Closed RP The Wolf and the Hound in the Park Near Dark

This RP is currently closed.


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Point State Park was as scenic in autumn as it was in the spring or summer. The bright splashes of the maples’ reds and oranges stood out against the bright greens of the cedars and pines, and though here and there piles of fallen foliage had been raked into piles the entire park was as picturesque as a post card. Nat had taken to stopping by the park after school to run around the lake. By the time he made it there from school there were rarely many people around, giving a sense of privacy and a connection to the nature around him that one could hardly find on city streets.

His running technique was unconventional, to say the least. He had several friends on the track team, and they trained themselves according to the event they competed in. The sprinters would push their speed to extremes on short laps, the distance runners would jog for hours. Nat’s requirements landed somewhere between, the task of chasing after criminals requiring speed and endurance in equal parts and spontaneous bursts of all-out effort. To better prepare for this Nat ran in a full sprint, as far around the lake as he could, to push his endurance at his maximum further.

When he was winded he would walk, to catch his breath and to take in his surroundings. To center himself as his heart pounded in his chest. The rush of endorphins would come in waves of exhaustion and exhilaration, and in those moments he slowed and took in the scenery the world was practically aglow.

It was probably his third lap around the lake or so, he never kept track of anything more than his own exhaustion during these runs, that he noticed the large, shaggy forms of the wolfhounds near a wide oak. The leaves of the tree had only just began to turn, and in the setting sunlight its branches cast a monumental shadow across the ground. He supposed that he hadn’t noticed the dogs before because they had been laying in that shadow, but with his runner’s high giving everything a sparkling edge he couldn’t help but notice them as he walked by.

Nor could he help but notice the shaggy man between them, clearly their owner if the adage was true. He was large, hairy, and most importantly asleep. Nat knew better than to approach with such stalwart guardians at the man’s side, but he felt the need to wale the man as the sun sank ever lower in the sky. The police had a tendency to patrol the park once the sun went down, and if they found any vagrants trying to use a bench as a bed they would promptly shoo them away; sometimes even in cuffs. He could only assume they would treat this man the same.

Nat knelt on the path, sinking to one knee with his hand outstretched toward the nearest dog. He had only brought a small amount of jerky with him, but it would hopefully be enough to gain the hounds’ friendships and trust so he could get to their master. ”C’mere, boy,” he called out, taking the fifty-fifty chance that he got the gender wrong. He certainly wasn’t going to get any closer to check.

There were very few places Connor felt comfortable sleeping. Usually it was a cave, in a bed of moss and soft leaves he had gathered. But there wasn't any caves in Pittsburg, he'd checked. Any sufficiently secluded cave-like locations were smelly, dirty in a way that Connor didn't like, and surrounded by noise and people. Parking his Range Rover somewhere wasn't really an option, as it was likely to attract either thieves or police, to say nothing of the fact that Connor could never sleep properly in that thing.

He found the park easily enough, it was the closest he could find to home that wasn't too far outside the city. He figured he could catch up on much-needed rest here for a few hours before anyone disturbed him, so with his car stored somewhere, Mac and Brian standing guard, and his bowie knife easily within reach he fell asleep amongst the bushes.

It had only been a few hours when Nat approached, and outstretched his hand with an offer of beef jerky. Brian sniffed at it and tilted his head, the jerky smelt good, and this person didn't smell of danger. Still he wasn't sure, he made an inquisitive sound before leaning his head down to tug at Connor's arm gently to wake up. It didn't take that much effort, and Connor sat up, peering at this newcomer.

He was young, he smelt of metal, whatever soap he used, and incense. Connor tilted his head, his eyes glowing in the dim light. Whoever this was wasn't fearful, nor aggressive, but that left it unclear why he had approached. He glanced at the hand offered and the beef jerky, was he offering... food? Connor got up properly, not fully standing up but pulling his legs under him and sitting back on his haunches in a very unnatural way for a normal man.

"Who are you?"
One of the massive dogs lumbered closer, sniffing with a surprising gentleness at Nat’s hand before looking back to the sleeping man. A soft sound came from its throat, almost imperceptible to Nat’s ears but apparently alarm enough for the dog’s owner. He stirred, eyes flashing in that distinctive, animalistic way. Carefully Nat set the piece of jerky down, lowering his other knee and sitting on his heels. It was important that he not seem threatening.

Especially when dealing with a meta. He wasn’t sure if it was the way the man positioned himself or simply the flash of his eyes, but Nat knew without and hesitation that the man was not a normal human. He had met metas with animalistic qualities before. The way the dogs reacted to even his smallest movements suggested some type of pack animal, though that wasn’t evidence enough for Nat to assume the nature of his power.

”Hi, sorry. I hope its okay,” he gestured to the jerky he had set down. ”My name is Nat, I sort of live around here? I mean I come here pretty often.” Nat gestured again, motioning to indicate the entirety of the park. ”It’s good that you’re awake, though. You don’t want to be caught sleeping here after the sun goes down. At best they will kick you out and shout at you, but if you ask me the cops gets too bent out of shape about people sleeping out here at night. I even saw them haul a guy to jail for it, though he might have been drunk.”

He hadn’t really intended to talk the man’s ear off, but he figured a bit of context might help the man understand why he would just disturb some guy with two very large guardians from his rest like he did. Besides that he had a knack for reading people, and something told him that the man wasn’t much of a talker. Most people might take that as cue to also clam up, but Nat found it was easier to establish a friendship with the stoic types by playing their foil. Whatever helped the man trust him and his warning.

Connor stared at Nat as he babbled on, he forgot people could talk this much. Where were all the words coming from? It was all a lot of noise, though he seemed friendly enough. Nat was young, and unafraid of him, like most people cautious in his approach, but he didn't outwardly smell of fear. And he was... warning him, that he may be bothered by others, a simple kindness, but simple kindness was something Connor wasn't accustomed to. He wasn't entirely sure what to do with it. Brian looked at him, and back to the jerky, and back to him, Connor made a small noise to let him know he could take it and Brian happily licked it up and chomped the jerky between his teeth.

What did folk usually do when someone did them a kindness? What did they use to say at the orphanage?

"Thank... you," the words came out awkward and strained. "I don't have anywhere comfortable to sleep, so I will saty here for some time longer... then I shall move on." In truth, he would likely find another park or just hide from the police.
Though the delivery was awkward and the tone strained Nat smiled at the man’s gratitude genuinely. He was as rough around the edges in his speech as he was in his dress, but the fact that he was gracious at all spoke to Nat as integral kindness. There was a tension around the corners of the teenager’s eyes as the hound that had shown interest in his jerky snapped it up.

”That sucks, man. It happens, though. You would be surprised how many people out here have to live the same way.” Of course, not in exactly the same way, Nat was sure. There was a wildness to the man that suggested he would have been in even if he were given the option of a hotel. Nat nearly made the offer anyway, more to satisfy his own guilt towards the man’s plight than to give him a better option. What Nat considered better might not suit the man or his dogs.

”I don’t think its the best idea to go running from cops when you don’t have a place to run to. What kind of places would you be comfortable in? There are a few shelters near here you could try. Bethlehem Haven, St Joseph’s, and Light of Life are all ran by religious organizations, but if you were willing to go for a bit of a hike I could show you how to get to Hearts of the Homeless.” In Nat’s experience the discomfort felt at such places was typically from the messages they tried to impart on the downtrodden they sought to help. Some people simply did not want to hear of “God’s Grand Plan” while they were struggling to find their most basic needs. Though Pittsburgh has several homeless shelters to choose from, HoH was the only one unaffiliated with any ministry.

”If you want my help, that is.” Nat tacked the caveat onto the end for safety’s sake, but if he were being truthful he had every intention of helping the man. Perhaps it was the altruistic motivation that had lead to his decision to become a vigilante, or he might have just taken to the man for the company he kept. Nat had always preferred animals over people, though he had never been allowed a pet. Considering the man was a meta, though, it was a good idea to keep him from any altercations with the police.

Connor listened to him offer help, it had been a while since anyone had outstretched their hand like this to him. He had had mixed success with shelters or charities that could offer him a place to sleep, back when he bothered to look for a bed rather than a cave. The Catholic Orphanage had been very good to him, but like all his attempts to how different, he was eventually ruined it all. These places were always too cramped, too noisy, he needed to be out in the open, to hunt, not to be fed canned food every day, eventually he would need to get out and hunt and that would come back to haunt him one way or another.

"I don't... do well around other people," he said
There was a pause, a moment of silence with only the wind through the leaves and the soft sound of the hound licking his lips to give chorus to the rapidly approaching night. It seemed that the shaggy man was considering, or at least thinking about Nat’s offer to guide him. His face was an impenetrable mask of impassivity, enigma to Nat’s eyes as he studied him. In the end, once he spoke, the man settled on another refusal. Nat glanced around awkwardly for a moment with a hand to the back of his neck.

”Oh, I see.” Nat offered lamely, reaching into his pocket again to pull another piece of jerky free. Absently he tossed it to the other hound, the one that wasn’t already licking its chops satisfactorily. ”Doesn’t really leave you with a lot of options, does it?” The man required space and privacy, a notion that most people would understand but seemed to be a bit more exaggerated here. Nat wondered for a moment whether it was personal preference or related to the man’s abilities but decided it would be better not to ask.

”Well, I can think of one place you might be comfortable. There is a lot of room, not a lot of people, and you won’t have to worry about the cops.” Nat paused for another beat, wondering if he was taking too big of a risk helping out this random meta. He had met several others, their powers as varied as the patterns of snowflakes, and a good number of them were dangerous criminals. If the shaggy man turned out to be one of the same; well Nat wasn’t going to let that possibility stop him from offering a helping hand.

”Why don’t you come with me? I’ll take you to the place I have in mind, and if it doesn’t seem like the kind of place you can stay you can come back here and dodge the police. Deal?” Nat offered an outstretched hand.
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Connor stared at the outstretched hand, bewildered. Why was he not afraid of him, everyone else was, it seemed downright stupid; even if you didn't know what Connor was he figured approaching a large man in the dark was probably a bad idea for most folk, yet here this young man was, with his hand outstretched. Something stirred in Connor's chest, emotions long buried, a distant memory of a kind man offering him a hand much like Nat was now. Bringing him from the streets to one of the few homes he'd ever known.

Pain, he was in pain, he almost lost control and sobbed right there; a rush of feelings that Connor had thought lost to the wilderness. The longing for kindness and connection he had abandoned was rearing its head for a moment. He only hoped none of this shown on his face, weakness was still something he desired not to demonstrate. He would have gone on to be cold and alone while in this strange place, but for the kindenss of a stranger.

But for, as that old friend has said, for the grace of God. Connor took Nat's hand.

"I'm... Connor," he said
Nat shook Connor’s hand vigorously with a wide grin, grateful that the man had at least seen the benefit in such an open ended offer. ”My name is Nathaniel l, but all of my friends call me Nat.” He continued shaking Connors large mitt a moment longer before realizing it was nearing the point of awkwardness.

”And who are your bodyguards?” Nat asked as he stepped a bit closer to the first hound that had eaten his jerky and attempted a respectful scratch to his head. The sun had nearly set, and the light was dim enough that the Connor seemed even more massive in silhouette. The urgency to leave was mitigated, though, by Connor’s acceptance. If they were to linger after dark they would be exempted from the stern interference from the police. Though Connor might have looked the part of a transient, Nat most certainly did not. The police wouldn’t bother the big man with a “respectable” citizen in his corner.

"This is Mac and Brian," Connor said. "Not really my bodyguards... more like my... friends."

Brian's tail wagged as Nat scratched his head, clearly feeling good about this newcomer; which reassured Connor that at least Nat was being honest and was genuinely good. He pulled his legs under him and stood up, his massive form towering over Nat; although he didn't mean to.
”A good friend is a guardian as much as he is guarded.” Nat scratched the top of Brian’s head as he repeated one if his grandfather’s famous phrases. ”Have you guys eaten anything? There is a place here in town that allows you to bring you pets and order them food, too. Since I’ve never had a pet myself I have never really had the chance to go, but I hear the food is pretty good.” Nat stepped away from the massive dog that had just barely begun leaning its weight into him.

”Not that there isn’t any food where we are going, I just don’t know…” Nat stopped and eyed Connor appraisingly. ”If you’re hungry I don’t think I have enough.” Connor was big man, and his dogs were large as well. If he were to end up staying at the Den Nat would have to consider another refrigerator, and a big bag of kibble.

”What made you want to come to the city? No offense but you don’t seem like the city kind of guy.” Another question posed as Nat made to a nearby bench to retrieve his duffel bag, not to mention the mask inside. Connor hadn’t displayed any hostility, but Nat knew he wouldn’t be able to stop the big guy without using his power. The three steel bars he kept in the bag would be enough to restrain Connor if he were to get worked up. And as the sound of booted feet and the telltale flash of a light indicated the approach of one of the searching police officers Nat wanted to be prepared for the worst.
"I haven't eaten for a while... the... selection around here isn't always great," Connor left out the part where he'd had to make due with squirrels, raccoons, even a stray cat. Not stray dogs though, eating dog always felt wrong. He knew that he could venture farther outside the city to catch a deer, but between Todd and Sam he had grown concerned about threats in this area. So he scouted slowly and methodically.

"You're right I don't really like cities... too loud, but I had... business here," Connor figured he shouldn't be straightforward with what exactly he was going in Pittsburgh. He recalled something Sam had said about that, though he still didn't like lying, so he settled on not telling the whole truth. He was distracted as he heard the sound of footsteps, he smelled sweat, copper and steel, cheap body spray, old booze, stale coffee, doughnuts. There was a cop approaching.
As Nat scooped the duffel from the bench he paused, a small inkling of suspicion halting him for a brief moment before he turned back to Connor with a smile. It wasn’t unbelievable that Connor had been having trouble finding food for such a large frame, but the way he had spoken of the selection in the city spoke less of a lack of funds than Nat would have expected. It was possible, though Nat pushed that possibility deep into the recesses of his thoughts, that Connor might have a highly selective diet.

”Sounds like a bite to eat is just what the doctor ordered!” Maybe he had been a little over enthusiastic in response to that seed of concern Connor’s words had aroused. Luckily being excitable was the penchant of youth. ”I hope the business that brought you here isn’t also why you’re sleeping on the streets.” Nat motioned with his head for Connor to follow him as he followed the trail out of the park.

The police officer turned a corner in the trail simultaneously, flashlight shining bright into Nat’s eyes and reflecting from Connor’s. With a hand raised to shield his eyes Nat made to walk past the officer with a slight nod of his head.

”What’re you boys up to out here?”

Nat might have called the city’s police force paranoid if they hadn’t had so many empowered people running around in their back yard. With a winning smile Nat lowered his hand and squinted against the interrogating light. ”Just headed off for dinner, sir. Is there a problem we should know about?”

The officer lowered his flashlight and squinted back at Nat for a moment, only turning his attention to a similar study of Connor before replying. ”There have been reports of missing pets nearby and some joggers have reported blood in the area. We think there might be a wild animal hiding out in the park.” The officer shined his light over Brian and Mac with a frown. ”Probably best if you stay away from the park after sundown. There haven’t been any attacks on people so far, but until we catch the animal responsible the department is issuing a curfew.”

Nat didn’t glance to Connor, though he was sorely tempted. ”No problem, officer. We were just leaving. I hope you find that animal. Wouldn’t want anyone getting hurt.” He did spare a look to his new friend then. He was too large and thick for his earlier suspicion to be the case, but a new idea took its place immediately. ”Thank you for the warning.”
Connor could feel his eyes on him, and felt the change in his posture. He suspected something, perhaps even began to consider that Connor might be a threat; it was only natural Connor figured. He couldn't have blindly trusted him for long, not someone like him. Connor elected to not mention he had snacked on a few cats gone astray around here, he didn't plan to keep it up after all it was just until he could figure out the local deer populations movement patters.

Connor watched the officer leave, though he did cast a suspicious glance back at him. Once he was out of earshot Connor looked at Nat, he sniffed, there was something metal in his bag that he carried.

"Where are we headed?"
If the officer had caused Nat to suspect the worst of Connor it didn’t show in the friendly smile he shot back at the big man’s question. It was enough to change his plans, though, and it seemed that Connor might have picked up on that fact as they began walking over the park trail.

”Well, now that I think about it,” Nat did his best to hide the fact he had changed his mind with the officer’s warning. ”I don’t really feel much like going to a restaurant. What would you say to picking up some food from the market and cooking it ourselves?” Nat was actually a decent cook, despite the silver spoon he had grown up with. There was something more fulfilling about a meal that was prepared by your own hand, and after some practice and study he had several recipes he felt he had a fair mastery over.

Though he suspected he wouldn’t need much in the way of culinary skills to please Connor.
Connor frowned to himself, invitation to a dinner at a restaurant was kind enough. But now he was inviting to cook for him, presumably in his home, it was far beyond kindness. Though Connor felt no deception or malice coming from him, but there was something else, some reason he switched his plan. Perhaps Nat felt as if he shouldn't trust Connor fully, the words of the officer planting seeds in his head. Though that wouldn't explain his actions very well. Connor decided maybe Nat just wasn't a very normal young man. Though Connor wasn't a great judge of that.

"I'm not picky... " Connor said. "There's just stuff I can't eat... I have a very... redistricted diet."
The path out of the park wasn’t long, its end nearly visible were it not for the artistic bends and curves that had been placed to extend the trail’s overall length. While in the confines of the park it was almost possible to believe you were far away from the city, the closer they drew to that exit the more the sounds and scents of the city streets assaulted them.

Nat chuckled slightly in response to Connor’s statement. ”All the better for us to cook it ourselves! I would hate for you to have some kind of allergic reaction.” Nat pointed out from the park, indicating a street across from it. ”There is an open air market down that way, and it’s even open after dark. We can grab some ingredients and stuff there.” Nat smiled up at Connor again, a soft reassurance that he was only trying to help.

”After that we will head to the warehouse district. I have place there I like to call my Den. It’s where I go to get some privacy.” Nat sorely hoped that Todd and Sam had plans for the evening. Showing up with a large, hairy man and his two big dogs might earn Nat another lecture on safety from Todd, or worse warrant a hasty attack from Sam. Neither were as ready to trust strangers as Nat. ”There is plenty of room for you to get some sleep as well, and no one will bother you.”
The smile helped, he really was as genuine as a person could be. Which was why Connor didn't know what to do about it, he felt almost weak when faced with kindness, like it somehow lessened his stature. And yet the feeling in his chest compelled him to offer no complaint.

"That sounds... good," Connor said. "Your den huh? ... like a wolf?"
Nat’s laughter overrode the honking of horns and the revving of engines. ”No, not really.” It was the first half-truth he had offered Connor, and it didn’t settle well on his tongue. ”My dad had a room in our old house downtown. A den. I was never allowed to go in it, and so I wanted a Den of my own.” That much was true, though it was only a secondary reason for the nickname for Warehouse 34.

Nat punched the button for the crosswalk, the verdant nature left behind. ”I do like wolves, though, so maybe I should go with that. Certainly sounds less like a pathetic rich kid explanation.” Nat laughed again, this time wryly. ”What about you? Everyone is supposed to have a spirit animal, or whatever.”
Connor felt as if there was something else too it, some omitted detail. But he didn't press at it, after all he was omitting quite a few details. He figured if he was owed kindness and privacy, so was Nat.

Spirit animals. Chaoa had explained it to him once, people didn't have animals that were meant to protect them or such like many assumed. The Lakota believed people could carry the spirits within them, but that didn't mean you spiritually were the animal. More as if you carried that essence of the spirit with you. Though Chaoa had once joked that Connor may be the exception.

"Friend of mine... he was Lakota... said I carried the spirit of a wild dog with me..."