Evening a couple of days later, Link and the Hippy where sitting underneath a large tree eating fruit, occationally talking, but mostly just lounging around. Link was reading a novel by flashlight, which has become a nessisity for him since he and the hippy girl spend so much time outdoors. She appeared to be making something out of leather but Link never really got around to asking her what it is. Time passes between them with relative ease, each of the them doing the things they could easily do alone next to each other for reasons niether of them could fully put into words. As the last light of the day fades the unmistakable clink of spurs, comes closer to them heralding either the apporche of the cowboy, or someone who is a just as much a lost soul as him. Looking around Link can’t see him anywhere and as he begins to suppose that the cowboy must just be passing by and doesn’t mean anyone any harm to day, he realizes that he’s been snuck up upon. Grabbing him roughly from behind and turning him around the Cowboy looks directly into Link’s confused face and just stands there almost if he is unsure of how to continue. Link waiting for a bit finally asks, “Is there anything I can help you with?” He noted with some slight irritation that the hippy hadn’t even looked up from her sewing.
Without answering the cowboy draws his fist back, in a strange, stuttering clockwork like motion, and tries to swing on Link who just manages to slip out of his grip in time. The cowboy spits, then lumbers after him, still without looking up, brow furrowed in concintration, the Hippy calls out, “Don’t hurt him Link”.
Doging another swing Link glares at her, “What the hell he started it, he even snuck up on m-” his complaining being interrupted as a result of being forced to focus fully on the fight at hand. Link has to admit though that there is something strange going on here. Cowboy doesn’t really seem like to be the sort of person who hesitates at anything, and his movements are all off. His next punch Link grabs his wrist, locks the cowboys arm in place, then puts him down. The hippy raises her eyebrows but before she can talk Link cuts her off, “Don’t even start with me, Akido is about not hurting people and he is just bloody fine I just used his force against him”
She nods happily, “Oh I know I was just supprised you know it that’s all, it isn’t very common for whatever reason”
“I just know the bas- You do realize that we are having a perfectly pleasant conversation while I have a restrained cowboy squirming under me who is trying to kick my ass for no known reason right? That’s still strange? Something we- Damnit look cowboy if you keep moving like that you are going to end up hurting yourself. Now just be still while the hippy and I take our sweet ass time doing whatever the hell it is we are doing”.
She smiles, “Alright alright, you know sometimes you really do complain constantly. Here I finished what I was doing let him up”
Link backs away from the cowboy who is immediately on his feet again trying to get all robo aggressive on Link, when the hippy takes some, what look to be seeds, from the pouch she just got done sewing and throws them at the cowboy. Immeadiatly, his eyes don’t change so much as they once again look like they have someone living behind them and all the sudden he lets out a roar and with an exceedingly fast fluid motion punches the unprepared Link in the jaw which knocks him down on his ass. Not giving him time to recover the cowboy springs on him but Link, hands up, manages to fend him off and regain footing, see now that is the cowboy that Link remembers. Not some weird clockwork robo freak version. Now, swinging wildly the cowboy charges at Link who has no choice but to give ground and wait for an opening. Even if he had permission to crack this idiot’s head open none of this made any sense. Sara usually has a long standing master plan, and while she has been certainly laying low for these past couple of days, you would think the fruits of her labor would equate to more than the cowboy’s bezerker rage. All of this just plain smelled wrong, and he has a feeling that the hippy knows a lot more than she has been saying. She is the sort of person who plays her cards close to the ches-, absorbing a body blow is what Link gets for wandering off though wise during a fight. Narrowly escaping the rest of his combo Link start’s to wonder, “No banter, no boasting, this doesn’t feel like a fight with the cowboy”.
Deciding to try diplomacy one more time, Link catches the cowboy’s fist in his palm and starts slowly bending his wrist back, “Come on cowboy snap out of whatever the hell is going on. Kicking my ass will more than likely make you feel better, I know I’ve been there, but something is obviously up, something was in you wasn’t it? I don’t know shit about all of this sort of thing but come on man you won’t get anything solved”
He could see it, the indecision in his eyes, the uncertainty, what the hell has just happened to this kid? Someone somewhere has certainly delt him a short hand from a stacked deck, or other something like that. His whole body quivers with uncertainty and Link lets him go, fully prepared to defend himself again should this ridiculous tom foolery continue. Instead he just sinks uselessly to the ground and starts to shake his head, halfway between crying and returning to outright physical violence. After a moment the Hippy gets up and goes to take the cowboy in her arms. Greatfuly he sinks into her, much to Link’s discomfort he just stares into space.
The hippy looks up with a pained smile on her face, “He isn’t like the rest of us you know. We can handle this sort of weird stuff without it ruining our lives. I deal with it healthly, you try to kill yourself, Sara uses it to her own ends, and the Wolf man? Well he eats people, plain and simple.” Link takes a step back unsure of what to say. The hippy just looks sort of sad and somewhat distant, “What? Link did you honestly think you are the only person with a dark and mysterious past that they are escaping from?”
“So does that mean you and the wolf boy-”
She shakes her head, “Nope first time I saw him was in the garden, though his weird little blonde clone lings were running around the bar. You remember that part though. No but I recognize him for what he is. This place, it is a lodestone for people like you and me and the baggage we come along with. Him, that wolf looking kid? I get the feeling that he collects it, feeds off of it. To what end? Who knows, there might not ever be one. But I know that I’ve been sitting on my laurles for far to long. So its time we go put this wolf looking kid out of the three of our lives right now, after all I have midterms coming up in a couple of weeks and I don’t need the added stress. Now then cowboy, where are they?”
He looks up with a renewed sense of purpose and dignity, “Well I reckon they are still in your pretty lil garden”, his amazingly false drawl has returned. It made Link’s skin crawl. Hippy not wasting any time heads off, with the cowboy in tow. A moment later they are joined by Link, “Hey cowboy what’s care to give us a little intel on what’s going on while we are charinging into battle to help you?”
They aren’t exactly running, its closer to speed walking than anything else. Three completely ordinary people just slightly hurrying across campus trying not to attract atension. It would work if they weren’t a hippy, a cowboy, and a hulking man dressed all in black covered in scars. They get some curiouse looks, but only the sort that you get when someone else needs to alieviate boredom not the sort of malice filled eyes that the three of them know they are going to meet. The cowboy is hemming and hawing, trying to find a way to not answer the question, which puts Link immediately into a foul mood, the hippy then stops and putter her hand on his shoulder says, “Look it would really help us to know what it is we are getting into”. The cowboy nodded, as he starts to talk they continue walking, “Now I don’t rightly know what goes on between Sara and that kid who looks like an ornery coyote, but they’ve been seenin each other more an more in the last coupla weeks. They keep talkin about some bar in the middle a nowhere that no one’s seems to of heard of, its ca-”
Link interupts “We know it don’t worry, it isn’t your type of place man”
“Well at any rate. The coyote boy keeps mentioning something about someone named the pale rider, or somethin to that effect. I dunno what’s it all about. Normally, I try and steer clear of all this mess, but trouble seems to follow that girl wherever she goes. Just can’t seem to keep away from it. I figuring I a owe it to her to help her out. She’s tutoring me in math ya see. Anyway, they go out to the garden and all the sudden he just ups and a changes. Just like that. He’s got this crazy smile and he a tells me that if I don’t go kick the crap outta you she’s gonna die. Then, well then he does something to me. Next thing I know I am singing on you insteada him. I figure since I already found you I might as well do as he says you know, nothin personal partner” he goes to give Link a friendly punch on the arm, but Link’s glare stops him short.
The hippy smiles at them, “He doesn’t like to be touched, don’t worry about him”
The cowboy looks at the two of them, “Must be weird to date someone who don’t like bein touched like that”
The hippy just laughs, at Link’s smoldering glare, “Don’t be so serious Link it will give you a heart attack one of these days”
“One of these days” Link thinks to himself. Funny, that’s now a possibility of how things can happen. There is a future in all of this. Not running through the woods, punching wolf looking mother fuckers in the face so that they won’t do some stupid fucked up thing to your ex-girlfriend and current arch nemisis. No that is a stupid way to spend time. But the rest of it. The school bit. There can be a job at the end of this, one where he wears long sleeve shirts to hide his scars, and stands around a water cooler talking. They make sitcoms about how much that life is a sort of dreary hell. Really though those people don’t really know what hell is like. What Link is doing right now though, it is close.
Link turns to the Hippy, “So what is up with the pouch you were making, you knew this was going to happen?”
She shrugs, which seems at this point to be the most common precursor to everyone’s response to anything recently, “I knew something was coming, not this soon though. There are other things I wish I could of done to it. I had a grandma who showed me how to make it. Look Link, I don’t really understand most of this. But it is something I am built for much better than the two of you. So try to relax and let me do the heavy lifting okay?”
Link nods, “Alright, try to not let the same thing that happened to me last time happen again yeah?”
“I’ll try not to. Sorry, I guess I just lost my tempter or something like that”.
As they approach the woods Alex comes out to meet them. He is wearing a pair of kakies and some name brand shirt from a name brand store. Link has never seen anyone suceed so brilliantly at looking so completely normal. He looks apologetic, “Hey Link. I am tired of this shit. More tired than you can ever understand. But they left. They went to the bar and you can’t find it without me. Sara’s in danger, and I already have what happened to you on my conscious. I should have been there for you, sorry”
Link puts his hand on his shoulder, “You shouldn’t be anywhere near me, you never should have been, but I am glad that you are here”.
The cowboy scanning the horizon nods to himself and makes a clicking sound, the sort heros in westerns make when they are summoning a horse, which is exactly what happens. Two beautiful black horses come running out of the woods up to the four of them. They approach cowboy who nuzzles them both affectionately, then to the hippy, “Can you ride bare back” she nods, “good then take Link, I’ll grab this gangly one and we’ll lead the way, for obvious reasons I know all the horse paths through these woods. He mounts up, grabs the surprisingly complacent Alex and rides off. When Link turns around the hippy is already on its back, beaming like a little girl getting a pony ride she holds her hand out to Link, “Have you ever done this before?”
“I grew up in the suburbs”
She laughs, “Then hold on tight and do your best not to fall off”. With that they race after the cowboy. Catching up Link can hear distantly Alex giving out directions. Sometimes they will branch off into what look to be solid woods but soon enough a path emerges. It almost looks like some of these have been reclaimed by the cowboy personally. Horses aren’t exactly the most effective creatures in the woods, but these paths seem customed made for them. They hammer down through the darkness, the light of the half moon shining down through the leaves providing the only illumination. They ride on, Link knows it isn’t Alex leading the way but the little yellow bird, luckily for all of them the bird knows these paths just as well as the cowboy does. Link looking around tries his very best to catch his bearings. He realizes that they are close to a road, a road they are about to cross. Before he can shout warning the two of them burst forth from the forest, Link unable to watch hears the screeching tires, the collission of metal on metal, as cars on both sides of the road suddenly slam on their breaks to let the riders through. Latter the cops on the scene would have no idea what to do about any of it. After crossing the road they run through the woods a bit more then come out underneath some high tension power lines, which have their own long swath cut through the woods. He wants to ask hippy what it is she did when she went into the bar that night. He tries but the movement of the horse makes it impossible for him to speak. Alex is laughing, the cowboy is whooping and having the time of his life, and the hippy looks like some sort of jungle queen. He realizes that he is the only person who isn’t enjoying himself. He knows that something is wrong, the hippy is to well prepared for this, and he knows to little about everything. Things like, her name, and anything about her past. He feels like a dick for not asking all this time but he always figured she’d just volunteer the information when the time is right. Now they are ridning into battle again, literally. This is beyond insane. Though it is no ones’ dark past catching up to them this time. This time it is an all new threat, a new threat which took his dark past hostage. Nothing is adding up but then again, none of it really matters. Someone’s in danger and it is time to help. It’s how he’s always done things. Just because there is a tomarrow now isn’t going to stop that any time soon.
They slide back into the woods again and it isn’t long before they get there. The bar itself appears to be either closed or not open yet. There they are waiting in the parking lot.