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 3
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Heero heard Wu Fei's shout of warning. Both he and the were-lion turned, with ears laid back, to see the were dragon leaping towards their attackers. The black bands on the silver were wolves were confusing, making them hard for eyes to follow. It also made their numbers seem greater than they were. The mountain weres were expert at ambush and they clearly understood the effectiveness of a pincher movement. They came from two sides at a rush, leaping, bobbing, and putting their black bands to good effect. Wu Fei attacked, undaunted, and Heero, after a moment's hesitation, felt his training engage.

"Run," He told the were lion and put the creature from his mind. His mentor needed a left hand shield and he took up that position. The were wolves circled them, laughing, but Wu Fei regarded them disdainfully and awaited their next move.

Heero's training had begun as soon as he could walk. He was a warrior through and through, but this would be his first test, his first kill, maybe, and it was time to stop being the protected prince, to stop being a cub. His eyes went icy and his ruff sprang up menacingly. No emotions, he thought, no distractions. Focus, find their weaknesses, and destroy them as efficiently as possible.

The were wolves surged forward, their goal to drag them down and rip them to pieces. Wu Fei met them with slashing knives and killing martial arts moves. He seemed to fly, to defy the laws of gravity, and he killed with grace and unequaled skill. Heero was more basic, more brutal, relying on his strength, which was considerable, and the power of his blows. It was with surprise, that he realized that non of the mountain weres, older and larger than himself, were his match. Side by side with Wu Fei, they killed half of the were wolves before the rest fled, tails tucked between their legs.

Heero hadn't even broken a sweat. He looked down at the dead weres, his mind telling him just how he had snapped that neck, broken that arm, and smashed that face. He felt satisfied, disturbed by the need to kill, but understanding that here was the proof that he was the weapon that Wu Fei and his other teachers had fashioned him to be.

Wu Fei smoothed a hand over his black crest and said, "They were weak The weak should not fight."

Heero understood. His teacher had said it often enough, but it hadn't made any sense until then. There was nothing honorable or good in facing an enemy who was not your equal. Heero felt as if he had slaughtered, not battled. The weres hadn't had a chance and there was dishonor in that. He thought how, earlier, he had been afraid, had offered ransom for his life, and he felt contempt for himself. He had acted the part of protected cub, waiting for rescue. This was proof that he didn't need to wait for that any longer.

The were-lion... Heero tested the air and caught his faint musk over the smell of blood. He curled a lip in disgust, but then grunted. How could he blame the were for leaving? It wasn't his fight. He had come there in slavery and now he was free to seek his home. He didn't owe Heero any loyalty. Still, Heero thought of amethyst eyes, thick fur, purring warmth and he swallowed hard.

"You fought well," Wu Fei told him and that was a high compliment from the were dragon, "but your kick to that were's face was weaker than it should have been. You will work with the upper muscle weights for one hour after we return home."

Heero scowled, bristled, but then bowed his head in submission. Wu Fei's sole purpose was to keep him alive, to train him to a peak of performance not attained by most men. If there was a fault, Heero was just as interested as Wu Fei in correcting it. False compliments, and allowing his ego to be misplaced, wouldn't help him stay alive.

Wu Fei took the lead through the forest and Heero followed. He pricked ears and tried to catch the faint sound of padded feet and the jingle of chain, but he knew that was a foolish hope... until he heard it. He stopped walking. He waited until the sound approached close enough and then he looked over his shoulder at the thick ferns. "You are lost again," he said to the invisible were lion, a statement of fact. The low growl confirmed his suspicion. "I have a friend who lives in the desert beyond the Savannah," he told the creature. "If you come with me, I will ask him to take you with him when he returns."

Wu Fei had turned, frowning. "My Prince, this is not wise. There is... a situation arising between your warden and the Savannah prides."

Heero spun, shocked. "Why wasn't I informed of this?"

Wu Fei raised an eyebrow. "You are not at your majority and battle hasn't been engaged... yet. I'm afraid your warden might see the were lion as a threat."

"That's ridiculous," Heero growled. "My warden isn't a fool and the were cheetah can vouch for his arrival here."

"I'm certain he will want answers from the were lion himself," Wu Fei told him."You may not like how he attains those answers if your were lion decides to keep his silence."

Heero looked back at the ferns, thinking of the were lion's short replies. He couldn't imagine Warden J being happy with yes or no replies.

"He's lost," Heero told Wu Fei. "He can't smell home. He'll be put into slavery again if I don't help him."

"Why do you wish to?" Wu Fei asked, troubled. "Your warden did not raise you to be a compassionate and emotional prince, but took great pains that it should be trained out of you. How has this were lion caused you to suddenly wish to free slaves and to care about their well being?"

"Isn't that noble?" Heero wondered angrily.

Wu Fei gave a small nod. "It is, but I was not hired to teach you to be noble, my Prince."

"But you have. I see you act nobly often. I see you use your strength to protect the weak who should not fight," Heero pointed out. "You have taught by example."

"Then it will be the worst for you and me," Wu Fei sighed. "Your warden cares nothing for honor or being noble. He wants a warrior prince."

"Why?" Heero wondered. "My life has been filled with fighting and training and I wonder why when he makes no preparations for my ascension to the throne."

Wu Fei looked troubled. "I don't know his plans, my Prince."

Heero felt doubtful of that, but Wu Fei had never lied to him or spared him the painful truth. "The were is coming with us," he ordered firmly. "I will deal with Warden J."

Wu Fei gave a small bow that was stiff and disapproving.

Heero tried to see the were, but he was too well hidden in the ferns. "Come with me," he called to it. "It's your only hope of getting home."

The were slunk out of the ferns. Heero was startled. He had been very close by, almost within pouncing distance. The were kept his ears down and his tufted tail twitched. It was obvious that he wasn't happy, but that he saw the necessity of following Heero. When Wu Fei and Heero began walking, he paced behind them. Heero couldn't help feeling relief. To say it was about honor and being noble was a lie, one that Wu Fei probably knew. What really compelled him to help the were, though, was something Heero didn't fully understand yet.

They entered the city, passing through a bustling crowd, and Heero feared he would lose the were lion then and there. Duo's fur was bristled and his ears were flat. Heero took up a position beside him, both to protect the were and the curious people he was eyeing dangerously, as they followed Wu Fei to the keep.

The keep was a lodge of logs and thatch, with a huge main hall for gatherings and audiences, and a warren like section for the royal family and their servants. Hearths, and many weres living close together, gave the air a familiar, heavy scent, that was welcoming to Heero, but clearly distasteful to the were lion.

Heero put on a mantle that he had put aside when he had decided to play commoner in the market. He couldn't be the errant young were wolf here. In this place, he was Prince Heero, highly trained warrior and heir to the leadership of the forest weres. His face went hard and his eyes glared at the people who looked ready to question his right to bring Duo into their midst.

"What is the meaning of this, Chang Wu Fei?" A voice asked and a very large, strikingly handsome, were wolf, came up to them hurriedly, a general's sash tied around his waist.

"My Prince," Wu Fei said aside to Heero. " Perhaps you should take your 'guest' to your rooms until I explain the situation?"

Heero nodded and took a side corridor with the were lion slinking close to his side."Stay away from that one," Heero warned. "He's General Trieze. He would like nothing better than to see any creature, not a were wolf, in a cage."

+

Once in Heero's spacious rooms, the were lion felt even more claustrophobic. There was a dead fireplace, but before it was a thick fur, and Duo couldn't help curling into it. He glared at Heero and thought about his words. The pride leader, Zechs, had had the same opinion of other weres as General Trieze, but he had expanded that desire to include scrawny orphans, who looked as if they would never reach the promise of a were lion' full size or strength.

Heero watched Duo for a few minutes and then he moved to light the fireplace. When it was crackling warmly, he chose a low lounge covered in sable furs to rest on. "Is there anything you need?" Heero asked.

"Freedom," Duo growled and the were wolf nodded. Duo had thought that he was a stupid cub, bumbling about like a new born impala, but Heero had shown a harder side, a warrior's training, and an ability to kill with ease. Duo wouldn't underestimate him again. He was in a land of enemies, but his own land had hardly been better. A were lion didn't wander from his pride if he expected to live. The other prides didn't accept trespass into their territories. Which is why it was odd to hear that the head of his pride had been plotting to bring them together for war.

Duo crouched, ears flat and snarled, "I don't like this!"

Heero's tail curled up around him, but his ears were up and alert for trouble. "I don't blame you, " he replied. "You're probably used to wandering the savannah and sleeping under the open sky. I've heard that were-lions don't build or-"

"We are NOT animals!" Duo protested hotly.

Heero bristled. "No, that's what the were-cheetahs thought," he agreed.

"We weave shelters from bramble bushes and wander our territories," Duo corrected him with a growl. "We have pits for making tools and weapons."

Heero looked intrigued. He began to ask questions, but there was a knock at his door. He opened it and a tan were fox darted in. "Where is he, Heero?"

Quatre Winner was a desert were fox. Very large ears were nestled in his golden hair and his eyes were very large and blue. His tanned , tightly knit, body, blended smoothly into tan fur and he had a very bushy tan tail with a white tip. A large, black tattoo adorned his entire back in fanciful swirls and he wore golden armbands, leg bands, and a golden circle at the base of his tail that had been the talk of the more spartan were wolves. Son of a wealthy chieftain, he had traveled extensively before falling in love, creating a scandal, and befriending the prince of the forest weres.

Quatre darted towards the were lion faster than was wise. Duo raised hackles and made a low warning sound. Unperturbed, Quatre danced in place excitedly and gushed, "It's been ages since I've seen one of the Sun Pride. How is old Bukinia? My father spoke volumes about him. Saved my father's life when he was stranded out on the plains by an unscrupulous caravan owner."

Duo regarded the were fox and then replied quietly, "Dead."

Quatre flicked his ears, stunned. "I'm sorry to hear that. Was he your sire?"

Duo looked from Heero to Quatre and then he grumbled, "No." and edged closer to the warm fire. It was too strange to find someone who knew his family here. He had almost convinced himself that he had stepped out of his world entirely.

Quatre understood a reluctance to talk when he saw it. He turned his excited attention to Heero instead. "Did you buy him? He has a chain!" He looked very reproving.

"No, I helped him escape a were cheetah merchant," Heero admitted and then winced, probably remembering his obligation to pay the were cheetah.

"Very admirable," Quatre beamed. He eyed Duo again. "So, he was kidnaped from the Savannah?"

"I believe so," Heero replied."He will need an escort to return. I've promised him safe passage."

Quatre blinked at him and then smiled warmly. "Heero.... I... this is so unlike you. I was beginning to think that your mother had birthed a stone and now you're showing compassion for another-"

Heero's ruff bristled and he cut Quatre off. "Wu Fei taught me honor. A thinking creature should not be caged and sold. It was nothing more than that. After going to such trouble to free him, I don't want him to fall into the were cheetahs hands once more."

"I sense a favor about to be asked, " Quatre surmised with a look that someone reserved for very small cubs that weren't lying very well.

"You are returning to your father's court, " Heero reminded him with a glare. "I request that you allow the were lion to accompany you." "Request? " Quatre laughed but his eyes glinted too. "Are you insulting me? I am indebted for your hospitality. It is my duty." He made a curious motion with his hand over his heart.

"I assume that means 'yes'?" Heero asked him sourly.

"Assuredly, yes, my Prince." Quatre grinned and then he turned his attention back to Duo, tail bristled excitedly.

"You will be very safe with me," he told Duo. "I have a veritable army of were foxes to protect us on our journey. Father may not approve of me, but he is careful with my skin all the same."

Duo hunched in on himself, tail wrapping tightly.

Quatre sighed. "I can see that trust is not something that you've learned to indulge in. I hope that I earn that trust and that we become friends on our journey."

Heero frowned. "You are the one who is too trusting, Quatre. You would make the entire world your friend, even a mountain were-wolf with his teeth at your throat."

Quatre walked to the door, laughing over his shoulder, "Once that particular mountain were found out there were more interesting things to do than eating were fox..." but he didn't elaborate and he was gone, closing the door behind him.

"You can trust him," Heero assured Duo. "He isn't as foolish as he seems and his were fox guard is very fierce."

Duo wanted to snarl and claw, express his anger and alienation in a tangible way, but the were-wolf prince short circuited that desire by asking, "Are you hungry? We could go down to the hall. They should be serving food there now." Duo was off of his fur rug at once.

"Yes," Duo said and the rumble of his stomach punctuated that word.

Fresh meat was what his body needed. Once he was fed and strong again, he would see about finding his own way out of that place. Perhaps Quatre Winner wasn't a fool, but neither was Duo and, once he could get the scent of home, he could return to depending on the one person who had never failed him; himself.

[part 2] [part 4] [back to Kracken's fic]