We came to leave behind the world a better way

P. Santiago | Moosehead Lake

POSTED: Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:19 pm

Stretching far and wide across the atmosphere, an overcast sky the color of limestone hung like a shroud over the sun and kept the potential brilliance away from the waters beyond the sandy shore. Evelyn stood at the edge of where the water kissed the earth and hugged her shawl tight about her thin shoulders, thinking. It could not take the memories away from her, this pale grey sky; she had seen what beauty the lake possessed in the golden light of a clear day.

And so they would, some day.

She had risen early, the sweet birdsong a nauseating accompaniment to her present predicament, careful to leave a clue for Santiago as to her whereabouts. In hindsight, though, "clue" might be too kind a word to call what she had left for him to find her. A suggestion, then? A warning, maybe? Evelyn lifted a bandaged hand up to her shoulder and hooked it there, hugging herself. However he would define it, she hoped that she hadn't left a bruise. The Vicar was many things, but a sadist she was not.

And besides, she thought as she shifted against a sudden gust at her back, combing her patchy mane from her face as she turned to look behind her. Her fiery eye glinted at the approaching figure, her bandaged fingers still wrapped around a rogue lock of hair. He would need all his strength for this next chapter of their story.

"You took your time," she said flatly, more of an observation than an accusation. There was a mischievous shimmer in her eye and the suggestion of a curl at the corner of her lips. "Sure hope I didn't knock th' wind outta you."

She sure as hell didn't need him fainting on her when she told him.

[WC — 302]


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POSTED: Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:34 pm

And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

She'd been gracious enough to share her own tent, since his own had been bowled over by the alarmed horses some nights ago. He said nothing of it, outside of the initial thanks - after all, Evelyn would rather he not kiss up to her in the aftermath of everything.

The Vicar was a woman who appreciated her silence, and he appreciated her warmth on those nights where they slept entwined, or simply with solitary points of contact back-to-back. It was something small. Peaceful. The delicate cactus bloom, under the silver light of the moon, so too strengthened their bond. Santiago treasured it - held her steadfast with his memories of home that seemed so dreadfully long ago.

Perhaps that was why the morning came as a shock. He woke with an elbow to his gut, and fingers giving a ratty ear a solid tug when he moved to sit up, before Evelyn ungraciously up-churned morning sick all over his pillow, wiped the saliva off on her wrist, and climbed out of the tent, leaving a bewildered and wide-eyed Hustler to try and discern the meaning of such a wake-up call. After the brief stun, and attempting to cradle his pillow to not spill, he got out of the shared tent, and abandoned it to follow the surly Vicar towards the lake.

The morning air was balmy and still. The gleam in her eye rivaled the sun's rays on the surface of the lake.

"Well, I had to clean up a little," he answered, his broken grin pointed as he moved to take a seat alongside the vindictive woman, proud even in repose. "You feelin' alright, Miss Escuella? Gave me a bit of a shock this morning, if I may be so plain."

His gaze was on her, level, thinly veiling his concern.

WHAT A WOMAN~ | [wc — --] template by hilli, image from Wayne Stadler
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POSTED: Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:24 pm

Watching him approach, bewildered and disheveled, Evelyn found herself wondering whether he had taken care to clean up her unbidden sick before he sought her out or if he had left it to seep hungrily into his pillow. Judging, roughly, by the span of time between her departure and Santiago's arrival, she thought that his primary concern had not been about the smell or the stain her stomach acid was almost certain to leave behind upon his downy headrest.

"You may," she replied, her eyes holding his face while she worked silently to quell the agitation in her gut. To hear that he had paused to clean her vomitus up caused her mood to sour marginally. She blinked and turned her head away from Santiago to face the dull, gunmetal lake once more.

Somewhere overhead, against the cloudy sky, a gull shrieked and, somewhere along the shore, another warbled its shrill call to the heavens. The Vicar breathed in and willed herself to accept these new, strange, awful sounds into this new life she had agreed to fight for. "No," she answered with a soft exhale, her fiery eye shifting towards Santiago's ruined face. " I ain't feelin' all right."

Pausing a beat, looking at her friend from the corner of eye, Evelyn closed her lids and, bowing her head subtly, she ran her bandaged fingers through her patchy mane. "But I ain't sick," she continued, looking straight ahead once more before she swiveled her small body around to face him. With her hard eyes – one of frost and one of fire – she stared at him soundlessly and drew her lips thin.

"Mr. Tejada," she began casually, almost as though she was prepared to talk about the weather rather than drop a bombshell in his lap. "I do believe you're fixin' to be a father." The Vicar let that hang in the air between them a beat before, slowly, she relaxed the fingers around her shoulder and lowered her hand to her belly. "And you best be prepared t' play your damned role."

[WC — 347]


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POSTED: Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:52 am

And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

Her words were a lifeline he did not know he needed, though everything he could read of Evelyn's body posture warned him away from breaching physical contact. He watched her, awaiting answers, and tempered the urge to seek out the physical comfort of feeling her fingers entwined with his.

When she said she wasn't feeling well, he felt a sweep, low and ugly, in his belly.

"Well -- what is it? What's wrong? Is it sharin' the tent, Miss Escuella, I can always trade for a new one-" He prattled off quick, and just as fast held his tongue as she started up again. His ears were ringing. Stricken dumb, he stared at the fire-kissed woman a solid moment longer.

Her hand moved to cradle her stomach, and his eyes followed the motion, as though tied by thread.

"I'm -- what?" he answered, dumbly, his tongue feeling useless in his mouth. He could feel Evelyn's withering look before he'd even glimpsed up to her features, and he blew a breath past his ruined lips whilst they cracked into a tentatively enthused smile. "Well, of course, Miss Escuella."

His voice was a thin wobble, though his emotions were suddenly scattered every which way, blown apart while he struggled to reel everything back in. He scrubbed a hand up into his hairline, pulling it from his face while eyes turned out towards the light glancing off the lake, excited and overwhelmed and worried.

"I... Am going to be a father..." It didn't sound real.

"You're sure? I mean - really - well, of course you are," - he paused to blow another breath out his teeth, and restless, paced in a circle. "My God, I've got to get somethin' for them to teeth on - and they'll need some sort of bed; gotta go out and get you better blankets n' linens and food, and, oh, God."

Eyes lit up like lanterns, he looked back to The Vicar. "I'm going to be a father."

He paused a beat.

"You're... Okay with this, Miss Escuella?"

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POSTED: Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:49 am

Measured and stony, her eyes – one useless and icy, the other dangerous and fiery – held onto Santiago's damaged face unblinkingly. "It ain't the damn tent I'm talkin' at, Mister Tejada," she snapped. And then, closing her eyes a moment to breath in and compose herself again, Evelyn revealed what ailed her in a voice that was calm and light, if without emotion.

Santiago was sure to show emotion enough for the both of them.

Silently, she absorbed his reaction and, though she betrayed nothing, inwardly she could feel her heart quicken and thoughts of trepidation scale her mind while Santiago rode his emotional rollercoaster straight on through the thick of this life-changing news. But any doubts or worries that dared to slip into the spotlight of her thoughts were quickly quashed.

Whether Santiago accepted his role as a father willingly or not, the Vicar was determined to ensure he didn't shirk his duties.

She smiled – a small, but genuine sliver that upturned her thin lips – and felt a rush of relief, even against all her self-assurances and unwavering confidence, when he agreed to uphold his responsibilities as a father. Of course, he said and Evelyn felt her uneasiness subside.

Of course.

And then, true to form, Santiago's emotions hemorrhaged out of him like a torrent. Rapidfire words spilled from his damaged mouth and, watching him silently, the Vicar couldn't help the way her little smile grew into something that looked almost gentle. "Sure as horns on a bull, Mister Tejada," she confirmed impassively, slowly stepping toward him. When he turned the question upon her, her hesitation was nearly imperceptible, though it was there in the blink of her eyes and the disappearance in the upward curl of her lips.

"Do you suppose I'd tell you 'bout this if I weren't?" she asked. Evelyn was many things, but she was not cruel. At least, not to those folks who held a special place in her life – in her heart. If she had wanted to rid herself of the things that grew within her, she would have done so privately and without troubling Santiago's soft heart. Surreptitiously, as though there might be spying eyes about, the Vicar slipped one of her bandaged hands into his and, to avoid any lingering uncertainties that might be lingering within his mind, she confirmed: "I am, Mister Tejada."

What softness had managed to sneak its way onto her features was stamped out again when she added, "Just don't be goin' 'bout town or land, actin' a fool, now. I ain't doin' this alone."

[WC — 440]


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Little Bandit They stole my dirty socks... :( Venerate savagery, Die savagely

POSTED: Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:47 am

And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

She reaffirmed his direction, gave it guidance, and Evelyn quietly grounded him, a bandaged hand finding home in his palm. This quelled him, mollified his initial panic and tempered his excitement, albeit it was slight.

"I wouldn't dream a' leaving you alone, Miss Escuella," he crooned, a little softer, before the wave hit him then, secondary, uncertain - there were still dangers out there, unbidden to civility.

His chest squeezed, a little, and he tightened his hold gently on her small hand, trying to be mindful. The wolves - or at least one of them, still stalked, still roamed the woods, hungry for some retribution. Santiago swallowed the weight in his throat.

The world was a dangerous place.

"I'll do my damndest," he started again, a little quiet vow - "I'll make this place safe as I possibly can, get you everything you need." He'd pull down the moon, if he could. Brighten the stars. He considered the little star-blossoms he had seen at those first thaws, tucked into The Vicar's cowl, and his lips twitched up a little, as he turned wholely to her, scooping up her other hand.

"I care a great deal for you, Evelyn."

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