Closed RP Don't Go Hiking Alone, Kids

This RP is currently closed.


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Pittsburgh wasn't exactly one of the places known for its hiking trails. Occasionally, Auraliese contemplated moving somewhere, usually when someone suggested a great new hiking place that was, in actuality, a one and a half mile loop. Usually along the freeway.

The thing was, though, she kind of liked the city otherwise, although she would never, never admit that to her parents. She was still salty about moving her her sophomore year of high school. Her mother had found everywhere remotely remote, though, which was why she was now up north in McConnell's Mill, wandering around looking for beaver dams. It was a far cry from the garage back home, but that was why she was out here. Sometimes it was good to disconnect. If all she did was fiddle with cars, she'd be happy and not have any time to spend going in circles in her own head about that last conversation with her dad about business ventures and how she should consider something a little less hands-on and more management-oriented.

Well, she'd just have to disappoint him. Again.

At least it was raining. Auraliese liked it when it was raining, because it kept the casuals off the trails. Too many sunburned idiots with little kids in tow, wanting to know if they were close to whatever landmark they'd set out to reach, because everyone was hot and tired and bored and it had been, like, fifteen minutes already. Days like this, it was just her and the trees and some guy crouching at the lake's edge up ahead with a big knife.

Well, that changed things, didn't it?

He seemed to be alone, like she was. She stopped, blinked, and wondered if he was trying to go for a world's shortest spearfishing record, or if she needed to suggest he call a hotline. Could have gone either way, out here. Body probably wouldn't get found until tomorrow, in this weather.

She didn't get any closer, because that would be stupid.

"Hey. Buddy. You all right there?"

when Cain was upset, he did one of two things. Find someone cute to charm into bed, or throw himself into his work. The first option wasn't available to him at the moment, and he had been reconsidering that practice seeing how it was one of the things bothering him.

Ethan, and the girl. Those two haunted his dreams and nightmares, so now he was out in the woods, looking at tracks.

He didn't really expect to find the Wolfhound this way, but it was a way to pretend to be busy so Saturn - and his own intrusive thoughts - to leave him alone. He crouched now at the edge of a lake, tracing out a track left behind with the tip of his bowie knife. It was a canine paw, could have been one of the Wolfhounds companions, also could have been a number of any other dogs. In the moment of quiet where he considered the tracks the thoughts had come back.

Better out here in the woods than attacking innocent girls. Cain's chest tightened, he felt sick every time he thought about the look on her face. He was doing his job, is what he told himself. No he damn wasn't. She wasn't a mark. She wasn't a real threat to anyone. Cain had lashed out at her because he was angry at himself, like a beast, like an animal, like the Wolfhound he hunted.

He tried to turn his thoughts to something else, something comforting and safe. But then his mind conjured up Ethan, his gaze looking up at him, his smell, his touch. Cain's face burned red, and he stabbed the ground in frustration. It was liking craving a cigarette, a dull need and want that wouldn't go away until it got what it wanted. And even there he felt guilt, when he heard in his heads the words of his contract to capture or kill Ethan Walsh.

Cain shook his head and realized he wasn't alone, he heard the voice but didn't register the words right away. He looked over. He saw a young woman there, out for a hike. He realized suddenly he looked like a psycho, crouching in the middle of nowhere stabbing the dirt. He quickly stored away his knife inside his jacket and stood up, tipping his hat to the stranger.

"I'm all right!" Cain said. he didn't sound alright.

Crazy guy attacked the earth, and did minimal damage. Well, better that than running at her like a psycho. Auraliese hadn't really expected him to do that, though. He didn't seem like the type. The fact that she knew the type and could in fact name at least one person belonging to that demographic was maybe a little concerning, but this wasn't about her personal life.

The guy said he was all right, in the sort of voice that was not all right. That told Auraliese more about how good of a liar he was - wasn't, in this case - rather than about whether he was okay. People who were okay didn't sit there by the lake stabbing the dirt. He'd put the knife away before he'd addressed her, she noticed, which was polite. Probably.

"Nah. Not buying it. But... ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer, so I guess I deserved that." Probably good to keep him talking, get him off the trail. At least this one was mostly flat. The trails that went up into the bluffs all had signs for the suicide prevention hotline by all the overlooks now, which Auraliese thought was simultaneously depressing, a good idea, and stupid because half of those places didn't get a cell signal anyway, so what were people actually going to do with that number right there, anyway? Maybe it was just enough to know that it existed.

Maybe this guy just needed to know something or someone existed, sure. "Is one of the cars in the lot by the trailhead yours?" Auraliese didn't always know what she was doing with people, but she knew what she was doing with cars. If she could get him onto the topic, she could fill the silence. Sometimes that was just what people needed, something to listen to that wasn't their own thoughts.

Cain smoothed his blonf hair back and tilted his head at the girl. Why was she- oh, he thought for a moment how he looked, strange man, middle of nowhere, probably looking distressed, stabbing the dirt. Yeah, he'd probably assume the man was touched in the head too; though he wouldn't have said anything, so that was to her credit.

"Uh, yeah, I took a truck out here," Cain said, he realized he hadn't had a normal casual conversation with anyone for a while. Not that this was normal. "I'm just out here hunting, checking tracks, there's been some wild dogs."

"Uh...huh." Skepticism, intensifying. "You... realize this is a state park, right? And that it doesn't permit hunting?" So, was he an asshole or was this just the world's crappiest cover story? Well, that was for him to decide, wasn't it?

"So, I think we both know you're not getting any beaver-" Hey, she'd said it with a straight face, and if he read more into it, that was also on him - "So how about we head back down towards the parking lot. There's cell reception there, if you need to make a call." To a hotline. Just for an example.

"You can tell me about your truck, right? See, that's a nice neutral topic. I will even pretend I forgive you if all you know is 'uh, it's red?' or something like that. Just don't tell me it's a Chevy F-150, because that's not a thing! Why do people not know that's not a thing? You do know what kind of truck you have, don't you, knife guy?"

Cain blinked, he was usually better at lying than this. Was he really that off his game? The whole damn this really was ruining him. For a moment he felt annoyed and angry that this girl was being so... considerate. Who does that? I mean really of all the people to show decency to why'd it have to be him? He almost considered getting rid of her; but the murderous thought died the second it breathed. His heart just wasn't in it, he couldn't have another dead girl in his head. Besides she really was just being nice, that was something, even if he didn't deserve it.

"I have a Toyota Tacoma, listen I don't know what you think I'm out here for but it ain't for anything... drastic, I'm serious, I don't need a call, no one I could or would call, I appreciate your concern darlin' but I don't need it."


Darlin'. Apparently.

There were very few people who could slip in a darlin' without it being either completely out of their usual vibe or ridiculously patronizing. It didn't actually seem to be the first, for this guy, and Auraliese was still trying to figure out if it was the second. He didn't seem to have meant it that way, anyway, but sometimes that wasn't enough.

"All right, all right," she accepted, giving him the verbal I am backing off of this conversation. Still, that no one I could or would call was not exactly helping his case, was it?

"So, you prefer to hike alone, or just haven't met anyone who's into it around here, yet?" Translation: Do you actually have any friends? But, like, polite - and giving him the chance to tell her to piss off if he wanted to.

Cain edged away from the lake, but didn't approach the stranger. Who maintained a conversation with someone who looked like him for this long? There was no way she was actually genuinely concerned, this must have been a ploy, but what kind of ploy? And from whom?

"I guess I haven't met anyone who's into it," Cain said flatly. He did wonder who if anyone he would go on a hike with, none of his crew, no... Ethan maybe. Did Ethan like hiking? He didn't look like he went outside much, Cain found himself distracted with the possibility of taking Ethan out on a da- what the fuck was he thinking now, stop that, stop that right now that's your target.

"Would you... like to? Because I know a couple people-" Okay, she knew one person besides herself but he also claimed his girlfriend hiked, and... well, Spork would do anything, but Auraliese didn't know if she wanted to inflict Spork on this guy. He seemed like he had enough issues already. "-and could probably set something up, if you were interested. You could invite some people too, if you found some who you thought might like it."

Why was she doing this? Maybe she should just leave. But... the guy seemed like he was the sort of alone that didn't really want to be alone, and just didn't know how to create other options. There were different kinds of alone. Auraliese liked being alone in the shop, but she also liked getting out and talking to people - at least, as long as they didn't try to come into the shop. The list of people she was willing to have on the floor was a pretty short one.

Cain gave her a strange look, as weird as this was it was relatively normal compared to how things have been recently. His suspicions about this girl being some sort of ploy had faded; now he just assumed this girl was a tad touched in the head.

"Do you usually invite random strangers in the woods to go hiking with you?"

He had a point. Auraliese wasn't sure whether or not she wanted to admit it, but he absolutely had a point. Maybe, from his perspective, she was the crazy one. Of course, she wasn't wandering around with a knife, but was that really the dividing line?

"I mean, it's a first for me, and honestly I'm as surprised as you are," she admitted, but shrugged. "But it's not the weirdest thing I've done in my life. Or even the weirdest thing I've done this week. I... actually, that probably doesn't help things, from your perspective, does it?"

Nope, definitely not. Auraliese laughed, because it was actually kind of ridiculous.

"You can relax, though. Worst I've got is bear spray. But I'm not going to kill you and eat you or anything."

Despite of himself, Cain laughed back. It sounded a tad manic, and strained, it was a weird sound. He’d laughed before, but never this genuine. There was a weight on his shoulders, a tension throughout his body it felt like he was going to explode. He realized then that he was barely holding himself together, and just how desperate he was for anyone to listen. His thoughts had turned to Ethan for those comforts, for a gentle touch, but Ethan wasn’t gentle and there was too much pain there.

Maybe, just maybe… Cain didn’t know why he wanted to trust this girl. Maybe he just wanted to trust anyone, and know he wouldn’t be hurt for it.

”Alright, sure… I’m… Cain hesitated. Considering what name to give her. ”…Vincent, my names Vincent.”

Vincent. Man, who named their kid Vincent these days? Maybe if they were actors or part of the Mafia - two things that Auraliese knew absolutely nothing about, so it was just conjecture. Wasn't there a Vincent in The Godfather, though? There was My Cousin Vinny, but that was a very different vibe, and Auraliese wasn't about to shorten someone's name unless they told her to, given how much she disliked that herself.

"Okay, Vincent." He'd hesitated, like he'd forgotten what it was, or maybe just like he'd forgotten how to talk to people. Given the knife thing, probably the second. "I'm Auraliese. Don't worry about mispronouncing it. Everyone does."

Speaking of things that you only got to name your kids if you were an actor... well, her parents weren't, they were just... eh, she didn't want to go into it, even in her own headspace. Best to let it lie, really.

"So. You wanna tell me what was really up with the knife, or is that a no thank you very much? Because I doubt it's weirder than some of the stuff I've heard about, and if you wanna talk... I don't know. You just seem like you don't have a lot of people to talk to." He was talking to her, after all, wasn't he? He had to be pretty desperate.

"Auraliese," Cain repeated back with perfect pronunciation. "A pleasure."

Cain hesitated on what to say, he wasn't sure how honest he should really be, he didn't even know why he was being honest at all. But the yearning in his heart drove him forward.

"I really was hunting dogs, or at least tracking them," Cain said. It wasn't a lie, he was really looking for the Wolfhound and his companions, but he wasn't going to tell this woman he was hunting a dangerous meta. "But really that was just something to try and take my mind of everything I suppose... yeah I don't have anyone to... talk to."

Huh. He got it right on the first go. Auraliese blinked, somewhat surprised. Well, all right, then. The hunting dogs was a little more squicky - she liked dogs. She didn't have one, of course, because she regularly killed potted plants. The only one she'd managed to keep alive was the cactus at the front desk of the shop, and that was probably because it responded well to her forgetting to water it for weeks at a time.

Well, at least he was suitably distracted for the time being. Someone to talk to. Sure. All right, she could handle that just fine.

"Were you a drama kid?" Weird question as an opener, except it wasn't really. "Or choir?" She gave him a nonchalant shrug to disarm the question. "That's usually who gets it right. People who've had some sort of audio training." Plus, the outfit screamed theater kid and the poise... could have gone either way. For all she knew, maybe he was both.

Cain was surprised in how his cheeks flushed a little and he felt embarrassed. As a child he'd been... dramatic, his father had scorned and belittled how he enjoyed musical and theater. He'd only tolerated Cain joining choir because he saw it as religious service, Cain suddenly realized with a strange sens eof grief that he hadn't properly sang in years.

"Yeah, both," Cain said. "I was the tenor in my church choir, and my school put on Annie one year and Grease the other."

"Well, don't be embarrassed by it," Auraliese scolded, because he so very obviously was. "I was on the tech crew, with drama, back when I was in school. Setbuilding and lighting mostly. Didn't quite have the... presence to try out. My parents moved, between freshman and sophomore year, and... it was easier to be in the background, I guess, back then. And then I discovered that I really like building stuff, so it came together. I bet I still know most of the lyrics and cues to West Side Story, though. Tell you what, when we get that hiking group together, we'll throw in musical numbers. It'll be a disaster. You seem like you need a good disaster."

There were different kinds of disasters. Maybe he'd had enough of the bad kind, but there was a very special sort of disaster that was several grown adults trying to remember the lyrics to Summer Nights while wandering through the woods. It couldn't possibly go right, so there was no pressure whatsoever, and whatever happened, it would be hilarious.

Auraliese was being remarkably open, she talked and talked, as if she had nothing really to hide. Cain couldn't remember the last time someone had felt this comfortable around him.

"A good disaster sounds lovely," he said, and it really did.

He really did just need someone to talk to, didn't he? He was almost seeming... well, normal. Normal-adjacent, anyway. He could probably pass for normal, at this point, and Auraliese was more and more convinced that was all anyone was ever doing.

"See? Chaos therapy. Its totally a thing." At least, it was totally a thing for anyone who voluntarily spent time with Spork, which included Auraliese but probably not Vincent. Lucky him. Speaking of Spork: "Hey, you ever eat a pigeon?"

Yep, that was weird. Auraliese didn't actually care in the slightest. If nothing else, it would be distracting.

Cain laughed again, it felt good to laugh. He indulged in the ridiculousness of the situation, and the question, by considering if he actually had ever eaten pigeon. He'd eaten a few out there animals in order to survival - rattlesnake once - but never pigeon.

"Can't say I have," he said.