No Toes Were Sacrificed

Participants:

huruma_icon.gif megan_icon.gif

Scene Title No Toes Were Sacrificed
Synopsis Some really cold nights lead to really cold water in the mountains, but no one lost any limbs!
Date October 30, 2013

Somewhere near the Canadian border


The foraging run went sideways in more ways than one. They'd split up on the way back, Benjamin cutting east of their planned route while Megan cut west — they had to lose the team chasing them. It's all she can do to put one foot in front of the other. The dunking in the stream has her wet to the skin and her only focus at this point is making it back to the campsite. Some distant part of her mind realizes that she's stopped shivering. That's a bad sign. Mentally going down the list of hypothermia, she struggles to remember and recite all the facts in her own head to keep herself moving and sharp, not give in to the confusion that comes with the drop of core temperature.

The rifle slung over her back bangs into the tree as she stumbles over a small branch and pitches sideways into the oak, rustling branches and snapping dead shrubbery in her wake. She is by no means being quiet. The camp has to be close. Unless she took a fucking left at Albuquerque and she's lost… in which case, she'll be sitting down to go to sleep soon. And she just won't wake up. That's… not the worst way to go.

It is starting to dip into the evening hours, and with the shift in temperate climate the sky calms and the trees bristle with a chill, easy wind. Huruma had been at the camp, waiting, waiting, waiting, only to finally give up her wait once she came to the conclusion that they needed help. And now. She hasn't felt either of them come within spitting distance of the camp since they had left to collect what they could.

Huruma takes only a small light and barebones with her when she heads into the wilderness, coat belted tight and a gun in a holster, a simple pack over her back.

Each step widens her more psychic sight, a vast span of her senses prodding and pushing to its outskirts. The light in her pocket remains there; Huruma uses the waning evening light for the time being.

Leaning against the tree, Megan lifts her eyes to the darkening evening sky. The stars always look so bright in the cold. Pinpricks of icy diamond against violet as the sun drops. The moon is nothing but a sliver and sheds a little light, but even in the winter when the deciduous trees are bare, the conifers hide some of the sky so that light is sporadic. She reaches up and removes the sodden woolen cap from her head, dropping it next to her, thinking her hair might dry faster. Or at least freeze solid and be warmer? Does that even make sense? She doesn't know.

Some eternity later, she finally manages to push to her tired feet and stumble a few more steps through the forest. A lot more steps, though she doesn't know it. She's off the path at this point, still vaguely heading the correct direction, but slow. So slow. Left. Yo left. Yo left, right… right yo left. Tiny bubbles… in my beer… makes me happy… makes me full of cheer… Old marching songs, elongated because she's moving slowly. But they pass through her mind and keep her surging forward. Pick up your FEET, Young! You think just because you're a girl I gotta go easy on you?

God she'd hated that fucking training instructor. Survival training sucked shit, and that sergeant needed his testicles ripped out through his belly button. Young, get your ass in gear, you're holding up the flight! Fucker. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fucker. Tiny bubbles… in my wine…

She doesn't see the branch that trips her and lands her face first in the brush with a resounding crash. Although she manages to roll over, she's not getting back up again. She knows it. This war sucks. Going to sleep's not the worst way to go. She's so tired. Her brain idles to Huruma and Ben… Sisters before misters… the sleepy part of her brain wonders if, with her out of the way and not sharing his bedroll anymore, maybe he and Huruma will figure it out.

She had been loathe to leave the camp unattended, but if anyone came back while she was off, it would still be there. Ben and Megan both know that they are not exactly the bloodhound of the three. It falls to the one who can sense people through trees and ether.

Huruma's steps are quiet and deliberate, carrying her onto a thin deer path before long. The hoofprints in the mud are reasonably fresh, but she has to remind herself that now's not the time for hunting. Not that kind.

The sound comes first, distant. Huruma freezes in place, head swiveling to follow the echoes, short as they are. She remains silent for a moment more. The crash is enough to draw her in closer, and it turns out to be striking gold. Once the edge of her senses tangle around Megan's mind, the dark woman gets her bearings and steps off at a fair speed. Noise is minimal, save for the unseen crackle of twigs underfoot, crk, crk, crk in the half dark.

Fuck. On your fucking feet, soldier! Harkness's harsh voice is distinctive in her memory, and only once has he ever barked at her in that tone. It was after an explosion… which fucking explosion? She can't remember. He was yelling at… who the fuck was that kid? Branch? Givens? Whatever… they're dead now. All of them. But the voice has the effect of at least galvanizing her to move — to roll over and crawl to her knees, her arms shaking as she fights her way up off the ground.

Breathing hard, she has to wait there, summoning strength enough to get to her feet. It's gonna be the most awkward bear-walk-looking climb upward ever. Not that anyone will see it. Maybe she can just lay down and nap for a few first… red alert klaxons start in the back of her brain, but she can't figure out why for a moment.

The noises of footfalls pause, and then carry on again, careening nearer. When Huruma finds a break between old elms, she vaults a fallen branch in the wake of her friend's apparent struggle. Megan's emotions are sour and tense, flickering between resignation and stubbornness; once Huruma spots her, it is a scant set of strides that carries the dark woman over.

"Megan! Megan." Huruma's hands even under gloves are sunspots of warmth when she steadies the other woman by the shoulders, crouching beside. "M'malaika, you are frozen…" The realization comes with a flush of momentary panic, quickly quelled. "Is there anything you can't feel?" Just as a test, one of Huruma's hands skirts over the edges of limbs and joints to examine for anything more than cold. "I will get you back, I'm here…"

The new voice is just as much in her head as the other one. It takes several very long moments for Megan to register that it's not just a phantom. "Hooms?" she stammers. When the hands skim her, they encounter basically nothing dry. Her coat is heavy with water in the wool fibers and everything else, while no longer dripping, is definitely soaked through. When the gloves come off the hands, Megan can still move her fingers, but it's getting very close to the wire here.

Her breath hisses between her teeth when the darker woman chafes at her fingers. "Ow." It's all she says. "I don't know if there's anything I can't feel… I can't feel anything, I don't think," she admits from between clenched teeth. It would be better if they were chattering. "Thank God you came looking." She closes her eyes for a second and Huruma can see her waver there, and then the nurse forces her eyelids up again. "Got to keep moving. Can't go… much farther. Core temp dropping."

She holds out her arms and lets the taller woman help her upright, determined with renewed stubbornness that she's going to make it back to camp. "Ben?" Had he made it back to camp yet?

Huruma is careful as she examines Megan, and she knows before Megan says as much that they need to get going. This could be bad.

"Not back yet. I can look after I get you safe." If he does not show, that is. Rather than have the other woman hobbling along beside her, Huruma puts a leg between Megan's feet, crouches, and pulls her across the set of her shoulders arm-first. "Gods, you're like a popsicle." Maybe some levity before she sets off with Megan in the fireman's carry. "Don't waste your breath, let me walk."

Megan would normally squawk and carry on a bit about being lugged around like a sack of potatoes. That she doesn't is telling indeed. She 'oofs' a couple of times when even Huruma's catlike steps can't save her from a jostling… but the jostling and the sound also verify for Huruma that she's still awake and hasn't passed out.

By the time they get back to camp, Megan's mumbling something about bony shoulders and when Huruma finally lets her down, her knees give out so that she's more or less a puddle of wet Megan next to the fire. No sign of the their third member, but despite that, it's perhaps not as urgent. The redhead is still, just holding her hands toward the fire without being too close while Huruma rounds up dry things — it looks like it's gonna be a straight stripdown next to the fire tonight.

"We got split up," she explains in a voice that sounds almost like she's talking around something her mouth, the effort to shape the words fully too much. Her brows pull together some. "Why'd we… oh right. Scooby Doo." She's not warm enough yet to exactly make sense, though if one stretches the imagination, they might make the connection between the old cartoons and the Scoobies running for their lives from some critter or other.

Being slung around like a lumpy bag is faster than being dragged through the underbrush. At least there is that. Camp is still alive with firelight, and it shines in Huruma's pale eyes as she situates Megan in front of the fire. "My shoulders are not bony. Carried you, didn't they…" The sass is something Huruma hopes keeps Megan surly enough to stay aware.

Huruma returns a short time later with a bundle of dry clothes, hooking fingers into Meg's sodden wool coat to peel it off. It's heavy and freezing, and promptly gets thrown over a low branch. They can dry it properly later.

"Scooby what?" No stretching here, just Huruma puzzling back as she drapes out dry layers. "Okay, I'm not going to wrestle you out of these, so try to help me out here…" Keep that blood pumping, in other words.

She isn't all that cooperative about it. Megan's sluggish brain doesn't want to get up and move more. "I'm tired," she whines. Megan never whines. "I don't wanna, Hooms. Can't we do it later? I'll stay by the fire…"

Her attention is lolling a bit too, but a little prodding gets her to her feet and under a few pointed pokes and verbal shoves she finally acquiesces to actually help get herself out of her wet clothes. "You know… Scooby Doo." She makes little running fingers. They're awkward. "Meddling kids sticking their noses in other people's business and wrecking perfectly good cons… always gotta run from the bad guys." Her words are slurred and her voice muffled by a sodden shirt.

Her skin is covered in goosebumps even standing right next to the fire, and it has a pallor that's not usual even for the paler-than-pale redhead. But as she gets bundled into dry things, she sort of starts waking a little more. "We had to run. Me'n'Ben. He went… th'other way." She looks toward the woods, puzzled. "He's not back yet?"

Huruma sets a hand against Megan's forehead when she makes that fuss, expression further tunneling into confusion. She has enough mind to stay on track with her attempts to get her friend out of the wet stuff and into dry. "Oh. The dog cartoon?" It almost sounds as if she has never watched Scooby Doo. "Sounds like us."

Once Megan is in dry clothes, Huruma wraps her up in a woolen blanket, pulling her hair back away from her neck. "Not yet. I would think he'd have had some commentary on the show, don't you?"

"Come, sit down here with me." Huruma has a second blanket in hand, seeking to throw it around the two of them and allow Megan the use of her own heat. "I will look for him once you are warmed up… not leaving you like this."

She's finally beginning to shiver. That's a good sign all the way around. Through chattering teeth, Megan talks. She seems to be still a little confused but regaining coherence. "Y-y-y-yes, the d-d-dog c-c-cartoon." Finally actually realizing how cold she is, Megan scoots in and accepts the cuddling under a blanket being offered. "J-j-j-jesus, H-h-hooms." She quits trying to talk, rolling her eyes at her friend. Pins and needles are finally starting to attack her fingers and toes, and it hurts.

"Th-this s-s-s-s-s-s-sucks!"

"Now you see that we don't actually get hurt on purpose." Huruma wraps one arm around Megan and uses the other to tug the blanket close. "it absolutely 'sucks'."

Huruma looks up past the crackle of wood towards the dark, idly scanning her senses for anything new. "God, I am so glad that I got so tired of waiting. I'd never forgive myself if you froze…"

"Pfffffffft." The sound is almost the same as the one Megan makes when she's good and sloshed. "Because me having to hurl myself down a bank into the stream was something you coulda stopped," the redhead scoffs between shivers. She leans into Huruma. "I'm really glad you got tired of waiting too." There is a deep gratitude there. "I don't honestly know where I even was. I think I lost the path." She's still a little fuzzy around the edges, evidenced by her very earnest declaration, "It moved."

While Megan leans up against her, Huruma gathers the red hair she pulled back to tie it in a loose braid to dry. The curve of her ribcage under raised arm is a good place to huddle, and the bump of her heart is felt through her chest sought out.

"You lost it. But it did not move. Sorry, love." Huruma shakes her head. "You were not far off of it. Just far enough, though…" The heat of a sigh puffs at the air between them. Everything will be okay now, one hopes.

She'll be embarrassed in the morning — not by the near miss of hypothermia but of the rambling and slurred nature of her confused thoughts. "Good," she replies in all straight-faced sincerity. "I'm glad it wasn't so rude as to move — after all, I was following it home!" She must have been having some doozies of dreams lately about cartoons, or else for whatever reason being in this cold is bringing up thoughts of her childhood that are somewhat confused with getting lost in the woods this time around.

Once the shivering finally eases, though, Megan drifts into sleep on Huruma's shoulder and it's not too terribly long after that the empath's senses pick up on the approach of their third. Taking the long way 'round meant he missed out on the rambling half-asleep exploits of Scooby Doo in a frozen lake somewhere that makes no sense at all. But at least by morning the worst has passed and the redhead is just still quite tired. No one lost any toes! It's a win.


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