Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Monster High
Character/Pairing: Clawdeen, Clawd
Challenge/Prompt: fan_flashworks #152: Shot, dove_drabbles #43: Go Anywhere But Home, and 1_million_words A to Z Challenge: H
Word Count: 1,720
Date Written: 15 April, 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
She stands at the brink of the forest, the wind ruffling her long, brown fur. She's alone and utterly aware of the fact. She's heard Blue say many times how small she feels when she stands against or swims in the ocean, but she's never alone in the water, not truly for all the fish, other sea life, and her own family with whom she communications. Clawdeen, however, is alone.
Her family's around, but they don't understand. Her friends are the best there's ever been, but she's not allowed to have any communication with them. It's driving her crazy. She hasn't felt this alone since she was the first girl pup in her pack. She hasn't felt this alone, really, since . . . ever. It's strange, but now that she's got friends, she seems even more alone without them than she did before she had them.
The wind shifts, pulling her hair with it. Still, she stands alone before the forest. She thinks of the adventures the forest could hold for her and her friends. Lala would want to try befriending the animals, of course, and who knows? Maybe it might even be possible. She wouldn't put anything pass that girl, but her bestest friend in the world wouldn't dare set a single toe into the forest, regardless of rather it was clad in gold or mummy bandages.
She closes her eyes, lifting her head to the wind and trying not to cry. This isn't the end, she tells herself. It can't be the end. She and her friends have been through so much together. Their adventure can't stop here.
For a moment, she thinks of running into the forest like her ancestors, but the run wouldn't last long. The forest seems huge from where she's standing now, but she knows she can jog through it in well under thirty minutes. It doesn't offer much adventure, after all, but then, nothing does without her friends.
Her fingernails arch and sharpen, becoming deadly claws, as she yearns for her cell phone. Just the press of a few buttons, and she could be talking to her friends, checking on them, making sure they're okay, laughing with them, not being alone -- She feels the first tear drop. She hates being alone. She's a pack animal, and her friends are her pack, even more than her family. She knows her duty's supposed to be to her "real" pack -- she has heard her parents' lectures time and again and she does love them, even her ultra strict dad --, but she still can't put them above her friends.
She can be surrounded by crowds of people, normies or RADs, and still feel alone. She too often feels alone even amongst her own pack. She rarely gets her brothers' sense of humor, and sometimes, she still feels like she's the only girl in their pack. But with her friends, she's never alone. With them, it feels like the world is full of possibilities, for RADs included. The world is theirs to do with as they want, and not just because of Cleo's wealth and fame. There's a power that surges through their pack that makes them feel invincible together, but without them beside her, she's never felt more vulnerable.
She feels the first tear drop and jumps when a smiling voice says, "Hey, now. We can't have that."
Her brown eyes snap open and blaze up at her brother. "Clawd!" she screeches. She should have heard his approach and would have known better than to let her defenses down had she known he was near. But she'd been so lost in her agony that she hadn't known any one was anywhere close to her. Now she looks quickly around, but it's only the two of them. "Did you follow me?" she growls accusatorially.
He has the nerve to grin and shrug like it doesn't matter, but his words stop the torrent perched on her tongue. "Big brothers can't let their sisters be wandering around alone, especially not at times like these."
Clawdeen sighs, her own shoulders dropping. "Not you, too! I'm sick of scaredy cat nonsense Mom and Dad keep putting out -- "
He pauses as if contemplating how to respond to her, but then he smiles so sweet and reassuring a smile that it's no wonder the ghouls at school flock after him. "I meant alone, Clawdeen. You don't need to be out here feeling so alone."
She starts to protest, starts to deny her feelings, but the look he's giving her tells her they both know he knows better than that. So instead she sighs and asks in defeat, "Is it that obvious?"
"Yeah." He flashes her his fangs in another grin. "I miss my buds, too."
She could point out that his friends are hardly the same as hers. Playing in sports games is nowhere near as important as the things for which she and her friends have stood and fought, but it's the fighting for their beliefs that's gotten them where they are today -- completely separated from each other and utterly alone.
Clawd's hand is surprisingly gentle when he touches her shoulder. "Hey. You know you're not alone, right?"
"I . . . " She looks away, back toward the forest again, but she can't see the trees for the tears misting her vision. How can she tell him that she still feels alone when she's with him? How can she ever begin to explain to him why her friends are more important to her than her pack? How can she make him see how badly she's hurting, and does she really have the heart to tell him his best effort at supportive, big brother is useless when she may never see her friends again? How can she spend the rest of her life not seeing her friends?!
"Hey, it's okay," Clawd whispers, and before she can stop him, he's pulled her into a hug. His chin rests on top of her head, reminding her of how small she still is compared to him and most of their brothers. She starts to pull away from him, but his grip is strong and reassuring. She lingers, and he grabs the second she grants him. "Do you remember the first time you wandered into that forest when we were pups?"
She nods and hopes he doesn't feel the involuntary shudder that passes through her. "Yeah, and that stupid hunter shot at me!" And he had come to her rescue. Her brother had raced out of seemingly nowhere and plowed into that hunter. He'd snatched the gun out of the hunter's burly, killing hands and twisted it with his fangs.
"Remember what I did to that gun?"
She nods again and feels herself begin to smile at the same time. "Yeah."
"And remember what I told him?"
"Yeah." A giggle slips free at the recollection. "You told him you'd do that to him if he ever shot another animal." She wonders if it worked. She's heard all about the horrors of what hunters do to innocent animals from Lala and knows well that she and Blue would love to hand hunters their comeuppances. Thinking back to that incident, she knows she wouldn't mind joining her friends in such an adventure, regardless of the nutcases that run PETA.
"I meant it, too, you know," Clawd is saying. "I'm not your friend, Clawdeen. But I am your brother, and I'll do that to anything that messes with my little sister. I'd twist the world for you."
But he can't solve this mess. None of them can. If they could, it would have already been done, and they'd be back home where they belong and where, for now, is the one place they can not go. Her father told her he'd take them anywhere else at the first opportunity he could, but the only place she wants to go is back to her friends.
Right now, however, her brother's arms are feeling pretty good. They're not her comfortable bed back at home, or Cleo's jeweled couch, or any of the other places she and her friends like to hang, but right now, they're pretty doggone cool. He squeezes her, and she hesitates only a second more before squeezing back. "I know, Clawd. Thanks."
She offers him a tiny smile, but he's not done yet. He knows she's still hurting. "You wanna know another secret?"
"What?" she asks, her eyes searching his and beginning to shine again with curiosity.
"It helps to howl."
"It helps to howl. Seriously." He tosses his head back and gives a long, wild howl that she knows will echo through the forest. Hunters might come, but they can take them together. He looks back down at her with a wide, toothy grin. "I feel better already. You try it."
"What will Mom and Dad say?"
"They haven't caught me yet, but hey, if you're afraid to try it -- "
"I can do anything you can."
He chuckles, releases her, and steps back. "Then let's hear it, little sis."
She squares her furry shoulders, then lifts her head and lets herself howl like she hasn't in months. Her cry comes out being louder, longer, and shriller than she's ever heard it. She thinks she's finishing, but then her howl builds again. It builds and builds, and she feels the tension draining out of her body. When she finally stops, Clawd moves fast to catch her out of concern. Grinning down at her, he asks, "Feels good, doesn't it?"
"Oh, yeah," she answers, nodding, and it does. It feels better than a new pair of shoes or slipping into a slinky designer outfit. It feels better than having every guy on the football team who isn't her brother wanting her number. It feels better than a freezing cold slushie on a burning hot day.
"Let's do it again," Clawd whispers next to her ear. She nods, and then, together, they howl into a building crescendo that sounds like perfection to her quivering ears. Her tail wags, hidden by her skirt. Oh, yeah, she does feel much better. She still misses her friends like crazy, but Clawd's right. Howling, and big brothers, really do help. They howl again and again, together, and continue making their own music long after the sun's gone down.