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 16

It wasn't easy traveling the desert. The heat and the ever blowing sand made landmarks impossible. Quatre seemed to have an ability to scent his home, though. A questing nose was always in the air and a smile was ever present on his face as he took the lead, his tail ring glinting in the sun. Trowa and Heero were at their center, limping and wounded, yet determined to keep a fast pace for their lives sake. Duo and Wu Fei helped them, but there was only so much they could do in a wasteland of sand.

Duo's ears were down a great deal of the time. "I hate sand," he mumbled more than once. His short mane was full of it and he hated having his braid drag through it. He had annoyed everyone the first few miles, by continuously trying to dislodge sand from between the toes of his large paws.

"Too hot," Wu Fei declared near mid day and simply stopped, crest down and eyes hooded.

There wasn't an argument. They could pant and get rid of their heat, but Wu Fei didn't have that luxury. He buried himself in the sand on the lee of a sand dune and only his crest was visible. The others were left to bake without any shade. They sat in misery, until the sun began to slant down towards evening. Only then would Wu Fei emerge and travel again.

"He's going to do the same thing when night falls and it grows cold," Quatre warned. "We have to keep moving."

"We can keep him warm," Heero replied. "I'm not sure if his pride will suffer it, though."

Wu Fei glared. "Pride has no place where necessity reigns."

Trowa snorted. "Meaning, you'll do what it takes, Dragon?"

Wu Fei nodded.

"Good," Quatre said in relief. "There is water after another day of travel, and my people beyond that."

Trowa suddenly scented and everyone looked at him, puzzled. He grinned like a true wolf. "It's only the prospect of seeing so many were foxes, with tail rings, earrings, and tattoos."

Quatre bristled. "My people are beautiful, but remember," he warned. "I am your mate."

Trowa grinned and licked one of Quatre's long ears. "No other," he promised. Quatre made a small sound of pleasure and smiled as Trowa continued to lick. Their scents grew heavy on the air. Quatre nuzzled Trowa and his tail flicked and twitched upwards as if of it's own accord. Trowa suddenly shivered all over and began to take hold of Quatre by his ruff. He started and yelped when a reptilian fist connected sharply with his nose. It wasn't hard, but it was enough to get his full attention.

Wu Fei glared. "Don't any of you practice self control?"

Trowa glared back, but he was backing away from Quatre, who was looking disappointed, his ears drooping. "You're young too," Trowa pointed out. "Your self control comes only from being alone."

Wu Fei looked angry, but then uncertain when Quatre said thoughtfully, "There are were dragons among my people. They're sand colored, have dark stripes, and they're smaller than you are."

"Sand lizards," Wu Fei replied derisively. "They are not were dragons."

"I think they would argue that," Quatre warned. "They offend very easily."

Heero was battling the scent of sex in the air and he could see Duo looking just as uncomfortable. "Enough!" he growled. "We need to walk, not sit and talk about mating."

"You're right," Quatre agreed and began to lead them again.

"I wish we had time," Duo sighed under his breath.

Heero nuzzled Duo and sighed as well. "So do I, love. We will have time, once we reach Quatre's people."

Duo shook sand out of his toes with a grimace. "He promised no sand."

"Some sand," Quatre amended, his long ears catching their conversation. "More rock, though, and riverbank."

"A perfect place for sand lizards," Wu Fei grumbled and Heero gave him a surprised look.

"Have you ever seen one?" he asked.

"No," Wu Fei admitted. "But my people do not associate with them. They are primitive, uncultured, undisciplined."

"Fun and carefree?" Trowa wondered with a snort of amusement, "instead of sour faced and arrogant?"

"I've heard that they have no honor," Wu Fei replied as if that were enough to turn every mind against them.

Trowa blinked. "I suppose we'll know what they're actually like once we see one."

"I think you will be surprised," Quatre interjected, but didn't elaborate.

The desert was harsh, but, true to Quatre's word, he knew where water was to be found and the easier paths through it. At night they walked as close as possible to Wu Fei, warming him, but during the day, after a certain time, he was forced to burrow and escape the intense heat.

Trowa snorted.

"What's wrong?" Quatre asked anxiously, looking back over his waving tail.

"If you continue to do that, I'm won't be able to control myself much longer," Trowa warned him. "I don't think that would make a good first impression on your people."

Quatre looked about them. "Do you sense something?"

"I have eyes," Trowa replied with a chuckle. "They are forgetting to hide their large ears."

Heero looked ahead, squinting, and saw several pairs of large ears disappear behind a dune.

"A hunting party, I think," Quatre surmised excitedly. "No one else comes out into the desert so far." He called out to them and the ears cautiously reappeared first, then, even more cautiously, were foxes revealed themselves at the top of the dune.

They made Quatre seemed conservative in his appearance. There were four of them and they were all covered in golden jewelry that tinkled together and glinted from every point. One had six tail rings, intricately carved with symbols, while another fancied dangling earrings in abundance. All of them wore sheer cloths at waist and neck, but it was more for ornamentation than any modesty.

"They have so many tattoos," Duo marveled and Heero remembered what tattoos meant to his people.

"Just for beauty," Quatre told him with a smile. "We like making art out of our bodies."

"You have a were lion, wolves, and a dragon, Quatre!" one of the were foxes called nervously. "What does this mean?"

"It means that we have new friends!" Quatre called back.

His word seemed to be enough. The were foxes came running up to him, tails waving, ears flicking excitedly, and mouths running as they demanded a full accounting of where he had been all at once. They were never still, each one of them a blur of motion, with Quatre dancing in place at their center as he tried to greet them.

"Enough!" Wu Fei hissed.

Everyone froze. Quatre laughed lightly. "It's all right," he assured his friends. "He doesn't approve of excitable were foxes. We'll speak when we reach our tents. Is father well? My sisters?"

"Well enough," one of them answered, "Except that they have all been very worried about you."

Quatre frowned then. "Father's biggest concern has been finding dowries for all of my many sisters."

A were fox with pale ears shook his head. "You're wrong. He's missed you, Quatre."

"Even after my last letter?" Quatre wondered skeptically.

The were foxes all looked at Trowa. "He'll speak to you about that, I'm sure, Quatre," one said diplomatically.

"I'm very sure of that," Quatre growled.

"Is there trouble?" Duo asked.

All of the were foxes crouched with ears flat and eyes wide.

"It's all right," Duo assured them. "I don't eat were fox."

They didn't look reassured. Duo was small for a were lion, but they were even smaller.

"My father didn't approve of my journey," Quatre explained, "or my choice of mate. Being the only male heir of my family, in a sea of sisters, made his disappointment that much keener. That's my worry, though. You don't have to concern yourself with my family's squabbles. It's the Chief that will greet you and give you hospitality, not my father."

The sun was low in the sky, but Heero was eager to get out of it's heat. "Can we continue, then?"he almost begged, though he wouldn't admit how exhausted he was.

"Of course," Quatre replied contritely and led the way over the dune.

Stretched out along a wide, flowing river, bordered by reeds, trees, and crops, was a sea of colorful tents and more permanent buildings. Were foxes moved about it, glinting in the sun with gold and adorned with fluttering scarves that made them look almost like butterflies from that distance.

"Home, or one of them," Quatre announced with a wide smile. "My people are nomadic. Once the crops are in, we move away from the seasonal floods, and then return at planting time."

Duo suddenly took the lead, paws eager to find a place where there was no more sand to irritate them. The others followed, Heero at his side.

Heero observed, "They won't be able to stop the were lions. Look at them... small and lightly armed. They don't have any defenses either."

Wu Fei surprisingly said, "They have a reputation as great fighters, my Prince. Don't be deceived by appearances."

"If my people were weak," Quatre said proudly, "Then this would be were lion lands already. We are very fierce fighters, Heero. They won't come to our home without a costly battle."

Heero hoped that the cost wouldn't be paid in were fox lives.

The met the Chief in a colorful tent filled with carpets and pillows for sitting. Those assembled around the Chief, were mostly female were foxes, wearing beaded scarves and very intricate earrings. The few males looked to be guards, ranged behind where the Chief was standing.

The Chief of the desert were foxes was an old creature, grayed and missing part of one ear. He wore a knife on a belt around his waist, but didn't bother with scarves or jewelry of any kind. A grizzled veteran, Heero thought as he approached and bowed low.

"Yaine," Quatre introduced him, bowing low himself, "Chief of my tribe. This is prince Heero of the forest were wolves."

"I'm sure there is a story to tell," Yaine snorted and rubbed at his bad ear as if it pained him. "You are marked by claws and one of our enemy walks among you." He nodded to Duo."I will greet him as a guest for now, though, since judging one creature for the misdeeds of others is against the teachings of our wise ones."

Duo bowed, but he was tense, his shoulders twitching nervously.

"Your father has been missing you, young Quatre," The Chief continued. "Your absence brought sorrow to many." He smiled, though, and said, "but I understand wanderlust. I had a good dose of it myself when I was younger, much to my father's dismay." He looked over Trowa, fascinated by his dark bands of color. "I can see why you were so enamored of this one. He is... very striking."

Quatre grinned. "He is not only handsome," he chuckled. "But brave and honorable as well."

"I hope that your father sees and honors those qualities, then," the Chief replied. His eyes rested on Wu Fei. "We have your close kin, here, were dragon. They will be pleased to have news of their cousins in the north."

Wu Fei looked disdainful, but inclined his head marginally.

"We will continue pleasantries later, I think," the Chief said as if everything had been formality and required up until then. "Now I must know if you are bringing war to our tribe, Quatre. You are wounded, marked, and weary. You are without your guards and supplies. Everything about you and your companions speaks to me of a hurried flight across the desert. Who chases you, Quatre?"

"The king of the Savannah were lions, Zechs," Quatre replied. "With me is his adopted son, Prince Duo. Zechs wishes his return and wants our deaths."

The were fox raised an eyebrow. "Is Prince Duo your captive, then?"

"No, he's my mate," Heero replied.

Both the were fox's eyebrows rose now in shock. "Is such a thing possible?"

Heero looked embarrassed, but answered readily enough, "Yes, it is. Duo has decided to be with me, not with his kind on the Savannah. He doesn't want to join Zech's war."

"Commendable," the Chief said and then looked thoughtful. He turned to one of the females. "Yahla, gather the guard and put them on alert. Lila?" He turned to another. "Make the tribe ready for travel. This is not a defensible place."

"He may not be moving his army here," Wu Fei protested.

"We have seen scouts," the Chief replied. "We have been waiting for Zechs to attack us. It is better to leave the field workers behind and take the most vulnerable to safety in the hills as a precaution. The prince's defection may be the impedus Zechs needed to move his forces in our direction. I will send guards into the desert to give us early warning."

"Better than those who we met there earlier, I hope?" Wu Fei grumbled.

The Chief narrowed eyes at Wu Fei. "I have heard from your desert kin how arrogant northern were dragons are. I see the proof of it before me. Don't underestimate the skill and bravery of my tribe."

Wu Fei bowed, automatic apology, but an apology wasn't in his eyes. Heero knew from long experience that the were dragon didn't give compliments or respect easily.

"You are my honored guests," the Chief told them. "Our homes are your homes. Quatre?"He gave the were fox a level look. "I entrust them to your keeping, for good or ill."

Quatre bowed very low, accepting the responsibility.

Everyone murmured their thanks and then they were bowing out of the tent. Quatre looked troubled, as if a great weight had been placed on his shoulders.

"What is it?" Trowa wondered in concern.

"I have been given orders to entertain you and to make certain that all of your needs are fulfilled," Quatre replied.

"And you have been given the responsibility to end our lives if we prove to be enemies?" Wu Fei guessed sourly.

Quatre nodded.

"No danger of that," Heero growled, "so stop worrying."

Duo was frowning though. Heero eyed him and then gave him a nudge.

Duo whipped his tail in agitation and said, "If my people kill enough were foxes, how long will it be before they wonder why I am allowed to be among them?"

"We are not like that," Quatre assured him as he led them to a guest tent. "We will judge you on your deeds, not those of others."

A sand colored creature, with dark stripes, was in their path, talking to a female were fox. She had long, dark hair and a crest that was white and flicking upwards to catch the sunlight. Her dark eyes turned and caught sight of Wu Fei and his companions. She froze and Wu Fei looked her up and down with an arrogant tilt of his chin.

"Desert were lizard," Wu Fei said.

"Desert were dragon," she corrected with a snap, and then introduced herself proudly, "Sahri of Li Lon ."

"Wu Fei of Chang,"he retorted as if it were a challenge.

They stood stiffly, staring at each other, and then the female was walking away and Wu Fei was continuing to the guest tent.

"I think they're in love," Quatre snickered.

Duo laughed and nuzzled Heero, who smirked and rubbed his face against Duo's. Wu Fei pretended not to notice, but the spines along his tail were quivering.

[part 15] [part 17] [back to Kracken's fic]