A form moved through the woods, shadowed from sight. The air was cool and made everything feel light and airy. As normal with it being in the middle of autumn. Feet moved along a small clear path that weaved around trees and bushes. A worn path most likely made with the frequent travel of deer and other equal sized prey, even small. Known due to the sight of small mammal tracks in the soft kicked up dirt that was the entirety of the path. The dry dead leaves crunched softly occasionally from where they had fallen and even been kicked, but other than that no other noises presented themselves to careful ears that were in the area.
Dark brown hair lightened to a reddish brown in the light slivers which fell through the cracks and gaps of overhead leaves and branches of the surrounding and looming trees as the figure passed through and under. It had been several months since he had left this area. It felt too long, the length made him antsy and eager to return to the place. Returning made him somewhat excited, he didn’t stop to scout the area like he would usually do. He had a promise to keep. That’s what he was doing now, keeping a promise. He was itching to return...
‘...come back for me...promise you will.’
He had stared at the tearful face before him. He did the only thing one could do in that situation.
‘Promise. What kind of leader will I be if I leave behind a pridemate.’
He remembered smirking smartly as the expression changed to one of happiness, a brilliant smile lighting up the already bright green eyes, making them sparkle. It would more often than not, make him pause and just stare. Such a bright intensity would always overwhelm him and he had no desire to even bother to avoid it.
Dark brown eyes looked out from the edge of the treeline, focusing on a certain old house, surrounded by a colorful field of flowers. A familiar gritty white fence closing in a small space around the well worn house.
He listened for any sound that would give away if someone was inside. Holding his breath as he steadied himself there, tilting his head to listen. When no sounds beside the soft chirping of birds was heard, he let out a loud chuff, eyes squinting in unease. Calling for a response. There should have been a squeal and rushing of footsteps that would always greet him at his return...
There was no response that answered him. A frown etched onto his face as he let his gaze scan the area, taking in the bright lively grass and stopping on a strange wooden structure off to the side of the fence...It wasn’t there before, So it stood out to him.
Not familiar with the structure, he stared at it hard, trying to come up with what it was, but was unable to. It looked like some sort of symbol perhaps. A long piece of wood struck into the ground had a shorter piece of wood attached to it, resting closer to the top. It looked like a ‘t’. Perhaps It was a letter to someone's name who had died. That must be it.
Moving his attention away from the ‘t’ -he was just going to call it a ‘t’- he let his gaze settle on teh old house once again, taking a few quiet steps toward it, every few steps, stopping and letting out a chuff, every time, the call grew louder and more insistent.
The lack of response to his call made his hair stand on end and his hackles rise.
His annoyance and frustration grew at the lack of a response. Under that annoyance and frustration, a wave of unease and concern raised its head.
As he reached the house, he gave the old white fence a dirty look before leaping over it with ease. He held his breath as he peered into a window, dark eyes searching a moment before they widened for a few moments before they narrowed sharply at the sight of the kitchen inside. Pots and pans were thrown around, littering the ground. Silverware lay everywhere, forgotten.
Moving quickly, with the hint of caution, the teenage male moved around the house to the door. His steps, careful and measured. He moved with the grace and stealth of a powerful predator. Which he was.
His hand wrapped around the back door's knob and turned it slowly, only to meet resistance. It was locked. His frown deepened and his grip on the door handle tightened and he twisted it even more, hearing a loud groan followed by a ‘snap’ as the lock broke. A flicker of a smirk appeared on his lips as he pushed the door open. Like it was able to hold him back, Teh.
He winced slightly at the soft eerie squeak that sounded as soon as the door opened. Giving a glare at the door, as if it were the cause of all his problems, he slipped inside when he cracked open the door just enough to slip inside with ease.
He was on edge. His body tense and coiled, not at all pleased with what he was finding.
Dark brown eyes scanned around the room he was in, eyeing all the mess with a frown, feeling his instincts rise up along with his anger.
Not knowing how to hold it back and with no one to steer it at, he let loose a loud growl that rumbled from deep within his throat. It vibrated the tense air and caused his hair to stand on end with the echo of it coming back at him.
Why did it look abandoned?
He moved, walking slowly around and over the mess of chairs and flipped over couch. Letting out a low rumble as he tilted his head to sniff the air.
Catching a faint, familiar scent of flowers and cedar lingering in the air.
He froze his movements when he picked up the sound of movement, turning to look around, he caught sight of a blur from outside that passed a nearby window.
Letting out a grunt when he stumbled over a tipped table that he failed to pay attention to as he rushed throughout the house, trying to find a window to look out off in order to get a clear view of what he saw.
As he rushed into a room, he heard a sharp cry before he felt something slice into his chest. It was a fraction of a second reaction. He snarled loudly and quickly grabbed the hand that held the knife, which was retreating back to strike again, only to be snached away by a tight, unforgiving grip. Claws dug into flesh and a scream of fright was released just before his other hand shot out to grab a soft thin neck, picking up the attacker and slamming them against a nearby wall, hearing a strangled gasp as his grip tightened, closing their airway off.
His intent to kill the attacker that had clouded his mind, was washed away as quickly as it had come as soon as he caught a whiff of a familiar scent. Teh rage in his eyes, that had darkened their already dark color to a black, disappeared sharply when he caught a good look of who he held pinned against the wall, in the process of being strangled.
In an instant, he had released the girl he held and all but thrown himself away from her, not paying attention to the bloody knife that had dropped from her trembling hand.
"Rex!" She croaked hoarsely and stumbled toward him, hand to her throat, trying to sooth it while her other reached out to him, as if she wasn't just attacked and harmed by the teenage boy that she reached out too with such desperation.
His expression shifted into a startled and relieved look as he quickly came to her, his once harsh and dangerous tough turning gentle as he settled his hand over her's that resided against her neck.
The thirteen year old boy allowed the girl to wrap her thin arms around his waist as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her against his chest as he lowered his head to settle near her neck, sniffing at her pulse to pick up her condition.
"What happened?" He questioned lowly as he shifted his hold on her, moving his hand that rested against her neck to grasp her injured wrist gently in his hand, lifting it up to his face. His mouth opened, revealing glinting fangs as his tongue flicked out, running along the soft skin and punctures that his claws had left behind.
His tongue left behind a wet trail of saliva that would coat the wounds, helping them heal faster. While it wasn't instinanulios, it did help the wounds heal faster than a normal human. The bruises on her neck couldn't be helped though.
"Y-your chest! I'm so sorry!" The girl in his arms cried suddenly, tears slipping from her eyes and trailing down her cheeks.
He grunted, he had nearly forgotten the wound on his chest. It suddenly started stinging slightly.
"I'm fine, what happened?" His voice seemed to ease her.
"My daddy died a few days after you left. I knew it was coming, but it still hurt. I handled it well enough, I buried my father as soon as I could and went on without him. I was getting use to being alone after a few weeks. I was feeling good one day and decided to take a walk out in the woods." She tightened her grip on his shirt, shifting even closer to him, brows furrowed.
"I-I stumbled across some sort of cave. I was too creeped out by it that I didn't go near it. but as I was going to leave there was this...black smoke that seemed to gather around the entrance of the cave. I didn't stay to find out what it was, I was too scared. I ran home and whatever it was followed me. I haven't left the house since. It's out there, lurking in the woods." She clutched his waist, stuffing her face against his chest, not caring about the blood that stained his shirt and got on her face.
Rex's expression turned stormy. Eyebrows arched down, frown etched onto his face, eyes narrowing in anger.
He had an idea of what she saw. The forest was turning dark with its presence. They needed to leave the area that teh darkness had set claim too.
Dark eyes shifted down to look over the light brown headed girl who clutched him, seeking his comfort, safety and leadership. His gaze softened slightly from its angry look and he set a hand on her head gently.
"Evala," Hearing her name come from hims was an extremely rare occurrence and it always startled her, causing her to focus her undivided attention on him. In which was the case now.
She looked up at him, bright green eyes wide with surprise and curiosity, her mouth parted in surprise.
"I've come back for you." His soft words ignited a bubbling feeling inside of her. She realized then, he kept his promise.
She had no doubt he would.
She trusted him with everything she had.
She loved him with all her heart, though she knew she couldn't tell him that.
He wasn't ready to love. But it was enough that he cared for her.
No matter how harsh or angry he seemed, he still had a good heart, even if his soul was dusted with a little darkness.
"I knew you would." She smiled brightly as she reached up to brush her fingers along his cheek, momentarily forgetting herself. Startled at her own actions, she flushed and stuttered softly as she pulled her hand away.
She held his gaze as he lowered his head and pressed his forehead to hers, nudging a proper greeting. The gentleness of his actions and the content mood suddenly changed, twisting sharply into a stiffly tense feeling.
Startled, she blinked and watched as he pulled away sharply, twisting his head to the side, angling it so that it was tilted to the side just so.
He was listening to something, something he obviously didn't like at all. His relaxed expression had turned into a deep scowl, his lip curled over a fang as he narrowed his eyes sharply.
Evala's grip on his waist tightened as a loud roar was heard.
"Rex, what does it want?" She whispered softly.
"Us gone." He answered tightly as he gave an irritated huff and pulled away from her.
"We're leaving. Get what you can carry and hurry." Rex commanded and watched as she nodded with a squeak and scurried around.
"Ready?" Rex questioned as he glanced at the bag she was carrying across her shoulder.
"Yeah." Evala nodded while looking around. When she looked back to the spot where Rex was, she let out a startled squeal and jumped, hand shooting up to clutch her chest.
"I'll never get use to that, I swear..." She sighed and stared at the large dark brown tiger who stood there staring at her with the same eyes Rex had.
The dark colored feline let out a snort and shook its head as it spoke,
"Get on." The beast's voice was a rumble.
Evala giggled, wasting no time in doing as he commanded. Sliding herself onto the felines back, feeling the coarse fur and flexing muscles against her hand as she steadied herself on the beast's back, clutching the thick fur around his shoulders and neck.
As soon as she was settled, the great cat moved quickly and steadily as it made its way out the front door after having nudged it open.
"Rex!" Evala gasped and clutched the fur tighter, her eyes staring at a black figure after having the alert.
Dark brown eyes swiveled over to the figure, unconcerned.
He had already sensed it there.
His eyes took in the larger feline, its fur the blackest black, its eyes bright yellow, peering at them calculatingly.
The two felines had a silent stare down, sizing each other up before the black cat let out a rumble before shifting its footing.
Rex flicked an ear before letting out a rumble of his own before walking off, making sure to keep the other feline in his sights.
The weight on his back shifted as Evala moved, leaning and laying down across his back.
"It won't attack?" Her voice was low as if she were afraid to speak louder, in fear of setting the other beast off.
"No," Rex rumbled as he moved into the woods, disappearing from the other felines sight.
"He just wants the territory. He isn't looking for a fight. He won't start a fight he knows he won't win." Rex informed as he moved through the woods, carefully avoiding anything that would hit his rider.
"Oh...Where are we going?" The bright eyed girl questioned while resting her cheek against his neck, smiling softly as she ran her fingers through his thick fur gently, giggling when she heard a low rumbling purr.
"Somewhere safe." Evala pouted and reached out, pulling a pinch of his fur, making him tilt his head away from her offending hand.
"That sure explains a lot." Rex gave a snort and jerked to a stop, causing the girl on his back to let out a squeal as she shot forward slightly. He let out a snicker and started walking again, pleased at hearing her huff.
"A human town, you should be safe there." The brown haired girl frowned softly as she settled against his back comfortably, her fingers playing with his fur lightly.
"You didn't find any others of your kind?"
"The prides have seemed to be wiped out...there are bound to be others out there. most likely in hiding." Evala was silent for a moment.
"You're going to leave again..." Rex held back a wince.
"It's too dangerous to take you with me, you know this." Evala bit her lip as she stared at the ground as it passed.
"Why do you keep looking? You could stop and we could just stay where you're talking me. You said it's safe there, it would be even more so with you there." She tried to reason, her desperation to stay by his side rising.
Rex didn't pause as he spoke,
"My pride was wiped out. I'm possibly the only surviving member. I searched for other pride’s to alliance myself with only to find that they too, have been wiped out. I haven't seen one of my kind for years...I want to know if I'm alone in this world or not. Wouldn't you searched for our kind of you thought you were the only one left?" She cringed at his words. Rex continued.
"You know I don't belong with your kind. I can't fit in with your world." His voice was soft, reasoning, making her want to cry.
She knew he was right, no matter how much she didn't want it to be, he was right.
She just really didn’t like it…
It was approaching nightfall when they had reached a town, human settlement, as her dear shifter friend called it. They had stopped right outside of it, Rex easily kept them out of sight as he prowled the area for threats, he called it, but she thought it was just to ease himself that she would be safe and welcomed. The things he did, you had to pick out what the meaning behind it all was. It was tricky at times, but she found it had gotten easier the longer she knew him.
But soon, he would leave again. They would be separated once more...she didn’t want to be apart from him again. He was safety, comfort, home...after all, home is where the heart is. He had already claimed her’s...There were times where she regretted her being born her kind, human. She wished she could have been born of his own species. Then she could have followed him anywhere, she wouldn’t be a liability...she could keep up and wouldn’t get left behind all the time for him just to come back to get her.
But then, she would have never met him the way she did...If she would have been born like that, there was no guarantee that she would even have known him. With those thoughts, she would rather have it stay the way it did.
“The territory is sound.” He rumbled lowly as he shifted, walking up from his short trip around the town. His human form coming into view once more. She had gotten off once they had reached the town, staying put while he went and prowled.
“Rex, you know it isn’t like your own world where they will just open their arms, sniff you out then accept you...I’ll have to find a place to live and a way to make money.” She tried, to at least plant a seed of worry, doubt in him that she wouldn’t be able to stay so easily. Perhaps make him linger for a while with her in this place to make sure it really was all fine. It did nothing of the sort it seemed….
She watched helplessly as her dark friend simply smirked lightly and snorted at her, casting his beautiful dark eyes off to the quiet town, small, but seeming doing well for itself. “Your smart. You’ll figure it out easily.” While she held that compliment dear to her, it wasn’t what she wanted to hear… “Rex…Please, don’t leave.” She whispered lowly as she met his steady gaze when it shifted her way, locking onto her own eyes, catching her torn look.
“I expect you to be doing more than well when I return.” He grunted out softly, and like making a promise once more, she couldn’t help but smile softly, though somewhat tearfully as well. He had just curved around her plea and gave her a challenge to meet for when he returned to her, after who knows how long of his absence.
She gave a slight laugh, a short and torn one as she raised up a hand to rub at her eye while she shifted toward him, shuffling her feet along the ground like it would make time last. He allowed her to wrap her arms around him tightly, clinging to him and drinking in his scent, the power, his essence all at once, giving her strength. She wordlessly nodded against him, face pressed into his shoulder, stuffed against his shirt, his musty, somewhat dirty shirt that smelled of sweat, earth and some type of metallic scent, all mixed together. It stunk somewhat, but it was him, and she loved it.
With a single hand raised to set naturally on her back, that was all that was needed from him, to make her smile. Wasn’t exactly a hug, but it was a reassuring action, and it did its job.
The two separated from one another and shared a long look, as if conveying their promises to be kept before it was the shifter that moved away first. Stepping further back from the human female and offering a signature confident smirk before turning and strolling off, not once looking back, much like the many other times he had left.
She was always left to watch his back disappear in the shadows around him, as if they were welcoming him back into their arms...while whispering out so softly that not even the wind could pick it up and carry it away, for there was barely anything to whisk away…”Please...don’t leave.”
She then too, after watching him disappear back into the darkness, would stare a while longer before turning and moving off on her own. Making her way into the streets of the dimly lit town, to set herself a place amongst her own. Where she would wait patiently for her shifter to return, fulfilling his promise to her in which he always kept.