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 THEY KEEP TRYIN' ME, open
Dusty
 Posted: Aug 12 2017, 03:00 PM
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Well, despite obvious changes to his appearance (eg: his now-missing paw), there wasn't too much that had changed with Dusty. He remained somewhat scruffy, somewhat reclusive, and still rocking a more or less passive attitude, keeping cool in the face of all the colossal shit hitting the fan. He didn't talk about it, didn't consider things public knowledge, and more than anything he didn't want to be vulnerable. Not here. Despite the fact that he had lost his paw trying to help Windclan, he didn't expect for a moment that they'd return the favour.

Sucks. It's normal. He'd live.

But for right now, he was doing what he did best -- running. There was no way for him to be silent, not on three paws with a twoleg collar on his neck and a mark on his ear that claimed him and labelled him as a goddamn pet at best. So he relied on speed, and fun fact, even three legged coyotes could reach speeds of over 60 km/h, although, in Dusty's case, he was a little rusty. The turns were where he was having difficulty, the quickness and sharpness of it thrown off by the loss of his fourth tie to the ground. It was becoming an issue, difficult to use because of the infection that he was now sure in his future. But he wasn't going to stop. Never. It was life or death. So despite the pain, he was quickly getting used to in the severed limb, Dusty was slinking along the territory, following his nose when he found it. A plumper rabbit, one that didn't seem to notice him until he was close enough. And then... then it was on.

The rabbit and the coyote sprung at the same moment, statues coming to life. The rabbit was quicker on the start, but the coyote was fast to catch up. There -- Dusty spotted the hole the rabbit was going for before it started zigzagging, so he didn't need to match it. Instead, he just ran forth, and ... one more bound...

The coyote dove and caught the scruff of the rabbit in his jaws, killing it with a twist of the head and the quick, celery-snap of the prey's broken neck. Not bad. Except for the part where he barely caught it. It looked alright, but he could feel the difference, and he was still worn out when he stopped, prey hanging from his jaws and a generally slack look to his being. He needed to fix this.
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Smudgenose--
 Posted: Aug 12 2017, 04:38 PM
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Smudgenose hadn't been hunting rabbits so much as hunting Dusty. The torbie hadn't gotten a chance to grill the coyote just yet on his disappearance; she would perhaps be kinder than before because of his obvious injury and his emotional turbulence, but the gossip could not be stopped. It was only his disheveled appearance that had prevented her from interrogating him as soon as he arrived, assuming some privacy would be preferable.

Now, she stepped out from the tall moor grass, panting a bit after scrambling to keep up with the canine's longer legs. "Good catch," Smudge complimented, nodding to his rabbit. "You didn't lose your touch outside the Clan, I see!" Though positive, it was clear she was prodding; she'd love to know what he'd been hunting outside of WindClan and where he'd found it.

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Dusty
 Posted: Aug 13 2017, 09:34 PM
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Dusty chuckled around the fur of the rabbit, though whether he was legitimately amused or not had yet to be seen. If nothing else, it was just his attempt to humour Smudge, his automatic response to the she-cat -- who at this point was starting to resemble the closest thing he'd ever have to a friend. So for now, he figured he'd indulge her. There were some things he'd probably never speak off -- nights in a junk yard with a warm body next to his, the chuckle of a scavenging tomcat and the teasing between the two. Things that made his heart ache to think of and his eyes wet to consider. No, he wasn't ready to talk about that cat, or that place, no matter how much he thought of them in the past little while.

Moving on. He mumbled around the rabbit to try and talk to Smudge.

"C'me t'camp f'sec."

He mumbled through fur and flesh, before trotting off towards the main camp. He had no interest in lingering there, but he needed to drop off the rabbit and while he was there, he sniffed out a scrawnier prey of the same species but smaller. He wasn't hungry the last few days. Felt too uneasy.

"Pick a spot to talk and ask me what you really wanna know, fuzzball."
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Smudgenose--
 Posted: Aug 14 2017, 08:23 PM
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Go to camp? Ah, probably he didn't want to talk about this, then. "Can't blame a girl for trying," she meowed, obediently following the dog. Hey, at least Dusty had invited her along instead of simply leaving her behind; he could outrun her, three legs to four. Maybe they would have some bland fencing-esque conversation where nobody learned any juicy gossip and Smudge inevitably left disappointed.

When they actually arrived at camp, though, he dropped off the rabbit and then turned to say words she never thought she'd hear: Ask me what you really wanna know. Smudgenose blinked hard, actually surprised, before cracking a joke: "Who are you and what have you done with the real Dusty? That's my first question!" Snickering a bit at her own sense of humor, she scanned camp and eventually pointed to a spot in the shade of the highrock. It would keep them warm in the greenleaf heat and perhaps she wouldn't even need a dip in her stream after sitting for a while - she had every intention of sitting until she was content.

She'd wait for him to settle down before asking the first serious question, though, unsure if he wanted the whole camp to hear his business. "What happened to your leg?" Smudgenose settled on after a moment of deciding what her very first question would be. "It's...not a clean stump, looks like." Most twolegs would use sharp claws for clean breaks, she knew; this looked animal. The torbie had more questions lined up, but she'd measure her words, stopping when Dusty was about fed up. She didn't want to ruin the tenuous friendship they had built, honest.

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Dusty
 Posted: Aug 14 2017, 10:14 PM
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The coyote would simply follow Smudge to her spot of choice, and settle in. Well, settle. He was trying to do the best he could to simply relax, but he remained constantly on edge in camp, regardless of attempts to assuage his own anxieties. Smudge's humour helped, though they both knew it was just a delay until the real questions started flowing and Dusty started feeling more and more like a shiny object than an actual living creature. So, with the settling done and the questioning beginning, he bit his tongue. Being asked about his leg.

Yeah, that one. Obvious.

"Remember... over a moon ago, all those twoleg traps? I was clearing some out by the north border and I, uh. Got stuck in one. Like a circle, closed in on my leg. Too far to hope that someone would just show up. I didn't want to bring in twolegs, didn't want to get anyone else hurt."

He paused then, nosing at the limb carefully while trying to figure out... something. Anything to say what would make what happened to him seem less like the utter mess that it was at the moment. And had been in the past.

"Didn't want them to track me back to Windclan. Ran in one direction for a while, switched it up, you know how it goes. Throw off a trail. By the time I felt like I could come back, I wasn't really sure where I was."

Nope, sounded pretty bad out loud too.
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Smudgenose--
 Posted: Aug 15 2017, 05:05 PM
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"I definitely remember," she murmured, flexing her forepaw as though the cut was still there. It had healed eventually, and it seemed as though Smudgenose was lucky to retain full function - Dusty's was off. He didn't mention how he lost it, though, but she wasn't stupid; after a few heartbeats of parsing what he did and didn't say, her green eyes widened. "You chewed it off?" the torbie hissed, dropping her voice purposefully so others wouldn't overhear. "Dusty. Tell me you found some kind of medical care for it!" In her heart, though, she knew he hadn't. Who would heal a lone, three-legged coyote?

"You stupid, self-sacrificing dog..." she muttered under her breath as Dusty told his tale, shaking her head. "Don't canines have good noses to follow trails? You couldn't find your way back?" StarClan, that was worse even than her own self-induced exile; she had gone of her own free will and returned in the same way. Poor Dusty had been all but forced out by his damn bleeding heart. Smudgenose hesitated, not even sure what to ask next; she had a feeling that "tell me everything" wouldn't get her much. She had to prod, pick something specific. "...did the twolegs find you anyways?" She could see the demons in his eyes.

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Dusty
 Posted: Aug 15 2017, 06:19 PM
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Despite the other's hushed tone, he still winced at the words out loud, and pale golden eyes flicked over the surroundings of the two. He didn't want to bring attention to what he'd done -- he was barely a living creature with a soul to some now, if they heard that he had mustered up the capability to chew off a paw, he had no doubt that he would be considered some savage creature rather than a panicked person who simply didn't want to be hauled off by twolegs. No, better to let the paw remain a mystery.

He was no stranger to secrets, tiptoeing.

He pursed his lips regarding the query of medical attention and stared down at the stump. He'd done well enough to lay low for a while, but he still felt it burning at the edges, and he nipped at pus in the mornings, trying to keep it clean and apparently failing. No. He hadn't found medical attention. But he wasn't dead either, so it wasn't the end of the world. Her chiding of his self-sacrificial actions left him with a ghost of a smile, and he shook his head. He ran too far, and apparently, that was enough to get him stuck. His next words were almost apologetic.

"Guess I ran too far. Can't be too careful."

Her next prod wasn't so bad, and he had good news on that end.

"Nah, twolegs didn't get me. Stayed hidden for a bit, put good distance in. Sure as hell wasn't bringing them back here, fluffball."

He stretched out a little, satisfied as his back cracked behind him. He was still hella sore from sleeping in weird places for short periods of time here and there. When it came to sleeping, it didn't really happen with any efficacy anymore, and he took a moment to enjoy being able to exist fully without intense fear or paranoia. Only for a moment. He could afford no more. Then, he was passing the metaphorical talking stick.

"Can't imagine you sat here doing nothing that whole time either."
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Smudgenose--
 Posted: Aug 15 2017, 08:17 PM
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She relaxed a bit when he said he hadn't been captured by twolegs. "I trust you on that part," the torbie remarked when he mentioned he wouldn't bring them to the Clan; Dusty avoided twolegs as much as he possibly could, and it made sense that he wouldn't want to bring them to the cats that had given him a home. "Good, though. Guess all the running paid off - though I still think you losing the trail is a bit silly." Couldn't he just have retraced his steps? Whatever; he was back now, that was what mattered.

She glanced slyly to the coyote when he made his last comment. "You're starting to learn my subtle, prodding ways," Smudgenose remarked airily. He obviously wanted news, but she would be keeping some secrets of her own today. Dusty would learn eventually, of course, of her disappearance; she wanted to savor his ignorance for as long as she could before his stare turned disappointed like the rest of them. "Morningfrost officially was remarked missing, and Poisonedpaw changed her name to Silverseed. Let's see what else...oh! Meadowkit has disappeared, which is sad; I miss her energy. We also had a murdered kittypet kitten found on our territory, with no clues thus far. That was a few weeks back, so hopefully whoever the killer was only chose one victim. We also had a rogue patrol in here, though we fought them off without too much injury." That was more than enough information, she thought, to justify skipping her own expedition. "Hopefully we had it more exciting than...wherever you stayed." See? Subtle prodding!

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Dusty
 Posted: Aug 16 2017, 10:33 PM
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"You're right -- I should've just followed the sound of your voice. Would've gotten home a lot quicker."

He teased, just as quick to try and keep Smudge on her toes as she was to try and dig her claws into any amount of gossip. Besides, humour and teasing was his go-to defence mechanism and considering that he'd been spiralling in a suspiciously gravity-oriented fashion for some time now, he was more than willing to B.S. his way into some momentary uplifted-ness. She told him about Morningfrost (who he didn't really remember, but the name rang the vaguest of bells) and then an apprentice whose name changed. News on Meadowkit struck him with a deep concern, his snout adorning itself with a frown. He sure hoped that the kid was okay -- the concern scratched inside his chest.

Then there was news about a killer, and holy crap he missed a bit. Whoops. He didn't feel incredibly guilty over his disappearance, save for maybe concerning... well, he wasn't sure anyone was genuinely concerned or really minded that he'd gone missing. Smudge only missed him for his mysteriousness. That, and he wasn't sure others were as open to her not-so-coy interrogation.

"I didn't stay anywhere -- I kept moving. Thunderpaths for a bit, there was some sort of weird twolegplace, like the city but with... moveable dens? Hell, I dunno. There was a crow that I swear followed me for three days, but... yeah that was pretty much it. I was pretty focused on not dying."
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Smudgenose--
 Posted: Aug 17 2017, 04:50 PM
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She snorted at his words, acknowledging their truthfulness with a nod. "Nobody's found a good enough reason to shut me up yet," the torbie remarked dryly. Really, that was true; Smudgenose hadn't yet been threatened enough to keep quiet, even after returning from her first disappearance. The betrayal of those friends and even lovers was almost enough to stop her gossiping ways, but no; in the end, she loved words more than safety.

"Movable dens?" she repeated next, green eyes squinting. Even when she'd been outside of the Clan, she didn't remember something to that description. "Glad you didn't die, at least. We'd miss you here." It wasn't quite an empty platitude - Smudgenose really would have missed the coyote, even if it was only for the way he tolerated her prodding. She cared about him beyond that, because he was a Clanmate who had befriended her brother. Robin was a bit too trusting, but his heart was in the right place.

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