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 18
Patterns

The ones who did not fight, left carrying their things in a practiced manner that had Heero appreciating their skill and organization. In three days, they went from a sprawling, heavily populated city, to a collection of a few huts and empty fields. Those that were left, spent their time fortifying defenses and readying their weapons.

Heero's tension rose with every day. Duo seemed unconcerned and relaxed, hunting with some of the younger were foxes and enjoying their awe. Trowa wandered, and was gone more often than not. Quatre seemed determined not to see his father, though that kept him mostly in the guest tent. Wu Fei partnered with Heero in practice sparring matches, that seemed more and more like actual battle as both of them wrestled with their inner doubts and anxieties.

When Wu Fei didn't show for their usual midmorning practice, and his mate was proving that cat was definitely in his bloodline by still being asleep in their tent, Heero found himself angry for no other reason than that he now had nothing to relax his nerves. When he found his were dragon teacher unaccountably asleep on a warm rock, Heero found that intolerable. It seemed to him to be a sign that he was the only one still taking their danger seriously. Were foxes and Sand Dragons trained and prepared, but they all seemed as unconcerned as his sleeping friend, as if they didn't doubt that they would win. Heero had doubts, great doubts. He didn't want to call it fear.

Solo and his crushing weight was still fresh in Heero's mind. The humiliating show of just how ineffectual he was against the full strength of a were lion, had marked him more than he ever wanted to admit. He couldn't see how tiny were foxes were going to overcome that strength and his fear that he would see mounds of Quatre's beautiful people dead before too long, was an anxiety he had to exorcize. Making himself a perimeter guard, he wore himself out scouting far and wide until the sun became too hot.

Returning at last, exhausted, but feeling better, Heero was surprised to see an elder were fox sitting far from the huts as if the sun didn't bother him at all. Heero sniffed the air, found nothing out of the ordinary, and made his path cross the were fox's.

The creature's face was wrinkled and his ruff was gray. Weighed down by intricate gold jewelry, he had tattoos running from both shoulders to the backs of his hands, and scars along his back that looked wide enough to have been made by a were lion.

"Not wise to run about in the heat," the old were fox told him.

"Then are you a fool for doing the same?" Heero shot back, annoyed.

The were fox laughed and it sounded so much like Quatre, that Heero guessed who he must be before he was told. He was an important were fox and not to be insulted.

"Forgive me," Heero apologized and made a small bow. "I didn't realize that you were the father of my friend.

"He has told me about your temper," the old were replied. "He was not exaggerating. You may call me Adera. It's a familiar term... like grandfather. I don't stand on formalities and I've been told that you saved my son's life."

Heero was taken aback by the blue eyed were fox and wasn't sure how to respond, but then he became suspicious and accused, "You came here, to speak to me?"

The were fox cocked his head to one side, his ears flicking as if in annoyance. "You see what I am reduced to, begging my son's friends for word of him? He fears censure from me and refuses to come to any of my summons."

"Is he right?" Heero wondered, bristling a little as he re- evaluated the old were fox as a possible threat to his friend.

"I think that he may have learned strange ideas in a strange land," Adera replied, "and I only wish him to explain why he chose this path." He looked very uncomfortable. "This were wolf that he has ... made friends with."

"Mated with," Heero corrected.

"Which is not irreversible!" The old were fox snapped back, and then worried his lip for a moment until he contained his anger. "He respects you," he continued again. "He sees you with.... strange ways."

"With a were lion as a mate," Heero clarified. "He was mated to Trowa before that."

"Yet you are an example of where he has learned-," the were fox began, but Heero lost patience.

"It isn't learned!" Heero barked and the were fox flinched. He didn't run or back up, despite his smaller size, and Heero had to respect him for his courage. "Love comes as it will," he continued, "Sometimes, it doesn't make sense or follow convention, but it isn't any less than a love that does. Quatre didn't learn to love Trowa. it just is, and you will gain nothing by trying to change that except your son's hate and his absence from your life. He will not give up Trowa, not even for your sake."

Adera looked as if he could barely get a breath around his pain and fury and then he turned and stalked away.

"The inlaws are always so difficult," Trowa said behind Heero unexpectedly.

"You're amused?" Heero snapped back as he turned to face the banded were wolf.

Trowa smiled, but the _expression was tight and lacking in true amusement. "When you have a field of yellow flowers, and a red one suddenly grows, people notice. Some people even try to pull it up rather than endure it."

Trowa moved past him, adding firmly, "His dislike changes nothing... and never will."



"Where did you go?" Wu Fei wondered irritably when Heero returned to their tent.

Heero glared. "I know where you went," he replied as he checked Duo and found him curled up in a corner. A purple eye opened and then Duo yawned, showing his large canines briefly.

Wu Fei said nothing for a moment and then, "It was a personal thing. Forgive me for not attending you earlier, my Prince."

Heero felt at a loss as Wu Fei gave a small bow. The were dragon had been sleeping. It occurred to Heero that Wu Fei might have finally reached the end of his seemingly endless supply of strength. Even he needed time to rest and recover. Heero felt contrite. "No, I'm sorry. I forget that I am not your Prince any longer. You have been constant in your diligence. It was time that you... attended to personal things."

Wu Fei looked embarrassed. "If you would like to exercise now?"

"No," Heero told him. "Tomorrow is soon enough."

Duo left his corner, flexed his claws, and then eyed Heero and Wu Fei. "Well, if you're not going to, I would like to."

Heero was startled. Wu Fei raised an eyebrow in interest. "What would he have to teach a creature that's so deadly to begin with?" Heero wanted to know.

Duo ran hands through his short mane and then checked his long braid. "Strength and claws aren't everything," he replied, "especially when there are larger and stronger enemies facing you."

Wu Fei crossed arms over his chest and appraised Duo critically. "I won't show any quarter."

"He won't," Heero agreed, wincing at the memory of his own, painful training sessions.

"I wouldn't want you to," Duo replied, twitched his tail, and then headed for the tent flap. "Coming?"

Wu Fei looked at Heero as if seeking permission. Heero shrugged. "My only fear is that the lazy cat will fall asleep on you."

"Ha, ha," Duo growled irritably. "I am not a cat."

Heero smiled softly. "No, you're not."

Duo smiled back and then said impatiently to Wu Fei, "Well?"

Wu Fei made a hissing noise and Heero decided that it was a laugh. "Let us go then."

Duo nodded and proceeded Wu Fei outside. He bumped into Quatre.

Quatre jumped back nervously, eyes wide and tail bristled. "Forgive me," he apologized and then, when he saw them walking towards the training ring, " Are you going to train, Heero? The scouts have seen nothing yet. You will wear yourself thin before we are ever confronted by an enemy."

"They will wait until you grow complacent," Wu Fei told him. "They will wait until you believe that they are not coming and drop your guard."

"I'm not a warrior," Quatre admitted as he watched Wu Fei and Duo take up positions on the training ground. "I bow to your wisdom... yet I suspect your wisdom when I see you ready to fight Duo."

Wu Fei's spines rattled. "He is young and he has many weaknesses," Wu Fei replied.

Duo frowned at that, but he didn't counter that assumption as he faced the slim were dragon.

"First, I need to discover your level of skill," Wu Fei told him. "Once I find all of your weaknesses, I will proceed with eliminating them."

Heero rubbed an old scar nervously. Wu Fei had never given him any quarter.

They sparred hand to hand. Duo was quick and supple, and he refrained from using his claws. Wu Fei had him down, with a knee jammed into his back, before they had drawn four breaths. Duo looked surprised, and then wary, as Wu Fei released him and they began again.

They fought long and hard. Heero settled, wincing every time that Wu Fei landed a blow. Duo only grunted and went back for more. Quatre settled beside Heero, wide eyed, and Heero was suddenly distracted by a thought.. Outside of huddling for warmth, it was the closest that he could remember being to the were fox.

"Heero," Quatre whispered without taking his eyes from the fight "Why are you smelling me?"

He was. His nose was near the end of Quatre's back. Heero felt the heat of embarrassment. "I was seeing...," he trailed off, finding it hard to explain.

"Ah," Quatre said as he put his head on his arms, still watching the fight. "You were wondering if you were attracted to someone closer to your own kind? That's natural, I suppose. You simply want to know yourself better."

Heero blushed harder. "Yes."

"So?" Quatre did look back then, blue eyes amused.

Heero shook his head and managed a nervous smile. "A little, but not like Duo."

Quatre's tail tucked and it was his turn to look embarrassed. It was a clear sign that Quatre was not interested in him. "Trowa will kill you if he thinks..."

Heero turned his attention back to the fighting. "Mountain wolves are very territorial," Heero agreed, "but I'm not going to challenge him."

Quatre laid back his ears and then seemed to force them up again. "You could just say that Duo is the only mate for you."

Heero found a grin. He was alpha and that meant that challenges were natural for him. Still, he didn't want another mate, or to come between Trowa and Quatre. His instincts in that regard were well in hand. Besides, he could imagine the damage a jealous were lion could make to anyone Heero dared notice beside him. "Duo is the only mate for me," Heero agreed and Quatre looked relieved.

"Enough," Wu Fei finally said. They were both breathing hard. Duo was bleeding from his mouth, his purple eyes aglow with temper. "You need more sense," Wu Fei declared. "You need discipline. When time permits, I will give you exercises that will strengthen your left side and make your blows more concentrated."

Duo surprised Heero by giving Wu Fei a small bow. Wu Fei returned it and Duo came over to Heero. He flopped down in the dirt and Heero asked anxiously, "Are you all right?"

"My pride is wounded and my body is sore," Duo groaned. He pulled Heero close. "I need personal attention. Now."

Heero smiled and kissed him. "I think I can give you that, love."

Duo looked past Heero to Quatre, who still had his tail tucked. "You're so pink, Quatre. You should get out of the sun."

Quatre mumbled something and slunk away. Duo gave Heero a quizzical look and Heero admitted, "We were talking about attractions. "

Wu Fei was walking towards a rock, intent on sunning himself. Duo rose gingerly and gave Heero a serious look. "You're not wanting to...?"

Heero growled and bit Duo's ear lightly. "No, fool. It seems that I am completely besotted by you, and you alone."

"Good." Duo scratched the earth with his sharp claws, raking deeply. "I don't share."

"You will never have to, I promise you," Heero told him and wrapped arms around Duo. "Should I prove it to you?"

"I do think I need some proof," Duo told him, but then winced, "After I recover from my beating by your were dragon."

[part 17] [part 19] [back to Kracken's fic]