Storm-Blossomed By Jacor
From within the dark cave, the sounds of the torrential downpour occurring outside could be heard. Flashes of lights from the heavens lit up the den, and the sky's roar followed shortly after. Within the cave, a creature with sleek gray fur was curled up, shivering in fear. His eyes were shut tight and his tail was resting over his nose. Thus it was his ears that alerted him to a presence at the cave entrance. He opened his soft golden eyes and lifted his head to look at the shadowed stranger standing at the opening. A flash of light lit up the cave once more, revealing the stranger to be a familiar cream-colored wolf. His fur was covered by a thin film of water, which he proceeded to vigorously shake off.
"Well, I looked around and didn't see anyone. We should be safe in here until the storm blows out." he said.
"Great!" the gray wolf yawned. "I'm tired after all the walking we've done today."
A loud crack of thunder echoed throughout the cave, causing the gray wolf to cower and give a whimper of fear. The cream wolf smiled gently and lay down next to his companion. "There's no reason to be scared Aeloyd. We're safe in here." he said.
Aeloyd snuggled closer, averting his eyes as he did so. He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly as he enjoyed the bigger wolf's body warmth. He felt much safer with him by his side.
After a moment of silence, Aeloyd finally spoke, "Raeow?"
"How much farther are we going to walk before…before we…?"
Aeloyd was unable to continue. The thought of parting ways with Raeow was a delicate subject for him.
Raeow thought about it momentarily, failing to catch Aeloyd's deeper question. "Well, I can still smell a few scent marks every so often. I think we still have a long walk ahead of us before we're out of claimed territory."
"Oh." Aeloyd smiled, wagging his bushy tail in elation. He gave another yawn.
"You should rest Aeloyd, I'll keep watch." Raeow said, nuzzling Aeloyd's head gently.
Aeloyd laid his head on his forepaws and closed his eyes. Raeow smiled and placed his muzzle gently on top of Aeloyd's. To keep himself awake, Raeow reminisced on how they had first met.
They had met seven months ago on a similar night. It was raining, and Raeow was looking for shelter. A successful hunting escapade some time ago had led him to stray dangerously close to another pack's border. Raeow needed to get a safe distance away if he didn't want to be in danger of incurring the wrath of a pack.
As he walked briskly through the forest, he caught a slight movement within his peripheral. Turning to face the source of the disturbance, he noticed a shivering wolf, curled up pitifully against a tree with his tail on his nose. The wolf's gray fur was messy and covered with splotches of mud.
Raeow stopped abruptly and crouched, preparing himself to run if necessary. The gray wolf seemed to be a little over a month younger than him. Judging by his immobility, he appeared to have failed to notice Raeow's presence. Raeow relaxed slightly and twitched his nose in discomfort. He was sure he hadn't entered another pack's lands. Then again, the rain had made it difficult to detect any scent marks. He hesitated for a moment before throwing caution to the wind and uttering a short, quiet greeting.
The wolf's ears instinctively swiveled towards Raeow's voice, but the wolf did not budge. Raeow twitched his nose. He tried speaking louder, but the wolf refused to acknowledge Raeow. Raeow cautiously approached the wolf, alert for any slight movement that signaled an impending attack. The wolf remained immobile.
Raeow nosed the wolf's tail gently "You ok?" he asked.
The wolf lifted his tail off his face, causing a small stream of water to cascade to the muddy ground. The wolf's dim golden eyes locked with Raeow's dark brown eyes. For a moment, the two wolves stared silently at each other until the gray wolf finally spoke.
"I'm fine." he mumbled while averting his gaze.
"You should get out of the rain before your fur gets soaked." Raeow said while shaking the moisture off his own fur.
The wolf placed his tail over his face without answering. "Err, would you like to find shelter with me?" Raeow asked hesitantly. The wolf's ears pricked up slightly, yet he remained silent.
Raeow frowned. He couldn't just leave this strange wolf out in the rain like this, even if he did barely know him. It was obvious to Raeow that the wolf needed help. "I don't mind sharing shelter with someone." Raeow said reassuringly.
The wolf lifted his head to look at Raeow. Raeow smiled amiably. The wolf stood up laboriously. Holding his left forepaw gingerly off the ground, he tried to take a step forward. After limping no more than two steps, he gave up. "I'll just stay here actually." the wolf muttered, his ears drooping.
"I'll carry you." Raeow offered. The wolf averted his eyes. Before the wolf could decline, Raeow crawled underneath the wolf and stood up, carrying him on his back. Once the wolf was secure on his back, Reaow continued his search for shelter with a greater sense of urgency.
After a short time, Raeow came across what looked like a fox den entrance near the roots of a tree. He crouched to allow the wolf to gain a firm footing before slowly sliding him gently off his back under the cover of a tree. The wolf curled himself up and buried his face underneath his tail.
Raeow hesitated, casting an uneasy glance at the wolf before cautiously entering the cave. To his relief, the cave was abandoned, but too small for a wolf, let alone two.
"Better fix that." Raeow muttered. He began to dig out the area as fast as he could. His claws dug into the soft earth and sent it flying behind him. His forepaws were starting to ache, but Raeow forced himself to continue without rest.
Before long, although the area was not the best for two wolves, it would have to do. "Poor guy's already soaked enough." thought Raeow. Raeow stepped out and walked towards the wolf, who had not moved at all since Raeow had set him down. Raeow nosed the wolf's tail gently. The wolf lifted his tail and looked at Raeow with an empty expression in his eyes. Raeow couldn't tell if it was the rain, or if those were tears in the wolf's eyes.
"Let's get out of the rain." Raeow said tenderly.
The wolf hesitated momentarily before standing up slowly and limping his way inside. Raeow shook the water off his own fur before darting in after him.
It was slightly cramped inside. Raeow had to be careful not to tread on the wolf. It was also difficult for Raeow to get a respectful spacing between him and the wolf. The wolf didn't seem to mind though. "He could be getting his tail chewed off and he wouldn't react." thought Raeow.
Raeow slowly brought his muzzle towards the wolf's side and began to clean the wolf's fur. Raeow cast a glance sideways, concerned that he may have violated the wolf in doing so. The wolf continued to stare off into the distance without any signs of discomfort. Raeow decided to keep cleaning.
Raeow was almost finished when the wolf spoke. "C-can I sleep here?" he asked timidly.
"Of course!" Raeow replied. "Rest as long as you want, err-" Raeow realized that all this time, he had not bothered to ask the wolf's name.
"Aeloyd." the wolf muttered as he placed his head on his forepaws.
"My name's Raeow." Raeow said softly as he lay down next to Aeloyd.
Raeow took care of Aeloyd for the next few days until Aeloyd's paw was better. When Aeloyd was finally able to walk without limping, Raeow suggested that they go their separate ways.
"Oh. Ok." Aeloyd said, obviously crestfallen.
"Err, or we could stay together until we get to unclaimed land if you prefer." Raeow added hesitantly.
Upon hearing this, Aeloyd's eyes lit up and his tail began to wag rapidly. "Sure! I'd love to travel with you!" Aeloyd yipped.
Raeow, who had gotten accustomed to traveling alone for the past 2 months, wished he was still alone at first. It took some time before he became comfortable having Aeloyd with him. Despite the awkward start, Raeow had allowed Aeloyd to travel with him ever since.
"Raeow?" Aeloyd asked.
Hearing his name being called brought Raeow back to the present with a startled jump. "Oh, Aeloyd, I thought you were asleep!" he said, sitting on his haunches and looking at Aeloyd with a smile.
Aeloyd chose to ignore the comment. "There's something I need to tell you." he muttered, his ears drooping slightly.
"Err, what is it?" Raeow asked, wondering what Aeloyd had on his mind.
"Well, it's...it's something I would rather not tell you." Aeloyd said nervously.
"Oh? You don't have to tell me if you don't feel comfortable talking about it." Raeow said.
Aeloyd hesitated. He opened his mouth to speak, closed it, and opened it again. "I...I didn't tell you sooner because I...it's something I need to get out of my chest."
Raeow shifted his forepaws nervously. "Err, did I do something wrong?" he asked.
Aeloyd turned his head to face Raeow. "No, no! It's not you, it's...well...it's probably something I should have said earlier." Aeloyd averted his gaze.
"Well, what is it?" Raeow asked.
"Raeow...I...I kind of...I think I might...I...I don't know..." Aeloyd whined in agony, covering his eyes with his forepaws, his ears folding back against his head.
Raeow moved to sit in front of Aeloyd. "What's wrong?" Raeow asked, gently nosing Aeloyd.
"Nothing...well...it's something but...it's something I need to tell you but...I don't...I don't want say anything that...I don't know how to say it..." Aeloyd whined. He sat up and raised his hind paw to scratch himself.
"Is it something about me?" Raeow asked.
"Well, in a way, yes." Aeloyd said.
"Was it something I did?" Raeow asked.
"No! It's not you!" said Aeloyd, looking into Raeow's eyes. "It's...well...Raeow...I...I don't want to say it but...I...I don't want to keep hiding it from you." Aeloyd averted his gaze again.
"Are you worried I would get upset?"
There was a brief silence before Aeloyd spoke. "Yes." he replied with a sigh.
"I...I promise I won't get upset." Raeow said.
"Raeow...I...I love you..." Aeloyd said.
"I love you too Aeloyd; please tell me what's bothering you."
"No, Raeow, that's it. I love you."
There was a long silence, save for the thunder rumbling outside, before Raeow finally spoke. "Err...Aeloyd?" Aeloyd didn't answer. "Aeloyd...there's...something I need to say as well." Raeow admitted as he looked down at his paws nervously. Aeloyd's right ear swiveled towards Reaow. "I...I love you too."
Aeloyd faced Raeow. "You...you do?" he asked, his ears perking slightly.
Raeow shifted his paws nervously. "Yeah. I was afraid that if I told you...it would...you know...change things in a way that...err...yeah, it doesn't matter." Raeow said with a nervous laugh.
"Wait, you...you...you love me as in...as in...as in you want us to...to..."
Raeow took a step forward and rubbed his muzzle against Aeloyd's. Aeloyd gave a yelp of surprise as Raeow's cool tongue brushed gently against his cheek. "Does that answer your question?" Raeow asked softly.
"Y-yes." Aeloyd said, looking at his paws shyly.
Raeow nuzzled Aeloyd's forehead. "What's wrong?" Raeow asked, concerned with how dejected Aeloyd still appeared.
"Nothing, it's just that...I was worried you would...leave..." Aeloyd whispered.
"I would never leave you, Aeloyd." Raeow whispered as he rubbed his neck against Aeloyd.
"Raeow..." Aeloyd sighed, placing his paw on Raeow's shoulder as he accepted the degree of affection he had desired for the last 4 months.
The two wolves stood there for a while, oblivious to the rain outside, oblivious to the thunder and lightning, oblivious to everything but each other. For the moment, nothing else mattered as they breathed in each other's scent. For the moment, everything felt right as they stood there, pressed against each other. That one moment was one that they both knew they would never forget.
"Aeloyd?" Raeow said, breaking the silence. "You should get some sleep Aeloyd, so that we can hunt once the storm clears up."
"Will you sleep by my side tonight?" Aeloyd asked hopefully.
"Sure." Raeow replied, waiting for Aeloyd to lay down before laying down next to him. Aeloyd snuggled up against Raeow, nuzzling his companion's cheek as he did so.
"Good night Raeow." Aeloyd whispered, placing his head on his forepaws.
"Sweet dreams my beloved." Raeow replied as he too lay his head on his forepaws, allowing sleep to drift him away besides his friend, now his mate from now until forever.
*Author's Note: Thank you for reading! Any criticism is welcomed and very much appreciated. I hope that you enjoyed reading.