A week had gone by since he woke up from his nightmare. A week since he woke up in a strange area, among two strangers. And a week since he lashed out in fear of his surroundings and was kept under observations, but he knew they believed he was dangerous, and didn't want him roaming around. He just didn't know how he felt about it, or even how to express that. As soon as he had been released, he had taken to the streets. He hadn't liked being observed under a microscope, judging and picking apart his every move.
Ragnvald hadn't felt comfortable around the jellicles, what few came to the infirmary and he got a brief glance at. He didn't trust them, and he knew they didn't trust him. So as soon as they let him out, giving him a chance to earn their trust, Rage felt like eyes were on him everywhere. So he had gone back to familiar territory. He hadn't seen the queen he had tried to save anywhere in the yard, and after looking at her old haunts on the streets, he had wandered back to the yard.
She hadn't been anywhere, almost as if she had never existed in the first place. He knew he was angry and filled with sorrow over her presumed death, but he didn't know how to even process it in his head, let alone show his emotions in public. Without her on the streets, he no longer knew where to go or where his place was anymore. And truth was, he had no where else to go.
Which is why he had gone back to the yard. He'd do his best to stay clear of the other cats, while he thought about where to go and what he was suppose to go. He had punched the sides of the pipe in anger, screaming incoherently, his emotions over his only friends death coming out the only way he knew how. Violence.
The more he punched and screamed at the concrete the more exhausted he felt until he finally deflated. He slid down the side of the pipe until he was sitting down against it. Rage glanced at his bloody paws, lost in his own mind and oblivious to whether or not anyone was around.
Alonzo wandered in the direction of the Pipe, having just finished off a 'patrol' of the Junkyard. Thankfully, his rounds had been very boring. But what should have made the harlequin tom feel relieved was stressing him out more than anything. How long could this quiet state of things keep up? They had rescued one group of cats, but the strange humans with their terrifying house-of-horrors would be sure to round up more...and who knew they wouldn't try stealing Jellicles next? And no matter how things appeared, what if they were wrong and this was all Macavity's doing? And what if--
Suddenly, as if in fulfillment of all his worries, he heard screams and thuds as he came closer to the Pipe. Then, as he'd almost reached the Pipe, they'd faded away. What--? No. No, no, no... He rushed around to the other side of the pipe, expecting to see signs of a struggle, or the mangled corpse of a kitten or queen, or... But he pulled up short, seeing only one cat, no signs of a fight, and nothing hurt but the cat's paws. Taking all this in in a hurry, he didn't see who it was at first; as he tried to calm down and slow his breathing, his pelt prickled with frustration. "Listen," he said, in what he hoped was a reasonable tone, though his clenched jaw hinted at his abrupt transition from terror to relief mingled with annoyance, "can you not...?" Not what, exactly? "That is, there have been some very serious dangers about lately, and there may still be dangers. I don't need any false alarms like people screaming just for the sake of...a tantrum." He glanced at Ragnvald again, then did a double-take. This was one of the rescue-cats. Alonzo had hardly seen him and never spoken to him, as he'd been almost immediately whisked off to the infirmary and then had seemed to disappear. Inwardly, Alonzo cringed, hoping he hadn't said anything offensive; these cats no doubt had plenty of issues worth screaming over... Still, if they were going to live in the 'yard, they'd have to learn to get on... But Alonzo was beginning to wish he'd left well enough alone and said nothing once he'd seen there was no danger. Would this cat now turn and flip out on him? Have some sort of terrible breakdown? Alonzo dreaded to find out, but he couldn't simply walk away now...
The new voice startled Rage and he jerked backwards. Though he was sitting down, he still fell onto his side, due to the new cat now staring at him. It wasn't like him to let his guard down, or to be easily spooked, but there he was, practically laying down with a new cat he'd never seen standing over him. Immediately he was irked with himself for being in that position and for feeling vulnerable. Again.
However, his annoyance grew as the tom started talking down to him. His brows furrowed in confusion. Can I not? Not what? Huh? Not understanding what the white and black tom was talking about, only mounted onto his increasing stress. It would affect his speech, he knew that, so he remained stiff and silent. He must have laid there for a few minutes after the tom was done talking, trying to process what the tom was implying. He still didn't grasp speech as readily as everyone else, which was frustrating to him.
A small hiss tumbled under his breath as he slowly moved into a standing position. One where he'd be on more equal footing with the tall tom. He was certain this tom had just belittled his pain by using the word tantrum. Taking in a deep breath, he chose the bare minimum of words, so his stutter wouldn't be as prominent. "Wh-what would yyy-you know?"
Alonzo backed away slightly as Ragnvald stood to his feet. He already regretted speaking abruptly to one of the traumatized rescue-cats; no need to make the tom feel threatened as well. Waiting to hear Rage's response, the harlequin tom was taken aback when Rage spoke hardly at all. He'd been expecting... Well, he didn't know what, exactly... Some sort of angry, shouting tirade? In any case, however short his response, it was clear the tom was annoyed with him. Alonzo cast about to think how to amend the situation. "Nothing," he answered. "I heard noise from over here and overreacted. That's all. Sorry." He started to move off, then turned back again. Munkustrap wouldn't just leave it at that and walk off...he'd try to figure out what was wrong, try to help..."Ah...are you all right, though?"
He had only a small grasp of words, and social behavior. Half the time, he wasn't sure what was "acceptable" to civilized cats, and what got them in such a tirade. But body language, now that was slightly easier for Rage to decipher. He wasn't an expert on it, no. He still had trouble with body language, it was just easier for him to interpret then words were. So he had seen the white and black tom back up slightly.
Rage cocked his head to the side, as he observed the other tom. His own stance loosened up. Not a whole lot, but he was about sixty percent certain the tom wasn't about to take a swipe at him, but on the off chance....Rage needed to be ready. His anger dulled a little as he tried to process the words coming out of Alonzo's mouth.
Overreacted? That word was so big and complicated. He had no idea what that meant and confusion started to build up. Which never helped his anger. It was just so frustrating for him when he couldn't interact with ease like everyone could do. He kept the stoic facade, so he wouldn't get made fun of for not knowing such simple words. However, sorry....that was a word he knew and he nodded slightly.
The tom was feeling bad for threatening him; and Rage acknowledge the backing up and apology as submission...a surrender. It's how he knew he had won a fight on the streets, and felt more relaxed as the tom turned and started to walk away. Rage wasn't prepared for the tom's question. After a moments pause to not jump immediately to anger, and to actually internally figure out what Alonzo was asking, he sighed.
Normally, he'd have gotten upset and angered over such an invasive question, but after what he went through, after losing his friend, he just wasn't sure what to do about it, or how to handle it. If she were here with him, he knew he'd be talking to her, opening up to her...just a little bit. Being surrounded by strangers, he just felt so vulnerable and lost, and he didn't like it. With one word, he answered. "Nnnno."
Alonzo was somewhat taken aback when Ragnvald replied in the negative to his question. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting - for Rage to simply answer, 'I'm fine,' in order to get rid of Alonzo as soon as possible? For it certainly seemed that Rage would want to get rid of him, after the ignorant 'scolding' Alonzo had given him a moment ago. But he had apologized. Did this mean Rage had accepted his apology and wanted him to stay and talk more?
Alonzo was no good at this sort of thing - that is, reading others' emotional wants and needs. If there were some danger about, now, then he'd know more what to do. A dangerous henchcat trying to kill Rage, or a human trying to recapture him, Alonzo could fight them off (or die trying, at any rate); if Rage were hungry and thirsty, Alonzo could go find him some food and water; if in need of medical attention, Alonzo could steer him in the direction of Jenny's den.
But given what the tom had been doing when Alonzo happened upon him, gave Alonzo the distinct impression that it wasn't Rage's physical health that was in question, but his mental and/or emotional health. And that was where Alonzo felt more or less clueless. Yet, no one else was around at the moment, and Rage had answered 'No.' ('No, I'm not all right.') Alonzo might very well make the situation worse, but he had asked; he surely couldn't just walk away. He owed it to this tom to at least make an effort to help him. Perhaps it would be as simple as just listening as Rage vented - though, to all appearances, Rage didn't seem an especially talkative sort. Besides that, would he even open up to someone he barely knew? Probably not, but there was nothing for it now. Awkward as it might be, he had to say something.
Not knowing what else to say, and being careful not to approach any nearer and make the tom more nervous, Alonzo asked, "Anything I can do?"
Ragnvald had been staring eerily straight ahead of him. Trying to bore a hole through the pipe with just his eyes. He had felt too vulnerable to even glance at the unknown tom. A tom whose name he didn't even know. It may have been cowardly, but he didn't want to risk looking the black and white tom in the eye.
However, after so long of a pause, Rage could feel an uneasiness wash over him. The tom hadn't left yet, he was just standing there. Rage had social issues, Rage had the anxiety and problems, Rage was the one that was stupid.
What excuse did this tom have to stand there for so long....saying absolutely nothing?
With anger bubbled just beneath the surface, Rage felt his emotional pain meant nothing to this stranger. And why should it? They meant nothing to each other. So growling under his breath, he aimed at Alonzo's shoulder to barrel into the tom. His growling and the emotional turmoil underneath the surface overpowered his ears, and he never heard the toms kind response.
Alonzo shuffled his paws awkwardly, as the tom didn't answer. Maybe Alonzo had used too many words, or asked too vague a question; after all, up to now this tom had given very short replies. Just as he was thinking of saying something different, his ears pricked up detecting a slight noise from the tom's throat. Was he working himself up to try and speak? Alonzo glanced vaguely around the area, trying not to stare at Rage, thinking it might be easier to talk if he didn't feel himself being stared at.
All at once, the low growling noise sounded to be getting nearer to Alonzo, and the harlequin tom returned his gaze to Rage only to see Rage come barreling towards him. The other tom's action was so unexpected that, by the time Alonzo overcame his surprise enough to dodge, he still didn't move out of the way in time to avoid Rage completely. Knocked off balance, Alonzo staggered to the side, tripped over something, and ended up flat on his tail. Scrambling to his feet as quickly as possible, Alonzo leaned on the pipe for a moment to steady himself, meanwhile glaring across at the other tom. Much as Alonzo hated confrontation with fellow tribe-members, he also hated being made to look a fool. He growled under his breath, trying to control the fury brought about by the sudden and (to Alonzo's mind, at least) unprovoked attack. The only thing keeping him from retaliating was the thought that Munkustrap and/or Deuteronomy would absolutely kill him if he did harm to one of their 'guests.' Instead, he took it out on the pipe, punching and kicking at it even as Rage had been doing a few moments ago. I can see how this'd make a guy feel better... Except when his paws started to hurt, and he realized how idiotic it was to expend so much energy on an inanimate object. Well. It was either that or... He looked back over at Rage. His face."So this is what I get for trying to be nice," he muttered.
"So," he said, more loudly so Rage could hear, keeping his guard up this time in case the tom tried to run at him again, "is that what you normally do to people trying to help you?"
Rage was still so mad, confused and flustered, that the pounding in his ears was all he could hear. But the pounding began to fade and he caught the last bit of Alonzo's words. Trying to help you. Standing there silent was him trying to help? He had a hard time believing that. "I...I-iiiii-I....Y...Y...You....Nnnn-nnnoo....Ssssi...eeelen...." He nearly punched himself, in his frustration. His stammer was too bad and he stopped talking altogether.
It was too late to really pass himself off as the strong stoic type.
He'd revealed too much of his stammer...and how dumb he was; not knowing the most basic of words and concepts. Awkwardly, Rage stood there. Was he suppose to storm off and leave? Was that what this social situation called for? Or would that have only made the situation worse. He stood there, nervous, as he got stuck deep in thought, wondering what he should do next.
Seeing as Rage didn't seem about to 'attack' again just at the moment, Alonzo allowed himself to relax from his defensive position. He leaned against the pipe slightly, sighing and rubbing a paw across his forehead, trying to figure out what to do or say next.
After all, what did you say to someone who didn't seem able to answer back? And how did you help someone who would probably freak out if you went near them?
He felt sorry for the guy, really. Alonzo wondered if Rage had a mind problem, a speech problem, or both - or if Alonzo was simply making him so uncomfortable that he couldn't think clearly. If that were the case, it'd probably be best if he just walked away and left Rage alone. But if he did that, would Rage do something crazy like kill himself? You never could tell, with the trauma these cats had probably been through.
The harlequin tom let out another frustrated sigh. If this went on, the two toms would just stand here staring at each other until one of them left. Alonzo decided to go the brutally honest route and see how the tom responded. If he responded. "I'm sorry. Whatever you've got going on, I'm making it worse, aren't I?"
The distance had helped. Living on the streets, he had come to trust body language more then words, and the distance Alonzo kept, the relaxed position was a submission and Ragnvald felt his own body and internal turmoil calm down as well. The silence, while others found it to be awkward and tension building, Rage found it to be another action that soothed him. And the silence was a long one, long enough for his chaotic thoughts to fall. He still hadn't processed his full encounter with Alonzo, but he felt more at ease. The tom's voice once more assailed his ears and grimaced slightly at his abrasive tone.
But it was direct.
The only words of consequence were, 'I'm making it worse.' Everything else was unnecessary and Rage's mind didn't even bother to process it. Instead of answering the tom directly, because why bother telling the tom something he already knew. Rage finally had to let his worst fears come out. If he didn't make them real, and didn't face them; then he'd be better off becoming full feral and killing himself on the streets. She had taught him that he wanted more out of life then mere survival. He didn't care if this white and black tom couldn't or wouldn't help him. "She's...." Taking a hard swallow, he finally spoke one more word. "Gone."
Munkustrap | Ragnvald | Rum Tum Tugger | Jenn | Rumpus
So, he had responded, after all. At least, Rage had said something, though Alonzo was confused as to what it had to do with the current situation... She's...gone? Who? What is he talking about...? At last, it occurred to Alonzo that, in a rather vague, indirect way, Ragnvald might actually be trying to explain what was wrong! Could this actually be progress? But... And Alonzo felt his sense of dread return, if this...whoever-she-is... If she's... He refused to complete the thought. Don't assume the worst. It might turn out, after all, that whoever Rage was looking for was still alive, in need of help somewhere... But Alonzo was quickly realizing that too many questions only made Rage freeze up.
Careful to continue keeping his distance, Alonzo asked simply, "Who?".
Ragnvald looked up and over at Alonzo, tears in his eyes, but he held them back. He would not let them tumble out, but he couldn't completely stop his emotions. She deserved more grief and mourning then he could give her. She deserved something. "Snowmane."
His face contorted into a self deprecating smirk. "Only reason I was...there." He looked away and finally sat down on the ground with a soft thud. He placed his face in his hands as he muttered. "Friend on...street. Disappeared...F-Fffollowed trail...to...th-them...hum--h-h-humans."
A name! And a location! At last they were getting somewhere.
Alonzo forced himself to swallow his excitement and quash the urge to come closer to the other tom and demand more details. Instead, staying where he was, he tried to process through each thing Rage had said. Snowmane. Some queen called Snowmane had been a friend of Rage's, and he'd followed her... To the humans. Alonzo's stomach churned as he realized which place Rage must be talking about. It had to be the same place from which Rage and the others had been rescued. And in that case... The harlequin's excitement changed to dread. Hadn't they rescued everyone they'd found at the humans' place? If this...Snowmane...if she wasn't among those rescued, it must mean she was--
But again he refused to think of it. Who knew how many secret rooms there were in that awful place? Snowmane could well be there, locked up somewhere. Or perhaps she had escaped before, and was simply lost in the streets somewhere... Did Rage know?
"Perhaps..." Alonzo gulped, not at all certain if this was the right thing to say, but feeling the need to say something."Perhaps we can find her."
His paws dropped from his face, and his eyes caught Alonzo. He was too...distraught? Numb? He was too something to get angry with the black and white tom. But he couldn't tell what Alonzo's angle was. Why he had mentioned looking for her. Was the tom stupid? Rage often found that others labeled him that way. And maybe they were right, considering it took him so long to figure out what to say.
For all he knew the tom was just naive. Rage didn't have that luxury. The streets were a ruthless teacher.
Besides, Rage knew Snowmane was dead. They had grabbed her, she had been next. He had fought them, before being flung against a wall and was knocked out. Ragnvald had hoped that his fighting would have distracted them long enough. For they had been rescued while he was out cold. But that hope seemed to be in vain. Despite all that, he somehow just knew she was gone. He just didn't know how he did. And further, he didn't know how to explain that out loud. "She's gone." Was just about all he could say. "I....just....know...it." His words were slow and there was a slight shake to his voice, and a small stutter, but not as bad as it had been.