[RO] entropy

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: language.

Tamarack was ranging quite a bit further from Bête Noire than she normally did when she was out on the hunt. It was her second morning "abroad" from the group, and although she would not trade her new pseudo-family for the solo life, it did feel good to be in the familiar silence-noise of the wilderness. The day was cold and still, the only sound the occasional woodpecker call or drum. Tam's coat was winter-full and almost solid black. She loped soundlessly through the dead underbrush, nose to the ground. Her mind was empty, her senses free to melt into the world around.

The land sloped steadily downward. It took her a moment, because she had stopped to sniff at a pleasant pile of shit and her full attention was given to that, but Tamarack heard the sudden sound of snarling in the far distance, a hot roaring that was somehow familiar. Simultaneously drawn to it and repelled by it, the shy wolf hesitantly continued downslope towards the noise. And the sticky scent of blood, and something else.

She had realized who the source of the sound was before she laid eyes on it, even though it was unlikely, and Tam fully expected to be wrong as she came down to the valley. But sure enough, there was Nettle, the eldest Oldroot sister, crouched in the middle of a stream and splashing water furiously over the lower part of her body. Her hackles were stiff and her lips were puckered in a warning snarl, and Tam just caught sight of a two-legged canine before it disappeared into the bushes across the stream. While she stood paralyzed in shock, Nettle snorted and seemed to relax, not noticing Tam. But the smell of blood remained.

"N-Nettle?" Tam called softly, and the other female whipped around and stared. Her eyes were round, boring right into Tam's own. She said nothing.

Mind sluggish with the weirdness of the moment, Tamarack desperately searched for signs of injury from her position across the clearing. "Are you..."

"I'm in heat, you idiot!" Nettle interrupted defensively with a snarl, splashing more water over herself. She seemed for all the world unsurprised to be looking on this sister she hadn't seen for more than a year in a land far, far from their home.

Tamarack met her sister's iron gaze and then looked down. "You know you could just, um, lick."

Nettle's splashing increased. "That's fucking disgusting," she snapped.

They stood in silence for a moment, Nettle seemingly ignoring Tam for now, Tamarack desperately searching herself for the correct emotion. Even in her foreign form, Nettle's movements and expressions were so achingly familiar, Tamarack couldn't help but feel warm gladness at the sight of her. At the same time there were remnants of the fear and confusion of their last encounter curling in her belly. And the other Oldroot's ribs were all the more apparent in her Optime state.

Without any prompting, Nettle suddenly began to explain herself. "Tried to go home, but mom and dad have new whelps. Same fucking stuff." She stood to her full height and flicked water from her fingers. She looked beautiful and terrible, all sharp angles and hard muscle. The faint wave in her fur along her nape and behind her ears had lengthened, in Optime, to become a short mess of curls that shortened and straightened again just above her shoulders.

"Those are our baby siblings," Tam protested weakly, looking off to the side, offended on her parents' behalf.

"Well they aren't mine, Tamarack," Nettle retorted, needlessly reminding the younger Oldroot of her banishment from the family. To Tam's surprise, she didn't detect any bitterness in the tempestuous female's words. Just her usual bite.

"Nettle..." Tam murmured, at a loss for what to say to her. Her voice was insufferably pitying to the other's ears.

"Anyway," Nettle moved on quickly, stepping gingerly out of the icy stream and shaking the water from her fur on all odd, gawky four limbs. "Found Meadow. Told me to fuck off. She told me to come this way, might find you. Figured I'd stick around. You living around here? Got a den?"

Tam hadn't noticed them before -- they suited her sister too much, and that fact made Tam feel very sad -- but while Nettle explained herself, the younger Oldroot was taking stock of the mess of scars on the other's left leg, and the littler ones that dotted the rest of her torso and arms. Nettle seemed harder than the last time Tam had seen her, and she ran hot then.

Tam wasn't sure she wanted to subject Bête Noire to her sister's temper. But here she was, returning Tam's submissive non-gaze with that familiar scowl. Her weird elongated fingers were curled into fists at her side, and her eyes were shifty.  Tamarack heaved a shallow, shaky sigh. "Yeah," she responded, finally. "It's called Bête Noire. Group of tall folks, for the most part. They're good people, Nettle." Here the gentle Oldroot made direct eye contact with her sister. "I think they'll take you, but..."

"No, no," Nettle said, lifting a hand to wave it dismissively. "I'm not looking to join a group."

When she offered no further clarification, Tam simply said, "Oh," and considered that Nettle possibly wanted her to leave. The thought made the black Oldroot's throat constrict. She didn't want to leave her newfound family, not so soon, but for her actual family sister? Should she?

"Got it." Nettle suddenly closed the distance between them, and Tamarack's tail tucked out of habit. "You keep playing with your new friends, and I'll be waiting around for when they realize you'll never want to be more than a bitch mutt." She spat these last words -- a familiar term to Tamarack that meant...well, it meant what she was. And it wasn't a question. She braced herself as the Optime woman's hand came down on her head, but she just offered a possessive pat. Despite the cold water she'd been in, her hand was warm. Tamarack took it, miserable and confused by the woman's words, and by her own positive response to the touch.

"Fuck," Nettle growled suddenly, making Tam jump, and she trotted back over the stream. A few more splashes, and she was out and shaking again, like she had before. "OKAY, Tamarack," she drawled afterwards. "Lead the way to Boot Nar."

Tam wondered if Nettle would go onto four legs and walk beside her, but despite the directive, Nettle pushed ahead of her on two legs. Tam let her get a bit ahead and then, voice flat, she called, "It's this way," and she turned back towards the hill homes. Heavy paw-steps behind told her Nettle was following.

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