A/n: Hey guys! I'm back! Hopefully, you'll enjoy this story as much as you did in the first one, or maybe even more :3
The sunrise beamed a fervent light into his eyes, and the saber-tooth tiger that slept right next to one of a larger build woke up into the bright new day. He got up, stretched, and yawned to see the rest of his family still sleeping soundly.
A pair of twin possums dangling on a tree branch; a green tree sloth affixed into a strange sleeping position; three mammoths huddled up together with the baby mammoth snoring soundly in between her mommy and daddy. The saber-tooth smiled, happily. Yup, there was no denying that he could never ask for another family. He made his way silently out of their cozy little village, without knowing the sleeping saber beside him was awake and had seen him walk away.
A morning walk was what Dylan needed right now. Snow crunching delightfully under his delicate paws, the saber-tooth tiger couldn't agree more that snow was one of the greatest things that had ever existed, next to love. It had been more than a year since he'd met Diego, and everything still seemed incredibly surreal. He stopped on a certain spot for a while, tapping his toes on the soft snow, breathing in the cold wintry air as he had tried to take in the reality of it all.
"Morning , hon," a voice uttered from behind him. Speaking of the devil, it was Diego, his one and only mate, the only person who would ever hold his paw when the world starts to fall apart. "A bit too early for a walk, isn' it?"
"I find it relaxing actually," Dylan said as he walked towards Diego and rubbed each other's muzzle before the tickle of Dylan's tongue brushed up against Diego's fur as he licked him. "I didn't want to wake you up. You look so cute when you're asleep"
"Well then maybe you could've stayed a bit longer, watching me sleep" Diego replied with a small grin.
"Oh, I was afraid I might do something obscene in front of everyone and wake them up" Dylan said.
"You know, sometimes feel like you're trying to get away from me," Diego said, "Like you're seeing someone else."
"You're worried that I'm cheating on you?" Dylan said, breaking away from their contact.
"I'm worried someone else might take you away from me," Diego grinned even wider.
"Really think there is a lot of other gay sabers out there?" replied Dylan. "Let alone actual sabers"
"That's a possibility I won't risk taking," Diego said before licking Dylan on the muzzle. Dylan returned a lick back before Diego pushed him towards the cold soft ground. A daily ritual they'd seem to do every almost every day.
Their licking and kissing was interrupted by a disturbance from shaking leaves in the nearby bushes which stopped them doing anything else potentially erotic. "Dylan?" a familiar voice uttered in the quaint peaceful dawn.
Dylan easily recognized who the voice was immediately upon hearing it. "Huh... Adam?" he said in disbelief as the actual saberappeared from the shadows.
"Wow," his older brother said with his eyes wide open as he saw Diego lying on top of Dylan. "I don't suppose you guys are playing again like last time, are you?"
Dylan immediately got up as soon as Diego got off him, hastily getting back on his feet. "Wha-what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I came to see you. Glad your still here to be honest," Adam answered, "It's… been a really long time we've actually spoken to each other."
"You know exactly the reason why," Dylan answered. An almost-forgotten anger stirred up within him again, remembering the time he was kicked out of the pack.
Adam was about to say something before Diego said something first. "I don't believe we've introduced ourselves properly," Diego said. "My name is Diego, Dylan's mate." The last two words he proudly mentioned got Dylan smiling.
"Wow, you've gotten quite a lot closer to him," Adam said. "I'm happy for you"
"Did you really just come here to check up on me?" asked Dylan. "Or did the pack leader sent you."
"None of them know where you are. I haven't told anyone," he answered, calming him down, "And speaking of pack leader, that's what I came to talk to you about."
The way Adam delivered his answer suddenly overwhelmed Dylan with a cold fear. The tone in his voice seemed to have a message in itself. His welled-up anger was suddenly replaced by a feeling of anguish and distress. He tried to keep his careless facade. "What about him?"
"You're looking at him," Adam said half proudly yet half saddened. His brown eyes began to shine sadness in the sudden morning light.
"What happened to – is dad alright?" asked Dylan. He hasn't used the word 'dad' for a long time, and actually referring to his actual father was even longer.
"He's... ill. The elders told me that... his time is running out, and it was best if I would take already take his place," Adam explained, "It's not official yet, in fact they might be looking for me right now, but I thought that I should tell you. After all, you still are family."
Although he had hated his father ever since he became an outcast, he still loved him as the father that raised him throughout all the years of his childhood. Being raised without a mother after all was the hardest thing for him and Adam. Although growing up with a pack made things easier, the difference he had within himself made all the difference in the end.
"Dad can't move as much as wants to anymore. He usually sleeps most of the time, saying goodbye to anyone who would visit him as if one night he would never see them again. It's terrifying to think even about it," Adam explained. "I want you to be there, before his sending. He won't last much any longer, and I thought it would mean a lot if you see him at least one last time."
Dylan stood silently, thinking about it. The sudden encounter of his older brother bringing grave news shocked him. He looked Diego's hazel eyes to search for guidance, but saw that he was almost as clueless as he was. Should he go back? Leave the herd for a day and come back the next? What about Diego? Would he leave him or bring him along? What would the other pack members think if they saw him again? Would they actually welcome him back with open arms? These questions echoed endlessly in his mind.
"I-I… uh…" Dylan right now was speechless. He couldn't really decide at all.
"If you don't want to, I understand. It just… that I would mean the world to me if you'd be there," said Adam. "I may have been reluctant about it at first, but I don't care if you're gay, or if everyone else hated you for being gay. You are still my little brother, and I want you back. Since I became pack leader, I was actually thinking of bringing back into the pack."
Dylan stood silently in front of him. He could go back to the pack he once lived with. Although hard to admit, he did want to go back. All the times he spent there, all the precious childhood memories he had. But now he had something he didn't want to lose. A herd. Diego. Especially Diego.
"Woah woah, wait a minute," said Diego, cutting into the conversation. "You mean to tell me that you went all this way just so you could take my Dylan away?" Dylan and Adam were taken aback by the awkwardness of what he had said, but remained silent as he continued. "Sorry, but I'm not giving him up so easily" he said as he walked towards Dylan and stood closely beside him.
Dylan blushed. He'd never expected Diego to say that. Nor did he expect anyone to say that about him. "You could come along with him if you want to. I'm sure the pack would welcome you as well" Adam said. Dylan could see his brother a bit flustered from what Diego said.
"Oh really? Think you could bring our herd along?" Diego grinned. Dylan could now see Adam annoyed, and right now he wanted to laugh.
"Well, whatever you decide," said Adam boldly. "I just hope you could come dad's sending. I'll be waiting for you."
Adam left through the snowy white darkness of the forest without another word. Dylan and Diego looked and smiled at each other. Though he still hasn't made up his mind, he was happy Diego had come in and talk for him. But knowingly, he wouldn't be doing that all the time for him.
"You okay?" asked Diego, seeing the frown Dylan had built from the conversation with his brother. He hasn't really changed, which made it even more nostalgic to see him again.
"I'm fine. Thanks for cutting in," said Dylan, licking Diego tenderly.
"No prob'," Diego said. "Come on, let's head back to the herd. They might want to hear about this."
Dylan nodded. It had been a while since anything major happened to him. It was as if he was lost in an oasis of a paradise that soon faded out to be a mirage in a desert. On a journey, you would always stop at an oasis. But in the end, you'll have to leave and continue on. Just like life.
"And now he wants you back?" asked Manny, intrigued by the story as they had retold exactly what had happened a few minutes ago. By the time they got back, they were already up and awake.
"What exactly is this sending?" Crash asked .
"It's like a special funeral we saber-tooths have," answered Diego. "We had it too, when humans took half our pack before."
"We believe that every saber in the pack should be honored when they die, so that they would watch over us when they reach the stars," Dylan explained further.
"That's some tradition," Sid mentioned. "Us sloths ever do is give them a burial, and to honor them eat more than we usually do."
"Which is... how much more than you already eat?" Crash contemplated.
"Ugh… I did not need that mental imagery" said Eddie as thought about Sid put into a state of being even more bloated than he usually is.
"Aaaaanyways," said Ellie as she tried to get back to the main topic. "What are you going to do?"
Dylan gave one last thought about it before making his final decision. Although doubtful, it seemed like loose end he had to cut off. "I'm going back."
"Then we'll come with you," said Ellie before Dylan quickly gave a reply.
"About that... actually, I think I should go alone," he replied.
"What?" the herd shouted in unison.
"We're not stopping you from what you're gonna decide Dylan, but please, at least let us be with you. We're your family," Manny reasoned.
"It's safer if you didn't come with me. There a lot of other tigers there, and I don't want any of you to get hurt for my sake," said Dylan.
"Then I'll be coming with you" said Diego boldly. "It won't be a problem if its another tiger, would it?"
Dylan quickly replied. "Wait! But- Diego… I-"
"You're my mate. And I don't care what they'll think of us," said Diego before caressing the gentle touch of Dylan's muzzle. He knew just what Dylan would probably react by. "And I'll be fine. After all, I don't look like a potential meal at all don't I?"
"Well, then that settles it then," Manny concluded. "Well leave it to you then Diego."
"When do you guys leave?" asked Sid.
"Tomorrow morning, but still, Diego, are you sure you're okay with that?" asked Dylan. "I mean, I don't want you to get into any trouble and-"
"It's not trouble at all," Diego said "And besides, you are worth any trouble getting into." Dylan smiled happily. How lucky he was he would sometimes forget. He had the best mate in the world, and he couldn't ask for anything else.
"I love you so much, you know that?" said Dylan, muzzling Diego as non-erotic as possible in front of the herd.
"And I love you too," said Diego.
"Oh get a room you two" wooed Crash.
With Diego coming with him, Dylan felt more relieved, in fact, safer. But things don't usually work out as planned. Roads are never built entirely straight.