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Roughin' It (IC)

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Mid-afternoon, November 10th.

Elias has ventured the idea, as a team building thing, and because, well he wanted out in the woods, and he expected that they wouldn't just sign off on him going alone. So post up a request, and see who would nibble in the beginning of November. Of course he had been in worse weather, so he was fine in it. But surprisingly, there were people willing to come along, a larger group than he expected. There was a faculty member coming along, one of the science teachers, a Mr. Landis, mostly there to make certain no one caught on fire, and to drive the van. A nice guy, Mr. Landis spoke with anyone who wanted to know about biology, but he seemed as keen as some of the others to get out of the city for the weekend.

Elias had been the first person to throw up his tent, and then immediately started foraging once he accomplished that, taking a hatchet with him to use as a tool. He didn't discourage anyone from coming with him, and he had to tell Mr. Landis what he was going to do anyway.

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Toan Baudin stepped into the clearing, a broad smile on her face. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, taking in the scents of the forest; loam and leaf, wood and animal spoor, all the smells of a biome busy with life and hidden movement. She could almost, almost tune out the acrid stink of the bus' petrol fumes and believe she was back home, on the place the Freedom League had called Earth-Pastrol. Which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing, as the planet was firmly in the grip of the Terminus, but apparently even those who grow up on caustic death worlds can get homesick. She felt her spirits lift just being out of the city and in a more natural environment.

The young woman hitched her backpack, a load that looked far too heavy for her, and turned back to the two friends she had dragged along on this expedition. "Sam, Cerys, c'mon! Hustle, or we won't get our tents set up before nightfall!"

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Blodeuwedd aka Cerys did not enjoy camping but then again she didn’t hate it either it. She had spent time camping out in the field either in the form of survival training or as part of a mission. But she’d never spent time camping just for the fun of it.

So why exactly was it here? Well it seems that some of her friends were quite interested in all this camping for fun and had managed to convince here to come along. She hefted her well packed backpack and followed behind Tona. At least here the air was fresh and clear and nowhere near how cold it would back home.

“Well we wouldn’t want that now would we?â€

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Subito leaped down heavily just after the heavily-pierced archer girl from another world, echoing Tona's words "Let's go, senóritas! Justa few minutes of work, and we can get on with the good times! Starry skies, hikin' in the woods, campfire songs, we got great days ahead!" he sang out happily, laden down with three tent bags carried under his arms, a small backpack holding several changes of clothes(few of them suited to the weather), a stack of books each of which were thicker than his head, and various camping odds and ends that hadn't fit in any of the other bags. He had on his usual white t-shirt and jeans with baseball cap jammed down over his thick black curls and battered running shoes, though for this occasion he had donned a simple red and green flannel shirt that had lost most of its buttons, which gave him a vaguely lumberjack-like look. He had assisted in the dragging along of Cerys, regaling the withdrawn Welsh girl with tales of the presumed monsters, secret places of power, and the endless mysteries the forest reputedly held as they drove deeper into its reddening trees.

He listened to the rustling and creeping sounds around them, the quick steps of birds and rabbits quickly drawing his eyes to where he guessed they were. He sighed contentedly, declared "This..this is gonna be awesome" hoisting the bags and carrying them to the clearing where they were setting up camp. He got to work with will, humming cheerily to himself as the stakes were pounded in, the lines were threaded through their maddeningly narrow channels in the tents and knotted deftly. Testing the last of the ropes with a sharp tug, Subito got to his feet and noticed Elias heading off into the woods with the hatchet 'Huh, guess he's going for firewood. Maybe I oughta go with...' a quick look-around for their faculty chaperone, a casual "Hey, Mr. Landis? I'm gonna be with El, be right back!" and he jogged after the reserved psychic. Falling step with the other boy he said cheerfully "So, what're we lookin' for?"

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Elias had just wanted out of the city, if he despaired at the larger group than he had expected, he didn't say it. Though as soon as he was in this situation, he immediately adopted the mentality his mother had instilled in him. Shaking his head a little a Subito's question. "Edibles. Maybe starter and tinder. But it's too wet for wood, I think. We'll see." His mom had gone over most of the places in the U.S. so he knew how to look and where to look for such things. So he moved, pausing to pluck some lichen and moss as needed, before stopping to check on some mushrooms, frowning a little bit. "Not much this time of year."

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Sam gets out of the van, not in much rush, tossing her own backpack over her shoulder and stepping out into Mother Nature's loving embrace. There are trees. And rocks. And a patch of dirt. And more trees. And this is going to be so boring. Subito's itinerary doesn't improve things, either.

Why did I come here, again? she thinks to herself, her eyes falling on Tona as she visibly perks up and calls back. Oh yeah.

She hustles, her pack (smaller than most of the group's) slowing her down. In this weather, this far in the middle of nowhere, she has to bundle up. Poofy powder blue winter jacket over a sweatshirt over a long-sleeve shirt over a short-sleeve shirt over under armor, her lower body slightly less insane. She's not about to claw her way out of that with any haste.

Having no idea what to do next, and having no desire to follow anyone into the forest to do what looks like real work, she waddles after Tona. "So, we do tents first?" she asks.

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Tona glanced at Sam and a spontaneous smile grew on her face. "Yes," she said, as the day suddenly seemed brighter and the air seemed crisper. "We have to set up tents. Individual tents, I was told." The short woman's brain kept working for a few moments after she stopped speaking, and she suddenly blushed. It wasn't that she necessarily wanted to share a tent with Sam, it was just that, well, they were out of the school for at least a night and she was really pretty and they were technically dating (or something) and wasn't that what technically dating (or something) people did?

Tona felt her blush grow hotter as her mind wandered down that direction. Oh mon dieu, I really have to think about something else. The archer sprinted forwards into the clearing and shed her pack, flipping open the top and removing a few nylon bundles. One, which also bore arm straps, she set aside; the other two she dropped on the ground and unrolled, scattering the metal rods and plastic fastenings it held inside all over the ground. "Come on," she said, starting the fit the tent poles together. "Once we get these up I'll show you how to make snares. With some luck, we'll have rabbit to eat tonight!"

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"We're goin' food-hunting? Awesome! I agree, it is a-" he stopped mid-stride, listening to something, his swarthy face brightening as he overheard Tona's words "Oh hey, Tona's gonna try and catch some rabbits with Sam." he glanced Elias as he walked beside the other boy "But yeah, it probably is a little late in the year to find much, but there's bound to be something to be found." he wasn't exactly a woodsman, and his steps were loud enough and crackled the underbrush enough to make sneaking up on any animals impossible with him around.

"So..what are we looking for? Berries?"

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Sam had already done the math on the tents. It was obviously going to be either individual or boy tent/girl tent, and there's a teacher here, but it's nice to dream. She grabs her scarf from a side-pouch and puts it on. Not to hide anything, of course; it's cold out.

She clears her throat and latches onto the first available change in subject. "I don't think I've ever tried rabbit." And, as she drops her pouch (having walked the rest of the way there), she's not entirely sure she will this trip. She has faith in Tona, sure, but she's not the outdoorsy type, and catching and prepping meat on the spot seems kind of out there to her. Hence her pack being filled with enough canned food to get the group through the weekend. Or maybe she's wrong and they can try rabbit with pineapple.

Tents, however, she trusts. Sticks and connectors and fabric. She knows how those work. Probably not well enough to go without looking at the directions, but she tries anyways. "So..." she asks, inserting tab A into slot B, "did you do this sort of thing a lot, y'know, where you come from?" She didn't know much about where Tona was from, and it seemed like a touchy subject. Or maybe Sam was just projecting.

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Tona frowned as she tried to fit the tent parts together. Everyone insisted life here was a lot simpler, and there certainly were less monsters to worry about, but how great could a world be if it messed up something as simple as a tent? She sat back for a moment, rubbing her cheeks. "I used to hunt squirrels and rabbits a lot," she said. "My dad told stories of hunting deer before... well, before." She glanced over at Subito and the other boy, Elias. Sam and Cerys already knew her secret, and she was sure the teacher did, but she didn't want the other two to find out if it could be avoided. It wasn't that she was ashamed of being from the Terminus or anything, she just wasn't ready to shout it from the rooftops.

"Rabbit's pretty tasty," she insisted. "Squirrels are okay, though. More useful in the long run, since you can turn their teeth into arrowheads. They have to have pretty sharp teeth to chew through the metal, after all!"

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"Anything that cannot hear us maybe, too late for edible berries. You are loud. And if we are after animals I'd want to be 2 or 3 miles from camp. This is State land. We'd be poaching." Elias was careful with how he placed his feet, his eyes surveying his surroundings. "Also Cerys tends to point her feet at you when she is around you. And Tona's best bet is squirrel, unless she wants to hike. Not that I know the other two..." Thus far in school Elias had been studious and quiet. His aloof nature showing, though he largely didn't talk, and he seemed aware that he tended to stick his foot in his mouth, like just now. Pausing then. "Oh, black birch, good that'll help with my headaches." Snapping a twig off a tree limb near his face he then popped it into his mouth and started to chew, carefully. His expression becoming intent as his nostrils flared. "Creek nearby, I can smell it. If the ground gets a little moister..." He picked his way carefully among the trees and brush, and then abruptly dropped into a crouch, setting the hatchet down. "Come here Subito." His voice quiet, insistent. "Wood blewits!" Gesturing to a sizable cluster of brown, muddy looking toadstool like mushrooms. He stripped off his windbreaker and laid it on the ground to the side, and used the knife to cut mushrooms up quickly and cleanly, tossing the ones he cut onto the jacket. "Here, help. Need to cut the stems." Pausing a moment to look at his shoulder at the taller boy, still chewing on that twig.

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Whatever the ones back at the camp were talking about, it wasn't any of his business. Directing his attention to the sounds coming from closer by, Subito wondered dourly 'Man, between me an' Elias we're gonna end up saying enough stupid crap to kill much chance of friendship. Not inevitable, but likely if you choose to not try and be less challenging.'

Subito scowled "Sorry, I forgot about the poaching thing." he said apologetically, slowing his step and treading more lightly when Elias mentioned he was being too noisy. "Dunno about Sam, but Cerys is pretty good at the outdoors and hunting thing, went to Wales with her once and I could barely hear her walkin'." he added admiringly, a smile spreading across his face before he abruptly realized what the other boy had said "Wait, she points her feet at-what are you talking about?" he demanded with a sharp look at the more reserved teen before looking away, shaking his head and grumbling "I..forget it, nevermind." just as they stumbled upon the stand of dark birches, and Elias' quickly began gnawing away.

Blinking in slight disbelief at the sight of someone chewing a twig from a tree, Subito shrugged it off, though he took a few extra pieces from the close grouping of ash-grey wood, stuffing it into the many pockets of his jeans, unconcerned with the holes they were bound to wear through the thin fabric. He started as his name was called, advancing quickly over the slightly muddy ground and almost stumbling upon the telepath by the mushrooms, he looked closely at the fungi before hesitantly nodding and taking out a narrow-bladed knife from his belt "Okay then, I will do that. Anything else I should remove while we're harvesting these?" he asked with obvious unease, glancing over at Elias as he spoke, severing the caps from their stalks with deft cuts. He was perfectly safe from any poisons the blewits might secrete, but he knew all too well that wasn't exactly a universal thing.

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Whilst the other were bustling about Blodeuwedd sat herself down and began to lay out all the parts of her tent and began to quietly put it all together. Only when she felt she had something to add did she finally pitch in her option.

“Sound like the only prey we’re going to find is Welsh Rabbit.†She a little smile at her own personal joke “Though between the ration packs I bought and all the can’s Sam has rattling around in her backpack we’re not going to starve tonight. Personally I’m not a fan of all this Ray Mears camping but if you want ot indulge yourself feel free.â€

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Tona had no idea who Ray Mears was, but she realized everyone's expectations of food was low. She grabbed her pack and stood, slinging it over one shoulder. "Oh ye of little faith," she said. She opened the pack and pulled out her bow, folded and compact. A quick jerk unfolded it to full size, and her other hand brushed over the arrows in her pack. She hadn't brought the acid or glue arrows, or the Claremont jacket that was as close as she got to a uniform, but she had plenty of broadheads and bodkins. Perfect for hunting, though she wished the weather was better for fish.

Tona took a few steps away from the campsite, towards the woods. "I," she said loftily, "am going to get us a proper dinner." With that she turned and made her way into the brush.

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"Squirrels can do that?" Sam asks, clearly a few steps behind in this conversation, but when Tona gets up, she tags along, half-finished tents notwithstanding. She said they'd do it together, after all, and the animals won't notice her anyways. She can hide from lesser creatures easy enough without burning a hole in her jacket.

Thoughts of laws and poaching are, of course, the furthest thing from her mind. A bit odd for her, actually; in her former job, she was usually keenly aware of precisely which laws she was breaking. It's just that this isn't a set of laws she ever cared about. "So, do you just keep your eyes peeled for some animal, then shoot it?" she asks, figuring that to be the most straightforward way to get the job done.

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Tona drew a bodkin arrow and nocked it, but didn't put any draw on the bow yet. "Well their teeth have to be pretty sharp." The young woman turned and stepped into the forest, moving with an easy grace through the underbrush. She turned sideways to slip between trees or ducked under their branches rather than raising a hand to part them, and she seemed to know just where to put her feet so as not to disturb the carpet of dead leaves and sticks on the forest floor. "After all, they have to chew through the metal at the tree's core. I was taught that the tree picks up the metal under the soil and as it grows, it takes the metal with it and so when the branches grow out the metal is thinner and able to be worked." She reached a hand up to brush at an eyebrow stud; the piercing was dark wood and silvery metal, intertwined as a single piece. Any seam was invisible, with the grain of the wood fading smoothly into the surface of the metal.

Tona turned in place, her entire body swiveling, and she froze when she saw Sam's expression. "Is... that's not how it works around here is it?" She blushed and turned, quickly hurrying along. "Um. Anyway. I wouldn't mind hitting a rabbit with an arrow, but probably not. If we can find a path, I'll set up some snares. Same for squirrels. Look for a good, long, straight branch on the ground, that's what we need for squirrels."

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He hummed to himself for a moment as he quickly cut some of the mushrooms and then set them down onto the windbreaker, and glanced at the other boy. "Hold the cap gently and cut the stem, don't pull the mushroom up until the knife is pulled through. The mycelium isn't very sturdy. Yes, like that. They are safe, only late fall edible fungus in this stretch. We will want to rinse them when we get back." Nodding approval at how Subito was doing it. "Body language. Cerys points her feet at you when you two talk. A sign of interest. Just like you getting caught in the memory just now." A shrug of his shoulders as he looked at Subito a moment, and then looked back down at the blewits. "You are from the city, so you're not used to walking quietly out here, or poaching laws. I am familiar with them, and have broken them before, but Mr. Landis probably wouldn't like it. So no apologies needed. You did correct me on subway etiquette." It was all so matter of fact to him, as Elias seemed almost incapable of taking offense to any reaction or overreaction to Subito, or anyone else for that matter. It was clear there was no malice from the strange telepath, and considering how thoughtlessly abrasive he could be, it was a useful skill. "Though she does move quietly. So do Tona and... Sam. They look at each other. With meaning." Taking a moment to recall the other girl's name, before he closed the knife and put it into his pocket. "We have enough. Foraging to forage. Mr. Landis brought plenty of food. I remember liking them before." Then he slowly folded the windbreaker up, and then tied the sleeves together, turning it into a makeshift basket, before standing up.

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"It could also mean that she's just got good manners, which she does possess." Subito challenged with a grin. "Tell you what, El: when you fall in love with somebody, I promise I won't bring it up. It'll be totally hilarious anyway. I bet it'll be-Ooh! A whole bunch more under this stump!" he neatly pulled off his flannel shirt and tossed it open onto the ground, the chilled late autumn air that whispered through the Wharton forest completely lost on his empowered skin.

Cutting out the edible parts of the mushrooms was quick work individually for the stocky Puerto Rican, but a whole bunch of them was a different story. And he suffered several sharp nicks from the blade until they were done. He folded up the knife and tucked it back onto his belt, scooping up his flannel shirt filled with the surplus he had found, licking away the blood with a wince as he followed the bald teen back to the camp, thinking over what Elias told him. "That's not much of a secret, nah." he agreed when the telepath mentioned the mystic(or so he assumed) redhead and the heavily-pierced huntress's behavior together. 'Though...with my hearing and his powers not many secrets that people talk or think about last for long. Keep telling yourself that, my Herald.'

"Do they not have subways, or trains other mass-transit where you're from El?" Subito asked with an air of disbelief, leaping up to beside the bald boy and surveying his face curiously. As they got closer to the camp he swung his head around abruptly, listening with care. He glanced further into the forest where he could hear the voices of the two girls "Looks like they're hunting thataway. I'll keep an ear out, just in case." he shrugged as they breached the grass around the campsite "Pretty sure there's not much around here they couldn't deal with easily though."

He waved to Blodeuwedd "Hey Cerys! El and me got a whole lot of really great mushrooms! You like mushrooms?" he asked hopefully, all smiles.

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"Well," Sam says, looking for a delicate way to put it. "No, not really." She has such a way with words. But she's gotten used to Tona's misconceptions from her own world, so she doesn't have that edge of disbelief anymore, and she doesn't sound like she's on the edge of laughing. That last one she saves for the real gems.

Instead, she sets to filling in the blanks as she follows along. Though she's not as used to the wilderness, her usual soft-footed tricks serve her well, and the game won't notice if she slips up a bit here or there. "I've never heard of a metal tree. We dig our metal up from the ground, and then we melt it out of the rocks and pour it in a mold, or heat it up and beat it into shape. Our trees are just wood, all the way through." Of course, her own grasp of metallurgy is far from exhaustive.

Along the way, she keeps her eyes peeled until she finds a decent-looking branch. A big, bulky thing, but it mostly fits the description. Though... that looks way too heavy for any sort of snare... then, she spots something big. A huge branch that must have fallen off during a storm. "Think we could cut something that'll work off of that?" she asks.

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Tona looked over at what Dam had found and her eyes lit up. "Oh, oui, that will work beautifully." The girl walked over, still moving all but silently, and stowed her bow in order to heft the deadwood off the forest floor. It rose above her head a few inches, but she was strong and managed to get it upright. "Okay," she said, "now we need to get it next to a tree." It wasn't easy, but between the two of them they managed to walk it over and lean it against a nearby birch.

Tona sat down next to the dead branch and shrugged off her quiver. The bottom unzipped to reveal a cache of survival supplies, including a tightly wound spool of stiff wire and a pair of fold-out cutters. She went to work, cutting lengths of wire and bending them into nooses. "Thank you for coming out," she said suddenly between snares. "I know this isn't something you'd normally do." She glanced over and gave Sam a small smile. "It would have been a lot less interesting if you had stayed in the city, I think."

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Whilst the rest of the group where away tracking down food Blodeuwedd was quietly putting together her tent, before moving on to the others.

She had learned over many years about using the quiet moments to use them to centre herself and go over things that were gone on in her life.

She was happy that Tona and Sam had got it together, though they had clashed past they would be good for each other. She wondered if she should ask Tona how serious it was, and whether she should talk about a room swap.

Her main concern was what was going on with her and Subito. It was obvious that the two of them had some kind of attraction for each other, but neither of them seemed able to take the final step. Maybe she should ask him home for Christmas?

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"My mother is poisonous to the touch, my father is a sociopathic fanatic to the ideal of a ruthless dictator, and I have to active try to not hear just the surface thoughts of others. I have, what they call in those silly movies, intimacy issues." As always he said these things without inflection, apart from his accent. Not that he didn't feel emotions, he simply just did not convey them, and he did try to keep them in control, as a few times earlier in his life he had projected out his emotions when he couldn't rein his in. "So if I have resolved those, you are more than welcome to mention that I like that person. I fail to see why my feelings for someone would be a subject that would irk or upset me. Why does my mentioning the mutual interest in Cerys bother you?"

"In my experience, secrets, real ones, are a rare thing. Eventually they come to light." Glancing to Subito for a moment as held the jacket carefully so as to not drop it. "If Tona catches something, I'll ask for one or two animals, so I can show you how to skin them. More practice with the knife will help with not cutting yourself. It is how I learned." He was turned to Subito as he said that, ducking smoothly under a branch that he hand't been looking at.

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The words 'poisonous to the touch' got the lion's share of the stockier boy's attention, and his initial reaction was perhaps less than exemplary. Listening closely and with obvious sympathy to Elias' patient recounting of what to Subito sounded like an unimaginably horrible upbringing, his sorrowful eyes suddenly narrowed in thought, and he said "Wait, hold on. Your mom's poisonous? Do you mean that metaphorically, or that she's, like, literally poisonous? I mean, sorry to ask about that, of all things, but you do sometimes go all poetical in the middle of sentences. And that if it's the latter..I dunno how that could even work." he spread the flannel shirt out on the grass, carefully arranging the mushrooms so that they could dry in the weakening autumn sun as he pondered this new revelation. Looking back up from the humble piles of fungi he told the telepath "If that's the case, I don't blame you for having those issues. I thought it was one of those "I gotta keep control, or else I'll go all Scion of Sobek on everybody!" problems. To be fair, that's a thing a lot of psychics I've heard of seem to have to deal with, but...yeah, shouldn't have assumed that was the whole story. And I meant that I didn't want to act like I didn't want you t'be with them. Here's hopin' you meet a dashing alien princess who wants to know what 'love' is!" Subito laughed, grinning widely "You could learn it from each other!"

He considered the question put to him for a few second before answering "Okay, you wanna know why I get so nervous when you start talking about..uh, me and Blodeu? Well..." he glanced over at Cerys before muttering to the other boy "She's awesome. She's really cool, smart, has a kickawesome family, fights evil with a magic sword, is always really collected in situations where I'd start freakin' out..." he shook his head, downright starry-eyed and gently smiling "She's like, Welsh James Bond if James Bond was a girl and fought evil magic guys" he declared firmly, his gaze drifting up at the clouds before descending back to Elias' face. "I like to be around her a lot too. She..likes to be with me, and I have no idea why. Sometimes when we meet around campus between classes and talk and I'm talking so much louder and laughing so much harder than her, I feel like I'm this really overeager dog that's always bouncing around and barking, like I'm being annoying and dunno how to not be, and..." he stopped abruptly and looked sheepish "Uh..that probably doesn't answer your question at all, does it? Okay, short version: You bring it up a heck of a lot when we talk, seriously dude It's gettin' a bit weird, and I feel nervous talking about it."

He went back to inspecting the mushrooms, checking for anything unwholesome that he had missed while cutting them out, grimacing a little at the faint pangs from his hand, grinning with bravado as he replied "Sure thing! I'm not too sure my hands will ever be all that good with delicate stuff, but it can't hurt to practice. Hey, Cerys!" he called over to quiet girl cheerily "You think they'll catch somethin'? Sam and Arrow Girl, I mean." he added by way of clarification, a sudden thought striking him "Huh! You know, I haven't heard that Bowman's got an Arrow. Gotta to ask Tona if she's ever thought about that."

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Oh, so that WAS what she was looking for. For some reason, Sam had thought Tona was looking for something, well, not as big. She does her best with the grunt work, but heavy lifting was never her strong suit, so she mainly makes her end a little easier for Tona to drag, and grunts a lot.

"As long as I'm in good company." She reaches around Tona- and it feels like reaching way around her in her half-dozen layers- to give her a hug and a quick peck on the cheek. "And I can always pop us to Vegas," she dropping the name she's played up so much for Tona, not that she'd ever been there herself. Not at all a serious plan. "After this trip," she quickly adds, making it clear she remembers her promise not to just step through a shadow and wind up back in civilization.

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Tona felt a pleasant tingle move up her spine as Sam squeezed her shoulders, and her fingers fumbled at the brief kiss. She smiled at Sam, her hands handling the task of tying nooses without her even watching it. "That might be a lot of fun," she said. "As long you're around." Tona wasn't much for big cities, but then Sam wasn't much for the outdoors and she was here, wasn't she?

The snares ready, Tona stood and started securing them to the dead wood. The free ends were tied to what short branches remained, and the nooses stood off the wood, barely visible in the dappled sunlight. "Et voila," she said, standing back and giving a good look over. "With luck, we'll be eating squirrel tonight." She reached down and took Sam's hand, pulling the other girl tom her feet. "C'mon," she said, leading the other girl through the forest. "I want to see if we can find a bit of water."

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