Lots of teeth. Lots of claw.
Quiet and shady, the trees rise all around here high and thick. In stillness, woodland creatures make appearances, though sudden noises scare them back into the cover. Dappled sunlight filters down between the thick foliage, and the ground underfoot is heavily overgrown, though here and there paths have been worn, by deer or years of students wandering familiar trails.
It's been a mild day so far, but the cloud cover started growing thick and low after noon, and now threatens rain. The wildlife can feel the oncoming storm, many taking shelter in their lairs or scuttling nervously about for food. It feels as though the whole forest is holding its breath. A gentle wind combs through the brilliant autumn foliage overhead, the soft leafy whisper seeming all the louder for the absence of birdsong.
Nick emerges from the deeper sylvan shadows, picking his way through the leaf litter barefoot and making hardly more noise than the ambient rustle. He wears a faded heather green athletic t-shirt and tan quick-dry cargo shorts, and the brown fur that covers him from head to tail has gathered a number of burrs and small twigs. He hesitates when he reaches a small clearing at the terminus of one well-established trail. Someone has built a fire pit there and lined it with stones brought from the lakeshore, and left an old coffee can for cigarette butts. Finally, he steps into the clearing and sits down on the immense log that lies across it, the bark worn off along the top where many students have sat before.
There's a heavy regular thud of footsteps coming crunching through the leaves, from further off in the woods. Thump thump thump thump, thump thump thump thump! It takes a while, though, for the bearer of these footsteps to come into view -- a short skinny scrap of a kid in long grey and pink track pants, green and white and silver running shoes, a long-sleeved black and white performance tee, pink and grey scarf carefully tucked and folded over and around her head and neck. Lyric is breathing hard as she runs, pounding her way into the clearning -- and then coming to an abrupt halt, eyes widening when she sees Nick sitting on the log. She stops at the edge of the clearing, hands resting on her knees and brows lifted high as she looks him over. And over.
Nick's large, pointed ears swivel and track the progress of the runner long before they comes into view, and his nose twitches a few times. Unconcerned, he starts the laborious process of picking burrs from his coat. The girl's started reaction upon see him meets with a very faint sigh. "Hey." He starts to wave, but then, eyeing the heavy, sharp claws on his finger tips, slowly puts the hand back down. "Uh, don't mind me. I'm new here. Just picking the seeds off so I don't get them all over my door."
Lyric pulls in another few breaths, her brows furrowing deeper as Nick speaks. Deeeeeeper. She leans in, slightly, eyes narrowing as she peers at him and her head eventually giving one quick shake before she straightens. She steps into the clearing, her breathing more even, now; swipes an arm across a sweat-damp forehead and takes a few steps closer to Nick. To peer in no less uncertainty. Her teeth sink down against her lip, head shaking and one hand fisting up to circle against her chest.
There's another set of footsteps -- or, more accurately, hoofbeats, drawing near. A tall black Thoroughbred is making her way down the path, bearing one exceptionally colourful rider atop. Jax is in knee-high silver boots over slim purple jeans embroidered up their sides with silver dragonflies, a black and pink t-shirt reading 'I'm one of the bravest girls alive' underneath a silver jacket, brightly dyed peacock-toned hair, glittery purple makeup, huge mirror-lensed sunglasses. He pulls Ramiel up short upon entering the clearing, patting lightly at her neck as he looks from one teen to the other. Gives Lyric a cheerful wave. "Hey. S'Nick, right?" There's a heeeavy thick Southern drawl to his words.
Nick cocks his head at Lyric as she comes closer, the ridges of his furry brows wrinklng. Amber eyes follow the movement of her hand without any evidence of comprehension. "Uh, are you okay? Your chest hurt? I can-" But his ears perk up now, at the approaching hooves. "Man, the cavalry comes quick around here," he mutters, but watches the horse warily as it approaches. The tensing of his muscles is barely visible beneath his thick coat. "Hi," he says, relaxing fractionally. "Yeah, that's me. Uh...sometimes horses don't like me." His black nose twitches. "She seems pretty chill, though. Who're you?" His eyes flick back toward Lyric, too, still quizzical.
Lyric still just looks blank as Nick speaks, shaking her head again. One finger lifts to tap her ear, then her mouth. She brightens when Jax arrives. Her hand lifts, too; gives him a wave in return. Then fists up to rest on top of the other, hands lifting togther: 'Help?' She's wandering closer to the horse already though, holding up a hand to rub at the mare's nose. She points at Nick afterwards, brows lifting to Jax curiously. 'New?'
Jax slides down off the horses back, slipping gently to the ground with a soft crunch of leaves. He keeps a hand on her reins, though only loosely; he doesn't seem to be /overly/ worried about her spooking at the wolf-boy. Ramiel, for her park, seems to be more concerned with nosing at the pockets of his jacket. "It's okay, Ramiel's used t'all /kinds/ of folk, claws an' teeth an' different smells don't spook her none. She done lived out here near a decade now." As he speaks, a cartoon speech bubble pops into life above his head, his words appearing in the bubble in his neat spiky print. "I'm Jax. I teach here. This is Lyric. Lyric, Nick. And yes, he's new -- jus' got here -- yesterday, I believe?" His pierced brows lift to Nick for confirmation of this.
Nick finally pieces it together when Lyric starts signing at *Jax.* "Oh! You're deaf." He rises slowly, ears a bit droopy. "Here I've been flapping my jaw and thinking you were really out of breath or something. Nice to meet you." Looking up at Jax now (though still glancing at the horse with mild suspicion), he nods. "Right, that makes sense. I'm just not used to anyone being used to...claws and teeth and all. Also, *that* is wicked cool." He's looking at the last of Jax's speech bubbles, eyes wide. "Yep, just moved in last night. Still finding my way around."
Lyric giggles, nose crinkling up when Jax's speech bubbles appear, but she looks relieved. Her eyes skip between the other two, her smile much more relaxed, now. 'Deaf,' she signs again in agreement. And then with a wiiider grin and a CHOMP of teeth: 'Shane' (this is signed with her middle finger flicked away from the mouth) 'lots of teeth. Lots of claw.' And then in emphasis, another chomp. Demonstrative. Loooots of teeth.
Nick grows a speech bubble of his own; it's dark green in contrast to Jax's deep blue, written in a bold blocky font. His words appear at a few seconds' delay following his actual speech, taking some time to catch up to the conversation, but they follow along. Under Lyric, a square box of grey with pink caption style writing that -- slowly -- tracks along after her signing. This takes longer still; Jax bites down on his lip, frowning as she speaks.
"Thanks." His smile is a little lopsided, also kind of veeery delayed in response to Nick's compliment. "'pologies, my sign ain't. Great. But yeah she's real used to -- well, you've /met/ my kid. Shane -- said he met you last night. An' he's kinda --" He waves a hand towards Lyric and her demonstrative chomping. "You settlin' in okay?"
"Oh, you're Shane's pa." Nick bobs his head. "Yeah, he was one of the first people I met here. Him and Anole." He looks up at his speech bubble, then at Lyric's, baring all of his teeth in a wolfish grin. "Wicked *useful*, too!" Falling silent for a moment he tilts his head thoughtfully, ears pressed back. "I've mostly unpacked, and I had orientation this morning. Still finding my feet, I guess. Going to have to catch up in my classes, too."
Lyric's eyes widen again. 'Anole?' Fingerspelled, here. 'He's back?' She bounces slightly on her toes. Then more than slightly. 'Really really?' She grins down at her own caption block, poking a finger at it. 'Jax is pretty much the best. He brings cupcakes.' Which is all you need to qualify for the Top Slot among teachers, evidently. 'Shane pretty great too. When's B coming to visit?' This question comes with a small pout.
A small flush of colour creeps into Jax's cheeks. It takes a bit longer, this time, for Lyric' translation to come through -- and this only after a moment of asking for clarification on the question about B (he needs 'visit' fingerspelled before he can print it.) "Yeah, Anole's... back." He doesn't sound quite as cheerful about this as Lyric, but he puts on a smile after. "I do teach bakin'. So cupcakes are known to -- kinda appear around me. An' if you need any help with the -- findin' your feet thing --" The blush deepens. "Well, Shane'll probably be able to steer you best towards the /best/ people to talk to, to be honest. But if he ain't around I'll help if I can."
"Really really." Nick also copies the sign, reduplicated as Lyric had used it. "We're roommates, actually." His tail wags rapidly at the discussion of cupcakes. "Oh, boy, I love cupcakes, but mine always come out dry." A bit bashfully, tail going still. "The only foods I'm actually good at making are cookies and banh xeo, but I still enjoy experimenting." He nods sedately, ears flattening again. "I'm sure I'll be fine, but, thanks. I'll keep it in mind."
'If you want them to come out THE MOST DELICIOUS,' the kiss Lyric applies to her fist is very exaggerated, 'his class is where to be. What's that?' She points at 'banh xeo' in the air. 'Is it the most delicious? What kind of cookies do you make? Will you make ME cookies? I'll trade you. I can make --' She pauses to consider for a second. 'Music. And clothing. And halva.'
"Oh! That's -- oh. Good. I mean, well. I mean, good. Anole's -- great." Though a worried frown briefly crosses Jax's expression. There then gone. He lifts his hand to nudge Ramiel lightly away from his jacket as she noses at him again, but after this digs a small packet out from the pocket to take a slice of apple out and feed it to her. "It's like a -- kinda crepe thing?" His hand sketches a vague circle in the air; a moment later a skillet appears. Batter poured in, a sizzle of steam rising, scallions and bean sprouts and shredded tofu and herbs cooked in as it starts to fry up crisp and yellowish. "/Pretty/ delicous."
"I wanted to take one of the cooking classes, but I had to catch up on core requirements. Maybe next term." The wolf boy's jaw drops open at Jax's illusionary illustration. "Wow! Yeah, exactly like that. Banh xeo is what we do with leftovers on Sunday mornings at my house. *So* good." He squints at the last two lines of Lyric's caption boxes. "I will *so* make you cookies. I make snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, jam thumbprints, and this chocolate cookie that I don't know the name of. I don't know what halva is, but if you know how to make clothes...I tend to break mine." His smile is sheepish now. "A lot."
Lyric's head bobs along in an increasingly eager nod at the listing of cookies. Yes, yes, triple-yes... 'I'll take all those. Hundred of each.' Her grin is bright. She pats at Ramiel's nose again as the horse munches up the apple. She straightens, pulling in a quick breath again. 'I should get back. Finish my run. Before it rains! I think it's going to be a big one.' Her stormy motions are exaggerated. 'Halva's a dessert. Way sweeter than clothes. I'll show you. Later!' Her wave is bright, too, friendly before she takes off again at a run, heading for the other side of the clearing.
"There's sewing classes here if you get a mind t'learn t'patch things yourself." Jax tip his head up towards the sky, wrinkling his nose at the clouds overhead. He waves as Lyric heads off. His shoulders and expression both noticeably relax as the speech bubbles fade from view. "Does kinda look like the sky's fit to burst. -- I love snickerdoodles, they're up there with my favourites." His tone's a bit more excited, now. "You ever tried makin' 'em with chai 'stead'a just milk? It's like. A little bit of heaven."
"I can mend small tears, but sometimes I break my clothes...pretty catastrophically." Nick scruffs at the back of his head, looking down. "Okay, see you later!" He waves as Lyric departs. "Chai? No, I haven't, but that sounds sweet. My favorite's my mom's spiced shortbread, but I haven't gotten it quite right myself." Lifting his head to the sky, he inhales deeply. "Probably be a little while yet before the rain. I like watching storms, though. Back porch probably a good place for that, huh?"
"The back porch is good if you don't mind getting a little damp. The conservatory is excellent if you want to stay dry, though. It's all over glass --" Jax's hand waves in the air; for a moment the entire forest around them shifts and changes, a wealth of colourful flowers blossoming around them and glass walls sprouting to encase the clearing. The sky overhead darkens, the glass battered by rain and lightning flashing overhead. Ramiel whickers uneasily at the flash, pushing her head closer to Jax. He blushes, letting the illusion drop. "-- Anyway, it's kinda beautiful for jus' -- watching. I love it there. Nice place to sit an' think. Read. Draw. Drink tea. Eat cookies. Whatever."
"Coooool." Nick stares agape at the illusion. "That sounds like the next best thing to being outside. And I may not mind getting wet, but my roommates probably would later." He yawns and stretches. "Thanks for the tips, Jax." Nonchalant, as though he finds it perfectly normal to address a teacher by first name. "I'll see you around, then!" He still gives Ramiel a bit of a berth, leaving the clearing at an easy jog, the bare pads of his feet quiet on the colorful carpet of fallen leaves.