It was raining. Toboe couldn't remember the last time he had seen rain…if he had even seen it before at all. He'd been in the city for so long, where the sky was blocked out…it was entirely possible that he'd never felt it on his fur before, nor smelled that cool, earthy scent. And the sound it made…pattering softly through the high, high canopy of this forest, whispering like a thousand gentle voices, reaching deep into his heart. It was enough to pull him away from the huddle of their group, moving on silent feet so that the others would not wake. He thought he spotted a lean, slate gray shape stir slightly, but nothing more, so he carefully slipped away.
The dirt beneath his paws was only faintly sodden, soft and pliant now rather than hard and unforgiving. After days upon days of travel, it was like a balm to his sore pads, joining the fall of droplets in soothing him in a way he never thought he could be soothed. His nose caught only the scents of water and mist and forest, tiny flickers of water trailing down around him or cascading off the brush that he passed. So soft, so soft…who knew that rain could be so kind?
It felt…near. There was a sense of space ahead, Toboe registering a somewhat deeper, wider silence beyond the trees. A clearing of some kind, where the rain plodded against the bare earth and short, cushioning grass. A strange, new eagerness adding speed and grace to his movements, Toboe bounded happily towards the edge of the trees, tail high and ears perked as his bracelets clinked softly at his ankle. However, what he saw when he reached the clearing took his breath away, the wolf stopping short and staring with wide, wide eyes.
Hige said something about the altitude, because we're so high…
He had not been imagining the nearness of the rain before. Rather, as the clearing jutted slightly into the dampened night air, hazy, indistinct clouds trailed with ghostly stillness over the ground. As Toboe took several tentative steps forward, a misty mass hovered right into him, dappled gray and white brushing across his body, tickling his nose and ears. Awed, and growing increasingly delighted, Toboe lapped at the air, inwardly laughing as cool droplets played across his tongue.
Losing himself in the moment, Toboe skipped and jumped, dancing through the clouds and giving little yips of happiness. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this carefree. Well, he could…but he didn't like to think about it. It wasn't that he was forgetting, or anything…but his grandmother would have wanted him to be happy. To be himself, to be a wolf. And this was what being a wolf was, wasn't it? To be here, in the forest, in the wild, with trees, and the earth, and the clouds, and the rain…
Toboe abruptly realized it had become inexplicably brighter. One ear flicking in confusion, he looked up and beheld quite an amazing sight. It seemed the high altitude was having another interesting effect: while the nearest clouds brought forth the rain, the highest continued on their timeless way, leaving great patches of the sky clear. Thusly, a pregnant moon shone down lunar golden light with its particular gentle smile, bright and illuminating but minus all the unrepentant harshness of the sun.
Awed all over again, Toboe sat back on his haunches, another particular stirring trembling to life in his chest. It had never been okay before…he'd always been in the city, around humans, always in danger of discovery, of death…but what had he just realized? That he was a wolf, and he was alone, and this was where he was supposed to be, where he could be happy and just be…himself.
Not even thinking about it, Toboe threw back his head and howled, piercing and lonely and happy and strong and just him. Once one breath was finished he started again, wanting to announce to the world that he was here, that he wasn't sad anymore. That it was okay that his grandmother was gone, that he didn't have a home. It was okay that he was the smallest, the weakest, that he didn't want to hurt anyone, that he just wanted to be happy. That he was happy, no matter what.
Toboe barely even noticed when a lithe gray shape bearing stark white scars on its chest came to sit beside him, an older, deeper, and secretly relieved, approving voice joining his own.
Peace is a surprisingly precious thing, inner peace most of all. Enjoy it when you can. And with someone special, if possible.
Rem-chan, 24th of December, 2005