The Next Step

Coleman Residence

The interior of the house looks like it had been all one open room when it was built, and the walls were added at a later date. To the left, a small living room sits that runs just more than half the length of the house. On the right, there's a small sitting room that mirrors the other side, and along the back wall, the kitchen.
Upstairs, there is the bathroom that one could swear was original to the house (claw-footed, cast iron bathtub) settled between the two small-sized bedrooms.
All in all, the plastered walls are in rough shape with layers of lead paint peeling, the windows are rippled, the electricity is haphazard and the rugs are threadbare in several areas, showing the rough-hewn but solid runs of wood underneath.

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Long days and long nights. That's what full moons are. Brett, however, is glad for the fact that the summer season is growing to a close, even if school is right around the corner for him. Due back into the classroom in the next week, these 'dog days' are lived to the fullest.
Brett Coleman has no one to blame but himself as he sits sagged in his chair, slumped such that he looks almost as if he'll slide right out. He is, in a word, extremely comfortable. His eyes gleam, however, in the memory of the day that has come to a close, and lolling his head back, he exhales and closes his eyes briefly.
"Five to four. Beat you this time."
If anything profound is expected, disappointment will abound.

"You wouldn't have," Summer replies from the arm of the chair. Brett may be extremely relaxed but as she is not generally used to going out running like this, and it's only been in the last few months she's started… she's still got quite a bit of adrenaline pumping through her system. "If my paw hadn't smashed down into one of the holes."
Reaching back to run her fingers through his hair, she draws one leg up onto the arm with her, letting the other dangle at the side. "You've got sand in your hair," she says with a chuckle, trying to fingerbrush it out.

Brett reaches out with a long arm to pull Summer in beside him in the chair; an easy enough slide. "I'll take whatever I can get in a contest. You got me good last time. Sidetracked by a great spot for a burrow." What's a coyote to do?
"You just have to watch your step next time. Though," he grins and leans to press a kiss on the side of her hair, "it was pretty funny to see you fall in to your shoulder."

The chuckle turns into a human-type yip as she drops onto the chair beside him. Laughing, Summer turns to nuzzle her nose against the side of his neck. "Mmm, you do always find the best burrowing spots though…" So what if it gives her the upperhand in their whack-a-prairie-dog game?
"I could have sworn I heard you laughing. Snickering with those little 'yote yips of yours." She would be horribly embarrassed if she hadn't seen him do the exact same misstep in the past.

Cuddle moments are the best. Brett can smell the out-of-doors, the sweet scent of female coyote so ingrained now in memory and her, and he squeezes with his whole arm that is wrapped around her. A broad grin is returned, "I learned from the best. You are the burrow queen. I bow to your abilities. I do, however, have every intention of accepting the compliment of finding the best spots, however…
"One day, though, I won't burrow, and though you'll win, we'll be minus one hidey-hole.." and when and if the shift comes again, who will be left in the open?
Looking dramatically innocent, Brett's brows rise and his voice makes the proper adjustments, "I would never laugh.. even if that little black nose of yours got covered with sand.." He takes the opportunity to reach to kiss her nose and wipe it with a playful brush of fingers after, "and your fur got all dirty.. and the look on your face was pure surprise…"

Summer does like to burrow, and while chasing little critters is good sport, digging a safe little hidey hole is probably the best part of being able to turn into a coyote. "What I can say? They're just big enough to wrap up and cuddle in."
Her nose wrinkles upward when he brushes it and she shifts enough to lean her head against his shoulder. "… and if you'd had a camera, you would have taken a lot of pictures, I'm sure. Make sure you have that look ingrained in your memory, Mister Coleman, because I'm going to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Exhaling a small sigh, she nearly pouts. "You know, with you going back to work soon enough I'm going to have to reschedule my hours again or we'll never see one another."

Shifting her weight onto his lap a little more, it's easier now to enfold her in his arms as her head rests on his shoulder. He can feel the warm breath of hers on his skin, the softness as she lies relaxed, "Lots and lots of pictures." His voice is soft and low, teasing. "And I'm willing to bet I'll see it again.." even if he has to lead her into landmine territory, so to speak. The 'maps' change for the prairie dog towns, after all, and Brett's not all that bad at navigating them. After all, it's been one of his favourite pasttimes since he started shifting. He knows, however, that his advantage won't always be there. "Sadly," he wiggles his thumbs in the air without picking his hands up, "no cameras. Not only thumbs, but the snout gets in the way of the view-finder."
The thought of heading back to work comes to the fore again, and rolling his head slightly so he can get even a sidelong glance at Summer, Brett considers for a long moment. "Would you consider moving in with me here?" He pauses, his brows rising in askance. "I mean, it's a thought.."

With her head against his shoulder, and being held that way, it's almost easy for Summer to slip into a comfortable sleep. The quiet teasing is almost enough to lull her into la-la-land, despite the energy she had just moments ago. Amusing how a change of position can do that to someone. "You could always," she says with a sleepy murmur, "set up a video camera."
Nothing at all strange about two people trekking out to the flatlands with a video camera. "Start it running before the shift and shift behind it." But she won't be caught with that look on her face again. She really wo—
Except that she is. While maybe not in coyote form, Summer suddenly jerks her head off her shoulder to stare at him, eyes round as saucers.
"Yes," she replies after recovering from her second shock of the night. There will likely be a bit of an argument with Toby about it, since he'll be left on the large ranch by himself, but she's sure she could get someone from the Pack to go out and check on him from time to time.

If other people find it insulting, Brett sure as hell doesn't; the fact that a beautiful woman can fall asleep in his arms. They have all the time in the world, she and he, as far as he is concerned, anyway.
Leaning to kiss her hair again, and take a deep draw of the sweet smell of her hair, he exhales softly. "I could put a camera up.."
The wide-eyed expression that comes across Summer's face brings that broad, lopsided grin back in full force, along with a quiet chuckle. "If you were a 'yote right now.." it'd be the best look ever!
The fact that she accepts so readily does take him a little by surprise. He'd half expected— no, he'd fully expected that maybe she'd think about it, that he'd get an answer in a day or so.. but immediately? "You will?" Don't sound so surprised! "If you want, I can talk to your father with you.. or alone before you move some of your stuff over.." They have a reasonable relationship, Brett and Toby. Brett has a great deal of respect for the elder Houston and there is little he would do to jeopardize that. Of course, this may well test a great deal…
"You could hit the ranch on weekends? Or.. we could?"

"You'd snap a picture," she says with a bit of a laugh.
"Don't look so surprised. I still need to let Toby know, and you know there is going to be an argument there." Summer may be a grown woman, but in some things Toby can be an entirely over protective parent. She wouldn't change that for the world. "It might be better if you spoke with him first, and invited him over to see the modifications that you've done to the place." Not only would it make Toby feel appreciated, it'd put him more at ease to see his daughter isn't living in some dive.
"I love that idea. The ranch is just far enough out of the city to be a nice relaxing trip on weekends we can make it up there."

"You better believe I'd get a picture." He lowers his voice to a whisper, "And I'd put it on the wall in a place of honour."
Settling down, Brett runs his fingers and follows it up with a gentle stroke of his flat hand across her back. "I'll talk to him first and get a feel. And, he may want to talk to me.. you know.. man to man. Sort of like when mom dragged you out shopping. She wouldn't tell me what you guys talked about. 'Girl stuff', she'd said." And he didn't press.
"If it helps any, I'll even bring him over and he can help with some of the stuff that still needs to be done." Toby's been over a few times, but to really roll up the shirt sleeves and get down and dirty? No.. but that isn't because Brett hasn't given him the 'okay'. It's just.. well, perhaps the declaration of that 'next step' will bring them one step closer to that 'next step'.
The smile relights, though it's never far off; not when Summer is concerned. "This'll save you on gas, too. And, if you work nights, I can have something ready for you to eat when you come home.." He's not afraid of domesticity, even if he has to learn how to boil and egg, or light the oven…

"You wouldn't," Summer says with a soft laugh. "I would have to look at that picture and shake my head every time I passed it." Shaking her head before resting it on his shoulder again, she smiles.
"He'd like that. Helping with the house. He'd love the landscaping. Don't tell him I told you that though." Toby is a gardener in his spare time, a secret that will go to Summer's grave beyond what she's just said. No need to embarrass the papa bear.
"Your dialing finger will get a cramp," she teases lightly, tilting her head up just enough to press a soft kiss to his cheek. "Though I'm sure Toby'd be more than happy to give you lessons if you're interested."
Settling back down again, she lets her eyes fall closed and murmurs, "Love you."

"Oh, ha. Ha." Brett breathes a softly sarcastic laugh into Summer's hair again as he closes his eyes. "Dialing finger..
"You know I'd learn from him in a heartbeat. Heck.. it could mean free labour for him at the shop while I learn, even."
He listens to hear breating coming gently and shifts his grasp such that he can get a better grasp to enfold her, holding her in place as he feels her muscles relax further, losing any hint of tension that may be there just from the virtue of being awake. "I love you too."
It's not long before his cheek lays upon the top of her head and his breathing evens and deepens. This may not last the whole night.. well.. rest of the morning, but for the moment, comfort is defined by being in the arms of the other.

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