A Different Kind of Circle | Teen Ink

A Different Kind of Circle

December 17, 2018
By VanessaRenner, North Pole, Alaska
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VanessaRenner, North Pole, Alaska
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Author's note:

The stories of unlikely friends, and opposites attracting, has always interested me. Two different faces, from completely different 'worlds' and species, come to terms. However, as the circle of life is rumored to be predictable, this story features a different kind of circle. A stuttery, uncertain, mysterious circle that has no lines of definition. It includes the emotions of very different beings who are experiencing a breaking within the cycle, together.

In a forest, much farther away from where you and I live, there lived a herd of deer. This deer herd would travel occasionally, but it wouldn’t usually be that far of a travel, or a necessarily grand adventure. With each and every passing day, they’d do the same thing. The same field of grass was always fresh with dew, or covered by a thick cloak of fog hugging the ground. Clear, crisp water came from the streams, and each creature could see the different shades of browns and grays perfectly through the bubbling, flowing water. 
Amongst this herd, there lived a rather young doe. She had white freckles spotting her hide and cheeks, even stretching out to her legs. Amongst these white freckles, though, little yellow dots took part in her light brown, almost tan, hair. The yellow dots looked like daisies amongst a field of dry grass in a calm day. This is hence, where her name came from. Daisy. She wasn’t quite like a calm day, though, more like a jumpy, bouncy bunny in the Cervidae family. Her hooves often moved much faster than the other deer’s, and she found herself getting scolded for bouncing past the buck much too often. Daisy wouldn’t mind that much, though, she’d just keep bouncing along, looking everywhere, as if in a slow rush to take everything in. That brings us to where we are today, in the mind of the doe. 

 The muzzle of a doe lowers to a calm pond of water, dipping her nose into the water. Daisy looks up after taking a refreshing drink, watching the others lap up water for a moment. The forest clearing was fresh in the air, the smell of pines and herbs was strong. Morning dew speckled the grass, getting everyone’s hooves a little wet. With a little waggle of her tail, Daisy looked out into the depths of the forest, where the buck of the herd stood. He was watching her, gazing right back into her bright green eyes. He smiled, before giving a slow shake of his head and looking back out to the forest. Anax was the leader, or protector of the herd. His large horns outstretched past his somewhat bulky muscles, though his body formed more of a lean look than muscular. The colors that enraveled him were rich, deep browns, his eyes a lighter brown mixed with hints and parts of a lighter blue. He had watched over Daisy since she was a little faun, and many of the fauns saw him as a father figure in the herd. Though, he still remained somewhat distant and quiet. That was the way of culture that bucks followed, Daisy’s mother told her. She would understand when she was older.

Though, here she was, she was older- and still didn’t understand the distant behavior of Anax. It was mysterious, that was for sure. Though-- not in a bad way. The same kind of mysterious as the swaying swamp tree, draped with vines and flowers decorating it’s dull trunk. Beauty in mystery was one thing Daisy understood, or, at least- she loved to stare at everything, and find beauty in everything. 
The female doe waded through the cold, rushing stream of water. A little tingle shot up her spine, this place was definitely always a pleasure to come through. The herd started to move forwards, the sound of many pairs of hooves walking amongst the moss and muddy dirt filling the air. They were quiet as they walked, conversation was fairly rare in the herd. The deer all seemed to appreciate the same tweets coming from birds, and the musical chimes of the leaves flowing in the wind, all gently gliding amongst each other. Their walk through the forest was almost rhythmic itself, the in-sync hoovesteps and moving heads all quietly flowing through the forest. It was fairly obvious they were in no rush to get to where they wanted to go. But, still, they remained alert. A time of true peace was rare, it was never beknownst what kind of creatures they shared the area with. However, Daisy walked with a musical chime in her head, lifting her knees high and looking down, admiring all the rocks. Life fascinated her, which would lead to her own danger as the herd would warn. Warning her often was almost a tradition, at this point. But as each warning flew through the air, it fluttered away from her mind like a carefree butterfly, riding with the waves of wind.

Daisy pranced along, looking over to the other does of the herd, specifically her mother. 
“Mother, look at this rock I found! It’s green, and there’s a pink one right next to it! Isn’t that funny? They’re so cute! It’s gorgeous. Do you think they’re friends…?” She giggled, lowering her nose and pushing the two pebbles closer together, to the point where both were touching. To her, it looked like an embrace of two close friends, observing the forest with all the other pebbles.

Her mother turned her head to look down at the pebbles her daughter mentioned, smiling slightly. “I’m sure they are. Now, hurry, or the herd will move on without you.” Daisy’s mother spoke with a great softness in her voice, patience was practically her middle name. Daisy looks back at the pebbles longingly, hesitating her next step. Her mother chuckles. “I’m sure they’re very happy that you brought them together. They probably want some privacy too, though, don’t you think?” 
Daisy lifted her head in interest, before nodding and hurrying alongside to step in sync with her mother. “You’re right! What was I thinking? I was probably blocking their view of the trees and sun…!” With this, her mother leans her head over, gently pushing against Daisy’s head on a playful manner. 
“Oh, you. You’re always so full of energy. I don’t think there’s a pebble in the world that would feel lonely when you’re around.”
Daisy rested her head on her mother’s in response to the action, her smile growing. “I’m sure they’re happy around you too, mother! In that case, I must go to every pebble in the world, and make them feel much less lone-” 
Anax turned his head at the two, pausing and giving them a stern stare. This caused the rest of the herd to stop and stare at the two. Several “Shh”’s rang out from the herd, slipping into the air like a worm making his up into the air. The two promptly closed their mouths, Daisy not doing so with much content. She frowned, huffing out a little. As Anax seemed satisfied with the returned silence, he turned his head back forwards, leading the herd to the fields they always came back to. 

The sunset on the hills cast a pink shade over the scattered clouds in the blue sky. Stars started to reveal themselves, twinkling in the afternoon sky above. Green hills covered in waving miles of soft grass covered the landscape. These waving grasses were the first things to greet the herd as they exited the last line of trees branching out from the forest. This was their home, even if it was peculiar to sleep in the wide open- it made it easy to stay unexpected. All kinds of predators roamed the woods at night, and Anax found it fit to stay in the place predators wouldn’t look for in the night. As custom, everyone was completely silent as afternoon came. The silence that would fill the herd was nearly painful to Daisy sometimes, especially since some of her best thoughts would arrive at night. To her, chatting in the night was a dream of hers. A dream, ironically, she was told would only be achieved in her dreams. The herd stops while Anax looks around, before wading out into a middle-area of the plains. It was surrounded by an almost crater-like form, mounds of hills surrounding the dip they stayed in. A small stream of water, and a tiny, tiny waterfall, would run through these hills. The herd started to rest, one by one, the deer lying down and resting their legs after the long day. Little fawns would rest their heads against their mother’s sides, quickly falling asleep. A few wanted to play, but would quickly be hushed by their mothers. 
Even though Daisy wasn’t a fawn, she still enjoyed sleeping by her mother. She laid down more on her side, tucking her hooves underneath her, resting her chin on the ground. Shifting a few times, she eventually ends up just resting the side of her face on the grass, sprawling out on the grassy ground on her side. It was a very odd position, to say the least, especially for a deer- but it was perfect for gazing up at the sky of twinkling stars. Each one seemed to be having a conversation to each other, communicating in the big, wide universe. 
Unlike other groups of animals, this deer herd didn’t have a ‘culture’, so to speak. They didn’t ponder the origin of the stars, or what they really were. Though, Daisy liked to think about it. Were they really close, or very far away? How did this land look like from far away?
The questions entertained her mind, but she could never come up with an answer she was completely satisfied with. Maybe one day, someone will figure it out. Though, since that day wasn’t one she was sure about either, she just gazed up at the stars in an absent-minded awe. The hours passed, with the herd quiet and sleeping amongst the waving grass. Anax would stand guard, before eventually letting his guard down, and letting exhaustion sweep away with the almost mystical state of sleep. 
As the night went on and on, other eyes watched the stars and moon too. 
The night went by like most other nights, calm, peaceful, relaxing- everything the herd hoped for. Soon, however, the sun started to rise again, bringing morning fog and the same dew as always. Daisy was the first up and about, she would always try to be the first to wake up so she could watch the sun change into a plethora of colors. This was another one of those colorful mornings, and she rested her head on her slumbering mother’s aged back. The clouds moved there and fro, merging, separating, shrinking and growing. Each cloud had a personality of its own, forming friendly or fierce shapes, and assisting the imagination of any passersby who would care to look up at the atmosphere above. Daisy breathed in a content breath, before sighing out, A smile grew on her muzzle. Life was gorgeous here, and she was happy with the lands they lived on… but she couldn’t help but wonder what laid farther, the places that all the sky covered.

Closing her eyes yet again, she embraced the sounds of chirping crickets and distant birds from the closeby forest. Her heart beat slowly, and her breaths were deep and appreciative of the soft morning air. The whole world greeted the herd, as they awoke, one by one- some going to get a drink every now and then. 
As soon as Anax had waken up, the herd found themself on the travel once again. The same passage, the same safe cycle. Nothing could hurt them if they sticked to the plan, Anax said. Or atleast, nothing would easily hurt them.

The herd made their trek around the forest, until reaching the indented plains within the forest. This is where Anax would lead them into the forest, for the berries, softest grasses, and clearest, cold waters. It was a true luxury. 
Anax walked ahead of the herd, looking straight forward, and stopping every now and then. As he waded through the forest, birds would pause to look at him, and squirrels would stop to gossip about the common sighting of him and his herd. 
Today, the forest seemed to be particularly chatty. As the buck walks, a bird suddenly flitters down and lands on his antlers. He doesn’t seem to mind, and keeps walking, a relaxed yet focused expression on his face. 
The little blue bird leaned forward, tilting her head as she looked down at Anax. “Didn’t you hear the news? I’m surprised you came to the forest today!” She tweeted, glancing back at the herd that followed, all their eyes seeming to be on her. The bluebird fluffed up her feathers in greeting to the herd. 
Anax’s pace didn’t slow, his gait still as formal and cautious as ever. He talked with a regular, yet serious tone, to the little bird. “What news? I haven’t heard of anything.” 
The blue bird’s eyes widened slightly, as she turned back to him. “There was a sighting of a wolf pack in the forest yesterday! They were passing through at night. You should of seen them, they were huge and muscular, really creepy-”
It was at that moment that the little bird noticed Anax stopped, his eyes raised to somewhat see the bird. “-Er, I mean, you shouldn’t have been there to see it. Good thing you weren’t!”

The buck seemed to think, before turning around. “Thank you for telling me. We’re going back, an entire wolf pack in the forest is too risky.” 
The herd didn’t argue for a moment, gladly turning around as he walked to the front. Though, each and every one seemed uneasy, glancing around a lot more. Daisy perked her ears up, looking at the little bluebird. 
“W---Wolves….?” The doe whispered, as if the very word sent chills in her bones. She’s never seen a wolf, but her herd did a very good job at scaring all the little fawns about stories and descriptions of them. They were so dangerous, it was almost hard to believe they even existed in the first place. Beings with such sharp teeth, fast speed, and no mercy to the herbivores of the forest were terrifying. Daisy sped up her pace to keep up with her mother as she thought about it, trying to get the manipulated image of what a ‘wolf’ could possibly look like out of her mind, before she fell to the ground in fright. How could something so cruel exist on such a beautiful planet…?
The little bluebird, hearing her whisper, waddled while she turned around to face Daisy, beak-to-muzzle. “Yep! That’s what I said. Good thing Anax is a good leader, and not some crazy, reckless buck. You guys should be fine though, as long as they don’t find out you all come here.” She sang, as if the matter didn’t concern her in the slightest. She seemed amused by it all.

Anax huffed out slightly at this. “We’ll be hiding in our hills home for a few moons, until they leave. If we come out any sooner, they’ll know we’re here.”
The does in the herd turned to face each other, their eyes widening a bit. Thankfully, the hills were covered in grass, but to stay in that one crater for several moons…? It was almost a crazy plan. They murmured to each other. 
“What if they don’t leave…?”
“Shouldn’t we just migrate in the opposite direction?” 
“My babies better be okay.” 
“Will there be enough grass and water for all of us?”
All these questions could be heard within the group of deer as they walked with a faster pace back out of the forest. With even more hoovesteps, some moving in uniscent, and others drastically different in rhythm and speed- the herd exited the forest. Sunlight shone over the hills, lighting up the deer who wished they were invisible at that time. They began their short journey back to their home crater, even beginning to jog faster to the place. The space between the forest and the craters left them much more in view, that was, until they finally got into the craters. The herd hurried down the hill, some fawns nearly stumbling, but the adults in the herd helped them out. They were all in a family, and like a family, they all wanted to keep eachother safe.

As dawn arrived, there was silence once more. The same silence that washed over the hills, like the waves of winds had brought peace to their air. Though, the silence wasn’t peaceful, like most days. Tension took ahold of the oxygen in the atmosphere, holding it as it’s captive prisoner until news came along. 
The herd certainly felt this tension as they rose to the same morning dew, acquainted with thicker fog that hid the tops of the hills from them. The sky was gray, no stars being visible beyond the white mist that kept the deer within their small crater. Heads would raise and look around every so often, little fawns and adults heading over to the small waterfall to drink every now and then. 
Like every ‘lockdown’, the herd could not speak nor make a ruckus of noise while there were threats beyond the hills. It was how they stayed safe and together for so long. Many of the fawns wouldn’t fear a day of their life within these safe craters, the herd had a tendency for luck. Especially when compared to other herds that passed through the woods, sharing tales of the horrors they had been through. That is why they often passed through the forest, to escape conditions in the past lands they stayed in. But, alas, all herds knew that too great of a size would lead to lesser caution and more risk. 
And risk, as every herbivore knew it, was unacceptable. 
Daisy looked longingly at the hilltops. She knew she couldn’t go up there, for something could be waiting- but still, the sun would rise without her. She wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to the moon, or watch the colors stretch across the sky. The doe looked down at the fresh grass, stepped on a few times by various hooves. At least she had the grass, the flowers, the stream and rocks- and the dew. The dew and the mist seemed to be friends. 
I wonder if the grass and dew appreciate, or need, each other?

This thought passed through her mind, bringing a sense of calmness to her. She rested her snout on the soft bedded soil, moist with the humidity. Her mother laid down beside her, passing the time with a nap. Daisy’s tired eyes lingered open just long enough to watch the herd’s fawn play silently in the mist, before eventually- all noise became muffled, and her eyes closed. A conclusion to the short day. 
However, tomorrow was to be much more different than this day. Tweeting birds woke her up, and the sun was fresh in the sky. What time was it…? It was hard to tell with the fog from yesterday, but she probably went to sleep late. She struggled to stand, her knees wobbling as she rose from her sleep. Daisy looked around at all the other sleeping herbivores, and finally, at a new visitor by the stream- a frog! 
She smiled a little at it, and the frog croaked in reply. He seemed to be a little grumpy today, maybe he didn’t want to talk? That was fine, she’d approach him later, if he was in the mood! The doe felt happiness bubble up inside her, like the anticipation of the sunrise. The doe woke up just in time for sunrise, and since the rest of the herd was asleep- it wouldn’t be too bad to go sit on top of the grassy plains and watch silently, would it? 
Daisy carefully tip-hooved around the sleeping deer, glancing at Anax, and then at her mother- before eventually glancing at the entire herd to make sure she wasn’t waking them up with her noise. Nodding a bit when she realizes she was good to go, Daisy hurries to the top of the hill. 
Sunlight poured out from the top, shining through the air in masses of light. It flooded the top of the hill, and Daisy felt herself slow down as she reached the top. With the bliss of warmth, she felt her ears warm up when touching the golden light, and she carefully made the rest of her way up. The doe shut her eyes, letting out a relieved sigh as the sunlight warmed her face, neck, body, belly, legs… even her tail! The doe couldn’t help but only take two more steps forward once on the top, before plopping her rear down and sitting on the top. 
Pure Bliss washed over her, and all the beings that were touched by the sunlight that morning. 
Well… except for one. 
The silence was interrupted by the sound of running footsteps. Daisy’s ear shot upwards, her eyelids popping open. She barely had time to look to her side, before seeing a black mass run at her, barrelling with sheer force. The deer tried to let out a screech, but the wind was knocked out of her lungs. All she could see was the world, spinning frantically, before there was a sharp pain-

And everything went black. 

The Wolf scoffed out at the deer underneath his claws, his chest heaving with puffs. That was much easier than he thought it would be. Quickly, he looked up and around, as to make sure nobody heard what had happened- and to his pleasure, and luck, nobody did. 
He bent down his head, grabbing the doe by the neck with his jaws. His back was hunched over, shoulder blades poking out higher than his head. The Wolf’s eyes shot around the area, before eventually deciding that his prey was his, and there was nothing else to worry about. 
The doe’s body, still warm, was dragged across the grass as he heaved her body across the plains. What was it doing on the top of the hill? He had no idea. Though, thankfully, it was an easy catch. He had spotted it just sitting there while roaming around the plains, hoping to find anything as an easy catch. 
This might as well had been the easiest catch he’s ever caught. The Wolf snickered, looking forwards with his facial muscles strained from over the years. His coat was a dark, glossy black, with some grey furs here and there. He had lean muscles, practically built to be a speed machine. Though, he was alone- there was no wolves around him, he had travelled by himself for years. Or months, or hundreds of days and nights, he couldn’t remember. And frankly, he didn’t care. It was a lot easier for him to not care than to linger on the things of the past. All he needed to focus on was surviving, getting through the days of his harsh reality. 
The Wolf drug the doe along with him into the forest, sunlight bathing the two beings in warmth. But the forest kept him from that light, it let him blend in with the rest of the environment. Nothing could see him coming. Unless it was ignorant, like the deer he had caught, of course. 
He stepped over logs and rotting trunks, occasionally having to shake some moss off of his paw. He struggled a bit with the doe occasionally, having to pull harder and make tears in its skin. Though, he didn’t mind, it was his catch anyways. 
Eventually, he had reached his destination. His dirty cave, covered by tree roots. It was more like a lonely, make-shift den than anything, but hey, it was home. He growled a bit as the doe got caught on another stick, for the who-knows-how-many time. With yet another fierce tug, it finally was pulled into his den, and dropped onto the den’s ground. 
With a huff, he looked down at his catch. A few bloody scratches and scrapes, no issue. Though, the trip was certainly rough for him. He decided to go get some water, because jeez, did he deserve it after all that dragging. The wolf padded out of the den, his head raised, and eyes watching the ground- as to not trip over any more roots. 
Daisy, however, was still here. The doe’s breathing was subtle, and calm- but soon, her heartbeat started to kick into a panicked state of fast beats. She raised her head with a start, her instincts seeing the opportunity for escape. But, unlike most deer- Daisy’s instincts were easily overpowered by her emotions. The lightly-colored deer blinked, squinting slightly as she looks around the dark and damp den. 
Where… Where am I?

The doe struggled slightly when standing up, and looked down at the ground she was on- but even with the slightest movement, she winced in pain. The doe stumbled back against the floor, falling onto her side- she felt warm liquid trailing down her skin, and a burning sensation all over her body. What happened?! Why was she in this- mysterious place?
She looked back at her body, and her eyes widened to see bleeding scars and bruises battering her body. Her neck burnt badly, it was painful just keeping it upright. The doe ran through her memories, trying to remember what happened, and why she was here. Perhaps she fell for a long distance, and she was placed into a healing den? 
Yes, that seemed the most reasonable. It was probably… probably just a healing den. 
Though, her unsure question would soon be answered. Footsteps approached from outside the den, and Daisy perked up her head. Finally, someone was here-! It was probably Anax, who would look at her with a stern gaze, before letting her go back to what she was doing after a long scolding. 
Daisy smiled nervously, preparing for the deer that would greet her at the entrance of the den.

Lockjaw walked in, a more-or-less poker face on his muzzle. He froze, seeing the doe conscious and staring straight at him- and the two made eye contact. 

The two animals screeched in fright, Daisy stumbling up and backing up against the wall, even if she was shaking from the pain. Lockjaw stumbled back at first- before growling. “I thought it was dead!” He mumbled to himself, taking a few steps forward. 
Daisy, hyperventilating, looked at the exit behind the wolf- but she couldn’t, not with such a narrow passageway. The frightened deer stuttered, looking straight at Lockjaw- which made him hesitate. 
“D-don’t hurt me, please! I--I-- If you come any closer, I--I’ll -- I’ll kick you! Aa--and you won’t like that, n-not at all!” She said, even though her back was still pressed against the back wall. The wolf rolled his eyes, laughing slightly. 
“So what? Have you seen yourself? You’re a pathetic deer, I could take down ten of your kind.” 
“E-excuse me?! That-- that’s awfully rude of you! D-deer are strong too, you know-! And… and not everything is about strength.” She stared him down, but often glanced at the sunlight shimmering hopefully behind him. Lockjaw paused- his prey almost never talked to him before. He sat down, an amused grin on his face. 
“Is that so? Go ahead, defeat me without strength. See where that gets you. I’m surprised you aren’t already dead, with that kind of mindset.” Realizing that he started to call the doe ‘you’, as if she was on the same level as him, startled the wolf slightly. Why was he calling his prey anything but ‘it’?
Daisy took a shallow breath, her mind was racing much too quickly to make any fast ideas. Nothing was coming to her thoughts at the moment, but she closed her eyes for a moment. If-- if strength wouldn’t work, maybe… maybe even a wolf could succumb to kindness. She opened her light green eyes again, Lockjaw’s half-lidded gaze watching her with mild amusement. Her heartbeat was racing, but she knew she could do this. She had to. 
“You… you look neat..! I-- I like your fur. I’ve never seen a-- uhm, a wolf before, and you’re very… intense. I never thought you would look as lean and strong as you do, I’ve-- never seen anything quite as intimidating as you!” She squeaked out in a rush, her knees visibly wobbling. Lockjaw paused, looking at her knees, then back into her eyes- before letting out a hardy, wheezy laugh. The wolf raised a paw, placing it on his snout as he let out what sounded like the most enthusiastic laugh he’s had in his whole young-adult lifetime. 
“g-gHahAHA! You’re a blast! I really didn’t think you were that stupid!” 
Daisy tensed up, blinking. She didn’t know whether to take offense by that, since he was laughing out of enjoyment- yet insulted her. She looked to the side, mumbling.

“I--I don’t see how that was ‘stupid’. I was being h-honest…!”

Lockjaw tilted his head slightly as she said this, before getting up, and sighing. 
“Oh well. It was fun while I lasted. I’m hungry, so I don’t care for jokes. If you really thought that would save your life, you are highly mistaken.” The black-coated wolf walked forwards, his mouth forming a grim frown. Daisy’s eyes widened, and she backed up further into the wall- as if in an attempt to push through the solid Earth. Her head turned, and her eyes shut tight as she heard him snarl, every footstep closer to her impending doom. The doe felt her face heat up, tears welling in her eyes as she thought of the life she’s had in a hurry. Her herd’s faces flashed in her head, and at some point, the sound of her heartbeat was the only thing she heard. The hot tears that spilt past her cheeks rushed, and she felt utter defeat, fear… and regret, true in her heart. She should of listened. She had so much more to see, she was going to miss her family- was her family safe? Was she the only one here? She hoped to all her luck she was. 
The doe let out a tiny hiccup, trembling as she pressed her head against the dirt. Little did she know, however- Lockjaw was standing inches away from her, his shadow falling over the sobbing deer. 
His own heart pinched, and he had ceased the noise. With a shuddering movement, he opened his jaw- he had to. It was the rule of nature. The law of nature. 
You know what? 
Screw it. It isn’t worth it. Nature’s law has already screwed me over, I don’t need to follow it.

He stood straight up again, shutting his jaw promptly, and turning away with a huff. The wolf proceeded to walk back to the entrance of his den, glancing around. 
“...C’mon. You can’t stay here. Just get back to your herd, and never speak about this. To anyone.” 
Daisy lifted one eyelid, blinking away the tears. Her body felt hope surge back, as she looked up. The doe couldn’t help but smile gratefully, staggering up. 
“T-thank you! Thank you, thank you, a-as many stars as there are in the sky, t-thank y-”

“Enough with the thank yous. Don’t talk to me, just leave.” 
Lockjaw didn’t look at Daisy, but she nodded slightly, looking at him. The doe limped out of the den, struggling with the scrapes, bruises and cuts making every step a pain. She started on her way out, looking down when she passed Lockjaw, the wolf. The Wolf. She was passing a wolf, how crazy was that?! She survived-! 
The doe wondered how Anax would react-- but realized it probably wouldn’t be wise to tell Anax. She’d be confined to sit with all the fawns in the safe area for the rest of-- who knows how long! The doe glanced back at Lockjaw as she passed him, but the wolf only looked away, a disgruntled look on his face. However, he was soon forced to look back up- when Daisy’s first step outside resulted in her stumbling and collapsing back onto the floor. 
“aCK- O-oops, A-aha… I-- I guess I’m in a bit of a situation, here…”
Daisy laid amongst the roots, her legs had failed her under their weak state. Lockjaw grumbled. Ohh boy. This was going to be a pain. The wolf stepped down the hill, paws carefully making their way onto and off of each large rock. He eventually stood beside Daisy, glancing around yet again, before pushing her slightly with a paw. 
“You can’t just lay there. Here, just….” He huffed, as if he didn’t even want to say the next set of words. “Just lean on me.” 
Daisy looked up at him, her eyes widening slightly- but she nodded without protest, a giddy smile on her face while she staggered, struggling to stand up. Eventually, the doe was on her hooves, and hesitated for a moment- before another wobble of her knees forced her to lean on the lean wolf. Lockjaw grunted, starting to walk forwards. He glanced at her face, before staring straight again. 
“Don’t smile at me like that.” He mumbled, but Daisy giggled a bit. 
“Sorry! You’re just being so nice, I never imagined a wolf to be as merciful as you!” 
Lockjaw huffed out. “Well, I lost my appetite. See just how ‘nice’ and ‘merciful’ wolves are when we’re hungry.” Daisy tilted her head slightly at that. 
“Didn’t you say you were hungry earlier-?”
“Don’t. Push. It.”
With that, Daisy promptly kept quiet for a little while longer, looking back up at the forest surrounding them. She couldn’t help but smile, the forest was so wonderful at night- she’s never been here, but she could just barely see the stars through the leaf tops. Moonlight shimmered on the foliage surrounding them, their eyes the brightest things in the night. The two creatures, in a very odd situation, reflected the moon’s light in their eyes while they travelled forward. It was a slow advance, but an advance nevertheless. The doe leaning on the wolf for support certainly would of shocked any awake creatures in the night, as such a sight has never occured in this forest before. Or at least, not to many living being’s knowledge. Only the trees had known what happened in the past hundreds of years, they saw and heard the conversations and stories of thousands. 

After hours of walking in silence, soon both of the creatures had grown tired from their trek. The sun was starting to raise again from the edges of the forest, and Lockjaw knew that was his que to sleep. Daisy too felt like a nap would be much appreciated, especially after they had walked for hours on end. She didn’t think that his den would be so far from the hills she resided in. Were the fields of waving, green grass really that far? 
Lockjaw paused, looking around at the trees surrounding them.

“We’re almost there, but I need some sleep. Feel free to continue on without me. I’d actually prefer it” He stated bluntly, before padding off to a tree with moss surrounding it. He laid down on top of it, wrapping his tail around his legs, and resting his muzzle on the soft moss-covered ground. 
Daisy followed, her limp a little less painful, since the ground was soft and bouncy with every step. It was as if air was concealed underneath the very soil. As the deer approached, and laid down next to the wolf, she slowly plopped down, resting her head on the ground as he did, before rolling onto her side. 
Lockjaw stayed silent for a moment, glaring at her as she rested next to him. Daisy simply smiled back, not seeming to get the hint. The wolf grumbled. 
“What are doing?” Daisy’s eyes lightened up, and she smiled at him, her ears in a relaxed state. 
“I’m sleeping too! I’m really tired. And-- this is where all the moss is!” Lockjaw stared at the deer for a moment, several nasty thoughts going through his head. Would it be wrong if he scared her off right now? It would be so easy. All he would have to do, is snarl and snap at her, and she’d run off like any other deer would sensibly do. 
But-- looking at that smile, he didn’t really feel like putting the effort into doing that. The black wolf stood up, angrily swishing his tail, and walking over to a large-ish rock. He climbed onto that instead, and laid down on the hard surface, turning away from Daisy. The doe watched him do so, and let out a small sigh. Ah, of course he’d do that. She rested her head back down on the moss slowly, closing her eyes, and letting herself take a day-time nap. 
Though, that was much easier read than done. Daisy stirred constantly, thinking about her herd, and the pain she felt in her body. There was this feeling, deep within her, that she was not safe. Even if her consciousness reassured her that she was, there was in instinctual… fear, for the wolf that slept only a few meters away from her. But it had been clear, made clear, even as they silently walked together- that they shared the same ability to think, to feel, to love and to cry. Even if she hasn’t seen him do anything other than be unhappy about the current situation, she could swear- Daisy thought she saw his facial expressions relax as they walked in the moonlight that night.

The deer opened an eye to look at the wolf, to see if she could see that same relaxed expression as he slept. Though, to both of their surprise, Lockjaw was watching her as well. The doe was stunned to see how brightly his red eyes shone at night, they almost had a tamed fiery look. As if gazing into the flames of a forest fire. The wolf quickly looked away with a grunt a few moments after they made eye contact, turning his tail to her. 
Daisy wondered what he was thinking.

She also wondered- why his eyes burned with such anger, or disappointment. What was he disappointed in…? Why was he all alone? She wanted to ask him these questions, but was too preoccupied with her survival earlier to even consider it. Maybe she could, or would, ask tomorrow.

Thoughts turned into exhaustion overtime, and soon enough, the two thoughtful creatures found themselves falling asleep to the rhythm of their breath and heartbeat. Hours passed, and birds tweeted in the forests around them- but soon enough, the sun had started to set. The stars came up yet again, twinkling in the silence. The sky that Daisy had always fallen asleep to, was now the one she would rise awake to. However, for Lockjaw- there was something different for the lone wolf. He woke with a yawn, gaping his sharp-toothed jaw to the sky, before stretching out his back and standing. He looked down at Daisy, who seemed exhausted on the floor. Sunlight came over her body, and in the still sleep she was in- she almost looked dead. The scars and bruises over her body helped that notion, and a pang of tightness struck the wolf’s chest. 
He looked down, stepping off of the large rock, and sniffing the air for a nearby creek or lake that hopefully was somewhere around them. He… hadn’t expected her to stay overnight. His thoughts were sure she’d get up and leave. 
Why was this deer so frequently in his thoughts?

Lockjaw shook his head slightly, scolding himself with the laws of the wolf echoing within his head. The wolf was fearsome, and feared by all creatures of the forest, even when alone. The lone wolf is quiet and mysterious, gaining knowledge and skill with every year, until it can…

He huffed to himself, and started to walk towards a scent that seemed to lead to a nearby creek. Lockjaw thought he could hear it’s rushing streams, even from where he was. He padded amongst the ground, his steps heavy -- he didn’t worry about the deer. She would be able to follow him, probably. Lockjaw’s ear flicked, and he looked straight forwards, his eyes set on the distant goal of water.

The wolf’s silence would soon be interrupted however, when he heard shuffling and hooves hurriedly follow him with a clumsy rhythm. 
“H-hey! Where are we going--?”

Daisy panted, her chest heaving. She seemed a bit panicked that he would leave so suddenly, and although she was in a rush, each step still followed up with a limp from the opposite leg. Lockjaw didn’t bother looking at her, peering into the distance.

“We’re going to water. You don’t have to follow me.” Daisy’s ears perked up at that, and she walked with surprising energy despite having just gotten up, catching up next to his side. Though, the wolf seemed to pick up pace as she did finally come up to his side.

“Oh, I know where water is! Several places, actually. There’s a creek my her-...” Daisy paused, realizing that even mentioning her herd was dangerous. “... That I visit, sometimes, not often though…! It has really nice water, too. There’s a few lakes and ponds around the forest.” Lockjaw tilted his head towards her, seeming somewhat mildly interested. 
“What else is in the forest?”
“Ah! Really pretty sights. The sky is always beautiful, even when it’s foggy, you still feel completely calm. It’s so relaxing, and beautiful. It’s like nature, and the forest is singing -- joy and harmony, all together.” Daisy smiled thinking about it, looking up at the forest around them, and the flora covering the ground. They seemed to be the only two in the area, aside from distant birds tweeting to each other. Lockjaw let out a thoughtful hum at this, continuing to look at her. He grinned a bit. 
“Well, it’s not so relaxing now, is it? I almost ate you because of your awe for the sky.” He chuckled darkly, looking forward again. Daisy’s pupils shrunk slightly, and she let out a nervous laugh, returning her gaze to his face when he looked away from her, without her knowing he was even looking at her in the first place. 
“B-but, you didn’t, s-so, I can show you all the beautiful things in the forest…! O-or, tell you about them.”

“Life ain’t sunshine and rainbows, or happy fog, kid. You wouldn’t like where I came from. You probably wouldn’t even get the chance to think about if you like it or not. Just constant runnin’, running away from those who can throw you outta your life whenever they want.” Lockjaw grumbled the last part. 
“We’re not there, t-though-! Not everything has to be grumpy and cold and ‘running’ either. Maybe you just didn’t take the time to see the beauty, hmm?” The deer said, with a little bit more confidence. Lockjaw let out a harsh laugh. 
“If I weren’t busy with trying to survive on the food we got, and fighting to be good enough, I would have looked at the world for a second and concluded I didn’t like it.¨ There was a momentary silence after this, the only sound in the air was their steps and the breeze through the plants. Daisy looked at him with concern, her ears lowering slightly.
¨You had to fight to be good enough…?” She asked, her voice much more quiet. Lockjaw, realizing the mistake of revealing this to her, tensed up and looked away. 
¨I’ve said enough. Just drop it.¨

¨...Lockjaw, it’s okay if you want to talk about it… I’ll listen, and try to understand. If… if it helps, you don’t have to worry about being good enough around me! I-it’s quite the other way around, a-actually, haha… But I like you as you are! You’ve been really nice to me.¨

Daisy smiled at him, a genuine, kind and soft smile. Warmth practically radiated from it, even her eyes seemed to gaze with a softer touch. Lockjaw looked back at her, hesitation and confusion- even slight fear, readable in his eyes. He was shocked, to say the least. A warmth filled his heart at her words, and he felt his muscles relax. What could he possibly say to that…?

“...It’s nothing.”
He grumbled, partly in response to her, and partly to himself. He couldn’t grow feelings for this deer, it would be… it would be… 
What would it be? He already knew he couldn’t depend on others, he knew that for a long time. Daisy decided that it would probably be best to let the silence sink in, and envelop the air in the heavy atmosphere. The more dreary feeling hanging in the air, and increasing gravity was very sensible around the two. They both gazed either ahead, or down at the muddy ground. One would see sharp-pointed claws as he walked, and though they said nothing physically… they screamed at Lockjaw for what he had been doing. Imagine the disappointment. Imagine the disgrace you have brought upon all wolves. You live to live the life of a wolf, to be fierce and graceful. Look at you now.
Daisy gazed down at her hooves, but she mainly watched the ground around her hooves. Uncertainty surrounded her heart. She was trying to be kind, but her heart trembled in fear. What if he’s not taking me back home? Have I said too much? What will he do to me, if he needs to do something? Is he leading me back to his pack…? 
A grim expression grew on both of their faces, their eyes glossing up with these thoughts. The silence held no audio in physical reality, but thoughts were screamed and never ending in this dreary silence. Soon, both of their hearts couldn’t take it anymore, and the thoughts faded out into an empty void.
Mist was visible as it exited their mouths, fading into the sky to escape the cold warmth surrounding the two. However, as the sun started to raise again, an eerie sound broke through the ending of the night. A loud, melodic sound-

The howl.

Lockjaw’s head snapped upwards, and he tensed up, every hair on his body standing up on it’s ends. Daisy froze as well, standing straight up like a deer in headlights. 
“We need to RUN. NOW.” Lockjaw barked out, looking back at Daisy, her eyes wide with fright.

“W-what was-”
He snarled, shoving her hide forwards with his head. The doe stumbled forwards, before attempting to run- albeit, it was a very clumsy run. She looked back at Lockjaw constantly, and he was following close behind. But soon enough, close behind became ahead.
The deer stumbled yet again, her injuries burning. Twigs and logs, thorns of bushes and all sorts of pain-inducing plants hit at her, jabbing at her already tender hooves. Daisy winced, Unable to move about gracefully in the woods, she stumbled. With a sharp intake of air, she looked up, her eyebrows furrowing in determination. Come on, She can do this! Lockjaw is straight ahead, GO! The deer followed her head’s commands, but soon, she found the world falling around her yet again. The deer came spiraling down to the ground, after a large fallen tree had finally been the obstacle to stop her. 
Distant footsteps, multiple footsteps, were heard just a few yards away, running at the deer. She breathed out, panting, as she stumbled, trying to get up. But her knees wobbled, and were failing her.

Lockjaw could feel nothing but sheer fear, and the urgency to just run. That was- until he looked over, and noticed that the doe was nowhere to be found. He skidded to a stop, spinning around- and saw a pack of dark-furred wolves, running right at the fallen deer who laid helplessly on the ground. 
His heart pounding in his ears, in every body part on him, the wolf felt his decisions flash in front of his eyes. He could run, he should run, and let the pack have the deer. He’d be safe. 
But as he turned his paw, he couldn’t take his eyes off of the deer. At that moment, she couldn’t see the wolves- but looked at Lockjaw with a look he had never seen before. A look of true care, of true hope, and trust-

But as she noticed his hesitation, the deer still tried to get up. Tears were starting to form in her eyes, and she forced her sprained hooves to get up and off the ground. But to no avail, the doe collapsed onto the ground. 
It was as if the world moved in slow motion, as Daisy set her head onto the ground, her eyes wide with horror, fear- tears. Lockjaw saw this all, and watched as she stared at a small sapling growing inches away from her face. The ground rumbled with the quiet yet thundering approach from the wolf pack that Lockjaw knew all too well. 
Lockjaw saw the hope seep out of her eyes, as she closed them tight. She was trembling, and-- without thinking, his paws abruptly turned, and his legs moved involuntarily. Faster than he’s ever ran before, he sprinted at her, his eyes wide with something he’s only felt when he was a pup. The lone wolf moved with more agility than he’s ever moved with before, the mud not even having time to react after his paw made contact and left with it.

The wolf made one last jump, inches above the doe- as he landed onto the log,

claws digging into its side. He was the only thing standing between the pack and Daisy. With a different kind of fire in his eyes, he snarled, growled, and barked viciously at the incoming pack, snapping his jaws shut. His teeth showed clearly, and his stance was the least friendly that could of possibly have ever been seen by the trees of the forest.

The pack bolting towards Daisy started to slow down, and soon, the pack of wolves that looked similar to Lockjaw were standing a meter away from the lone wolf. He looked down at them from the log, a stern, aggressive look in his eyes. 
Daisy heard footsteps, and- she could do think of nothing better to do at the moment other than to open her widened eyes, and turn her head to look at Lockjaw. The wolf stood there in her protection, he… He came back. A warmth tingled throughout her body, the physical feeling of emotion washing over her.

The packleader looked up at Lockjaw, and soon enough, a grin grew on the alpha’s face.

“Lockjaw, Is that you?! It’s been so many years! You look so different, much more stronger. Almost fit to be a scout! What are you doing out here? Haha!”

The experienced elderly wolf let out a laugh, looking up at Lockjaw. But he didn’t get the reaction he wanted from the lone wolf. The other wolves whispered to each other, questioning who’s pup that had been, or how he had gotten kicked out. 
Lockjaw snarled. “Get out.”

The pack seemed taken back, glancing at the deer perking her head up from behind him. 

“What? You won’t share your kill? Here, if you let us have some of it, we’ll let you back into the pack. How does that sound? We do need more scouts, after all.”

Lockjaw seemed taken back by that. They were offering for him to rejoin the pack, after all these years…? He could finally live, run, sleep with a family again… a group of wolves who would accept him as their own. A group of wolves who would fight by his side, and he could help them all survive together. 
He felt his heartstrings tighten, and hesitated. Words were blank on his tongue, when before they were strong -- they were now brittle. He looked back at the deer lying down behind him, her head raised as she looked at him. Her eyes were wide, with confusion, fear, and hope reflecting back at him. Hope…? For what…? To be saved, after all, to be given mercy from predators for the second time? … Psh. How pathetic. How could she expect that? He didn’t like her, he didn’t enjoy spending time with her. 

The wolf turned back to the pack, his gaze softened amongst their grinning faces. The leader was confident in his victory of regaining the long-lost wolf.

“Did I stutter?”

Lockjaw veered their expectations, and snarled. “I’ll kill you if you come any closer.”
Daisy tensed up, that wasn’t what she was expecting- fear returned to her eyes, and she tried to get up yet again. Just one more try! She could outrun them, she could run fast enough! The doe tried to stand, and successfully did, her knees wobbling while she looked at the terrifying pack from behind Lockjaw. They were even bigger than the wolf she had been travelling with was, but they all held a distinct, relative-looking appearance. Their coats were tough, dark colors, and their bodies were either lean or muscular. The leader was definitely muscular, and the biggest thickness-wise out of all of them. Height wise, the leader was one of the smallest. 
With this, Lockjaw stepped forward and snapped his jaws. The pack leader peered at him, before grumbling, and turning away. They left the two in silence, it was against ‘wolf law’ to take potential food from a lone wolf as a pack. 
Only breath seemed to be left in the air, and the quiet gentle push of breezes blew through the forest as Lockjaw watched them leave without a word. Daisy was watching them for a short period of time, but her gaze lifted to look at Lockjaw instead. The doe’s ears lowered slightly, and she forced her knees to stay still for the most part.

“Why did you do it…? You could have gone back to your pack…”

The doe said, quietly. The wolf let out a quiet sigh, before turning steadily on top of the log, and looking down at her. He had a similar softness in his eyes.

“I never would have forgiven myself. You’ve treated me with more kindness than that pack ever will.” For the first time, the wolf’s voice was quieter. Daisy smiled a little, a warm, appreciative smile. Tears welled up in her eyes. 
“R-really…? I… I never thought you liked me.”
Lockjaw stepped off of the log, standing in front of Daisy after she had taken a few steps backwards, and just as he was going to say something- her back legs trembled, and she fell on her rear, in a strange sitting position.

They both paused, staring at each other in silence- before Lockjaw started to laugh, a noise that hadn’t been heard from him for years before he met her. Warmth filled both of their hearts, and they shared the same appreciation. Daisy started to laugh alongside him, before her ears shot up when the wolf pressed his nose against hers. Her eyes widened as she looked at him with surprise, her laughs fading. Only a soft smile was left on his face. 
“I’ve never been happier than I have been with you. Let’s get you home.”
“T.. thank you, Lockjaw -- ! If, if you want, we can meet up everyday…!”
“...I’d like that. What was your name, again?”
“Daisy, huh…? I like that, too. It fits you.”

“It does…? Well, I think your name is neat! But, I don’t get it.”

Both of them started to laugh, and Lockjaw helped Daisy up to stand. As he explained the origins of his name to her, they both walked into the forest. Their footsteps planted pictures in the mud with each step. Sunlight shimmered over the ground, and over their spirits, the light peeking through open spaces in the open spots of the forests’ leafy ceiling. 
They passed by two pebbles, different colored pebbles, that leaned against each other. Do you think they’re friends…?

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