A/N: Revised Edition. The ending was returned into a much preferred third-person view. That way, I wouldn't have to go through being restricted to merely Dylan's perspective.
The day the two lovebirds came back was a day to be remembered.
"Where have you two been off to all this time?!" Ellie trumpeted in a half angry and half-worried tone. "We've been worried sick we thought something might have happened!"
The herd was in quite a stir. A stampede of questions were there to greet them upon their arrival. Many apologies were thrown and many promises were made to be kept.
"Peaches has been worried sick. Now you two deserve an explanation." Manny said.
"Now, now. Like I said there was nothing to worry about!" Sid chimed in. "They're two tigers. Psshh. I bet they can handle anything the world throws at 'em."
"Shouldn't we be worried about having two tigers being around instead?" Crash chortled.
"That should make more sense if the other wasn't such a house cat," Eddie joked before sliding not towards Dylan but to Diego. "That's right, I'm talking about you, you cute lil' pussy cat-"
Diego cut Eddie's cooing off by sending him flying with the flick of his fingers.
"Where have you been gone to this whole time?" Peaches finally asked.
Dylan and Diego shared a glance at each other. Their slightly odd close affinity for each other seemed to be apparent to everyone.
They gave them their answer.
Dylan sat on the snow under the warm light of the sun. He smiled cheerfully as the birds passed chirping by in tuneful melody. He looked up at the bright blue sky, thinking about the events that had past for almost a year now. From the day he'd joined the herd, the day he was mated with Diego, and the day they told everyone the big new.
When they told them they were mated, they didn't look surprised at all. It was as if they were expecting something like that to happen. Manny and Sid might have pushed them both to be just friends, but they never really intended for them to become lovers. But despite their relationship, they didn't seem to care. In fact, they were rooting and celebrating, happy for them. Dylan was in a family who had accepted who he was.
Dylan had been running all this time, looking for someone to accept him for who he was. In the end, it didn't matter whoever it would have been. Because it wasn't just anyone else that he needed being accepted by. It was himself all along, who had needed to accept himself. All this time he had been running away from himself, and now he had faced the music.
People will always regard him as different. He always wanted to be recognized as nothing different from the everyone else. Now, he's realized that he was different. That falling for another male was indeed beyond normal.
But there was nothing wrong with being different. Dylan may be different, but he was a person just the same. Being gay wasn't everything he was. It was just a part of him. The reality of it all is that we're all a little bit different from each other. And each difference we have is what makes us who we are.
Every day we grow and learn. And now the tides of time had continued to flow once again. Ebbing and flowing away, crashing onto the shores of life. The snowy leaves rustled in bushes, bits of snow shook and delicately fell like powder and out came the last tiger in the world that I'd ever want to leave.
"Hey!" greeted Diego before shaking off some snow on his fur.
"Hey," Dylan replied with a slightly bored tone. Diego simply rolled his hazel green eyes.
"I'm sorry. I think the words I was supposed to say were, 'Hello, darling'," Diego said with a soft verve at the end.
Dylan chuckled as he approached him gave him a short nuzzle. "That's fine too," Dylan winked.
"What is it with you and you're teasing?" Diego grinned, reciprocating Dylan's nuzzling.
The two broke off their sign of affection. "So what is it you wanted me to see?" Dylan asked.
Diego then turned and walked ahead. "It's a surprise. Just follow me!" he said.
"After spending so much time together? I'm not sure if I still can be surprised," Dylan said.
"Just follow me, or else we'll miss it," Diego said. As he started to walk further off, Dylan went and caught up to him.
"Miss it?" Dylan pondered.
Diego led Dylan through a path through the snow-clad bushes. The snow crunched delightfully under Dylan's paws, and he couldn't help feeling giddy as he heard the snow crunch under Diego's as well. In this winter wonderland was surrounded by trees shaking off bits of snow in every unsuspecting moment. Dylan walked up and leaned against him, close enough that I could feel his heartbeat. Diego smiled, and leaned back.
That certainly didn't make the trip any easier. "In fact, I think we walked a lot slower." Dylan thought. But he enjoyed every moment of it nonetheless.
"You know, we never really had an official wedding," Diego said, initiating a conversation.
"A wedding? I think we've been wed long enough already, don't you think?" Dylan quipped. "We've already done things that mates normally do. I don't see the reason we should."
"Well the herd wants to see an actual ceremony. After all, we didn't even inform them of our own honeymoon, haven't we?" Diego winked.
"Shouldn't the wedding had happened before the honeymoon?" Dylan said. "Or maybe you just want another reason to have me all to yourself."
"You're the best, you know that?" Diego chuckled. "Still, I think it's a great idea. After all, they say you'll never forget you're wedding day. I remember Manny and Ellie's wedding." Diego stopped on his tracks, recounting the entire event. "Boy... that was one hell of a fiasco."
"You're right... we definitely should have a wedding," Dylan smiled as he gave Diego a short peck on the cheek.
Out of all the things in his life, meeting Diego was the most important thing in his life. Everything great in his life followed after meeting him. Falling in love, finding himself - thinking through all this, Dylan could not help feel as if everything was all for him. As if he had not regarded anyone else's feelings.
He remembered confessing to Diego. What trouble would he have made had Diego not loved him at all? It was as if he'd pushed all his feelings onto Diego and forced it onto him. Dylan felt a pang of guilt as if he does not consider his own feelings.
The two kept walking as Dylan nudged towards Diego with a slightly worried look. "Hey, Diego," he called out.
"Hmm?" he replied. "What is it?"
"About… us," Dylan muttered. "Are you… really okay with this?"
"You're asking that after so long?" Diego raised an eyebrow.
"I'm serious," Dylan replied in an earnest tone.
"What exactly are implying that's not okay?" Diego asked.
"About us," Dylan repeated, but tried to explain further. "Diego, you seem like the guy who could snatch up any girl if he wanted to. And choosing me… are you really just content with that?"
Diego looked to the side and thought for a bit. Not a few seconds later however, he turned back to Dylan with a firm answer.
"I didn't just choose a guy as a mate," he said. "I chose a person that was funny, caring, putting others than himself, brutally optimistic-" he said as he emphasized the last two words," –but most of all I chose a person that deep down, I just knew. I just knew that… this was the person I was meant to be with. That this person, I could not live without."
Then, he leaned even closer towards me, catching my eyes as he looked at me. "You're the person I fell in love with. And there's nothing that anyone can do to change that."
From just that, Dylan felt like a cold block of ice inside his heart had melted away. Tears were about to form before he wiped his paw over his face. Dylan smiled back and couldn't helping launching himself with a hug.
"Even though I'm a guy?" he asked.
"Yep," Diego answered.
"Even though I have a... sheath and two balls? They're not exactly something that could give you children." Dylan said.
"Well, it's just natural to be attracted to the body of the person you love. I love you, Dylan," Diego said. "And nothing will ever change that."
"Wouldn't you want to have kids?" Dylan asked.
"We could always just adopt someday," Diego winked. "Save some other endangered species."
Dylan let out a sudden chuckle. He smiled and rested his head on Dylan's neck as they walked onwards. He had forgotten the entire reason why Diego had been leading him through the forest. He was only reminded of it when Diego finally spoke out.
"We're here," he said as stopped on his tracks, pointing to a set of trees and bushes that cover up the animal path ahead.
Dylan looked around and every patch of bush or leaf looked the same as the ones we passed by earlier. There were no other animal paths around other than the one in front. "What's through there?" Dylan asked.
"Let's find out!" he smiled as he jumped through the thick branches in the way. Dylan leaped as pressed through the branches, closing his eyes to prevent his eyes from being pricked. Upon opening his eyes, Dylan was in a familiar scenery, yet he couldn't exactly put where they were.
"Don't tell me you forgot?" he said. Dylan shrugged innocently. Diego sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Am I really that helpless?" Dylan asked shamefully.
"Sometimes. But I don't mind," Diego answered, "I kind of find your expected naivety to be really cute."
"So that's what you're into." Dylan replied.
He chuckled. "I just like you the way you are."
Dylan became strangely flattered. He wanted to kiss him, but Diego put a paw finger on my lips. "Just close your eyes for a minute and you'll find out."
His mate kept on wondering what would happen in just a minute but followed his directions. Dylan could feel Diego's presence going around as he sat and wait. After a few rounds, he finally told Dylan to open them.
Dylan opened his eyes to see Diego's face was only an inch away from his. "Was this your big surprise?" Dylan asked. Diego just kept on smiling and walked sideways to reveal what was behind him.
Dylan's brown eyes glazed as the images unfolded in front of me. He saw beautiful yellow lights twinkling in the atmosphere. Fairy-esque lights dazzlingly flying in the air - streaming gracefully as they formed ripples in a lake below. He hardly noticed the lake as the white snow surrounding it by reflection made it almost impossible to see. Weightless petals basked in moonlight. Dylan lowered his jaw in awe as I finally remembered what it was all about. I never realized it had been that long.
Suddenly, snow began to fall and dropped onto the lake. Gentle snowflakes danced around with the yellow petals, the wind blowing them gently around the lake. A sweet ballet that bended and danced. The very lake became alive.
"Remember now?" Diego asked. Dylan turned around without a moment of hesitation and jumped onto him.
"Of course I do!" Dylan yelled while sitting on top of him. He shoveled his head under his neck, a bit teary eyed. "It's-"
"The day we met," Diego continued. "I knew this place would mean a lot more to me than I thought. Just, I didn't expect it to be like this."
Dylan suddenly realized something and lifted my head from his neck. "I thought you were going to bring the herd here next time?" he asked.
"I asked them about this without telling you," he replied. "I told them that I'd bring them here the time after, but for now I just wanted you along. They didn't seem to mind."
Dylan calmed down, or somewhat did, and shoveled his head under Diego's chin again. Dylan just wanted to wrap himself around him. Diego embraced his arms around Dylan and brought him closer towards him. The two had almost forgotten that the enchanting fairytale-like scenery around them.
Dylan could finally say he was no longer running away. But the distance he'd ran away from, he'd have to run back to one day.
But for now, all he could think was to be deeply in love with the man who wants to spend the rest of life with.
"I love you, Dylan," he said. And no matter how many times he says it, he still feels warm inside. That statement never got old. No… it never will.
"I love you too, Diego" Dylan replied, pressing his lips into Diego's.
Maybe this won't last forever.
Maybe things might get worse.
But I know it couldn't get any better than this.
To be continued in...