Show Me Family

Clearwater Craters 
He hadn't purposefully been looking for this spot the first time he'd found it, or even the second when he'd happened upon it again, but it had become a regular place for him to just be. Given his deepest held secret, he had often found the isolation of the woods a comfort instead of a fear, at least from most things, as he could just be who he was. He didn't have to pretend to be ordinary here. He didn't have to fake being an undecided drop out from a prestigious surgical career. Here he could just be the slightly confused man who held within him an adventurous cheetah that he could possibly even call friend.

"Wait until you see this view Alex," he huffed over his shoulder; reaching up to adjust the straps of his backpack as he did so.

His relationship with his sister was just one of many that he was happy for, one of the few that he could be honest about the one thing he usually had to hide, and he wouldn't have traded it for anything. It's true that some could have found a sock way to turn the situation around to blame her, he very nearly did in the beginning, but now it seemed to be a situation that had brought them closer. Granted, he wouldn't have wished it upon anyone, but he would happily accept this over the alternative.

Before he could say anything else, he stepped up and over the incline they'd been tackling doe some time now. On the other side he was able to give a soft sigh as he began to head down, his muscles happy for the change. He was quite pleased with himself as he went, headed towards the small lake that was nestled in the center of the impressive sized crater.

"Though I haven't been brave enough to test it out for a swim yet," he added as an after thought. At least today was nicer than it has been over the last couple days, the sun beating down on the back of his neck as he walked, and he could see the appeal of the water.


 "Wait until you see the view Alex, ... Literally the only thing that stopped her from some bit of misplaced sass was that it was Garrett who was speaking to her. As in, her Garrett - as in, the only frayed blood tie that she had left in the known universe. And while she wasn't in the business of watering herself down into something unrecognizable for anyone, maybe she didn't have to be a cow all the time. It was a hard pill to swallow, but between Garrett's empathy, Jo's calm understanding, and Dante's fire with fire approach to socializing. Okay - maybe she could be ...

Well, not nice - but.

 So she resisted the urge to convey any doubt, to laugh at him as she kept just behind on the trek to the middle of nowhere - happy to round out the back. Per their conversation leading up to this lunch shindig, she had packed her own backpack with junk and beer and a blanket that she could stretch out on without feeling guilty for taking up all the space in the first place.

 It was only as he slowed that she looked up and surveyed the area, and while yeah, she was an asshole ... this was really nice. "Look at you, exploring." She brushed past, moved as if she was going to try to pinch his cheek but then stopped short. Her shoulder dropped, her backpack strap slipped off ad there was a clack as the contents of her bag jostled. She hissed - a little too late as she remember, right, glass.

 "You been spending a lot of time outside of Belle Vista?" She said it in a haughty voice. A reputation for the area that she knew didn't directly transfer to him - still. "It's nice ... by the way. Good find, Garrett." A little awkward, a little stiff - but, progress.

"Hah," he offered with a slight roll of his eyes as she passed him. It hadn't exactly been exploring that had gotten him the Cheetah, but it had still been out in the middle of nowhere and that had had a lasting effect for a little while. He wouldn't change it as Yana had saved his life, he was sure, but the emotions that had accompanied the near death experience had left their mark. There was also the added dread that he would somehow get spooked by something and shift, something that seemed to be a trigger for him in ways he hadn't expected. Regardless, he'd been working on both aspects and had never really been one to be cooped up indoors for extended periods of time. "A little here and there," he added with a proud little smile in the direction of her back.

"Ah yes, us artsy fartsy crowd need to get out now and again." There was no malice in his voice as he used her endearing turn of phrase towards his line of business and the group of the Cheetahs. Instead, his smile grew wider and he nudged her with his elbow as he caught up to her. "Honestly though, the weather's been driving me nuts and I get out when I can," he added in a more serious tone that still held some of the levity. Once more he adjusted the straps on his back pack, his stomach growling at the prospect of food. "Thanks, I just hope we brought enough food." It was no secret that the two seemed to do a good share of their... familial bonding over meals as food seemed to be one of the things they could both relate with.

 She was listening to him for certain, but her eyes were focused downward as she laid out her spread one item after another. Three sandwiches hastily wrapped in aluminum foil, a large bag of doritos, four bottles of slightly chilled beer, and a gallon sized bag of chocolate chip cookies that were ever so slightly burnt on the edges. It was, in theory, enough for at least two people from her bag alone - probably three.

 "Um ..." She unhooked her keys from her belt loop, used the one for the deadbolt at home to pop the cap off her first bottle. "You mean that you hope you brought enough food." Teasing, for the most part as she started in on the crinkled tin foil after a sip from the bottle. "Sit down - relax, stay a while."

Listening to her comment, he let the bag slip from his shoulders before kneeling and beginning to take things from it. "You never know, you might be hungrier than you thought," he said lightly with a shrug as he spread out a worn blue blanket on the ground. It was one of his favorites and, though he wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, seemed to hold some luck to it so he kept it around. Granted, he wasn’t sure he really believed in such things, but it helped strengthen the attachment to an inanimate object all the same.

Sitting cross legged so that he was somewhat faced in her direction while also still faced towards the water, he pulled two sandwiches, their plastic wrapping crinkling slightly, a Tupperware bowl of mixed fruits, a bottle of sprite, and a bag of potato chips from within his pack. He then proceeded to lay everything out around him in an organized fashion, what he planned to eat first closest to his left hand with the sprite bringing up the end of the half moon of items at his right hand. Once that was finished he gave a sigh and looked over at Alex where she sat. "But if that happens, I’ll share," he said as if to reassure her she wouldn’t starve; though one shortened meal didn’t seem like the end of the world.

"I’ve thought about swimming in it, but the weather hasn’t been good for it," he remarked after a moment, having pulled one of the sandwiches from its baggie and biting into it. His temperature tended to run hotter than before, something that fascinated him from a medical stand point, and he could heal faster from most things, but that didn’t mean he was any more willing to go swimming in a freezing lake than before.

 She was quiet as she watched him unpack item after item, laughing to herself after a moment at the night and day difference between her meal prep and his. "I guess I'm lucky about the metabolism and the health benefits, yeah?" She grabbed hold of both sides of her bag of chips, pulled the top open wide and started to dig in immediately. Her eyes wondered to the water when he mentioned swimming, looking the lake over and crunching down loudly into another chip.

 "I can't swim." It wasn't exactly the proudest bit of personal trivia, but there it was all the same. "And that includes treading water and floating and whatever else loophole you might be wonderin' about." It seemed, at least, that this wasn't a particularly unfamiliar rabbit hole. "I do a pretty alright job at walking though, so that has to count for something."

He quirked an eyebrow at her comment, questioning it for a moment until he took a look at her food vs his and smiled. "It is one of the perks, yeah." Truth be told, minus the ocassional breakfast indulgence and Mexican food cheat, eating a certain way had been habit for him. It wasn’t necessarily his line of work as doctors tended to be the worst to practice what they preached, at least in his experience, but from growing up with his mother. There had been countless tastings and diet plans in her household whenever she felt like she’d put on an inappropriate amount of weight, though he’d never noticed a change or felt she’d needed one. "You ever tried to push it to its limit? Like enter an eating contest or something like that?" It was a silly question, but one that was brought to mind at how much food they could generally put away if they weren’t worried about drawing attention.

"Hmm. That’s surprising," his tone mocked concern, though his eyes hinted at the amusement. Granted, it wasn’t amusement at her expense, it was simply because it was so unexpected of her. He was still learning about her and still had very little insight into a big portion of her life from these little snippets of time spent together, but he’d begun to get the impression that she was a very capable woman. This inability seemed like a reminder that no one was quite as all powerful as their image sometimes hinted to. "This isn’t as cool, especially since it isn’t really like a life or death thing, but did you know that I can’t ride a bike?"

 "You know, I actually thought about that before - entering some sorta contest. I bet a Were would blow everyone's mind." She snickered and offered out the bag of chips to him, jostled it a little to make sure she grabbed his attention. "I haven't done that, but for my birthday this year I got every freebie from every restaurant that I could." That, was a moment she was particularly proud of in the scheme of being frugal. "Pretty sure if I was still just a boring ole mutant I would have clogged every artery I have over."

 She set the bag down, propped it against the side of her thigh and started to peel the crust off of her first sandwich. "I can teach you how to ride a bike." It was sort of an off-color offer between two adults, but she made it all the same. "If you wanted, I mean ... that, I'm good at." No pressure either which way, of course. "I can't jump rope." Some effort to glaze over any uncertainty about the offer, willing to volley shortcomings all afternoon if he wanted to.

Drawn by the sound of rustling chips, he looked in her direction and nodded a thanks while grabbing a small handful of the cheesy goodness. Spreading them out on the empty baggy before him, he grabbed one and chuckled as it was halfway to his mouth before chomping down. "Maybe that's my true calling. Champion of eating." Not that he wouldn't mind it, especially since they didn't ever really have to suffer the consequences that any normal human would. "But part of that feels like cheating," he added as an after thought, pausing in his chewing as he thought it through.

"Mutant?" He asked, her last sentence catching his interest and he titled his head curiously to the side. The name seemed out of place if she were talking about humans, especially since they were the majority and technically they were both considered the mutants. Though she did mention it so casually that it could mean anything else. Could it?

"That'd be cool. Just as long as I don't have to use training wheels." It was an odd conversation to be having given their ages, but they also hadn't exactly had them when they were of more appropriate years. "I can teach you both of those if you're ever curious. Or I can see if I can find those water wing things in your size." The last was a total joke, followed by a wide grin that more resembled the Cheetah than he would ever realize. Taking a large bite of his sandwich, he leaned back to support himself on his elbows and turned his face up to the sun, soaking in its warmth.

 Fuck. It had been said so casual that she almost forgot that she had said anything whatsoever, a little drop of knowledge that she had just as quickly pedaled away from. But it was less than surprising to hear that Garrett had caught wind of it and latched on as if his life hung in the balance - the man, was annoyingly clever at times.

 She thought to play it off, but it didn't seem particularly sibling like, to lie to him about a secret that wasn't even relevant any longer. "You know that guy on the news a while back? The one that fought the Vampire, went up in flames?" She sipped from her beer and stretched her legs out, picked at a hole in the knee of the denim. "Like that - I used to be able to do things with my brain." She wiggled her fingers in his direction like a side street magician.

"All went to shit after the nibble though." Impulsively her fingers slipped into the tear, brushed over the smooth and slightly raised scar along either side of her kneecap.

It wasn't like he had any right to be surprised, not with what he continually went through on a monthly basis, and the video had been pretty popular for some time, but it still struck him. What else was there, it made him wonder. How many things truly hid in plain sight, only known to those who were brought into the life by an accident of some kind or saw an unexpected us of power. His tiny little life with what seemed now like inconsequential fears and issues was continually expanding by force and he was left with catching up.

"Damn, I definitely did not get the super power gene." He finally commented, though his voice lacked its usual joking tone to most things. He didn't view her any differently, especially since it wouldn't be any different than when she had been discovered to be a Coyote, but it was an interesting tid bit that he stored away. These were all things that he didn't already know about her and that was something.

"Do you like this better or miss the ability?" He asked after a moments hesitation, sitting up and setting his sandwich down to focus on her.

 It almost seemed as though she wasn't going to answer the question at all, the complete quiet as she made the hole in the knee of her jeans bigger still by a margin. She remembered the weeks between the bite and the full moon then, the days in which her powers flickered in and our and dimmed, a bulb on it's last leg. The feeling that she was heading towards death or the living equivalent to it as the impulses became stronger and stronger with each change in the moon.

Yeah, that had been a low.
But, these past few months had been a high.

 "The person who bit me?" She looked at him, considered the careful way in which he packed his food, the relatively healthy choices he made - as if he were playing a long game where his existence was concerned. "She did it to be spiteful - at least, that's how I always took it. Easily could've killed me, stuck me like this instead." There used to be rage there, white and hot - now it was like telling a bedtime story for the millionth time, calm and neutral.

 "I spent a lot of time wishing I could go back." She shrugged her shoulders, looked at the bag of chips and accepted that her appetite was curbed for the time being. "But you can't go back. And now I got a family." Garrett, of course - Jo, ... hell, even Kai was sort of growing on her. "I met a lot of people who probably wouldn't have ever given me the time of day otherwise. So - no, I wouldn't change." She looked him over and shrugged her shoulders, committed to the decision. "It was a rocky way to get to happy - but the point is getting there, right?" Right.

Damn him and his stupid mouth. He was all class when it came to public appearances and how he maintained himself, but a mix of being in private and away from his fathers planned life had begun to make him tactless. He'd always looked on his situation as the only option and hadn't ever really hated what he'd had to give up. Whether it was because he hadn't been that attached to it in the first place or he was just thankful to be alive and not lost in the forest to rot away, he couldn't tell. Then again, he hadn't had anything else to compare it to. This had been his first delve into the otherworldly on a personal level and it had been done with as much kindness as Yana could muster.

"I shouldn't have asked that, I'm sorry." His apology was not for what had happened to her as he wasn't quite sure that was what she was looking for and she seemed to be moving past that time in her life, but for his own stupidity instead. There was nothing to compare to or to reveal that could even match that, to make up for his blunder. Instead, he looked down at his hands where they rested in his lap. He was no longer as hungry as before, especially after that, but there had to be something.

"I'd say that's a good way to put it. And some might think you'd have a better appreciation and respect for that happiness because it wasn't simply just given to you."

 "No." This much was firm, decisive and stated more as an order to a solider than as one half-sibling to another. "I know family probably isn't one size or whatever. Like I know Full House probably isn't really all that practical." She reached into the bag, pulled out a chip and tossed it in the direction of his head for emphasis. "But if we're going to go on nature walks and shit together, I want to be able to talk about the uncomfortable stuff."

 Well - want was a strong word, but she felt the need to all the same. And maybe that was indeed half the battle, being able to see the purpose in the discomfort, the value in unease. "Anyway, ... yeah - thanks, Garrett."

Her tone and it’s clip were a surprise. It was filled with a conviction that he hadn’t expected but appreciated all the same. The words that followed only added to this feeling of appreciation. Maybe now, here, they were learning more than the easy past and the uncomfortable tie that brought them together. Though, if he was being honest, he was glad that they weren’t like the full house children, he wasn’t sure he could handle more of his fathers offspring if they were actually raised by him. "same," came his reply after ducking the well aimed chip. "Hey! Don’t waste food," he said with a smile before picking it up from his blanket and promptly popping it in his mouth with a satisfying crunch. "Mmmm cheesy."

"You’re welcome. Also, can I just say I’m kind of glad I never had to hide the whole cheetah thing from you. That night you came for dinner it was all I could do not shift with nerves. " It was good to voice it, even if it did show weight in which he regarded their growing relationship.

 "Dude - I don't know if I could have made it this long without telling you if you were a normie." She took another chip and chewed thoughtfully, recalled that moment of panic when his apartment door opened and she had been met with an overwhelming sense of cat. "Would have been cool if we were the same thing though." Or, at least, that was what she thought - a fun little connection, something to strengthen a tepid bond that she was growing to appreciate more and more.

 "Instead you're stuck being a cat - sorry, dude." She reached her leg out, bumped the toe of her shoe against his leg as if it might prove that she had meant no harm. "Tough break."

He tried to imagine a world where one of them was still unaware of the otherworldly aspect of life, but couldn't. He couldn't picture what it was like for them not to have that in similarity helping forge a different kind of bind over what he'd expected. He also tried to imagine what it would be like to be a coyote instead of the cheetah and couldn't.

"Ha. No, I'm sorry. It must be so hard not to freak when you see a passing car or a squirrel," he robbed back. His hand caught the to of her shoe as she pulled it back from nudging him and gave it a squeeze.

He couldn't deny it'd be a nice thing to share, but the fact was they weren't. Instead, he'd take this over the alternative.

 "I swore off of cars a couple months ago, don't dog-shame me." Easier said than done as she shoved him in the arm and let her thoughts wonder. Those first few months, the shifts spend mostly alone and out in Red Rock ... holy shit, what if she had chased a squirrel or two? The visual had her laughing before she took a swig of her water, dropping it all the same, not wanting to instill a long-term inside joke at her personal expense.

 Instead she focused on the view, just as good as promised, the occasional breeze, a mostly full bag of chips, and the sort-of brother and definitely friend that she appreciated just a bit more with each and every conversation.

Instead of responding, he raised one eyebrow in her direction and smiled at the new term she'd unknowingly brought up. Dog-Shaming. It seemed interesting enough, and would be a laugh for anyone eves dropping. Though that thought was washed aside as she nudged him with her elbow, pulling a chuckle from him as he settled back on his elbows again.

This seemed like what family ought to be, in a weird twisted way, and he took a moment to appreciate it as he took in the serenity of the lake and the nature that surrounded them. To feel the warmth of the sun on his face, he wouldn't trade this moment for anything and wouldn't be sorry if he knew that it rewrote a more negative one from family that he felt so far removed from.

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