Panther Park creative bear
Loner

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#1
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It took ages for Meerkat to surface from sleep, her eyelids feeling heavy and her whole body weighted. But she did wake, slowly, eyes squinting against the sunshine pouring through the treetops. She looked around and didn't recognize her surroundings, though she knew she was only a short distance from the great lake northwest of the caldera. Her jaws split apart in a yawn, her mouth dry and sticky. She should head to the lake for a long drink.

She peeled herself off the forest floor, blinking groggily as she began picking through the unfamiliar underbrush. As her mind booted, Meerkat found herself thinking of where she would go after she took care of her cotton mouth. She wasn't ready to go home, she knew that much. She thought of her mother and younger siblings, a light frown touching her lips.

"Oh," Meerkat muttered aloud, coming to a sudden stop. Out of nowhere, she abruptly realized she'd never told Towhee about Santiago. It was really sort of moot at the moment, though suddenly she felt much warier. They'd crossed paths not far from here, what if he came and heckled her again, while she still felt sluggish?
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#2
Who's afraid of the big, bad bear? Not Dragonfly even if he was all but a true brave heart. Around these lands the faint scent of mountain lions was scattered across the forest floor, vaguely informing him of their whereabouts. They weren't here, at least for now. But even if they were -- nature's laws had dictated a common, mutual respect where usually wolf and lions would take a different path so it rarely came down to a confrontation. 

But there was something he was afraid of; honeybees. With their yellow and black jackets they would audit for a spelling bee and pronounce only one word and win d-a-n-g-e-r-o-u-s. Also there were not one but many of them, all at once, acting like a collective hive. And oh gosh, they stung. Everywhere. Even at places were the sun wouldn't shine. Dragonfly wasn't quite sure what triggered his fear of bees; but maybe it was his love for a delicate, godly flavor of honey. He loved honey even more than he feared bees.

Light, camera, action. Everything all happened in a quick lightning-flash but it all came down to this moment: Dragonfly was being chased by bees. He was running faster than his paws could carry him (or so he thought). At the same time he was waking up the whole forest, screaming with all his might: "Bees, BEES ..FREAKING stingers."

In the momentum Dragonfly ran, zig-zagged and ran some more. He wasn't sure who was alerted or who he would cross paths with. But now was definitely NOT the time to be sluggish. Oh no.
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#3
Someone yelled in the distance, something about bees. Meerkat went rigid, eyes flicking hither and thither, eventually fixing on the origin of the noise as another joined the shouting: the sound of a body crashing through the underbrush. She crouched slightly in anticipation, though didn't have the wherewithal to manage anything more before a white figure blazed past. She could only stare after him.

But then she heard the telltale buzzing. "Oh, shit," Meerkat muttered, then picked up her feet and began loping after the pale stranger, letting out a shriek when she felt a pinch on her backside.

It was just the kick in the ass she needed, honestly. Suddenly much more awake, Meerkat kicked up her heels and picked up speed, quickly catching up to and running abreast of the perfect stranger, demanding, "Why did you pick a fight with bees?!" between panting breaths.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#4
Oh no, his day went from bad to worse when he discovered that his honey-bee riddled adventures and silly antics had consequences not only for him but also for another wolf as well. It was as if he had bitten off more than he could chew; still, that honey had been lovely as ever.

In between trying to get away from the bees, zig-zagging through the woods and running as fast as he can while being chased by those nasty stingers, the other wolf asked a question. Great. "HONEY." He said, half-panting and half glaring backwards towards the bees. Every now and then he felt stung. Ouch! Man, to him it felt like he was being chased by an ex-lover after having discovered he cheated. Either that or he stole *the one ring* and now Smeagol was out for his blood. Turning back to the question, he added. "Oh, ADVENTURE and STUPIDITY." Yup, probably a combination of those three.

In the distance he saw a small, murky pond with some greenery on top. "C..o..me." He beckoned while panting even more as he began to ran out of air, his condition wasn't what it used to be. Without a second thought he jumped in the murky waters, hoping the splash and the water was enough to scare them off.
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#5
"Honey, adventure and stupidity," he told her. Despite their predicament, a bubble of laughter burst from her mouth. "That would make a good band name!" she shouted to him when she could spare the breath.

She meant to suggest they hang a slight left and head toward the lake she knew lay beyond the trees. But her impromptu acquaintance indicated a mucky pond up ahead that would suit just as well. He plunged into the scummy water and she went right after, not a single instant's hesitation despite the murk and the slime.

The cold water chased away the last dregs of her drug-induced sleepiness as it closed over her head. Meerkat kicked back to the surface and dragged in a deep breath even as she began to tread water. Blinking some out of her eyes, she flicked her head side to side, looking for her pale companion.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#6
Now that was just peachy, thanks to those stingy bees he was engulfed with murky, muddy pond-water. He soon surfaced again, his head sticking out above the water like a lotus flower that had already withered away for the most part. His once pristine white coat was now a combination of brown, black and dirt. Luckily, he wasn't an overly vain creature.

"Yeah. How about honey, adventure, stupidity & the mudmasters?" Dragonfly said with a roguish smile while he pulled himself out of the water. He was happy that Meerkat was able to find the humor in the entire situation, despite the fact that a honeybee-sting could be nasty and painful. And besides that, he put her in danger while she just happened to nearby. He felt responsible for that part. Now that Dragonfly was out of the water, he began to shake his entire body; from head to tail while droplets of water and mud flew around the vicinity.

Once he was done, he added. "Oh gosh, I really really do love honey." Then a sigh followed as he gave her a heartfelt apology. "But I'm really sorry I put you in stranger danger. Those bees, nasty sting-things."
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#7
He surfaced nearby and quickly clambered back onto the shore. After looking around for any signs of bees, Meerkat also paddled toward the bank and hoisted herself out of the filthy, smelly water. She laughed a little at his first joke even as she busied shaking out her own sopping pelt. But it was his second remark that really tickled her funny bone, making her dripping belly shake with laughter.

"It's fine, I'm fine," the yearling reassured, looking down at her slightly stained fur before thinking aloud, "We should head to Greatwater Lake though. The water's clearer there, we could rinse off all this... gunk." Meerkat peered at him as she spoke. His coat was even paler than hers, and thoroughly smeared in earthy tones of brown and green.

Gesturing for him to follow her, she took the first of many squelchy steps toward the lake. As she began walking, she introduced, "I'm Meerkat, by the way. What's your name?"
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#8
In a heartbeat the thought crossed his mind that he could try and find another honeycomb and see if it worked out now that his coat was all dirty 'n grungy-lookin'. A part of him wanted to find out if the mud would either instill fear in the bees so that they would leave him alone or that being covered by an extra layer would give him protection against their stings.

However now that he was covered from head to toe with mud, dirt and other funky things, he favored Meerkat's option instead. After all, this was how he looked right now (click here). The yearling wolf introduced herself as Meerkat. There's a small irony in that name, after all, meer means lake in Dutch: and now Dragonfly was led to the lake.

"Meerkat, hmm?" Her name rolled gently over his tongue. "You're one of the first wolves I've met around these parts. And aye, what a stingy, muddy and wet introduction it has been." Picking up his pace so that he walked right besides her, shoulder-to-shoulder, albeit with some space in between them -- he added. "I'm Dragonfly. A n00bie around here."
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#9
"Definitely not a typical meet-and-greet," Meerkat agreed with a laugh. She cocked her head at the strange term he used, which she took as some sort of slang to indicate his newness. It worked, phonetically, plus he'd just said she was one of the first wolves he'd met around here. "I'm honored to meet you, Dragonfly," she replied quite formally, her mouth straight but eyes sparkling with laughter.

Soon, the trees thinned and they could see the great lake sprawling ahead, sparkling invitingly in the sunlight. They could also make out the caldera in the distance, though Meerkat didn't look at it, nor point it out to her companion. Instead, she stepped toward the water, immediately dipping in her toes and then wading in further. She could see the clouds of grime rinsing out of her fur.

"Come on in, the water's fine," Meerkat said to Dragonfly, spinning around to face the shore at an angle. "Where on earth did you come from, Dragonfly?" she inquired amiably, genuine curiosity written all over her face.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#10
No, this was definitely not a typical meet-and-greet, but: Dragonfly was used to the feeling of things rarely going the way he planned them out, completely regular and normal. And, weren't regular meet-and-greets quite boring?

He bobbed his head gently at her 'formal' greeting while his honey-brown eyes gazed at her heartfelt smile. There was definitely something very positively infectious, the way she smiled and laughed and the smoothness of how the conversation went, despite the stingy circumstances before. Meerkat appeared to have a funky vibe and she was blessed with a pleasant personality.

Following her example, Dragonfly slowly dipped his muddy toes into the water. Slowly but certainly he saw how the mud letting go of his toes. Wobbling his toes for a second, Dragonfly noticed with a sigh of relief that they were white once more. A few seconds later he bathed with his entire body in the clearer waters while rinsing all dirt off.

"I'm from a pack who had a cherry tree in the center. I'm not sure if it had a real name. I've lived there my entire life until a couple of months ago." He said, his tone of voice soft but serious. Not all was shits and giggles. "Have you moved around a lot, Meerkat?" He curiously inquired, wanting to know if she was a home-body or a wolf with wanderlust. What he didn't reveal just yet: he was kicked out of his birth pack, but for a good reason. Silly but stupid. For once his past wasn't rigid with traumas.
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#11
When he mentioned a cherry tree, Meerkat pictured the dogwood seated atop the Hobbit Hole, lending shade to the rendezvous site. It was curious that his pack didn't have a name, though what was more intriguing was Dragonfly's reason for leaving his birthplace. But he didn't mention why, skipping over that detail to inquire about her even as the gunk swilled from his coat, clouding the water around him too.

"I've done a lot of traveling but never too far from home," she told him, "which is there." Meerkat pulled one paw from the water, cold water dripping along her foreleg as she pointed it at the distant smokestack. "Redhawk Caldera. I've lived in a few different packs in the area but that's where I'm living now."

She dropped her leg back into the water with a splash, peering thoughtfully at the ripples around her forelimbs. Meerkat wondered if it was time to uproot again. She'd never done so without Bronco but that was the entire point. She needed to get away and build her own life, independent from him, as he had done. The thought made her feel achy and hollow, which made her crave poppy seeds.

Pushing aside those feelings for now, she looked upward and focused on Dragonfly. "Why did you leave your home?" she asked.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#12
Dragonfly pulled himself to the shorelines of the lake, began to shake literally from head to toe until he was nothing but a white fluffy ball for a second there. Water droplets once more danced around him. He then settled down in a sphinx-like position and listened to her travel stories and background. Surprised, his ears stood erect on top of his skull as she revealed that she had been with several packs in the same area. Interesting"And what makes any pack a true home?" He curiously asked, trying to find her motivation to move packs without directly asking it. He glimpsed at the direction of the Redhawk Caldera but was distracted when --

...when she asked that question; which he probably would have seen coming from miles away. Still he froze for a second as he uncertain bit the edge of his leathery lips."I was kicked out." He replied after a second. Those words still hurt because he loved his home, his pack and his birth-family. "My dad kicked me out just before I turned two; he said I should get out, have a mate and pups and only then am I welcome back again." A sigh followed. It hurt, those reasons were more stingy than those bees. It wasn't like he wanted to live with his old folks forever. But he could imagine himself living there for another four seasons. "But I am not ready for those things. At least not now." Maybe his siblings were, but not Dragonfly. Heck, he was a young boy just slowly turning into a man.
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#13
Her lips parted at his question, though she wondered if he meant it rhetorically. Before Meerkat could formulate an answer, he obliged her with one of his own. Her head rocked backward in disbelief when he explained the circumstances of his exile. She knew it was quite common for a yearling to disperse, though she'd never heard of this particular practice. Meerkat couldn't even imagine what that was like.

"I'm sorry," she said, taking note of how deflated Dragonfly looked after telling the tale, "that sounds really rough." And the part where he would be welcomed back only if he found a mate didn't make a lick of sense to Meerkat, though she didn't mention that. Instead, she added, "You shouldn't do them if you're not ready." But since his father hadn't given him a choice... "Maybe you could find a pack you like, make some friends, build a life here." And perhaps he'd find a mate, or maybe not, but it wouldn't matter because then his home would be here and not there.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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Dragonfly had often wondered why those standards were set, but truthfully he already knew the answer; because his siblings had already set a bar and high expectations. Expectations he couldn't quite match, at least not now. And maybe never ever. Like a whole family of high-earning doctors and he didn't want to become one of them was almost mismatched with treason. For now he enjoyed his life and he actually was happy -- but being torn-off from his family and such a fashion had left his heart torn, bruised and broken.

"Thanks, maybe ...we'll see what the future holds." He didn't want to dig into it too deeply; after all this meeting so far had excitement, fun and light-warmheartedness at its core. "Hey, can you fish?" Dragonfly said as he peered back to the water while on the look-out for some moving dark shadows in the shallow waters. Maybe, he figured, they could end their day with a belly full of fish.
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#15
She could send him to the caldera, supposing he had merits. But Dragonfly didn't linger on the subject, dropping it in favor of a snack. She tipped her head, then shook it. She climbed out of the water, giving herself a shake before taking a seat.

"No, I've never cared for it or the taste," she answered, waving her paw, "but you do you." Meerkat paused as if to consider something. "Does this mean you're the type to eat dessert first?" she thought aloud, tapping a toe against her chin. "Or did you not actually get any of the honey before the bees attacked?"
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#16
Well, let's get one thing straight: just like Dean (of Supernatural) loved nothing more than pie when it came to food, Dragonfly loved nothing more than his honey. "I'm a honey-kind-of-guy. For breakfast, lunch or dessert. Honey, honey, honey. I did get some of it." Licking his lips at the thought of honey, it was as if he could almost taste the flavor once more. Yes, he did get some, but not all of it, unfortunately. 

"Hey, you have tasted honey before, right Meer?" He suddenly blurted out loud, stopping mid-sentence in his rant about how great honey was. If her answer was no -- which would make his face fall flat in disbelief -- Dragonfly would make a promise to make sure that she would taste the godly food. But that was a promise he would have to make up another time. Curiously he awaited her answer.
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She chuckled at his emphatic declarations of love for nature's sticky, sweet treat. Her head canted as Meerkat tried to remember if she'd actually tasted it for herself. She had never messed around with bees, especially after Wraen's attack. To this day, Meerkat could recall the way Towhee had screamed for her to run. Her mother had shoved her rather hard, trying to keep her out of danger's way, and she'd been stung anyway, though not direly, like Wraen.

She told Dragonfly, "I don't think so. When I was little, my pack's leader almost died after being stung by bees. I've had honeysuckle before, though. Does that count?"
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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#18
Although Dragonfly saw honey bees almost as cute, little panda bears with a sting being nothing more than a painful hug, he was slightly startled when Meerkat explained that the pack leader was almost killed by bears. Ears flung backwards while his eyes radiated sympathy. "I'm sorry to hear that." He added with a soft voice, then added. "I heard stories about a different kind of bee -- killerbees -- being able to turn an entire moose into mush. But those were just stories until now. I'm glad your leader made it out alive." But he wasn't entirely sure what her medical condition was like.

"Ah, sounds like you had a sip." Dragonfly reacted to the second statement with a careful smile as the image of killerbees attacking a wolf still remained stuck in his head. With all the talk of honey and bees, he had forgotten all about the fish. Looking back on a fun-filled day, Dragonfly began to feel tired and knew it was time for a afternoon siesta. "Thanks for the fun-venture." The alabaster male said, a combination of "fun and adventure" mixed together. A playful smile was added to that statement. "I gotta go and catch up on some sleep. If you're ever ready for another funventure and I'm not around -- just give me a howl and I'll be there in a scoot." Gently he bumped his nose to hers -- as a way of giving her a friendly adieu -- before he departed.
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Dragonfly seemed properly shocked by the grim story, mentioning killer bees. Come to think of it, Meerkat wasn't sure if they'd been bees or another type of stinging insect. There were a few different kinds, she knew. She supposed that particular detail was neither here nor there. Of course, she was glad Wraen had made it out alive, whether they were bees, hornets, wasps or something even worse, like yellow jackets.

Her newfound friend seemed to change his mind about fishing, declaring he needed a rest instead. It caught her a bit off guard, though Meerkat could hardly blame him. It had been an adventurous hour. He told her to call for him if she was ever in need of another and she grinned, wondering if she would actually cross paths with him again. She kind of hoped so.

"Okay. It was nice meeting you, Dragonfly. Rest well!" were Meerkat's parting words.
-Signing.- | "Speaking." | -"Signing & speaking."- | "Mouthing (inaudible)." | Thoughts.
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