The Animal In Me

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:20 pm

Liliya averted her gaze, a slight flush to her cheeks. If he saw, she was hoping he would think she was catching a fever. In actuality she was a bit embarrassed. No one had complimented her before, not on her name, or the way she looked or anything really. It was new and caused turmoil within her; she didn't know how to feel. The only people who really knew anything about her was her family, and neither of her brothers or her father would compliment her. Maybe criticize, but never compliment. Feeling the weight of his cloak on her, she turned her gaze to him, a confused look etched into her features. Again with an act of kindness, a selfless act towards her, even though she had tried to kill him twice that evening and had even gone back on her word. Why was he being kind? He should not feel that way. Although the gesture was wonderful; His cloak was warm and dry, whereas hers had been wet, cold, and muddy.

Even though she did not fully understand his actions, his words, she did. She did not agree with what he said one hundred percent, but she was seeing their messed up relationship from a completely different angle than he was. Liliya still thought in the way that hunters do, and it would take adjusting for her to change that way of thinking. It would be hard, but she would try. As for them sticking together, she agreed, but only for the time being. She wasn't sure if she stayed with him that he would be safe. Alexandre might have been safer to just leave her once the hunters had been killed. They were both pretty big targets now and being together would cause trouble for them. Even still she had to know if he was her way out, or if meeting him was a coincidence.

“Lex...” she murmured testing the name. It felt funny to her to be using a nickname instead of his full name. It was oddly friendly, and she wasn't sure how to feel about that either. Looking back on it, Liliya was uncomfortable with a lot of the things Alexandre was making her feel. Confused, and flustered; she was not used to emotions like that.

The further they walked, the more exhausted Liliya became. She did not have proper time to rest after being tended to, instead being thrown into a situation which could have worsened some of her injuries. With every step she took, the muscles in her body stiffened, aching as she pushed forward. Her breaths became heavier, her steps slower. The former huntress needed to concentrate to actually move forward, but she would not say anything, and with the way she held herself and the look of pure determination on her face, she refused to ask for help.

“How do you know for sure that this place is safe?” She questioned, frowning. Liliya was still unsure whether it was safe to trust him, even after everything he had done for her.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:21 pm

For a long time, Alexandre did not answer her. In all honesty, he could not be sure that their destination would be safe. He'd used it before, which meant someone could have discovered it already. But it didn't matter. It was close, and that was the deciding factor. Liliya looked as if she might fall over at any moment, and Lex was unsure if he should help or not. He had done so much already, but that was different. Before he had acted to save her life. But as they trudged on, he wondered if helping her along might be seen as pandering to weakness. She was a strong, independent woman who was used to doing everything on her own. To coddle her at that point might only aggravate her further. Instead, he chose to take a more passive approach, using his strength to heave away large stones and fallen limbs from her path. She could still travel under her own power, and he could still help. Why did he care what offended her?

Eventually he spotted their refuge, a large opening in the side of a tall hill. The hole was, in fact, an entrance to a rather large network of tunnels that ran underneath the ground. It would be more than enough to accommodate the both of them, along with a fire. If they went in deeply enough, the smoke would dissipate before reaching the outside, masking their presence even further. "Anything is safer than where we are now. You need a place to recover, and the closest town is at least a day's walk... two at your pace." There was no spite in his voice, but he realized after speaking that it could be interpreted as an insult. "We'll take shelter here for a day or two while you recover. We can talk about future plans in the morning."

The entrance to the cave was large enough for them to walk through, but getting to it would be tricky. It sat upon a steep incline from the road, in ground that was absolutely soaked through and muddy, making it difficult for a healthy person to make the climb, and would undoubtedly be a major challenge for Liliya. Lex stood for a moment, looking at the upward slope, then turned to Liliya, his silver eyes darting across her injuries as he spoke. "I can get you up there, if you need."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:23 pm

Liliya shot a glare at Lex, frowning at his comment. At her pace? It's not like she was walking slow on purpose. How would he like to have his ribs broken, then fight and walk a few miles? It was a tempting thought, but she just attributed her irrational irritation to the fact that she was in an incredible amount of pain. Her skin was pallid and even though she was cold, a thin layer of sweat covered her skin; the pain in her wrist had dulled down to a barely noticeable throb, but her ribs seemed to have gotten worse. Liliya could barely take in enough air to keep herself conscious.

She didn't feel much better once she saw how much effort it was going to take to get into their temporary safe haven, either. Just looking at it made her want to drop, but she had already shown enough weakness for a lifetime and she was not going to ask for help. Although, the path looked like it would be difficult, even if she was feeling better. It would be humiliating if she tried to climb it by herself and fall, but would it be more or less humiliating if she accepted Lex's offer to help her up?

Clenching her hands into tight fists, she turned her head away from him, silent for a long moment. “I.. I don't think I can make it up myself.” She mumbled, hating that she needed to rely on someone else for anything.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:25 pm

Alexandre could see that his traveling companion was not doing well. Despite the chill of the air, beads of sweat were collecting on her brow and neck. He could only assume that she had developed a fever. He could possibly treat the temperature, but it would require the last of his reserve supply of herbs. 'Not like it matters... what do I need them for anyway,' he thought to himself. But everything depended on their ability to reach the cave, more than thirty feet up and ahead of their current position on the road. Despite her pride, Liliya admitted that she would not be able to make it up on her own.

Lex looked at her, not with pity, but with understanding. So many times had he seen a path laid out before him and stood in fear that he may not make it. He could remember, in both life and in afterlife, taking on many difficult tasks only to fail miserably. It was a terrible feeling, and caused a familiar unpleasant sensation in the pit of his stomach. Wordlessly, he bent down and pulled her left arm around the back of his neck, then scooped her up under her knees carefully. There were no branches or bushes to hold onto, only earth. If he slipped, they would both hit the mud. Supporting her legs with one arm and started to climb up the hill. "I'll claw my way up, but you'll need to hold on."

It was easy enough to support her with one arm; he was unnaturally strong, after all. The difficulty came in size alone. Liliya was roughly the same size as Lex, making the task unwieldy at best. After a few close calls and little progress, a dark figure appeared ahead of them. The black wolf. Lex laced his fingers in it's fur and allowed it to pull them along. The expression on his face was clear surprise. He'd never before used his companion for support in that way, and he was unsure that it would be strong enough to pull them both. But remarkably the canine seemed to have no trouble at all.

"Don't worry," Lex breathed, inserting a chuckle between words. "...I will not breath a word of this to anyone." Lex did not release the girl immediately once they reached the top. He took several steps into the mouth of the cave, in case the earth beneath their feet was unstable. When he was sure that they were safe, he carefully placed her feet on the ground, making sure she was steady before releasing her. The heat from her skin did make him worry. She could be feverish, or she could simply be warm from the trek to the cave and the proximity to his own body, which ran warmer than normal anyway.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:26 pm

As Alexandre lifted her into his arms, she made a small grunt as another bolt of pain shuddered through her; but, she held on as tightly as her shaking arms would allow. Despite her agreeing to let him help her up, she felt angry and frustrated. Not at anyone, but herself. Liliya was a strong person, had been one of the strongest Hunters out there. She thought she should have never let her situation get this far. Relying on anyone was something she didn't like doing, especially not someone she had tried to kill. When Lex said he wouldn't say anything to anyone, she rolled her eyes. Who did he have to tell? His wolf? It almost made her laugh, and that was when she realized something was very wrong. Liliya wasn't known for her sense of humor.

When they reached the cave, and she was set down, Liliya took a few steps forward, then leaned against the cavern wall. Closing her eyes, she let out a sigh and slid down the wall to the ground. She knew they needed to go further into the cave to be safe, but she needed to stop. Only needing a minute to rest her aching body, she tried to figure out why a few broken ribs was hitting her as hard as it was. The former huntress couldn't count on both hands how many times she had been injured far worse than this, sometimes remaining unconscious for days at a time. During her training to become a hunter, she had been beaten, and put through a lot of stressful situations and she could not remember ever feeling as terrible as she did in that moment.

It was after she began comparing what she was used to, to what had transpired earlier that night it clicked. While she had faced many physically demanding conditions, she hadn't faced nearly as many mental, or emotional ones; Liliya hadn't allowed herself to properly deal with the emotional trauma she experienced. It didn't matter that nothing had actually happened, it was that her fear was so intense and so real, and without the monster beside her to rescue her, her world would have shattered. Liliya stiffened at the thought, and pulled Lex's cloak around her tighter, as if the cloth could block out the feelings she buried in her mind.

“I appreciate your assistance.” She managed to say, after pushing back the memory, and feelings that came with it. That was as much of a thank you as Alexandre was going to get. She wasn't familiar with thanking anyone for anything, so it was hard for her.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:28 pm

Lex shook his head dismissively. "You don't need to thank me," he said softly, his voice deep and mindful. In all honesty, he felt guilty for putting her into that situation. If he had killed her, or if he had let her kill him, she would have been okay. If he had neglected to show up at the tavern, she would have been fine. The remorse was weighing on him heavily, and he felt the need to lift it off his shoulder. "If it weren't for me, you would not have needed rescuing. I am sorry for that."

Taking a look down the tunnel a bit, Lex stepped several paces away, then began to dig along the left wall, quickly unearthing a small burlap sack, in which was several pieces of wood, flint, tinder, and a few logs. He had used the place before, and had anticipated the need to have provisions in reserve, in case he was stuck in a situation similar to the one he found himself in at that moment. Removing the contents of the sack, Alexandre began to construct a small fire, knowing that they should be deeper in the cave but settling for their current position, as moving might not be the best things for Liliya.

Quickly the dry would caught fire, and within minutes Lex had a decent flame for her to warm by. He was, personally, not the biggest fan of fire, simply because it was the source of so much of his physical pain. But it was important to have, for temperatures were dropping rapidly outside. "I'll go hunting soon, but right now we need to get you dry. You can use my cloak to cover yourself, but you should set out your clothes to dry." Not wanting to make the girl uncomfortable, Lex pushed himself to his feet and moved toward the mouth of the cave, but still hidden by the shadows. The wolf remained, however, sitting by Liliya life a soft statue. It studied her curiously, but made no move toward her. Remarkably, it's paws seemed completely clean.

"We can talk once your are feeling better. I know you have things you'd like to discuss."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:29 pm

“I am just as much at fault as you.” Liliya waved off his apology. “I could have let you pass, I didn't. I fired the first arrow.” It seemed like ages ago when she was walking toward town and heard him approach. So much had happened in that short amount of time, so much changed. Liliya did not envision this outcome, not even with as many scenarios as there could have been. Even if she had foreseen that they would not kill each other, what followed wasn't even in the realm of things she thought could possibly happen. Not to her. Not to Liliya Volkov, revered Huntress.

The fire that Lex built had begun to heat up the small space they were in, and the heat against her wet, cold clothes made her shiver. He was right, she had to get out of her clothes. The thought made her uncomfortable; being practically nude in front of someone else, a male at that, even if she was covered by his cloak was not something she liked to think about. But she had to get out of her clothes. She would get sick—or sicker—if she stayed in them. Standing up from her current slouched position proved to be more difficult that she thought, but after using the cavern wall as leverage she managed to push herself to her feet.

Once she was sure he was not looking at her, she dropped Lex's cloak and pulled her shirt up over her head. Stretching out like that made a pain so intense sweep through her that she thought she was going to pass out. Spots danced in and out of her vision; she had to stop, lean on the wall, and take a few steadying breaths before she could continue. When she regained her stability she finished undressing, now only left in her underwear and the wrappings that covered her chest. Before she bent to retrieve the cloak, she tentatively felt her ribs. Hissing in pain she withdrew her hand, snatched the cloak and covered her body. Liliya brought her clothes closer to the fire, and laid them out, then sat herself down with a bit of difficulty.

She turned her attention to the wolf and beckoned it to come closer, to sit with her by the fire. She wasn't sure why, but the animal being close to her made her feel relatively safe, and she didn't even really know the animal. “I'm decent.” she called to Alexandre, her eyes focused on the flames.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:30 pm

The temptation to turn, to catch a glimpse of the female form was present in Alexandre, but he had a relatively easy time pushing it aside. He was a male, but that did not mean he was a sex-craving animal. However, he did want to turn when she hissed through her teeth, and Lex could only assume that this came from pain. He was worried, that much was easy to see. The question was why. Why did he care about the life of one Hunter? Be she male or female, she was just another bounty seeker, wasn't she? What made her so special? What made her different? Lex did not know, but he intended to find out.

When she said she was dressed, he turned and made his way back to the fire. Choosing to sit nearby rather than across from her, he curled his legs underneath him and watched her carefully. Wrapped up in his cloak, Liliya displayed no injuries. But her body language suggested otherwise. The way she shifted. The way she moved. She shook and shivered uncontrollably. Lex began to wonder if she was running a fever, which could have been caused by infection. With a small sigh, the young monster reached into his belt pouch and removed a few herbs and began mixing them with a bit of water from his sheepskin.

Meanwhile, the obsidian canine responded to Liliya's beckoning with curiosity and a friendly demeanor. It sniffed her hand, then pushed it's muzzle against her palm, nuzzling her hand as if it had known her for years. After a few seconds, it moved to sit opposite of Lex and placed it's head in her lap, sighing happily as it rested. "Strange... he doesn't usually warm up to strangers like that, especially Hunters." The wolf turned its to the monster, and he could swear he saw it's tongue stick out for a split second.

"Oh you do not. You didn't go after them but you didn't cuddle up to any of them before they died." Lex shook his head and continued to mix the herbs with water, making a sort of tea. The smell was bitter and earthy, but he hoped it would be beneficial to Liliya. When he finished, Lex offered the mixture, contained in a tiny cup, to her and spoke softly. "Here, drink this. If you have a fever it should bring it down. If not, then all you'll have is a foul-tasting tea."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:32 pm

Liliya followed Alexandre with her eyes, as he walked from the mouth of the cave to sit beside her by the fire. Blinking rapidly, her vision focused and refocused, everything blurring together. The woman frowned at the look on his face. "Don't look at me like that. Why are you looking at me like that?" She didn't like the concerned look on his face; it was almost like he was afraid that she was going to keel over at any moment. Why did he even care? They were enemies; him a target, her a hunter—former Hunter, anyway. It wouldn't make sense for him to look at her as if he didn't want her to be as injured as she was.

The huntress had her attention drawn from him when the wolf nuzzled her, then laid it's head in her lap. Her eyes widened a fraction in surprise, but then she smiled slightly, and began to stroke the animals fur, which felt soft under her fingers. 'You're beautiful...' she thought staring at the canine fondly. Again, Liliya asked herself why she felt drawn to the animal, why she felt comforted around it, when she had never been an animal person. "I told you when we met, I am like no other Hunter." It was also curious when Lex and the wolf seemed to have a conversation. "You can speak to it..." Liliya didn't ask a question, she was making a statement. It made sense, though. When she had first happened upon the two of them, Lex had been saying something to the animal as he came into her sights. That was definitely odd.

Liliya took the small cup from Lex when he offered it, her hands trembling. She didn't think she needed any help with a fever she may or may not have, but the gesture was nice. That was the second time that night that Liliya had thought something so out of character for her. Maybe she did have a fever, and it was affecting her in more ways than just making her feel like crap. Shaking the thoughts from her head, she took a sip of the herbal drink and scowled, her expression twisting into one of distaste. "This is utterly disgusting." But she drank it anyway.

Lex was being kind to her, taking care of her, for what reason? Liliya attacked him, betrayed him, and tried to kill him again. That thought made her feel guilty. The only injury she would have had was a cut on her cheek, if she hadn't run into her brother. Neither of them would be in this position if it weren't for her. Now, she wasn't about to spill her guts to Lex about her guilt, but with everything he was doing for her, for no apparent reason, she figured he deserved an explanation. "Before... in the tavern..." she hesitated, not sure how much she should say, or even how to go about it. "There were circumstances that led me to.. there was a valid reason why I had to.." Liliya was trying to find the right words to explain to Lex why she had no choice without it sounding like an excuse; she had to get it out, the guilt was beginning to eat at her. "I was threatened. If I did not try to apprehend you then I..." she sighed in irritation, her eyes narrowing. "My brother attacked me. He forced my hand. I would have let you go if not for him." There. She got it out, and yet she did not feel any better about it.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:34 pm

Lex listened carefully as Liliya shared the truth with him about why she double crossed him. So that's why she thougth she did not have a choice. That's why she believed that there was no other way. Her brother must have been a frightening individual indeed to instill such fear in Liliya Volkov. Alexandre was conflicted as he sat staring into the flames, each one it's own unique being whose life was as short as the blink of an eye, yet it displayed such beauty in that time. He sat in silence for a few minutes as he processed what he had heard. Should he be angry with her for going against her word? Should he feel sorry for her? Hate her?

"His name is Rouge... for the eyes. Liliya Volkov, I told you before that there is always a way out. Sometimes the way out is simple, sometimes it's difficult. But it is never painless. What you did to me, I will never forget. But God teaches us to forgive. Whether you deserve it or not is yet to be seen. But as we stand now, I forgive you." As if on queue, Rouge lifted his head and almost nodded in agreement. If one were crazy, they would swear that it was just as intelligent as a human. "Why do I forgive you, you may be wondering? Allow me to explain." Lex cleared his throat and took a deep breath before speaking again, feeling rather flush at what he was about to tell her. She had been kind enough to share her secret, so he would tell her about one of his.

"Partially, because Rouge believes you. He is no ordinary hound. As you have guessed, yes, I can speak to him. He speaks to me. I've learned to trust his judgement better than my own. The rest of my reason... because in some twisted sense, you are the closest thing I have to a friend or ally. No one has ever spent this much time with me and lived. I saved your life because I believe everyone deserves a second chance." Lex shook his head a bit. Could he have been holding back a tear? It was hard to tell in the dark, but his chest felt heavy with emotion. It was as new to him as it was to her.

Lex took the small cup from the Hunter and slung the remaining concoction out of it before replacing it in his belt pouch. Without asking, he slid closer to her and placed his hands on the cloak, meaning to observe her damaged and broken ribs. Expecting to meet with resistance, Lex locked her eyes with his and spoke as clearly as he could. "I will never take advantage of you or your vulnerability. But if you are to survive, you're going to have to learn to trust me a little bit."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:36 pm

Liliya didn't expect to be forgiven, maybe a little understanding at being forced to do something given his situation with the Doctor he spoke of, but not forgiven. She didn't want to be forgiven. Telling Lex might have been a mistake, but she had to. "My family will not allow a way out. Death is the only option; you do not understand what they will do when they find me. And they will find me. They always do." She turned her attention to Rouge, continuing to pet him, even when the wolf responded to Lex.

"A target and... a former hunter... friends. Allies... that's new." Liliya shook her head, bitterness in her voice when she said 'former hunter'. Being a hunter had been her life. It was all she knew, and it was gone. Now she had nothing but the fear of being found, and the guilt of betraying the one person who had ever shown her kindness. She was preoccupied, and lost in her own thoughts, that when Lex got closer and put his hands on the cloak, she jumped. Jerking back away from him, she stared with wide eyes; her breathing accelerated, her heart pounded, and now she was trembling, but not from any fever or cold.

For a very long moment, Liliya just stared at him, a knot of uneasiness forming in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to tell him to back off, and leave her alone, that she was perfectly capable of checking her own injuries, but the words caught in her throat. Alexandre was right, though, and she could barely move on her own. Even if she told him she could help herself, it would be a lie. Her fingers clenched around the cloak, her body tensing. With shaking hands, Liliya closed her eyes and slid the cloak off her shoulders, turning her face away a deep red flush on her cheeks.

Liliya didn't want him to look at her, or touch her, or be near her, at that moment.She didn't want him to see her, to see her scars, or her body. For all she knew he could be lying and there would be nothing she could do about it. The fear she had buried in the back of her mind was rearing up, and she found it incredibly difficult to breathe.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:37 pm

As much as she resisted, Alexandre did not back down. There was no telling what would happen if she were develop a bad fever. Any number of things could go wrong. Despite the fact that he was not willing to admit it just yet, he was depending on her just as much as she was depending on him. His eyes focused intently on her ribs, and not the curves of her feminine body. "Relax. In life, I was a studying to become a physician. If I wanted to take advantage of you, I would have done so already." Lex carefully touched his fingers to the broken ribs, testing for temperature increase and for abnormal swelling.

Much to his relief, there did not seem to be anything overtly wrong, except for the broken bones themselves. The entire area was severely bruised, but the increase in temperature could be attributed to the weather and her activities. She was, after all, brawling with a monster. Breathing a sigh of acceptance, Lex's eyes flickered to the multiple scars that adorned her torso. Many were clearly visible, while others had faded into memory. Some appeared to have just recently healed, which would be no surprise given her choice of trade. But the narrow cuts looked precise, to much for the random strikes of the incompetent bounties she had collected on already.

After about a minute, which could very well have seemed like an eternity to Liliya, Lex reached up and slid the cloak back over her shoulders, slowly and carefully so as not to startle her. The man-turned-monster was taking extra precautions to be gentle and kind, whether or not she believed she deserved it. "I think you'll be fine. But you need time to rest and recover. Pushing yourself too hard will only make things worse. If you pierce a lung, you'll slowly drown in your own fluids. You may not like it, but I want you to stay here for the night, just to be safe."

Lex slid away from Hunter Volkov, trying to help her feel more at ease. Rouge once again rested against her in an attempt to keep her warm. The large canine seemed to be quite fond with her, despite the circumstances under which they met. Lex smiled a bit, but the upturn of his lips quickly faded as his mind went back to the scars he'd seen on Liliya's body. "I don't suppose you'd want to talk about those scars. Some of those look pretty fresh, and you can't tell me that they're all from your life as a Hunter."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:39 pm

Liliya sat there, her body tense trying to get a handle on the fear that pulsed through her. He wasn't going to do anything; she had to repeat that to herself over and over again, until he slid the cloak back up over her shoulders. She wasted no time and pulled it tight around her small frame, reopening her eyes, the flames from the fire reflected in her hues. She resented the fact that she needed help from someone, and even more that it was him, only because he was the only target she had been unable to apprehend.

Liliya sat there in silence for a long while, just staring at the flames, absently petting Rouge. The huntress was contemplating what she should tell him, if she should tell him anything. He didn't need to know about her scars, about her family or her life. Hadn't she given him enough? She had lost her job, her life, because of him. And because of Niklaus, but putting blame on either of them and none on herself was wrong. Had she not become a hunter, she wouldn't feel so lost without her weapons, without her armor, without a purpose. Sighing, she turned her gaze to the monster.

"My scars came from my being a Hunter." She said simply. "From my training, my mistakes. They are my punishment for being inadequate. Irresponsible. For my disobedience." Liliya frowned, feeling her scars twinge, just from mentioning them. "My brothers, and my father are hunters, they are older and more skilled than I am. If I step outside the line, if I disgrace the Volkov legacy, I am punished." Her gaze was distant. She was looking at Lex, but she wasn't seeing him. "Niklaus.. my brother followed us, he saw me making a deal with you.. he was going to go to my father," she smirked, "he's probably on his way to him now. I will be found and dealt with accordingly. I suggest you not be around when they show up." Her gaze refocused on him, and she tilted her head to the side, a look of almost pity on her face. "Where I failed, they will succeed. You will not walk away from them in one piece."

The marks on her skin were not the only scars she had. Liliya had a lifetime of emotional scars; she was never good enough, never fast enough, she would make a terrible hunter. After her mother died, she had to take over the duties of cleaning and cooking and taking care of everyone along with her duties as a hunter in training. So, Alexandre telling her to rest and recover almost made her laugh out loud. She'd faced a lot worse in her life, he had no idea. Although, this injury was going to be a lot easier to deal with than what her father would do to her. Liliya shuddered at the thought.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:41 pm

It was all starting to make sense. The reasoning behind Liliya's double cross. The scars that marked her body. The persistence in the hunt. Lex felt quite depressed for her; she hid her deeper scars behind layer after layer of cold, callous demeanor. Those scars that he could not see were undoubtedly the most difficult to deal with, for those are the ones that had been affecting her since she had first began training as a Hunter. In Alexandre's eyes, her father and her brothers were the monsters, and it made him angry that such torturous creatures could be called human and revered for their talents, while beings such as himself could not live in peace simply because they were different. Lex stared into the fire as she told her tail, waiting to speak until he was sure that she was done.

"Don't worry about me," he said, his eyes never leaving the orange glow. "I'm not in one piece as it is. It is hard to break what is already broken." Lex pointed to the stitching around his arms, using them as visual aid to illustrate his point. It was meant to be a joke, but only partially so. It was true that he was, in fact, not all himself, but made up of several parts. Having a moment to actually consider it, Lex's eyes glazed over slightly as memory took over. It was difficult to remember how many of his own parts were original, and when the "donated" pieces replaced his own body parts.

"I'm jealous. As dysfunctional as they are, at least they are your family. At one point, you must have been loved. I can't remember much of my life before my death. What sticks out most are the memories of being put back together. You see, I may bleed but most of these parts aren't mine. My arms. My legs. Many of my organs... all belonged to others. My kidneys in fact belonged to Mennoix, as is my liver. His blood runs through my veins. What I do to survive is monstrous, but I save it for the most unsavory of individuals. Once they are gone, I will let organs shut down and I will die. But not before I tear out the heart of the one who created me."

"Liliya Volkov. As long as my body moves, they will not take you away. Everyone deserves the freedom to make their own choices, and to live their lives as they choose without having to look over their shoulder wondering when the hammer will fall. That's all I want, and that's what you deserve. If they kill me, so be it. Use the distraction to get as far away from them as you can. You deserve a chance to live a normal life."

"Not everyone is a monster. You still have a chance."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:44 pm

Liliya had been staring into the fire watching the flames as Lex spoke. When he talked of using Mennoix's liver and kidneys, she raised an eyebrow, turning to face him. He harvested body parts to stay alive? That was different, and incredibly intriguing. How did he even know what they looked like or where they went? Then again, Lex did say that he was studying to be a physician, so it made more sense. The thought that he took those things from others did not repulse her, but made her more interested in him. If he didn't know much about what he was, where he came from and all of that, it made her wonder how he knew he had to do that. "Monster in body maybe, but your mind is still human." She said softly. "More decent than most; who else would have come to the aid of someone who, moments before, tried to end their life? You, Alexandre d'Fleur, are more human than I." Liliya Volkov was a decent person, considering who was out there, but she could not say with absolute certainty that she would have done the same thing for him. It was sad.

Nothing he said had bothered her, apart from his last few words. Liliya was so appalled at what he said she stopped stroking the canines fur. "They have not been my family for a long time. We share blood, and a name, but nothing else. There never has been love," - she cringed at the word - "in my 'family'." The woman scowled at the fire, as if it were at fault for all her trials, and failures. She wholly believed she deserved every scar, every punishment. "You are going to be alive for a long while, if you're waiting for the day when there are no more people like Mennoix. Every day more and more people end up being targets, with their faces on a poster. All of the good has been drained from the world."

Lex rendered the huntress nearly speechless when he spoke of defending her, of her using his death to run. Why would he say that? Alexandre didn't know her! She openly admitted to stabbing him in the back to avoid physical harm, and he still... "I am a cruel hunter. I take away people's freedom. What do I deserve? You don't know me. You have no reason to say that you will defend me from anything." Liliya's voice shook slightly. She didn't know how to feel about what he said. Should she be offended? Angry? Disgusted at the thought of even needing his assistance? No, she felt none of things, and she didn't know why. Why did she speak like she was trying to defend him from demise at the hands of her family? Because no one deserved the torture her family inflicted. No one. Not even the monster sitting beside her.

"I will not allow you to die for me." Liliya turned her emerald hues back to the fire. She had said more than she wanted to; she did not like talking about her family, about Lex offering himself as a distraction. It made her sick, but not because she hated the thought of someone trying to save her. It made her sick because she had never had anyone stick up for her like that, and it made an unfamiliar feeling surge through her. It was a hopeful feeling, like she may not be alone after all; and that feeling was a lie. Liliya Volkov was alone.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:47 pm

"Well that's not your choice to make, is it," Lex asked of her, his voice full of stubborn pride. Since escaping from the Doctor's lair, he had taken his own life into his hands and now had the honor and privilege to decide how and when he would risk his life. His death was his own decision. Lex didn't care if he lived or died, just as long as he eliminated those who had created him. But there was a part of him that hoped he would not fall, that there would be a chance to live a relatively normal, peaceful life without swords and danger.

With a sigh, Lex laid his back against the cave floor, allowing sand to mix into his hair as it clung to the bit of moisture that remained on each strand. Staring at the ceiling, Lex's body felt heavy and cumbersome. But he did not sleep. He never slept. Since his escape, Alexandre had not slept. It seemed his body just didn't need it. Often times he wondered what it was that actually gave him life. What power coursed through is veins? What curse held him together. These were questions he wished to have answered before the Doctor's life was through. Another sigh escaped his lips.

"You underestimate me, Liliya Volkov. You've seen some of what I can do, but I can assure you that you haven't seen everything. But, more to the point, you underestimate my conviction. What use does the world have for a beast like myself if not to use itself as a shield for others. I have no soul to save, no one to mourn my passing. You, on the other hand, could have a life outside of Hunting. Maybe it doesn't seem like it... you have devoted your entire life to the trade, after all. But there is more to life than profession and reputation. There are many ways to make a living. There are remote locations where you could live your life to old age and never seen another Hunter again."

Lex pushed himself out of the sand and into a standing position, his hair wild and covered in sand. His eyes locked on hers, he breathed his next words with absolution. It was clear that he was going to hear no contradictions. "If your father or your brother show up here, they will not touch you." With that, he turned on his heels and moved toward the entrance of the cave. It was easy to stay hidden there, but he would take no shortcuts. "Get some sleep. I'll keep watch."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:48 pm

"Why are you so willing to throw away your life?" Liliya challenged, staring at the monster. "You claim to want to live a normal life, a free life, and yet you tell me you will protect me." She shook her head, frowning. "What if I don't want to be protected? What if I don't want to live far away? What if I wanted to stay a Hunter? I was good at it. It's the only thing was good at." The former Huntress scowled, turning her face back to the flames. "Growing old, alone, far from people is not high on my to-do list." Liliya sighed.

Lex stood at the mouth of the cave, telling her to sleep. Liliya wanted to sleep so badly, but what about him? She wasn't the only one who needed rest; she did stab him a couple times, what was he doing to help himself? Not once did she see him tend to his own wounds. Not where the arrow struck him, not where she stabbed him, nothing. Curious. Opening her mouth to ask him about it, she was cut short before the words even formed on her tongue. Liliya yawned, the action making her take a deep breath, which caused her ribs to pulse painfully. Fine, she would sleep, but in the morning she was going to get more answers. Even with as much as she knew, with every question answered another one was left unanswered.

Liliya fell into darkness almost instantly, and it was blissful.

She woke up with a start not too long after, her eyes wide, pulse racing, a cold sweat clinging to her skin, matting her hair to her face. A nightmare? Liliya couldn't remember the last time she'd had a dream, let alone a nightmare. She tried grasping at it, trying to remember it, but the longer she lay awake, the faster the dream faded until she could no longer remember what had startled her. Her tired eyes turned to find Lex, as she pushed herself up. "I'm not interested in sleeping anymore." she whispered, pulling the cloak around her tightly.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:49 pm

"No matter how tough we are, at some point or another everyone wants to be protected."

Lex let his one-sentence response hang in the air. She didn't have to believe him. In all honesty, he truly believed she didn't. But it didn't bother him. He felt in his heart that he was right. His heart... was it his? Did it belong to some poor soul who didn't deserve the fate they suffered? Did he honestly care? No matter how much he mate hate the man who created him, who returned life to him, he would never be able to say he wasn't grateful to live again. That is why he wanted to protect her. In his former life, he lived mostly for himself. Sure he did simple things for others, but if he was being completely truthful with himself, he'd done it only because it suited his purpose. Lex had an ulterior motive, of course. The doctor had to die. But protecting Liliya from her father and brothers had nothing to do with that. His goal did not change whether she stayed or left. It was his conscience that motivated him.

The monster did not sleep; did not need to sleep. His eyes were focused on the outside. Occasionally a drizzle would begin, bringing a symphony of sound to their surroundings. The cave dripped behind him, the fire crackled and popped, and the menagerie of fauna scampered about the night in search of food or entertainment. It gave Alexandre plenty of time to think, but he got little done. His mind bounced around so much it was impossible to stay focused on any one thought long enough to come to any real decisions. He was immediately snapped out of the chaos of his mind by Liliya's stirring. The small noises she made as she slept and the way she moved hinted that she had been dreaming, and he could only assume that it was not pleasant.

"... if you could call that sleep. You made more noise than a bear makes while it eats. Speaking of, you must be getting hungry." Lex made no movements, not even to turn to speak in her direction. Perhaps it was something she'd said, or something his mind had fabricated. Either way, he found himself in a mood he'd not been in for quite a while. It was not sadness. It was not anger. It was definitely not fear. No, it was something much deeper than any of those. It was resolve.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:49 pm

Getting to her feet proved a great deal more difficult than it had before she fell asleep. Her body had time to rest, now her muscles ached, her ribs sent tiny pulses through her body, and she felt increasingly tired than before. Sleeping was a mistake. It would have been easier if she had just stayed awake. Finally on her feet, she shuffled over to the mouth of the cave, standing next to Lex, her gaze on the outside. Liliya remained silent for a few long moments, occasionally shifting her orbs to look at Lex from the corner of her eyes.

"Why are you doing this?" She asked, once again looking outside, her arms crossed over her chest. "No one is kind for no reason."

As uncomfortable as she was with being assisted, she definitely appreciated it. But she didn't know why. The Huntress had not been given a sufficient answer, and she needed to know. Maybe it was because she had seen so much hatred, anger, and greed, the thought of someone doing something for nothing was hard to wrap her head around. When she got her answers, she would leave. She had to. Liliya was not a good person, in any sense of the word, but she would not knowingly put Lex in the cross hairs of her family. Mainly her father. There was no doubt in her mind that against her two brothers, Lex would be able to handle himself, but against her father was a completely different story. Even if she had not seen the extent of what Lex could do, there was a reason Oleksy Volkov was the most feared Hunter in the region.

Just thinking about her father sent a chill down her spine, and in her paranoid fear she stepped back away from the mouth of the cave. Retreating further into the cavern she passed the fire, but stopped, still in the wide ring of light it cast in the darkness. Her mind was on exit strategies, 'just in case' scenarios, any course of action that would result in the smallest amount of injury.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:50 pm

Lex never took his eyes off the outside. They did not waver, not when she approached, and not when she spoke. He waited a few moments before bothering to answer her. What kind of question was that? Why? Why not? It was the humane thing to do. Of course that wasn't the only reason, and he debated on telling her for quite a few seconds before responding. With a sort of sheepish sigh, he finally ripped his gaze away from the landscape and focused on Liliya. His pupils needed only a moment to adjust to the light from the fire dying behind them, but he let them linger before he opened his mouth to speak.

"Because, as much as I hate to admit it, you are the closest thing I have to a friend in this world. You may not the best of friends, but you're the only person who knows about me that isn't actively trying to imprison or slay me. Maybe you don't believe me, but it is possible to care about someone's well-being without looking for personal gain."

Alexandre didn't think she believed him. But it didn't matter. Actions were more powerful than any words could be. He couldn't just tell her. If her family came after her, he would do what he could to defend her. That much was certain. It didn't matter how powerful they were. To Lex, they were just Hunters. Even as Liliya turned back into the cave, he spoke toward her. His neck was unwilling to twist far enough to maintain sight of her, but his voice carried down the cavern just as well as it needed to.

"What you don't understand, Liliya Volkov, is that my death, by your father's hand, is no worse than the fate that likely awaits me in the Doctor's laboratory. Hell's fire awaits me thereafter. Al'Fa Volkov would only hasten me on my journey."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:50 pm

Liliya did not turn around when Lex spoke, though she did listen. That does not mean that she believed a word he said, though. Friends? How can someone go from enemies to friends so quickly? Was that possible? Just because she was not trying to actively kill him or drag him to the Doctor did not mean that they were friends. Although, Liliya didn't have anything to compare their relationship to. She'd never had any friends before. Not even acquaintances. The Huntress was a solitary type, she did not find peace or happiness in the presence of other people; it was a very complicated situation, since she didn't like being alone either.

“Liliya. Or Volkov. Not both.” She muttered, her eyes scanning the darkness beyond the light of the fire. She acted as though she were afraid that Oleksy was going to reach out from the nothingness and grab her. It did not matter if Alexandre was willing to throw down his life for her, if she were taken before either of them realized what was happening. That thought frightened her more than she would ever admit, and in her fear she stumbled back away from the darkness, moving back to the fire and the safety she felt by it's warmth.

“You're a fool, Alexandre.” She said, with a tired sigh. “Oleksy will not kill you. He will rip you apart and deliver you piece by piece to your Doctor. Only after he has taken your will to go on. He will make sure you beg to go back to the place you detest.. and even then..” she trailed off, shaking her head. The man that she called 'Father' was as twisted and cruel as they came. If she had even a sliver of Lex's determination to kill the Doctor, she may have considered ending her own flesh and blood. “Even then he will not give you what you desire. If Oleksy gets his hands on you, kiss your freedom, your revenge goodbye. The moment he sinks his twisted claws into you there is no escape.”

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:51 pm

"You are correct," came a voice from the back of the cave, the aged baritone echoing deeply off the damp cavern walls. The origin of the voice could not be seen; it was too far in for the light to reach it. But Lex knew it well, and his heart sank. He had hoped that, when he heard that voice again, it would be gargling blood and begging for mercy. But his dreams were shattered the moment his first word was uttered. "The Alpha Wolf is a fearsome opponent indeed, one that you, Lex, with all your strength, could not hope to defeat."

The voice stepped into the light, revealing an older man, his hair white as snow and his wrinkles etched clearly into his face. Despite his haggard appearance, he wore a smile on his evil features. "Liliya. I'm disappointed. A Hunter of your lineage should have no problem apprehending this... unruly beast, despite your gender. You've grown so... soft." Lex leaped from his seated position and hurled a knife at the Doctor, but it seemed to pass through him rather than impact him directly. His simple white cloth tunic didn't so much as wrinkle as the blade sliced through him as if he wasn't there.

"Oh there is no need for that," said the Doctor. "I come only to talk. Volkov, you may yet regain your honor. Return the monster to me at my home in Calendon at once, and I will personally see to it that you are feared all the world over for your prowess. They will know you are female, but will fear you even more for it. Failure to do so will be... immensely unwise. If you knew all the lives he took, the brutality that he has wrought upon the world, you would not trust him enough to stay in his company. As him about his mother. You'll find out all you need to know."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:52 pm

A voice came from the darkness beyond the fire. For what seemed like an eternity Liliya froze, her breathing stilled. Only when she realized that Oleksy was not the source did she relax, but not for long. With the way Lex reacted and the familiarity with which the man spoke, she could only assume that the voice belonged to the dreaded Doctor. The Huntress straightened her spine, her eyes turning cold and dark. He insulted her, his words like a slap in the face. The familiar ache of being inadequate shot through her chest, and her hands reflexively clenched.

Liliya narrowed her eyes, her jaw clenching. He did not know her, he had no right to speak to her like that. "I don't know, nor do I care who you think you are, or what you assume to know about me." She hissed. "I do not require anyone's assistance in getting my honor back. I am not soft, and if I truly wanted to bring him to you I would. I do not need you, Doctor. You need me. So why don't you shove your offer at some weak little bitch who can be bribed? Do not threaten me. It would be... immensely unwise." She spat his own words back at him.

The Doctor had made a grave mistake thinking he could rattle her. Although, he had piqued her curiosity, and as soon as that man was gone she would get more answers. But for the time being she would stand between Lex and the Doctor, unmoving. Lex said he'd protect her from her family, well... she was going to take him to the Doctor. And she was going to help the monster get his revenge.

"Don't worry, Doctor. We will come to your home, but it will not be for the reasons you want. I am not going to hand Alexandre over to you. If you want him, you'll have to go through me first." Liliya had not only openly threatened him, but she basically declared that she would assist the monster-man in ending him rather than get her own reputation back.

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:16 pm

The smirk on the good doctor's face was enough to cause Lex to shiver in his own skin. It was something he did when he thought someone was being childish, a lesson he learned early in his afterlife. Now he showed Liliya the same sly grin; the Devil was taunting her. "Spare me your threats, little girl," the nameless doctor chided. "Better hunters have tried. You will meet them if you do happen to show up at my door. I sincerely hope you come, especially after you've discovered the truth about your little patchwork bear."

"As for you," he said, his outstretched finger wavering in the air as the magics that held together the vapid form began to dissipate. "You have been a naughty little thing. Return to me immediately, or you will watch all you hold dear in this world burn to ash and dust!" The threat echoed off the cavern walls as the image faded into nothingness, leaving only Liliya and Lex in the dimly lit cave, surrounded by darkness. The only sound came from the fire, it's embers popping occasionally as it held onto it's final hours, dying on the ground.

"He means it." Lex's words finally left his lips. "He will stop at nothing to have me back. I am his key to salvation, and yours to damnation."

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Re: The Animal In Me

Post by Danry on Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:22 pm

Liliya stared for a long moment at the now empty space where the Doctor had previously stood. His threats did not scare her, they instead angered her further. She didn't give a damn if other Hunters tried and failed to get at him; Liliya was not, under any circumstances, like any other Hunter in existence. Frowning deeply, she turned to face Lex, her displeasure apparent on her face, her lips tugged downwards.

"I am already damned." She shrugged off his words. "He does not frighten me, and I meant what I said. The only way that... man.. Will have you is through me."

Turning to the dying fire, she sighed softly, the adrenaline from the sudden encounter waning, her chest throbbing in pain. When the Doctor made his threats, Liliya had decided to help the monster. Not because she was honorable, not because she did not like to be called out. The former Huntress was repaying a debt owed. Lex had saved her twice, and it was obvious what the goal in his afterlife was. She would pay him back by helping him achieve it.

But first...

"What did he mean when he told me to ask about your mother?" Liliya did not turn from the flames, merely shifting her gaze to him for a second, before turning back to the fire. She couldn't help her curiosity. Aside from that, if she were to help him, there were certain things she was going to need to know.

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Re: The Animal In Me

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