become the damage done

p. self-thread

POSTED: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:02 pm

Mistral's first shift. Set Feb 2, immediately after she leaves from this thread.

Mistral was not unfamiliar to blood and tragedy; her discovery of Lowry's body shook her to the core, for regardless of background she was still a child, and he had been a friend. The Spitz mix had been first to follow blood trail to the hanging body and cryptic text carved in his chest and first to lay eyes upon him. From that moment something within her changed—turned, exactly, like a key in a lock. Anxious and unfeeling of her toes she retrieved her coyote guardian, the Artist who nearly broke on the spot and commanded her home. The child did not argue it. She darted past the scents of her packmates, doubtlessly rushing to the scene after Micah's desperate cries in the air, and Mistral did not dare stop.

She finagled the Thornbury door open and shut four-legged and crawled beneath the covers of her guardian—no, her adoptive father's bed. Only then did she realize the ache of her body, the pounding of her heart, the terrible fear in her chest. Was it fear? There was something else lingering their alongside, a certain unrecognizable discomfort, like shock numbing the pain of broken bones.

She hated it. She hated the feeling, the sense that something in her was innately wrong. Mimi blamed terror first, then anxiety and adrenaline. When the feeling became overwhelming like air expanding in her stomach, she blamed sleep or exercise or a gut made upset by trauma. Nothing worked. Lowry's empty eyes filled her thoughts, her mind, and despite all whines and cries and all the blankets to be pulled over her head, Mimi willed the images only to change to pictures of her mother, headless, the junkyard cats pleased and feasting on her remains.

"Stop it," she whined to herself, trying to avert her thoughts. She took a breath, then another. Anything to regain control, to settle this uncanny feeling she could not describe. What was it? Not fear, not anxiety, not pain—

Growth?

In a glimpse of understanding, she knew. She felt a need to stretch, to evolve, like an instinct never before surfaced. The opportunity to shift. Could it have been the sight of Lowry that provoked it? Could it have been—

It didn't matter; she could not pause to think of it any longer. Instead Mistral surrendered to the instinct, focused on the warmth, and allowed the change to begin.

It was a slow, gruesome process, and ugly in her eyes. Like insects crawling in her arms the bones seemed to elongate, to turn and flip and readjust not with command but with a feral knowledge and unconscious movement. She watched like an audience, yet through quickened breaths and frightened sounds endured every twist and shift: her legs, her arms, her neck, her spine. Somewhere in the process Mistral raised a hand to gaze at the way one odd brown toe on a golden paw had become the same odd brown finger from a golden palm.

When it was over, she could scarcely breathe. But why? Was this not what she had been begging for for weeks on end? Mistral drew fingers through the full length of blonde, straight locks and felt no pride in the color. When she turned she found her Spitz tail curled against her back as it had always been, yet did not laugh. And when she dared not to step off the mattress but drew her legs close, she wrapped her awkward knees in her awkward arms and tried her utmost not to cry—for as composed as she wished to be after all these eyes had endured, Mistral was at present still but a scared little girl.

Mistral had Lowry to thank for this new change.

How she wished she didn't have to.

Last edited by Mistral de l'Or on Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:29 pm

The morning moved like a whirlwind, spots of blood in his vision he could not identify. He remembered Lowry. He remembered Skye's words, how she had delivered to the pack news with her firm tone shaken. It had startled him to hear her wounded, however faint she managed to limit it, and the coyote could scarcely pass a word even after he departed the pack's company behind the leader. He remembered it all, but experienced none of it. Micah could have been as much a ghost as his murdered cousin.

Lowry had been taken down, the cage retrieved from beneath the snow where Micah had left it on outer borders. Skye stole it away for a time, claiming their leave would be soon. A small window was given to gather his things from home before departure, but Micah cared not for that. Mistral had seen the body—the girl he adopted was exposed to tragedy. Above even his hollow grief, he knew she needed him.

With dragging steps he found Mistral in their Thornbury home, wrapped in his blankets on the mattress, shaken and triple in size. For a time Micah stood stunned in the doorway, wishing he could will himself the pride he would have felt on any other day, in the wake of any other occasion.

"You shifted," Micah said, trying to sound happy. He knew he did not. Mimi frowned at him, her ears flattened and blue-green eyes wide, and mouthed a tiny "Papa."

"It's scary, I know. It's okay," he said, satchel sagging to the floor as the Artist sunk to the mattress. He wrapped an arm around her, and the child willingly folded into his chest. "I'm sorry I wasn't here to talk you through it."

"I'm sorry," he repeated, his embrace tightening. "I'm so sorry about everything, Mistral."


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POSTED: Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:22 am

She heard the footsteps coming, listened to their drag outside the door, and Mistral panicked. The man that killed for the cage knew her, could have desired her back under his control. He had come for her. She would be his next victim.

But the door opened to Micah instead, the parent she could never hope to resemble in body or mind, ragged and bent like wounded prey on broken legs. Her heart leapt, however tiny and fluttering the feeling was pressed beneath layers of anxiety. It felt like days, weeks since Mistral had seen him last, and though their separation lasted no more than mere hours so much had radically changed. A packmate was dead thanks to the pair, and the dead look within the coyote's eyes explained how he already knew it to be true. He had saved a child, thinking himself something of a hero, something of worth, but in the end someone had died as result. He could never have predicted it to happen. Not like this...

And doubtless he blamed himself. Mistral knew him well enough to confirm it in her mind. His words were gentle, understanding, but rang almost hollow in sound as if himself had been emptied clean in the wake of tragedy—but it did not matter. He was here, she was safe. He confirmed this change in her body as worthy of fright but normal. He confirmed she had done it correctly, alone or not. That she would be all right.

She fell into his embrace at first opportunity and held on. The quivers subsided. Then the Lykoi spoke again, and her settling heart sunk instead.

"It's my fault," said Mimi. "You took the cage because of me. If I hadn't been captured in the first place..."

She stopped, then looked him mortified in the eye. "It's following me," she said, naught but whispers at her tongue. "First Momma, now Lowry. It's me. It's following me."

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POSTED: Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:49 am

No. This could not happen. Mistral could not be allowed to blame herself.

A series of expressions breezed the coyote's face: Alarm, frustration, regret. This child had been as much a victim of a thoughtless crime as Lowry, and without Micah likely would have lost the slim fortune of survival. By her account Mistral had been left without food or water for hours on end, provided only enough to continue breathing, and brutishly questioned and provoked at every opportunity between. No sane man could have done it to an innocent child, and only one so unhinged would ruthlessly murder for the return of an obscure object. It was a series of events Micah could not follow, one he was certain to never fully understand.

But Micah knew well that the six-month-old was not at fault for his cousin's death. And what came next—"It's following me"—resembled the Lykoi in sound too closely. He could not allow it. Micah could not allow her to become this pathetic thing he was himself.

"No," he said, perhaps too suddenly. She jumped and began to withdraw—too similar to his own reaction. Micah grasped her shoulders and turned her chin to connect their eyes. How empty was his gut, how hot his chest yet filled with nothing but air. "None of this is your fault. Do you hear me? You could not have stopped a thing at that age, and we couldn't have stopped this."

Could we?

Stunned perhaps by the rare glimpse of stringency, Mistral bowed her head and nodded. The Artist sighed, released her, and brushed away the long blonde locks spilling before her eyes. It would be some time before she quite understood how to manage hair—though the curled mop and ponytail of his own seemed hardly handled in comparison—and so the Lykoi committed himself to his thoughts and began to gather her golden hair with a delicate touch.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Braiding this."

"Why?"

"I have to go away for a couple days and it'll be a mess when I get back. I don't have time to show you how to brush it."

Pulling it back from her eyes, his fingers twirled strands together to nearly full length of her spine. The coyote pulled the ribbon from his hair, spilled white-streaked curls about his shoulders, and secured the young woman's long braid in place. He wished he did not have to leave her... but it was for her sake he had to go. That man needed identification, and Micah hungered for vengeance unbeknownst to him.

"You're going to stay here," he finished, sober. "Okay?"


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passion, hope
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POSTED: Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:18 am

Micah pulled back the blame, demanding the child to consider herself innocent. She could not argue it, not with the starkness of his voice, a sudden burst of energy thought impossible in his present state of grief. The feelings would remain despite the Lykoi's attempts, but suppressed instead. Mistral would not rid herself of them, not when the only result would be Micah claiming the blame all his own.

In the end, Mistral knew he was right. These attacks were sporadic, unforseeable. The blame lay on none but the criminal, but Micah would not let himself believe that it was so simple. Nothing she could say would deter his self-reprimanding resolution.

The Lykoi began to braid her hair, interpreted as a nervous fidget though he claimed it was to prevent a mess. She touched and glanced the long braid upon its completion; it felt like a second tail, one straight unlike her own yet boneless, without feeling. It wagged and weighed and moved with personality, and though Mistral said nothing of it, she very much liked this thing called a braid.

She might have smiled, had a direction to stay home not followed. "Okay," said Mimi, though she wished to accompany him. She had seen enough death. She could bear to see one more.

Micah rose from the mattress, shuffling about the room half-hearted and silent. As quiet as he the de l'Or observed him from the bed, pulling—with arms, with oddly bending arms—the blankets back about her shoulders. Micah dumped the innards of his satchel on the desk, leaving behind his beads and paint cans and kerchiefs. He took the dagger, the herbs, the bandages, and gathered more from the shelves.

When finished, he kneeled before her and told her to be careful. "The people here are tense with me right now. Stay inside when you can. If you get scared, stay with Rei or Esther. If you see anyone or anything, find Kenna. Stay out of the others' way. Okay?"

"Okay."

"I'll be back as soon as I can," he said, embracing her tightly. She relished the smell of his fur, and frowned when he parted. The sigh he took seemed to comfort and strengthen himself more than she. "Be safe, Mistral. You're smart. You'll be fine."

Micah gave her a half-hearted smile, considered her a long moment, and turned to leave. As he opened the door she called after him, "Papa?"

"Yes?"

"I love you, Papa."

"Love you too, Mimi." And then he was gone.

I WILL BECOME WAR
Cour des Miracles
DEAD
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