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Primal

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I hadn’t felt the boat crash when I was sleeping. But I also didn’t hear the storm roll in when I was awake. I only noticed something was unusual when I woke up face-first on the carpeted floor in my cabin. I groaned and pushed myself off when I noticed my legs were wet. My face was dripping. My hands slipped on the floor when I moved to fast.

My cabin had partially flooded while I slept. I took a moment to breathe and clumsily stood up. My tichel was soaking in the water that was at least an inch deep. I glanced around my room, and I noted my door was still closed, the occasional rock of the ship sending a tiny flood under the crack. I took a glance at my tichel before I decided against putting the wet cloth on my head, it would be better to investigate what was wrong.

I reached for the handle and took a deep breath. I’ll be fine. I can’t die. And as soon as I turned the knob a rush of water roared passed me and brought me to the ground. I closed my eyes to keep the water out, and I held my breath. Holding your breath doesn’t do anything. I heard a voice in my head explain, but even if I haven’t been human for 2500 years, I am still going to hold my breath underwater, or at least try to. It’s not like water getting into my lungs will kill me again but it is a really unpleasant feeling. Like something constantly swimming in your body.

When the water didn’t subside or lower, I opened one eye and then the second. The water was murky and dark as I stared out into the hall. Doors had already been thrown open and personal belongs floated where they may. They may have left hours ago, or minutes, I couldn’t tell. I glanced around the room to see if there was anything I would need before swimming away. I had a gut feeling I wouldn’t be coming back to this room or this ship.

I glanced over my snow globe souvenirs that had shattered on the floor long before I released the door. I weighed how usefully my tichels and scarfs would be but I figured they were easy enough to carry around it wouldn’t hurt. I took the tichel on the floor and the two in my bag and tied them around my wrists. I winced as the waterlogged books I had packed for the cruise floated page by old page out of the cover. I kicked up to the top of the room for a fresh breath of air before going back down. A multi-tool I had found on the ground a couple of years ago that was still kicking around in my back was slide into my pocket.

I debated if I could carry anything else, but unless I changed into something that had deep pockets or somehow thought to pack a small back before my cruise, I doubted I could have much else. I hadn’t expected to evacuate when planning for this trip, I had nothing “survival” worthy with me. But I was one step ahead of everyone else with the inability to die and my...required dietary plan. I had “snacked” the day before the cruise started...four days ago I believe. But if I exert too much energy before my next meal, I might just be floating in the ocean aimlessly until I’m rescued. Very much alive. But I would have no control over myself, I hate if I let myself go primal like that.

I bit my lip and decided, there was no use lingering in a soggy cabin. I pushed my feet off the ground and into the hall, keeping my eyes peeled for anyone either worth rescuing or mourning for. The rooms were just as dark as mine, and a bit darker than the passageway. But no one was there. I felt a sigh of relief by the time I made it to the stairwell, I might be able to assume that all the humans made it out safely. I debated for a second if it would be easier to walk up the stairs or to swim. Shrugging, I made up my mind to crawl like a demon in a horror movie. My inner thoughts intruded and I opened my mouth to laugh before I swallowed a lung’s worth of water and swam to the surface to cough it all up.

My coughing fit lasted more than two minutes, but when I glanced out to the horizon, I was astounded and horrified. Filling the water was more than twenty liferafts, filled with dead humans. Even more, humans, dead, littered the water. Lone Survivor. I… didn’t want to face this. This is not what I wanted when I thought I might be escaping too. I am only escaping alone. The ashen faces seemed to be gazing at the sun one final time as they died. No one bleed, they all probably choked or froze. But I couldn’t see anything over the orange life vests, boats, and limp bodies.

Choking back a sob, I went to leap over the edge of the boat. I just needed to escape this scene. So much death. No one to heal. No one but a reject among my own kind to mourn them. I surfaced again, glancing in any direction that would take me away. No direction immediately pointed toward the land, so I followed the sun. I figured at the very least I would know where the west was. Even if that didn’t actually help me find land.

All I could feel were my arms move, they moved whether I told them to or not at this point. My only goal was to keep moving. If I kept moving I could potentially find land sooner. I prefer not blindly drifting, anything I could do at this moment to control myself or my immediate future was preferred. Even if I already knew I wasn’t going to die. So I swam. I could feel my consciousness drifting. I could feel a primal urge, a piece of myself I always kept under wraps, try to surge to life with so much energy lost. But I shoved it aside, I wouldn’t be able much longer.

Hours must have passed. I have swum miles. But then I could see something, maybe a hallucination but in the distance, I could make out a thin strip that reminded me of land. With every stroke, it got closer and more detailed. After ten minutes I could make out a coastline on a beach. Another ten minutes later I could spot trees further back. I laughed to myself and didn’t care as much when I accidentally swallowed water. Finally.

I couldn’t tell how long I had to swim to finally reach the island but as soon as the coast turned shallow enough for my hand to touch the sand. I screamed for joy. I rolled around on the sandy bottom and dug my hands in. I furiously crawled the rest of the way up the minor incline. Marveling only at the feeling my arms gave me, partially numb in the sand. I didn’t want to sleep on the sand, but I would find a place to rest as soon as I could feel my arms again. But at the moment, I wanted nothing more than to gaze at the stars.

Chapter Text

The ground was rocky and my muscles burned. But as I was becoming conscious I realized I couldn’t remember falling asleep. My muscles groaned like I just swam the whole ocean, but it wasn’t as...intense as it should have been. I was expecting the burning to be racing around me when I finally rested. But I feel energized. Like I could swim the ocean again. But I wasted so much energy escaping how could I...the only answer was one I didn’t think was possible so I ignored it. It wasn’t like there were any humans on this deserted island.

I slowly flicked my eyes open and noticed for the first time it was dark. In the far distance I could make out some sort of light, but I was far away from it. Combined with the rocky ground, I guessed a cave system. I moved my arm around trying to grasp anything to get an understanding of where I was. Then my fingers touched someone I unfortunately knew too well. Bone. I stripped someone down the bone...again. I panicked. I shot up and back from the corpse I created. I could feel the tears start to stream down my face again.

Such a massive idiot. You can’t fight nature. I stumbled to feet and tried to find the back of the cave, putting as much room between myself and dead body. I began to openly sob. I thought I was better than this. I thought I didn’t need to fear being Primal anymore.

You demon.

I could no longer think clearly. The thought that I had killed another so gruesomely made me sick. I began to shout at the dead in apology.
I hadn’t meant to rob you of your life. I hadn’t meant to harm you. I hope somewhere you can forgive me. I continued to scream even my thoughts clouded my head

“Zo ashmati. Slicha. Ani mitnatzel. Lo e’ese et ze shuv. Lo hitkavanti leze. Slicha she’hayiti leze. Ani mitnatzel. Slicha. Ani lokeakh e mlo ha’achrayut. Ani mekave shetislach li.” It wasn’t until I heard the shuffle on the far side of the cave when I finally realized I was no longer speaking english. “It’s not like the dead can hear my calls.” I said to myself. “Zo ashmati. It’s my fault. I am sorry.”

I dipped my head when I heard the shuffle again. A mix between a chirp and cry hit my ears. I stopped feeling ashamed of myself and wandered back to the crime scene. I still couldn’t see very well, but I could make out movement. I moved very slowly toward the movement, maybe I had spared someone.

Just as I was thinking, the chirp came again along with a grab to my shirt. I slowly reached down to touch the hand and gasped when my hand touched bone. How are you still alive? I slowly started to apologize again when the chirp came again, a little more desperate. I couldn’t see what was wrong, but I knelt as best I could toward the chirping and the bones hands moved from the bottom of my shirt and wrapped around my neck. Was the corpse trying to choke me?

I backed up a little but I only took the body with me, they dangled before wrapping legs around my torso. The person I killed whose not really dead was less than half my height and easily fit on my torso.

I slowly reached up to rest a hand on where the head should be and found smooth bone. A chirp, excited and pleased, right next to my ear alerted me that it was definitely this one who was making the noise… I didn’t know how to understand what I was feeling and hearing. So resting my hand on the head  skull and started gently petting. I walked slowly toward the light that filtered into the cave. Happy and content chirps relaxed me a little as I tried to navigate my way out.

The light was harsh on my eyes. Painful. I must have spent a whole day or two in the darkness. But I could see dirty white bone on my victim, but not dirty in blood and guts, just dirt. An overly round skull with cartoonish eyesockets, skeleton limbs, and a torso covered in a light red shirt and nothing else. The eyesockets were somehow closed and the skeleton was making a sound like a purr as I pet the actual skull. But near the base of the neck, wear I usually bite if I need to feed, was a perfect bite mark the size of my mouth.

It began to click in place that I had not savagely ripped apart a human, I had fed from the life force of living skeleton, as ridiculous as that initially appeared. But with how tired the skeleton appeared, I must have taken to much. Which would explain why I had so much energy. The skeleton was so content in my arms. It was nice. I decided that I would try giving some of that energy back, I had only done it twice before but it I was confident I could do it again.

I put my teeth over the bite mark and bit down. The skeleton made a short gasp, almost cat like, and a sound I could only ever describe as a moan as I bite. I consciously thought about the chai following through the both of us and actively pushed a little of mine into the skeleton. Another short gasp, and then there was a mewling sound that made my heart melt a little.

When I was done, I pulled away and continued to pet the small one. Whispering very softly to the mewling and chirping skeleton, I promised “Don’t worry little one. I will protect you.”

Chapter Text

He was in heaven. Sure he couldn’t understand anything his new alpha said, Stars he had an Alpha. Someone who has already protected him and made him feel safe. But his new Alpha was the most fantastic thing that has ever happened to him. Sure he was born an Alpha to, but that didn’t matter much in his world. He didn’t work hard enough and it cost him everything. But he doesn’t have to worry about being a strong alpha, or a big alpha. He can just be protected. From the nightmares, from his brother ( but his brother hasn’t been with him for two years now). 

 

He chirped and snuggled deeper in his Alpha’s embrace. When he first say her, he thought he was finally going to die. But now he couldn’t be happier then anything else in the world.

 

It had been storming out, but the thunder in the distance always sounded like a cave in to him (and the other Sans’) so he took shelter. He knew he was a coward to hide like this, but he couldn’t help it. It wasn’t like he could try to fight it (who was he kidding, if anyone fought him, he’d be dead before it was his turn was over). But hiding was his strong suit. HE could wait out the storm like he always did.

 

But something felt different about this storm, but he didn’t give it much thought as he had drifted off to sleep. A few hours later, the storm had cleared and the sun had set. He could hear some bird chirping and just wished it would shut up and let him go back to sleep. He didn’t notice the soft steps coming closer to the entrance.

 

But he was not oblivious to the pounding as something thumped against cave entrance, of someone moving the “door” to keep anyone from attacking in his sleep. He became a little more alert when that someone from the other side successful moved the tree/rock combo. “Beta? Are you there?” He called. Hoping it was just the only Beta on the island checking on him after the storm.

 

No response. “Beta this isn’t funny!” Thumping got closer with no response, but it was too heavy to be the beta. He shuffled backwards in his cave, he hadn’t planned on how to escape if someone came to attack him! None of them would have done that (except for the Omega, but he should have been far enough away from him). “Not Beta, need to get out”

 

He could try and short-cut out, but his magic and been woonky and ill since arriving on the island, who knew if it work right and take him away from this place. But before he could think anymore, he could make out the faint outline of a hand in the dim lighting. Skin. Flesh. Human. A human was out to kill him, he needed to get out.

 

The smell overpowered him once the human entered the cavern of the cave. An Alpha. A HUMAN alpha. The thought made him sick. He knew in his soul that if this thing attacked him he was a goner. A whimper escaped his throat. How was I ever meant to be an Alpha, can’t even defend my territory. The sound seemed to bring the human closer. The Human kept stumbling around as if it wasn’t all there. Then a weaker scent floated over to him.

 

The smell was a warning. Feral. Run or die, there is no surviving. This...made everything worse. The intruder was a human, an alpha human, a FERAL alpha human. No mind behind that face that is getting awfully close. He didn’t realize that his back was already against the wall. He only had two options. “Short-cut or run.” He whispered to himself. His eyelights glanced at the very shadowed approaching figure and the exit. 

 

He tried to reach his magic. It sparked and brought light to the room, illuminating the attackers face. But it didn’t take him anywhere. He ran. Or at least he tried. He took three running steps toward the exit before a hand snagged the back of his shirt. He panted and cried and his hung in the air for a second. He was moved to quickly to understand intent rolling off the human. Not of harm or aggression but hunger and protection. 

 

He started chirping and crying. Hoping someone out there would hear him (even that Omega, he said he’s killed a lot right? He can help…). The face was next to his neck, sniffing. That was when he actually noticed the protection rolling off the the human. He struggled but didn’t actively try to fight. There was a tiny lick at the neck that distracted him from the intent and made him aware of what this Alpha was doing. This feral alpha wasn’t going to kill him, the Alpha dominated him and now it is…trying to claim him. He didn’t know if that was better or worse.

 

When he was distracted the Alpha stuck. As the Alpha continued to bite and he decided in that split second that he wanted to belong. This was now his Alpha. He would happily be the sub as long as they were willing to love and protect him.

Chapter Text

The teeny friend I made, had relaxed into my hold and was gently sleeping as we rested in the sun outside of the cave. The skeleton’s head perked up after a while of laying against the ground. They lightly growled and pawed at my shirt, glancing back and forth from the cave entrance and the distance. Then I could feel the ground vibrate a little, something was big and pawing at the ground. I couldn’t see what was ahead, but my new little friend was scared. My little friend can get hurt...but I can’t.

 

Scooping my bitsy friend up I went into the cave and plopped them down on the ground. They looked up confused and a little dazed at the sudden location change. They tried to scramble over quickly to the entrance, but I covered it to quickly and began stalking toward the creature deep in the trees. 

 

I glanced around and stretched for a moment before I made a last-minute decision and let myself accept my instincts. I could see perfectly in the dark of the forest. I felt lighter like I could fly. My fingers and feet were like talons. I could hear for miles around me. I could hear my skeleton whimpering and crying at the caver door, but I could also hear the faint purring of a hunting cat. 

 

I had to show this beast that it was no longer welcome to prowl near what was mine. My instincts had me scale the tree and look for the creature. Eyes that were sharper than a human, roamed for the motion of a cat. Somewhere up in the trees, branches rustled and swayed with weight. I found you. I stalked in the trees myself, perching like an owl before almost flying toward the next branch. The branch didn’t move like it would for a human of the same weight which didn’t alert the cat too much.

 

It wasn’t ready for my screech, an animalistic challenge for land and dominance. An echoing “BUO” rang across the jungle treetops. The cat’s attention shifted and a grunting type of roar was echoing toward my direction. A jaguar I could guess. I rang another “BUO” and the jaguar lept toward me, opening its massive jaw, but I took my talons lashed out at the throat. In pain, the jaguar stumbled back on the tree. 

 

I left out a louder “BOU” and threateningly slashed toward the jaguar again and grazing the nose, but not actually meaning any harm. It let out a grunt and then lept toward the ground and left. I let the adrenaline settle and could feel the weight in my limbs again. I took my time climbing back down the tree and checked myself over for injury. Other than scratches against the tree itself, I was fine. 

 

As soon as a fraction of the door was cracked open, I was being smothered in crying skeleton. I hushed and cooed at my new friend. When I realized that the skeleton would not let me go I settled down just outside the cave entrance again. I resigned myself to just petting them and speaking quiet words of comfort that they couldn’t understand. 

 

After spending maybe thirty minutes of comforting silence, I realized I didn’t have a name for the little one. “What should I call you little one?” Curious, tear filled eyes looked up at me. Red lights, and red tears, and a pale red shirt. “Maybe I should just name you Red?” Still looking confused, I used my hand to brush away the remaining tears, and a very light red blush began to spread across their cheek. “I suppose calling you Red would be to easy...how about Shani?”

 

Still no real response other than resting their head on my shoulder and relaxing into me. “I think I’ll call you Shani. Don’t worry, it still means red.” I chuckled to myself and resigned to the purring skeleton in my lap. Shani, the newly named skeleton, shifted slightly. Before I could wonder what was wrong, a sound of bone rubbing on bone filled my ears. Shani looked down, almost in shame, before a tiny rattle sound was made to.

 

I gently petted them and began asking myself why Shani could be making sounds like that. They began whimpering quietly into my shirt before looking into my eyes. Then an idea clicked. “Are you hungry little one?” Shani still didn’t answer me, but the sound of bone rattling again seemed to answer my question.

 

“Don’t worry Shani. I’ll go get you some food.” I rubbed the top of Shani’s skull, before deciding to nuzzle it. Their eyes (somehow) got wider and a bright red blush spread across their face. I chuckled at them and set them on the ground. I searched around the cave and found I had taken my scarves in the cavern floor. Figuring out which one was my tichel I decided to tie my hair back for the hunting trip. It was still damp as I tied it around my head and tugged the corners in, but it didn’t bother me at all.

 

“I’ll be back soon enough Shani.” I whispered in the dark and left the cave to find some small creature to feed my new friend.

Chapter Text

I watched the rabbit dance in the brush. It nibbled on its dinner. My feet didn’t move. I’ve been hunting for over 2000 years. I can catch an ar’nevet. Slowly creeping toward the munching rabbit, I kept close on the feet and the ground. My breathing was slow and contained and while the rabbit was suspicious of its surroundings already I was unnoticed. I crouched, and then I pounced. I closed my eyes as I killed it. I heard a deep quick crunch and I winced as I could almost feel the life leave the corpse. “Slicha little friend. I hope your death was painless. Your death will not be in vain.”

 

I opened my eyes to see the corpse of bunny I killed with my hands, lifeless. It hung limp in my hands as I carried it back to the cave. I hope Shani can eat this poor creature. As I trudged back through the jungle I began to ponder my certain situation in more depth. 

 

After I left the sinking ship, I swam out to this island. But what happened next? I...have to assume I began feral. I must have found this living skeleton by accident.  But I don’t know what would have attracted me to them in the first place. Do they smell like blood to my primal self? Or did they remind me of life? Is Shani the only sentient life on the island? Is Shani even sentient?

 

But I pushed the questions aside, I only needed to focus on feeding Shani. I could explore anything I need to eventually. But for now, I just plan to make our cave comfortable and expand my territory if Shani needs it. For my curiosity, I might explore the island, but not necessary. But you really need to pay more attention to your energy. If too much is sapped, you might hurt Shani. I pushed another thought away as it began to clog my head with worry. I had already decided it wasn’t going to be pushed that far ever again. 

 

By the time I made it back to the cave, the sun was past midway between high noon and sunset. But in the light, I noticed for the first time how well hidden the cave was. It was tucked in a hill, underneath a ledge, with loose rock and several pieces of old tree bark to cover the opening. Over the edge though, something caught my eye. The dirt and grass appeared to be dragged down over the ledge as if someone has tripped. Most likely me. My hand trailed the opening of the cave before I wandered back inside.

 

I first noticed how much darker and cooler it was, then I noticed the sound. While I couldn’t hear anything outside, any shuffle seemed to echo within the cave. My entering drew my skeleton friend close, but I couldn’t actually see them. “Shani?” A chirp echoed my voice and I could hear more shuffling. Soon a skull found my hand and then rested in my hold.

 

Keeping my hand steady, I rested the rabbit on the ground and brought the rest of my body closer to Shani and wrapped them in a firm hug. They purred and chirped again as they nuzzled into my neck, sounding happy. Chuckling, I let go and had to ignore their whines while I started to cook the rabbit.

 

I went back outside to see if I could find dry wood to make a fire. Near the entrance of the cavern, I started making a fire pit of rocks. I gathered enough dry twigs and kindling. I choose not to lit the fire until I was ready to make the most of my supplies. Walking back outside I began the slightly nauseating process of skinning the rabbit, occasionally using my Multi-tool. I gagged every once in a while, but I eventually removed the skin and fur away from the meat. I wasn’t sure if I needed to separate anything else, So I decided to try and let the fire cook what it needed to. 

 

I knew Shani had been watching me through the cave entrance without actually leaving, and they stayed that way until I wandered back in so I could work on cooking the rabbit. Finally ready to start the fire pit, I went on another journey to gather some rocks to put around where I was going to start the fire. My circle set up, I began to work on igniting the fire with two sticks. I took the time to make the fire a bit bigger before I began cutting up the rabbit into smaller pieces to cook faster and began laying the pieces on the rocks near or almost in the fire.

 

Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t noticed that Shani had been curious about everything I was doing. They had gotten closer and closer to the fire without me noticing. Closer and closer to my multi-tool with the blade still out. And while I was finishing placing the meat and making sure it was being cooked, I heard Shani cry out.

Chapter Text

I gasped and whirled toward Shani. In the fire light I could make out the pain that crossed their eyes. Eyes wildly scanning in the dimly lit room I could make out a new indent along the skeletons fingers. I left the meat alone to go check on my skeleton and take away the knife. I must have moved to fast because Shani whimpered and curled up on themselves. A sound was repeated over and over, quietly and apologetic.

 

I cooed and tried to become smaller and made my way closer to the injured skeleton. “I’m sorry Shani.” I whispered, trying to keep my voice calm and relaxing. “Let me see Shani, I wont hurt you.” I crept closer while Shani held their head in arms and legs. I debated on what I should do next before I rested a finger on their bones. Shani began shaking and tried to hide their hand from me.

 

I cooed and hushed like Shani was a child while I slowly lifted them into my lap. In the firelight I could see tiny red tears trickle down the bone of their cheek. I settled their boney butt on my lap and gently took my hand to hold the hand Shani injured. The skeleton moved to back away from my hand, but only accomplished relaxing on my. They relented their hand so I could examine, their head lulling to the side. I could feel the tears absorbed into my shirt.

 

The cut wasn't deep but was over most of the joints which must have made it hard and painful to bend. I untied one of the scarves from around my arm, still not yet dry. I didn’t know if I would be able to properly clean the cut but I could try. Shani whimpered and cried into my shirt. I tried to comfort them as much as I could while still cleaning the cut.

 

Once I was satisfied that I cleaned blood and rabbits guts out of the cuts, I had to worry about actually cut and make sure wasn’t going to get worse. Using the second scarf I wrapped around their fingers. Shani’s small head was resting over my heart as I finished up and tied up the scarf.

 

As soon as I was done trying to take care of Shani, I pulled them closer to my person. I could feel Shani snuggly into my warmth and I decided that it was worth trying to feed them. I slowly wrapped my arms around them and moved closer to the fire. 

 

The smell of cooking meat filled my nose. I smiled and began petting Shani’s head. The skeleton began purring and their head lulled into my shoulder. I watched the fire blaze and meat bubble and cook while I relaxed with Shani. 

 

Soon I went to check the meat to see if it was cooked enough. While checking the meat, I remembered old times, pastimes of food I could enjoy over the fire at home. But before I could remember home cooked fish with radishes and figs, Shani made a noise. It was soft and longing, as if Shani was remembering something too. I cooed at them and determined the meat was cooked. 

 

I smiled and settled down again. Holding the piece of meat between my fingers and tried to give it to Shani. They slowly distanced themselves from the meat and a look of confusion crossed their face. Unsure what was wrong, I set the meat back down and tried to comfort Shani but there was a look in their eyes, like they were gone.

 

They stared through me, as if I did something wrong. I nodded side to side before deciding to try feeding Shani again. They were still out of it, so I gently pushed the little piece of meat toward their teeth. They opened instinctively and chewed. After checking that they were swallowing and wont choke, I feed them another piece. 

 

After a couple more pieces of meat, Shani seemed to be coming around. They looked between me and the meat and in the dark room I could see a red glow flood their face. I chuckled as they hid their face in my shirt. The glow grew at my loud and unbridled laughter. I tapped the side of their face and when they turned back I tapped the meat to their teeth again. 

 

They looked between myself and my fingers, blushed again, and hesitantly took the food from my hands. So I reached for another piece. And if it was possible for Shani to get any more red, they did. As soon as they finished chewing that piece, I hand-fed another piece, and another. Shani looked happy and full and stirred in my lap. Soon the little skeleton was asleep.

Chapter Text

Shani was still resting peacefully when I left the cave. I felt the need to scout around and gather supplies. The ground was still wet from the storm the night I found Shani and their hideout. But after the incident with the jaguar, I needed to be more prepared to protect Shani from any of the dangers on the island. Which meant I needed to explore what could hurt them. 

 

So I began circling the hideout, making the circles larger as I went. I needed to ensure I could make a good layout, even if I couldn’t map it out exactly. During my scouting, I found three other caves, but they appeared to be empty and unoccupied. 

 

The trees canopied the ground and made exploring more mysterious with a dangerous air around it. As if something could attack me at any time, unnerving but not without reason. But even with the idea that I could get hurt, it was something of a comfort to know that I might be the most dangerous being in this forest. So even though I could feel a pair of eyes watching me, I ignored them in favor of continuing to scout.

 

-

 

He had been following the weird Human since it washed up on shore. It was weird. Different than he remembered human’s being. But he attributed that to his faulty memory. When all you can remember are giants, cages, and a missing feeling in your soul, you latch onto anything else you can logic. But this human, as weird as their soul was and made him feel, he knew it meant important. So he stalked the human.

 

It was hard, he climbed and ran over tree limbs dangling yards above the ground. Yet he had been doing this for 2 years now, he wasn’t in much danger after practice. He still had trouble keeping up with the human as it wandered through the forest. Now it was searching for something. He wasn’t paying much attention though, trying to learn as much as he could about the weird human.

 

It was odd, and not like the humans he remembered. It’s head was covered in a weird cloth tied in the front. The body was flat and thin, but also lumpy in certain places. Its skin was pale but riddled with scars. Deep lines cut into the wrist of the human he was following, and he could make out light scars at the base of the neck. He couldn’t make out much else in the darkness. But his lack of attention eventually caught up with him. Before he could register, he was scooped up by talons. He screamed in the darkness and in pain.

 

-

 

I heard a mouse like sound squeak turn into a screech as a silhouette swooped over my head. In the darkness, I could make out the shine of bone from a bird’s talons. My stalker from the trees was a lot smaller than I thought. But the bones screaming and crying made me fill in emotions. It took me less than a moment to consider saving the bony creature from being a mousy snack for the bird of prey. Picking up a small stone, I tried to aim for the bird’s feet clutching the bones. I missed and the bird recoursed to avoid the projectile. I scowled a little before deciding to exert the energy I needed to follow the bird in the air. 

 

I became lighter again, but smaller this time but only to about half of my normal size. I shuffled my feathers before my own talons clawed at the ground. I let out a “BOU” before hissing and taking off. The harpy eagle was not impressed and squeezed tighter on the bones making the creature screaming before going silent. I fumed before I could get close enough to claw at the talons of my foe. The clawed beak squeaked in surprise, but dropped the bone instead of fighting. 

 

I dived and swiftly caught the little batch of bones before deciding to fly back to the cave. Maybe I could help the little fellow there. Or Shani would know what to do.



Chapter Text

Soaring over the trees was almost breathtaking. But not enough to take away the impending erge of the little skeleton in my talons being injured. I flapped my wings a couple time before coming in to land near the cave. I didn’t explore as much as I wanted to, but I needed to make sure I could save this little one. I let go of the skeleton, that was about the size of my human like hand, and rested them in a bed of moss.

 

I slowly, and painfully began to feel my body become more human like. My heaviness returned and sunk me to my feet. My bones felt like rocks and my skin was raw, like it was plucked. My hair felt tight in the tichel, and throbbed. I hadn’t tried to do that in over a hundred years, It hadn’t been necessary or safe. I collapsed to the ground, panting in pain.

 

While I was on the ground, I got a good look at the skeleton I had rescued. The bones were dirty, with little pieces of clothes covering them completely. It was almost adorable, the tiny shirt and tiny sweatpants, though tattered and worn, helped convey a little about the skeleton. I cooed a little, they were so small, so much smaller than Shani. 

 

I gently scooped the little one and held them close to my heart. Then they shifted. I smiled in hope that the little one was a lot better than I thought they would be. I rocked them while I walked the rest of the way to the cave with heavy limbs. Soon the little skeleton like a mouse and cried as they stirred. I clicked and coed at them to try and not distress the waking skeleton. “Like a little mouse.” I whispered. “Achbar.” I cooed at the thought.

 

“C’mon little Achbar, I’ll fix you up at the cave.”

 

The cave was around the corner, and I still had the skeleton in my hand. The head was so tiny, as were the eyelights. Stress seemed to weigh on the little facial features, I ran my thumb down the head. I wonder what this little one was thinking, or what happened to them. Soon I entered the dark of the cave with embers still flickering. Shani hadn’t moved yet, still asleep where I had left them. Achbar, the new skeleton who reminded me of a mouse, stirred and settled down again seemingly getting more relaxed. 

 

I scrunched up my face before resting a scarf on a bed of moss and rock. I laid Achbar near the dying fire while I looked to see if anything was wrong with them. The orange dying embers only lit up a fraction of what I needed to see, but it would do. Other than a miniscule crack I could already see on their ribs, I suspected they would be fine. I cooed in a whisper while I finished examining and wrapped what I could. 

 

I just rested in the dark for awhile. It wouldn’t be worth it to go back out unless I needed more firewood. But it was still light outside, I wouldn’t need fire light for another two hours or so. Shani began to stir, as did Achbar, at about the same time. Since Achbar hadn’t actually interacted with me before, I left them alone and went over to Shani.

 

As soon as I was in grabbing range, Shani seemed to reach out for me. I chuckled at myself and Shani and gently lifted them up and sat back down. Shani chirped and mewled while waking up, which seemed to wake up Achbar as well. The small skeleton squeaked and turned over on the handkerchief. As Shani woke up slowly, Achbar sat straight up in a panic. The squeaks turned higher in alarm and eyes began frantically scanning the dark cave.

 

Shani, startled by the sudden alarm, woke up and chirped to the squeaking. The squeaking stopped, and became a more tentative sound, like a whisper. Then Shani made the same whispering sound. I couldn’t understand either of them, but it became very obvious they were communicating. 

 

Achbar looked at Shani, and then at me, before leaping off the rock and scarf. “Careful little one.” I called, jolting forward in surprise. But it wasn’t that big of a drop, and the skeleton was fine. I was then surprised as they ran toward me. They slowed at my feet before they began to climb up my leg, exploring. I stayed still and let the little one have free reign, while continued to whisper and lay down. 

Chapter Text

Time seemed to pass quickly. Achbar suddenly became a wonderful addition to the atmosphere in the cave. We developed a routine after those first two days, it was actually rather sudden. I would wake up in the morning as the sun rose, leaving Shani and Achbar to keep each other company. I would hunt a rabbit for breakfast while fighting the need in the pit of my stomach for...something I knew I would have to come to terms with soon. Before I lost control again. 

 

I would then take an extra-long walk around the territory to make sure no large beasts were prowling nearby before heading back to the cave. Achbar would squeak some sort of greeting while Shani stirred awake at the smell of blood while I skinned the food to start cooking. I would use the small campfire to thoroughly cook the meat before I hand feed Shani and gave a single piece to Achbar. Both seemed content and happy until I would go back out to explore more and bring back another catch for later that night. 

 

Shani would make some sort of sad chirp before grumbling and settling against the cave walls next to the fire while Achbar’s face melted into a depressed expression before asking Shani to pick them up. Or I always assumed that was what the serious of squeaks and chirps were before Shani scooped the injured walking, mini skeleton up. But they were both always incredibly excited to see me return.

 

Shani would run-up to the entrance, no matter what I was carrying in before Achbar climbed onto my shoulder. Shani would try to set up the fire for me and then get frustrated when they couldn’t. Sometimes they tear up, but while I could understand the frustration I could never quite understood the tears. I would try to console them, but in those times they would move over to the side of the fire and just stare - giving nothing for me to figure out what was wrong. 

 

Eventually, sometime while the food was cooking, Shani would sniffle and lay down in my lap. I would finish cooking the food and pick them up to get them to eat. Some days, they were a lot happier to eat, some days I would have to coax Shani to eat. I wish I could understand Shani, but whatever language Shani and Achbar spoke, I was not privy to know. After Shani and Achbar had eaten, I would lay down. Soon Achbar would curl up on my chest and little rattly snores would fill the cave, and Shani would snuggle into me like a cat sneaking heat. Then I wake up the next morning and the process would repeat.

 

Today when I woke up, it was...different. Shani had been up before me. They had pushed themselves toward the circle of rocks I used to mark where our fire pit was. They seemed very distressed as they worked at two stones, the way I normally made the fire. My heart melted a little at the sight of Shani trying. I shifted to get up and help them, but their head snapped toward me before they pushed themselves away. 

 

“Shani? It’s ok.” I tried to whisper in reassurance. They looked so upset, I wasn’t sure if I should go over and comfort them or not. Cupping Achbar in one hand, I stood up moving toward Shani to cuddle them. They seemed hesitant to accept, but soon their skull rested on my chest and could feel tears hit my shirt from Shani. “I really wish I could help you. Slicha Shani.” I whispered again, completely unsure of what I should actually be doing. It was disheartening to watch Shani be upset. I set Achbar down dried and cleaned fur before I led Shani back over to the firewood.

 

Picking up the two stones, I showed Shani how I started the fire. Getting far enough to make a spark, but not actually light anything on fire. Shani’s eyes light up a little, before shrinking as I put the stones in their hands. They looked between me, my hands, and the stones. I chuckled, before holding my own hands over his small bony phalanges. I shifted the rocks in their hands before helping them set up how to get the spark. Shani looked so concentrated and so proud when they finally got their first spark. 

 

I removed my hands and gestured for them to try and light the fire for themselves. They looked so excited. After six or seven more tries, they did it and a little flame appeared. It died out quickly without the prep I didn’t give it this time. But I don’t think Shani cared. That day when I left to go find breakfast, I could hear Shani chirping happily waking Achbar who sounded very unhappy. 

 

When I got back, Shani had actually prepared the fire and started it. After preparing a fish I caught, I nuzzled Shani until his skull was bright red. Until Achbar began squeaking and demanding to be nuzzled as well. I could only chuckle before humoring the tiniest skeleton. 

 

Then the routine began to change. Shani began to be more involved in the process of preparing the food to be cooked or cleaning any of the furs of the rabbits. It took a while to teach them, but they always looked so much happier when they were given something to do.