Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Two long time, but very different, friends are caught up in a spell and changed forever. They learn to cope and must rely on each other to survive in their new forms.
Spoilers: None! Definitely AU
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Part 15 FINAL
Several of the animals nursed to health after the fires had refused to return to their forest homes following their recovery (in many cases there was nothing to return to), instead they took up residence in the thickets and trees that surrounded Skye and Brad, or Will and (Lex)ander’s cottages. Most were youngsters now orphaned – but a few were older, including one little hedgehog/ex-human.
After his paws and nose healed, he had became quite the family favourite, often found snoozing under the sapling lemon that had seemed to have miraculously escaped the flames, and more than happy to accept a pat. Eventually he and a new ‘lady friend’ found themselves the proud occupiers of a sturdy wooden sleeping box with tiny front entrance, filled with sweet smelling fresh straw and placed just behind the wood pile where they could either escape unseen into the undergrowth, or where the ex-human, and his hedgehog partner could tentatively venture across the lawn to greet one or other of the humans. He struggled to remember his time as human, and post fire, his days consisted mostly of snoozing alongside his pretty (newly pregnant) female while their nights spent together foraging for food.
The former hunter was truly happy and with the arrival of his tiny fuzzy children, sent a silent prayer of thanks for Mother Earth’s gift and pledged himself to her and thanking her for his change in addition to a prayer of thanks to the four humans who had treated him with such kindness. His eyes flashed yellow then changed permanently from their original green to deep brown/black as a final shift was triggered, his prayer heard, and he gave in completely to his animal instincts and gentle nature.
For the boys and their carers, life reverted to its pattern of old with a few exceptions, regardless of whose property was being tended, the four ate together before retiring to their own homes. The boys were acknowledged in the village… and were treated as ‘challenged cousins’ of Brad and Skye, though few saw the ‘kissing' (!) cousins irony in the labelling of the gentle pair.
Following the fire, out buildings and fences were repaired or replaced with Brad and (Lex)ander doing most of the hard work, though Skye and her ‘shadow’ Will, often responded to calls for an extra pair of hands and never failed to have food and drink on the table ready at the end of the day. Most crops waited until some decent rains for their planting, a time when the blackened forest also burst to life.
Four years on from the fire, (Lex)ander left his boots at the base of the ladder and was confident of their sleeping platform now – even trusting it enough to engage in tender caresses, passionate kisses and the moving together of body parts that previously he and Will had only been able to engage in on the ground. Now their love making just seemed better with the altitude. They had discovered (with a little assistance via some magazines from Brad, and silent presentation of specially scented lubricant from Skye) that their love making could be so much more.
Will started hunting again within a year of his injuries – but this time the dog followed, learning stealth and hunting skills from his wonderful, healed partner.
Now Brad and Skye’s astral forms sometimes spied them, and watched for a time to ensure the safety of the pair. They need not have worried.
Around the town, Will and ‘Lexy’ were now warmly welcomed just as any other resident, Lex with his boots, dedication to his 'fire training', and devotion to Brad well acknowledged; and Will noticed for his regular quiet presence assisting Skye and sweet generous smiles for all who visited their little stall on market day. Both men were always treated kindly and with respect. It even extended to defending them when a rather abusive individual - a visitor - accused the 'Lexy' of being a "retard", and bumped him deliberately as they passed in the street. The local sheriff (who was well aware of Lexy's fire fighting efforts) took offence and 'advised' the individual to remove himself from the town. The gesture was applauded by other townfolk.
Of course the changed humans were still treated rather like children as their limited speech and sometimes odd habits reinforced their ‘simple’ status, but they were well liked and their fellow residents were apparently more than willing to encourage and assist.
But four years on Skye was tired. Too tired to even contemplate getting off the old couch. Brad was asleep, his head in her lap, equally exhausted. The evidence of the fire was all but gone in the four blissful years that had seen their boys grow as humans and now, she knew, accepted as quite the ‘characters around town’ in their own right. But four years of guardianship by night and quiet toil as the sun shone had begun to leave its mark.
Skye gave up all notion of getting up that afternoon, her body simply would not cooperate. Instead she contented herself with watching the ex Mage and his partner and latest brood.
Both the cats’ lives as human were null and void… but they were happy. Nicola and Alistair had cut off all hope of reversal years ago and now Skye observed the cats stretched out on hearth rug, idly grooming each other with hot rough tongues, while their latest little black children pounced awkwardly, and stalked and wrestled clumsily with each other until collapsing exhausted to take their mother’s milk once more.
Three nights earlier Skye and Brad had communed with the Powers and struck one last deal. When they died, they died together. And when ‘their boys’ died, it would also be so. But more than that. There would eventually be four astral forms, four protective spirits, travelling the forest, since as the boys died, they would receive back their original forms – albeit spiritual only - as a reward for their deeds and some conpensation for the wrong done them.
That night as the changed owl and dog engaged with each other, their wonderful carers’ astral forms took off into the night yet again, but this time with a measure of joy as they passed Will and (Lex)ander’s home and heard the sounds of lovemaking. Tonight two would conduct their patrol of their forest, happy in the knowledge that one day they would be two of four wardens and their boys would also have each other for eternity.