Even with the headstart the alpha had given him, Steve knew it was most likely only a matter of time til he was hunted down. His blood sang in his ears as he pelted through the woods, his breath coming in controlled gasps. He struggled with the impulse to just run, as fast and as far as he could; he was determined to use his brain instead.
It was assumed that once people like him shifted to their animal form, blind instinct took over – but that was far from the case. It was true that the longer someone stayed in their alternate form, the more difficult it was to resist the wants and needs of the body they wore. That said, Steve was a stubborn sort, and it served him well when it came to keeping a clear head even as he ran on four feet.
He planned his departure from the path, nosing carefully through the thorny underbrush so as not to leave any telltale broken branches. Steve waded into the river that he knew waited beyond, fighting his way upstream for several minutes before crossing over. The water was colder than he’d expected; and he couldn’t help but shake himself dry - instinct overcoming common sense for the moment.
When he came upon a patch of mint, Steve rolled around in it thoroughly before continuing on. It probably wouldn’t fool the alpha for long, but he’d take every advantage he could. That said, he drew the line at doing the same for the poison ivy he spotted a little further on; too much chance of the irritating oils sticking to his skin when he transformed back to human form.
Steve was reaching the limits of his endurance when his collar buzzed a warning; he was nearly at the boundary of the sanctuary. Crossing over would be cheating, so he paced along parallel to the border until he reached his next objective: a stony outcropping across which his footprints would leave no trace. With no trees to block the wind, his scent trail would be blown to hither and yon as well, giving him even more of an advantage. He scrambled up a path even goats would be hard pressed to follow, then took a moment to survey the landscape, watching for any tell-tale sign of movement.
Bucky’s tail lashed impatiently, as he waited for the proscribed time period they’d agreed on to run out. He was determined to make that gorgeous, brilliant, stubborn omega his, and nothing was going to get in his way. He might bend a rule here or there, but not actually break it. His collar buzzed, and he took off in the same direction the omega had gone, using all of his senses to track his quarry.
All too soon, the trail went cold; Bucky cast back and forth along the path a few times, trying to figure out where his wily prey had gone. There, along one side of the well-beaten path, a single footprint. He poked his snout into it and breathed in deeply. Yes, that was him alright. He pushed into the underbrush, growling under his breath as the thorns pulled out tufts of hair. He was both taller and broader than the omega he pursued, and was paying the price.
He picked the trail back up on the other side of the briar patch, following it to the river. The current was strong, and a part of him was afraid that the omega would have underestimated the effort needed to ford it. But Bucky also knew that that stubborn SOB would face the challenge gladly. He himself opted for crossing straight over and picking up his quarry’s scent somewhere along the far bank.
Bucky made the mistake of turning downstream first and lost valuable time before heading back upstream. He caught the omega’s scent once again, thanks to another set of footprints and a spattering of water on the leaves of nearby bushes. He loped along, nose to the ground, only to find himself suddenly surrounded by the heavy, cloying scent of mint. He sneezed loudly enough to scare up a couple of plump doves; his stomach rumbled at the sight, but he had more pressing business to attend to first.
Bucky hadn’t expected the omega to reach the boundary before he did; but the telltale buzz was proof. That said, it was clear his prey was tiring; the placement of his footprints showed he had slowed to a walk, and his scent was fresh. That said, the omega had one last trick up his sleeve. Bucky bit back a howl of frustration as he paced around the outcropping. Once again, his size was a disadvantage; one false move would knock the rocks loose and he’d roll right down with them. After several fruitless minutes of searching, he finally found a trail that looked stable enough for him to try.
Steve was stretched out on the warm stone, his slim body nearly glowing in the dying rays of the sun. He propped himself up on one elbow as Bucky approached. “About time you got here, sweetheart.”
Bucky breathed in the heady scent of his beloved. “By my clock, I’m only about ten minutes late.”
Rising to his feet with a mischievous grin, Steve replied, “Then that’s ten minutes more of foreplay you owe me.”
Bucky swept the omega up into his arms and nuzzled at his bonding gland. “Let’s get somewhere a little more comfortable first.”