toil, blood and sweat


POSTED: Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:27 am

1141 in which Wayne stares at Jackon's rippling manly man muscles

Damn it, woman!

Fists clenched, Wayne whirled around on the shepherd dog, who had the grace to look guilty and mortified. Her mouth hung half-open while she took a half-step back, effectively cowed for the first time since he'd known her, but already his anger was washing away with a sick feeling in his stomach. He turned back around to the damage done to the fence, rotten wood kicked free in a moment of panic by one of the horses -- Singer, in particular.

I didn't know, Chevelle began.

Like hell you didn't know, Wayne growled. He didn't look at her. You've only seen me workin' with him, day after day, tryin' to pull him out of that place some bastard stuck him in. You don't come near my horses, do you understand that. The question ended in a dull, flat line. He turned toward her, brows pulled up. Do you? You don't come near 'em, and you don't let those mules near 'em, either. You don't know a goddamn thing. He snorted, and looked up to where the black mule, Sonny, had been quickly tied to a sturdier post. He was fighting against the rope, tugging, but stilled when Chevelle murmured his name. Her voice was shaky, and Wayne felt annoyance flame through his momentary regret.

You go find Singer, the mongrel ordered. She looked up at him, brown eyes wide and face blank. He curled his lips back. Go, you useless woman! Get him 'n' bring him back.

That seemed to sting, but she recovered with the speed he was used to. Her own ears pulled back, tan face framed with black contorted in anger. She spat in his direction. Thought I ain't supposed to come near your fuckin' horses, she hissed at him, but she stalked off to look for the frightened dapple colt regardless of this defiance.

Wayne sighed, and leaned against the fence, wishing he had a cigarette.

Lover's quarrel?

The Labrador mutt swung around again, his lips drooping in a scowl, and spotted a wolf -- a very tall and powerful wolf, at home among the giants that used to make up the Casa di Cavalieri's ranks, and still sometimes did. A gold ring dangled from one ear swiveling toward him, while an easy smile stretched on a dark muzzle beneath dark-hooked dirty-amber eyes. Wayne recognized the other from talk, knew him to be the rare sort of newcomer that actually worked, though he hadn't spoken to the man personally. He forced his fur to lie flat again.

It ain't. He spoke bitterly. It ain't your business, neither, he added, his tail lifting slightly behind him, though his tone was calm.

Perhaps it was a delayed reaction, in hindsight, but the Prova quickly lowered his ears (his hair was ridiculous, Wayne thought, staring at the volume) and held up his hands to appease the cowboy. I apologize, monsieur, he responded good-naturedly. I only meant to jest. He stepped closer -- over the broken wood -- and extended a hand to shake. After a suspicious moment, Wayne took it, and approved of the strength behind the other's grip; he had to have worked hard to build those muscles.

Wayne McCoy, Cavallo and Corpo.

Jackson Bouchard. Uh, Prova. He grinned, showing an oversized canine tooth. I'm a bit slow at learning all the rank names and titles.

He smirked. Hard for an old country boy, too. The Cavallo is a stablemaster, and the Corpo means that I'm a knight, member of the Brotherhood.

Jackson nodded and laughed. Right, I should have remembered that. He looked over at Sonny, who'd turned to stare at him, and started to walk toward him. This yours, then? he asked.

Wayne's eyes flew open wide. Watch out! he shouted, just in time for Jackson to pull back away from a kick. Sonny flattened his ears and lifted his hind hoof again, seemingly aiming it, until the large wolf began to walk backwards, laughing. Wayne was less amused. He ain't mine. You don't approach strange animals, y'know that? he admonished, but Jackson was laughing again.

Should've known better than to approach the butt end of a mule, he said, and Wayne finally smirked again, shaking his head. He do this, then? he asked, gesturing to the broken fence.

Yeah. It was only half a lie; Sonny had gone to intimidate Singer, who'd kicked himself free with the wood weak enough. He watched with interest as Jackson bent down on his haunches and looked at the wood.

Some of these are very old, Jackson remarked. Won't do for penning in animals, oui? You could use fresh wood, wood cut down from trees rather than scavenged.

Wayne smiled. Oh, so you're the lumberjack. I have heard of you.

Another snaggletoothed grin. Oui. He rolled his massive shoulders. I could get some for you. I'm sure you'd be able to use it for other repairs, too. I fix up the wagon all the time.

The cowboy found himself grinning again and had to force himself to stop. He liked Jackson; he was agreeable, quick to make a good impression. And the offer for help was always accepted if it meant someone in the pack was doing something. I'd like that, he replied. I'll go with you if you wanted to now.

Jackson nodded and smiled. He waited for Wayne to take Sonny back into one of the stalls -- luckily the mule had learned not to bite him -- and led the way as they traveled to the thick of the territory, where the trees were strong and expendable. It didn't take long for Jackson to fell one, and he began to cut smaller branches away from the trunk, as Wayne looked on.

The wolf became aware of the staring, and smirked. What?

The Cavallo chuckled, a little embarrassed. Rare around here, to find someone willin' to do hard labor. It's a punishment because ain't no one has the work ethic to do it.

You and I must be silly in the head, then, working so hard, Jackson joked. But that's it, you make someone chop down a few trees or push some rocks around for getting in trouble?

It depends on the circumstance. This was a topic that Wayne thankfully wasn't familiar with, but it made him uncomfortable. He shrugged. There are demotions, of course, and exile. Smaller crimes just get hard labor, like tryin' to steal, or lyin' or cheain'. But you try to kill someone in the pack, he said, and his hackles stood on end, you get death.

Death, Jackson echoed, and brought the axe down again.

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