Its time for you HUMP DAY HUMP!!!!
Before we move on to the future, lets take a look at the past! *g* Rememner my Fox Shifers in the Changeling Press series, Foxy? Here is a bit of Chemicals Between Us, my fix shifter Menage! M/M/M…
Cold was not the proper term to describe this place. Zadine shivered as he turned up the heat in the SUV and burrowed deeper into the down parka that swathed his body. Frigid would be a better term — or maybe glacial. Right about now he was damning the instincts that had driven him from his nice, grassy, warm, beautiful Mato Grosso do Sul and led him to this cold, stark, barren environment.
“You can find a good hotel here.” The Inuit driver chuckled, used to this reaction from foreign tourists. “And there are plenty of things to do. There’s a dance hall, and a few really good restaurants, and some shopping. And if you can find a tour guide, there’s lots of interesting wildlife about.” The man nibbled on his bottom lip, then nodded towards Zadine. “Have them take you out to see the foxes. There are quite a lot of them around.”
“Obrigado — uh, thank you,” Zadine offered, his smile wide as he adjusted the mirrored sunglasses that dominated his face. It was so easy to slip into his native Portuguese that he had to watch what he said. “I will take your words into consideration.”
At his deeply accented voice, the driver frowned. “Are you a photographer, young man?” he asked, suspicion obvious in his face. “Or a hunter? We get a lot of people here hoping to shoot the local wildlife.”
“No, no, no.” Zadine grinned wide. “I am here to get married.”
“Oh!” The driver’s countenance lighted considerably. “Wonderful. So, young man, where is the lucky lady?”
“I am going to meet her here.” Zadine chuckled, reaching for the door handle. “I have been waiting my whole life to find her, and now that I have, I am never letting her go.”
“Well, get to it, young man.” The driver chuckled, patting him on the arm. “And good luck.”
“Thank you, sir,” he repeated, popping open the door and stepping out into the terrible, horrible, really bad, freezing snow.
“And congratulations!” the driver added as Zadine reached down to pull out the small duffle bag resting between his feet. “To you and the lucky woman.”
Zadine nodded and slammed the door shut, waving as the driver took off.
He stood there a moment, looking around the town proper, taking in the storefronts and the cars parked along the sides of the road. Then, with a sigh, he took off toward the nearby tree line, moving as swiftly as his long legs could carry him.
“Congratulations to my lady.” He chuckled. “I’ll tell her if I can find her.”
The wind swirled a brilliantly white drift of snow in his direction and then, just like magic, his tall figure was gone. If anyone had been around to observe, they would have sworn the tall young man had just disappeared into thin air.
And almost no one would have noticed the tall, red and orange body held up by long black legs disappearing into the tree line, only a flash of its white tail tip to show its passing.
* * *
“I feel pretty!” The high, cheery voice warbled over the sounds of splashing water. Slim limbs kicked in the hot mineral water as the singer tossed back yards of wet, black hair and threw his head back, basking in the bright, warm sun. He sang on — he wasn’t just pretty, he was also witty and gay.
“Like that last is a surprise to anyone.”
“Atka!” The singer squawked, spinning around and glaring at the slim man who stared down at him, disapproval in every line of his body.
“Don’t Atka me, Iluq,” the white-haired man complained. “You woke me up and managed to scare away any good hunting for miles around in the process. Who told you that you could sing, anyway?”
“I never said I could.” Iluq sniffed, splashing water in his elder brother’s direction before a sly smile slid across his face. “But you’re just jealous because I am prettier than you.”
“We’re twins.” Atka snorted, wiping water from his face and chest, looking down at the droplets with disdain before shaking them away. “We look exactly alike.”
“Not exactly,” Iluq countered, running his hands through his wet locks. “My hair is not as uncommon as your own whiteout mane.”
“Just wait until you fall in love and then lose your heart.” Closing his eyes for a moment, Arka breathed out a pained sigh before he shook his head and glared at his twin. “Yours will turn white too.”
Knowing he had inadvertently caused his twin pain, Iluq let out a small whine, his gaze dropping to beg forgiveness. Then, before his brother could react, he slammed his hands into the water, totally soaking the white-haired male.
“Iluq!” Arka bellowed, holding his hands out to the sides, water dripping from his naked form, his hair lying flat against his head, his pointed ears twitching madly. “This means war!”
With a yowl of challenge, Atka dove into the pool, nearly drowning his brother in a wave of hot mineral water.
Iluq emerged, choking and gasping, looking like a sodden rat with his long, soaking black hair covering his face.
Sputtering, he reached up and pulled fistfuls of the silken mass out of his eyes to glare at his brother, his red eyes looking very much amused. “You win.”
“Always.” Atka chuckled, pulling hanks of his own silver-white tresses from his face and spitting out water. “I am the elder brother, after all.”
Iluq snorted at his brother’s claims, then froze.
“What –” Atka began, but Iluq waved him to silence. Iluq lifted his head and gave another hard sniff.
“There is — is something –”
Instantly, Atka was on the defensive, his eyes narrowing as he scanned the immediate area looking for danger. But Iluq, almost as if in a trance, rose from the pool and crawled to the snowline at the end of their cleared area, his nose in the air, sniffing like he had just smelled the most wonderful scent ever.
Before Atka could stop him, his twin shifted forms and took off through the snow, kicking up tufts of white snow as he ran.
“Iluq!” Atka roared, shifting forms and taking after his brother. He had no idea where Iluq was going, but there was a strange scent in the air, and impulsive Iluq would not heed the dictates of caution.
Atka caught up with his brother as he stopped near the edge of their property. The Triganniaq Clan, the Arctic Fox clan, had its own property within the Last Chance Preserve. Although it was part of the larger Arctic Fox clan, the Triganniaq were known for being unique in a group of unique people. Their magic affected their appearance more than any other skulk members in recent history, and nothing they did could hide their odd red eyes and unusual hair color.
For the members of the Triganniaq clan, black hair was the norm in human form, no matter what magics were applied. While in their more comfortable fox form, their fur adjusted to the seasons like any other, but their human hair remained black until they met their true mate and fell in love. Then it turned as white and pure as their love was reported to be. Like other Arctic Foxes, they mated for life and were, for the most part, monogamous. But in certain circumstances, like when their mate died or played them false, like in Atka’s case, their white hair turned silver, the color of frozen tears.
His mate’s cheating had left Atka a more cautious and often cynical man, nearly unheard of in his clan of jokers and tricksters. But Atka had changed, and now he dedicated his life to protecting his energetic twin. Which was why he felt no compunction in chasing after him and the unusual scent he claimed he could smell.
He caught up with Iluq as the wily fox paused, his nose in the air.
“Atka, do you not smell it?” he asked, his whole body quivering.
“Smell what? What, Iluq? I don’t smell a thing.”
“Try harder,” Iluq demanded, his eyes narrowing as he stared out into the timberline.
Sighing in frustration, Atka closed his eyes and lifted his head, expecting to smell one of the other foxes in heat or pregnant. But what he smelled — what was that intriguing scent?
It was rich and spicy, earthy in a way with a hint of — of flowers and tall grass? “What –? Is it –?” he began, but a wicked smile crossed Iluq’s vulpine face as his upper body lowered and his rump rose high in the air.
“Oh, yeah,” his younger half cackled. “Neighbors.”
“But –” It was more than that. Atka stared, his heart racing in his chest, his eyes wide in shock. He — he didn’t know how this could happen! This could not be true.
Where Iluq saw new neighbors to torment and tease, Atka felt — well, it couldn’t be true, but — he felt his mate.
* * *
Zadine looked around his new home and tried his best not to pray for a nice space heater.
As far as dens went, this one wasn’t too bad. It was deep, and once you got past the opening and moved a few feet in, the place widened enough so he and fifteen of his family members could move around and party comfortably.
The Elders who had given him permission to live within their skulk had told him this place once belonged to an extended family of foxes. They’d expanded over the years until it was decided they would move on into warmer climates. He could understand the sentiment, he thought as he looked toward the opening of his den.
The one saving grace to this place was that it was situated right on an underwater hot spring. It heated his den comfortably for the most part and offered indoor bathing in one of the lower chambers. And there were a lot of chambers. He figured if you were a member of a huge family, you would want to try to find a little privacy. So now he had chambers to spare.
The first thing he’d done was set up his sleeping chambers as close to the hot springs as possible. Within the still sizeable chamber, he pulled from his magically enhanced bag the furs he had collected over the years. Together they made a nice nest on the tall grasses and flowers he’d brought from his home. They were soft, designed to hold in heat, and fragrant with the scent of the rich, flowering blossoms that littered his family’s home territory.
There were other chambers to be set up and items to be unpacked, but for now he stood in the central chamber and reflected on what his instincts had brought him. He was alone and far away from the tall grasses and warm sunny skies of Argentina, and he had still not — not —
“What is that intriguing scent?” He spoke softly to himself as he reached for his jacket and moved toward the den opening. He poked his head out and took a cautious look around.
There was nothing there… but there was a scent. It was powerful and lingering. It smelled like cold fire and ice, things that normally wouldn’t interest him at all. But it was drawing him in. He sniffed harder, his long, red hair falling around his face as he scrambled out of his home and made his way through the cleared land in front of his den.
Cautiously, he stepped toward the snow, pulling his jacket on and trying to hold back the shivers that threatened to shake his whole body. The scent seemed to elude him, tousling his curls and exposing the broad, black stripe that ran from the crown of his head back toward his neck.
He looked left and right and, as far as his eyes could see, there was nothing but melting, crunchy snow. But something had to be there! He could feel it. His cock had begun to harden the moment he caught a good whiff of that scent, and now his heart was beginning to pick up in tempo.
His — his mate? It had to be his mate!
His whole countenance brightened. He had come so far only to find her this soon! This was beyond amazing! This was a blessing of untold proportions! He eagerly turned toward the place where the scent was the strongest. He threw his head back and opened his mouth to let out a triumphant yell when it struck him.
A compact ball of frozen snow impacted with his face, immediately sending him into a coughing fit that threatened to knock his lungs loose.
“W-wh-cough-wha –?” His eyes watered as he scrambled backward to find purchase, only to step into the snow. If it wasn’t for the thick layer of snow, he was quite sure his ass wouldn’t have bounced so hard when it hit the ground.
Well, that effectively ended his coughing problem. He couldn’t cough when there was no air in his lungs. Wheezing, he curled into a fetal ball and wondered what he had done to deserve this.
It was out of sheer instinct that he shifted. The air around him shimmered with heat as he instinctively drew on the magic within him. There was a tug on his central core and then, where there once lay a man, now lay a red-gold creature, lifting its nose and sniffing in the wind.
And what his senses now told him made his heart leap with joy. His instincts were correct. His mate was here.
* * *
Atka and Iluq froze, watching the man writhe in the snow before a teasing scent of rich musk and exotic flowers filled the air. Then, where a rather striking, swarthy redhead once lay, there now was a creature of undetermined origins.
It looked kind of like a fox, but then it didn’t. It was confusing to say the least.
It shifted to its feet on long, black legs, the bright color of its body blending seamlessly with the long appendages. The large, triangle-shaped ears perked up, tilted toward the small shuffling sounds it heard. Its nose twitched as if its sense of smell was much more keen in his primary form. A long, red-gold mane with a distinctive black stripe ran down its back. The fluffy, white underfur flashed as it lifted its tail, alert and watching.
“Oh,” Iluq gasped, backing up as he stared at the poor thing before them. “It’s a deformed fox! Our neighbor is a deformed fox.”
“It is not,” Atka countered, looking worriedly at the strange creature sniffing in their direction.
He knew it was nigh impossible for them to be seen in their shifted forms, as they blended so well into the snow in the embankment where they hid. But somehow he knew the beast was staring right at them.
“It was probably rejected by its skulk.”
“What?” Atka tore his eyes away from the creature to stare at his twin. “What are you on about?”
“Look at it!” his brother demanded, never taking his eyes away from the creature, though his nose twitched in curiosity. It wasn’t fear or disgust in his voice — more like fascination. “Look! What fox has legs that long?”
“Or ears like that?”
“Or is that tall? I am telling you, that creature isn’t right! It’s not exactly gross or anything, but it’s not normal either. Do you think it’s catching? Maybe it’s like those human zombie movies! One bite and suddenly we’re all chasing after others for brains.”
“Brains?” Sometimes his brother was too much to take. “If it’s after brains, then you have nothing to worry about.”
“It’s not a bad-looking thing. Kind of cute now that I look at it more closely –” Iluq leaned forward, nose twitching in excitement as his tail waggled back and forth. “It smells kind of nice too — for a horribly mutated creature bent on sucking our souls and our brains out of our bodies. Maybe we can reason with it, offer it virgins or tourists or something to satisfy its hunger for human flesh.”
“Maybe it’s not a fox –”
“Inbreeding!” his bother retorted, his eyes shining. “Of course, it’s an inbred fox. It has to be. Only a fox has a nose like that, Atka. And that body — it may be overly large, but talk about perfect comportment. And that tail is so big and fluffy –” He stopped, blinked twice, and then shook himself as if knocking away some really bad thoughts. “Anyway, there have always been rumors that if you mate with your own sister and your kit becomes your own nephew, making you your own uncle, you grow three eyes, two heads, and six legs. Stuff like that.”
“He doesn’t — three eyes and six legs?”
“Just four overly long, skinny black ones. And those big ears — makes him look like a bat. Still, something just ain’t right, Atka. And I’m telling you, he’s not natural.” Iluq paused a moment, his nose still twitching with his revelations. “He could be dangerous, or… Let’s get closer.”
“What?” If Atka had been in human form, his eyebrows would have been in his hairline. “We can’t –”
“We have to! The fate of the whole skulk is in our hands. The whole fate of Last Chance is in our paws. What if there are more of them? We must discover its origins and its secrets and — and –”
“I don’t know!”
He had never seen Iluq quite so frazzled. But before his brother could say another word, the creature’s whole body jerked as if struck. Its gaze shot in their direction and focused in on them.
“I-Iluq –” Atka stammered.
“Run, Atka!” His bother suddenly gasped, taking a step back. “The unnatural beast sees us! Run for your life! Run for your brains!”
Then Iluq was gone, leaving behind only his brother and the puffs of snow he kicked up as he raced away. Atka blinked and turned to get another look at their neighbor creature, then froze. “Oh, dear.”
There was a pair of amber eyes inches from his muzzle. And they didn’t look amused.
This was seriously not turning out to be a great day.