Author:Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning: male/male sex, wereperv, violence, language, graphic, light were-bondage.

Instincts + Part 1
Blazing Sun

Purple eyes peered intently through the tall, brown grass of the savannah. The midday heat was becoming intense, almost too intense. In a very short time, hunting would be out of the question and every living thing, from the hunter to the hunted, would be seeking the sparse shade and the cool riverbank. Duo could not afford to wait. His belly was empty. It had been too many days since he had tasted hot meat, not since he had been with his pride.

Duo pushed down the heart ache. He couldn't afford to be distracted either. He still didn't understand why the white haired male of the pride had suddenly driven him out. It was true that Duo was an orphan, taken in by a nursing female when he had been discovered wandering alone, but none of the others had treated him any differently than his foster pride mates. To suddenly have the huge, male leader of the pride look him over, smell him as if he had rolled in elephant dung, and then abruptly attack him, had been the shock of Duo's life. Duo had begged for an explanation, begged to stay, but all of his pleas had been ignored. He had been sent wandering the plains again, in the same dire straits as when he had been a motherless cub.

Duo sat on his haunches and scratched at a flea. His human torso flowed smoothly into the powerful legs of his lion lower body. The reddish brown fur started thin along his spine and then grew thick lower down. His feet were paws with large, very sharp, claws. His arms ended in hands, but the fingers were tipped in deadly claws as well and the palms were padded. A slightly curved spine, and elbows that had a slightly more pronounced angle than a full human's, allowed Duo to run on all fours and to be, not as fast or as agile as a true lion, but certainly more able than a human to take down a water buck.... a small water buck... a water buck that was old or very young.

Duo knew how to hunt. He had watched the females. Actually doing it himself, though, was different and far more difficult than he had imagined. He was long and graceful, his muscles tight knit and powerful, but he was a new mane. Though his reddish brown fur, at the back of his neck, had been braided and allowed to grow into an impressive length, the hair on the top of his head was well short of an adult's mane. It took an entire pride of females to bring down prey large enough to fill a were-lion's belly. To try it alone, so young and untried, Duo was taking his life into his hands.

Rounded lion ears, sticking out of the short mane of fur on the top of Duo's head, flicked and turned to catch every sound. Sharp, tearing teeth, worried at his lip. He wore a simple knife at his back, attached to his slim waist by a narrow belt, and two tattoos, one a flowing circular pattern around one, honey colored, nipple, and another on his shoulder in the sun design of his adopted clan. His fur covered his modesty and made clothing not only unnecessary, but also impractical. Wearing anything that jingled, flashed in the sun, or hampered his movements, was foolishness. The last thing that Duo needed at that moment was to be foolish. He needed luck, skill, and every advantage.

There! His ears swivelled to catch the sound. Something was struggling, something that could possibly turn into lunch. Duo shot through the grass, keeping low, his body flowing along the ground as his eyes tried to pierce the grass up ahead. If he didn't hurry, another hunter would claim the prey.

Duo froze, nose twitching along with his tail. Instinct was warning him of danger. He could see a flopping, fat, plains hen up ahead and it was giving every sign of having a broken wing, but... it was too easy, too unusual. Duo tried to catch any scent on the air, but it drifted lazily and in the wrong direction. Nothing on the savannah was free for the taking. His foster mother had reinforced that bit of wisdom, again and again, when her 'son' had shown a penchant for sleeping, playing, and not caring much about where his food had come from. It was the first time that Duo considered that her advice might have had more than one meaning.

Duo's stomach growled and he hunched, muscles working and claws digging in and out of the ground in agitation. When the wind suddenly changed, bringing the smell of blood, hunger was too strong. Duo shot out of cover, took the space between him and the bird in two long strides, and grabbed the bird in all hands and paws as he sank his fangs into it.

Hot blood and juicy meat. Duo ripped into the bird gleefully.

The ground suddenly erupted all around Duo, dirt and brown grass flying. Duo's hair trigger reflexes made him drop the bird and spring away, only to run full tilt into bamboo bars. He spun, flipped, and charged in another direction, only to be brought up painfully short again by another wall of bars. He was surrounded. There wasn't any space to escape through. Duo crouched, panting, ears laid back and eyes wide and dilated in fear. He had never been confined in his life.

"Stupid," a voice chuckled.

"Were-lion," another voice said in disgust. "We weren't hunting for were- lions."

"Money is money," the first voice replied and two were-cheetahs stepped out of the tall grass.

Duo snarled and charged the bars, but his clawed hands couldn't fit through the tight weave of the bamboo. The cheetahs laughed at him. Very tall and very slim, they had spots on fur and skin and their hair was short and spiked on their heads. They walked upright and wore clothing and jewelry; loincloths of tanned leather and necklaces of gold. Their claws were cut short and they smelled... Duo snorted and backed against the bars at the unfamiliar smell of something spicy. It had been on the breeze along with the bird blood, but his senses hadn't attached it to any scent of danger that he was familiar with.

"He's dirty," the second were-cheetah said with a frown, "and I think I see fleas."

"He's young and strong, though," the first pointed out. "A few meals, a bath, some manners beaten into him, and someone will gladly take him off our hands for a good price."

"Not as much as a true lion, though," the second grumbled.

The first were-cheetah smiled and showed all of his needle sharp teeth. "Perhaps, but we'll get the cost of the trip back at the very least and that makes him worth the trouble. Go fetch the caravan."

+

A clawed hand took hold of Heero's tail. He snarled and snapped at the presumption, but his old friend only glared back just as fiercely. "Your Warden will have my liver on a platter, if I let you go," Chang Wu Fei warned.

"You are only following orders," Heero reminded him. "I am a prince, after all, and you are only my body guard."

Wu Fei's nostrils flared at the insult. He let go of his prince's tail and took a step back. "If that's all I am, then what are your orders, my Prince?"

Heero glared at the were dragon. He was almost the dragon's height, almost. Chinese were-dragons were not known for their size, but Chang Wu Fei had his chin tilted arrogantly and that seemed to add inches. Green scales covered most of his lower body. The rest was covered in green, shimmering skin that caught the afternoon sunlight in an eye aching sparkles. Dark eyes looked down a long nose and black spines that ran from the top of his head, and down his neck,. twitched and fanned open as an indication of his deep anger with his charge. He wore long knifes at his waist, but he hardly needed them with his dagger like claws and his prominent fangs. There were other breeds of dragons, but Wu Fei was the last of his, the only survivor of a war he never talked about. Why he had chosen to settle in that backwater city of hide and wood, to protect it's heir, no one knew, but he had long ago proven his worth and loyalty.

Heero was a young were-wolf, lanky, all muscle and angles, and just growing in his ruff. His unusual coloring, dark chocolate fur with black on his legs, one hand, and on the tip of his tail, had generated foul rumors that his deceased mother had dallied with a hound, but only a fool who wanted death would have ever made the accusation where Heero could hear it. Though the were-wolf was young, he was a fierce fighter, and Wu Fei and his warden had trained him well. It was that fact that made his constant supervision that much more hateful. He wasn't a cub. He was a young male who was feeling his blood heating up and he needed to set out on his own.

"Stop sniffing for females and remember that this is a dangerous place for young princes!" Wu Fei hissed. "If someone were to take you hostage-"

Heero clenched a fist. It made the golden bands on his upper arm, his lower arm, and his wrist, tighten against bulging muscle. "Sniffing for females!" He ground out. Warden J would like that, wouldn't he? He'd enjoy having cubs that he could use as heirs instead of me!"

Wu Fei cast a glance at the people walking about the city streets all around them. They were looking back at them both in turn, curious about what their prince was doing in such common surroundings. "Mate and make a cub, then, if that will free you." Wu Fei asked in a low voice."Isn't that what you want?"

Heero curled his lip, showing his sharp teeth. His blue eyes snapped fire. "I want peace, which is something my warden doesn't. I'm not going to leave him with a cub and free reign to try to take over our neighbors." He growled low. "Besides... females don't interest me."

Wu Fei eyed him. "At your age? I would keep that quiet, if I were you. Pretend that you want to hump every female, if you want to keep your throne. Your Warden can have you dismissed as heir if you are..."

Heero snarled. "You can't even say it."

"Can you?" Wu Fei retorted.

"Chang Wu Fei," Heero told his guard in a voice that had made many weres run for their lives. "I want you to return to the lodge. I am going to walk the city and see some of the things that Warden J wishes to keep hidden from me."

"Hidden?" Wu Fei snorted. "He keeps his position as long as you are alive. That is his only interest in keeping you sheltered."

"Is that a warning, Wu Fei?" Heero wondered. "I reach my majority in a year. What will Warden J do then? Quietly pack his bags and hand over my throne?"

"I've trained you well enough for you to know the answer to that question already," Wu Fei snorted as if he were suddenly amused. "And, I suppose, if you are old enough to realize that truth, you are, perhaps, old enough to know your danger among your own people."

"I do" Heero assured him. "You didn't help raise a fool."

"Raise you?" Wu Fei grinned and it was alarming. "I was a young dragon when I entered your household, too young to be your mother."

"Not too young or too old to be a friend," Heero replied, beginning to regret his hot words of before.

"No, that you will always have," Wu Fei assured him. "Be careful, my Prince."

Heero nodded gravely and then walked away from his guard. It was... exhilarating. He wanted to run on all fours, race along the streets and the shops, and see everything at once, but he held himself in tight control and stayed on two feet, walking with as much dignity as his excitement would allow him.

He bought coffee and a meat pastry, watched a street show, decided against trying his first beer, and ended up in the bazaar. It was definitely forbidden ground. This was the domain of the were cheetahs. They were traders, running caravans between the cities and selling everything a person could imagine. They were well educated and very sophisticated next to their rustic customers. Their fashion set the standard for everyone else. If they began to wear arm bands, then so did everyone else. Lately it had been colored silks and beaded leather clothes, something most weres had absolutely no need for. Still, they had bought the things, as confining and as hampering as they were. Heero, himself, had fallen for the armbands, but they were beautiful, he thought, and they didn't get in his way like the clothes.

The tall, delicate were-cheetahs in their finery were odd looking. They spoke in high, cultured voices, and their movements were graceful. They didn't call out for customers, they winked and motioned and used their hands to display their wares. Heero felt like a savage as he walked in their world and his ears flattened out and his tail drooped self consciously.

A group of mountain wolves, their fur the color of silver with bands of black, shoved past Heero, unaware of his station. The force sent Heero slamming against something hard. He turned with a scowl, rubbing his arm, and then blinked, startled when he saw that he had collided with a cage, a cage with a were in it.

"Not too close, sir," a were cheetah warned and at his elbow, leaning down with an ingratiating, sharp toothed smile. "He's one of those wild, savannah savages. They don't speak and they haven't any civilization. The beast refused to be tamed or to show any gratitude when we rescued him from starvation. He's very strong. Very fierce. If my lord needs a pit fighter, the beast would do very well."

Pit fights. Heero put his ears flat against his skull in distaste. It was a byproduct of the wars. It was a way to dispose of prisoners and dissidents. "I don't need a pit fighter," he growled in reply and the cheetah backed up abruptly, knowing the warning signs of an angry wolf.

"Of course not, sir," the were cheetah soothed. "I was simply saying that the thing isn't good for anything else."

Heero looked into the cage of woven bamboo. The creature was a were-lion, he was sure, though he had never seen a live one. The creature was lying on its side, sides heaving in a labored fashion. It's reddish brown fur was dirty and the beast was small, much smaller than he thought a lion should be. Young then, like himself, and not treated very well. He could see fleas and the glint of a metal neck collar attached to a length of chain. Heero supposed that was how they dragged him out of the cage. He couldn't imagine the thing living long if it was being forced to live in a cage that was barely larger than it's own body.

The face was young and handsome. Heero found himself staring at the bruised looking eyes and the pinched mouth. He was suffering, Heero thought, and he almost believed that the creature wasn't strong enough to fight any longer, but then he saw the barest hint of purple eyes under the reddish brown lashes, and Heero realized that the were-lion was biding it's time. Heero found it hard not to smile.

"Open the cage so I can get a better look," Heero ordered the were cheetah. "I may have a use for him."

The cheetah became eager. "Of course, sir. I'll call my assistants to pull him out and restrain him."

Heero put on his most arrogant air, the one he had learned from Wu Fei, and said, "How dare you think that is necessary! I am far stronger than a mangy were-lion, trader!"

The were- cheetah clasped it's hands together in an odd, nervous gesture. "Of course, sir! Sorry sir. Just as you wish."

The were-cheetah opened the cage and quickly stepped back, not willing to risk his own skin. Heero took up the chain, felt the weight of it, and then let it slide out of his hand. "Damn! I dropped it."

The were-lion burst from the cage in one mighty spring, snarling, teeth barred, and purple eyes full of murder. Heero ducked aside. The were-cheetah shrieked and ran. The were-lion didn't bother with either of them. He was gone like a shot of lightning into the crowd, running flat out on all fours, thick tail flying behind him along with an incredibly long braid and a length of chain.

"Damn he's fast!" Heero swore and took off after him. He wasn't sure what his plan was or why he was even bothering running after the were-lion. If Wu Fei found out that he was racing, full tilt, out of the city and into the surrounding forest, after a very angry, savage, savannah were-lion, he was certain the were-dragon would have heart failure.

As he suspected, the weakened creature didn't get too far. Heero found it, collapsed, near a river bank and lapping greedily at the water. "Not too fast," Heero warned, "You'll make yourself sick."

The chain was trailing behind. The collar looked cruel. The dirt, the fleas, and the weariness of the were-lion was at all odds with it's molten purple eyes. They said, clearer than words, that he wasn't beaten and that he was ready to die rather than allow it.

"It's all right," Heero soothed and lowered himself down on his haunches to show that he wasn't a threat. He kept his ears up and his tail relaxed, hoping that the were-lion understood were-wolf body language. "I freed you, remember?"

The were lion clearly didn't think much of that fact. He was suddenly bolting again, chain dragging behind him until it caught on tree roots and brought him up short. Heero expected a savage display of panic, but, instead, the were-lion raced back to the end of the chain to free it. It was proof that he could reason, Heero thought, and then took advantage of the were-lion's exposed neck and back to pounce on him.

It was like jumping on steel springs. The were-lion was hard to pin down and he almost escaped, almost lashed Heero with it's claws, but then Heero's jaws were closing on the were's dirty neck and his greater strength was holding him to the ground.

It was a show of dominance and Heero couldn't help doing it. He was part wolf and a crouched creature exposing its throat was a prime trigger for his instincts. He held on, growled, stood over the were-lion, and demanded it's submission.

A were-lion didn't have any such instincts. It held still, waiting submissively, as it had in the cage, for someone to make a mistake. Heero did. He thought that he had won. As soon as he loosened his grip, though, the were lion twisted, drove clawed feet into his gut, and threw him off with a powerful shove. Twisting around again, as if he were boneless, he took off running once more.

Heero swore, even as he tried to get oxygen back into his bruised lungs, and staggered after him deeper into the forest. he was so intent on his quarry, that he didn't notice the mountain were-wolves following behind.

[part 2] [back to Kracken's fic]