Redtail Rise other loves, other vices
August 12, 2018, 02:47 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

The sun bore down on her silvery summer coat. She could feel it on her skin, itchy and overbearing, but there was no escape anywhere nearby. Burnt earth stretched out around her for miles on every side. There were mountains and forests and gullies in the distance. They were not so far that she could not make it, but why should she bother? It seemed almost right that the sun was on her back, that she was alone and hungry. The heat was a punishment, and her isolation an penance.

One day, she would be absolved. One day, she would stop feeling guilty over her father's death. But today was not that day.

The dark woman wandered through the barren landscape, her steps slow and weary and absent-minded. She had no place to be, no aims or ambitions. She simply was, and she drifted like one of the burnt tumbleweeds that occassionally broke up the monotony of dark stillness she was wading through.
August 12, 2018, 03:09 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

there was so much he just needed to get away from, back at morningside. duties that nagged at him--that needed to be done--but he was beginning to feel the weight of it all. river's injuries, the looming threat of danger in the maplewood, the still-lingering awkwardness between himself and dawn. it was all too much, and aditya found himself heading up and out of the plains, eyes trained on the charred rise just north of their territory.

he picked his way up the rise, paws skittering a little on the uneven ground but otherwise getting on okay. once he had climbed far enough that the land evened out, adi sank against a blackened tree with a sigh, head cradled against the sooty trunk. the smell of cinder brought memories vividly to life--

"i've seen trees like this before. i once lived among them, with friends. they called them coaltrees."

her sleek black paw pressed against his cheek, leaving the coal behind. he raised his paw to do the same for her, placing it on her shoulder. made no difference; it blended right into her inky black fur, just dust to mar her sheen.

"doesn't show up at all on you, chikni raat."


aditya was so buried inside his mind that he did not notice the dark silver female wandering around, as if in a daze. he, too, was in a daze of his own, trapped in the past. his eyes fluttered shut, trying to capture the feeling of that bright early spring day.
August 12, 2018, 03:58 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

A familiar scent soon hit her nose, shaking her from the fugue state she'd often found herself slipping into. The dark woman look up and then around, her gilded eyes scanning until they came across the dust-and-honey figure of her brother-in-law. Blackbear waited for the almost-forgotten rush of nerves and affection that'd always marked his presence, but she was not the same girl that had fallen for him so easily. She looked at him now and felt wretched and broken, and found the presence to wonder why he looked just as wretched and broken as she felt.

Blackbear had been worried about running into one of the Morningsiders. Ever since she'd crossed paths with the grey girl and had received word of her father's death, she'd avoided the area and kept to herself, mourning in private and doing her best not to hate herself. As much as she blamed herself for her father's death, she knew that he wouldn't, and that he would be terribly sad if he knew how badly Blackbear had taken it.

He would also be sad, she decided, if she ran away from Aditya right now. The man looked lost and small - and Blackbear realized with a start that he was small, compared to her. Not tiny, of course, but she stood several inches taller and wider than the older wolf, now. She measured all these things as she approached, halting a scant few yards away and giving a low, wavering woof in greeting.
August 12, 2018, 04:09 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

as much as he wanted to lose himself in the past, life had other ideas. the sound roused him, and his eyelids peeled reluctantly open again, blinking drearily at the stranger in front of him. except. . .

aditya scrambled to a standing position, eyes wide as his paws as he stared back. this was no stranger. he surveyed the fiery eyes, the sterling pelt, with astonished disbelief. her frame was too big, surely? but moons had passed, and time marched inexorably on.

and his hope had dwindled, too. he hadn't thought he would see her again.

"easy," he said, choked. without thinking, he rushed forward, taking her into his embrace. shock and relief and joy rushed through him all at once, his tail wagging furiously. adi's eyes were wet as he pulled back after a few moments, and he blinked, letting out an exhale that was half-laugh, half-sob. he shook his head. "oh my god, is it you? or have i finally gone crazy?"
August 12, 2018, 04:18 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

The woman recoiled slightly at the sound of that familiar name, but ultimately accepted the touch of the other wolf. He smiled like home and sunshine, but also like long, slow sorrows. Puppies, too. Blackbear stood stiffly in his embrace, the only sign that she did not entirely oppose the contact was a brief brush of her muzzle against the back of one of his black-tipped ears.

"You're not crazy, Aditya," she said, and her voice was not Easy's yapping bark or Ishara's crackling burl. In her months away, it'd evened out into something low and velvety - somewhere between Khoe's sweet, clear tones and her father's rumbling bass. "I didn't realize how close I was," she said lamely, speaking more to herself than to the man.

Uncomfortably, she extracted herself from her brother-in-law's embrace, her expression apologetic but worried. Already, he would be carrying her scent back to them. She knew at once that she had to convince him not to - to bathe before he left, and roll in something smelly before he returned to Dawn, Catori, all the wolves she'd let down.
August 12, 2018, 04:46 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

god, she sounded different, too. older, wiser. broken. an all-encompassing sense of dread seized him as he realized that she had left long before grayday had passed. damn it. would he have to break this news? it would reopen the wound all over again, barely healed as it was.

"you are very close," adi croaked, mouth twisting awkwardly. "easy. . ." he ducked his head, gritting his teeth. fuck. fuck. fuck. with the assumption that she would never return came the assumption that she would never have to hear this, or at least hear it from a stranger, as gossip. he didn't feel qualified to tell her this. 

but perhaps it was best if the news came from him.

"easy, your father is gone," he forged on, voice hollow. "he died two moons ago. an illness, i think. it came on rather quickly. it was. . .it was peaceful. in his sleep." he looked up at her, his molten gold eyes suffused with the pain strangling each word. "i'm so sorry."
August 12, 2018, 04:58 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

"Please," she said sharply, drawing back further still, "don't use that name. It's not - " The sentence was dropped like a hot potato when she realized what he was saying to her. I know, she wanted to say but couldn't. Likely, he would see it writ across her face. Instead, when she had found her voice again, she pretended she had not heard him. "I go by Blackbear, now," she said with a small, sad smile. I'm okay, she wanted to tell him. I'm taking care of myself. I know he'd hate it if I didn't.

The words still would not come. Nor could she bring herself to ask after the others. Did she even have the right? She had been gone from them in their time of need, and something in her had been changed by her wanderings. She wasn't Easy anymore. That carefree child had died alongside her father. She wasn't sure she was ready to be Ishara again, either. Sometimes, she wondered if Ishara had ever been real.

"Please don't tell them you saw me," she said after a moment, her voice hushed and pleading. "Adi - please? If you ever loved me?"
August 12, 2018, 10:14 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

she knew. the realization hit him like a blow to the stomach as he saw the acceptance, the utter lack of shock, flit over her face. the blood pounded in his ears, almost blocking out completely the sound of her voice--so different!--as she corrected him. blackbear. blackbear. he would do his best to remember and honor it.

her request took him even farther aback, and adi gaped at her like a fish out of water, perplexed. "you're not coming home?" he asked, trying to keep the note of pain from his voice. "eas--sorry, blackbear. . ." he sighed, not yet used to the new name. he went for his old name for her, instead--even if it didn't apply anymore. it was familiar. comforting. "chhoti behen, we've missed you so."

he went on, the lump in his throat pitching his voice down to a whisper. "of course i love you. i always will. for that, i won't tell a soul." aditya swallowed, blinking mournfully at her. "but why?" the last word hung in the air between them, waiting for an answer. the air was thick as fog with tension.
August 12, 2018, 10:31 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

Home? Easy tested the word with a furrow of her brow, but she found there was no place or one or thing that she could pin it to. I have no home, she thought, mouthing the words to herself. She remembered what her father would say - "Home is a power you carry in your heart." The woman did not know she'd spoken aloud until she felt her tongue shape the last word. The look on her face suggested she did not quite believe it.

"I can't be the girl that you've missed," she said after a moment, still faintly embarrassed by how histronic her words tasted. What she meant was, I am not ready to face the ones I've let down, but she was still young, and that she'd changed too dramatically was an easier pill to swallow than that she was ashamed and afraid. And she had changed. Truly. But she still longed to see her mothers, and to meet her new siblings, and to fold herself into Aditya's loving presence. Only one of those options was readily available to her. "But... will you stay with me? For a while?"
August 14, 2018, 12:31 AM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

it hurt--oh, did it hurt. to have easy--blackbear!--back, and then ripped away from them once again. he drew in a shuddering breath, nodding at her words. wise. . .she had become so wise. who knew what she had seen and done on her travels away from home. he would not ask, and he would never know, unless she told him. it was all up to her.

"you don't have to be," aditya argued gently, staring intently at her. "i know what it is to grow up, to leave the child you once were behind. but we didn't miss that girl--we missed you. all of you. your past, present and future." a sigh escaped his lips, and he shook his head once more, accepting the terms she had laid out. "of course i'll stay with you. as long as you'd like."

even if it meant a short absence away from morningside. whatever she needed, he would provide.
August 24, 2018, 11:07 AM
Blackbear
Approved Members

Blackbear closed the short distance between them once more, not wanting Aditya to see the stormy expression on her face. It seemed too good to be true that he was standing in front of her, telling her she could come home, that it would all be okay. She wanted to believe him, to let herself be wrapped up in a blanket and led home like a naughty but beloved child.

"I'll come back one day," she said, tucking her muzzle into the fur of his shoulder. Just... not like this.

But god, was she tempted. She could smell the whole family on his pelt, and the siblings she had never met, and less of the sibling she had for some reason. Why was that? "How are my brothers and sisters?" she asked hesitantly, pulling back so that she could watch his face. Her heart lurched uncomfortably, and she told herself it was worry and fear.
August 24, 2018, 05:06 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

"good," he answered, satisfied--for now--with that. he knew he wouldn't be later, upon reviewing this interaction. he should be begging her to stay, for her family's sake. but it wasn't about them, not completely. she needed to do what was best for her at this time, and if wandering alone was what she sought now, he couldn't deny her that. that had been his life at her age, too.

her question sent his stomach into knots, and he found it hard to meet her gaze, but did so with great effort. "lav disappeared, too," adi said quietly, face solemn. "i don't know if she went looking for you or something else. . .but she left without word. dauntless went to look for you both; he's been gone for a couple of moons, now."

it was not news he wanted to give her. but at least there was some silver lining-- "the younger pups are all fine. grayday and catori had three healthy babies: river, kitten, and eventide. aviana had one--faye--and you now have four new cousins, through shale and pema. timberlake, radcliffe, meadow, and padma."

did the revelation that her family had grown intimidate her or delight her? perhaps both. maybe with some guilt thrown in, too, though he hoped not. she would come back at her own pace; he wasn't attempting to guilt her into doing so early.
August 24, 2018, 09:00 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

Lavender was gone. Blackbear sucked in a soft breath and let it out, saying goodbye to her sister in her heart. She could only believe the smaller girl dead. Dauntless, though, was out there somewhere. Blackbear believed this as well, and hoped that she would see her litermate again one day. The younger ones would know her one day as well. She filed their names away in her heart, and lingered over the names of her cousins as well. So many pups, and no Daddy to love them. Would Shale raise them all as his own? Blackbear worried that he did not have the same spark of love that her father has carried with him, but then she looked back at Aditya and didn't worry any longer.

"It had to be you, huh?" she said in soft, wry tones. "Any one else... any of them, I could've run from. But it's going to be hard to walk away from you."
August 25, 2018, 04:25 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

he remembered how she'd come onto him in the maplewood, during the storm; her dark pelt plastered up against his. her voice was changed, deeper and richer, but it was still the same girl, deep down. her words broke him down; he felt like rocks from a cliff, a landslide into the sea. aditya swallowed, giving her the faintest of smiles.

"you don't have to go," he tried one last time, looking at her with eyes of soft, molten gold. "you can stay, if you want. it's only about what you want. . .but i want you to stay." please, stay. it would break him a little inside, if she left him now--even with the promise that she would one day return.

aditya felt as if he would fail the family, if he let her go. he could stop her, he supposed. even though he was bigger, he held an air of quiet authority from his promotion; he could demand she stay. he would let everyone down, if she slipped away. he would let himself down. he would be letting her down, too, ultimately.

but he couldn't. he couldn't make her stay. he had tried to do the same with dawn, and then it all had fallen apart. just as grayday had forewarned.
August 25, 2018, 08:56 PM
Blackbear
Approved Members

She wanted to. God, how she wanted to. His eyes were exactly as she had remembered, and he'd somehow grown even more handsome while she was away. Blackbear's breath caught for a moment, but she forced herself to breathe and think, and a moment later she found it in herself to step away.

"I should go," she said, knowing now that it was not possible to linger without being caught up once more. She reminded herself that this was her sister's husband, and she could not could not could not hurt them any more than she already had. It was bad enough that she'd reminded him. "I'll see you in another life, brother," she said, managing to sound brave. Aditya got a single, fleeting kiss on the cheek before she turned away.
August 26, 2018, 03:35 PM
Govinda
Lone Wolves

she was gone before he even had a chance to say another word, and his heart was lodged firmly in his throat as he watched her leave. he couldn't swallow, he couldn't breathe.

he had failed. he couldn't tell a soul about this, even if she hadn't told him not to. dawn would never forgive him if she knew aditya had managed to find easy again--and then let her slip from his grasp. a leaf on the wind. would he even see her again?

i'll see you in another life, brother.

another life, perhaps. but they would be different. they already were. aditya sank back against the tree again, his previous despair multiplied tenfold. he couldn't escape the morningsiders even when he ran away.