the promise of smoking. This guy sure knew how to earn friends. He gave a few waves of his tail behind him. “Well, come on up, pardner,” Willow grinned, remembering the awful impression Liam had made of his own accent when they first met. It hadn't been funny when Will had been at that moment, considering he'd owed him a debt, but now that he'd paid it off he could laugh about it.

He wasn't too worried about smoking in his own room. It was a rare day the buildings of Charmingtown didn't smell of some sort of lingering intoxicant, and the window he had was busted anyway. Other than that, though, his room had brushed up to a neatness that was acceptable. Those that maintained the inn always helped keep the rooms in good shape, but Willow preferred to take care of his room himself during the time he remained in the lower echelon. 

“I might be gettin' my own place soon,”
he said with an obvious hopefulness as Liam followed in behind him. His green eyes looked around for any remaining cobwebs, but didn't see any. “I feel like I've been puttin' in enough work, at least.” Willow took a seat by the window.

“So, anythin' bring ya here besides li'l old me?” Considering the Escal was an esteemed merchant, maybe he was using the trip to further those gains as well. Willow didn't mind since he was getting something free out of it.
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#4
Will's disposition morphed from one laced with disrelish to one nearly overflowing with pleasure. All thanks to the extended 'olive branch', as it were. He did not always resort to such measures, but he found that offering intoxicants sweetened deals often enough that it proved useful time and time again.

"Of course," Liam said.

He followed in suit of the coydog, his stature much smaller than Liam's barn door frame. Will was far from capacious. In fact, towering over him made him remember just how pint-sized he was. This was not something that Liam looked down on him for - pun intended - but something that he cherished about him. He was to be a father soon, so nurturing thoughts such as these were on his mind.

"Your own place?" Liam asked. He knew some places required someone to use short-term residence initially, unlike New Caledonia. The Gang must be similar, then. "That's awesome, Will. I bet you earned it."

He smiled encouragingly at him as he sat his rump next to Willow's near the window. Its glass was shattered, but what window had glass these days? There was no real way to replace the glass that was once there, and Liam did not know where the original panes came from anyway. It made for fine ventilation, which was useful for things such as smoking.

Speaking of, Liam withdrew a pair of joints. He gave one to Willow before igniting his own on a nearby candle. He pursed his lips and drew in a long drag. Things were stressful for him lately. He was being pushed to the very brink, but he could not blame any other soul except for himself. This meant he had the power to improve it. He would make it through to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was no other way... Except to turn back. This was not a viable choice. Liam refused to go anywhere but forward and upward. His grin grew as the smoke settled in his lungs. It spiralled thickly from his nostrils on the next exhale.

"Just you. I may trade while I am here, but I also might not. I'm really... Tired." He tried not to let this show too much, but it was a good enough reason to not work wherever he went. "But who isn't?" He chuckled. "I'm sure you are exhausted just as well as anyone else, so it's ever preaching to the choir. I'll be alright."
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#5
Willow's chest puffed out and his tail wagged in pride. He did believe he had, but it would be a waiting game to see if the Gang's rulers thought so as well. “Thank ya.” 

Of course, Liam wasn't the only one to notice the difference in height between the two. Those with more wolf blood were usually giants in comparison to him, so it wasn't anything too shocking, but it was hard not to keep it in mind. Especially when Will's neck had begun to strain at times from having to look up at Liam, back when they brewed together in New Caledonia. Willow wouldn't say it was a point of insecurity for him, or fear, given that Liam had proven himself to be oddly kind. He only really cared when people began to look down on him, more metaphorically speaking, for his smaller size. Luperci like Lorien Coara gave off that condescending tone he disliked.

Lighting the joint Liam gave him and smoking with him, the two were near in sync for a moment. Though, as Liam kept enjoying inhaling the smoke, Willow coughed lightly. “Woah. Some potency, ya got there.” He hadn't been expecting it, but this was of a higher quality than he usually got as a gift. As he kept smoking, it worked wonders on him, not needing nearly as much to get stoned as Liam. Point one for being small.  

“Tired?” Willow parroted, furrowing his brows. “Well, ya got me there. I am tired. But I'm the grunt, it's my job to be overworked. Yer su'pose to be a fancy noble, ain't ya? Es-cal? He didn't mean to tease. He felt confused as to why Liam looked and felt so overworked. “I expected ya to have more of a cushy life, if I'm honest.” He didn't know if it was his business to pry any further. 
(326)
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#6
"My pleasure," Liam said.

He studied his face for a moment. He had not a chance to as well before now. There were either goods to be returned or debts to be paid until now. In this slice of time, they were simply in each other's presences. Smoking and becoming stoned was part of this, though. Perhaps the several drags he had already filled his chest with and absorbed into his bloodstream was enhancing Will's features. A majority of his silhouette's size was attributed to the fluff of his pelt, he figured. It appeared as soft as a rabbit's and twice as wavy in texture. This extended to his mane, which puffed out in an adorably messy way. His dark locks were secured away under his hat for the most part at current, however. The smoke Will exhaled came out sooner than it typically did on the breeze of a short cough.

"Mmhm. I'm too large to find any use in diluted spliffs or anything that is weaker in general. I'm sure you will have less trouble, at least." He mused about this briefly enough. It was difficult to worry about these logistics when the inebriation was already stoning his mind. He poked Willow's side teasingly with a snort once he implied his smaller stature.

"Escal... That I am," he mumbled, seemingly having forgotten once more that he was at the peak of his journey to the sky. "I guess that... Technically I am a noble, and most Caledonian nobles find they are more well-respected and don't have to do as much as, say, a Commoner, or... an Encender." He shrugged, having remembered Willow's rank in the Gang. "But after the war, I've been working harder than when I was a Commoner. There is much to do that could use an extra hand. I'm really involved now, especially since I really just want to improve things for everyone. Other nobles may not, but other nobles do."

Liam wondered now if he would be pledging himself to a court soon. He felt more than honored, for he felt he did not deserve it. He did not begin with the intention of ambition, but he could not say that he entirely minded it. Having the title of nobility made it easier for him to get more done. He hoped to someday enact more change with more influence. He could apply more of his idealism and make his goals a reality this way, couldn't he? The weed provided more inspiration for this and drew him more properly into the ethereal clouds of his rank.

"It's strange, but I find fulfillment in caring for the wellbeing of others outside of just myself. When I bring drinks to the Brass Potato or medicine to the Circle of Athelas, I'm helping people cope and heal. That kind of work is never done, you know?"
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#7
While sober, Willow may have noticed Liam's staring and felt uncomfortable because of it. However, when intoxicated he likewise always had the habit of smiling more and staring more, so he wasn't about to start being hypocritical. He let the feeling of eyes on him roll off his back, simply focusing on Liam's voice when he began to speak again. Willow made a small yap as he was poked in the side, growling at Liam shortly. He couldn't help himself, though: he laughed after doing so. “Everythin' has its blessings.” He shrugged.

As Liam explained the inner workings of his pack, Willow's imagination took him there. He thought of all the lords and ladies sitting on exaggerated thrones of gold before him. Were they happy like that? If Liam was any proof, maybe they weren't satisfied at all. It might be common that the higher you got in the clouds, the farther sight you had for the problems of the kingdom. Being on the ground as he was, Willow only saw the majesty of the stars. Unbeknownst to him, they were burning themselves up. 

“I see,” he said, looking down at the floor with a thoughtful gaze. He kicked his legs here and there to keep his body busy as the gears in his head kept turning, obviously slowed. “I hadn't known ya been through a war. Tha's... tough, ta say the least.” What else could Will say, as inexperienced with life as he was? Lorien had said something about it, but Willow hadn't taken anything seriously. Apparently there had been some truth in his words. “Helpin' people heal… Yeah, I can see why that kinda stuff is important to ya. I think it is ta me, too. I dunno… 's not all black 'n' white, though. If ya can't find comfort in yer own bed, if ya don't even know what comfort feels like, how are ya supposed to give it proper to others?” Willow brought in one knee to hold to his body, then took another drag off his joint. “I guess tha's why I ain't ever tried to be a proper healer. I don't know what healin' feels like.” He frowned. His scar still hurt sometimes like it did the day he got it. “What 'bout you? Have ya all healed from yer war?” 
(401)
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#8
All was smoother when something like bitter alcohol or diesel smoke was factored into the equation. To bring the cannabis was not necessarily a choice Liam made with an ulterior motive, but it certainly did help things along. He simply wanted to forget it all for a while. The short growl Willow gave was one he took to be more lighthearted due to the ensuing laughter, so he chuckled with him and nodded in agreement.

Willow's legs swayed forth and back, keeping a smile on Liam's face. His mannerisms were quickly becoming something familiar and well liked. He managed to keep him focused on the present even when the topic of the war came to the surface.

"True, it was very rough. But we made it through. New Caledonia is a pack where everyone can find a place within, even the supposed 'outcasts'. We are more wary since the conflict, but the spirit still remains." He wished they did not have to be more suspicious of newcomers. Liam knew he did not like the tension he was regarded with initially. He was sure Willow would have no interest in joining like he had originally feigned, but if he recruited him or anyone else, Liam would be sure to make them feel more welcome.

'If ya can't find comfort in yer own bed, if ya don't even know what comfort feels like, how are ya supposed to give it proper to others?'

This idea felt somewhat foreign to Liam. He was used to running on steam alone and suffering in the midst of lending his hands to others. But he knew in his heart that he was right. When Liam was stressed or worn down in general it was more difficult to do what he did best. He scratched the scruff under his chin in thought.

"It's really important to me, yeah. And... I think you have a point. It is much harder to care for others when I'm not caring for myself properly." This was something pointed out to him as a problem previously, but only briefly and in a more dismissive way.

He raised his brows in questioning. What did he mean by that comment about healing? It was vague enough, so he thought he should ask him to clarify. Willow did not have to answer if he did not want to, and he could at least say he asked.

"You don't know what healing feels like? Why? Because you haven't needed to heal, or because you have something to heal from but can't?"

Liam considered the question for himself now. Had he healed from the war?

"Physically, I guess. My injuries scarred over without as much issue, thanks to the Circle." He touched the scar that now spanned over his muzzle. He made a grimace at the memory of how he had received the injury. "But in every other way? I'm not so certain. I still have strange dreams and visions that call back to it all. I keep my head up of course, I just don't know how to articulate how I felt very well. I could explain what happened in terms of events though, I just can't put to words what is on my mind... Nor do I know how to properly find comfort for it."
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#9
Willow wasn't sure how much he believed that New Caledonia was truly as Liam said: accepting to all. Even if they were, Willow wasn't sure if that was a good thing. If there were just as many coyotes in their ranks as wolves and dogs, how were they all getting along? How was the peace kept? Were the coyotes subjugated or attacked? Questions like these were obvious to Willow, not so much to those who thought the species could intermingle with no problems at all. It wasn't like Will hadn't met them before, though they were usually of wolf blood, those that turned a blind eye to the issues the species had trying to co-exist as luperci together.

“Sometimes bein' wary is warranted.” Willow said, though he could tell by the look on Liam's face that the man didn't feel exactly the same. Or at least, he accepted the fact with a more begrudging feeling. Willow did not feel such reluctance to it. He felt safer for the walls he had built up. Ironically, he did not realize how the man in front of them broke them down, all the while Willow preached them to him. He sat here, accepting Liam into his room, whom he deep down knew was a full-blooded wolf. He sat here and pretended like he wasn't changing. The truth was plain: Liam's way of life, as optimistic as it was (idealistic to some), seemed far more palatable and hell of a lot easier to swallow than the alternative. The idea brought people under its wing, Willow included. It would be nice, if they could co-exist. It would be.

When the inevitable questioning came, Willow fiddled around with his joint, and took another hit. As the smoke filled his lungs, he got the courage he needed to continue on, feeling as though he was stumbling into unknown territory. He'd never told anyone about this in depth. No one had ever asked. He did not know what to think about the fact the first person he would be telling would be a wolf blood. He let Liam finish what he was saying before he even began to untangle the web of his memories. The coydog nodded at what the wolf said about strange dreams and visions. Willow was no stranger to them. Imagination and reality could blur easily. It was frustrating for Willow. The images were there, but like Liam, he had no words to express what they made him feel.

“My… dad was killed.” For the heavy subject, starting out with that sentence felt easier than breathing. It indeed was just like Liam said. Saying what happened in factual terms felt easier than putting words to the emotions underneath. He pulled up his shirt to show the scar on his back, twisting his body for Liam to see. An unbiased eye might say it looked nothing as ugly as the scar on Liam's muzzle, but Willow felt it was ten times as shameful. Liam had earned his fighting for what he thought was right—whether it was or not, it had been honorable. Willow had been running away. He'd had his back turned. It was a coward's scar.

“Th' same wolves that got 'im did this to me. There's… more to it, but I ain't… I can't.” He shook his head. The young man wouldn't go into detail about how he had groveled before them, or his mother's abandonment. Those were wounds deeper that he couldn't reopen right now. “I… like feelin' safe, especially here, with the Ashen. I feel safe here. 'S why I came. It ain't too different from where I grew up proper.” With the high beginning to truly take a toll on him, he had to lick his lips and think for several seconds before he found what he wanted to say after.

“But safe isn't always… true. 'm not sure which one is more valuable, though. An' I don't even know if I'm ready to know.” He dropped his shirt and leaned back against the wall, sighing out a breath and folding his ears back. He looked smaller than usual like that, hunched in on himself without realizing. “I'd expect ya to have it figured out more than me right about now,” he looked at the hints of gray on Liam's fur. “But I guess it makes sense. It all comes in waves an' blooms. Some days it don't bother me at all, other days I can't stop thinkin' about it. If ya could only choose one, which would ya choose? Safety or the truth?” 

He asked the question at the end as a misdirection: he wanted to obfuscate the conversation and turn it into something vague again. He did not want the attention on him anymore.
(825)
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#10
Liam disagreed, but he did not voice it - at least not vehemently so. Willow was younger and had a more simplistic and jaded view of the world. Yet, he could see something flicker over his eyes when Liam mentioned acceptance and tolerance. Something colorful. He knew it could be hard to believe, but it was there nonetheless.

"This is true, you don't have to trust everyone. But I can't harden my heart to everything for me just because a small handful of individuals were twisted away from their original, kinder nature." He smiled as he said this, however. He spoke as though he did not hate his enemies, which was the truth. He could not bring himself to hate anyone. He was too tired and his precious energy was better spent elsewhere.

'My dad was killed.'

The sentence carried with it a weight that Liam had felt before. He nodded reverently, listened intently, and grazed his eyes over the scarring on his back. His heart panged for Willow just then. He did not often feel such extreme empathy, even given his capacity to care for others more than most others thought he 'should'. The pain was underlying and he could see it written on his face how these events shaped him and his life. Liam's life had also been knocked severely off course in a very similar way.

"Truth," Liam said. "Ignorance is not safety. It leaves you more vulnerable to being led astray. When you grow complacent, you stay in the same place or get worse. When you know the truth, you can find your path."

The high eked its way into Liam's body then, relaxing his muscles and melting the tension away. It felt like forgiveness. Despite the mistakes Liam had made over his life, he felt okay for once. He placed a gentle, comforting hand on Willow's shoulder. He didn't give too many words beyond that, the gesture simply spoke for itself. He was not alone. He allowed the words to fall away, for digging into the details of Willow's past was not truly necessary. It was an honor that he trusted him this much at all. To grow nosy would make him skiddish. Instead, he continued to smile reassuringly at him.
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#11
Liam posited the idea that canines were inherently good, and Willow didn’t know what to think of it for a moment. He had never heard it before. Many of the coyotes he had been close to adapted to a view not entirely one way or the other. He’d heard things more along the lines of: ‘Some people are just plain ol’ bad, but not everyone is…’ or ‘Hard work makes a good man’.  This notion differed from that. Bad canines had been corrupted, and all were born kind. Maybe. Willow tried to think then of the wolves who had killed his father and attacked him. What if they had been born decent? Then the question became: how did they get to be so cruel? What did one have to go through to become like that?

All he could manage was a grunt of acknowledgment. Liam’s hand found his shoulder and he nearly brushed him off, but Liam’s smile made him reconsider. Normally, the vulnerability he had shown today would’ve made him clam up for the rest of the week. Normally, he’d regret such words. He could not say he felt that regret in this moment though. He felt as though he had learned something, even if all it was were Liam’s thoughts on nebulous matters.

“Ya think so?” The coydog frowned in contemplation. “I suppose it sounds easy when ya put it like that. But, it ain’t usually so easy to tell… and truth, safety, they’re a spectrum in their own right.” Just because the Gang was safe didn’t make it ignorant, or a bad fit for Willow besides. There were honest people here living honest lives, just like Willow. He did trust them, even if he didn’t know any of them particularly well as of yet. He shook his head. “Well… thanks for humorin’ me.”
(317)
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#12
Willow seemed to react well enough to the physical contact. This was likely different from what he would usually accept with regard to such gestures... especially when it came to wolves, he was sure. Liam knew of the Gang's common bias against wolves, and Will semed to be no exception. He could understand why to an extent, but Liam was hopeful that his new friend could tell that he meant no harm.

"Of course Willow," he said, voice hoarse from the smoke, "you're very kindhearted and you have quite the cute face."

Liam moved his hand from Will's shoulder to toussle his dark locks. Thoughts such as 'what has come over me?' made no appearance on his mind. All he knew was that Willow was adorable and his fur was just as soft as he thought it would be. He took several long, heavy drags from his joint. As he did so, he could feel that tingling sensation tickle his eyes further. He felt warm and good all over. The feeling covered him from head to toe, molten and strange. Yet... familiar.

"Additionally, your pelt is as soft as a rabbit's," he added.

His actions had little thought to them. Maybe he should have been thinking of Kule, but their relationship was as good as over at this point. Especially after their last conversation. It could not be too wrong if they were abandoning him so soon. Truth was, it really wounded him. He would be struggling much worse in a matter of days than he was now, and he knew it.
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#13
The feel of the gentle contact with him and the wolf radiated throughout his body due to the marijuana. It felt like a buzzing underneath his fur. Willow took several moments to process the slide of Liam’s paw coupled with words that were honeyed more than he expected from the merchant. Maybe someone with more experience would’ve seen it coming, as the silver-tongue of trade could be applied to other pursuits. Now, the idea of Willow himself being a ‘pursuit’, that was something he had to unpack on its own. He might have let it roll off his back if it had been just one or the other, the words or the touch. But the combination of them spoke to Liam having some sort of underlying meaning, there.

He frowned.

Willow finally did move away, standing up as he did so and taking a step back. What could be the meaning of this? His mind lagged, but he did conjure up the thought that Liam, like so many others, simply got overly close when under the influence. Not only weed made luperci like that, but alcohol too, and other substances besides. “Well, if ya haven’t noticed. I’m a man. Not meant to be soft and cute.”

That, although he loathed to admit it, could have been a component. Liam had been close enough to him multiple times, it could be that he sniffed out his biological sex. Maybe that had been what made him so touchy to begin with. He might have assumed, wrongly, that Willow must just be hiding his ‘true gender’ beneath some kind of male disguise. The thought of it made his frown settle in harder.

“An’ even if that hadn't been the case, Lorien said ya got a mate of yer own, an’ I don’t think he lied ‘bout that one.” He brought up, feeling that was the most important thing he could focus on, instead of listing out all the reasons that had came to mind why this bothered him (which there were quite a few, some he wasn't ready to think about). He wasn’t the type to go running and snitch, after all he had no idea what Liam’s mate even looked like. He hadn’t seen them during the full day they spent together at New Caledonia. But Willow didn’t approve of dishonest behavior, and he thought that messing around like this counted. If he had a man—woman, he hastily corrected himself—of his own, he wouldn’t want him—her—to go around like this.

Willow folded his arms in disapproval. “Do ya need some water to sober up or somethin’, pal?” His voice had lost that kindheartedness considerably, though it was a show of mercy that he was not shooing Liam out the door of his room. It might have been the hospitality he had been raised around, but just one sign of rudeness wouldn’t make him chase the wolf off, even being an Outsider as he was. His tail slightly raised, he hoped at least for an apology. He could make do with that, he supposed, given that Liam had been hospitable to him as well.
(539)
in MY christian coyote minecraft server???
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#14
The frown that crossed Willow's face proved that Liam was misinterpreting things. He could have sworn differently, but maybe that was just the pang born in his chest now. The sting of rejection burned through his core, especially with how things had been going for him recently. He lifted his eyebrows in surprise initially, but he did not grab after or chase him or anything. It was best to remain where he was. He could really wind up in hot water with the Gang if he pushed himself on Willow, and that was not at all his intention regardless. He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it to allow the other to speak. He had the right to first after how Liam had made him uncomfortable.

"You are a man, why would I think otherwise?" he said. Genuine confusion was cast as a shadow on Liam's features now. He really felt he was in the dark. Was there something he was missing? His brows knit together and his lips pressed into a line. "I'm sorry, I won't call you such things anymore."

At the mention of his mate, Liam dragged a hand down his face. The motion brought a shattering sensation across his fur, his own fingers feeling foreign to him now. Maybe he should come down. He just was realizing that Willow knew he was married, but not that it was pretty much over. It was so complicated. He scarcely knew where to start explaining.

"Perhaps, just - allow me to say something." Christ, he really was hitting new lows now. He hit on someone before it was really public knowledge. Not even Lorien knew. He was just far too ashamed. How could he know Lorien would not make fun of him? How could he know Willow would not do the same? "My mate, Kule has broken their relationship off with me. I am unsure if I can even consider them my mate anymore, for they are -" Rising tears choked out his voice, so he cleared his throat, took a breath, and carried on. "They are leaving not only me, but New Caledonia as well, to never return. They are only there still to give birth and leave the litter with me thereafter."

He buried his face in his hands once more. Every time he tried to forget about what bothered him, it came back with a vengeance. Did he really deserve to forget? Would he even be a good father? He hoped so. He was going to do his best, that was for sure. He was laying himself bare now, even when all tracery of Willow's warmth was withdrawn. Maybe it was a risk, but he had vastly overstepped anyway. At least it was in a different way from before, but he would accept any consequence that came next. He simply felt Willow deserved to know, especially when Lorien was out there saying such things. Well meaning things, but details that threw things off for Liam nonetheless. He felt very guilty now. He just hoped Willow could at least be somewhat understanding. He just could not shake the feeling that this was his fault, that he was a monster.
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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#15
As Liam began to explain himself, Willow’s tail slowly lowered again, showing his calming state. He did not realize it until Liam finished his explanation, but he had stumbled into something that went deeper than he knew. Willow had the sense to remain quiet and not interrupt, and for this he learned about Liam’s troubles. “Oh.” A simple response, but it was all the coydog had for him at first. His arms unfolded and his frown changed: no longer of upset but instead the expression was made in sympathy to the Caledonian. “’M… sorry for assuming.”

He wasn’t sure of the proper procedure another noble would have in this situation. As far as he could tell, the regret and guilt on Liam’s face felt vivid and real. One might almost wince at the mere display of it. Willow’s sympathy became replaced with a slow confusion as he took in more of what Liam had said. “But if ya knew I’m a man, why’d ya…?” He trailed off, bewildered. Though he’d heard of men loving other men, it had been in passing, whispered tones. And though Willow, too, had gotten concerning thoughts and dreams about men, he knew they were just a byproduct of his inner confusion, of what he was. It didn’t mean anything. It didn’t have to be like that.

“It don't matter. Don’t sweat it. We c’n just forget about it.” He shook his head. He’d rather not talk about too much. It felt too dangerous to. “Don’t cry, man.” Willow reached out himself this time, finally returning some of the comfort that the wolf had given him. His hand came onto Liam’s upper back with far more hesitation, but the gesture, he thought, would be appreciated nonetheless. “Life goes on. I been witness to a few amigos goin’ through what you’re goin’ through right now.” Spanish words did not come as naturally to Willow as some of his packmates, but the habits they had rubbed off on him to some degree. “It all gets better in the end. One mistake don't make a failed man.”
(366)
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Willow Martel
Say a prayer, but let the good times roll
In case God doesn't show

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#16
Willow's overall dispostion changed from aggressive to relaxed once more. Sighing, Liam was thankful and hoped this meant he understood. Sometimes being honest helped things. Will even apologized for making assumptions, but Liam felt even this was not necessary. All he wanted was for the conflict to cease.

"Do not worry yourself. No apology is necessary." He shrugged, but his easy smile returned to his face.

What was strange was that Willow seemed to have hangups about the flirtation on the basis of gender. For some reasoning that he was failing to see, he was uncomfortable with it inherently. This said little about his actual interest. Would this be more? He wondered. It would not be pure impulse if something happened beyond this, because now the potential had been demonstrated to them both. Chemistry was there. Would history come to accompany it? He could not be certain, but Will seemed content to let it go. Liam would allow this too. He was not a pushy person, though he could oft be considered an 'opportunist'.

As if to show how the familiarity was not gone but instead blossoming further, Willow touched Liam. He laid his hand on the thicker fur between his shoulders. It was done gingerly, but it was done of his own volition. Liam's grin grew more broadly as Willow did this.

"Okay, I won't, you're right. Thank you."

It was that easy. Liam was easy to cheer up. It was easy to convince him to see the light of any matter, for he was always on the lookout for it. He did have concerns about potential issues, such as how the hell he was going to raise Sphinx all on his own. His optimism, instead of leading him to ignore these problems, helped him consider the options. He could look for a new significant other and have friends help him in the meantime. He was not opposed to accepting help. The pang in his heart still raged, so he sought out more comfort in expressing his feelings.

"What your amigos went through... Do you mean break-ups or divorces? Have you ever had your heart broken too?" He asked genuinely now. He was curious if he was single or not, and if that was part of the reason for his rejection earlier. "It's a bitter, bitter pain. I wish it would stop. Not even the weed or alcohol is stopping it right now. That's why I came to see you, I needed company with someone comforting that didn't know them." To cope humorously, he pointed playfully at Willow as if to say 'that means you'.
Liam del Morte
So sprout your wings and fly away
For another sunny day
I've got a million of them waiting for you



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