The late afternoon hung heavy on the sparse shrub land Alcatraz was making his way through. It had been a long and hot day. But evening was almost here and Alcatraz could not be happier. His dark fur was no match for the beating sun in such open land. It was silly for him to have left the forest this morning, but Alcatraz was never one to hang around in any one spot for a long time.
His dark paws stepped carefully around the delicate flowers sprouting in clumps from the soft grassy ground. He looked around to appreciate the view. The flowers looked clumpy close up, but from a distance they looked like a colorful sheen on the whispering grass that rippled in the breeze. He took a deep breath of their faint aroma and decided that he liked it here. Maybe it had been a hot day, but night would soon fall, and the forest was in sight from here, a forest at the base of a small mountain range. Alcatraz wondered what was on the other side, and mountains as well as steppe lands were his favorite places to be. He liked the powerful view of the mountains all around him and he liked the ability to look down at the world from above. he felt more comfortable that way, as if he had everything under control.
He focused his pale yellow eyes ahead until he heard the soft babbling of a brook. He veered toward it immediately. He was parched! And maybe wading in the water quick would help him cool off. He also knew that this stream was most likely a mountain stream, fed by either springs or melt water. Either way, following it upstream would lead him to the mountains, which is where he wanted to go.
Delicate foot falls of a silver shewolf were silent as she made her way across the shrubby hill, just before a backdrop of mountains to her left. Her nose and ears carried her toward the sound of a stream up ahead. She had eaten recently and decided she needed a drink- not to mention it was quite a blistering day. Though her coat was thin and light colored, even she was feeling the summers wrath of humidity. The sun was soon to set, but the almost-evening sky was still an elegant array of blues and whites. A dash of yellow sprayed across the horizon around where the sun sat.
As Thea came upon the brook, another scent tickled her nose. It was another wolf. Not a rare occurrence; most animals migrated to water during the warmer seasons, so she was particularly surprised by his presence. Her ice-blue eyes cast a glance his way before she stepped forward and onto the rocky ground before the water. Her attention went to the river and she bent her neck, taking a few large drinks in silence.
Alcatraz arrived at the river and dipped in his dark muzzle, gulping down water at great volumes. Finally he was finished drinking and proceeded to wade into the water. He did not go deep, only up to his ankles to help soothe his sore paws and cool off. He enjoyed getting wet, but did not enjoy the uncomfortable dampness of drying off. He did not want to deal with that, so he decided that just submerging his paws was good enough for now.
He dipped his head to take another drink when a flash of movement nearby made him lift his head. Another loner. The wolf did not seem interested in picking a fight, and even cast a glance his way with her icy blue eyes. Alcatraz could not help but notice... she was quite lovely. But she didn't seem to care either way that he was here... perhaps he should approach... see if she is friendly. He enjoyed meeting others.
But he could not seem excited about it. He dipped his head casually, taking another deep drink from the water before he stepped out of the water and trotting toward her, making sure to ruffle his pelt and walk with a confident gait. He wanted to make a good first impression on this blue-eyed beauty. "Good evening, miss."
he greeted, keeping a respectful distance from her when he stopped.
As the female finished her drink, she raised her head and licked her maw. She stepped back from the shore line and noticed the male making his way toward her. By his posture, he wasn't looking for a fight; perhaps just friendly conversation. Nonetheless, Thea put up all her cautiousness- though she masked it well with a calm veil, helped along by her half-lidded gaze. As he approached, giving her a wide birth which she appreciated, he greeted her respectably. Her ears perked forward and she placed her front paws together; her chin tucked itself into the fur on her chest and she studied him with her moon-blue eyes."Good evening."
Her voice was like velvet, smooth and placid. "You must be sweltering in that coat of yours."
She teased lightly. In this much heat, that dark coat probably caused him quite a bit of trouble. Thea was glad that she was born such a light color, or she probably would be worse off as well.
Her movements were smooth and graceful as she tucked her chin against her chest and put her paws neatly before her. Her blue eyes were quite unusual. Alcatraz liked them, and the serenity they held.
He chuckled at her comment. "I'm used to it."
he said, although his dark pelt actually was quite a bother in the hot sun, even after all this time. "It's cooling down now anyway. Soon it will be night, to which my fur is much better suited."
he said. "Your coat looks like it is nice in all weather."
He added. It looked fluffy and soft to keep her warm in the winter, and relatively pale to deflect the sun in the summer.
Thea swayed her tail behind her and looked down for a moment before returning her gaze to the stranger. It was true; her coat was basically perfect for most weather. "It does the job."
She said, her tone light and cheerful. "I'm Thea, by the way."
She gave him a sincere smile; so far, he wasn't too bad. Respectable, easy conversationalist...Of course, there was still a lot more to learn and observe about him. "Thea."
he echoed. A lovely name for a lovely she-wolf,
he would have said, but he was not sure if he could pull off the charming wolf vibe. Besides that, he didn't even know her, so for all he knew she was one of those females who bit your ear off for saying something like that. Although he tended to doubt it as he listened to her smooth voice and gazed upon her graceful features. A she-wolf with her looks and impression was just asking to be spoken to that way, and besides, of course he could pull of the charming wolf! Why was he even doubting himself? "A lovely name for a lovely wolf."
he said, deciding to say it after all. He was usually so confident, so he was a little confused as to why he had even hesitated..."My name is Alcatraz."
He went on, squaring his large shoulders and smiling at her. "Where are you from, Thea?"
he asked her. It was small talk, but he was also quite interested. Loners almost always had interesting stories. Alcatraz had actually found his to be one of the less interesting ones.
Thea turned her head to brush it against her shoulder in a show of shyness at his compliment. She was used to them, but she found that it made other's feel better if you looked happy or impressed when they said something nice. She wasn't conceited of course, so the gesture was genuine. "Thank you. It's nice to meet you, Alcatraz."
She had never heard of such a name. It was unique and easily rolled off her tongue. She liked the sound of it. She gave another wag of her tail and let her eyes drift to where her birth pack had once lived. She had come from far beyond this land, but she settled for something vague. She liked being mysterious sometimes. "The north. It's much warmer here- well, in most spots at least."
She smiled and chuckled. "What about you?"
Alcatraz wagged his tail at her shy and modest gesture. He was glad that she accepted his compliment, and he was happy that he had decided to say it. He felt a lot more confident now; at least this wolf would not automatically shut him down.
Alcatraz liked the sound of his name off her tongue. She had a gentle, feminine voice to suite her graceful appearance. He nodded as she said she was from the north. "Ah, I see."
he said. He pointed with his muzzle toward the north as well. "I am also from the north. My pack inhabited the mountain steppes."
he explained,. He was interested as to where exactly she had been from; perhaps they were from similar areas. "Did your pack also live in the mountains?"
Thea cocked her head slightly, in a curious position. They had come from very similar locations, though his features were slightly different than hers. They both had thicker fur, so that was one very obvious sign of northern living. "Yes, for a time we did, when I was young. Since then I've been, well...around."
She said with a chuckle. She decided to leave out the part about the second pack she lived in; that didn't hold very many pleasant memories, at least not anymore. However, life as a loner didn't exactly keep you in one place. Loners who stayed in one place for a long time were considered odd, or strange. She had learned that early on.
Alcatraz nodded at her story. "I see. Why did you choose a loner life? If you don't mind me asking."
he asked her. He would not be surprised if she was unwilling to answer; a wolf had a right to her own secrets. He would not push her if she declined to share her story. They hardly knew each other, after all. He was open about his origins, but he had learned that others were not.
Thea's smile fell a little at his question. It seemed to be the most frequent question asked when two loners came across one another. Her reason was so obvious, she even had scars to go along with it. But could she tell him? They had just met after all, but the chances of them ever coming across one another again were slim. Perhaps it wouldn't be too bad to share some of her past with him- and perhaps it would help her cope as well."Ah, well. It was kind of a mandatory choice."
She shifted her body so that her scars were a little less visible, letting her un-scarred side face Alcatraz. "The alpha of my pack tricked me, and so I've been wary of packs ever since. Though I'm sure not all are the same- but I have yet to find one that suits me."
She gave another light chuckle, purposely leaving out the abuse and other unpleasant details. "How about you?"
Alcatraz listened to her, noting as she shifted her position. Was she hiding something? He didn't question her, though. For all he knew, she was just shifting into a more comfortable position, so he pushed the thought away and thought about what she had said. "Oh, I see... I'm sorry that happened to you, Thea. So you plan on finding one to join? You may be in the right spot. I know Chandor and Morrow are two wolf packs that live nearby... both seem... peaceful."
he told her, swishing his dark tail. He disliked the philosophy of both packs. They were too friendly, too open, too weak. At least the wolves he had met. He focused back on Thea. It was too bad that such a lovely and gentle she-wolf had to go through such troubles. Even if he did not know the specifics, he would not push her further than that, especially not after knowing each other for such a short time.
He shrugged his large shoulders as she shot the question back. "My pack and I... differed greatly in ideals. I left as soon as I could hunt for myself."
While Alcatraz's old pack believed in peace and trust, Alcatraz believed in caution and discipline but respect. Alcatraz found that he liked loner life anyway. He was free from the silly mistakes of others and free from the feeling of responsibility and guilt he felt when a packmate was injured due to what Alcatraz knew would happen. It was easier this way. "Ah, I see."
She said. Thea had in fact heard of the two new packs forming recently. They were quite small at the moment, which posed a lot of problems with security- at least, in Thea's mind it did. Though a small close knit group might be exactly what she needed; it was too early to tell, either way. She wasn't ready to join a pack, but she was always on the look out for one that she would fit in to someday. "Well it seems that we're both quite accustomed to loner life. Have you fared well since you began?"
Thea was a little intrigued at how other loners lived. She tried to live as simply as possible, steering away from packs and unnecessary trouble and only hunting as much as she could handle while still maintaining a comfortable pace in her traveling. She wondered if Alcatraz did the same.
Alcatraz nodded at her question. "Yes, I have."
he said, and he was not lying. He was quite a good hunter and fighter, so he had yet to go hungry or get injured in the year or so that he had been on his own. "I have never been happier."
it did get lonely being a loner, he had to admit, but all in all he truly was happier without a pack holding him back. Now he could go wherever he pleased, seeing breathtaking sights he had never imagined before, every day bringing a new excitement at what he may see and do. He didn't know if he would ever want to join a pack... perhaps as a wolf aged he began to lose his sense of adventure and yearned instead for consistency and security... but Alcatraz was far from that point. "How about you?"
he asked her, his sand-baked yellow eyes gentle as they rested on her. It sounded like she did not choose to be a loner, and so he would not be surprised if it was hard for her. At the same time, she seemed like a strong and capable she-wolf who knew how to take care of herself. Still, just because you can take care of yourself does not mean you want to.
Thea smiled gently. It was obvious that Alcatraz made the most out of his life. He was strong and definitely not underfed, so he probably had no trouble being on his own. Thea was glad about that, it made her feel more secure in her choice to steer clear of packs- though there was still that small yearning for companionship. "That's good to hear. I do quite well myself, though probably not as well as you."
She teased, indicating to his lean build and midsection; his ribs weren't visible at all, so he probably hunted all the time. Thea was a little bit on the thinner side, but she was also on the move constantly, stopping only to sleep or rest on her travels. She could hunt more often, but she chose smaller, simpler foods. They were safe.
Alcatraz blushed a bit, happy for his dark fur that probably hid his hot skin. He lifted his head slightly as well, shaking off his pelt as she complimented him. A less than modest gesture. Alcatraz was proud of himself, and he was not too shy to show it. He had earned his pride, he believed. "Well, thank you."
he said with a smile. "But you look like you do just as well."
he insisted. "Size does not always mean health."
In his case, he thought to himself, it did. He was large and muscular, more so than most lone wolves. But Thea looked as good as any pack wolf he had seen, he thought. Sure she was a bit thin, but that is how a she-wolf is supposed to look.
Thea gave her tail a wag. She nodded in agreement with his statement. Yes, size didn't always mean health, nor did it always mean strength. But in her case, she was always on the meeker side, in every way. "Would you care to go on a walk?"
Thea asked suddenly, though her voice was still nonchalant and made it seem not as weird to just ask that out of the blue. She liked this wolf. He wasn't pushy, and he was quite well-mannered. She could see them being friends and having fun.
Alcatraz was rather surprised at her question, but the smooth and casual tone of her voice made the request feel quite natural. Either way, he was happy she had asked. "Yes, I would be honored."
he said with a polite bow of his head. He turned upriver, toward where the river flowed from the mountains, and looked back at her, waiting for him to join her for their walk. "Is this way good for you?"
he added, remembering that maybe he was headed toward the mountains but that did not mean that she was.
Thea trotted up along side Alcatraz and gave a curt nod of her head. She had just come from the bottom of the mountain, so she was delighted to venture toward it. They began their trek in silence, but it wasn't an awkward silence. Thea quite enjoyed listening to her surroundings and just having companionship at all pleased her.
Alcatraz dipped his head back, happy that she agreed with his direction. They followed the river in silence for a while, listening to the whispering of the river and enjoying the evening summer breeze sweeping from the plains to their other side. He took a deep breath, much more comfortable without the sun boring down upon him. For all he disliked the summer sun, Alcatraz actually liked summer nights more than almost anything else. The air felt as if nature was covering him with peace and comfort, especially when there was a billowing breeze washing around him like a gentle nuzzle.
He looked at Thea, "Were you headed into the mountains, or did you have another destination before you came across me?"
he asked her.
Thea sighed contently as the breeze played through their fur and made the grass sway beneath their paws. Summer was truly a beautiful time; peaceful, and Thea enjoyed peace. She turned her attention from a flock of passing birds to Alcatraz as he asked his question. "Hm, no not really. I don't have any particular place to go, I just wander really."
She said, hopping over a large rock and landing gracefully on the other side. "Though I haven't been to these mountains yet."
Alcatraz also enjoyed the comfortable summer night and the riving babbling at their side. He looked at her as she answered his question. "I see. Alright, so long as this direction is not an inconvenience for you, Thea. They are new to me too."
he said, noting her graceful figure as she leaped over the rock. He himself just walked around it. He hoped to come across some obstacle in the future, though, where he could show of his physical prowess as well. But for now he just admired hers.
Thea laughed lightly. "Well being a loner, not much inconveniences me!"
She picked up her pace slightly, now into a leisure trot as she ascended the mountain side. She began to feel the small shift in temperature as they continued on. It was only slightly, but she could still feel it. When they were up high enough, the heat of summer wouldn't be a problem.
Alcatraz chuckled. "I suppose that's true."
he kept her pace at a trot. He enjoyed trotting more than walking, it was more comfortable for him and he moved quicker. The ascent made the trot a bit more difficult since they were now headed uphill, but the cool mountain breeze that wafted from above them made it easier. And with night closing in, Alcatraz was at nearly the perfect temperature. He took a deep breath, then looked up ahead, up the river's length. "I wonder how long we will be able to follow the river,"
the dark male wondered out loud. Mountain streams sometimes took perilous dives over ledges and cliffs. It was one reason why falling into a mountain stream was quite the mistake.
As they continued, Thea cast her gaze toward the river as well. They would definitely have to be careful; if one of them slipped and fell in, it could be disastrous, and there would be no way for the other to save the one who had fallen in. At the thought she slightly cringed and took a few more steps away from the river."Well, I'm sure we'll find out."
She said, still quite chipper.
Alcatraz nodded at her comment about soon finding out. He then noticed the female as she took some steps away from the river. A playful smile formed on his muzzle."Afraid of water?"
he asked, but it was honestly a quite reasonable fear from how fast and fierce it was roaring beside them.
Thea was sure her movements were subtle, but Alcatraz still noticed it. She wasn't necessarily afraid of the water, she just didn't want to drown today."Sort of. More so of how dangerous it is today."
She said with a sheepish smile. "That, and I just don't like getting wet."
She laughed lightly.
Alcatraz nodded at her, then looked back down at the river. "Yes, it is quite strong today."
he agreed. Perhaps it was due to the recent rain, or the snow melt in this hot time of year. Either way, he would not want to fall in either.
He looked at her as she said she doesn't like to get wet. "You must dislike this time of year, then."
he said, referring to all the rainfall that happened in the spring and early summer. "I don't necessarily hate it,"
Thea said with a smile, looking at Alcatraz from the corner of her eye. "It's more of a very strong disliking."
She chuckled and looked forward again. Clouds were beginning to form on the horizon, giving hints at another storm that headed in their direction. Hopefully they would find shelter or something before it hit them, but they had a little while. At least, Thea hoped they did.
Alcatraz chuckled. That sounded like the same thing as hate to him... but who was he to argue? He noticed the clouds gathering in the air and lifted his nose, breathing in a breeze that was getting rather heavy with water. "Well, it's good that you don't hate it, at least, because there may be some on the way."
he told her, quickening his pace a bit. "Perhaps we can find shelter from the storm by the mountains? There may be a cave or overhang among the rocks."
he suggested. The mountains were still a little ways away, but it looked like the storm was a little ways away as well. "Yes, it seems that way."
Thea said with a small scowl. She nodded at him and matched his pace. There was bound to be at least one cave somewhere. There usually was in mountains like these.
Alcatraz bounded onward beside the female. The river was getting louder and more ferocious as they headed into the mountains. Soon the thunder rumbled angrily overhead and the first raindrops began to fall. "Running out of time."
the big male said under his breath, looking up at the heavy gray sky.
The river beside them was roaring now and the mountains towered over them. Through the rocks and trees ahead he could see a ribbon of silvery white glittering in the last rays of sunlight before the clouds covered the shining orb completely. A waterfall, free falling from a high cliff, tumbled down into the river they knew quite well by now.
He paused to look at Thea. The rain was not too bad yet, but it was quickly picking up. "That waterfall... perhaps there is a cave behind it."
he suggested, signaling with his dark muzzle toward the narrow falls. He wanted to see what she thought about the idea because getting that close to a waterfall also meant you would probably get wet. Yes, the rain was going to get them wet anyway, but if she would rather find an alternate shelter than they could see what they could find.
As they continued on, the storm gained on them. Thea picked up her pace. She really
didn't want to get wet. Suddenly, Alcatraz had stopped and he was gesturing up ahead of them. A waterfall; a possible cave. At first, Thea thought that was a great idea! Until she realized that they'd have to get wet to get to the cave, if there even was one. She sighed. "Well I supposed it's better than waiting in the rain."
She said. At least if they were in a cave, it would give her time to dry off. That was the third time this summer she'd have to do that. She sighed again.
Alcatraz noted how unhappy she looked and he bounded ahead in front of her. "Here, I will see what is there."
His strides were long and powerful as he raced to the waterfall. Sure enough, a cavern was located behind it, but mist from the glittering falls clouded the pathway into the cave. Luckily the cave looked deep. Perhaps it would be dry deeper inside? He glanced back at Thea. "There is a cave. We will need to pass through the mist, But it looks dry inside."
Another rumble of thunder rattled the mountains around them as Alcatraz waited for the she-wolf to catch up.
Thea smiled happily as the male offered to check for the both of them. She trotted behind him but held back as he checked. Sure enough there was indeed a cave, and they wouldn't get totally drenched on their way in. "Thank you."
She said with a wag of her tail. If was quite chivalrous of him to do so and Thea was quite impressed by that.
Her ear's twitched backward at the sound of more thunder and she quickly ducked inside the cavern. The mist clung to her coat, but she wasn't completely wet, just a little damp. She didn't mind it; she knew it was better than having to stand out in the rain. She trotted deeper into the darkness as she waited for her companion to follow and gave a light shake. "Well that wasn't so bad."
Alcatraz waited for her to be inside before he followed her. The mist that clung to her fur glistened against the dull light that filtered through the waterfall and Alcatraz looked at his own pelt, noticing the sparse gathering of mist there as well. He was not even wet enough to shake off as he padded to her side and laid down by her, however he kept a respectful distance. Even if they had been speaking for a small while now, they still did not know each other very well yet.
As if on cue, the thunder boomed again as Alcatraz sat down and the rain began to pour down, able to be heard even over the constant cascading of the waterfall into the flowing river below.
Thea turned her attention to the outside as another cacophony of thunder rumbled outside. "I'm so ready for this bout of rain to be gone."
She said with a sigh. She slid onto her belly; they would probably be here a while, so she might as well get comfortable.
Alcatraz nodded. He did not mind the rain, but this was honestly getting to be a bit much. Although he must admit, it was a good way to meet others. Not that he was interested in others much. "Yes, this hot and wet is an irritating combination. At least fall will be here soon."
he said. Winter was his favorite, due to his dark, heavy coat. "Mmm yes, that's quite true. Let's hope that it comes sooner than normal."
Thea said with a smile. The thought cheered her up some, but then her mind turned to the the present. She was alone with a male. Again. Why did that seem to happen so often? "Mm."
The dark male said, watching the waterfall crash in a curtain before them. He took a deep breath of the fresh, wet air around them. Thea and he waited out the storm for a short while, luckily it was just a short passing one, and enjoyed each other's company for a while longer. When the rain had stopped, Alcatraz bid her farewell and exited the cave. He had never been a social wolf, but he had enjoyed his time with Thea. Perhaps other wolves were not so bad after all.