|Series||Crossfire by Pixichi|
|Previous||Crossfire, Chapter 24|
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Connie and Reaver never did find the wolves that they had searched for, but as the daylight hours approached, they did manage to make their way out of the ominous cave. Connie stepped into the warm sunshine, taking in a deep breath as she did so.
"I thought we'd never get out of there." She sighed.
"I know now not to follow you around anymore. How you managed to live this long on your own is a complete mystery to me Connie." Reaver groaned.
"Hey! How was I to know that the wolves weren't inside the cave?"
"How were you to know that mountainous regions are filled with balverines, or that wolves seldom make caves their home at all?" He argued.
"Ok, mister wolf expert, why didn't you stop me if you already knew that? If your so smart then how come-" RUSTLE RUSTLE...Reaver hushed Connie and pulled out his Dragonstomper .48. He aimed it at the rustling brush.
"Come out or I'll shoot!" He threatened. Slowly, the wounded body of a small black creature crawled into view. It was a female wolf cub, with jet black fur and a moon-shaped scar on her forehead. She looked up at Reaver with huge green eyes as if to say, "Please sir. Don't shoot me." Reaver holstered his pistol, and then crouched down and slowly eased his way over to the wounded animal. The wolf growled in fear. Connie pulled out her sword and stepped in.
"Reaver. She's injured. She might attack you." He waved off her concern.
"Who's the resident wolf expert my dear?" Connie's heart raced at the possible danger, but Reaver remained unfazed.
"Connie. Pass me your dog elixir."
"Your going to heal her?! But she'll kill you!"
"Just do it!" Connie nodded reluctantly and passed the potion towards his outstretched hand. Reaver poured the blue liquid onto the ground before the wolf. She smelled it cautiously, but then reluctantly lapped it up. The wolf cub stared into Reaver's green eyes with her own. Then, she slowly climbed atop his lap, and cuddled up next to his warm chest. Reaver felt his heart soften. Could this be what Connie gets from Lance? He thought as he held the small pup in his arms. Connie watched the scene in disbelief. The look on Reaver's face was so shocking that she almost said something, but decided against it at the last moment. Slowly, he reached an outstreched hand to touch her warm black pelt. SNAP! The pup took a quick nip, but thanks to his quick reflexes, she caught nothing but air. Reaver smiled proudly and looked toward Connie.
"Now THAT'S a pet!" Connie looked at him bewildered.
"What?! Reaver, she's a wild animal!" Reaver nodded and pulled a strip of jerky from his satchel.
"Precisely. If I was ever going to have a pet, it would have to be wild, gorgeous, and feisty, like me." The wolf licked his fingers where the jerky had smeared fat. Connie just watched the scene, at a loss for words. You've got to be kidding me... She thought.
As the bright sun rose into the scarlet sky, Connie found herself traveling back to the Bower Lake gypsy camp with Reaver, Lance and Reaver's new "pet" in tow. The raven-colored wolf had made no attempt to attack either Reaver nor herself, and she followed Reaver around constantly. It was the first time that Reaver actually seemed normal to her. He would pat his thigh and smile as the wolf would follow him around. Occasionally, he would whistle for her, and the wolf would always respond as eagerly as any dog. Lance had taken an interest in the pup automatically, but she seemed too shy to let him come too close. Connie looked over her shoulder at Reaver.
"So what are you going to call her?" She asked. Reaver looked up from the wolf and smiled.
"Call whom?" Connie stopped and whirled around.
"That wolf that's been following you all morning, that's whom! Listen Reaver, if your going to keep her then you probably need to give her a name, so that she'll-" He cut her off.
"Who says that I'm going to keep her?" Reaver asked, looking from the wolf pup to his lover.
"Why did you save her then? And why do you keep encouraging her to follow you? Its very confusing Reaver." Connie retorted. Reaver looked at her cooly.
"I might have thought about keeping her Connie, but honestly, we've already got Lance. What good would it do to keep her? Unless you want some wolfdog puppies. I take it that your "best friend" hasn't had his manliness removed?" Connie shook her head.
"No he hasn't. But I don't want to mate Lance to that wild animal of yours. You either need to decide if your going to keep her, or else shoo her off." Reaver looked away.
"Ah, yes. Now I am remembering just why none of my other relationships ever worked out..."
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Connie snapped.
"Well clearly Connie, it means that I am having second thoughts about you dear. I mean, I am in shock that you could hate an animal so harshly, seeing that your best friend shares that very same trait. And besides, you have been a bit naggy." Connie looked up at him.
"Reaver? You don't want to be with me anymore?"
"Well unless you change back from this shrewd balverine woman into the sweet and cute Connie that I fell in love with, then no." He snapped.
"Oh, so now its shrewd to be concerned for the welfare and the safety of my friends and family because you have a wild animal following us? Reaver, your leading her right to them!"
"She's just a pup, and furthermore, I'm not leading her, and even if I was, I told you! Only rabid wolves attack people."
"Well how do you know that she's not rabid?" Connie argued.
"Because she hasn't attacked us yet, she's not foaming at the mouth and I've seen her drink from Bower Lake five times already, so she hasn't got hydrophobia like rabid animals do." Reaver snapped.
"Reaver. I understand that you are tired. You've been through a hellish couple of days. But please, lets not argue anymore ok?" Connie pleaded.
"I really think the time for apologies has passed Connie. I can only take so much of your abuse before I decide that its not worth the trouble." Reaver replied. Connie shook her head in shock.
"Wait a second. So you aren't even willing to forgive me? And then your saying that I am the one responsible for the relationship not working out? At least I apologized Reaver! You haven't even made any attempt to apologize! Even back at the gypsy camp with Cloud, you were two prideful to apologize for embarrassing me!"
"Ah, yes. I'm sorry for defending your honor m'lady." Reaver bowed mockingly.
"I didn't need you to. You just assumed that Cloud was some terrible man to me. Yes it hurt when we broke up, but what he said was true. We broke up because we both decided that my destiny was more important than a relationship. I knew that I could die, and he knew that I needed to concentrate on avenging-" Connie stopped short.
"Avenge what?" Reaver inquired.
"-Rose. She's my sister."
"Connie, I didn't know that you had a sister."
"Well I did. She was killed by Lord Lucien. That's what my quest was really about. Avenging Rose, and saving Albion from the grip of that madman." Connie told him, a tear welled up in her eye as she remembered the night that her sister had been shot.
"Why did he kill your sister?" Reaver asked. Connie fought hard not to break down.
"We bought this music box one day, when we were still living as orphans in Bowerstone Old Town. We worked so hard just to save up five measly gold coins."
"Why not spend it on food, why a music box?"
"It wasn't just a music box, it was a magical box that could grant its owner any wish in the world, or at least that's what the seller told us."
"And being children, you two believed that snake-oil salesman eh?" Reaver chuckled.
"It was magic. It turned out to be a genuine Old Kingdom artifact. Rose made a wish, to live in Castle Fairfax, and that night, guards came and took us to see Lord Lucien."
"Interesting. I had no idea that the old loon collected children's toys. But that doesn't explain why he shot you." Connie cleared her throat.
"He shot Rose and myself! He found out that one of us was a hero. It turned out to be me, but Rose was the one who got killed." Connie's eyes welled up with tears, and she fell to her knees to the grass below. "Rose...oh dear sister..." Reaver walked over and lifted her chin.
"Shhhh. Please don't cry my beautiful little sparrow." He crooned to her as he held her tightly. Her body trembled as she wept, and he continued to console her until the tears ceased. Connie looked up, her face damp and her eyes red and puffy. Reaver kissed away the last of her salty tears.
"Connie, I'm sorry. I guess I have been a bit touchy lately. Do you forgive me?" He offered. Connie sniffed and smiled.
"Of course I do."
"But you've got to try and be nice to me Connie, because I love you." He whispered in her ear.
"I'm sorry for getting so hostile. I'm just not used to all this." She fiddled the charm with her initials upon it.
"Connie dear. You only need to tell me if your suffering. I can take care of everything for you love. Lets not fight anymore." She crumpled into his awaiting lap and rested her head upon the soft red velvet of his warm cape. The two of them had been up all night navigating the cave, and with the warm sun and soft breeze, it was hitting them both that they were exhausted.
"The sunshine feels so good...maybe I'll just rest a bit..." Connie fell asleep to the smile on Reaver's lips.
Connie was awoken abruptly by the sound of Reaver's cursing.
"No! No! How could you?! You troublesome curr! I'll get you for this!" She shot up from the grass.
"Reaver? Reaver !? Where are you? What's happened?" Connie cried out. When she didn't get an answer, Connie reached for her pistol and began searching the area. She found Reaver, standing on edge, the small black wolf cub cornered by some trees. Connie surveyed the scene. Reaver looked very angry and the poor wolf looked terrified. She approached, curious as to what was going on.
"Reaver? What's going on? I heard you yelling."
"That mongrel ate the last of my pie!" Connie was taken aback by his reply.
"Your pie? Reaver, I didn't know that you liked pie, your in such great shape." Reaver shot daggers at her.
"I don't like pie, I love pie! That, dear lady, right in front of you, stole my last pie slice." Reaver pointed to the wolf. The pup sulked slowly over to Reaver and whimpered.
"Oh no! If you think that you can just eat my favorite pie and then crawl over here on your belly, you've got another thing coming!" Connie was amused.
"Reaver, have you fed her any all day?"
"What does that matter? She's a wild animal, and I told you Connie. I am not planning to keep her!"
"But if she was hungry, and she's been following you all day which would prevent her from hunting or eating..."
"I know that! But of all the food to steal from my pack, why my last slice of apple pie? Honestly, there must be a weeks worth of jerky in here!" He cried out frustrated as he dug through his satchel The wolf crept closer and rubbed her head up against his leg. Reaver looked down at the big green eyes, so much like his own. His frown melted into a smile.
"Oh alright. But if you ever steal from me again, you won't be so lucky!" .
"What have you decided to do with her then?" Connie asked. Reaver grinned at the pup, who was still nuzzling his pant leg.
"I guess I'll keep you. Troublesome." Connie looked at him and laughed.
"Troublesome? That's really going to be her name?"
"It seems appropriate. Now lets go!" Then, with that, the four travellers headed back to the gypsy camp. Connie, Lance, Reaver, and their newest companion, Troublesome. As they reached the entrance of the camp. Reaver leaned against a wooden post.
"I'm going to wait outside, I know how your friends must feel about wolves, and how your ex beau must feel about incredibly handsome me" Reaver looked down at Troublesome, a cocky grin on his face. The ebony wolf looked up at him, and the moonshaped scar on her forehead seemed to glisten in the morning light. Connie shrugged.
"Your probably right. Alright. I'll be right back." Cloud, Regina, and Sandy were all still making preparations for the festival, Connie approached the camp elder, Murry. The ancient old man with the white beard and bald head smiled up at her as she called out his name.
"Ah! Young Connie Remswood! I never thought that I'd see you again in my lifetime. Just look at you! You've grown up all pretty and noble." Connie smiled.
"Thanks Elder Murry." Murry shook his head.
"No need for such formalities! Just call me Murry."
"I was never able to locate the wolves sir. I'm sorry." Connie told him. The elder smiled wisely.
"Oh don't worry about them. Packs probably moved north by now. It gets too hot here in the summer months after all." He spat a wad of tobacco into the central fire pit.
"Hey, where's that other hero, Reaver was it?" Cloud asked, approaching her.
"Um, he wanted to wait in the Bowerstone tavern."
"Then he's afraid to fight me then?"
"No, he'd actually kill you if it came to that." Cloud looked sad.
"It seems like he was right about one thing, he's already won your heart I see."
"Cloud, you'll always be special to me. Please, try to understand, I didn't want to hurt you." Connie replied sweetly. Cloud hugged her with his strong burly arms.
"Your too sweet to ever hurt someone Connie. Just promise me that you'll be happy with him." Connie nodded.
"Anyway, if it doesn't work out, you know where to find me." He winked.
"Bye Cloud." Connie whispered, as she watched him walk off into his caravan. Sandy watched the scene and then smiled at her friend.
"You sure about this Reaver guy Connie? Cloud really loves you. You do realize that he never stops talking about you."
"I know. But I'm sure that Reaver is the one for me, more than you realize. I just hope that Cloud forgets about me. It would be for the best."
"I'm glad for the both of you. Take care." Sandy replied, as she and Connie hugged goodbye.
"Wait Connie!" A voice stopped her just as she was ready to leave. A young boy, roughly five, came running towards her. The youth grabbed the hem of her stained dress and looked up at her with his big brown eyes.
"Rainy? What's the matter?"
"Connie? Are you really not gonna be queen? Someone told my mommy that you didn't want to." The rest of the gypsies' turned and looked at her. They had all been thinking the same question, but only the innocent child was brave enough to ask it. Connie turned around and scanned the camp. She now knew what she had to do.
"Rainy? I have decided that I am going to accept the decision. I am going to become the Queen of Albion!" Connie shouted triumphantly. The crowd that had since surrounded her cheered madly. Connie curtsied and Lance howled proudly. I only wish Reaver was here... She thought sadly. The gypsies all bowed before her, then Connie turned, waved goodbye, and left. Reaver was still standing behind the camp wall, waiting for her.
"So your going to really do it?" He asked with a sly grin.
"Yes. I think that I have what it takes to help all of Albion, after all, I did do it before." Reaver nodded.
"You where amazing during that final battle by the way. I'm sorry that I never told you."
"Well, you where telling me in your own way back then. But it sounds so nice hearing it from you this way." Connie gave him a small kiss on the cheek. He felt a strange feeling overwhelm him. Yes, do it, its time. Reaver clasped her soft hands tightly within his own.
"You have reopened a part of my heart that I thought was long dead. You are an amazing woman, and I love you more than anyone in the entire world. Past, present, and future. Please my dearest, please, would you give me the honor of becoming your husband?"
"What?!" She jumped back surprised.
"Will you marry me Connie?" He repeated as he gazed deep within her eyes, bluer that the lake itself. Connie felt a teardrop trickle down her cheek.
"Yes. Yes I will." She threw her arms around his neck and Reaver held tightly to her, kissing her neck and inhaling her sweet floral fragrance. Reaver gently set Connie down, and pulled a small trinket free from his pocket, and slipped a silver band around Connie's finger.