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Winter's Promise

Chapter Text

Life in the wild wasn't easy. Food was scarce in the winter and even the finest of nests and burrows couldn't keep out the predators prowling, escaping from the confides of the hibernation period that burdened so many others. The thick blankets of snow impeded scents and footprints, making hunting and catching prey far harder than necessary. But for some, the icy slush mattered not when their keen nose could smell a rabbit from a hundred miles away. Such was the case with the wolves lingering in these very woods.

Ciel was taught by his mother at a young age to avoid wolves at any cost. As natural predators to vulpine kind, he never questioned her on it; it was a wolf that took the life of his father after all, leaving the the fox's mate to care for her last living kit alone. It was by a mixture of memories and instinct that he knew to never trust a wolf. Rachel attentively provided for, protected, and trained her son from that day until her last, passing the spring before he was set to leave the den at sixteen years of age. He was left without a choice but to hunt alone and find his own den, far from the one in which sickness consumed his mother, the stench of death permanently tainting the burrow he once called home. Rabbits were easy prey and berries were more than plentiful, but he missed the fish his mother used to catch for him as a child--feeding him the meat cooked over a handmade fire whilst he braided tiny wildflowers of lavender, gold, and blinding white into her flaxen locks and around her fennec-ears. Though six years had passed, he still left flowers by her grave near the lakeside seven miles away from his hunting grounds every spring. As of now, the lake was frozen solid.

The tod had visited it this evening, finding it to be the area where hares were most commonly found in late December. Rabbits were fine and all, but hares were larger and kept the silver fox full for longer than their smaller counterparts. By some stroke of luck, he caught one near a freshly fallen pile of snow. The woodland creature was quick on its feet, bounding away and underneath snow in an attempt to burrow far from his reach. Though he couldn't catch it in his usual form, he could easily snatch it up when bearing his fully animalistic form.

Grey ears twitched iinquisitively beneath the falling flakes as Ciel began the long journey from his hunting spot to his temporary den. 'It will be time for a new den and nest soon' the hybrid mused to himself, grasping the fluffy white ears of his dinner with now-human hands, wiping blood from his lips and chin with his other palm. Oh, how he missed putting his fangs to good use; most prey he could seize with his claws even with the hands of a mortal. He licked the crimson smudge from the back of his hand and off the pads of his fingers, purring happily at its taste. Delectable. His expression of contentment evaporated once his den was in sight, however, and he immediately became more vigilant. Inhaling deeply in search of strange scents or lurking dangers, alert eyes of aquamarine and moonstone scanned the premises warily. Catching nothing to indicate a threat, his shoulders slumped from their tense posture.

Though the vision in his right eye had been damaged since birth, leaving him with only a sliver of sight remaining in the milky pupil, his hearing more than made up for the impairment. Pulling the cloak crafted from an elk's ashen pelt more tightly around his shoulders, Ciel knelt at the entrance of his den, built within a cave-like structure beneath a tiny hill, partially covered by fallen trees and frozen piles of leaves. It was small, but it was cozy, and more than big enough for his nest once the walls widened passed the entrance. Built of feathers, pine, leaves, and the pelts he'd amassed from his kills, laid his nest in the furthest corner, soft and welcoming after a long day of hunting and mapping out the distant reaches of the woods in which he called home. Its relatively miniscule size and hidden opening also helped to mask the scent of fertility when he became plagued by the week he dreaded most. Hunting became impossible during those times due to both his nest-bound state and the danger of being out in the open with his increased pheromones; it would without a doubt attract unwanted predators with intentions of breeding. His heat would be upon him in just a month and already his natural musk was gaining the faintest twinge of sweetness, proved by the heightened aroma from his wrists.

Groaning when he caught the familiar hints of honey, he dropped his wrist from his nose and retrieved the knife gifted to him by his mother from its place near his nest. Studying it's silver blade and oak carved handle, he wiped traces of dirt from it with the edge of a beige animal skin before deeming it worthy of use. Carrying it along with his still-furry dinner to the patch of dirt outside of his den where the bluenette had piled sticks for a fire, he began to skin the hare, setting aside its pelt to be washed and woven with his growing collection of rabbit furs and thin vines for a new blanket.

His bare knees met the ground, modesty protected by nothing more than a short loin-cloth and the the fur cloak draped over his shoulders and back. Setting aside the skinned mammal, he clicked together two slabs of flint, watching them spark and catch on the thin strips of wood, igniting with a hushed crackle. Sliding his prey onto a spit, he sat back, patiently awaiting his meat to finish cooking. Though he could consume raw meat, he preferred a warmer meal during the cold months to stave off the chill from the icy wonderland surrounding him. The petite male took his time licking and picking the last dredges of dried blood from beneath his claws. He couldn't wait until the spring when he would once again be able to bathe without the ominous threat of freezing to death. How he despised winter... Whereas his arctic counterparts thrived under such conditions, he found no joy in the cold. Gazing towards the barren trees stretching far and wide above his territory, he pulled a small sachel of mixed berries from their resting place, buried in a shallow hole behind a circle of rocks; popping one into his mouth, he chirped happily. Black berries, if he'd remembered the name correctly, were his favourites of the various fruits collected in the white cloth, and he cherished each one he plucked from their bag, the rich and flavorful juice exploding in his mouth with each puncture from his deadly fangs. A perfect meal indeed.

It was the most peaceful evening he'd had the pleasure of enduring in weeks, what with the feeding frenzy other creatures went into in preparation for winter. Now, with half of the forest's beasts hibernating, there wasn't much competition in his division. In fact, he'd yet to see any predators aside from himself. But that was soon to change... Removing his food before it had the opportunity to char, Ciel picked a strip of meat from the brittle bones it incased, chewing thoughtfully. Satisfied with the outcome, he raised it to his lips to tear it straight from the bones with his teeth rather than his claws, slate tail swishing and ears flicking with excitement. Nothing warmed and settled one better than a hot meal by the flickering fireside.

Soon, the hare was picked dry, it's remains cast side for the buzzards to feast on, and the fire smothered out by snow and dust. The moon was high in the partially clouded sky, snow coming to a halt and temperature dropping lower with the setting of the sun. As the gusts of wind grew harsher and the far off cries of coyotes became audible, Ciel left his makeshift camp and huddled into his den. His knife was set aside and his knees pulled to his thin and chilled chest as he wrapped himself in layers of furs, some having belonged to skunks, caribou, and countless other large woodland creatures - some he couldn't even remember by name. While it would be warmer to bear the coat his animal form possessed, it took more energy to shift than it did to remain in his natural form while he rested for the night. He supposed it wouldn't have been as much of an issue keeping his goosebump-riddled flesh heated though. His ears drooped drowsily as his tail curled around his thighs and over the top of his shins, lashes kissing his chilled, cherry cheeks as he began to drift off into dreams of warmer days and the blossoming of spring flowers.

He didn't sleep for long. An unfamiliar entity had invaded his territory, and he could sense it the second the stranger stepped foot near his den, setting off warning sirens inside his head. Bolting up with narrowed eyes and fangs bared, the fox glowered at the entrance of his home, tracing the vague outline of someone roughly four feet away from where his fire had burned. The being's figure was hazy and distorted by the mist claiming the frozen ground, but Ciel could smell him. None of the Earth's natural scents could wash away the heady stench of the man, as he could now see from his silhouette--hips and girth barely covered by a drape of red fur. That coat... It couldn't be...

The crunch of snow could be heard beneath the man's feet, caving in under the weight of heavy steps and melting away with every sliver of heat his body produced. Ciel initially expected the creature to turn away upon finding no scraps left behind or scurrying wildlife; he drew nearer instead. An ebony tail swayed softly as he took languid strides, large, black ears twitching as a sharp inhale and a deep, reverberating purr permeated the air. "Ahh, such a lovely scent... You didn't truly think you could hide from me, did you, little fox?"

Crimson eyes caught beneath the moonlight with an eerie, unnatural glow, as deep as blood and sparkling like the most exquisite of garnets. They were beautiful, dangerous. A pink tongue flicked across canines more knife-like than his own, saliva shining in the same pale blue light that illuminated the snow-white face. Jagged ebony claws scraped over the tree trunk closest to his den, tapping the bark in a maddeningly precise pattern: Scratch, click, click; scratch, click, click.

A shiver crawled up Ciel's spine and his muscles tensed into a defensive stance, a snarl lingering behind tightly grit teeth, patiently waiting to be unleashed. His body was wrapped in an unseen darkness as he shut his eyes, cracking and shifting of bones faintly heard as his creamy skin was replaced by a salt and pepper dusting of slate, white, and black fur; elegant fingers morphing into small paws bearing sharp claws. Calculating eyes stared on as the hybrid opposite of him stopped dead in his tracks, dropping into a low kneel with a dark chuckle falling effortlessly passed his lips; both enchanting and cruel in the same instance. The orbs he once saw from a distance were now directly in front of him, appraising the smaller animal carefully. He didn't seem disappointed in what he saw, unlike the tod who was now glaring with an intense hatred and growling in warning. He wasn't the most powerful of animals in these woods, but he was quick witted and could easily use his claws, his best defense mechanism, to scar those pretty eyes if needed. "How precious. You're ever so tiny, yet you truly believe you can take me, don't you?" The only response he earned was an aggressive yelp, sounding twice as the taller man inched closer. "I see you aren't willing to shift on your own... What a pity, I shall have to assist you then."

Disregarding the fangs snapping wildly at his long fingers, the onyx-tailed creature was faster, the pads of his index and middle finger pressing into the back of Ciel's neck harshly. With the pressure point being prodded so suddenly, he had no chance to cover it, whimpering at the ache as it spread throughout his slowly-transforming body. The moment he was mostly human once more, however, his sharp canines were plunged into his enemy's forearm. The man merely sighed with a put-out expression. "You're not very good at this whole attacking thing, are you? I am twice the height and weight of you, little vixen, you stand no chance." Retracting his fangs from the stranger's person, Ciel cleaned his teeth with a single swipe of the tongue, licking away the crimsom essence as if he were a child eagerly lapping up remnants of sugar from his palm, savouring what little blood be drew with the action. A single brow then twitched in mounting irritation. "You bastard! How dare you cross my territory and touch me without my explicit permission to do so!" Ciel hissed, ears pricking forward and tail tucking betwixt his thighs. "And what audacity you have! You will not call me 'vixen' again if you wish to live, I'm not a female!" Lashing out when the other simply smirked, the bluenette raised his hand as if to strike, only to be hastily apprehended. His thin wrists were caught and imprisoned in a single palm--a warning snarl making him slink back with a whine, ears lowering and bending back in submission.

"Easy now, omega. You wouldn't want to anger a wolf, now would you? They have a nasty habit of taste testing creatures such as yourself, and you do smell rather delicious..." Though Ciel's blood was spiked and boiling with equal parts fear and anger, there was an ounce of reluctant curiosity residing there as well. Though he couldn't place why, this man smelled like Ambrosia to him... But as handsomely sculpted and pleasantly scented as the creature may be, there were three facts the vulpine was sure of that made him sink against back wall of his den with a horrible sense of foreboding: He was a wolf, he was an alpha, and he himself was the prey the wolf had been tracking.

Chapter Text

Being backed into a corner in his own den was not what Ciel considered a good time. The only thought that had crossed his mind since returning home to his own grounds was of his cozy nest. Though giving chase wasn't foreign to the fox, his knees were aching from hunting in the biting wind without warming up first. He deeply regretted not stretching before tackling his meal, even more so now whilst he was tensing already stiff muscles for a possible battle. Damn that wolf for disrupting his rest! "Call me omega one more time and we'll see if you have the parts needed to be considered an alpha by the time you finish speaking. You see, my claws have felt so very dull lately, I would love to sharpen them and your cock seems like it would make a wonderful scratching posts. A bit small, but it shall do." Though he was in no place to be so cocky over his quick wit and obvious threat against a man far more muscular than himself, he smirked, head tilting with a dangerous shine in his eyes. The wolf had the nerve to grin, fangs bared in humor and lips curved in an oddly seductive fashion. How sweet it was that the fox tried to convince himself that his words were fact; He was anything but small. "Just precious. Though I am disappointed that you won't allow me to speak without attempting to maul me first. My name is Sebastian, and I have been tracking you for a week now." The wolf scowled at the memory of the prolonged hunt. He should have found this man within a day of scenting him! In just four hours time, on the first day he came to be familiar with the reynard's scent, he found that the vulpine moved around rather frequently, leaving his scent to grow faint and strengthen in another section of the woods. Coupled with the snow and his hastiness, the small creature wasn't so easy to find. "Your den is tiny, I barely saw the opening, but that is just the way of your kind, I suppose..."

Trailing off, Sebastian's eyes scanned every inch of Ciel's home, taking note of its qualities. It was a tight fit when kneeling, but the ground was soft with pine and it was more than spacious enough for mating if that were to occur. A feral growl was earned when his eyes lingered too long on the other hybrid's nest. He raised his eyes to the narrowed ones opposite of him. The omega was partially blind, but that made no difference to the wolf; The slate-haired man seemed to have no issue navigating with only half of his vision and it in no way dimished his captivating beauty. "I must say, I am relieved to have finally caught you, I was beginning to tire. And now that I have you here... I wish to court you. You're almost in estrus, are you not? It's true that you are tiny, but I suspect when the time comes, you'll have no issue taking my knot. You're a fine specimen, you will make strong pups, lovely ones at that, who will easily be able to survive these harsh winters."

In the summer heat, Ciel's cheeks often took on the dark ruby shade of a ripe apple or a blooming amaryllis --if the heat burning beneath his delicately rounded cheeks was anything to go by, he was blushing far brighter than that as soon as the atrocious creature's voice met his charcoal ears. "You mean to tell me that you followed me here, trespassed on my territory, and disrupted my sleep because you wish to breed...? You alphas are unbelievable! Do you truly think I want to mate with one of your kind? A lowly hound with a quick temper and enough arrogance to waltz in here as if your presence is one to be seen as an honor?" The words hissed from between grit teeth was clearly not what the alpha expected-or wanted- to hear; Obsidian brows drew together, confused and angry, but also impressed. Omega's were known for meekness, yet this one was anything but. He was fiery, personality more befitting of a honey badger than a fox. It was just as well though, what an utterly boring existence it would be if all things were as they looked. It would make this game more interesting at the very least even if he didn't give him consent to stay the night immediately. He would win him over one way or another, whether it required offerings of fresh kills and silken pelts or groveling at his feet as if he were a slave. This omega, whatever his name may be, would be his.

Upon seeing the discontent written across Sebastian's features, Ciel internally preened, 'Good. Let the wolf suffer this defeat and think about what he's done.' But as his luck would have it, that didn't deter Sebastian. If anything, it encouraged him! "You say that now, but given time, I'm positive I could make you change your mind. However, I am surprised that you are without a mate thus far. Though prickly, you've surely attracted the attention of others wishing to take you as a partner?" Scoffing, the tod managed to yank his hands from the no-longer-bruising grip that confined them, sitting down more comfortably while keeping his eyes firmly trained on his unwelcome visitor. A fluffy grey tail with a dove-white tip curled around his waist for extra covering, chin raised in a show of pride. He took Sebastian's moment of thought before speaking as a chance to scrutinize the wolf. He was big, Ciel was certain that the he possessed not a single ounce of fat on his bones, built entirely of lean muscle, and he was tall--easily eclipsing the smaller being's form. Lengthy, toned legs rested mere inches from Ciel's knees, leading him to think that this alpha had never heard of personal space before. He didn't smell of any pack, which meant perhaps he genuinely hadn't had enough social interaction to know of boundaries, but that was no excuse for the warm breath fanning over the younger male's forehead when Sebastian leaned closer.

Ciel scooted further back, taking note of the teasing lilt in the raven-haired man's dulcet tone and the shimmer of mirth parading about in his carnelian eyes. Thin lips twitched happily from beneath the elegantly straight nose. His chest, while beautifully fair and impressively ridged and shaped by years of careful hunting, was not enough to keep Ciel's attention from wondering lower. He was by no means interested in mating with this man, but he would admit his peculiar interest when glancing towards the fur covering what must have been a generous package. Why else would he need that much fur? However, the fiery hue the pelt retained was enough to make him look away with a newfound determination to purge this pest from his home. He should have been more afraid of the wolf, or Sebastian, as he called himself, but he couldn't bring himself to be anything more than annoyed at this point. He was tired, infuriated, and sick of this tedious conversation. He had no need for a mate, especially not this one, and that was final. Throwing a harmless twig at the chest of the other, he snarled. "I don't want a mate. And how do you expect me to trust you while you wear the coat of one of my own? Besides, what makes you think we are compatible to begin with? We're not even of the same species! Go find a mate of your own kind, I have no desire to converse with someone likely to skin me alive at any given moment, much less one who's been stalking me. Now, if you don't mind, I would appreciate it if you leave me alone!"

Fueled by the other's aggression, Sebastian chuckled wryly, "Now, now, is that any way to treat your guest?" Brushing off the useless stick, he sighed fondly. Perhaps he was getting the vulpine too riled up; at this rate, he would have no chance to win the omega's favour before his season. Hell, even a mutual treaty was far from his reach at this point. With time, that could be remedied. "The pelt is not one of your kind. It is indeed a fox coat, but you are not entirely vulpine, so worry not--I have no desire to wear the skin of one with a form not entirely unlike my own. Besides that, I don't want one of my own kind for a mate. Their smell is lacklustre and unappetizing, while yours is tantalizing, enthralling in every sense of the word; You smell like the spring despite the lack of flora and fauna as of now, of strawberry and honey... If it is a question of loyalty deterring you, I can assure you that I plan to take a life mate, not multiple partners or a different omega every season. Consider going on a hunt with me at the very least?" Grinding his teeth, Ciel stared on with an unreadable expression. While the fur had been explained, he was still unwilling to humor this man. Wolves were enemies, using clever words and saccharine promises as a means to lure in their prey. There was no way to guarantee that anything he said was genuine, but he needed a way to get Sebastian away from his hideout, and if false hope would do the trick, he would tell him what he wanted to hear. "If you would leave my den immediately, I shall consider it. But don't expect me to accept simply because you asked."

"Then for now, than is more than enough," Sebastian smiled as if he'd just scored the biggest caribou in the woods for a meal, the tip of a sable tail waving excitedly as he rose to his knees. "I shall leave you be, but don't forget to think over my proposal. You will find that I don't give up easily." With a final glance, the wolf turned to leave, only to stop short before he was to the exit. "But before I leave... Won't you tell me your name, little vixen?"

Indulging his curiosity regardless of the distasteful nickname, the chalcedony-haired male ignored it and nodded hesitantly, "My name is Ciel."

"What a lovely name. Well, until next time, Ciel," A black-clawed hand swooped down before he had a chance to stop it, seizing his left hand in a ginger grip to raise it to the wolf's lips, placing a faint kiss there. Lowering it, he offered a devilish grin, one far too charming for such a dangerous creature to possess, and turned his back on the smaller hybrid. Sebastian disappeared from view, scent gradually fading with the icy breeze outside and with his departure, Ciel's blush and disbelief grew. The last sight he caught before his view was replaced by towering pines and flecks of snow was of the man's rear, shungite tail swaying elegantly betwixt long legs as he walked, his ass far too glorious for it to be in anyway fair. Oh, if only he was something other than a wolf...

Slinking back into his nest once the alpha could no longer be sensed, Ciel curled in on himself, remaining in his more-human form as he shut his eyes and groaned aloud. Great, now he had to be careful to avoid places the wolf may have followed him priorly to keep from seeing the beast again. Closing his eyes, Ciel sighed. Even if he were able to find a new den before his heat, a feat that would be nearly impossible given the short span of time and the hibernating animals occupying said spaces already, the wolf may very well follow him there too. His current home was well-hidden and yet he'd been found, anything less private would seem to Sebastian like spotting a sunflower amongst a field of dirt; It was far too easy.

What was he to do now?

Chapter Text

For the first day in weeks, sunlight parted the clouds. Freshly fallen snow painted every surface, thick and solid despite its wet shimmer. The air hadn't warmed nor did the cold wind abate, remaining frigid regardless of the sun's bright beams. But that did nothing to deter the wolf prowling about the perimeters of his prey's territory, slinking behind trees and rocks, just out of scent's reach. The fox he watched for had yet to leave his den, still sleeping the morning away as if he'd fallen into faux hibernation. Canidae didn't slumber for the entirety of winter, nor did humans, but it seemed that this particular hybrid did.

Obsidian paws sank into the bitterly cold ground with muted crunches, snow breaking beneath his step and polishing his claws with the slick shine the sludge formed. The pads of his paws, while lightly calloused and cushioned, were warm enough to melt thin layers of ice upon meeting them, heat radiating from his body in comfortable waves. As both a wolf and an alpha, he produced more than enough body heat to survive the most biting days without a flinch or shiver, a fact he planned to flaunt should his possible suitor plan to grace him with his presence at any point today.

He would be patient though, he would sit upon the rock he perched on all day if that's what it took for a chance to approach the tod - or Ciel, as he called himself. "Ah, precious vixen, I shall court you until you become as infatuated with me as I have of you, that I swear," Sebastian mused aloud, bones popping and twisting into new yet familiar shapes as majority of his hide receded and his paws melded into fingers and toes. A sharp jaw and elegant nose replaced his onyx snout and the leather-like skin making up his nostrils. However, his excitedly wagging tail and enthusiastically tilted ears remained. Long, muscular legs crossed at the knees whilst he leaned forward to prop his elbow atop his thigh, smirking mouth pressed against a curled fist. His bare calves brushed the edge of the large rock he sat on, overlooking the woods with a quiet hum reverberating from his throat, the tune of a song that his mother had taught him when he was a mere pup. In his opinion, the song was more appropriately sang from the echoing howls of a wolf.

The alpha assumed that he would be waiting for several more hours. Though he was an early riser and a light sleeper, the sky had just now faded from dawn's fiery kiss of red and orange to a calming gradient of blues, marking a semi-normal rising time for the forest's creatures.

With the range of cerulean to sapphire reigning in the skies, the omega retreated from his burrow with a grumpy, lidded-stare and a fang-filled yawn.

Sebastian barely managed to muffle a chortle at the sight; Fully nude save for the short loincloth hiding his most intimate parts, much like the one he himself adorned, and the drape of dust coloured fur swathed around his back in a cape-like fashion, the slate omega looked ready to murder the first thing that came into view, rendering whatever poor, unfortunate creature wandered his grasp limb from limb. If his sharp gaze was anything to go by, he had every intention to and was very capable of doing so.

Stretching out limber arms of a fair milky citrine, his intended gathered a stone-carved bowl from beside the ashes of his previously burning fire and raised it to his lips with a tentative sniff to check for poisons before taking a small sip. His eyes slowly began to blink open without heaviness and the alpha crooned.

He would give him a moment of privacy to carry out his morning ritual before approaching him, he decided, quietly hopping from the stony hill with a bounce in his step. It was time for the courting to begin.

Down below, nimble fingers, no longer clumsy from sleep, were combing through the matted locks of silvery-blue in slow brushes, plucking twigs and pine straw from his silky locks in the reflection of a puddle - the sole patch of water residing due to the embers caressing it for most of night before dying out upon the sun's rising. Deeming it well enough, tangles now missing from mess it had become during his slumber, Ciel raised from his crouch by the water, soft tail flicking contentedly as he pulled forth a knife and tucked it into the holster residing upon the leather strap securing what little clothing he wore. Popping a blackberry in his mouth from the tiny leather bag near his den's entrance, the hybrid turned to begin his trek into the deeper sections of the woods.

Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to approach, Sebastian emerged from the clearing in which he'd hid behind, hip cocked and head tilted, inky tail wagging curiously whilst a small smirk spread across his cherry lips. "Why hello there, vixen~. How are you this fine morning?"

With a spooked jolt, lapis and moonstone eyes shot up to the one possessing the voice in which he'd been startled by, fangs bared in a warning snarl at the eminent danger. His tail, while originally draped to tuck betwixt his thighs, now twitched in irritation, growl receding to be replaced by an agitated curl of the lips. "What are you doing here?"

The wolf practically chirred, not at all put off by the boy's disinterest in his company. Why should he be offended when he could clearly see the painting of raspberry spiraling across those lovely cheeks? Perhaps he wasn't thrilled to be in his presence, but regardless of his thoughts, his body was reacting as he had expected. "Is that anyway to treat a man who has come to invite you on a hunt? You did agree to join me sometime, you know?" Upon catching the tail end of an impending growl, Sebastian hummed his confusion. 'Perhaps blatant teasing and seduction isn't the way to this omega's heart,' Sebastian mused to himself, dark eyes narrowing in a scrutinizing fashion. Sincerity then? "I shall ask again, as it was rather late last night... Lovely little fox, I humbly ask if you would do me the great honor of joining me on a hunt?" His devious smirk melted into a small smile and all Ciel could do was sigh at the forced restraint his current annoyance spoke with.

With a groan, he realized that he could only blame himself. He had agreed, hoping his dismissal would lead the wolf to find another prospective mate, but no, of course he would continue to pursue him; wolves are stubborn creatures. But the man was unrelenting and irritating, refusing to leave until he'd complied with his childish demands. Truly, this hybrid had either never heard the word 'No' before or just didn't care for it! "Fine. But stop it with this overly sweet nonsense you're trying to pull, it's revolting."

As he slunk forward unhappily and pulled his cloak to the side to pluck a twig from its hem, Ciel unintentionally provided the show of the century to the wolf following eagerly, his bare ass left in full view when his tail swished to the left. Sebastian drank it in, unable to stop a purr from forming as his curiosity grew. But, despite his vivacious joy at seeing almost all of this beauty's nude form within a day of officially meeting, Sebastian averted his eyes in a show of respect. The action saved him from frightening the omega as well, as his scent would have undoubtedly spiked into a spiced mess of arousal had he stared any longer. He was such a small creature, and small creatures were often easy to overpower for the sake of one's lust; He had no desire to lead Ciel to believe that he planned to do such things. For while he was an alpha, a wolf at that, he didn't want to harm the one he wished to woo. "You said your name is Sebastian, correct?" Ciel asked suddenly, halting said man in his place.

Sebastian didn't expect him to speak to him, much less without reason; A wave of excitement blossomed in his chest, a feeling so very foreign to the lone wolf. "Yes, that would be me."

"Well, Sebastian, do tell why exactly you want to court me. I have never seen nor smelt your presence until last night, so why are you so interested in me? Have you been stalking me?" He planned to state the fact that it was foolish to choose another species when surely there were more wolf-hybrids to be found, but taking into account his own predicament, he chose to keep his lips sealed. He was the last of his kind, for all he knew, Sebastian could be too. Trailing off, he caught a source of movement from his peripheral vision, stilling when the unknown creature flashed within his sights once more. With a deep inhale, the boy's perceptive eyes narrowed dangerously, a low noise hummed from his throat as he glanced over his shoulder at his hunting partner. "Something is nearby."

Sebastian nodded, having sensed it and taken to silently tracking it with his eyes. "Indeed, possibly a hare." Rather than continuing to follow the scent of the fox's unfortunate prey, he settled his sights on his own.

Dumortierite ears tipped back in focus, tail twitching softly as he breathed in deeply. "This way," He whispered, taking a careful step to the left, avoiding the dead leaves in his path that would without a doubt crunch beneath his toes.

Sebastian followed suit, smiling at the gentle twitch of Ciel's nose, watching it scrunch up in confusion when twining aromas filled his senses. The wolf's head jerked up, eyes flying away from where they were mesmerized by the white-tipped tail that had gone dead still. "That's not just a hare," Sebastian noted, noticing the tiny white being scurrying off behind them. The hare was gone, but what did it leave in its wake?

Watching the umber limb of a young pine tilt to the left beneath the pressure pushing up from below it, a charcoal hoof came into view, bringing with it a thin mud-hued leg, the thick fur bearing a fine dusting of snow. "An elk," Ciel mused, inhaling with a pleased sigh. It had been months since he'd found prey so large. "Care to test your skills or would you prefer to watch?" While the tod's words were spoken with a teasing lilt, his eyes lit up in challenge. Though a challenge of his capabilities or willingness to work together, the wolf was unsure.

Sebastian, of course, accepted. He would prove to this omega that he was willing to provide and defend. "Shall I bring up the rear or would you prefer that I focus on yours instead?" He trilled, unable to restrain himself from the flirting that would have surely gotten him punched in the face had he not dodged the vulpine's lunge fast enough.

"You idiotic mutt! I don't know why I'm dealing with you," Ciel said, his tone hardly suited to their need for stealth. A growl echoed in his throat while a blush on his cheeks; All Sebastian could do was grin. "Follow me, dog, and don't mess this up," The smaller male hissed, sauntering passed the wolf to get a closer view at the larger animal.

Eyes of cerulean and helleborus gauged the cervus' movement closely, watching its large snout brush aside leaves and snow in a futile attempt at scouting out the winter berries smushed beneath. Gesturing Sebastian closer with a wave of his hand, he pointed to their meal with a steady hand. He had no fear of the creature significantly more powerful than either of them, a fact that the alpha found most shocking and enticing.

The fox was proud and determined, unwilling to back down from the thrill of the hunt and all the wolf could do was follow him like a lovestruck fool. As the smoky locks glided over the back of Ciel's nape when he leaned to peek around the tree separating them from the hooved-beast, Sebastian inhaled keenly, enthralled by the languid way it dragged across the boy's moonlit skin. Though he was meant to be focusing on their mutual prey, he couldn't seem to tear his hungry gaze from the lovely being whom he intended to impress with his hunting skills.

He didn't protest to the derogatory name he was give, in fact, he was proud of it; He was not only being addressed, but given a pet name as well, that must mean he was gaining favor. After all, dear friends and lovers are often the sole people to receive an affectionate title!

He was pulled from his thoughts whenever Ciel spoke, eyes no longed locked on the elk's chipping antlers. "How about this? I could go in on the left side - they have a blind spot there small enough for me to hide in if I shift. You can go in from the back on its right side and we can trap it between us. If we attack at the same time, we should be able to bring it down. With all the trees so close together on the right and us surrounding its hind and left, it would only be able to escape to the front. Considering that there is nothing but an icy lake ahead of it, and its feet could never find purchase with it being so slick, it won't try to go that way."

Remaining silent, he rolled the plan of attack over in his mind, approving greatly of the fox's well-thought out strategy. "Yes, that should work perfectly, and if we go for the neck, we shouldn't have to worry about it escaping. Would you like to do the honors?"

Witnessing the wolf's neutral smirk shift into one of self-amusement, Ciel frowned and stomped behind the other side of the wide trunk.

A thick, sandy brown cloak smacked Sebastian head-on seconds later alongside a significantly smaller strip of white pelage that heavily bore the omega's sugar-sweet scent. His aroma was that of spring; Flowers and rain, pears and honey. That's when his finger slid across the thin woven vine connected to the edges to keep it securely in place. The rabbit pelt he wore to keep his modesty from the the view of other wandering creatures. With a deep, rumbling thrum, Sebastian couldn't bring himself to drop it; Instead, he brought it to his face beside the cape, breathing in the musky scent with lidded eyes. The little thing must have scent glands in his thighs. Absolute perfection... A rabid growl had him dropping the apparel in an instant, ignoring the puddle it fell into while his smile faded and his head jerked down to the source of noise.

Their body heat must have melted the mound of snow they stood upon as the temperature surely remained at its steadily declining rate.

Glistening fangs were bared in warning and Ciel's sable claws scratched aggressively at the ice beneath their feet, proving that he was by no means playing around.

Having been so thoroughly distracted, it seemed to slip his mind that the other hybrid had disappeared to shift into his full animal form.

Rubbing the back of his neck nervously, an emotion Sebastian was positive he'd felt only once before in his lifetime, he bowed his head in apology as cherry rose to his cheeks, unable to derive much enjoyment from the muted threat he received. He'd never done anything like that before and was unsure of how to respond to being caught doing so by the very being he courted. If he was doing such things out of instinct alone now, he was already in too deep to turn tail and find a more willing, though significantly less appealing, omega. He wanted Ciel before, but he was positively ravenous for him now. The tod was slowly driving all rational sense from his mind in favour of more possessive and lustful thoughts. But the magma smoldering in his intended's eyes didn't bode well for him. He would have to repent, grovel on the very ground the omega stood, and plea for his forgiveness. Even if he did manage to convince Ciel to let him mount him in the end, he would have to be careful to keep himself in-line in the mean time. That just had to happen when he was trying to gain the omega's trust... Damn it all!

"Ciel, I'm so sorry for that... I assure you it wasn't on purpose and it won't happen again," Sebastian promised, hesitantly meeting the fiery, mismatched eyes narrowed on his form with a venomous glare. In an attempt to ease the quick-tempered boy, his tone bled into one of polite reverence rather than flirtation. It was unnatural to say the least, to speak with pure intention and a lack of sarcasm or jibes, but it was necessary. By some miracle, the words felt smooth and unforced when they flowed from his lips like a graceful lullaby. He found that despite his reluctance in surrendering his pride and metaphorically bearing his throat to the pissed off fox, he meant every word he said. "Ah... If I may say so, your form is the most bewitching I've ever laid eyes on. I have seen red foxes in the past as well as a few grey ones, but I have never laid eyes on one of your colouring. And with such fine claws, I'm sure you make a divine hunter. I'm keen to see what they can do if we may put this behind us for the time being? I swear to you that I won't dishonor you in such a way again."

The rage in Ciel's expression dimmed a fraction, lip dropping to mask his fangs while his eyes returned to a neutral stare. His tail still swished in agitation, though he swore he could hear a faint croon whined from his throat in response to the compliment.

Or perhaps it wasn't the flattery he appreciated, but the sight of the wolf blushing and stammering out quick witted apologies for his forgiveness; To see all self-satisfaction replaced by the same embarassment the man's constant suggestive comments made him feel.

A short series of hushed yips were ushered from the animal's throat, sounds Sebastian assumed were the natural language of his kind. As a wolf, he possessed a differing mother tongue and was unable to fully understand the pattern of growls and yowls Ciel made, but luckily, he was able to piece together some semblance of what he wanted by his lingering stare towards their grazing prey and the thin pink tongue swiping across his teeth. "Just give me a moment and we shall take position."

He had no qualms about Ciel seeing him as he was, he was unashamed and far from shy about exposing his body to a potential suitor, but after his last stunt, he felt that it would be best to falsify some sense of proprietary for the other's sake.

Slinking behind the tree Ciel previously occupied he eagerly shed his coverings and draped them from a low hanging branch, catching his prey's disgruntled groan as he dragged his soaked cloak from where it laid in the slush. Managing to brush his fingers over the soft beige pelt without stepping from behind the pine, he gave a faint tug to encourage the fox to drop the drenched fabric, chuckling at how put out the smaller animal looked when he draped it over a higher tree limb aside his own. "Don't worry, it will dry once it's near the fire later."

The clicking and shifting of bones and the audible rustling of fur had the omega's ears perking up in utmost curiousity, sleek tail twitching with interest when a coat of vantablack filled his vision. Sebastian was antagonizing at best when in his human form; He didn't seem to know when to stop talking. It was something Ciel found hard to ignore when being woken from his slumber by an alpha simply because he had nocturnal tendencies and couldn't approach, in a less offputting way, during the day.

But he was beautiful nonetheless. Made up of lean muscles, long legs, midnight locks, a tantalizing gaze, and strangely alluring fingers. He was reluctant to admit it, but as infuriating as they were, the wolf's jibes and attempts at persuading him to give him a chance were beginning to grow on him. In this body, he found that the man lost none of his charming appearance despite his massive claws and intimidating fangs--much larger than the ones he bore in the form he previously possessed. 'His paws are rather large,' He mused to himself, tilting his head as he appraised the other.

He was a fine specimen whether covered in thick fell or a fine layer of downy hairs across velvety skin. Both of his physiques were a fair bit larger than his own, but he seemed docile enough for the time being for him to relax in his prescence, though he was always prepared to defend himself should the canis turn on him in hopes of a quick meal rather than courting a prospective mate. His handsomeness didn't mean he was going to go easy on him though. If he wanted a shot, he would have to give him a damn good reason to allow him one.

Sebastian peered down at Ciel inquisitively when the fox's gaze become locked on his tail, wagging it placidly to both delight him further and regain his attention, preferably on his face this time.

The elk was moving further away and if they wasted anymore time, as loathe as he was to admit it a waste when it could earn him favour, it would be difficult to catch should they let it slip from the enclosed area it had cornered itself in.

Effectively snapped back from his spellbound state, Ciel huffed vaguely, offering a final glance to Sebastian's cranberry eyes before skulking away from the wooden barrier residing betwixt the pair and their dinner.

His footfalls were close to silent when he stepped atop the frozen ground ahead of him, no crunching of snow to be heard as the balanced atop it with delicate paws. Unlike in his human form, he was stealthy enough to lurk unnoticed alongside the horned beast, halting beside its left flank whilst watching Sebastian beneath it's abdomen.

The wolf crept toward it slowly, looking the part of the dangerous predator he was as he closed in on it with sanguine eyes dark with sharp focus and uninhibited deadly intent. As he came to stand two feet from the magnificent creature that would provide a feast worthy for a king, Ciel gave him the signal to strike with a swish of his tail. Bowing his head in understanding and respect for his co-hunter, he lunged at the unsuspecting elk's right hind leg without mercy, catching Ciel's stare as he himself pounced at the creature's throat.

Impressed at the height of such a small being's pounce, Sebastian was unable to tear his eyes from the majestic sight as he sank his fangs into the bony ankle of the larger mammal, sending it limping backwards in a vain attempt to kick him away.

While Sebastian easily dodged the flailing hooves, Ciel took advantage of his slight stature to avoid the curled antlers attempting to swat him off and clamped down on the base of its neck, blood dripping from his fangs and claws as the elk collapsed to the ground, the sound of tearing flesh ending the hunt as the poor creature went limp.

The alpha released his hold on the elk's leg and stepped back, admiring their handy work while Ciel momentarily disappeared from sight.

He returned with his wet apparel draped around narrow human shoulders, a faint tremor running through his limbs at the biting temperature mixed with the damp cloak. Blood stained his porcelain skin from lips to chest, fingers slick with the same amaranth being swiped away by his tongue.

The sight had Sebastian frozen in place, eyes wide and mouth gaping in what he hoped the omega would take for a pant for breath rather than a tell-tale sign of his stunned state. He must look like a simple mutt as he was--hopelessly enchanted by the sight of the slighter hybrid covered in the life essence of his prey; Fierce and strong as if he himself carried the blood of royalty or title of alpha.

Upon catching Sebastian's prolonged stare, Ciel smirked, feeling oddly smug about the man's attention being on him rather than their prize. He was... Flattered? How strange considering how irritated he usually was under the wolf's scrutinous gawking.

Whenever the other hybrid's eyes dropped to where his covering had begun to gape above his sternum though, his cheeks flushed as vibrantly as a poppy and he quickly jerked the heavy material to cover himself fully. "Hey! Stop staring at me and shift already so we can drag this damn thing back to my den! It's freezing and I want to cook my half of it!" Clearing his throat, he crossed his shivering arms over his chest to preserve warmth and to keep his accoutre in place and avoid unintentionally putting himself on exhibit again.

Reluctantly, Sebastian obeyed and tore his eyes from the sight before him, sulking his way to where his own clothing hung in wait. After checking that it was tied securely, he approached the omega once more.

"Which end shall I grab?" Ciel asked and gestured to the cervae, hitching his furs to settle more snugly around his shoulders, when said man merely bypassed him.

"There's no need for you to grab anything. Not yet anyways," Sebastian muttered with a chuckle, not missing the groan he got in return. "It would be too much trouble to carry it, I can drag it behind me." Reaching into the small pouch hooked to the ties of his cloak, Sebastian pulled forth thick vines he had collected in the warmer season and bound the elk's back hooves together, grabbing onto them to tug the mighty beast behind them as they walked. "There we go, much easier."

Allowing Ciel to lead the way, Sebastian trailed behind him in a serene silence. It wasn't filled with tension or anger, it was the sort of silence one hears upon falling asleep at night or gathering small fruits and nuts in the early hours of dawn while many of the other woodland creatures were still at rest.

Even the fox was calm, stepping over fallen branches and thick piles of glistening snow without a sigh or complaint. However, the alpha was troubled over his shaking.

The pelt he wrapped himself in must have been freezing from being submerged in the gelid water. He opened his mouth to question the omega on it before shutting it quickly. Of course, he would never admit to being cold if asked; It wasn't in the finicky little thing's nature.

Untying his own covering with his free hand, he swiped it from his back and swiftly tugged Ciel's from around his lithe frame. The boy's indignant yelp fell on deaf ears and Sebastian ignored his flailing in an attempt to reclaim his shield from the wolf's amorous gaze. Hastily draping his own protection from the chill over the omega, Sebastian momentarily dropped the elk to tie the string beneath his collar before he had a chance to protest. He smiled gleefully at the way it swallowed the slight creature. "You will fall ill if you stay in wet clothing for too long and you hardly have any body heat to spare given your size. Please borrow mine for the time being; I'm quite used to the winter air."

With claret creeping from ear to ear, Ciel glared over his shoulder at the wolf as he regathered their supper, "Must you be so obnoxious? I was perfectly fine. But if you insist on being useful then feel free to carry my coat as well." Though Sebastian was already holding his own apparel and he was unable to throw it at said man, he thought his words would make his point.

All it did was make the wolf grin deviously.

Such spirited prey he chose. He could easily see the tod's blush and his eyes falling shut when he inhaled deeply, unsubtle despite his ignorance to the watchful eyes upon his profile when he curled the shungite fur around him completely, leaving no room for the wintry breeze to reach his person.

Ah, so his scent did effect the recalcitrant omega.

By the time they arrived at the campsite in front of Ciel's den, the flush had faded from his cheeks and he had unashamedly kept Sebastian's furs close to his nose for the entire walk back. It seemed he was slipping as the hours wore on, becoming too lax with his reactions in front of the alpha. It was time to reel them in, but he couldn't bring himself to believe that dropping the feather-soft fur from his arms and torso was worth it. It was far warmer than his own cloak and carried an aroma much more pleasant.

The sun was beginning to fall, showing just how far they had travelled in their hunt. The moon seemed to rise earlier in the winter months as it was, but if the mild aching in his legs was anything to go by, they'd walked far passed the lake he frequently caught hares near. His muscles were going to punish him for that in the morning.

The elk was discarded near the pit Ciel dug for his fire and his cape was slung carefully over the low-hanging branch of a nearby tree. When he reached to remove the alpha's own clothing, he was stopped by a surprisingly gentle hand.

"You can leave it on for now if you'd like to."

No more had to be said for Ciel to make his decision, it was too late to pretend that he didn't like the blackberry-pine scent and heat it radiated when fully ensconcing his small frame. "Very well, but only because mine needs to dry sufficiently."

Ignoring the quiet laugh his claim received, the vulpine knelt on the ground to start a fire, building up the pieces of wood he'd priorly gathered near the small pit. Stacking them in a way that they resembled the outline of a tent, he gathered two pieces of flint from the pile of pine needles he started to collect in preparation for his nest. Clicking them together at a fast pace, he watched as sparks flew from their center to the oak wood and dried leaves beneath. A fire awakened from the heart of the shallow crater, fanned by the satisfied puff of air the boy released. While he was building it up to become large enough for both his guest and himself, Sebastian set about carving the meat with a sharp and precise claw.

Sebastian preferred his dinner fresh, raw and bloodied as proof of his claws' claim, but he understood Ciel's desire for cooked meat.

With a naturally lower body temperature, more measures had to be taken for omegas to stay warm, especially considering his species. An alpha of Ciel's kind would still have a lower tolerance for brisk temperatures than one of his own brethren due to their lessened muscle mass.

Besides that, the flavour of cooked fowl and deer was vastly different from their taste when eaten rare, it wouldn't come as any great shock if Ciel simply liked his better cooked.

He sliced the meat with practised movements, at ease while separating the meat and easily impaling Ciel's half of the cut with a spit that he then placed over the fire.

"I could have done that myself," Ciel grumbled, spreading a small portion of the pine needles on the ground for them to sit more comfortably while watching the meat cook.

Sebastian only smiled and sat down, patiently waiting until Ciel's dinner was ready before indulging in his own. Instead of speaking of the hunt or methods of tracking, he chose to make an attempt at getting to know the enigma perched beside him instead.

"What do you enjoy doing whenever you're not hunting?" Sebaatian asked, staring into the glowing embers of the flickering flames. He then turned to peer at the man beside him, admiring the way the comforting golden glow illuminated his soft and supple flesh, casting a faux sunlight over his moonlit complexion.

The way Ciel's nose flared to the smell of the fire's smoke and the manner in which he chewed his lip while transfixed on the progress of his cooking meal had Sebastian biting his tongue to repress a coo. He looked so regal this way, legs crossed elegantly and shoulders held proud, his back straight and his dumortierite ears pricked forward in silent excitement.

Finding only seriousness in the man's query, Ciel was more than willing to humor him. "I like to go for swims in the summer, when the snow has melted and the roses are in bloom. The pond is rather nice when it's warm and the fireflies blend with the stars at night. There isn't much to do in the winter, but I do enjoy carving. I have carved many of the trees around us though it is hard to see at night."

Looking up to see the trunk nearest to them, Sebastian caught the thin outline of what looked to be a woman. Her ears were large, and despite the lack of pigment to her skin of bark, her smile was wide. His smile dropped. Was this... A lover? Had he been mistaken in scenting the omega as unmated?

"That sounds lovely. I haven't been to any ponds in awhile, but I'm fond of bathing in the stream on occasion," The alpha muttered absentmindedly, knawing at the inside of his cheek in consternation.

Had he been courting an omega already claimed? No, surely not! His scent bore no traces of an alpha, much less a true vixen. Then who had he drawn? The details were too meticulous to be an unnamed figure...

Taking note of the canine's tense posture, pinned back ears, and the way his eyes locked onto one of his chiseled drawings, Ciel chuckled. No words had to be spoken for him to smell and instantly recognize the pungent miasma obtrusively seeping from the man's scent glands; He all but reeked of jealousy. The situation somehow pleased him. No one had ever fawned over him this way.

"She's my mother," Ciel spoke suddenly and without agitation, gesturing to the drawing in question. "My father is on the other side of it, or what I remember of him anyways."

Sebastian jolted when the fox spoke, embarrassed at his lapse in appearance as he attempted to reel in his proof of worry. He brushed it off when his scent returned to a neutral one and Ciel showed no vexation. He then cleared his throat. "She looks lovely, I'm sure you did an excellent job at capturing her appearance. I can see that beauty runs in the family,"

As lame as the line was, it made Ciel smile. So Sebastian did have a few lines tucked beneath his cloak? Interesting. "Ah, thank you for that. She was a wonderful woman. Fierce, but as kind as could be. She did all she could to take care of me when I was young. Her hunting skills were at levels that even I could never hope to match. Whereas I could catch three salmon on a good morning, she could catch an entire basket full--it was quite extraordinary." Upon realizing that he was rambling, Ciel stopped with a small apologetic grin painting his lips, the first truly joyous expression Sebastian had seem directed at him since they met.

But as quickly as the spell was cast, it was broken twice as fast. "I apologize for going on. Tell me, what is it that you do when you aren't being a pervert and stalking people while they're trying to sleep?"

Sebastian chortled at that and watched as Ciel delicately raised his warmed elk meat from the spit it resided on. "Cruel as ever, I see. And to think, I thought we were bonding..." Sebastian sighed dramatically, satisfied when the boy's amusement seemed to grow.

With a derisive snort, Ciel shook his head. "How horrible of me, yet somehow I think that you'll live."

"Be that as it may, I will be forever wounded... But as for your question, I must admit that I like to sing. My sister sang to me a lot when I was a pup and I suppose I picked up on it after awhile. It could be a natural tendency considering that howls can sometimes be songs, but no matter the cause, it is a relaxing way to pass the time." Sebastian finally lifted a piece of his dinner to his lips, moaning quietly as it met his tongue and was torn by his fangs.

With his own fingers working to pick off slightly smaller pieces of elk than the wolf currently devoured, Ciel raised a slim brow. "Is that so? I must say, I wouldn't take you for one who enjoys melodies. I am interested to know what you sound like someday though."

Those words alone sent sparks of hope coursing through the alpha's chest. 'Someday', kept echoing throughout his head as they fell into silence and shared their dinner, finishing it off with a couple of stray berries Ciel had collected in a bowl.

He wished to stay longer, to talk to the omega for the entire night and learn more about him, to share his own stories and tease him further. The evening had gone splendidly, and while he did have the desire to converse with him more, Ciel's eyes were growing heavy and his words were faintly slurred by sleep. The fire was dying out and he was beginning to quiver from the night air blowing beneath the waxing moon. Sebastian took that as his cue to leave.

"Our hunt went splendidly, Ciel. I haven't felt this full or entertained in ages. I'm afraid I've stayed too long though, I didn't intend to keep you up so late. But... Tomorrow night, would you be at all interested in joining me again?" Sebastian waited in anxious anticipation, tail flicking in longing while his ears twitched like a bunny's tail to match the excited movements.

Unable to withhold a snort, Ciel watched in regale as Sebastian's eyes lit up like a kit begging his dam and sire for a new fur. As annoying as the sensation was, he was strangely beguiled by this alpha. If all fell through, he would at the very least have an escape fron his boredom for a few days... "I guess it would do no harm, but only for a little while. I find that I am exhausted after today."

Sebastian stood after a brief stretch and leaned down to take Ciel's mildly calloused left hand in his own, placing a ginger kiss atop his knuckles before lowering it just as gently. "That's understandable. Now then, I shall leave you be and wait so very impatiently for tomorrow night. If I'm lucky, I may just get to see that lovely little ass of yours again tomorrow..." Slipping from the reach of the clawed hand desperately trying to get revenge with a harsh slap to his wrist, the smug bastard simply grinned a sharp smile and waved over his shoulder as he turned and gave Ciel a nice view of his departing form. Hearing the boy's cry of, "Wait? What do you mean again!?"

With a peeved groan, Ciel snuffed out the remnants of his fire with snow and dirt, glaring over his shoulder at the sashaying tail as Sebastian began to fade into the darkness. 'That man is insufferable. But oddly... Attractive?'

"Goodnight, Ciel. Sleep tight, don't let the werewolves bite."

No, infuriating. Definitely infuriating.

Chapter Text

Sebastian had spent the entire night anxiously awaiting sunrise. Tomorrow would be the day he would entice Ciel to let him share estrus with him, he just knew it! He could prove that he was resilient and as capable of care as any other if it took all of his energy and the entire night to do so. He'd spent the entire day on another hunt with Ciel after their splendid dinner two days ago, and had made plans for the following day as well, only this time they were to visit the lake to attempt some ice fishing.

The little tod was drawing nearer to his season whether he realized it yet or not, and the wolf's composure was slipping further from his hold as his sweet scent grew more pungent and alluring; It was as if his pale skin was bathed in honey. The boy's hips now swayed seductively when he walked and the irritated sounds he often made in the back of his throat were beginning to transform into something more animal--wanton. All of it was a tale-tell sign of his impending heat, and each made Sebastian's nervousness and intrigue increase tenfold. He was eager to see what the next subtle change would be and savoured the ones already happening, but he feared that his timeframe to gain Ciel's consent to mount him was growing more slim.

He hardly slept a wink that night, but for the few hours he managed to stay beneath the heavy blanket of slumber, he dreamt of summer days and sapphire eyes, violet bluebells and tiny swaying tails of curious pups. It was an odd thing to imagine to say the least, he often didn't dream, but the few times he did, it was of his long lost littermates or past hunts. But he didn't question the recollection of his nightly images when as he rose slightly later than usual, the blessed sun of the prior day now nowhere to be seen when he made his way from his den on the hill.

It was significantly larger than Ciel's, but he found it far less comfortable than the omega's; Though that could have been due to the vulpine's absence. He still had a while to kill until he was to meet Ciel, proved by the snow-muted daylight that was still yet to fully brighten, and so he took that time to sit near a hastily built fire and ponder what gifts may please Ciel. It was tradition in his family's pack to give the one you are courting a treasure of sorts, after all. He simply needed to figure out what the omega liked. That couldn't be too hard... Right?

Flowers were always a safe gift, every creature held some level of appreciation for blooms whether it be for the sight, scent, or taste, but apart from the toxic helleborus, he didn't have many options to work with there. Besides, Ciel could be allergic to them for all he knew. Despite his affinity for tracking prey and efficiently bringing powerful beasts to their knees, his body seemed rather frail; That was something that often caused hybrids to be more susceptible to illness and ailments.

A hare could also be seen as an acceptable token of appreciation, but it could be taken the wrong way by one so very headstrong; He didn't want Ciel to think that his offering was one insinuating that he was a more adept hunter than the omega - which both knew simply wasn't true given their matched skillset and distinctive strengths during hunts.

So what did that leave? A diadem of leaves wouldn't do given the fact that all were brown and mulched at this point in the season, and berries were something far too easy to gather by oneself. There was nothing unique or flattering about a lacklustre gift nor a basic snack.

With a sigh, Sebastian stood and began to pace while searching the dreary landscape surrounding him in an attempt to spot any useful objects or materials hiding in plain sight. He just so happened to catch an ivory glimpse from his peripheral vision when he was close to giving up and resigning to an unproductive morning, his attention drawn to the narrow materials residing near the stump opposite of the dying fire.

He strode closer to the stark contrast against the dark twigs and heavy wood, the delicate antlers of the elk from their hunt shining like a saving grace beneath the bright white sky. He'd harvested them after all meat was picked from the creature's bones and as he raised his forefinger to his chin in thought, he was forever grateful that he brought them home.

Bone could be melded and etched into many forms, practical yet beautiful if crafted correctly. It would not only prove his dedication and show his interest was genuine, but also aid Ciel in small yet useful ways if he chose the right trinket to create.

A dagger would make for a fine gift. He seemed to use his claws for many things more suited to a carving blade and had seen him huff in irritation the night before upon catching his knee with the jagged edge of one. The image that briefly flashed in his mind had him tossing aside the idea without hesitation, however. There was a fine dagger already laying near the entrance to his den--one far more exquisite than what he could ever hope to hewn from a cervae rack.

Sable ears twitched curiously while the wolf gathered one of the pale horns, trailing his sharp claws over the faint ridges decorating their length. It would normally take him a day to carve something intricate from them, but given how keen he was to present the little fox with a gift today, he could surely hurry it along so long as the design wasn't too complicated!

With a spark of inspiration, he remembered that the tie on the cloak Ciel wore yesterday was wearing dangerously thin and ragged... It wouldn't hold together much longer without repair, but if he had a clasp in its place, he would never have to patch it up again or rely on the thin vines that easily came undone.

He quickly snapped the upper left tip off of the antler he held and plopped down on the snowy ground without a smidge of his usual grace, his knife in hand and a great patience settling in his chest. He had plently of time to work before he needed to leave.

By the time he was finished with the item he planned to bestow upon his intended, Sebastian felt like crawling back into his den and sleeping for the rest of the day. When he'd finished sculpting the bone into the fine silhouette of a Japanese Maple leaf and etching its midrib and veins with deadly precision, he could only sigh in relief as he balanced it atop his palm. He studied it closely in search for imperfections, smiling proudly when he found none in the ivory trinket. After checking that its bottom half could snap around fur without breaking or failing to hold it in place, he stood with a prolonged stretch to relieve his stiff legs.

Though difficult to make out the time with the clouds masking the sun, he assumed it was nearing the hour to meet with the lovely tod. The thought put a bounce in his step and a fang-filled grin on his face, his tail wagging excitedly behind him as he wrapped the charm in velvet scraped from the spare antler. Leaves and snow crunched carelessly beneath his toes as he practically bounded through the woods, the precious cargo grasped securely in his palm. His cheeks were glowing, alight with a radiant blush as his anticipation mounted. He hoped Ciel would like his offering and that he would put it to good use. If it pleased the fox enough for him to show even the tiniest of smiles, Sebastian would make him a hundred more if he desired, if only to see joy sparking in his captivating eyes. Such lovely pups they could have! Little white-tipped ears and sapphire eyes, soft hair and the cutest pouts to match their mother. He knew he was getting ahead of himself, Ciel hadn't so much as tried to scent him despite his increasingly flirtatious behavior, but if he did...

His thoughts were halted when he reached the incline overlooking Ciel's territory. As he carefully descended the hill, he decided to greet him as pleasantly as possible instead of teasing him relentlessly today. He wouldn't pretend to be a saint, it was in his best interest to show who he truly was instead of sugarcoating it as if all of his intentions were as pure as the freshly fallen snow, but he would use his natural charm today rather than sly comments unless the omega made any sign that he preferred otherwise.

The brightness in his eyes dimmed upon reaching the space where they had dined the night before. How strange... It looked to be nearly noon, meaning he was most likely late himself, and yet Ciel was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the area slowly, taking note of every tree and footprint in sight to see if there was any possibility that the vulpine was pranking him or that he'd left in search of him when he arrived late. But he couldn't see a single foot or pawprint other than his own and there was no trace of a slate tail or sneaky omega anywhere in sight. Perhaps he chose to stay inside his burrow because of increased amount of snow and plummeting temperatures? His scent was still heavy in the air, but it seemed different somehow, twisted and sour, and so utterly unlike yesterday. The wolf dared to venture closer to the fox's den where majority of his tampered scent was emitting from, confusion coiling in his chest when he heard a strained moan. Surely he wasn't going into heat already?

When Sebastian arrived at Ciel's den, he saw the omega still burrowed inside, but something was wrong. He was unmoving save for the harsh breaths leaving his lips, cheeks flushed red and ears laying flat atop his head. The cold was not making him reluctant to leave his warm nest, he was sick. "Vixen?" Sebastian ventured into the small enclosed space hesitantly, nose immediately met with the pungent miasma of illness. How had he missed this? He'd seen the boy's fatigue yesterday; He was slow moving all throughout the day and his mood dreary, eyes missing their determined gleam and lips bare of that cocky smirk whenever Sebastian made a fool of himself tripping over a root whilst attempting to show off. He was clearly lacking focus and energy, but Sebastian had chalked that up to a lack of proper rest--It wasn't uncommon to have trouble getting comfortable at night upon occasion. But seeing him now, fevered and suffering, he couldn't help but blame himself for not calling off their hunt as soon as he noticed Ciel's uncharacteristic silence.

With more gentleness than he thought he could ever muster, he delicately brushed aside Ciel's sweaty bangs and laid the back of his hand upon his forehead. He was burning up. "Shit..." Patting the fox's cheeks, Sebastian encouraged him to wake, shift, or to simply make a sound so that he knew he was capable of regaining consciousness, but when said man did none of those things, the wolf felt panic well in his chest for the first time since he was a tiny pup. "Ciel, please wake up..." He murmured, leaning closer in hopes that the fox would catch his scent and awaken, but as before, he remained as still as stone.

Fangs sank anxiously into the wolf's bottom lip, a pin-prick of blood beading beneath the pearly whites as he absentmindedly crushed a leaf beneath his hand, fingers unsteady with his worry. Wheareas Ciel was strong in mind and a rather resilient hunter as well, was his body as capable of handling and dealing with illness as a larger being would be? Even for a fox, an omega at that, he was rather small... Before full realization of how dire this situatuon may be was able to sink in, he snapped out of his stunned inaction and sat back on his knees. He needed to help him. 'Breathe, Sebastian,' He thought to himself, inhaling deeply to clear his mind of the whirwind of thoughts threatening to swallow him whole. "He's overheated. I just need to get his temperature down, that should be simple enough."

Standing once he was outside of Ciel's burrow with limbs faintly trembling from nerves, Sebastian untied the small satchel from where he'd secured it to his cloak's closure, opening it to reveal the sweet berries they'd picked together a day prior. The leather pouch was the last thing his sister made him before her disappearance, but that mattered not now. Ciel needed it worse than he did at the moment. He emptied the berries into a small, wood-carved bowl he found near the stump where Ciel usually sat whilst he built a fire, he then filled the bag with packed snow, checking that its coldness could be felt through the thick material in which it was hewn from. Satisfied when it cooled against his palm without growing heavy with its contents, he returned to the omega's side and slowly placed it upon his forehead. When he woke, he would have to find a way to get him to eat as he was sure to refuse food in this state. Pulling the heavy furs he used as blankets closer to the omega's chin, he sighed and leaned against the wall behind him, keeping a close eye on the tod as he slept. Ciel was okay, he had to be.

The sky had darkened considerably by the time Sebastian heard the den's main occupant groan, his ears twitching uncomfortably atop his head and his tail curling under as his eyes opened slowly. The snow inside the compress had metled and had to be replaced four times since he first applied it at the peak of evening, but he didn't mind in the slightest. The little fox was worth it.

As he watched the orbs of azure and hazy violet blink slowly, Sebastian moved quietly to avoid startling the disoriented man. "I'm glad to see that you're awake, vixen." He crooned softly, adding the nickname as a means of both notifying him that it was only he who welcomed himself into his den as well as testing how well he really was in case he fibbed; Ciel was ever so fond of lying while making Sebastian swear not to do the same. He frowned when he received no complaint on the title Ciel despised on any other day. He truly did feel as awful as he appeared.

The smaller hybrid sluggishly propped himself up on his elbows, a hand near his hair catching the satchel of snow before it had a chance to slip onto the arm of the ailing tod. Ciel looked over his shoulder with wrinkled brows, confused to find Sebastian readjusting a blanket swathed around feathers beneath his head. Is that what was cradling his head ever so tenderly as he rested? "Sebastian...? What are you doing here?" He asked weakly, nuzzling back against the plush makeshift-cushion. He was exhausted.

"I came to see why you didn't show up this morning and found you ill. I couldn't leave you here alone this way, especially with your temperature," Sebastian explained, touching the cheek nearest to him with a sigh of relief. His body temperature was still more elevated than usual, but at least it was no longer dangerously high. "How do you feel?"

While closing his eyes briefly, Ciel tucked his hands against his chest, trying to warm the digits that felt as if they were freezing despite the sweaty heat they emitted. It had been years since he had been this poorly. "Not very well," He admitted, knees curling to his chest as he whimpered quietly, the sound followed by a string of quiet coughs.

Sebastian unintentionally keened in sympathy, stroking through the slate locks that were now damp with perspiration. Had Ciel's hands not been beneath the blankets that he refused to pull from the shivering fox, he would have taken them in his own to warm them more sufficiently. How sad it was to see the fire in the omega's eyes dulled into mere embers by his weakened state... "Do you think you could eat something? You really need some food to help you regain your strength. I could make you some sort of stew?"

This was a side of Sebastian that if told of, Ciel would have hastily dimissed its existence. The alpha was proud, teasing, arrogant, even seductive. But caring? He found it hard to believe than any wolf could possess such a quality, but as he took into account the worry and sincerity in the man's words, he felt some of the ice wound tightly around his heart thaw. Perhaps... Perhaps, Sebastian wasn't heartless as he'd previously pegged him as. He was simply guarding himself, something that he himself had no right to judge him for. For while Sebastian hid his affection with jibes and taunts and he himself masked his own with glares and sharp words, they weren't so different after all. Maybe it was time to stop being so harsh on him and give him a fair chance. "I thank you for that, but you have done far too much for me as it is. Besides, I don't have much of an appetite right now."

Giving an understanding hum, Sebastian sat in silent contemplation, wracking his brain for ideas on what he could make to help Ciel without upsetting his stomach. "I would do anything for you, please don't fret on my behalf; I am more than capable of providing whatever you may require in this trying time. But I'm afraid that I must ask you to at least eat a bit of what I manage to create. It will help you greatly."

Relenting with a sigh and a defeated gesture of his hand, Ciel snuggled back into the mass of leaves, furs, and feathers bedding the ground he laid upon. "Alright, just don't go to too much trouble on my account. Please try to work quickly though so I can go back to sleep, I'm terribly tired."

Reaching just far enough outside of the den to retrieve a handful of ice, he stuffed it into the pouch after emptying the melting slush inside. "I understand, just leave it to me. Leave this on for a bit longer. I know you feel cold, but we need to get rid of your fever," Sebastian said, balancing the replenished pouch on Ciel's forehead.

"Alright," The omega mumbled, watching the alpha's departing form.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Sebastian broke off into a sprint, ears tipped back in determination and eyes narrowed in focus. He easily dodged low-hanging branches and slick patches of ice when he caught a sharp scent, coming to an abrupt stop upon hearing crunching of leaves to his right. As he crouched behind a winter blooming shrub, a victorious smirk crept onto the alpha's lips when he spotted a fluffy white mass peacefully gorging itself on a few partially crushed berries. Perfect. Creeping from his hiding place, he easily navigated his way around the small animal, no hesitation to be found as he quickly snatched the being from the ground when its head jerked in his direction and made an attempt to dart. He hastily snapped its neck to prevent it from suffering or escaping his grasp, and carried it by the ears back to the fox's territory after gathering a few berries and herbs along the way. If there was one thing he'd learned in his years alone, it was how to make a soup to aid in fending off a chill or soothing a sickness.

Sebastian placed the rabbit aside to skin and began to build a fire, fanning its miniscule flames to a reasonable size before setting a wooden bowl filled with snow in its vicinity to melt--far enough away to not catch fire, but close enough to warm significantly. He then set about removing the fur from his kill, discarding its pelt and impaling it on a spit once he was finished. A few of the berries were squeezed over the hot water while others were cut in half before being dropped into it.

While waiting on the rabbit to finish cooking properly, he scooted closer to the den's entrance to check up on the omega, finding that he had dozed off again while waiting for his meal. With a soft smile, he studied the omega carefully, his tail twitching in interest. Even while sick, he was rather adorable when he slept. His cutely arched nose was bright pink and twitching as he slumbered, lashes fluttering faintly and lips pouted. In his fetal position, he appeared even smaller than usual, sparking a fierce desire to protect the little thing within Sebastian's chest. How precious he was...

He reluctantly tore his eyes from Ciel's slumbering form and faced the meal instead, shredding the meat into small pieces in the thickening liquid the bowl contained. He let it heat near the flames for ten minutes more before carring it to the fox's burrow, tenderly carding a hand through Ciel's hair to rouse him from his nap. "Ciel, your dinner is ready."

The boy whimpered, opening bleary eyes to see the sharp-jawed alpha leaning over him cautiously, careful to keep enough space between them to avoid frightening the drowsy fox. He lethargically pushed himself into as much of an upright position as he could manage, muscles he didn't know existed protesting the movement with harsh throbs. Swallowing thickly passed his sore throat and pinched expression, he shakily reached out for the bowl Sebastian grasped. It never met his hands, however.

"You're trembling, I don't want you to spill it and burn yourself. Let me help you." Before he could think to deny Sebastian's assistance, the wooden dish was raised to his lips and pushed between them gently before tilting marginally to allow the first traces of soup to drip into his mouth. It's flavour, while dulled by the lingering bitterness his illness left behind on his tongue, was divine; Sweet yet savory all at once. Luckily, its aroma and taste were light enough to prevent it from overwhelming him and causing him to gag.

Sebastian was patient as he slowly managed to feed him almost half of the dinner made special for him, stopping when Ciel's eyes began to droop softly and he was feebly pushed away. The wolf was worried that he had lost so much of his appetite, but didn't push the matter. With his fever decreasing, he would surely be on the mend by tomorrow morning. "Is there anything you need? I'm afraid the ice in your compress will still need to be changed every few hours until your fever is completely gone, but at this rate you should be completely well again by the time the moon is halfway through the waxing gibbous phase."

"Thank you for everything you've done for me, but I'm alright. I just want to rest for the night... It seems that I am once again a rather poor host to my den's invader." The teasing lilt in the omega's voice made the wolf grin. It was reasurring to see a twinge of his normal self still remaining despite his discomfort. "I shall have to make it up to you once I'm well again. And though I loathe admitting it aloud, your ego certainly doesn't need the boost, the soup you made was exquisite. If you would be interested, I could make a meal of my own creation for you once I can hunt again to make it up to you."

Sebastian readjusted the satchel on Ciel's head when he turned to see him better, stroking his cheek in a lapse of restraint--or a lapse in giving a damn about personal space. "I'm glad to hear it. And as nice as that sounds, you have no need to repay me with dinner. But if you insist on giving me something... A kiss would be just as suitable."

With a snort and a roll of his eyes, the vulpine pulled his furs up to his nose to hide his amusement. "If that's the case then do lean closer and we will test how well your immune system works."

Unable to resist a jab at the surprisingly playful hybrid, Sebastian tilted his head and flicked his tail in a flirtatious manner. "Oh? Worried for the sake of our future pups or what they may inherit from me? I can assure you, my genes are quite strong, just as our children will be."

Ciel froze at that, cheeks glowing the loveliest shade of holly and his expression twisting into one of disdain and embarassment. "Ugh, I can't believe the audacity you have, dog!" The fox exclaimed, trying to pretend that his blush was born from his fever and not the alpha's words. He immediately regretted his tone when it sent him directly into a harsh coughing fit and made his throat throb painfully.

He buried his head against his arm to muffle the hacking sounds while his other hand hovered over his sore throat, barely able to take note of the hand on his back as he swallowed thickly. When his fit subsided, he could only whine and hunker deeper into his nest, breathless and exhausted. It seemed the time for joking was over for tonight.

"Easy, vixen, don't strain yourself," Sebastian crooned, rubbing his back until the rapid rise and fall of his chest had calmed to a more steady rate. "I shall leave you to sleep without disturbance. If you don't mind my continued presence, I will be resting outside so that I may check up on you in a few hours."

Just when he sat up on his knees and turned to leave the burrow, Ciel's hand caught his wrist in an astonishingly gentle grip. "Sebastian... It is rather cold outside and I don't have the energy to shift for more warmth from my fur. Stay here for the night. Keep me warm."

Sebastian wanted to tease the usually ferocious little beast with more jokes from his never-ending supply of suggestive puns, but upon catching the hint of longing in the pair of tired sapphire and moonstone eyes, he quickly changed his mind and instead offered a fond grin. "Of course. I will happily stay beside you and keep you warm." It was strange to lay beside the creature whom he relentlessly lusted after, so close and yet with such innocent intentions, but it pleased him all the same--enough to make him purr deeply.

The sound drew a lighter purr from Ciel, who snuggled close to the wolf's chest the second he was in reach. His smaller form pressed flush against the alpha, skin burning feverishly despite his search for extra bodyheat. The boy remained relaxed as Sebastian's arms ensconced him, his sable tail draping over his intended's thighs in a show of comfort.

"This is comfortable," Ciel murmured while his own fluffy tail curled around Sebastian's, its white tip thumping faintly as he found the warmth he was searching for. His eyes fluttered shut and he tucked his hands against the taller man's toned, milky stomach, releasing a contented noise as his ears tipped back tiredly. "Just don't try anything strange, got it?"

Holding the smaller being so close to provide warmth and protecting him while he was weakened soothed an inner yearning inside the alpha, making him glow with pride and a primal satisfaction at caring for the sickly omega. The purr rumbling in his chest continued as he settled down and closed his eyes as well, wrapping his cloak around the shivering fox to aid him in sweating out his fever. What an interesting turn of events this day had held... He supposed he would have to give him his gift tomorrow. "Nothing strange, I promise. Now, sleep well, little vixen. I'll be here for you if you need anything..."