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

This RP is currently closed.
”Lakota, huh?”

Nat motioned for Connor to follow him across the street, leading the way with a measured step that was at once at odds with timer for the crosswalk and in line with the standard city procedure. Nat had found you could tell a lot by how someone crossed a street; where they looked, how they stepped, every tiny movement told a story of their experiences and their concerns. Connor was expectedly wary, clear accustomed to less populated areas.

”I don’t know much about Native American culture, if I am being honest. The idea always reminded me of how my grandfather would say our ancestors guided us, and they were guided by local deities and spirits.” Nat prattled on to fill the time as they walked. Nearby, in what could have been considered a wide alley or a small street, stalls could be made out against the gloom, lights strung around and between them while their owners displayed their wares and spoke with customers.

The market had an air of antiquity to it, an ancient practice that had somehow found its way into the modern Pittsburgh streets. The people were as varied as the goods, clothing and fabrics sold by Indian immigrants next to meats and vegetables grown by farmers in the outlying rural areas. Nat seemed to brighten as he and Connor stepped into the market that was surprisingly busy despite the hour.

”I’ve always loved this place.” Nat turned to Connor as he made the confession, testing the air around the large man for the level of his discomfort. ”It’s a snapshot of the true American dream, if you ask me. No matter where you are from, or what you look like there is always something for you here. All of these people bring a little piece of themselves and their homes into this market.”

By this point Nat was sure Connor thought he was simply speaking for the sake of his own voice, but Nat rarely did anything without at least a little thought. ”Tell me about your home. Why did you leave there, come here?” The questions were posed innocently, between pauses to examine a ripe tomato or a hand sewn shirt. He didn’t want the man to feel as if he were being interrogated, but he needed more information. If Connor were the kind of meta that Nat suspected he was the man was in real danger in the city.
The crowd made Connor back on edge, he didn't like crowds, nor was he overly fond of this place. Too many people, sounds, smells, it all swirled around him in a sensory sea that threatened to drown him. Connor had to very carefully control his breathing to avoid panicking, how he longed for the quiet of the forest. He focused on Nat, his voice and his sounds, as an anchor in this storm.

"I could do without the noise... but the food smells nice," Connor said, and it did smell nice, he just wished there less of it, and less people with their deodorants and perfumes.

"I'm from Ireland... I didn't come her by choice."
Nat tucked a few vegetables under his arm and grabbed a paper bag from the stand. After placing his choices inside and grabbing a couple more he handed the stall keeper a bill and turned away, oblivious to the expression the stall keeper had at the amount he had handed him. Moving to the next stall he inspected some of the meats hanging there before replying.

”That makes sense,” he said almost absently as he pointed to the flank of a deer that must have been brought to the market from one of the rural areas beyond the city. The stall keeper began wrapping the flank in wax paper as Nat turned his attention to Connor fully. The wary opening Nat had seen between the park and the market had closed with the addition of so many people.

”Not the part about being here against your will. That just sucks.” Nat took the wrapped flank of venison and shoved it under his arm with a smile and a nod to the man at the stall. Again he handed the man a bill that stunned him as Nat lead Connor away. With a thumb to the side Nat indicated that they were heading down an alley to the left up ahead.

The noises of the city faded as they stepped into the empty alleyway, the magic of city acoustics doing its work and muffling the busy market behind them. ”Meta trafficking has become a global issue of late.” Nat said the words casually, but the way he turned to face Connor and the look in his eye spoke more to the seriousness the conversation had taken on.
The noise and smells faded somewhat and Connor felt like he was able to breath and focus again. The deer flank was capturing his attention now, good strong and gamey meat, he was only half listening to Nat when a word echoed into his ears.


That's what Sam had called them, Metas, people who were different, who had abilities and powers. This boy knew about all that, and knew Connor was one, though the latter wasn't surprising; he wasn't that good at hiding it. How or why Nat knew about Metas wasn't clear, he could be one himself, he could be someone who had dealings with them, either way his statement was a challenge to the truth. One Connor was obliagted to answer.

"Apparently so... if what I am is... an issue, then I understand, and I can leave."
Nat’s shoulders relaxed, tension he had held unconsciously released. Confronting someone about their powers was a dangerous business, and though he had instinctively trusted Connor so far he had been prepared for an attack, or at least a denial. It seemed Connor knew as little about the source of his differences as Nat did about his own powers, and his honesty was disarming.

”It isn’t about what you are.” Nat spoke slowly and thoughtfully as he set his duffel on the ground. ”It’s about what you do. It’s about who you are.” He knew Connor wasn’t that monster, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t a monster at all. ”What have you done with your power? What kind of business brought you here?”

His posture was relaxed now, his questions without accusation despite their cautious tone. He wanted to help the big man, was more than willing to give him shelter and guidance in the obviously unfamiliar city. He couldn’t do so blindly, though. ”Just… just tell me you limit yourself to animals.” He said it quietly, as if afraid of the response.
Connor took a moment, this wasn't the reaction folk usually had, whether they be Meta or normal. He reflected on his meeting with Todd and then Sam, so strange this city was proving, yet full of... good folk.

"I... most of the time I try and keep to myself... I came here because men were using my woods to traffic... tracked them here, couldn't let them continue..." Connor observed Nat for a moment, he wasn't afraid, but his question had a tinge of concern. Limit himself to animals... he was asking Connor if he ate humans. He thought of Todd, he wondered if Nat's kindness would extend to him if they met, or if Nat knew that there was a man-eater in this city. But that's not what Nat was asking after, it would come across as strange to mention, he figured.

"I prefer deer, elk, had a moose once... a tough hunt that," Connor said. "I won't lie to you, when I was young... I had enemies, folk who hunted me... in the heat of the moment I have tasted human flesh and blood, not to my liking it turns out... but I am a wild animal after all, I don't hunt humans, not for food anyway..."
An audible sigh of relief served as Nat’s initial response. What tension he had kept, that part of him that had given in to his worst fear, fell away with Connor’s admission. Cryptid had been almost prideful in his appetites, Connor wasn’t anything like the monster. Nat already had a sense of the man’s feral nature by instinct alone. The clues were there, but the confirmation was reassuring all the same.

”Thank goodness. The last thing this city needs is another monster.” Nat muttered the thought out loud to fill the silence. Meeting Connor’s honesty with the openness of his thoughts. ”We just met, but I can tell you’re more than just a wild animal. I mean that.” Nat looked down to the flank of venison tucked into the paper bag under his arm. ”I suppose you would prefer this raw, then?” It seemed an important question, given their plan.
Connor studied this young man... well more of a child really. His boyish nature combined with his blanket innocence towards these things... it felt very young, naive maybe, but charming in its sincerity. Connor's posture and expression softened, he felt something shift inside of him, he didn't want anyone to hurt this boy, to take away his kindness. Connor thought of the traffickers, kids only as old as Nat here... it wasn't anger he felt, no, this was something different. He'd felt it before, with the few friends he'd had.

"Another monster," Connor repeated, he tilted his head. "Other than me? I... have a hard time... believing that I'm anything but a wild animal... a monster... and if you don't think I am, well, I wonder what you do consider monstrous."

"But yes, I do eat it raw."
There was something about Connor that disarmed Nat, and his words this time elicited a good natured chuckle. Whether it was a response to Connor’s assumptions or his appetites was unclear, but the chuckle was the infectious sort that nearly worsened to a deep laugh but for Nat’s effort to hold it back. He stooped to retrieve his duffel bag from where he dropped it, a wide grin on his face as he rose again.

”Well, I don’t think wild animals consider themselves such. They don’t know to make a distinction. The fact that you do makes you something more.” Nat pulled the flank from the bag and held it out to Connor, nearly above his head to make up the difference in their height though he met the man’s eyes sincerely. ”And you’re no monster, trust me. Monsters don’t draw lines for themselves, and they think about their actions even less than a wild animal.” Nat’s grip on the meat tightened slightly as something sharp flitted through his gaze to be immediately erased.

”We will take back alleys to the Den so you can eat that without anyone staring. I’m sorry if I was being pushy. You see, I’ve been hunting a monster, a man eater in this city for some time now.”
There was a look in Nat's eye, tension, anger. Though he insisted Connor wasn't what he said he was, Nat had an idea of what a monster is. A specific idea, and Connor wasn't it, but the question still remained. What was?

"I’ve been hunting a monster, a man eater in this city"

Connor took pause, that sounded familiar, and his mind went to Todd immediately. Then again, it wasn't impossible there was more than one in the city.

"A man eater," Connor repeated.
Nat didn’t turn around; didn’t seem to acknowledge Connor’s repetition of his words. Absentmindedly he but at his lower lip as they walked, his worry over the choice to reveal his hunt made manifest in the nervous action. Connor was a veritable stranger, though Nat had always felt himself to be a good judge of character he simply didn’t know the man well enough to say for sure that he would understand Nat’s mission.

After several minutes he finally replied, the Den nearly in sight. ”I found him in one of these warehouses, eating parts from several different people.” Nat’s tone was detached as he gestured to one of the nearby buildings ; Warehouse 91. It was perhaps the first time he had come so near the scene of that crime since it had happened, though he was still a row of buildings away. ”I was lucky to have made it out alive.” Nat hesitated for a moment, a pause mid-step that might have been completely unnoticeable.

It wasn’t just luck that had let him leave with life that day. He had almost forgotten that the Cryptid hadn’t seemed to want him dead. And when he had turned up during the chaos involving Two-Shot Ace he had seemed almost helpful, if one could consider the assistance of a cannibal help at all. Nat hadn’t put those pieces together before, and he wasn’t sure he understood the picture that was forming.

”Anyway, here we are.” Nat waved his hand again, this time to the Den. ”Warehouse 34, my home away from home.”
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Connor frowned, was there two predators of Todd's ilk in the city? It was possible, and Todd had neither the cause nor the opportunity to mention such a thing. He doubted Todd would tolerate a young child hunting him for any amount of time, he'd either kill him or not allow himself to be tracked. Connor felt more anxious with the prospect of another predator, one less amicable than Todd, being around.

"You live in a warehouse?" Connor asked.
Nat opened the metal door with a chuckle, pushing it wide to give Connor enough room to pass through. ”As much time as I spend here you could probably say that, but no I don’t actually live here. That being said there is a bed for when we are too tired from patrol to head home for the night.” At this point he didn’t see much reason to hide anything from the older man. There was a simplicity to Connor’s view of the world, and it wasn’t likely he would go running to the cops about vigilantes. He simply didn’t seem the type to worry over such things.

”I don’t think anyone else is here right now, or at least no one gave me a heads up that they would be stopping in. We might end up with a visitor or two, though.” Nat tossed his duffel near the inside of the door and hefted the paper sack in his arms to get a better grip. ”Better get these veggies cooked up, just in case.”
Connor was taking in the warehouse when what Nat said registered. Patrol? What sort of patrol would a child be going on? It gave him pause until he remember Sam mentioning her own patrols, Sam's vigilante patrols... was that what Nat meant. He hadn't mentioned it, but Connor was sure he had to be a meta of some sort, and he was engage in vigilantism... why was this child fighting criminals?

"Patrols... is that something a lot of metas do around here? Fight criminals? You seem... awful young, to be tied up in that sort fo work."
Nat flinched mid-step, visibly despite his attempt to act as if it hadn’t happened. He hadn’t really intended to slip up, to mention patrols or anything else related to his, and everyone else’s, less than legal activities. He hadn’t even noticed the misstep until Connor, in what Nat was beginning to suspect was characteristic astuteness, latched onto the word with a childlike innocence that only made Nat blame himself more for the error.

”Errrr, no I don’t suppose it would be fair to say that.” There were plenty of metas that were neither criminal nor hero, those that suppressed or hid their abilities and were blended seamlessly into society. ”My friends and I all feel a sort… obligation to the city. Because there are a number of metas using their powers to hurt other people we feel that we have to use ours to help others.”

He caught it, this time, as soon as the words fell from his mouth. Connor’s innocence, his ignorance of the way things were in the city, had loosened Nat’s tongue a bit more than might have prudent. In the end, despite the man’s savage appearance, Nat felt that he could trust Connor with the information. Slowly he set the paper bag down and unzipped his duffel bag, removing his mask from within.

”I go by the name of Wolf, because of my mask, you see.” In for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying went.
Connor couldn't help the barest of smiles cross his lips when Nat said "wolf." Even without this mask of his, he had the energy of one, a young pup, eager, strong, but inexperienced, perhaps. What he said about obligation, it was familiar, the fire, the duty.

"That's an... honourable vocation, though, one that can be... taxing," Connor said, he hesitated. Thinking it wasn't his place to give advice from anyone. He focused on his amusement at Nat's other name. "Wolf you say... well... some folk who've hard of me call me Wolfhound, funny we should meet you think?"