leader of the whole pack

so you can throw me to the wolves
tomorrow i will come back

leader of the whole pack
Cypress' mind was a blur, struggling to keep up with what was going on and not slip into the wild, wonderful realm of delusion. His hug - the first he'd initiated himself - was one thing, enough to fluster her a bit even as relief at the calming of the storm flooded her, but the... the other part... Were they dating now? Woah, girl, hold your horses! She gave herself a stern mental shake. Thoth pulled back and Cypress studied his face with a critical eye; he was focused on other things already, putting that magic of his to work again. He didn't look like a guy who'd just confessed romantic attraction to a girl. As if it'd be that easy! She smiled a little at herself, shaking her head at the sting of disappointment. Nothing with Thoth was exactly easy, was it? That was probably part of the reason she liked him. He wasn't like the boys who flocked around Olive all the time, all fancy talk and false promises. He was honest, and he was kind, and he was adorably slow about certain things. He'd certainly taught Cypress to be more patient, something most who knew her wouldn't have expected. Normally Cypress was a bit impatient, the only thing in the world that could get her to sit still was her dogs - but now... Now it was easy to be patient, to be a little more considerate. Especially towards Thoth.

All in all, things could have gone much worse, right? It wasn't a confession on his part - or an acceptance of one - but... he counted her as a friend, and that was pretty important all on its own, wasn't it? That was no small feat, considering the tangled web of barbed wire he'd been forced to put around his heart over the years. She'd made it over one wall, so all she had to do now was make it over the rest, right? Her resolve hardened. She'd just have to make him understand, even if it took her years to get through to him. And the fact was... even if Thoth didn't like her "like that" - even after she'd finally gotten him to understand - he'd still allowed her to experience so much. Her first love, confessing (even if he didn't get it this time)... How fun it was to exchange letters with the person you liked, to spend time with them, to take an honest interest in what they did. Even the bad times were new experiences. Worrying about him, caring for him when he was hurt, even praying for him and his happiness (though she'd never have admitted it to her family), these had all been new experiences for her. No matter what happened, Thoth would always be a special existence to her, and that was pretty great all on its own, right? Her face lit up at the thought. That wasn't to say she wouldn't be heartbroken if he turned her down officially, of course, but... that was a worry for another time, and just thinking of all the things she'd experience as they continued on was enough for now.

By the time Cypress returned to reality, giving herself a small shake, Thoth's dog had appeared. Cypress' eyes lit up and she had to fight the urge to applaud. Unable to resist - and to get some distance so those delusions of hers wouldn't start up again - she followed the water-dog to the next kennel to watch it work, her hands clasped beneath her chin with obvious delight.

"Your magic is so great, Thoth!" Cypress said with awe. Her comment was poorly timed, coming after he'd started talking to her about leaving the kennels, and it took her a second to shake loose the cobwebs in her head to catch up to the conversation.

"He's right, you know. You've got plenty of experience already, even before you guys came to Shaman you were already getting an adult's education on kennel management, Cy. And... it's not safe here. I've got a bad feeling about that kennel master."

Cypress cast her gaze from Danny to Thoth, frowning. "I can't just up and quit without a plan," she said, fiddling with a leash hung next to the kennel to avoid meeting their eyes. They weren't wrong, but... "I don't even know where to start with setting up my own. And I've got responsibilities."

She cast an anxious look around them, stepping closer to Thoth. Catching her drift, Danny moved in too so she could lower her voice.

"Olive doesn't want anyone to know, but the Inn's not exactly secure. We're doing alright for business, but there's competition opening left and right, and meanwhile, they've increased the payment amount again. Not unfairly!" she hastened to add, lest Thoth see fit to go charging after someone new. "But it's making it hard. I've kept a little by, but most of everything the five of us are earning gets put right back into the inn, and with Torram's little one on the way..." She shook her head. "I couldn't do that to them. That's why I" - she stepped closer, lowering her voice even further - "want to go with you when you go search the cabins. Tor said mum had put money aside, and if there's any chance it's still there..."

Resuming a more normal tone of voice, she smiled, reaching out to touch Thoth's arm in an affectionate way. "Thank you so much, though. Your offer to help means the world to me, really."

"I'd help to, you know," Danny added. "I mean, it wouldn't be a lot, but I could give you some of my earn- why are you giving me that look?!"

"We're not charity cases, Danny," Cypress said stiffly. "I'm not just going to take your hard-earned money."


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