A/N: My first foray into Neverwinter Nights fanfic. NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer.
"Okku," she said, burying her fingers in the bear spirit's warm fur. "I had a strange dream last night."
His chuckle rumbled through his body. "A dream, little one?" the great bear asked, turning to regard her with one eye. "I am honored that you have come to me, but why do you not approach the dreamwalker with this?"
It was cold in the mountains, but Okku blazed with the heat of a small campfire, and she leaned against his side and curled her legs beneath her. "I can't," she admitted. "It was about him."
"Ah," said the bear god.
The two of them were silent for a while. She stroked his fur, idly, and they looked up at the stars together—bright and clear here, in the mountains, when they were far away from the light and sounds of a city. Someone had told her once that the stars were spirits of the virtuous dead. She wasn't sure that she believed that anymore. The virtuous dead, Kaelyn had said, all went to the Wall if they were faithless.
"So what was the dream about?" Okku asked, breaking into her thoughts.
"We were walking, Gann and I," she told him. "There was snow, everywhere, but it wasn't cold—and there were mountains in the distance too, I think, all covered in white. And then—"
Okku waited, patiently. After a moment or two he turned to look at her again. "And then?" he prompted, low and gentle, even though his voice had all the sounds of wind and thunder.
She was blushing. "He kissed me," she whispered.
"Oh?" The bear god sounded curious.
"I cannot tell," she said, "if it was my dream, or Gann went walking through the dreamlands last night. It was all so strange."
"Little one," Okku said, amused, "do you find nothing strange at all in coming to a bear spirit for advice in the courtship ritual between a wood-elf's daughter and a night hag's son?"
Well, when he put it that way—
But she couldn't ask Kaelyn, because Kaelyn would not understand—and Safiya would understand all too well. And she certainly couldn't ask Gann.
"Nothing strange at all," she said.
"Let me ask you this, then," Okku said, shifting so that he curled a little tighter about her against the chill of the night. "Do you wish for him to court you in earnest?"
She sighed. "He speaks with spirits, Okku. I eat them."
"Answer, little one."
"He is a flirt and a philanderer. He tries to charm every woman we meet. He stalks through other people's dreams and twists them to suit his will; he is flippant about things that matter but deadly serious about his hair—and he smiles at me as though—"
"Little one," said Okku, "you are avoiding the question."
She sighed again. The curse stirred in her, a reflection of her agitation, dark tendrils of hunger reaching out to devour the world. She stamped it down. It was always worst, she thought, when she was feeling vulnerable; thinking about Gann generally had that effect. Perhaps she shouldn't travel with him anymore.
But then again, not having him near made her feel vulnerable, too. Sometimes the hunger crept into her dreams and they turned dark and frightening and Gann was the one who strode into them and tore her away; she would not sleep at all, she thought sometimes, if she did not know that the dreamwalker was there to protect her from herself.
So. It was a losing proposition both ways.
"Yes," she said at last. "I think I do."
"Hmm," Okku said. And then: "Gannayev. We were just speaking of you."
After a brief moment of confusion she realized that Okku was not speaking to her, and she glanced up in time to see the hagspawn come into view from around Okku's raised head. "Oh, I know," Gann said, sounding amused. He stopped and looked down at her, grinning. "I heard you."
She scrambled up, mortified. "Okku!" Why hadn't he told her Gann was listening? Oh, this would teach her not to trust bear spirits—
Okku was chuckling as he lumbered to his feet. "Humans," he said to no one in particular. "You make this whole business so complicated." The bear touched his nose, gently, to her cheek, and turned to go. "Good night, little one. I will be back at the camp if you should need me."
She stared after him.
"Bears," Gann remarked. "I would never have thought they were such fiends for matchmaking. Worse than old village women."
"This is really embarrassing," she said, looking down at the tips of her boots.
"Why?" Gann wanted to know.
The hunger reached out again, seeking, and she twisted it back. "Well, I suppose it's all right for you," she said. Her boots were horribly scuffed. Gann's, she couldn't help but notice, looked as though they had just had a decent polish. "You didn't try to ask a bear for advice."
"You should have asked me," Gann agreed. "I am much better at this sort of thing."
She swallowed. Her heart was thumping against her ribs. "How much did you hear?"
"All of it."
Her heart was still thumping, but now it had sunk to somewhere around her stomach. "Oh," she said.
He touched her shoulder. She jumped, startled, and glanced up at him. "You seem to have a fairly low opinion of me," Gann said, the corners of his mouth curling up into a smile. "But I do hope you will believe me when I say that I did not go walking in your dreams last night."
Her heart sank further. "I believe you," she whispered.
The hunger writhed. She reined it in, sternly, and hoped the darkness was enough to cover the flush in her cheeks. This was worse than that time she fell into the well back in West Harbor.
At least Webb Mossfield wasn't here throwing pebbles at her—
Gann was chuckling. "Oh, come now," he said, sounding amused. "You were not this shy when an angry bear spirit stormed to your door and demanded you bow down before him and die."
She looked down again. She didn't know what to say to him; angry bear spirits she could handle, mostly because they did not make her blush. But this was mortifying. Gann was standing here teasing her—Okku, at least, had only threatened to tear her head off.
"We should head back to the camp," she blurted out.
"Why?" Gann asked again.
"We could be attacked by a roaming horde of umber hulks," she offered.
He was smiling again; she could hear it in his voice. "That's highly unlikely," he said. "It's the entirely wrong climate for them."
"I would feel them if they were around." He paused. "Actually, so would you."
That was true.
"Well, then," she said, grasping at straws. "It's—cold."
"Yes," she said firmly.
"Well, then," said Gannayev, lightly. "Come here."
And he pulled her toward him and kissed her.
His fingers were warm against her cheek. She gasped, startled, and Gann chuckled against her lips and pulled back and said: "Okku was right. We do make this too complicated."
"Neither of us are human!" she protested, because she could not think of anything else to say while his arm was around her waist and he was smiling at her like that, in the starlight.
"I suppose all humanoids look the same to a bear," said Gann.
The dark tendrils were reaching out again, seeking all the weak places in her soul, and she pressed her fingers against his chest because they were trembling. "I'm hungry," she whispered.
"It feeds off many things," Gann told her. "Don't be afraid."
"But I am!"
"Not of me," he said. "Please?"
She bit down on her lip, hard. Gann sighed and kissed her, gently, on the forehead. "Some other time, then," he said, stepping back. "I'll be back at camp if you need me."
She did not trust herself to speak. Gann bowed to her, low and serious, and left; the hunger raged in her, furious, and she stood there alone on the cold mountainside beneath the stars and wished that she were braver.
A/N: Man, I had totally intended for this to be fluffier. But eh--what can you do when a fic wants to turn all angsty? This is still pretty fluffy for me. I hoped you liked it!