One Step, Two Hearts
by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
"Why are you going to the mountains?" A well-muscled White Tyger tomkat grumbled from the couch. "You hate to ski. Last time I checked you couldn't climb to save your hide and it's cold up there."
"I don't know." The giant brick of a gray tomkat with a short cropped, black mohawk growled defensively as he adjusted the straps on the travel pack resting on his bunk. "I just ... need to go."
"Then at least let me come along." He shifted uncomfortably, revealing a black blotch of fur over his left collarbone. "Come on buddy, past the snowline is my home turf."
"What does 'alone' mean to you?" He paused for a moment and shook his head, "sorry Kain, but I really don't have an answer for you. I just need to go ... alone."
"San," Kain finally stood and walked over to his roommate and best friend of eight years. His voice was low when he put a hand on Sander's shoulder. "Buddy, look, it's ok. You've just been acting weird the last few weeks, ever since we ... I worry about you sometimes. I ... I worry that you've decided we .... made a mistake." Kain tried to meet the dark chocolate eyes staring at him.
"Gods, no." Sander murmured and brought a hand up to brush along Kain's wide ruff. Admitting our desires will never be a mistake," he tried to smile at the only kat he could look in the eyes, then turned serious. "If I knew what it was, I'd tell you." He hefted the pack to his shoulder. "I'll be ok, Marshal survival training has to be good for something. It's not like I'm going off the trails or anything."
Kain tightened his grip when Sander tried to walk past him, and pulled his roommate into a tight embrace as he claimed the other's mouth in a heated kiss.
Sander slowly opened his eyes when Kain withdrew his tongue. "I'm ..."
"I know," he dropped another quick kiss on pliant lips. "You'd better get going, before you miss your bus."
"Hi," a sleek calico femkat sank into the couch next to Sander and smiled at him. "I'm Atha."
"Hello," he continued to watch the fire crackling happily in defiance of the last snarls of a storm raging outside, and ignored the heated drink in his hand.
"We don't see many FireClaws," she paused slightly at his sharp look. "You're a pretty distinctive bloodline. What brought you up here?"
"I needed a change," he shrugged.
"From what?" She purred softly, then sighed when no answer seemed forthcoming. "You up here alone?"
"Yes, and you already knew that."
"Why else talk to me?" He glanced out the window and smiled slightly as the morning sun finally shown through the thinning flurries.
"Maybe you seem interesting? A young FireClaw 3000 feet and 60 degrees away from home," she smiled. "There's something worth checking out in that combination."
"Maybe I just like the snow."
"Not from the last two days you don't," Atha chuckled cheerfully, and noted that he didn't seem at all surprised that she was aware of his habits. "Warm weather kat like you must get cold at night."
"So?" Sander growled, still watching the slowly clearing sky.
"So maybe you'd like a warm body in bed with you?" She rested one hand on his leg and wasn't sure what to make of the twitch that crossed his face.
"Maybe," he sighed, "but not yours."
She tried not to look as offended as she felt, "you've got a mate? or just a girlfriend?"
"We haven't decided." Sander shrugged and retreated to his room.
Atha chose to let him go. She'd get several more chances, she was sure of it. He was registered for another nine days after all and there were no other lodges on the mountain.
A white-cold wind nipped hungrily at Sander FireClaw's nose, leaving small icicles on his short whiskers as he scanned the craggy, treeless and snowbound terrain.
'What the hell did I come here for?' He shivered and pulled the parka tighter, and tried to forget the pretty fem that wanted to share his bed in that nice warm room that was now a good three hour forced march away, and the handsome tom whom he wanted there very badly.
"Oh yah, the dreams." He muttered and tried to relax and opened his eyes to search for the cave he was sure was nearby though snow-filled gusts. There was nothing but a crag that looked blurrily familiar. "The thing that's keep me up more nights than not."
'I'm truly out of my mind for doing this.' He tried to warm his nose with his breath as he stalked off the trails for a direct path to the blasted rock that was calling him. 'I've been listening to aunt Damera too much. Believing in all this it's calling me crap.'
"I'm Syni, may I help you?" The elder White Tyger tomkat behind the registration desk at The Red Stag Lodge asked at a younger kinskat walked in purposefully.
"I'm Kain Ishar-Tan of the Megranthin City Marshals," he flipped open his badge to show the clerk with a small, friendly smile. "I'm looking for Sander FireClaw. He's supposedly staying here."
"Um, yes, of course." Syni flipped though the registration book without really needing to. "He's booked for the next nine days, he's been here three."
"Is he in now?" Kain asked evenly.
"No," a low female voice answered from the main lobby. "he went out just after the storm broke. Hiking I believe."
"And you are?" Kain prompted quietly, regarding the much shorter dark calico female with some curiosity. He could smell a faint trace of San's scent still clinging to her hand as she offered to shake.
"Atha Shadowchaser. Is he in some kind of trouble?" She managed not to look strained to meet his eyes despite their height difference.
"Not yet," Kain tried not to growl, then turned to the desk. "His room number and key, please."
"I can show you," Atha smiled helpfully and offered before the clerk could get a spare, fingering the stolen copy she had in her pocket. "He gave me a spare key." She didn't miss the rage that flared behind crystal blue eyes before being quashed and smiled to herself.
"Okay, you can point out what is yours." He nodded sharply and stalked after her, desperately trying to control the urge to break her neck for touch his mate. Two heartbeats later he stopped as the extent of his jealousy dawned on him. It wasn't like they'd agreed to an exclusive relationship, but it still hurt to think San'd take another so quickly.
"Something wrong?" She queried when she noticed he's stopped moving.
Kain shook his head slightly, "just thinking too much. Let's go."
"Why can't quests be in friendlier terrain?" Sander grumbled as he clicked on a heavy duty flashlight and scanned the cavern from the entrance as the sunlight began to fade behind him.
"Because hatchling, if our homes were easy to get to we would not be safe." A booming voice rumbling from the inner recesses of the cavern.
"Who?" He frantically scanned the cave with eyes and flashlight, just barely keeping them in sync as he forced his heart back to a normal beat.
"Come forward Sander FireClaw. It is time you learned of your destiny." The voice stated from the same place as before.
'Not again.' He shivered despite his best efforts. 'I hate this mysticism stuff.' But he walked further in, ignoring what little common sense he had left that was screaming at him to get the hell out of there. To get back down to the lodge and a warm room with no surprises. To get out of the mountains entirely and back home where he knew the rules of the game.
A dim light to his right drew him down a side passage. When he clicked his flashlight off it intensified to reveal a high-ceilinged cavern that opened up from the passageway he was in.
It's warm was the only thing his mind could really grasp as he stared blankly at the great beast lounging on a thick bed of gold and gems near the far end. Its rainbow-hued scales captured every strand of light in a darkly glittering spectacle. Supple leather stretched between the partially closed fingers of it's wings folded against it's side and a serpentine tail curled around it's flank.
"Sit hatchling." It motioned with a great paw towards the only remotely comfortable looking place to sit -- a pile of large pillows against the cavern wall twenty feet from where the dragon's foreclaws rested.
'You're definitely crazy.' A steadily shrinking part of Sanders mind commented acidly as he complied and set his parka behind him to face his host.
"I am called Ki'sakka." It lowered it's head and cocked it to one side to come eye to eye with him. "To answer your next question, I am female."
He couldn't help but smile slightly and wonder why the hell he wasn't afraid of a creature with an eye taller than he was. "You called me here?"
"In a way." She chuckled. "You called to me first. I merely provided directions."
A smile curved her draconic mouth. "Because you are one of us, ready for your first change and your soul is closest to mine. You chose me as your teacher, your awakening-mother."
"I'm a dragon." Sander regarded her in flat disbelief, even though the idea didn't feel as ridiculous as it sounded.
"Not precisely," she cocked her head slightly. "We are Allallanka, dragon shifters. Born either dragon or uywamisi and able to shift between them at will."
"Weredragons," he nodded, his tone still cloaked in disbelief even if his face wasn't any more.
"I dislike the term," she sighed, "but it is correct enough. Dragonic Garou is better if your must use something other than Allallanka."
Curiosity got the better of him. "Aren't Garou the wolves?"
"Loup Garou are the wolves. Garou means shifter. What the prefix were is to you." She paused. "You know of the shifting breeds?"
"Some." Sander consented. "My aunt Damera was very interested in such things ... and me."
"Damera?" Ki'sakka raised her head, pining him under a scrutinizing gaze. "Damera FireClaw was your mentor?"
"I guess so." He shrugged. "She spent a lot of time trying to teach me. You know my aunt?"
"By reputation." Ki'sakka flicked her tongue out. "She has great abilities as a Healer and Seer for an uywamisi."
'I didn't want to know that.' Sander shook his head, trying to dislodge the prophecy his aunt had made about him. About his death and ... "You said it was time to learn my destiny."
"Yes, hatchling." She stretched to her feet and settled along the far wall. "Undress."
"You will destroy your clothing if you are wearing it." She explained levelly. "You will need it to return to the lodge." She waited for a moment and elaborated when he still didn't to move. "You're to learn how to shift."
"Oh." He loosened the laces on his boots, pulled them off and set them carefully next to his parka. His double layered socks were pulled off, separated and laid one top of the boots, one set per boot. A sweater, light sweat shirt, flannel shirt and T-shirt quickly followed, each folded and placed in order over the parka when he shivered, rippling the dark gray fur across his chest.
"Are you cold?" Ki'sakka asked with more than a touch of concern.
"A little." He murmured, preferring to admit to a physical limitation rather than a mental one. "I'll be fine." He hesitated only a moment before unbuckling his belt.
She snorted, "there is no need for discomfort here," and opened the thumb and first two fingers on her right hand.
By the time he'd folded his pants and underwear the temperature had increased five degrees to a touch warmer than he keep his quarters at night.
"Thank you." Sander mumbled as he stood and tried to ignore her intense, appraising gaze. "Now what?" He kept his voice quiet.
"Now close your eyes." Her voice was low as she waited for him to comply. "Have you ever played make-believe?"
"What?" He just barely managed to keep his eyes shut.
"Have you ever pretended you were something else?"
"Yes," barely came out.
"Good," she paused. "Gather an image in your mind's eye of what you will look like as a dragon."
"Yes." Her soft rumble was encouraging.
"Okay, I have it."
"Now will yourself into that form. Don't question how it works yet, just want it." She paused again. "Believe."
Silence held the cavern as he tried. The first sharp intake of breath told her that he'd made it before the first visible signs of the shift appeared. Then bone cracked into new a format and grew. Hard muscles twisted to accommodate their new function as fur was absorbed into metallic scales and a few drops of blood trickled down his back as the first spike of bone that was to become a set of leather wings broke through skin.
Throughout it, Sander remained silent. He didn't try to stop his body from twisting in agony, but he refused to give it voice. With the transformation almost over, he collapsed and panted quietly on the coin covered floor for a long time, willing the memory of pain and exhaustion away. He knew it had worked long before he was willing to move. He could feel his extra limbs, the greatly increased weight of his tail and the length of his neck stretched out.
Slowly he opened one eye. Ki'sakka had not moved. As he lifted his head and tried to gain his feet she raised her hand and spread her clawed fingers in a sharp motion. "Take a look at yourself." She rumbled as the air in front of him shimmered into a solid-looking reflective square. She remained silent for several minutes as he appraised his new appearance. "You make a good looking dragon."
"Thanks, I think." He mumbled, still absorbed in trying to match what he was looking at with what he felt. "When
do I learn to use these?" Sander moved his half furled wings, still regarding his nearly silver hide.
"One step at a time, hatchling." She smiled with a chuckle. "You must learn to walk before you can fly."
"Will my color change, like yours?"
"Not until you are very old, past breeding age."
"Holy kats." Kain whispered as his flashlight fell on two creatures he'd only seen in mythology books, complete with gold and gem carpet bed.
The smaller of the two beasts, the one closest to him, raised it's head slightly. "Kain?"
"Umm, yah." He looked hard at that beast speaking to him, it sounded so familiar. Then he regarded his tracker as the larger beast raised it's head in a nearly perfect mimic of it's companion.
"What are you doing here?" The smaller one asked softly.
"Umm, looking ... I was worried ... umm, well ... I was looking for you," Kain addressed the smaller beast. "Sander."
The larger beast snorted it's displeasure.
Sander the dragon merely shook his head and chuckled deep in his throat. "You never could leave a mystery alone. Where's the transmitter?"
"Transmitter?" Ki'sakka growled, catching their attention.
"I assume that's what he used," Sander the dragon turned from his teacher to his friend. "Correct?"
"Umm, yes." Kain regarded the pair uncomfortably. "It's in your bloodstream."
That got Sander's attention, "when did you have that chance?"
"Three days before you left," Kain blushed brightly under white fur, turning him an odd shade of pink. "You weren't exactly noticing the pain."
Ki'sakka growled to get his attention. "Who is this one to you?"
"He's my mate." Sander was paying too much attention to Ki'sakka to notice the shocked tension that rippled though Kain's body at his statement.
"What?" She raised to all fours.
"My mate." Sander the dragon regarded her quietly. "Kain Ishar-Tan is my mate."
"You can not."
"Why?" Sander voice was deceptively mild and Kain suppressed a grin, remembering every other time he'd heard that tone directed at another.
"It is male and it is Khan."
"So?" Sander didn't fail to note to shock echoed in Kain's body and face this time.
She sighed, a long frustrated gust. "You can have no children with another male and the Khan hunt us. He is no different, not once he's been trained."
"Then I suggest we train him."
"What!" Both Kain and Ki'sakka gasped.
Sander the dragon cocked his head, swiveling his gaze between them. "If the trouble is with who will train him, then a way to avoid that problem is for us to teach him how to exist as a Garou."
"He must be ..."
"Why?" Sander demanded quietly.
"Because ... because that is how things are done." Ki'sakka stammered, still stunned. "How could I teach him to be a Khan?"
"You don't," came Sander's simple reply. "You teach him how to be a Garou and leave the rest to us."
"But the Khan are our enemies, they have hunted us for sixty millennia and more." She hissed, glaring at her new student.
"Then it is time for that to change," Sander growled with equal determination. "What prevents a peace but fool's pride on both sides?"
"You do not underst..."
"I understand plenty. Garou war, Uywamisi war, Vamp war, Mage war ..." Sander barely controlled the rising hatred in his voice, "it's all the same. Pride and intolerance sets one against another and they drag friends into it. Blood, death and destruction that never accomplishes anything when all is said and done but demand more of the same. Land is claimed for a time, but it's always lost. Pride may be satisfied, but what does it accomplish? The... "
"Enough!" Ki'sakka roared above Sander's snarl. "Enough, hatchling," she chuckled softly. "Now I know why you came to me."
"Hu?" Both males realized she was smiling broadly.
"You've all but quoted my favorite speech to the Council." Ki'sakka regarded them both, then focused on Kain. "And why did you seek your mate out so soon?"
He looked a little sheepishly at Sander, drew a deep breath, and nodded. "I had a ... feeling. You were in danger."
"You traipsed all the way up here ..."
"I got it almost a week before you mentioned this trip. When you did, the ... it spiked off the scale." Kain shuffled a little. "I've learned the hard way that those instincts are best followed, especially when they are that strong."
Sander regarded him for a long moment, then shifted to his kat form. "Kain, what else is wrong?"
Kain tried and failed to meet his eyes. "Can I ask something?"
"Of course," Sander crossed the remain distance between them, offering everything with a gentle on hand on Kain's shoulder.
Kain fought the urge to sink against Sanders broad chest and stay there for a quiet moment before continuing. "What is Atha Shadowchaser to you?"
Sander regarded him, a little confused. "A calico fem that's been making passes at me."
"You know something I don't here, Kain?"
"She has a key to your room ..." he shivered and looked down, immediately regretting it as his eyes were drawn to his mate's darker balls and sheath and looked elsewhere. "I didn't get one until we moved in together."
"Key ... to my room?"
Kain shivered at the anger in Sander's voice and nodded. "I take it you didn't give it to her."
Kain smiled in honest relief, "that's what she said."
"I see," Sander slipped both hands into Kain's ruff, brought his face up and kissed softly. "I wouldn't do that to you. Please believe that."
Kain closed his eyes and found he had no answer. "So what does this mean to us?" He tried to meet Sander's watchful gaze.
"It means you'll both need to learn how to control your instincts for a start." Ki'sakka brought their attention back to her. "And you'll need to be extremely circumspect about your relationship until you are powerful enough to successfully challenge those who would separate you ... or kill you outright for it. You're one advantage here is that Sander will likely have finished his basic training before Kain has his First Change."
"That serious?" Kain whispered, allowing Sander to pull him close.
"It's that serious," she nodded slightly. "I will support you as I can, but most of the burden you must bare. The prejudice you have faced already is nothing compared to what the Council and the more ... fanatic oldtimers will do."
"I have to ask," Kain waited for her to pause. "Why are you okay with this?"
Ki'sakka laid her head down on her crossed forepaws and smiled softly at them. "I'll introduce you to them sometime."
"Them?" Sander prompted.
"Two hims, and a her," she offered no more. "I will explain in time. It is ... complicated ... between us."
"A Turila marriage?" Kain smiled, earning a started look from Ki'sakka and a bewildered one from Sander. "It's not uncommon in Wildin and Ubraas, where the Golden Cats and Rotties are still trying to form a stable society. Usual two males and two females -- one of each race and gender. The two Goldens and the two Rotties breed to keep up numbers, but all sleep together, and all raise all the cubs and kittens."
Sander nudged his ear. "When did you study cultures?"
He shrugged, "umm, mom had big dreams of me being a diplomat."
"You may yet be one," Ki'sakka spoke softly. "You do that well."
"Umm, thank you." Kain nodded nervously to her.
She smiled, mostly to herself. "Yes, I think this will work. Obrathin will not be pleased, but not even he can argue my choice."
"What choice is that going to be?" Sander unconsciously shifted between Ki'sakka and his mate.
She grinned, "I'm going to take on two students. Sander for he is an Allallanka and called me. Kain here, as my protégé, for he has the gifts to be a fine negotiator."
"Umm, excuse me, but what is this going to do to out Marshal careers?" Kain spoke up. "We can't exactly leave," he glanced at Sander. "Can we?"
"I don't want to."
She cocked her head slightly. "I would hope not, you'll need a mundane life and identity to avoid drawing attention to yourselves, at least at this stage." Ki'sakka closed her eyes and drew a deep breath. "Another thing you should understand now. Sander, you life expectancy is now measure in centuries, Kain's is still in decades."
"So I can expect to outlive him, by a lot." Sander spoke softly. "Expect to outlive everyone."
"Yes," Ki'sakka bowed her head.
"Is this supposed to change my mind?"
"No. It is so you both understand what will come in a century or so," her eyes clouded over slightly. "I had no such warning, I do not wish on you any more pain than what must be."
"I understand. It changes nothing." Sander almost growled. Kain just nodded slowly, willingly leaning into Sander when the other tom lightly pulled him close.
"So what now?" Kain asked in the growing silence.
"Sleep?" Ki'sakka blinked. "That's what you interrupted," she nodded at Kain and watched them for a moment. "There's a small cavern further back you can have some privacy in, if you would like."
"I appreciate it." Sander smiled and turned to show his mate the way back.
Kain paused them with Sander's hand touched them small of his back. "Would you bring your clothes, please?" He cringed inside at the hurt look that flashed across Sander's face. "I'm having hell concentrating on anything above the waist with you like that, is all. We need to talk, not fuck. Please ..."
"I get it," Sander brushed his partner's ruff, and retrieved his things.
"There are pillows and blankets in the room," Ki'sakka rumbled close-eyed with her head on her paws when he reached for them. "And lube."
"Sander?" Kain's voice was just above a whisper in the comfortable darkness some time later, when he was as sure as he was going to get that Ki'sakka was truly asleep.
"Were you serious? About the Kain Ishar-Tan is my mate part?" He curled against Sander's side, then held still.
"Aren't we?" Sander held his voice to the carefully neutral tone he'd cultured to avoid misunderstandings -- and giving information out.
"I don't know," he shivered. "It was never my choice."
There was a long silence while Sander waited for the rest, for the why, and analyzed it in himself. Finally he asked, "why?"
"I ... committed myself to you on that camping trip that snowed us in."
"But that was 6th grade!"
"I know." Kain pressed a little closer, slipping one leg over Sander's. "While you paced and slept and complained and looked for a why out, I meditated. I listened to the will of the Goddess. I looked inside myself. I looked to the future's most likely paths as best I could. The only constant I saw there was you. In the only happy ones I was with you."
"Umm, I have to ask ... but did you, umm ... want me? This way, back then?"
"No, love." Kain murmured. "I just knew my future was with you. I understood it would probably be this way, but I didn't see you as a desired lover for a while."
"But long before I noticed you that way." Sander traced light claws over his mate's stripes. "How long did I ignore your need?"
"It's okay," Kain hugged his lover. "We're together now."
He tipped Kain's face up into a searingly tender kiss. "It's not okay to me. How long was I blind?"
"Eight years," he smiled a little at the shock on Sander's face. It disappeared when the shock melted into pain. "It's okay, San. I knew you'd take a while," Kain smiled again. "I spent my time learning how to be a good lover for when you were."
"That's why you never stayed with anyone?"
"Uh-hm. You're the only one I wanted, but I couldn't come to you with nothing to offer." Kain buried his face against Sander's thick neck. "It's why I didn't bother with the few fems that I found attractive. They have nothing worth teaching me about making love to you.
"Oh," Sander twisted, putting Kain on his back and himself over the Tyger. "Why were you so sure I'd take so long?"
"You never looked at toms much when you started dating," Kain started tracing lazy patters in Sander's chestfur. "I figured you'd be as late coming into the other half of your awareness as I was early."
"Guess I really should make this up to you," Sander half purred, half hissed as he slid his tongue over Kain's hardening nipple.
"You ... don't have to."
Sander stopped moved and glared at the big tomkat under him. "Kain, I've spent that last week dodging a very lecherous fem, being told I'm not really a Kat, having everything I've ever believed about the world and how it works turned inside out and upside down, being frozen, lonely, obliged to figure out why I'm those things and I just got informed that we're some kind of racial enemies not twenty four hours after it finally sinks in just how fuckin much you matter to me." He finally paused for a deep breath. "And now you tell me that I don't have to touch you? Don't you want ..."
"Sander!" Kain cut him off sharply, palms flat on the other's heaving chest. "Calm down, love. You are way over reacting. What the hell just happened?"
"Over reacting?" came out a hissed growl as Sander pushed himself up.
"I said you didn't have to, as in you're not obliged to." Kain relaxed his arms and brought one hand to cup Sander's face. "Love, I don't want your affection out of guilt, only out of your own desire. Can you understand that?" He searched his mate's face.
"I ... yes." Sander let a held breath rush out and sank back down. "I don't kn ... I need to have, posses you so badly all of a sudden."
"Then possess me so you believe it, love." Kain brushed light fingerpads over Sander's open lips. "I have known this, our ownership of each other, for a long time. It's past time you did too." He smiled ruefully, "maybe then I wouldn't be so afraid of you leaving all the time."
One Step, Two Hearts
Het Level is Low Slash Level is Femslash Level is None Herm Level is None
30 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written January 1, 1998 by Rauhnee Ranshanka
Setting: Generic Furry
Primary Races: Feline
Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Supernatural, Transformation
Pairings: Sander FireClaw/Kain Ishar-Tan
Notes: Yes, I do write original worlds on occasion, this is one. It did start as a SWAT Kats FanFic (gen to hetish, poorly distributed and totally AU), but, well, it just *isn't*. Once I realized that I didn't even want the characters I started with, I went back, changed names, changed a couple character things to fit with the world I was trying to write, added about 500% for story, and got this.
Blurb: Sander FireClaw is 22, freshly graduated from Marshal Academy and about to have a life-shattering experience x2. Sometimes, fiction carries more truth than accepted fact.
Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.
Page Hit Count from March 5, 2005