A/N: This is the last of what I'll write about Diego/Dylan. Hope you all enjoyed it, and thanks for sticking with Dylan to the end. (P.S. I shifted to first-person around the second half of the story)
The dawn broke with the entire pack mourning the loss of their leader. There was a place nearby known as the Great Lake. A large waterfall that arched around the entire half of a lake nested a few miles away from the pack camp. On the banks grew purple water lilies that blossomed untouched by any existence. There, they lay the lifeless husk of the alpha on a barren half of a tree trunk. The elders pushed it closer towards the waters as ripples of thoughts and memories grew thick then thinner with each passing moment.
Today was not a happy day. No, not happy at all. The gentle breeze that nestled gently on the boat pushed it towards the giant waterfalls that sparkled elegantly against the sun. And, in the blink of an eye, the raft disappears in mist of water. The elders had believed that it would carry the dead towards paradise. A special Eden existing only for those honorable enough to have been called alpha, where they send the bodies of their alphas through the waterfalls as they are cleansed to be able to drift into heaven.
Diego pondered upon this belief and reflected upon his past. Soto might not have been the gentlest of leaders, but Diego could sturdily believe in his respect and admiration towards him. And in catching a glimpse of Zeke and the others almost dropping a tear, he could tell they were thinking the same thing.
The mass of saber-tooth tigers started to drip away, one by one. Adam found himself within the comfort of Amanda, his pregnant betrothed. Dylan, however, kept within solitude of himself as he reveled in depression. Diego passed by the unfamiliar faces of sabers leaving the lake as he walked towards his mate.
In the brush of wind, Dylan could tell that he was right behind him without turning his head. "All this time, I've hated him for what he did," Dylan said. "I hated him for not standing beside me in all this"
"But you knew why he did it, don't you?" Diego asked, sitting beside him near the banks of the Great Lake.
"I do. I always have," said Dylan before beginning to cry again. He put a paw over his eyes, being tired of crying as well. "But, still… I… I hated him. I feel like such a horrible person."
"But you still loved your dad right?" said Diego, "Even with all that hate." And almost immediately, Dylan had stopped crying.
Diego turned his hazel-colored eyes and burrowed his stare into Dylan's watery brown eyes. "That's how much of an amazing person you are Dylan. You've got all that love in you that even hate can't stop you from giving it. And all the people that just give you a blind eye, it's their loss."
Diego then began to nuzzle his mate. "That's the kind of person… I fell in love with," he smiled. Dylan nuzzled him back affectionately, calming down a bit as he dried his tears. There were plenty of tigers still around them, among them were even Diego's old pack. But they didn't care. They simply closed their eyes so that the only world that existed was the one where they could feel by touch.
"Yuck! Get a cave!" said Fitch. Still as a child, he took the symbol of affection akin to disgust, but not because they were both males but simply because of the affection itself.
Dylan chortled. "Heh. Still just a kid."
"Kinda surprises me with the way he acts though," Diego mentioned.
Adam overheard the chatter of familiar voices and went towards them with his mate.
"Guys," he called out towards them to catch their attention. "I want to introduce you to Amanda, my fiancé"
"You've grown, Dylan," Amanda smiled, revealing the rather bulbous belly underneath her. "You look a little different since the last time I saw you"
"Aheh, well, umm, you look a little different since last time too," Dylan jittered. With her cheerful display he already liked her, and approved of being his brother's mate. He then realized the situation built around them. An anxious idea popped into his head, but went for it anyways.
"Amanda, I'd like you to meet Diego," he said, and with an uplifting voice of pride the next words came out a little louder, "He's my mate."
Diego was entirely surprised when he said this. Before coming here, Dylan had been nervous about what they were, and now he seemed to have no problem showing it in public. Amanda giggled. "Nice too meet you Diego," she said.
"Err, nice to meet you too," said Diego as he tried to lift a smile, though unknowingly there was an apparent blush on his face. Fitch spotted it and just blurted it out.
"Why are you blushing?" asked the scar-clad cub. Diego then realized his face was feeling a little warmer than usual and tried to hide it.
"I-I'm not blushing!" Diego retorted. Up to the tip of his ears it was reddish.
Dylan went and inspected his face. "Hey, you are blushing. I've never seen you blush before," he said. "That's kind of cute"
"Sh-shut up!" Diego retaliated. But, deep inside him, he was really happy that Dylan finally had no problem with them being a couple.
The crew laughed joyfully, letting the tension from the events just pull away. The minutes passed with simple small talk and laughter. Adam looked towards the pristine water of the lake. With all things past, he then looked towards the future.
"Hey, little bro," said Adam. Dylan stopped from laughing as he pulled Fitch away from his ears as his older brother caught his attention with a serious tone. "So, with everything aside, what will you do now?" he asked.
Dylan seemed unsure. Not because of ultimatums at the end of a decision, but at the moment he was in right now, he didn't want it to end.
"You know, he could always stay here," said Adam. "I… overheard what dad said last night and it got me thinking. Maybe we've been living under a cave for a while, and we had to be more open to these things. With me as pack alpha, I'm sure things will turn out for the better."
Dylan smiled at the encouragement, but he knew what was right all along. "I appreciate the offer, but… you know I can't stay. And you shouldn't just do whatever is on your mind. I don't want you to go through what dad had to for me. Besides-" Dylan said as he put a paw over Diego's. "I've got a herd to go back to. They're probably missing us a lot by now."
Adam knew it was a long shot, but as long as his brother was happy, it was good enough for him. "Well… then I hope you find everything you're looking for."
Diego's eyes danced within his gaze, and all Dylan could do was smile. "I think I already have."
His older brother smiled along. It had been so long since he'd seen his younger brother smile so tenderly.
"W-wait, you're leaving?" Fitch asked as he walked up from behind.
Dylan turned to see the scar-clad cub. "Fitch…" he muttered.
"Then I'm coming with you!" Fitch said surprisingly as he charged and hugged Dylan's leg. "No way I'm gonna lose my best friend again. You're the closest thing I have to a family!"
Dylan was at a loss of words, but luckily a larger-built saber had been there to save the day. "You are one annoying brat, you know that?" said Diego as he picked Fitch off with a single paw, lifting him off of his mate's front leg.
"B-but!" Fitch clamored before Diego cut him off.
"You're still just a kid, you've got your whole life ahead of you," said Diego as he rubbed Fitch's head. "And, besides, you already have a family here," he said as he pointed towards Adam and Amanda.
The couple only glanced a smile to each other without needing an actually agreement. "Well, we might need an extra set of paws to handle our kids," said Adam.
Fitch felt happy inside about it, but he still couldn't feel sad about his best friend leaving him. He turned towards Dylan and the two gave each other a long lasting hug.
"You'd better come and visit," said Fitch, teary eyed for the inevitable departure.
"Heh, definitely," Dylan replied. "I'm gonna miss ya."
And, with that, everyone had said their goodbyes. Diego had chosen to just leave the remainders of his old pack alone. Some things were just better off being left behind. He had better things in front of him now than before.
[Background music: Feels Like Today by Rascal Flatts]
The journey home seemed as if it had already been walked. To Dylan, well… ahem– to me, it seemed like whatever journey I had set off for had been finished. All that was left was the destination. But, to be honest, it felt like the destination had been right beside me all along.
I woke up this morning
Home felt closer as my paws crunched on the nostalgic white carpet. As I come up the snowy hill with my beloved mate, we came to surprise strange group of animals, suddenly running towards us in greeting.
With this feeling inside me that I can't explain
"Guys!" Manny shouted. "You're back!" He and Ellie stampeded towards us and lifted us between their trunks.
Like a weight that I've carried, been carried away
"W-we're back!" Diego muffled in a pained yet joyous tone.
"We missed you sooooooooo much!" Ellie cooed as she emphasized the word with a tighter squeeze.
But I know something is coming
The moment they put us down, out came from beneath was a miniature display of the pair. "Welcome hooome!" Peaches cooed as she waved her small trunk.
I don't know what it is
"Dylan! Diego!" shouted a sloth as he sluggishly ran towards us, padding his feet through the snow. Halfway through he had to stop to catch his breath though.
But I know it's amazing, can save me
"Cowabunga!" cried two possums that slid through Ellie's tusks, leaping into the air and landing on our heads.
My time is coming I'll find
"Hey Dylan!" greeted Eddie. "Now that you're here, perhaps you'd like to hear the plans of our new prank"
My way out
"And with Diego here," Crash whispered. "We finally have someone new to prank at"
Of this longest drought
"I heard that," Diego mentioned.
I slowly raised a grin. "Keep talking" I intrigued.
And it feels like today I know
Sid finally got to us gasping for air, and in the moment he got within arm's reach, Diego grabbed him and noogied him harder than he had ever done before.
"I missed you too, buddy," said Diego, without having the need to hear what Sid had to say.
It feels like today I'm sure
"So, Diego. How was your trip?" asked Manny.
This all seems so crazy. It feels incredibly surreal. Me; who got kicked out of my pack because I admitted to them that I was gay.
It's the one thing that's missing
"Hmm? Oh, it was okay. Saw a few familiar faces, nothing much," Diego answered.
Found the weirdest herd in one of the strangest places; an odd group of animals with a dashing saber, serious and cool-headed yet kind and light-hearted.
The one thing I'm wishing
And out of the sudden I fell in love with him, regardless of all the constraints I had to pull myself away. But in the end, love gave in, both for me and him.
"Did you-" Crash sneaked towards him. "Saw anyone else you might have liked in particular?"
The last sacred blessing and, hey
My life is a complete tornado of surprises, whirling around with endless twists of fate, and there's bound to be more in the end.
Diego glanced up in thought. "Yeah, you could say that."
I stopped in my tracks. I turned towards him to see if he was serious. "R-really?" I asked, tensing up.
There was an awkward pause of silence before he made his reply. "Yup," he said as he walked towards me. He then licked my muzzle. "Just, might. I don't think I'll ever see in them what I saw in you."
And with a flash of his hazel-colored eyes with his warm gentle smile, I felt relaxed. I didn't know why I felt so tense in the first place. Everyone didn't seem to mind what we were doing. In fact, it felt like there was nothing else wrong when we did it, other than the fact that we were showing affection in public.
It feels like today (Feels like. Feels like. You're life changing)
"Oh, get a cave!" shouted Eddie at us.
"You guys are making a scene," Ellie said.
Feels like today. (Feels like. Feels like. You're life changing)
"Diego, I'm starting to think you're the one who talked him into this," Manny said.
"Hey! Not true," Diego denied.
It's the one thing that's missing
"Poor Dylan. What other things might he have done to him!" Crash woed mockingly.
"Knock it off you guys," I said before slyly changing the tone of my voice. "You're going to make him blush again."
The last sacred blessing and hey
"Again?" everyone shouted in bewilderment. Diego felt an odd stare from everyone. He never blushed before in his entire life. I simply winked back and started to run. Diego immediately began to chase me. I laughed as I ran away from him, although knowing he was faster than me. But I didn't really expect him to catch me that easily. We immediately rolled through the snow before he pinned me down.
It feels like today (Feels like. Feels like. You're life changing)
"Don't think you can get away from me," Diego said, staring at me eye-to-eye.
"Like I can," I replied with a smile, "Like I ever will"
All the things I have in the past, bothers me to some extent. But with what I have now, I can't help but think of the future instead.
Feels like today. (Feels like. Feels like.)
With the herd a seemingly far distance away, Diego took the chance to share a kiss; a long deep passionate kiss. I wished the moment lasted forever. Even with our bare fangs it couldn't stop us. No… it wasn't difficult at all.
Being gay has all these rules that other people would build off around you, but I'm getting the hang of it now. There's a lot of people out there just like me, so I'm not alone. But the future is way too far for me to predict, so all I can do now-
You're life changing
Is to do my best in the present.
Thank you all for reading!