A/N: More of this soon. This will probably be a short story. Expect strange jokes and the occasional bad word. Again, suggestions for grammar or sentence improvements are welcome.
There was a certain thing about solitude, Snake mused, that made someone that much more receptive of their surroundings. It made sense, really. Humans naturally seek interaction, no matter how introverted they are. Interaction in its most preferable form was with another human being, but some - like Snake-Eyes - were content with nature. That was why he was perfectly content to go to his cabin rather than with Shana to visit her family. They were nice and hospitable (with the exception of her sister and, on occasions, her mother), but he had decided it was about time he saw an... old friend again.
He paused in his chewing to listen intently. Everything around him seemed amplified; the chirping of birds, the music-less whistle of wind through the trees, and the whining of a hungry wolf.
Correction: the whining of a ravenous wolf.
Timber's tongue flicked out, and a drop of drool fell to the ground. He shifted restlessly on his paws, whining softly. His eyes were glued on the piece of venison steak clutched between Snake's chopsticks. His whining increased in volume and urgency when he saw yet another piece of that delectable meat disappear into his Alpha's mouth.
Snake-Eyes chewed slowly, keeping a wary eye on Timber. Although the wolf was as loyal as any dog could be, he was still a wolf. If he so much as dared to steal a morsel of food from the ninja's plate, Snake would have to consider it a challenge and make it very clear that he, and only he, was the Alpha, which meant he got to eat before everyone else did, loyal friend or not.
Fortunately, Timber appeared to understand that, although it didn't stop him from begging. He tried all sorts of methods, ranging from approaching slowly with his belly near the dirt and his tail tucked between his legs to resting his head on Snake's lap and looking mournfully up at him. The latter usually worked with Shana, who would take pity on him and slip him a piece of meat, but it didn't work squat with Snake-Eyes.
Timber yelped when Snake squeezed his muzzle with his fingers in a 'nip'. The wolf quickly backed off, circling anxiously for a while before approaching again, as low as he could possibly crouch. Once he was close enough, he rolled over, exposing his belly. His posture and the sad, sad expression in his eyes seemed to say, "Kill me now, oh Great and Powerful Alpha."
Snake-Eyes sighed. He bent down and scratched behind the wolf's ears to show his acceptance of the apology. Timber panted happily and straightened himself before resuming his never-ending worship of his master's food.
As soon as the last piece of his lunch disappeared, Snake reached behind him and pulled the cloth off of a plate heaped with chunks of raw deer meat. Timber's tail wagged wildly, and his ears perked. Drool began flying from his mouth at an increased rate.
Snake-Eyes took his plate and utensils and walked away to the sound of Timber tearing hungrily into the meat. On the way to the lake, he grabbed two buckets and filled them with water once he got there.
Sand made an excellent replacement for a sponge or steel wool when it came to cleaning cookware and plates. Snake scooped a handful onto the plate and used it to scrape any remaining bits of steak off. He cleaned the knife and the chopsticks the same way.
Eating with a knife and chopsticks did feel strange, but chopsticks were easier to make than forks were, and he had no shortage of knives. Of course, the knives were made of cheap metals. He refused to even think about using a respectable steel blade on something as trivial as cutting food.
He dumped the sand back into the water, and waited. Not long after, the water boiled with fish coming to feast on the scraps. Snake watched carefully, and at a precise moment, thrust his hands into the water.
A medium-sized fish soared through the air, wriggling, its body a line of silver, before landing in one of the buckets with a splash. It swam in tight circles, confused, before settling. But not for long.
A second fish landed in the bucket, startling the first one, and then a third. The other bucket was also filled with three fish when Snake finally stopped. Satisfied that his catch should cover dinner, he carried the buckets back and set them where Timber couldn't reach them.
Timber wasn't there when he returned, something that didn't normally worry him. The wolf came and went as he pleased. He was, after all, a wild animal. But what triggered Snake's suspicion was the leftover pile of deer meat. Snake kneeled and inspected the meat. It wasn't rotten, didn't have bugs, and he had caught the deer in the morning. It wasn't like Timber to leave sizeable chunks of food just sitting there where any carnivorous animal could get to them easily. Not unless he had a really good reason to...
A long howl confirmed his predictions. Intruder! Snake ran into the cabin and set the buckets down roughly, disturbing the already agitated fish. His mask slipped soundlessly on, and he grabbed his sword on the way out. Effortlessly, he melted into the shadows and began sprinting towards the source of the howl. His heart pounded and his mind raced as he pictured the worst-case scenario, and he picked up his pace.
This was stupid. So stupid. And it was probably one of the more embarrassing predicaments he had ever found himself in.
Storm Shadow sighed deeply and shifted so he was more comfortable on the branch. Below him, a large wolf growled ferociously as it repeatedly lunged at the trunk, prompting showers of leaves. Its jaws snapped loudly with every jump as it tried again and again to grab onto one of his feet. "Down, stupid animal," he grumbled. "I don't feel like wasting my time on you."
He remembered hearing of his brother's pet timberwolf from Scarlett and seeing pictures of him with the creature. So, as much as he wanted to put an arrow through the wolf's heart and silence him, he didn't want to kill what could be Snake-Eyes' pet.
He flinched when the wolf threw back its head and howled again, loudly, giving away his location. "Goddamnit!" he growled. "You'd better be Snake-Eyes' wolf or you're in for a world of pain, my friend."
And with that said, Storm turned around and climbed higher into the tree. The wolf momentarily stopped barking, probably surprised to see a person climbing like a squirrel. Once he had settled in his new spot, he took his bow and notched an arrow - just in case the wolf attracted unwanted attention.
Then, he closed his eyes and tilted to his head, listening. He could hear light, fast footsteps approaching. Storm strained a little, and soon detected a heartbeat. A very familiar one.
His relieved smile disappeared when the wolf decided to place both front paws on the tree trunk and bark straight up at him. "Shut UP, won't you?"
Timber yelped and jumped several feet into the air when an arrow embedded itself in the ground near him with a thunk! He stared in shock at the feathered end before attacking it with all his might, easily snapping the arrow into pieces.
Storm seized the opportunity. "Snake-Eyes!" he called out. "It's me, Tommy! Get your stupid wolf away from me!"
The sound of footsteps slowed down and became more relaxed, much to Storm's relief. He really didn't want to be on the receiving end of one of Snake's hard tackles. He could dodge it, of course, but not dropping to the ground where the wolf was would add a whole level of difficulty to the situation.
A minute later, Snake-Eyes materialized from the shadows and rested a hand on the wolf's head. The animal went from growling bloody murder to pressing its head against Snake's leg and making joyous whining noises in less than a second.
"… You've got to be kidding me." Storm rolled his eyes. "Timber, is it? This is Timber?"
Snake raised his hands. [Hello, Tommy. Yes, this is Timber. What are you doing here?]
"I was sent by Hawk to investigate possible Cobra activities a few cities over. My search ended earlier than expected, and transportation doesn't arrive until tomorrow evening. I remembered your cabin was close by, and I didn't feel like stealing a key for a motel room, so I thought I'd swing by to have a look and maybe stay a night, if you would let me." He pointedly frowned at Timber, who managed a growl before Snake 'nipped' his muzzle again in a warning to behave.
Snake gave a small sigh. There went his plans for a human interaction-free leave. Oh, well. At least Tommy was good company. Besides, he had wanted to introduce the white-clad ninja to Timber for a while. [Of course you may stay.] He paused. [How did you find me?]
"Easy - I asked the locals where the 'werewolf with the strange tattoo' lived, and they pointed me in the general direction." Tommy climbed down to the branch just out of Timber's reach and stretched out lazily on it. "Then Timber found me."
[And... chased you up a tree.]
"Hey, don't be mean. I know better than to try outrunning a wolf."
[You. Chased up a tree. You, one of the few people in this world who can make Cobra Commander wet his pants, chased up a tree by a wolf.]
Storm Shadow leveled a glare at his laughing sword brother that should have vaporized him. Snake-Eyes remained disappointingly in one piece. "Ha, ha. Very funny. At least I'm not whipped by a crazy redhead."
[A beautiful crazy redhead.] Snake was still laughing.
"Fine. Whatever you say." Tommy eyed the wolf by Snake's side. "So, how does this guy make friends?"
Snake recomposed himself quickly, walked over to the tree, and easily swung up onto a branch near him. From below, Timber made an agitated noise until Snake silenced him with a whistle. Storm observed the interaction with interest until he noticed the black ninja looking at him.
Reaching over, Snake took ahold of Storm's white mask and yanked it off of his head. Then, strangely, he rubbed it against his left forearm. Before Tommy could ask him if he had gone insane, he tossed the mask back at him and dropped to the ground.
"What are you doing?" Storm demanded as he watched Snake approach Timber with his left arm out. "Are you trying to get him to bite you?"
Snake ignored the man and let Timber sniff him. Initially, the wolf thought that his Alpha had done the unspeakable by walking away from a fight with an intruder. But then he detected his Alpha's scent mixed with the strange male intruder's, and with no trace of blood. No fight. The two obviously knew each other. Alpha wouldn't be so friendly to him otherwise.
Timber snorted and shook out his head. So there would be another male in the pack. Bummer. He didn't mind, as long as the new male knew that he was Omega.
Snake stood up. [You can come down now, pussycat.]
Frowning, Storm slowly lowered himself to the ground. Timber growled, only to be gently whacked by his master. Tommy froze. "I swear, brother - if he so much as lunges for me, he's a dead wolf."
[I know, but he won't. Trust me.]
"I trust you. I don't trust him." He landed without a sound. Timber's ears flattened against his head and he bared his teeth in warning as Storm walked towards them. In a move that many would consider foolish, Snake clamped a hand over the wolf's muzzle and squeezed. The canine directed his glare at him, obviously showing his displeasure, but eventually hid his teeth behind his lips and trotted off, probably after a rabbit he heard or smelled.
Tommy watched the animal go and visibly exhaled. "Anyways..." He looked directly at Snake-Eyes. "I would like to see this cabin of yours."
Snake smiled beneath his mask.
Special Thanks to Greentigerr for her usual help.