A Fresh Start
"Nobu?" my mother called.
"Here mum!" I shouted back. I heard her footsteps on the paving and the sound of the garden gate opening.
"What are you doing out here dear?" she asked me and brushed a loose strand of strawberry blond hair behind her ear that had escaped from her bun and looked down at me. I sat on the ground, leaning against our new fence.
"The gardens pretty much a ground floor balcony, it's shit. There's no grass or shade. The view on this side it much better." I explained. She scowled at me a little from the vulgar language but took in the view I had been admiring. We had just moved houses, moved towns. We were a lot more further up North than before. My father got offered a higher position in his company over here as there had been an opening so we all packed up and moved. I didn't really mind, I was kind of excited actually. I wasn't the biggest fan of our previous town, for obvious reasons, a fresh start sounded good.
My mother and I gazed out at the landscape before us; forest started right outside the garden gate and led to nearby mountains that disappeared up into the clouds. "I'm really happy father's job brought us further up north." I told her. The mountains and their snow-capped tops called out to me in a primal and instinctual way. I felt a lot more at home here already.
"I bet your glad it doesn't get as hot over here hmm?" she guessed and I nodded.
"Lots more snow too." I couldn't help but smile at the thought, I loved the snow. I couldn't wait till winter. She smiled at that. The family had been worried about me of late, I rarely shifted and I had no friends at school. I spent most of my time at home either in my room or in the garden if it was too hot. I didn't do well in heat, I overheated very easily, but I never got cold, I loved the cold.
"How are you feeling?" she pushed.
"Hot." I grumbled. It was the end of the summer at the moment, the beginning of September, it was too hot. We we're experiencing an end of summer heatwave and it was hell. It was why my family had insisted that I go and sit in the garden whilst they moved everything in, I wouldn't be any help, I would just get hyperthermia and pass out.
"Well we've got everything in, your things are ready to be unpacked in your room when it cools down. Why don't you go into town and get some ice-creams with your brothers and sister?" she encouraged. My ears pricked up at the sound of the cold treat, I knew she just wanted me to get out of the house and explore the town, but I was all up for bribery.
"Sounds good." I agreed and languidly stood up, my ass feeling numb from sitting on the ground for a considerable amount of time. My mother smiled and turned, heading back through the gate and I followed her, closing it as I walked through.
"Emelia! Jasper! Otto!" my mother called as she walked into the house, I heard their footsteps thunder down the stairs.
"Yes ma?" Otto's deep voice rumbled as the giant oaf reached the bottom of the stairs followed by the slightly smaller Jasper and the agile and lithe Emelia.
"I was suggesting to Nobu that the four of you go into town and explore, getting some ice-creams on the way of course." she added for my benefit.
"Sounds lit." Emelia declared and I frowned at the 'cool' word, I hated those slang terms, I mean where the hell did 'lit' come from? I know what it meant, I just didn't understand it.
"I'm down." Jasper nodded his head and Otto was already making his way over to the door.
"Be careful, look after each other." my mother yelled as we shut the door, motherly concern in her voice.
My eldest brother Otto was an albino liger, quite rare and a huge feline. A liger could only be created if the father was a tiger and the mother was a lioness, which our parents were. It was the largest big cat in the world and it surely showed, he was well into the 7 foot range but he wasn't lanky, no his tall frame was broad and filled out with muscle. He was a few years older than me at 21, in university at the moment, he'd applied to one nearby that had the course he wanted. Strawberry blond hair swooped into a slight quiff he always messed up almost so much that it wasn't even one anymore, I honestly don't know why he bothers. His hair always resembled the mane of his shift, no matter how he tried to tame it, I'm surprised that he hasn't given up, no matter the product he puts in it he still has that unruly mane, he is always cleanly shaven though so the mane isn't as obvious as it could be. He did go through a phase of growing his mane out, it made him look like a hobo, his beard grows out instead of down really and was very poufy like a lions mane, it was hilarious to look at. It wasn't that it didn't suit him, on the contrary it suited him very well, but it wasn't Otto if that made sense, not the Otto everyone knew. He grew out of it thank god, I liked him clean shaven, he looked like him, the elder brother I had grown up with and love with all my heart. He had light brown, almost golden eyes. He had the broad and straight nose of a lion but the rest of his features were like our fathers. He was tanned and very masculine.
He looked big and intimidating to everyone who didn't know him well, to his family he was a big teddy bear, protective for sure but also sweet and kind, he was level headed and smart. On the quieter side, more content to listen unless he found he had something important or valuable to add to the conversation. I guess that was why I got on with him so well, I was no social butterfly, I enjoyed the quiet brotherly time we could spend together, the chilled and comfortable air between us, being with him was very relaxing. I could be vulnerable around him, I trusted him wholeheartedly with everything, I didn't have to hide anything and could let my guard down around him completely, he was what kept me sane at the end of the day. Don't tell Jasper or Emelia but he was my favourite sibling.
My second oldest brother was Jasper, a white tiger. Our family really lucked out with the gene pool. He was just shy of 7 foot and was slightly leaner than Otto. They were non-identical twins and that showed in every way, they were completely different but they still got on very well. He had also applied for the same university near here and got in, a different course from Otto obviously. He had my mother's blue eyes, a light ice blue, he had our father's ink black hair in a wild and messy mop, curls everywhere. He had my father's more slender nose and lightly narrower face. He had a lighter skin tone but it was still tanned. His features still portrayed a tiger if you knew what to look for.
He was a character that one, loud and obnoxious at times, almost permanent rueful and mischievous smile on his face. He had no filter and often said the wrong thing, being blunt and honest at times, and sometimes just landing himself trouble for stating his opinion at the wrong moment. He was a fun brother, you couldn't not laugh and smile with him around, despite his tiger shifts solitary lifestyle he was quite a catch in public gatherings and talked to others with such ease, I admit I was a little jealous of that. He was so high energy all of the time but somehow still came across as lazy, he was a paradox that one. He was always playful and teasing, there was no peace and quiet with him around. Sometimes he got on my nerves if I wasn't in a tolerable mood or I was feeling unsociable. I did feel grateful for him though, he brought me out of my comfort zone, almost forcibly but he was probably the only reason I still left the house.
Being around others outside of my family always made me feel exhausted mentally, but Jasper somehow blocked that feeling, it was like he gave me some of his confidence. Otto soothed and eased my worries whereas Jasper practically scared them off, it was liberating being in his company, he got rid of my inhibitions and he brought out my playful side. I felt free with him around, if I ever had some excess energy he was always around to play to tire me out, get rid of my nervous energy. He calmed me down in a completely different way, a way that made my cheeks ache from smiling and laughing so much, sometimes at his expense. He was a little cocky an over-sure of himself at times, he was a catch, don't get me wrong but he was of acquired tastes. You'd have to like his light and carefree attitude to almost everything, his constant jokes, be patient and understanding of his blabber mouth, take what comes out of his mouth with a pinch of salt.
Emelia was a year older than me and was going to college, just having turned 19. She was a cheetah, slightly muscular in a feminine way, she was lithe and very agile, an extremely fast runner. She was slightly on the shorter side at 5 foot 7, short for our family anyway, our mother was 5 foot 10 and our father 7 foot 2. Her hair was darker blond, a sandy tan colour, due to her shift no doubt, she had the same golden eyes as Otto and she looked like a spitting image of my mother except for the hair and eye colour, same skin colour as Jasper. Her slender features on her face portrayed her cheetah shift, still naturally streamlined even in her human form. Don't tell anyone I told you this but her hair has a habit of sticking up on the top of her head like a little mohawk, she hates the damn thing and uses products to flatten it down, if you see her just getting up or with just washed hair it was there, otherwise she hid it very well.
Despite Jaspers loud and obnoxious character she was the most outgoing one of us by far. She was confident when she spoke, most of the time anyway. She could be a bit of a diva. She even managed to out talk Jasper, it wasn't that she was stuck up, she was just that friendly. She liked to talk to everyone, I don't know how she could come up with the subject matter to even start a conversation, I could never do such a thing. Sometimes I'd find myself wanting to talk to someone but my mind was blank, I had no idea what to talk to them about, or even what to say, most of the time as soon as I had found something to say and gotten the courage to speak the conversation had changed drastically if it hadn't ended already, I was hopeless around people, it was tragic. She did try and encourage me to speak out more, helped me along if she was around, asking me questions, giving me the opening to say something, a specific topic with an easier change of finding the words to answer it. She had tried schooling me on social interaction but gave up and decided I was hopeless, it was just how I was, shy and timid most of the time, it was in my nature. I was no social creature, I preferred being alone a lot of the time, it was less exhausting, I didn't have to put on a face, or act how I was expected to, I had no standards to conform to when I was alone, no social etiquette I had to conform to. She did help a bunch in trying to prevent me from being seen as a total outcast, I appreciated her effort but her over-eagerness sometimes got on my nerves, she seemed to intrusive and nosy with all her questions at times. She was both a joy and pain to be around, sisters, am I right?
And then there was me. I was Nobu, eighteen in two weeks and a snow leopard. Senior at high school, it was a bit weird that a senior was transferring schools but I had good grades and no friends to miss, it didn't worry me at all. I was slightly disproportioned in my mind. Long legs and slightly shorter arms, due to me being a snow leopard no doubt. I could jump better than a kangaroo and was even more agile than my sister. Meaning high-jump and hurdles were the only athletic things I was good at. I was not a sporty person. I also enjoyed rock climbing but I didn't get to do it as much as I liked. I also had abnormally large hands and feet, also a snow leopard thing, no one had pointed it out but it was there. I was shorter than Jasper at 6 foot 1. I was leaner than him as well, but my shift made me naturally muscular, my legs in particular. I was an odd looking one. I had silver grey hair, with black and white accents, like a snow leopards coat, basically many shades of grey. It was lighter underneath and got darker and had black accents on the top. I had deep blue eyes, like the salty oceans of exotic countries, not that I've ever been there, I'd pass out as soon as I got off the plane from the heat, but I'd seen pictures. Those places didn't really appeal to me, I liked pictures of mountains and high altitude terrain. I was also kind of pale, unlike all of my family. My pretty much colourless appearance made my blue eyes stand out even more and my aversion to any clothes that weren't white, black, grey or some form of subtle blue (blue-grey or very dark navy) didn't help.
Humans would call Snow Leopards the ghosts of the mountain, and I suited that, pale and elusive, I might be a slight misanthrope, but I had my reasons and my shifts solitary nature didn't help any. I was the baby of the family and got treated as such, sometimes the babying got on my nerves and I had the urge to yell that I wasn't a cub anymore, other times I secretly enjoyed the fuss and attention, I felt safe and protected with my family around, they were my comfort blanket I could always rely on to make everything seem ok and all right, to catch me if I fall. I was at an odd age, not child any longer but not an adult either, it was a strange thing to be, old enough for certain things to be expected of me but young enough that others didn't matter. It could be a bit confusing at times, more dependant and yet still reliant on those around me, do I go to someone for something or try and deal with it myself? When is it when something gets too big and adult for me to deal with? Where is that line? You want to do everything yourself but yet are still unsure of what to do, you want your parents to be proud for doing something grown up but not upset that you didn't go to them for help when you didn't realise you needed it.
Being a teenager was frustrating.