Disclaimer: This is an Earth's Children fanfiction story, so it belongs to Jean Auel, not to me. At the end of Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla leaves Durc behind with the Clan. But what if she had taken him with her?
Author's note: This is not written in proper chapters, just in paragraph dividing marks. Sorry that it ends in a weird place.
If Things were Different
Ayla started at the sound of the scream. She looked at Durc, running along next to her and Whinney. "Did you hear that?" she signed, using the signals of the Clan that she and Durc had grown up with.
The boy nodded. "It came from that cave over there," he gestured back, indicating a small cave just over the hill. Ayla urged Whinney forward, trying to get to the cave as fast as she could. Durc was slower, as he was not mounted, but he still kept up well enough. Durc was the fastest runner Ayla had ever met, much faster than any of the Clan men, and he was only a boy. They reached the cave almost at the same time. Ayla jumped off Whinney and headed towards the cave. Durc slid in beside her as they watched the enormous cave lion drag the two men out into the open. Both Ayla and Durc starred at them. They were the first men of the Others that either had seen, and it was a shame that they were dead. Suddenly, the cave lion roared, and Ayla felt a shiver of recognition course down her spine.
"It's Baby!" she signed excitedly, vocalizing the name in the clipped, guttural sounds of the Clan. Durc nodded, trying not to look relieved. He was as certain as his mother of the lion's identity. He had, after all, grown up with the lion as his only male companion from the walking year onwards.
"I will get Baby," Durc told Ayla. "See to the two men."
Ayla nodded, not bothering to tell her son not to order her around. Though he had long ago made his first kill, much earlier than most boys of the Clan, Ayla still did not like him to tell her what to do. After all, she was older than he and much wiser, so by rights she should be in charge. He didn't seem to mind most of the time, which was probably a testimony to his half-Other background. He went first, striding fearlessly up to the lion. With a sharp sign, the boy ordered the lion away from the men. Baby followed Durc out of the cave, delighted to see the boy. As they played together, Ayla went over to the two men. She dismissed the dark haired one as dead, but caught her breath as she looked at the other. He was still breathing! "Durc!" she called. Her son turned at her call. "This one still breaths!" she gestured excitedly, motioning towards the light-haired man of the Others.
Durc jogged back towards the man, examining him carefully. Then, he nodded. "Can you save him?" he asked Ayla.
"I do not know," she answered. "I don't know if Iza's medicines will work on the Others."
"They worked on you," Durc pointed out. "And you had almost the same injuries as this man."
Unconsciously, Ayla touched the four parallel scars on her left leg. "Yes," she said, using the one-handed signals that Creb, the Mog-ur had used. Durc understood them, though they were much less fluid than most of the Clan signals.
"What about the other?" Durc wondered, motioning towards the dead man. "It wouldn't be right to leave him here without a burial."
Ayla considered for a moment. She looked around, trying to see if there was a place where the dead man could be put. She didn't want to leave him out in the open, but her main priority was the other man, the one who was still alive. Finally, she said, "Get the man who breathes to Whinney. I will bury the other."
Durc frowned. "But you are not Mog-ur. Only a Mog-ur may bury the dead, and no woman can be Mog-ur."
Ayla shrugged. "You are not Mog-ur either, my son," she reminded him. "And I know the sacred signs to say over a body. I watched Creb make them when Iza died, and I made them in turn over Creb's body."
Durc sighed. "You are right. I do not know the signs." He paused. "I will look for some red ochre for the grave." As Ayla nodded, Durc began to manipulate the light-haired man's body out of the cave. Baby, seeing what Durc was doing, went over to help. Ayla smiled to herself as Durc got Baby to carry the limp form outside to Whinney. It was just one more thing about him that was more her than Clan. No one in the Clan would have thought to put a person, especially an injured person, on a cave lion. Of course, no person of the Clan would live with a cave lion either.
She grasped her spear and began to lever rocks off a pile in the corner. Durc had reacted well to her hunting: after all, if she didn't hunt, they wouldn't have had enough to eat. With Ayla, Durc was able to practice hunting in a more traditional manner. They couldn't outrun most beasts, but they were much more capable than if Ayla had been alone. On Whinney, they were even more successful, and the mare was invaluable for bringing the meat home again.
When she had gotten enough rocks out of the way, she used her spear to lever the man into the jagged hole that she had created. Durc had not returned with the red ochre, and she doubted that he'd found any. She hadn't seen any at all in all the time they had lived in the valley. Before she put the rocks back into place, she set her spear against the pile and began to make the ritual signs. Her mind was taken away from the present and she found herself in the cave she'd grown up with, watching Creb make the signs over Iza's body.