Edward lifted his nose, catching the scent in the frigid north winds. It was so cold it had actually stopped snowing, and ice crystals hung to his matted fur. He was hungry - not skin and bones yet, but living as a wolf for weeks on end meant he had barely eaten anything. This far north the forests were thick and white and devoid of most wildlife.
He had run with a wolf pack for a few days … wild wolves were wary of werewolves, but so long as Edward did not press the issue they allowed him to hunt with them. It meant food, for at least a little while, but a dispute with one of the larger males made Edward back down and slink off.
Werewolves could and had gone completely feral in the past. Edward still minded the cautionary tales of the elders from the pack. He had not taken human form in weeks, which was bad, but up here he would be vulnerable to the cold. He kept remembering what it was like to be human, to have fingers and toes and not be covered in warm, matted fur, just so he would not lose that part of himself forever.
The howl cut across the lonely wastes and Edward cocked an ear in its direction. It was the call of his partner, alerting Edward to the location of their prey and causing intentional unrest among the caribou grazing in the area.
He had met this other werewolf in the arctic wastes, before Edward had decided to turn around and slowly start migrating south. They had never seen the other’s human forms and likely would not. They talked, sometimes, but mostly communicated as wolves did and not as humans. They both had their secrets, after all - it was rare that werewolves were not affiliated with a pack.
The other werewolf was a gray wolf, slightly bigger in frame than Edward although he appeared younger. He was a bit of a smart ass, and would occasionally nip at Edward’s heels but for the most part they got along well.
Edward had no idea what his name was.
He moved slowly through the underbrush, seeing the startled, nervous herd for the first time. He was downwind, thankfully, and although a few ears flicked his way none of the large, shaggy heads turned in his direction.
It was a mid-sized herd of caribou. The larger bucks were standing on the perimeter of the grazing herd, their heavy, razor-sharp antlers moving slowly as they swung their heads from side to side, ears twitching and eyes alert. The does too had antlers - not nearly as impressive a rack as the males, but dangerous nonetheless. Although the heavy, large healthy bucks would make for a good meal, it was one of the smaller, sicklier caribou that the werewolves had set their sights on. He was not paying attention to the general nervous demeanor of the herd. He was vulnerable.
Edward could see his partner moving through the underbrush slowly. It really was a stroke of luck that they had met - a pair of wolves hunting together were nearly four or five times more successful in bringing down large game than a single, solitary predator. Werewolves were far more prone to risks than regular wolves - after all, while a caribou’s antlers could severely wound them, they would not die from their injuries. Exposure, on the other hand, was a nasty business and that could very easily end a werewolf’s life. The risks were different … but still present.
Their prey was wandering farther and farther from safety, ignoring the warning snorts and grunts of the other caribou. Edward’s eyes met those of the other wolf’s from across the clearing. There would not be a better time.
Attacking a lone caribou was risky business. Attacking a caribou that had split off from its still-present herd posed a much larger risk. If they timed it wrong, or the bucks were full of false bravado, or any number of other things they could cause a stampede. Several large, angry males could run off two wolves easily.
Their paws were almost silent on the snow. The buck sensed his danger seconds before Edward was on him, teeth and claws going straight for the caribou’s exposed neck. The caribou threw back his head in a panic instead of down to brandish his antlers, and that was his fatal mistake. The other wolf approached from his blind side and leaped for a flank, dodging the caribou’s immediate kick response as it keened a high noise in terror.
The other caribou backed off, antlers down and clearly unsure of whether they wanted to charge the predators or leave well enough alone. Edward’s teeth tore through flesh and blood stained the golden fur on his throat as the caribou swung its head desperately. His partner had torn open its belly - and now it was only a matter of time.
The caribou toppled first to its knees, before falling completely over, its thin legs unable to support its body as the snow around it turned crimson with blood. Edward circled the deer as it died slowly, wheezing its last breaths into the snow. The other werewolf was just as cautious - they both had experienced supposedly-dead prey coming back to life so it was better to just wait.
Patience was hard, though, when they were both hungry. Finally it was Edward who snapped first, tearing into the carcass with abandon. Together they eviscerated the beast, tearing open its soft belly to expose steaming viscera and other goodies. He fought with the other werewolf over the best organs, snarling and snapping as they gorged themselves on fresh kill.
“You know,” Roy said, his arms around Edward as they lay together on the couch. “When I asked you why the reindeer on television made you that hungry, I really should have expected that sort of response.”
Edward laughed, his head pillowed on Roy’s chest. “Venison is very, very, very good fresh,” he murmured happily, his eyes half-closed as he remembered. Roy snorted when Edward smacked his lips. “Very good.”
Roy scratched his fingers through Edward’s loose hair, and Edward turned his head up to Roy and smiled. “Santa Claus would have a field day with you,” Roy said with an amused sigh.
“Well,” Edward responded, his hand on Roy’s thigh. “I’ve been very naughty.”
“Eating his reindeer and all.”
Edward turned over, climbing up Roy slowly. “Among other things.”
Roy pulled the hair tie out of Edward’s hair, freeing his loose ponytail as Edward kissed him slowly, the blanket they were cuddling under sliding off of his back. The Christmas movie on the television continued to play, completely ignored as they found each other far more interesting now.
Promises to Keep: Prompt 9 - Reindeer