|lone caldera . akela (wolfalone) wrote in bellumlogs,|
@ 2010-06-15 21:11:00
|Entry tags:||akela, big bad wolf|
Who: Lone and Shane.
What: American Werewolves in New York.
Where: Bellum and upstate.
Warnings: Not a one.
Shane woke from a restless sleep in the early morning, woke out of a dream that left him tense, sharp teeth clenched tight against one another. He got up and started moving right away. The faster he got going, the faster he could leave that dream and the maddening woman in it behind.
Miksa hadn’t blended with the dream the way people in dreams were supposed to. He thought back to Emil and Theresa. It had been ages since then, but it could be the same thing. Real people wandering into false worlds.
Though he put as much distance between himself and the alley where he’d slept as he could, the dream followed him. She had been right about a lot of things, and he hated her for being right about them - that he’d never really given Boyd a reason to stay with him, that he’d spent their whole relationship on the defensive, fending off all comers instead of just being with her. That all he was good at was killing, but that he’d never tried anything else.
That didn’t change the fact that trying it all again couldn’t be more unappealing. He ducked through alleys and around corners, and spent part of the day with a family he’d spotted at the park. A mom, a dad, and a young boy. He’d followed them home because they lived close by and marked where they lived. Over the past few days he’d been stopping by the place now and again, usually while the boy was playing in front of the building, and he would forget about everything for a while.
The sky was going pink again by the time he left the house, running as soon as the boy’s father pulled up from work. He felt a kind of contentment. The evening was warm, but a breeze ruffled his fur as he darted across the empty street and into another alley. The boy had given him enough food to keep the edge off hunger, and the sun going down behind the buildings turned everything gold. Forget being human - this was enough.
Lone had made his way through his new neighborhood with tolerable speed, canvasing territory the way adolescent males sometimes did when they were without a pack, behavior that he had borrowed and adapted for his own needs after his mate died. As he was both stronger and safer in four legs than on two, he usually waited until after dusk for his explorations, dazzled but not hindered by the excess of lights in such a large urban area. There were several dogs in a ten mile radius around Bellum Letale, none of them a threat except for a disgruntled mastiff that regularly escaped his yard. Lone was amused enough by this challenger to lurk around his block long enough to drive the stupid dog absolutely mad, and then he trotted off for more casual reconnaissance.
He picked up the other wolf’s scent almost immediately, and stood in an alley with his nose on the ground for a long while, wondering to himself about the peculiar combination of male, wolf, blood, and human. Once he was satisfied with this startling discovery, he decided to seek out this other male and discern his purpose in the area--and let him know he was in the area and planning to stay. He didn’t imagine that the introduction would go well, but Lone possessed a certain confidence in matters of beastly hierarchy, and he wasn’t worried.
He found the park that the other wolf (large even for a male, healthy, regularly fed, with a great deal of human contact) frequented, and loped about its circumference, finding a proper measure of it before stretching out on a warm slab of concrete to wait.
Shane eventually circled back to the park, planning on passing through it on his way to elsewhere. He’d likely end up there for the night, eventually, though he wasn’t intending to stick around just now.
He didn’t pick up the other wolf’s scent until he came fairly close to the park, but when he did catch it there was no mistaking it for anything else. Mostly he was struck by surprise - what was another wolf doing in the city? - and intrusion, even though this wasn’t really his territory. Curiosity won out, and he followed the other wolf’s scent, careful not to let his guard down in case the other wolf’s (a male, definitely, although he had no idea how he knew that) intentions were less than friendly.
It turned out that keeping his guard up had been sort of moot. He spotted Lone, stretched out in plain sight, from halfway across the park. He cautiously made his way over, not sure exactly what etiquette, if any, he was meant to abide by.
Lone rolled up onto all four paws the minute that the black wolf came into view. He was a huge silver gray wolf, far bigger than the average of his species and probably at least 150 lbs. This far into summer he had shed the majority of his winter coat but he still looked grizzled, particularly around the ruff of his neck. Lone was bemused at the peculiar color of the other wolf, and the combination of the confusion (very obvious in wolf speech, which was a lot of body language, essentially) and the behavior. Young adolescent male wolves of this sort of health didn’t go wandering around large urban areas making friends with men. Lone could smell cooked hamburger meat before the black wolf was even within striking range.
Wolf etiquette was almost extraordinarily simple, and it dealt with a very strict hierarchy that Lone meant to outline from the get-go. Head and ears up, tail still, he watched the black wolf approach and it was obvious he expected a certain amount of deference or he was going to point out the mistake in a more aggressive fashion.
All Shane could figure out from Lone’s posture was that he was meant to display submission in one way or another. He wasn’t quite sure how to do that, and didn’t particularly want to. He wasn’t there to start a fight, though, either. He was big as far as wolves went, he knew that much, but so was Lone. So he just stood still, tail parallel to the ground and ears up, waiting for something to happen and ready to defend himself if it wasn’t good.
This wolf was clueless. Now far from amused, Lone stalked forward, bristling, emphasizing both height and size. I’m big. You’re small. Act like it. It was all body language, because only humans relied on sound alone to communicate. He got a little closer and bared his teeth, making the message even more clear.
It wasn’t in Shane’s nature to deny that sort of challenge - he hadn’t as a human, so why would he as a wolf? Instead, it predictably put him on the defensive. His hackles went up, and he showed teeth. Back off.
Lone was not intimidated by the snarl. Quite the contrary, it wasn’t a warning for him, it was a challenge; and Lone was alpha in this little pack (he was quite sure) and he didn’t stand for challenges. There was no hesitation as there would have been with humans, no spark of doubt, no more circling or growling. He went low and whipped his jaw up for the black’s throat. He wasn’t going to rip the cub up, of course. He just needed to give him a few nips and make his point.
He wasn’t really expecting things to develop into a fight so quickly, so he reacted, but not as quickly as he probably should have. He also had no idea whether or not Lone intended to kill him, so he snarled and pulled back, darting forward again as soon as he thought himself clear of those teeth. The best defense was a good offense, it seemed.
He would have laughed, if he was human. He wasn’t, at the moment, he was slapping down a wolf pup too confused to know what was good for it. Lone was perfectly aware of his own range, and Shane definitely had no idea how fast or far a wolf Lone’s size could move. He was back in and the teeth were in Shane’s face the minute he made a move forward. Get down and show some respect to your elders, boy. He got his teeth around, snapped with absolute precision, and nipped him on the ear.
Well, if he’d actually wanted to kill him he easily could have that time, so the nip on the ear just meant that he’d gone about things wrong. He hesitated, then dropped his body low to the ground. His pride wasn’t worth angering the other wolf further.
Lone brought his head back up. So low, Shane had a clear shot at his throat, and the subordinate position was just as much one of trust as anything. Now you’re getting it. He worked the energy out with a faint wag of a high plumed tail. After a moment (of triumph, true enough), he backed off a couple feet and looked around the park in a show of casual pride.
Shane pushed himself back up, watching Lone. He smelled mostly like wolf but just a touch like human, which was interesting. He didn’t seem like the sort of wolf to mix particularly well with people. He seemed wild, not like he’d been raised in captivity, and that raised the question of what he was doing here in the city yet again. He watched him look around the park like he owned it with a little amusement. Good thing he hadn’t planned on making it any kind of permanent place to live.
He was still confused and unsure, but, surprisingly enough, even if submitting had been a wound to his pride, the fact that there had been respect in Lone’s response made him feel more at ease. Clearly the other wolf wasn’t a threat, and now that he wasn’t concerned for his own safety, it occurred to him that he’d never so much as seen another wolf. There was curiosity mingled in with wariness, and he walked around to his other side, trying to figure out what he was looking at.
Lone permitted that, though he craned his head around to see what the other was doing. Lone made a habit of the same behaviors he’d learned in pack, and he’d brushed up against all sorts of interesting scents on his way here. Most of the canines he’d been inspecting had left traces on his coat, and there was a plethora of scents, including, very faintly, several people from Bellum, indicating he had been around, perhaps even inside, that building.
As he watched, Lone let his tongue roll out in what was an unmistakable laugh. Never seen a tail before? He gave it another high-flag wave.
The scents from Bellum he recognized right away, and they made him curious. The odds that a wolf just happened to have picked up the scents of people from Bellum were extremely slim. Lone didn’t strike him as anyone’s pet.
Lone’s mirth set him a little more at ease. Shane briefly wagged his tail, drew himself up a little. Never seen another wolf before. Lone was very new, hence the curiosity.
The tail stilled and his head dropped with surprise. Never? That was a human concept, and it was hard to express, but Lone recognized the effort for what it was.
He lowered his head, ears flicking back. No. He watched Lone carefully, with blue eyes that should mean, by any kind of logic, that he had dog in his heritage somewhere, though he didn’t look it or smell like it. Picking up signals wasn’t easy, but practice seemed to help, since it was getting easier.
The tongue lolled again in helpless laughter. No pack! Well, boy, when you are with pack, you are either Big or Little, and I am Big and you are Little. Manners. The comparatives seemed to be what was important, and there was a strong impression of rank in how Lone held himself in comparison to Shane. He did not seem particularly curious about why a lone adolescent black wolf was out in the middle of New York, not at the moment. The need for origins was a human trait, and wolves tended to live in the now, or even seasonal at the very best. Lone figured he’d just ask some other time when it was relevant.
Lone whirled around and trotted off toward the edge of the park, clearly expecting Shane to follow, judging by the gleam of his eyes back in his direction. Coming?
Little. Please. Still, Lone’s good humor was catching, and when he began moving toward the street Shane followed. Coming. There was a feeling of rightness about traveling with another wolf, even if he was unsure how long it would last. Being on his own was all well and good, but he’d gotten more than used to that. If nothing else, following another wolf was something new, and gave him an unfamiliar feeling of safety in numbers.
Where are we going? He trotted up alongside him but still a little bit behind, eyes open for people.
That feeling of being with pack would only get stronger. Lone’s spirits lifted too; despite his name and his nature, he had grown up with pack, and pack was family. He was pleased not to have to fight the boy to further his point, and even more pleased when he stayed behind where he belonged.Safety was not just in numbers, but in tactics. Out. I want to run. We will see what your stamina is like, boy.
At first, they moved within the city. Lone’s facility in shadow and in light belied his huge silver weight, and they moved through alleys and streets, past people who stared at the big stray dogs as they trotted past, moving too fast to be threatened by anyone who would call the local animal services. Lone moved north, following the line of the docks upriver, tracing the path of cars that zipped past on the roaring highway, their drivers blind to all but destination.
Lone was aware the black hadn’t built up the kind of callous on his paws necessary for a great deal of travel, but New York was small, and finally, as the new dawn broke, they reached trees that grew outside of park fences. Slowing from his long-legged lope, the big gray flopped happily in a pile of old fall leaves from last year. There was a highway some distance away, and the sound of passing semis echoed up around them in a low hum, but there were twittering dawn birds and the world stirring.
Shane followed. He followed with a kind of joy for the travel, for the running, that was new and good. His paws began to ache as the night grew darker and then slowly began to lighten again, but the soreness was inconsequential. He had wanted to leave the city, but hadn’t had a clue where to begin. Now he had the opportunity, and guidance that would be foolish to pass up. He wasn’t even tempted. Following someone else’s lead bothered him less and less the further they went - Lone knew what he was doing, and he didn’t.
By the time they reached the trees, he was tired but pleased with the distance they’d managed to cover. The air was better than it had been deep in the city despite the highway nearby, the scents new and interesting. He stretched out on dewy grass, panting. I like it better here. He rolled on the grass, dew clinging to his fur. Cleaner.
Humans are dirtier than they think, Lone agreed, sitting up into a Cleopatra lounge and little his tongue roll out in laughter again.
Shane reciprocated, looking into the park. Do you live here? Not on that spot, of course, since there wasn’t nearly enough scent around to mark it as Lone’s territory. But he wasn’t sure how big the park was. Somewhere in there, perhaps.
The wolfish ‘no’ was a short flattening of the ears back that immediately relaxed. I settle back where we came. For now.
So maybe he was in Bellum. Curiosity aside, though, what did it matter? He’d left that place behind. He rolled to his feet and paced toward the fence. I think I’ll stay here. It was quieter and further from Bellum, a win win, and if Lone himself hadn’t staked the territory for his own, it was unlikely any other wolves were around to have done so. He didn’t smell any, at any rate.
There is not much to eat out here, Lone observed, not bothering to contradict. You will have to go farther north for wild prey, farther west for fat farmbred prey. You are young and do not know how to hunt. You will starve and run back to where I found you. Who cares for you there? Humans? Despite his lack of skill and knowledge, Shane was healthy and well-fed.
There was truth in what he said, but he didn’t have to like it. I can learn, he insisted, walking along the fence and then back. Sometimes. I take what I can find.
There wasn’t a wolf word for concepts like “learning curve” but Lone’s snort of derision pretty much delivered the message. Starving is a nasty way to go.
He settled on the ground again with a bit of a huff. I don’t want to go back there. Truthfully, if he could stay out of the city forever he’d be more than happy.
What’s so bad about it? Lone could think of many things that were, but he wanted to know what the boy had to say about it. It’s a human place.
Some of the humans, he said. He wouldn’t get more specific than that, couldn’t. And it’s dirty there. It’s better here.
Humans are everywhere, Lone said, with some conviction. Best get used to them. He came closer and gave a thick, wet sniff about an inch from Shane’s coat. Smells like you already are.
I’m used to them. So are you, he said, with a pointed sniff. But some of them are worth staying away from. He wasn’t going to budge on that fact, because it was true.
Lone wasn’t going to argue that one. He decided not to push any more, because it wasn’t particularly relevant. He sat back on his haunches, marking time by scratching behind one ear with a hind leg. Maybe if he sat long enough, the boy would talk more. He seemed used to communicating the human way, which meant almost constant communication--’filling the silence,’ as it were.
As the silence stretched on, he sniffed the air again. Why do you stay close to that building? he said. The scents of the people in Bellum were light on his fur, but present enough to imply he’d spent some time there.
The pink tongue lolled out again. The big gray laughed at lot at him, even when there seemed very little to laugh at. I live there. Well, that’s the rough translation. Technically he said ‘it’s my territory/ground/place.’ Wolves blur that kind of thing.
There? He didn’t try to hide his surprise, rising to all four paws. In the building? As far as he knew Vlad only had wolf-dogs, but who knew? There were a lot of strange people there who might be willing to take on a wolf as a sometime apartment mate, since he still couldn’t picture Lone as any kind of pet.
Inside, Lone agreed, flopping over and wriggling on his back a little, making a show of the vulnerable position to set Shane at ease. Then, abruptly, he rolled up again, and shouldering all the position of leader in this little pack, took off back toward Bellum Letale. Whatever the other was running from, he didn’t see the purpose in leaving him out here to starve while the rabbits laughed.