1 - Awkward, unwanted introductions
Kieran was breathless.
He had been running through the wet, mossy and unkempt floor of the forest that he called home, and had done for his entire life. But today, he did not feel safe. Something was chasing him, something, or someone. He was not quite sure.
All he knew is that, he could always find his pack, their scent always lingered in the area’s surrounding his home, but now, there was no trail, no trace that they had ever been there whatsoever.
It was not like he had ventured out very far from where the pack was staying, he had only wanted to explore, just to see what was around the area – maybe he had gone further than he initially thought, maybe, in opposite fashion from his usual nature: he was actually lost.
The thing that was following him was catching up to him at every given step, Kieran was becoming even more fatigued as he ran – something also unlike him, he was equipped with exceedingly fast reflexes and stamina. He should not be tired, even if it was a very fast chase.
“Whoever you are, show yourself!” Kieran shouted, trying not to sound nervous – the sweet smell of sweat ruminating from his body. It had occurred to him, without knowing that he had stopped in his tracks to address the unknown figure.
“Gosh you are fast,” A boy, slightly older than Kieran stepped out from behind a tree close by, he was just as breathless as Kieran. Kieran had no idea why the boy had been chasing him.
“Why were you chasing me, to begin with?” Kieran asked, a twinge of annoyance evident in his voice, he did not even think to ask the stranger for his name – he didn’t really want it, the boy had not given him the best first impression after all.
“You dropped something, I was coming to bring it back,” Kieran then noticed the boy reach for something from a pocket. It still did not resonate with Kieran why the boy would have chased him, but the boy – with his smart looking clothing, cut and washed hair and a clean face definitely looked like he was not from around here. “Did you fall? You look an absolute mess, mate,”
“I am not your mate, and where did you come from, no one ever comes here?” Kieran snapped – where he was from, mate meant something completely different from what the boy was insinuating. He was maybe a tad harsh speaking to the boy in that way, but it was clear who the boy was now… or at least what he was. Human.
“Woah, chill out, I’m only here on a walk, am I not allowed to?” The boy asked, holding out his hands in defence. “My name is Nathan,”
Kieran had never met a human before – and he did not particularly want to hang around to find out what happened next. He had heard ancient stories – though he was not sure if those stories were true anymore. Nathan passed Kieran the thing he had dropped – it was a necklace, a crescent moon necklace – he was glad that Nathan did not know what it meant. If the pack knew that he had dropped the necklace and a human had touched it – it would not be good. No, Kieran was just glad he was alone.
“You shouldn’t have bothered,” Kieran said as he slipped the necklace around his neck – where it belonged. “I could have found it once I found it was missing,”
“I doubt that it’s a big forest,” Nathan said looking Kieran up and down. Kieran definitely looked out of the ordinary, dirty face, his long, unkempt hair covered in sticks and mud – but that was the forest life, he was one with nature, something someone like Nathan surely would not understand. “Not sure where you’ve come from, or even where your manners went, but a simple thank you would have sufficed,”
The cheek. Coming into Kieran’s territory, picking up his necklace that he did not even want him to do and then demanding a thank you. “Thank you,” Kieran grumbled, trying to hide his distaste for the human standing in front of him. He made Kieran feel sick, Kieran himself was in human form right now – but back home, back in the pack, he would be in wolf form. And he was happy to be in that form – he felt freer. But the human was simple – it could not transform, and that was strange to Kieran. Abnormal even.
“Are you okay?” Nathan asked, reaching out to touch Kieran’s hair. Kieran retracting from the hand – never touch an animal that does not want to be touched. “You really need a shower, mate, and a hairbrush,”
“I’m fine as I am thanks,” Kieran snapped, he did not even want to be stood in the general vicinity of the boy – never mind be touched by one. “I’m going to leave now,”
“I never got your name,” Nathan said holding out his hand towards Kieran – what was he doing? Was Kieran supposed to do the same? Was this some strange human meeting ritual?
“I never told you?” Kieran mumbled under his breath as he turned on his heel to walk away from the human – he was done with the conversation and the human entirely. He just wanted to get back to his pack where he knew he was safe. “Guess you’ll never find out,”
“Wait, where are you going?” Nathan asked, watching as the boy started to climb up a hill close by.
“I said I was going away, didn’t I?” Kieran replied, this human just did not quit. Kieran did not understand the guy. He was sure the boy would have taken the hint right now – but no, he still persisted.
“Can you at least tell me your name?” Nathan laughed – clearly, Kieran’s attempts at being standoffish was funny to the human.
“My name is Kieran,” Kieran replied, finally giving in to the boy’s persistence at sticking around. “There, now can I leave?”
Back in the pack – Kieran would never have asked for permission like that, he was the alpha’s son – so it was kind of a ‘what he said goes’ thing. For the most part anyway. He was treated like a crown prince of sorts. Right now, however, after telling the human his name – he definitely felt like a jester.
He just hoped that now, the human would take the hint. Either way, Kieran was going home – but there was no way he would be taking a human into the pack. It was forbidden – as was talking to a human.
And Kieran did not want to break more than one rule in a day.
Kieran started to pick up the pace walking in the direction of the scent from his pack – he could smell it now, thankfully. As he did – he turned his head slightly in the direction of where Nathan had been standing – noticing that the boy was no longer standing there anymore – Kieran felt the feeling of ease wash all over him.
He had taken the hint. Humans were definitely weird. And Kieran had no interest in talking to one again.
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