Chapter 2: Runaways

Kira quickly made her way back into the village, being very careful to stay out of sight. When she got closer, she could hear the voices more clearly, and she ducked behind a bush beside Kina's house, as a few people ran by.

"I saw the rouge!" a young man was yelling. "He went out that way!"

"Where did he come from?" The Chief asked. Kira could recognize her father's voice anywhere. "Was he near Kina's house?"

"No Chief." the young man answered. "He came out of the farms."

"Check and see if anything is missing." the Chief ordered.

As the group ran off, Kira stepped out and quickly slipped back through her window. She had just placed her feet on the floor, when she heard Kina's mothers voice.

"Chief?" she asked, sounding surprised. "What a surprise so late."

"I'm sorry to wake you." the Chief said softly. "I just came to check on my daughter. We just had a sighting of the rouge."

"Of course." Kina's mother said. "She's in there."

Kira quickly raced to the bed and threw herself in it, rolling with her back to the door and pretending to sleep. She heard the door open quietly, and a small light from a candle cast shadows on the walls. Kira steadied her breathing and closed her eyes, as her father walked to the bed and looked down at her. She remained still and after a few minutes, she heard him retreat and close the door. Opening her eyes, Kira sighed with relief, then smiled hugely. She saw Brynn tonight. For the first time in so many years. He was alive! And then a thought struck her, and her smile faded. HE was the rouge wolf they were all worried about. He was also the one blamed for the death of the other Chief's daughter. Brynn wouldn't do that. Kira knew better than that. But she had to get to the bottom of it and find out why they were blaming him.

X

The next morning, Kira kept herself busy and out of sight. She wanted the day to go by fast, so she had a chance to meet with Brynn again tonight. She couldn't wait to see him again. Even with the rumors going around, she was far from afraid of Brynn. She knew him better than anyone else did. And now she was dying to know what he had seen that was used against him. She was currently helping the ladies of the village wash cloths in the stream, when she heard her fathers voice from behind.

"Kira!" he called, standing on the bank.

She turned and looked back at him, his feathery headdress blowing lightly in the wind.

"Yes, father?" she called back.

"Come here." he said, waving her over.

Kira handed her cloth to one of the women beside her who smiled at her, and made her way out of the water to her father. He looked down at her, a slight look of disgust on his face.

"You shouldn't be doing their work for them." he said quietly.

"I'm not doing it for them, I am helping them, father, and there's nothing wrong with that." Kira said, walking passed him.

"You help them too much, Kira." he said, following her. "Look, even your clothes are dirty now."

"Father, is there a reason to this conversation?" Kira asked, turning to him. "You make it seem like having any interaction with our people is a degrading thing, when it's not. Showing your people you care, builds a bond with them, and makes them want to protect you."

"My daughter should not be giving me, the Chief, advice on how to run our village." the Chief said coldly.

"Then stop treating me like I'm doing something wrong." Kira said, putting her hands on her hips. "You of all people should know what I say is true."

"This is not the conversation I came here for." the Chief said, shaking his head.

"Then what is it? I'd like to get back to what I was doing." Kira said.

"The rouge was in our village last night." her father said bluntly.

"I heard." Kira said nodding.

"I want you to come home so I can keep an eye on you myself." the Chief said.

"No, father, I don't want to be at home." Kira said, shaking her head. "If he is killing Chieftain daughters, do you really think it is wise to have me in the house of the Chief where I am easy to find?" her voice was rising out of frustration and anger now.

"I can protect you better if you were with me." the Chief said.

"No you can't." Kira said. "You would protect me better if I weren't at home like a sitting duck."

"What if he finds you there?!" her father yelled. "Who will protect you then!?"

"You think I'm weak." Kira said, crossing her arms.

"No, of course I don't." the Chief said, shaking his head.

"Yes, you do." Kira said. "You think I can't handle myself. You think that all that time with Brynn teaching me how to fight, or you teaching me, or the hunters in our village teaching me, did nothing."

"Do not mention that name again." the Chief growled, and Kira looked at him wide eyed.

"You..." she muttered. "You made him leave."

"Yes I did!" he yelled. "He was dangerous, and no good for our pack. He wanted to be a lone wolf, so I gave him his desires."

"That is NOT what he wanted!" Kira yelled.

"You know nothing!" her father snapped. "You do not know what he did!"

"He didn't do anything but protect me!" Kira yelled.

"He killed your mother!" her father yelled, and Kira looked at him horrified.

She had no words. Brynn would never do such a thing. He loved her mother and her mother loved him. Her mother had always asked for him when Kira was alone without him.

"You lie." Kira finally said.

"I would never!" the Chief roared making Kira flinch.

"You did!" Kira snapped back. "You told me she died naturally, and now you tell me my best friend and protector murdered my mother! How do you expect me to believe you?!"

Before she could react or even defend herself, her father struck her across the face, with the back of his hand. Kira yelped and fell to the ground, holding her cheek. The women in the stream gasped and cover their mouths, a few rushing out of the water. Kira held her hand up to them, stopping them, as she turned herself, holding her face. The Chief who suddenly realized what he'd done, started to reach down to her.

"Do not touch me!" Kira screamed, getting to her feet.

"Kira...my daughter..." the Chief said.

"I am no longer your daughter." Kira said, tears stinging her eyes. "Any man who strikes a woman, is no man. And any father who strikes his own flesh and blood, is no father."

"I didn't mean it." the Chief said.

"I hope you realize that your people just saw what you did." Kira said, stepping back. "You are no chief, nor an alpha. You are a coward."

With that she turn and ran away from him, and from the village. Her father yelled after her, but she kept running, hold her cheek as blood dripped from her chin from her newly busted lip.

X

Kira spent the rest of the day out of the village, hidden in the woods. Being that they were wolf demons, she could easily be found, especially with the scent of blood. She had found a place deep in the woods, inside of a big hollowed out tree, where she sat with her knees to her chest, crying. So many things had just happened to her, she didn't know where to begin. Her father had actually struck her. He had never ever hit her before, not even as a punishment as a child, but he had just fully backhanded her in the face. In front of her villagers to top it off. Kira sniffled, wiping her cheeks gingerly. If that wasn't enough, she had just realized her father had lied to her and had been lying to her since her mother died. But she now knew what was used against Brynn as blackmail.

A twig snapped nearby and Kira froze, feeling her heart sink. Her father had found her. He was the last person she ever wanted to see again. She listened closely, and heard footsteps walking nearby. Kira quietly scooted back farther inside the tree trunk, hugging her legs tight. Suddenly, a man jumped down in front of the opening, and Kira had to cover her mouth with her hands to stop from screaming. He was in his demon wolf form, his long wolf tail curling around his feet, as he sat squatting in front of the hole. His black wolf ears were perked forward and twitching back and forth as he listened for sounds nearby. And then Kira realized who he was.

"Brynn!" she cried, making him jump.

Brynn fell back on his ass, completely caught off guard, and looked to her stunned.

"Kira!" he breathed. "What the fuck are you doing all the way out here?!" he sat up on his knees as Kira crawled forward.

"I ran away." Kira said softly.

Brynn looked her over and then growled, seeing the blood and her busted lip.

"What happened?" he asked, pulling her up and laying a hand on her cheek, turning her head up. "Who did this to you?"

Kira whimpered when he touched her chin and closed her eyes, more tears falling.

"My father..." she said, her voice cracking.

Brynn's eyes widened, and he pulled his hand back, realizing the whimper was from him touching her.

"Kira...I..." he didn't know what to say. What could he say? He wasn't there to protect her like he had always been before. "I'm so sorry." he finally said, pulling her into a tight hug.

Kira wrapped her arms around his neck, and cried again, hiding her face in his neck. Brynn held her tight, laying his hand on her head, but he couldn't stop the deep growl that escaped.

"I knew your father was a pathetic man, but I never thought he'd ever lay a hand on you." Brynn muttered.

Kira shook with sobs, unable to talk. Brynn moved and sat, pulling Kira into his lap, gently rocking her to soothe her. Kira sunk into him, covering her face. Brynn sat quietly, just holding her and rocking with her, letting her cry it out. Several minutes passed, before Kira was finally able to settle herself and wipe her face. She sat up off of him, but remained in his lap, as he looked to her, rubbing her back. Sighing, Kira sniffled, looking down at her hands.

"I found out he lied to me too..." she said after a minute.

"About?" Brynn asked, raising an eyebrow.

"When my mother died, he told me she died of natural causes." Kira said, her voice stuffy from crying. "I know the blackmail he used against you..." she looked to him.

"I didn't hurt her, Kira..." Brynn said, shaking his head. "I swear on my life. On everything. I would never have hurt your mother."

"I know you didn't do it." Kira said, shaking her head. "I know you better than that. My mother loved you."

"And I loved her. She was like a mother to me." Brynn said. "She loved me more than my own mother did."

"I know she did." Kira said, nodding.

"Kira..." Brynn said, sighing. "Your mother didn't die naturally..."

Kira looked at him, realizing how heartbroken he looked.

"You told me you saw something..." Kira said, sniffling. "What did you see?"

Brynn's wolf ears drooped, the way a dogs did when they were sad or in trouble. He looked down at the ground, and took a deep, shaky breath.

"Do you remember that night, you and I snuck out, and laid in the field, watching the stars?" he asked.

"I could never forget it." Kira said, smiling lightly. "It was the night I gave you the red ribbon from the deer pelt dress my mom made for me."

Brynn smiled and pulled his hair around his shoulder. Kira looked and smiled bright, seeing the same ribbon tied in his hair.

"When I took you home, and helped you through your window, I was walking back to my place, when I heard arguing." Brynn explained, pushing his hair back over his shoulder. "I snuck around and listened. It was your mother and father. She was defending me against him. He said I was no good for you, that he didn't want me around you anymore. She was telling him that I was protecting you and teaching you to defend yourself and to become the next leader the pack needed. The first alpha female."

"Your father didn't seem to like the idea. They started fighting louder. Your mother was a true alpha female, and never backed down, not even to him." Brynn said. "But it all escalated quick. To the point I couldn't even understand them. She was accusing him of something, I didn't hear her. And then...then..." his voice faltered, and his lip quivered.

"Tell me..." Kira whispered, laying her hand on his cheek.

"Kira...your father killed your mother..." Brynn said with a shaky voice. "I'm so sorry...I couldn't tell you. He saw me...He knew I saw what he did. He still had her blood on his shirt...He told me if I didn't leave, he would tell everyone I killed her, and that he would put me to death for the crime. He told me if I ever came back, he would kill me on sight."

Kira covered her mouth, feeling the tears building again. Her father was a liar, and a horrible, dark, twisted man. He killed her mother. His mate. And tried to blame Brynn for it. But she believed Brynn. Not because he was her childhood friend, but because her father had shown her earlier exactly what he was really like. When he struck her, she realized he was not who she had always thought he had been.

"Can you ever forgive me?" Brynn whimpered, laying his ears down. He looked like a lost pup.

"Brynn, you have no reason to ever ask for my forgiveness." Kira said, tears dripping off her chin.

"I have a lot to ask forgiveness for." Brynn said. "I ran. Like a coward. I left you alone with him, knowing what he was capable of and what he did to your mother. And now...He hurt you..." he gently stroked her cheek near where her father had struck her.

"You weren't a coward, Brynn." Kira said, shaking her head. "Even though I missed you so much, I would rather you had ran than stay and he had done anything to you."

"I should have been there for you." Brynn said softly. "I shouldn't have left you with him, knowing what he had done..."

"Brynn, stop blaming yourself." Kira said, laying her hands on his face. "All that matters to me, is that you came back. And that you are really alive."

Brynn looked at her. He was always amazed by her, and how naturally sweet and kindhearted she always was. He suddenly felt like he wanted to kiss her. For the first time. Kira rested her forehead to his and closed her eyes, sniffling. Brynn felt his heart start to race, as he took the chance and leaned up, softly pressing his lips to hers. Stunned, Kira leaned back and looked at him, and he looked back at her, slightly surprised too. Smiling, Kira leaned down and kissed him back, running her hand over his cheek. Smiling, Brynn held her tight, kissing her back. There was suddenly a rustling beside them, and Kira broke the kiss, looking to the side, noticing Brynn's wolf tail was wagging happily on the ground, rustling the leaves. Kira giggled, looking to him.

"I've been wanting to do that for years now..." he said sheepishly, blushing lightly.

"Me too." Kira said, giggling again, wrapping her arm around his neck.

Kira smiled at him and leaned down, kissing him softly again. Brynn held her tight, laying his hand on the side of her neck, and again, Kira heard his tail thump happily on the ground, and giggled in the kiss. But even over his tail thumping, they both heard something off in the woods. A branch snapping. Brynn quickly pulled back from her and listened intently, silencing his tail to hear better. After focusing enough to hear, they could hear the sound of footsteps. Running footsteps. Brynn quickly pushed Kira to her feet and jumped up, taking her hand and running to the same tree Kira had been hiding inside of. Except, instead of ducking into the hollow hole in the trunk, he released her hand and jumped onto the nearest branch, leaning down and pulling her up.

"Next one." he whispered, boosting her up to the next branch. "Keep climbing." he said quietly.

Once she got her footing, Kira pulled herself onto the next branch above herself, and looked down to see Brynn close behind.

"Keep going, love." he whispered.

Kira smiled to herself, but kept pushing herself up, Brynn following close behind. Deciding she was high enough, Kira clung to the tree side, and looked down.

"Oh, God..." she whimpered, looking back up quick. She never realized how afraid of heights she was, until now.

Brynn crawled up behind her and hugged her from behind, shielding her with his own body, as he looked down. Whoever had been running up on them, had slowed to slow walk.

"Shhh..." Brynn hissed quietly in Kira's ear, and she nodded, still hugging the tree tightly.

Below them, a man came into view, sniffing the air. Although she was shivering with fear, Kira looked down, and realized it was her father. She watched him as he sniffed the air, and then knelt to the ground, sniffing again.

"Blooddiamond!" he snarled suddenly, making Kira jump. "I know you're here! I smell my daughter too, I know you took her!"

Brynn silently held a finger to his lips, and Kira nodded, looking down at her father again.

"Kira! Daddy's here! Scream so I can take you from that murderer!" the Chief yelled, looking around.

Brynn clenched his jaw, swallowing the growl that desperately wanted to escape. After a few moments, the Chief moved on, making his way out of the clearing and running off down a nearby path. Kira sighed and rested her head to the trees bark. Now came the interesting task of climbing back down the tree. Brynn stepped back and looked down, nimbly and swiftly dropping himself down to the lower branch.

"Come on, Kira." he said quietly, looking up at her.

"I can't..." Kira whimpered.

"Yes you can." Brynn said nodding. "Come down to me." he held out a hand to her.

Kira looked down at him, and suddenly the world began to spin.

"No, no I can't!" she whimpered, shaking her head and clinging to the tree again.

Brynn pulled himself back up to the branch she was on. She had dug her nails into the trees bark, and clung to it for dear life.

"Look at me." he said softly. Kira shook her head, keeping her eyes closed. "Babygirl, look at me." he whispered, laying a hand on her shoulder.

She slowly opened her eyes and looked back at him over her shoulder, still clinging to the tree.

"You haven't called me that since we were kids..." she muttered and he smiled.

"I always called you that." Brynn said, rubbing her shoulder. "We need to get out of this tree. I'm right here beside you. You'll be fine."

Kira whimpered and shook her head.

"I get dizzy when I look down." Kira said, her voice shaking. "I can't do it."

"Do you trust me?" he asked.

"Of course I do." Kira said. "I always have."

"Then give me your hand. I will lower you down to the next branch, and come down after. We'll take it slow." Brynn said, holding his hand out.

Kira hesitated for a moment, before taking a deep shaky breath, and placing her hand in his. Brynn smiled and stepped back, carefully pulling Kira with him.

"Kneel down, and slide off the branch. I'll lower you to the next one." he said.

Kira looked down and whimpered.

"Trust me, I won't let you fall, I swear." Brynn said.

Kira nodded and slowly knelt down, laying a hand on the branch and slowly slipped her feet off the branch. A small yelp escaped her lips, before she felt Brynn's grip hold her tight.

"You're alright." Brynn said, smiling down at her.

"I can't reach the branch." Kira said, starting to panic.

"Yes you can, Babygirl, swing your feet." Brynn said.

Kira tried stretching her feet, swinging them back and forth, starting to swing her body. After a second, she managed to get her foot on the branch, and once she had a grip, she released Brynn's hand and gripped the tree again. Brynn swung down beside her with ease, smiling at her.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" he asked, and she looked at him. "And again." he added, holding out his hand.

Kira sighed and took his hand, and again he lowered her down to the next. After each time he lowered her, once she was settled he swung down beside her. She looked at him shocked, leaning with her back against the tree. Brynn looked like a gymnast with each branch, with perfect balance when he landed, and confidence.

"I dunno how you do that." she said softly, and Brynn smiled, balancing over to her.

"Someday, when your dad isn't hunting either of us, I'll teach you." he said, taking her hands, pulling her away from the tree. "We are almost at the bottom. Question now is, what do we do when we hit the ground?" he looked to her, raising an eyebrow.

"We run." Kira said.

"Where?" Brynn asked.

"Wherever you go, I'll go." Kira smiled. "So lead the way."

Brynn smiled as she knelt down and he carefully lowered her to the last branch below. Kira found her footing and looked around. She wasn't as scared now, being closer to the ground. Brynn landed quietly behind her, and listened intently. There was no sounds, apart from the birds chirping happily nearby.

"He went that way." Brynn whispered, pointing down the path to the right. "We'll go that way. I know a place, about an hour walk, half if we run, that we can stay at for the night. It's well hidden and hard to find, so we should be safe there for the night."

Kira nodded and watched him as he jumped to the ground. Kira dropped down beside him, and looked to him, and he suddenly was in human form, his wolf ears and tail disappearing. Brynn took her hand and smiled, before taking off running, leading her down the path into the woods, farther and farther from her fathers village.