Cheyenne Point lo que el mundo gira

after this

It wasn't a long drive at all. Good thing about it being late was avoiding any weird looks from his neighbors as he lugged her up to the apartment. Fuck them if they did, anyway. Mateo got her settled on his bed, got her in one of his shirts, a pair of his boxers. Idly he thought about asking Lora to keep some clothes over here, but that was a step ahead of where they were right now.

With her situated, he took a quick shower, then promptly collapsed into bed to get as much sleep as he could while she was out.

Hours later, as he sun was breaking into the slits between the blinds, he became subconsciously aware of the shift in her breathing. He'd be in the process of stirring awake when she came to. She'd notice immediately he had her wrapped up in a hug that held her back against his chest.
No dreams this time. Didn’t seem to be much of a pattern for it - sometimes her brain worked hard to process shit while she was still out post-coma. Maybe sometimes it was just too much. She woke slowly at first, struggling to make sense of the placement of the light through the window in her field of vision. Coming from above instead of beside her. Was she laying in bed the wrong way? What the fuck?

The feeling of being completely disoriented was somewhat mitigated by arms around her. Didn't take a fully conscious mind to realize who it was, of course. The hyena grumbled in its confines, too spent to come out now at least, but making noise as her heart hammered all the same. Memories from the night before were slow to rise, lingering behind her scrambled absorption of the present moment.

Some part of her wanted to wriggle free, to launch out of bed and crawl out of her skin. She put a hand on his arm, anchoring herself instead, frowning at the wall with puffy eyes as she squeezed.

Quiet for a few seconds, she took a deep breath, giving in to the natural urge to stretch a little, legs straining straight, pulling at the fabric of unfamiliar clothing.

After a few long moments, the more purposeful movements pulled him entirely to the surface. His eyes blinked open, not too aggravated by the early morning sun. The lion groaned and inspired a snuffling inhale as Mateo pulled back, hazy and gathering the situation before him as he waded through waking up. Lora, hyena, sweat, meat smell. Right. Last night felt both weeks ago and a few moments ago. Shifting in his place, he clutched her closer with the arm she grabbed while his other moved to prop up his head. "Hey." He greeted back softly, throat dry and feeling tight.
She laid still as he shifted his weight, trying to will herself to be grateful that she was cuddled up in a bed with a good man and not waking up in a cave or a pile of dirt. Or a... dumpster. God, hyenas were disgusting. She closed her eyes against the memory of tearing through that grimy black lid, but worse ones came in its place, sporadic and invasive. Yellow trying to talk her down. Snapping at her in the first place. That poor chick. Glad she'd made it out unscathed. Thought about staring Mateo down through the animal's eyes, about trying to shred his bumper off the truck. Jesus. What a fucking idiot.

With a groan, she pulled her free hand under the pillow beneath her head and folded it against her face. She needed to get her shit together. What a fuck-up. She also needed a shower. Needed to do a lot of things.

Muffled by the pillow she was half-suffocating herself with, there came a question. "You okay?"
This was, for a few seconds, nice. He wished they were waking up together under any other circumstance. But the weight of last night was heavy and impossible to ignore. So he shouldered the memories as they came tumbling in, looking her over as she burrowed into the pillows. The question, at least, drew a soft laugh. "Me? Yeah." He confirmed. He moved a hand to rest on the curve of her hip, "Are you?"
She was not feeling especially okay, all things considered. She was tired of herself. She was exhausting. There came an unkind thought that Mateo would be tired of her in no time at all, too. He had enough shit to deal with without Lora fucking something up and then crying about it.

"I'm fine." She breathed mindfully, evenly, trying to slow her heart. Totally fine. Should be grateful it hadn't gone way fucking worse. She let the pillow fall away from her face, rolling slightly to look up at him. He looked like he'd gotten some sleep, at least, all soft and waking. Her hand reached up to touch his cheek, frowning despite herself. "I shouldn't have called you. I'm sorry I put you in that situation."
He was ready for that answer. Knew she wasn’t gonna just go into it right off the bat. There was an urge to call her bullshit now, but he decided against it. Instead he nodded gently, moved his hand to brush his fingers through a stray hair on her forehead. “It’s okay.” He told her simply.

“You hungry?”
It wasn't okay. It made her feel a little crazy. Itchy. Like she needed to get up and leave, but there was nowhere to go. Did he just not want to talk about it? She chose not to push it - didn't know what else to say. He was moving on, anyway. Hunger was absolutely present. She wondered how much of his fridge he'd emptied out for the sake of luring the hyena into his truck.

Her hand dropped from his face, folding back over her chest, fumbling with the t-shirt fabric. Restless, but unwilling to get up before him. "Yeah."
He wanted to hug her tighter, squeeze her hard as if doing that would make anything better. But she was delicate right now, so he needed to be mindful. Naturally, she was hungry, probably hungrier than he was realizing he was. "Okay. How about you get in the shower and I'll start on breakfast?" He offered, his hand moving to squeeze at the one of hers that was tugging at the shirt.
It was hard to accept this kindness. Gotta take care of each other and all that, right? They already were. This was another good example. It still hurt. She still felt guilty, and had some slow realization that maybe Mateo just didn’t want the apology. Didn’t like to see her all pitiful and shit. It was a frequent state of being for her these days.

"’Kay," she agreed softly, releasing the shirt in favor of squeezing his hand back. She craned up to plant a kiss on his cheek - raw meat mouth was probably not great to kiss - and moved somewhat jerkily to get out of bed and shuffle to the shower. Maybe if she came out of her frenzy brain enough she’d appreciate the fact that she was wearing his clothes.
Kay. He sighed softly at the kiss, but didn't search for more than that. Helping her out of bed, he followed after, but moved to the kitchen instead of the bathroom. There wasn't a door for her to shut. He'd get around to replacing it at some point. Anyway, to the kitchen he went. Most of the meat he had in his fridge had been donated to luring her into his truck, but he did have a pack of bacon left. Plus eggs, tortillas, beans... enough to pull together what passed as huevos rancheros. Low budget version, but whatever.

When she returned, he was nearly finished. In preparation for her having to wait, he'd cut up some mango and set it out on the counter for her in the meantime. At the sound of her approach, he glanced over his shoulder, "Want coffee?" He questioned.
She suffered through cyclical thoughts that ground hard as ever through the shower. Felt good to be clean at least, even if she came out smelling a little like a man. Better than smelling a little like a dumpster. She swiped some of his toothpaste onto her finger afterwards, too, a haphazard brushing for her own comfort. The smell of food permeated the little apartment, loitering in the doorless bathroom over the smell of soap and mint. Her stomach growled fiercely for it. Or maybe it was the Hyena.

She abandoned the task of squeezing her hair dry in favor of hustling back into the shirt and boxer outfit she’d been put in. Momentarily, the sight of Mateo standing there cooking inspired a warmth that overrode everything else. The sliced mangos, the offer of coffee. She smiled in spite of herself, picking up a glistening slice of fruit, leaning against the counter near him. "Yeah. Thank you." For fucking everything, but it went unsaid. "Smells good."
Domestic. He thought that was a good word for it. Just normal stuff, for a few minutes. Making breakfast while she showered, seeing her walk in in his clothes with wet hair and no makeup. It was easy to pretend they hadn't had the nightmare of the night before. But they weren't going to just not talk about it. He just figured they should be allowed to eat and wake up first. So he nodded and moved to the shitty coffee maker on the counter to start on making a pot while the food finished sizzling. "Huevos rancheros." He said in response, "Can you get plates down? In the cabinet above." Naturally, she would find a stack of paper plates in the cabinet with the plastic wrapping still on, but a hole ripped big enough to pull a plate through.
Huevos rancheros. Something eggs. Ranch eggs? She didn’t know. She’d never tried them. Her mind caught on food for the moment, circling the half-animal though of just eating a scoop of beans before it was all ready. Instead, she did as he requested, licking mango juice off her fingers before she reached to fish a few plates out of the plastic sleeve.

She kept quiet, back to feeling jagged and uncertain. Watching his hands get coffee started, picking up another piece of fruit.
Silence, but that was fine. He didn't prompt for anything else until he'd come back to the food, and moved it from the burner. "Can sit on the couch." Was about the extent of it though. Just small things here and there as he finished up constructing the meal on each of their plates, then moved to pour them both a cup of coffee. Eventually, they were settled on the couch, making do with their laps because he didn't own a table or anything. Sat with his back against one of the arms of the couch, he exhaled softly and went for a bite of food. "You know that girl from last night?"
She watched him fix their plates, feeling distantly endeared by it all, and followed him to the couch. She sat the same way he did, facing him and digging into breakfast immediately and somewhat gracelessly. She hoped the hyena was beginning to associate him with easy meals.

"No." Shook her head, swallowed, eyeing her coffee. "Just met her last night. You get her name or anything?" Something to call her half-savior besides Yellow, maybe.
Right. That made sense, from what the girl told him. They had some kind of issue, then they fell, and Lora started shifting. It didn't fully add up. For as new as she was to it, he considered her pretty fucking capable when it came to not shifting in public. What made her lose it? "Kayla or something." He said, not bothering to care enough and remember it. "What happened anyway?"
Kayla. Okay. She'd do her best to hold onto that. Ridgefield was a small world, but a big ass city. No guarantee she'd find her. Nothing she could do about it now, but she was being tasked with regaling the whole embarrassing story. Lora frowned at her plate, eyes closing for a second, a muted cringe. Okay, kiddo, buckle up.

She straightened up some, pulling in a big breath, eyes moving to his face with a dogged look. "So... I've been getting shitty sleep since I moved in. Some kind of adjustment thing I guess, and... figured I should just get out of the house. Decided to go skate. And just... as soon as I got there, I knew it was a stupid fucking idea." He knew what kind of shit could happen when she didn't get enough sleep first hand. "Then this chick shows up and starts to take my skates, and I fucking... yelled at her. God." She shook her head, completely ashamed. "Just like, "hey," and she got pissed off, and that was that at first. Then I was on the rink when she fell the first time, and I was feeling pretty shitty so I went to help her up, and then we both fell. Her eyes got all yellow and I guess it pissed off the hyena, and I just. Couldn't hold onto it."

She felt that same fear all over again. Flashback. Fearful for how fucking badly it could have gone, at any point. Could've shifted in the rink, could've killed someone. Could've killed Mateo. She was so fucking lucky.
He settled in to listen without interrupting, making headway on his breakfast as she spoke. Apparently, she'd been sleeping like shit again. For a while, it'd seemed like that had all fixed itself, but now it was back in full force. Enough that she thought getting out of the apartment for a bit would help, but in the end spelled too much trouble than it was worth. She'd been on edge, snapped at the girl, the girl's wolf got all pissy, which made her pissy.

He paused a moment to chew and swallow after she was finished, but when he realized that was in, he nodded and licked at his teeth. "That kind of stupid shit is always what sets it off." He said with a nod, and a shrug. "I almost shifted from cutting my finger on paper."
It was stupid. She wondered if Mateo thought she was stupid, for a second, but he’d been through something close to it. Almost shifted over a paper cut. Shifted over getting a taco jacked. It was stupid, but on the animals’ behalves, she decided. Stupid animals.

"God. Fucking insane." Frowning, thinking of Kayla calling the beasts dumb bitches. Yeah. At least... she probably understood. She sighed heavily, speaking before she went for another mindless bite. "Think I’ve learned my lesson." Again. Don’t underestimate the beast. Living on eggshells fucking sucked.
It was only a few months ago, but it felt like that'd been two years ago. Looking back now, it was weird to think... six month in and here he was. Still struggling, but less. That didn't mean he was out of the woods. Neither of them were. There were lessons to be learned still, and apparently Lora learned one. "Yeah? What? You can't just not go out and do things."
He said that, but damn if she hadn’t thought about the perks of just living in the fucking woods like an actual fucking animal. She huffed, shaking her head. "No. I know. I just can’t be going out and doing shit when I’m... I dunno, like that. Like. I should’ve just gone jogging around the block or something instead." She shrugged. Still felt like she’d practically been asking for trouble.
Alright. Just not when she was tired, or on edge. Needed to find other things to relieve stress. He nodded. He'd been going on a lot of runs lately. "Yeah." He said, scraping at the rest of what was on his plate, eyes on the food for a moment, "Whatchu been staying awake for? What keeps you up?" He had a vague understanding of insomnia, but it didn't make much sense to him. He was good at falling asleep.
What kept her up? That was a good question. "I'm not sure. My brain just doesn't switch off sometimes. I just... lay there and think about shit." She shrugged, looking at him with a slight shake of her head. "Think about the things I'm scared of, or every... shitty or embarrassing thing I've ever done." Barbarian, New Years, or even just things like the time she yelled at a teacher in high school because she was fucking high. She gestured to the side of her shaking head with the last scrap of her tortilla. It was just a trash fire in there, some days. "You know what I mean? You ever have invasive thoughts?"
So, she just... thought. Remembered. Shit she did, shit she fucked up on. Invasive thoughts, she called them. He made a face that, if she knew it well enough, could tell her he wasn't entirely sure he even knew what "invasive" meant. But he shrugged, answering anyway. "Yeah, I guess I do that, but not when I'm sleeping. Mostly when I shower, or used to be before fights. But I got good at blocking it out."
She did catch the look, something missing in translation. Oops. He seemed to scrape it together well enough, at least. She thought about Mateo standing in the shower, staring at the wall while water pelted his head. Wondered what he thought about. His family, his life in Arizona? Being a lion, and everything that surrounded it, maybe. Good at blocking it out, though. She nodded, letting the now-empty plate rest fully on her lap, cradling the coffee mug in both hands. "Yeah. It's not all bad, I should say... sometimes it's just random shit, but. You know. I need to work on that. Blocking it out." She fixed him with a small smile, thinking again that she was exhausting and pitiful. Needed to work on that, too. "I think part of it is getting used to the new place, too. I dunno."
He didn't know if he was even capable of thinking enough random shit that it kept him from sleeping at all. He wondered if stuff like melatonin would work on her. Or maybe just getting drunk enough to fall asleep. Probably not. Also, that wasn't good for you anyway. She suggested it also might be the move. Again, he hadn't ever struggled to find sleep in any situation. He'd slept in his fucking truck.

"Mm." He said with a nod, "Maybe." He bent to set the plate down on the floor then, and picked up his mug, "You sleep okay here? With me."
Maybe. Lora watched him still, tepidly stretching her legs out so that she might rest her feet against him. She felt shitty still, but damn if it wasn’t good to be loved. It was easier not to question why or how right now. Blocking that shit out.

"Uh. Yeah, usually," she decided after a brief pause. Especially after shifting. Hello, coma. "I think it helps. Having you there." She didn’t know what the science was. Maybe it was sheer mush.
"What if I stay over there sometimes? While you get settled in," Felt a little like he was inviting himself to just stay somewhere for free, but he was sort of doing that here already. But at the same time, if it helped her, he wanted to do it. Also, if he was being honest, it felt better to be with her than without. Gushy shit. Overprotective shit. He didn't know. But it was her choice, he wouldn't be hurt if she told him no.
The offer warmed her. Sweet thoughts on top of having been cuddled awake, breakfast made for her, mango slices. It crowded out the thoughts of being unworthy for a moment, and she gave him another soft smile, a slight nod of her head. "I'd like that." Their apartments were close enough to one another that that sort of thing should be no sweat, she figured. Plus, she did like it. To think, this man dropping her off in Hawknell on a cold October day, telling her he was only good for a night. "Can come over whenever you want to, honestly. Think you've earned it." Seriously. Luring a hyena into his truck. What the fuck.
Alright. Easy. Felt right. He nodded, laughed at her words with a shrug. "Yeah, well, you still owe me bacon." He teased lightly, and moved his foot to prod her thigh with his toes. Also, his bumper was fucked, but he was absolutely not going to mention that. She had enough to feel bad about for now.
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