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"Where'd you go?"

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He was here again. Every night like clockwork. Every single night without fail he’d be here. Waiting. For what he’s still not sure but…tonight found the draw even stronger. Something was telling him that this time it will be different. Something was coming. He had to be here.

But he was tired. There was a feeling that weighed heavy on his spirit. A feeling he was sure that would never go away as long as he existed. 

As long as I am here and he is not.

Something wet fell from his eye and he had to blink to clear his suddenly hazy vision. He looked down at his paws, looking at the dark spots that suddenly appeared before he realized. Tears. They were tears. He couldn’t even remember the last time he shed tears. They looked almost foreign to him.

The last time was... was the day he died in my arms.

Smoke swirled thicker around him. He took a breath, trying to compose himself and holding back the sob that wanted to tear from his throat. Another breath to hold back the tears. It’s been so long but the pain was still there. The feeling of being helpless as he held him in his arms. The memory of his own voice begging, begging for him not to go. For him to stay at his side.  Watching life leave those blue eyes. Eyes that he would never see filled with the fire that he so loved about him.

“It’s been so long since we’ve talked, Red.”

His voice was just a whisper in the wind, unheard by no one else but him. He looked up at the stars that started peeking out from the dark skies. He remembered a few things from his old life, but one memory he held dear were the times they would just…lay down and watch the stars. Listening to him as he would point out constellations, showing off that big brain of his. His spirit felt heavy as he let that memory wash over him, letting himself hear his voice as if he was right here beside him. He sighed softly, turning his head to look at the tree nearby, that old oak that stood the tests of times and now holds his treasures.

The old oak they used to call theirs. Their special place where they’d relax and forget for a time the responsibilities that awaited them back at camp. He could see clearly in his memories, almost like he could see themselves - their old selves - sitting under that old tree. He could see them laughing, seeing that rare smile only he really saw.

“Oh darlin’… Where did you go?”

He wasn’t sure why he asked himself that. He knew perfectly well where he was buried. But he couldn’t…he couldn’t make himself think about it. Not since the last time- No. A new wave of guilt washed over him, remembering the state he left. He tried…he tried so hard but-

“I’m sorry, Darlin’… I’m so sorry…

Smoke swirled thicker around him, the wind carrying the smoke away as if it were trying to expose his sins. Or clear his conscience. Shivers wracked his body, but not from the cold. It was from the emotions he had to push away. From the memories that he couldn’t let go. He had to take another shuddering breath to steady himself. The night was almost done. Another night wasted waiting for something that once again never came.

He let out a heavy sigh, smoke swirling at his feet. He looked up again at the stars that filled the sky. The night was quiet, save for the faint sounds of the critters of his Boundary and the birds flying overhead. There was a hoot of an out somewhere, the cries of the ravens as they flew to their nests. Sitting there it was peaceful, it was easy to lose oneself. This has to be enough. At least enough to get him through another day. He wasn’t sure how long he stayed there - feeling, remembering - when he noticed something… off. There was a flash of light at the corner of his eye, but when he turned to look there was no one there.

His eyes narrowed slightly at the horizon. He didn’t want anyone to see him in this state and especially at this time. This time was his. Something almost sacred as he let himself just remember. Remember his old life. Remember him.

I just want to be alone, dang it. He didn’t project his voice, no matter how much he wanted it. There should be no one around here at this time. No one ever was. He waited, but no one seemed to be there and he let himself relax. Good. He didn’t want company. Not now. Maybe later but for now, he just wanted to let himself remember him and his-