A black '67 Chevy Impala cautiously made its way through the unfamiliar streets of Macon. Its driver spared a nervous glance every minute or so to the GPS attached to the car's dashboard. A white paw placed itself on his shaking knee, stilling its frantic movements with a gentle squeeze. The lung dragon looked over at the person in the shotgun seat.
It was Skyler, of course, but the main coon always seemed to make Chris do a quick double take to be sure she was real. Her white and ginger-tinged muzzle parted to flash Chris with a small smile.
"The directions are very simple, Chris." She punctuated the statement with a light laugh that filled her already melodic voice. "And you can't possibly miss a big sign that says 'Ocmulgee National Monument.'"
"You would be surprised. I haven't been down here in years, hence the GPS and my anxiety." Chris flicked the face of the nasty little device.
"Don't start lying to me now!" She prodded the light grey fur on Chris's arm. "Your sister just so happened to tell me that you are great with remembering roads."
"Just because I remember doesn't mean I remembered correctly."
"Hah! So you do remember!"
"Only enough to say that we just missed the turn off." Chris scrunched his nose and pushed his rimless glasses farther up his muzzle. "You need to stop distracting me."
"No way." The cat turned around in her seat, only to see the long line of small, identical houses that Macon seemed to have everywhere. A pout marred her delicate features as she faced the front again. "Bastard."
"Love you too." Chris grinned when Skyler's pink tongue made an appearance before slipping back into her mouth.
Dual colored eyes took in the real sign as the old car approached it. Following a Sudan as it turned right onto a road surrounded by trees. A minute of driving had them at a slow crawl behind many other cars.
"Am I to guess that something's going on today?" Skyler asked as she leaned to the side slightly, to try and see if the line ever stopped.
She turned back to him, her pale green eyes glinting in the light that always seemed to be attracted to her. "You do know sharing is caring."
The lung dragon chuckled, "Of course. Today and tomorrow they have the 'Ocmulgee Indian Celebration' going on. They are showcasing native dancing, music, and other Cherokee traditions."
He glanced at Skyler, trying to gauge her reaction. When he got nothing, the nervousness came back. "I figured you might like it, since you are really into nat-"
Skyler cut him off by pressing a quick kiss to his cheek. Her fast heartbeat and the heat on her face telling of her happiness as she settled back into her seat, letting the dark brown curtains of her hair hide her face.
The silence was interrupted by a sharp honk of the car behind them, its owner irate at the fact that the old heap of junk in front of her wasn't moving.
As soon as Chris had the Impala parked among the growing sea of other cars, he got out into the already stifling heat of the afternoon. Looking over the hood of the car, Skyler was situating a hat to cover her eyes; the pupils had quickly become narrow slits in the bright light.
He hurriedly got out his camera and snapped a photo before she turned his way.
"Okay, I am in charge of the camera." Skyler walked around the car and snatched it from the dragon's paw, placed her own in the space created and dragged Chris down the road.
After a few minutes of walking, they finally stopped at the end of a line that began at a small pavilion which apparently allowed their entrance into the event. When it finally came time for them to get their pamphlets, they forked over the five dollars each and were handed their leaflets.
Chris stopped for a moment to look through it, but when he had finished scanning the pages, he found Skyler had the camera aimed at a couple who held a cockatiel and a parakeet in their paws. The camera clicked, and when the delay ended, the cat made a face at the small screen.
A light grey chin met her shoulder as Chris looked at the picture she had taken. It wasn't blurry, but he could see that she didn't get both of the birds fully in the shot. He ran a paw lightly up her side, making her jump.
"Come on." Chris smiled when Skyler turned to face him, and he dragged her deeper into the mass of people traveling to and from the epicenter of the celebration.
Though there was the not so natural buzz of everyone's talk, the loudest noise there was the sound of a musical instrument being broadcast over the entire area. It was like a strange mix of a panpipe and a flute, and as they walked around the grassy field, it turned out that that is exactly what it looked like as well.
He spied Skyler looking longingly at the scattered booths that sold various Native American wares.
"We'll check them out after this," Chris promised before threading their fingers together and pulling Skyler towards an open seat on the bleachers that surrounded the field.
An old brown bear was sitting by a thatched pavilion. He talked about the old dances that the Cherokee did, and the occasions they were done for. Eventually, a father and son walked over to stand beside the old bear. The two wolves were dressed in the traditional wear of Cherokee dancers, but instead of the brown leathers of old dashed with different colored beads, the outfits were made of bright neon fabrics.
The bear said that just as in the past, these costumes were made to stand out and garner attention. Two more people joined the neon colored pair, a young dark chestnut stallion dressed predominantly in blues, and a slender cougar dashed with pinks. All four of them danced to the beats of the drums that echoed throughout the celebration grounds.
Eventually the drums died down and only the stallion was left in the field. The old bear took the time to point out that attached to the boy's mane were eagle feathers, as the majestic bird held a special significance to the native peoples.
Skyler relaxed into Chris's side, and he slipped an arm around her waist, hugging her close as the drums started up again. But when the bear started to talk about the time in history when the government had denied the Native Americans the right to practice their traditions, the dragon tensed, fingering the pentacle attached to his collar. He had always hated things like that, when Christians lorded over others just because they thought their belief system was superior.
The sudden change made Skyler start purring. The pleasant sound and the soothing vibrations against his side made the muscles in the dragon's shoulders unwind on his next breath.
The nest part of the dancing section was what the bear called the friendship dance. The three dancers went around the field, choosing people at random to join them in the center (not really random when it was mostly children that scurried out).
A good sized group of people had gone out, but the cougar was still looking through the crowd. She stopped near where Chris and Skyler were sitting, and she beckoned to the cat with a faint grin.
Skyler looked up at Chris, who only smiled, pulled the camera out of her paws, and pushed her up and over to the patient woman. She led her to where the others were forming a circle, their paws joined.
As soon as the bear gave the signal, Chris held up the camera, easily documenting the circle that quickly changed to resemble a winding snake. It continued to coil and uncoil, making several revolutions before the head decided to end it. All parts of the snake going back to their families with wide smiles on their faces, Skyler was no different.
The wind picked up, whipping her hair across her face. And when she reached up to brush it out of the way, a warm happiness bubbled up within Chris's chest at the sight. When she sat back down beside him, the smile was still on her face, and she was breathing heavily.
"That was amazing!" Skyler exclaimed happily, resting her head on Chris's shoulder.
He let her catch her breath for a couple minutes as the old bear wrapped up before leading her over to the booths. After looking at the booths for a second, they went their separate ways.
Chris had noticed a leather satchel, which to him, screamed Skyler's name.
Skyler padded lightly around the booths, trying to find something that Chris would like. She almost stopped at the slingshots, but Chris wouldn't really use that. Finally, she came upon the dream catchers.
"They are all unique." The badger behind the booth said happily, gazing at her creations.
The sun had started its descent from the zenith, and with it came a heat that far surpassed what was there first. Chris decided to sit down on a curb near the booths; Skyler would be able to see him easily when she was done. He tried in vain to ward off the heat with a fanning paw, but it was relentless. It was only at times like this that he cursed his dark scales that always seemed to absorb the heat.
His tufted ears twitched when a familiar voice reached his ears, well, not familiar per se, he hadn't heard it in over five years. A golf cart was pulling away from the first aid tent, and in it was his old professor from his first year at college.
"Miss. Flirt," Chris called out wearily to the blond rabbit. He had to repeat it once before she looked over at him. Chris was worried for a second that she wouldn't recognize him, but those fears were dissuaded with a large smile and a wave before she drove off.
"Who was that?" Skyler's voice came from his side.
Chris smiled and stood, "An old professor of mine. Now this is for you." He held out the satchel.
A smile spread across Skyler's muzzle when she looped it around her shoulder, but then she held out a small paper bag for the dragon to take. Chris gently opened it and took out a small dream catcher.
"You never could find something to hang off the Impala's mirror." She floundered when Chris bent down and kissed her forehead.
"Let's go hang this up then." Chris twined their fingers together and led the way back to the car.