A/N: This is a story written in the form of… Awe fuck it.
Yes. This is the last chapter. But do not worry your pretty little brows my friends. There will be an epilogue coming soon featuring an extremely hot sex scene. So please do look forward to that.
Joke of the chapter:
Hey, so real quick. There's one important joke for this chapter that I have to explain. When Lex and I were doing the brainstorming to decide what animals we wanted our characters to shift into, we evidently created a new character who happens to make an appearance this chapter. It went something like this.
Lex: "Let's make a list."
Amb: "Alright. I'll type everything."
Lex: "Alright. How aboooouuuut…a wolf? Or maybe…a dog?...or a mountain lion. Or a fox! Perhaps a… panther…Hey! What are you putting on that list? A beaver! REALLY!"
Amb: "Yeah, I thought maybe you'd want to be a beaver, ya know? They're so cute and they have the little tai—"
Lex: "No! That's retarded! I don't want to be a beaver!"
Amb: "Well if it's so retarded perhaps you can be a retarded beaver… named Eric—"
List as follows:
Football player/ cheerleader
-Amb (and Lex)
The sun was bright as it shown through the trees and decorated the clearing with dappled green and yellow light. Nakul woke and was pleased to find that his morsel was still curled against him. He leaned down and nibbled Ried's ear. "Good Morning."
Ried wriggled around, smiling at the feeling of Nakul's mouth. "Nakuuuuuul," he whined, laughing. "Morning. I'm hungry."
"I have something you can eat," Nakul purred, nuzzling into Ried's neck.
"You wish," Ried scoffed, grinning. "I'm hunnnnnnnngry~!"
"Well, that pheasant you ruined is still over there."
"Urr…" Ried crawled over to the pheasant corpse. He picked it up gingerly and picked at the burnt skin. "It's all burned…"
"Now you care."
"Let's go catch some fishhhhhh."
"Hmm…how about you catch some fish, and I'll watch? After all, you owe me." Nakul sat up all the way, yawning and stretching his arms above him, his lean body exposed to the air.
"We-well…at least come with! What if the tiger man shows up?" Ried asked nervously. "I mean I know the river is right there but…"
Nakul opened one eye to look at Ried with an amused expression, tucking his arms above his head as he did. "I…suppose I can do that for you." Untangling himself from the panda, Nakul lowered himself to the ground, then transformed into his panther form and began to walk toward the river. "Let's go, Morsel, I can practically hear the fish waiting to be caught," he called over his shoulder.
"Okay!" Ried transformed too, plodding along behind Nakul and weaving in between his legs playfully, avoiding his paws and brushing his tail against the panther's stomach each time he passed through.
Nakul ignored him for the most part, but batted playfully at his hindquarters whenever they were within reach. Once at the river's edge, Nakul sat back a few feet from the water and waited patiently for Ried to proceed.
Ried batted at the fish, nipping at them and trying to catch some. Getting his face completely soaked with his sad attempts. Finally he caught a decent sized fish, well, for a panda that is, and began to munch on it.
Raising a brow at Reid as he munched proudly on his catch, Nakul scoffed. He would. "Uh, heeeeellooooo. Forgetting something?"
Ried ripped a piece of flesh from the fish. "Whut?" he asked, mouth full. "I cannd cajh ah beeg onn foh yuh." [A/N: "I can't catch a big one for you."]
Nakul frowned. "Well, then you're just gonna have to catch me three smaller ones because you owe me, and I intend to be paid back in full."
Ried frowned. "No fair!" he whined, he spit a bone at Nakul and stormed over to the river, trying to catch three more fish. It was hard enough getting the first one.
A purr of amusement escaped Nakul as he watched Ried struggle. It seemed fair to him after all he'd gone through for the small bear yesterday. "Better hurry up over there, or I might eat you instead."
"Noooooo!" Ried whined. "This isn't fair!" he struggled, finally managing to grab ONE fish, he quickly laid it before Nakul before trotting back to the river again.
Leaning down, Nakul sniffed at the fish, and then hunkered down to begin nibbling at it. "One down, two to go." He mumbled between mouthfuls.
Ried rushed back with two guppies, dropping them at Nakul's feet. "Th-there! There you go!" he stammered.
Nakul—"eeeeeeeeeeeeeeew" and Eric the retarded beaver escaped into the distance with the guppyies.
"…" after staring after Eric a moment, Nakul returned his gaze to Ried. He was not amused.
Ried gaped. "Buh…but I….I caught them! I….ah…ummm…"
"Bed. Now. Go."
Ried whimpered. "Bu…I didn't finish MY fish…"
"…Fine. Finish it. I don't want you complaining about how hungry you are later." Turning, Nakul padded slowly back to his comfortable moss bed.
Ried followed behind him, fish in mouth. He curled up in Nakul's side, finishing his fish. He mewled happily.
"I swear, if you got any crumbs in my bed…" Nakul eyed Ried threateningly.
Ried pouted, tossing the fish remains away from the bed, which were caught in the paw of a familiar striped face.
Kain plodded into the clearing. "Really? You two stayed where I found you? How…naïve."
Kain licked his lips. "Ohhh well in that case, I'll just leave." Kain smirked. "Right, not going to happen," he said before roaring at the two creatures.
"Omigosh! You too?" Nakul growled sarcastically as he stood and shook the sleep from his limbs. "Let me guess, you got a little 'board' at the warehouse? Maybe if you were more 'lumber' you'd feel like you belonged."
Kain snarled. "You're just pissy I had my hands all over your toy…and he liked it." He stepped in closer, eyeing Ried. "I just came to finish what I started, " he said, smiling at the panda.
"I'm sorry, but we have a strict policy here: No shirt, no shoes, no service," Nakul growled low in his throat and stepped in front of Ried.
Kain paced in front of him. "Is that what HE tells you? When you try to touch him?" Kain smiled. "He didn't protest nearly as much with me."
Appalled, Nakul turned to face the panda. "Ried, how many times do I have to tell you, ugly doesn't count as clothing! Gee, I'm really sorry about that Mr. It won't happen again. EVER."
Kain snapped and leapt at the panther, rolling around biting and scratching.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you," Nakul growled out between scratches, "it's not polite to bite!" and he tossed Kain against a tree and stood to face his opponent again, breathing heavily.
Picking himself up off the forest floor, Kain shook the pain off, wincing. He stretched and growled. "That all you got?" he purred, when Ried leapt at his face, scratching and biting at him fiercely, his small, but sharp teeth doing a good deal of damage.
Nakul looked on in horror.
Kain pawed the panda off his face, strangling him with a paw twice the size of the panda's head. "I suggest," he roared "You stay out of this, RUNT." Kain slowly started sinking his claws into the panda, who proceeded to yip and screech.
"Uhh, yeah, that's mine. And I know you wouldn't like it if I started breaking your toys so I'd really suggest you remove your oversized, elephant of a foot immediately. Your fight is with me, pussy cat." Nakul growled.
Kain just scoffed and dug his claws deeper, grinning his sharp smile wider every time the panda cried out. "Oh~ but breaking is my specialty," he said.
"Damn! I knew I never should have let you play with him!" and he leapt at Kain, toppling them both over in a hissing ball of fur.
Ried climbed to his feet, only to fall back down while the big cats fought. Kain and Nakul threw sharp bites at each other, eventually leaving Nakul on top, the tiger growling and heaving beneath him, a new gash across his face.
"Alright, Uncle Scar, you listen to me, and you listen good. I want you to leave. Leave here, and NEVER come back. Do you hear me?" Nakul had his paw pushed into Kain's throat and as he spoke, his claws began to puncture small holes in the skin there.
Kain wheezed. "F…uh…Fine! Fine I'll go, you can have the rat. Who wants to play with their food anyway!"
As Kain stalked out of the clearing, Nakul turned to Ried. "Why do the fat kids always gotta be so mean?"
Ried coughed and hacked, blood coating his fur. "I….don't know," he mumbled, collapsing and changing back into a human for mere seconds before changing back into a panda, where he quickly changed again, powers suddenly out of whack.
Nakul stared on in horror. "Ried, what's wrong? Why can't you stay changed?"
"I—I—I can't-!" Ried choked, his voice sounding strangled. He coughed; it was a horrible sound as if he had choked on his own lungs. He clawed at the ground and writhed about, blood dripping from his teeth. He tried again to push himself off the ground, transforming into a human, but not quite all the way. Red fur grew from his head instead of hair and his pupils stayed cat-like and inhuman. Claws remained where fingernails should have grown and a bushy tail hung between his legs. It was an awful sight, and horrific noises continued to peel forth from his lips. He collapsed once more as a complete red panda, breathing ragged and raspy.
Nakul knelt down next to him and reached out as if to pick him up but stopped. "L-look, just… just stop. Don't try to change again. If something's wrong, I'm sure we'll figure it out… how badly are you hurt—besides the changing, I mean."
"N-Nakul, I-I'm pretty sure…"Ried stopped to hack and cough. "Th-there are about thirty holes in my ribs from a certain…aghh…! T-tiger…from a certain tiger….I-I think it's pretty bad." Ried managed a cocky smirk before wincing and succumbing to pain.
Frowning, Nakul ran a hand through his tussled black hair. He was sweaty, covered in blood, and needed a bath more than ever, but he had to make sure that Ried was okay first. "Um… gosh, let me think. I'm pretty sure there are some poppy seeds around here somewhere. That will help with the pain. Let me go find some. I'll be right back-DON'T close your eyes."
Ried wasn't sure that was something he could decide for himself, but he would try. He could already see black at the edge of his vision closing in on him. His eyes lay half closed and he was quickly and easily losing his fight against what could be the end.
"I'll be right back. Stay with me, Ried." With a last look over his shoulder, Nakul stepped through the tree line and walked a few paces before stopping to lean against a large redwood. Leaning his head back against the cool bark of the tree he removed his hand from where it was resting on the side of his rib cage. It was red with blood and he felt his vision swim as he watched the droplets slide from his fingertips. No. I have to keep it together for Ried. With a growl he managed to push away from the tree and change. Even with the strong scent of blood in the air Nakul managed to locate the poppy. Stumbling from the trees he managed to shift back into a human and slumped down next to Ried. "Here. Eat these. Quick. It'll help."
Ried's nose crinkled and he tried to locate the poppy on scent alone. His vision was quickly failing and his consciousness wasn't far behind. What resulted was a pathetic nuzzling into Nakul's hand whilst weakly whimpering in pain.
"Ugh, you're not gonna make me do all the work, are you? Okay, here." Moving quickly Nakul lifted the poppy seeds to his mouth and began chewing them into a paste. When he was satisfied he leaned over and pushed it into Ried's mouth with his tongue.
Ried, not exactly conscious enough to be taken aback by the disgusting paste, let it slide down his throat. He lay quietly on the soft forest floor, not seeming to react at all to the poppy. Sticky dark blood coated the grass and dirt surrounding the two of them. Everywhere. The damage was done, Ried was not going to be with Nakul much longer. His breathing was slow and weak; it barely moved the slim grass by his snout. His eyes were beginning to cloud over and the light seemed to leave his eyes slowly.
"Shit Ried. You've really messed things up this time. I didn't want it to come to this, but it looks like we have no choice." Reaching down carefully, Nakul lifted Ried's cold body into his arms to cradle him against his chest. Standing, Nakul repressed a groan as the gash on his side widened and blood streamed down his side. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, he began to make his way through the dense undergrowth of the jungle.
After staggering for what felt like ages, Nakul finally pushed through the tree line and into a clearing covered completely in flowers. Their dense aroma filled the air and seemed to coat the inside of his lungs as he made his way toward the small pool in the center of the clearing. Once he reached the edge of the water, Nakul gently laid Ried down and collapsed next to him in a bed of bright purple flowers with long stems and short petals. Turning his gaze to the large gray figure in the pool, he cleared his throat and spoke.
"Voracia. I… I need your help."
An old, grey, graceful elephant sat in the water, seemingly in thought. Moss and vines coated her trunks and flowers adorned her crown. It seemed she had used a berry paste to paint intricate designs down her trunk. Her figure seemed to dissipate as she transformed to a rather hearty shaped elderly woman with wavy grey hair that reached her chest. The same flowers upon the elephant were woven into her hair and the same designs were sketched across her forehead and cheeks. She opened her grey-blue eyes and her lips scrunched into a small and amused smile.
"Nakul, you visit so rarely. I'm so glad to see you." She seemed to glide across the pool and kneeled by Ried. "My….your friend is very close to leaving us….and you aren't looking so well yourself!" She chuckled heartily. "He must mean something if the lone 'wolf' of the forest was willing to bring him here. Ho ho how cute he is. I'll get something right away dearie."
Voracia glided across the pool and gathered some very vibrant pink flowers. Only three remained, and one could almost overlook them if not looking carefully enough. Their petals were translucent, and not many had the chance to ever see such a breed. Voracia brought them to Ried and kneeled once more.
"Now…Nakul I hope you know…this cure might strip him of his…abilities. It's the strongest I've got though. I only wish to use it if you are absolutely sure he wants it. You need to be sure he wouldn't rather let go and move on."
Nakul grimaced and clutched his ribs tighter as he tried to stem the blood seeping through his fingers. "Seeing as how your patient seems out of commission at the moment, I will take the liberty of telling you that he will have the medicine. I did not take him this far to die. If he's angry about it later, at least he'll be alive to be angry."
Voracia sighed and smiled. She rolled up the flowers into a paste and rubbed them into Ried's wounds. "Now, he's a bit mangled up. Worse than you, and he's stuck in his animal form, so this next part may be a bit gruesome I'm afraid. Don't worry, it won't be so bad for you!" She gently nudged the panda closer to Nakul. "In case you'd like to try and console him."
Ried's body suddenly shuddered and his eyes shot wide open, pupils dilating completely. He let out a screech as his skin started to writhe above his muscles. It stretched and cracked and it was not at all like their normal transitions. It was as if the flowers were forcing the animal out of Ried. The fur began to fall from his skin as he grew larger and longer, and his small panda teeth fell out as human teeth grew in their place. His ears made crinkling noises as they moved lower down on his head and reformed into a human ear. By this point Ried was screeching and making horrible screaming noises. His spine stretched and cracked and his claws changed to nails. Soon he was just a human; all save for his eyes, still a sweet honey color. He lay naked in the grass shuddering and sobbing.
Voracia nodded. "Right then dear, the worst part is over, we can heal up Nakul then and you'll be right as rain you'll be!" She rubbed the remaining paste against Nakul's wound and stood back and his skin stretched to reconnect where it had torn. Nakul grimaced and groaned. It was no cake walk for him either as his skin healed itself. It burned and stung, and when it was over he was left feeling as if something had changed. The great panther had left him, and now he was just a man.
He hated it.
It felt like a part of his soul was missing. He was only half complete. Sighing and turning onto his side, Nakul pulled Ried closer to him. He feared that Ried would be angry with him, but he was just glad he was alive.
Ried's attention snapped to Nakul. His eyes were still wet and his tears had made wet trails through the dirt and blood on his face. He looked frail, lost. But the life was back in his complexion, in his eyes. He was alive.
Voracia moved back, smiling at the couple. "I'll leave you two to rest. I'm going to the market to get food, you two can stay until morning. It will be safe."
Nakul reluctantly looked away from Ried to meet the older woman's gaze. "Voracia, I—…Thank you."
Voracia waved him off as she made her way into the jungle, endearing smile still on her face.
Ried moved his arms around Nakul, gazing up at him.
"Ried…I'm sorry. You were dying. It was the only choice. I…I couldn't think of anything else. There wasn't anything else I could have done… I'm sorry." Nakul frowned and looked away, unable to meet Ried's gaze.
"Wh-what? What did that lady do to me? It….it was so painful and….that wasn't like any transition I've ever had. I'm still unable to transform…I can't even…feel my animal form inside me. It feels gone." Ried was terribly lost. Nonetheless, he was happy Nakul was there. He felt strong once more. His wounds had healed.
"Ried…" Nakul rolled onto his back and reached up to run a hand through his hair. "It feels gone because it is…you can't shift anymore. We can't shift anymore."
Ried froze, then he shot straight up. "We…we what! But…but where will we live? What will we do? I can't…the humans don't like me! They think my eyes are devil eyes I-" Ried noticed the pained look in Nakul's eyes and stopped. He moved to lay his head on Nakul's chest.
"But….but either way Nakul I'm…I'm really glad that I'm with you." Ried gave him a soft smile. "I think that…with you….as long as it's you, we'll be all right. And I thank you, f-for saving me….you know."
Nakul lifted an arm to gently sift his fingers through Ried's hair. It seemed they both could use a good bath. "Don't worry, Ried. We'll make it work. Now what say you to taking a dip?" And without hesitation Nakul sat up and neatly tossed Ried into the pool.
Ried laughed and shook his hair. "HEY!" he snapped and grabbed Nakul's arm, pulling him in too.
A/N: I really hope ya'lls were as proud of me for those awesome one-liners as I was this chapter. More coming soon!