[oneshot] D x Leon When Leon asked D to come with him on a camping trip to the mountains, he was just looking for a little rest and relaxation. But he's about to get more than he bargained for...
Pairing: D x Leon
Warning: Language, Sexual content, and Hermaphrodite!D
Title: Into the Woods
Notes: This was written for the LiveJournal community, psoh_fqf. Prompt #100 - D and Leon go camping.
INTO THE WOODS
“You’re going to put someone’s eye out with that, Detective.” D said, unable to completely hide his smile as he watched the other man fumble with his fishing rod.
“Bullshit.” Leon muttered sourly as he futilely attempted to undo a tangle in his line. “It’s just been awhile since I’ve used this and it got a bit – Crap!”
Noting the dark color that was rapidly creeping up Leon’s neck and blooming across his face, D thought it would be best to intervene before Mount St. Orcot erupted. It was not difficult for him to imagine Leon cursing and throwing his fishing rod like a pro tennis player. He rose smoothly from the lounge he had set up on the pebbly beach of the lake and crossed to Leon’s side, saying, “Here, let me help you with that.”
“What the hell do you know about fishing, D?” Leon asked querulously, nonetheless handing over the rod.
“I’m a pet shop owner,” he replied primly, as his fingers nimbly worked the tangled line, “I know a great deal about fishing, thank you very much. Ah, there we go.” He returned the fishing rod to the other man with a bright, if somewhat mocking smile.
“Sprinkling some fish food into a bowl isn’t the same as dragging them live and wriggling from the water, you know.”
“As you say,” D murmured deferentially over his shoulder, returning to his lounge and prudently scooting it and his wicker basket a few feet further away from where Leon stood. With a small twitching smile, he eased himself onto his lounge, squiggled into a comfortable position and proceeded to watch the other man with quiet amusement.
The first cast fell short and was reeled back in for a redo. The second cast produced even more dismal results, this time snagging in one of the overhead branches. A hearty round of cursing ensued as the detective pulled and yanked impatiently at his rod. The branch dipped and bobbed but refused to give up its prize.
“Language, Detective,” He admonished, which earned him a particularly vicious scowl.
“I’ll language you,” Leon said darkly. D’s brows rose in amused speculation.
Eventually Leon was able to get his line out of the tree without having a coronary. “You know, fishing is supposed to be relaxing,” he snarled as he took his spot next to his folding chair and faced the lake, his patented Orcot determination and stubbornness screaming through every line of his body.
“That’s why I dragged us all the way out here to the middle of freaking nowhere. To relax! And by God-“ He extended his arm at almost eye level, rod in hand, “I’m going to-“ pulled his wrist back in an oddly graceful motion, and cast his line with the smooth perfection displayed by the experts, “Relax!”
The line flew out across the lake and hit the water with only the faintest ripple. The small yellow bobber, a bright flash against the dark expanse of sky-reflecting lake, undulated with the swell and movement of the water.
“Well, that’s more like it.” Rage visibly deflating, Leon settled into his chair and puffed out his cheeks with a sigh of relief. Reaching into the small cooler next to his chair, he pulled out a can of beer, rested the handle of the rod between his denim clad thighs, and deftly popped the top. The resulting hiss was loud in the relative silence of their surroundings. “Now I can relax.”
He gestured toward D with the hand holding the beer. “Want one?”
D snorted. “Not hardly, Detective,” he replied, his tone a touch frosty.
“Hey, it’s your loss.” Leon emptied half the can in one go, belched loudly, and set the beer on the ground beside him. Sighing, he leaned back, and rested his head against the back of the chair, raising his face to the warmth of the summer sun.
For a long time the only sounds heard were those of the birds in the canopy and the gentle lapping of the water as it kissed the edge of the beach. In the distance, a large, snow peaked mountain rose majestically over the trees, its visage reflected in the blue, mirror-like water of the lake. The air, slightly thinner than D was accustomed to, was nonetheless crisp and fresh, carrying the scent of green growth and wild flowers.
Hours passed in companionable silence and the sun eventually slanted toward the horizon and the air took on a soft golden cast. Leon stirred and murmured in sleep-heavy tones, “It’s rather pretty here, isn’t it?”
“It is,” D agreed. He felt more refreshed now than he had in a long time.
He had to admit that when the detective had waltzed into his shop the other night and out of the blue asked if he’d like to go camping with him, he had had his doubts. What did this urban dwelling, loud mouthed human know about surviving in the wild? All his food came pre-prepared in frozen, cardboard containers, flash frozen and nutritionally void. He had never had to hunt or gather food. He had, in fact, never even cooked, preferring instead take-out or microwaveable dinners.
Despite all his reservations, he had allowed himself to be persuaded, not by Leon’s reassurances that he had been a Boy Scout as a little boy and knew exactly how to handle himself in the woods, but by the sheer enthusiasm the other man had displayed at the prospect. Life and work had not been going well for Detective Orcot and what he needed more than anything, though he might not admit it out loud, was to get away from it all - the hustle and bustle, the crime, his never-ending work load, the very city itself and all its resulting problems. Most importantly, he needed to get away from the people and all the evil they inflicted upon each other. A weekend away from it all would do him a world of good, and so D had reluctantly agreed to accompany him.
Now, surrounded by the majestic beauty of the great outdoors, D was glad he had come.
“I think I’ll head on back to camp and rustle up something to eat.” Leon announced lazily. “Want to come with me?”
“But what about your fishing plans?” D asked mildly as he sat up and stretched luxuriously, extremely conscious of the way Leon watched him out of the corner of his eyes as he did so. “You haven’t had so much as a single nibble all day.”
To his surprise, Leon just threw back his head and laughed. “Yeah, you’re right, but fishing isn’t about the fish,” he replied with twinkling eye and a slightly flushed face. “It’s about the beer.” He stood and began to languidly reel in his line.
D sighed and shook his head without comment. Sometimes he just didn’t understand humans, but this human in particular. As he began folding up his lounge, he heard Leon give a loud whoop. Not knowing what to expect, he whirled around, the frame of the lounge clutched in his hands.
“Look at that, D, I’ve got a bite!” Leon yelled, staring excitedly out at the water and reeling in his line, which bowed under the strain of some unknown, but seemingly good sized fish. “Wow, must be a big sucker!”
With more skill than he had early displayed casting, Leon threw himself into battle with his fish, perspiration beading his brow. “Will you take a look at this beauty?” Leon crowed happily, carefully reeling the fish in closer to shore. “He’s a big ‘un!”
“You’re going to hurt him, Detective!” D protested. He unceremoniously dropped the lounge and went to stand next to Leon. He visually followed Leon’s line to where it made contact with the water. Waves propelled by the wind lapped gently at the shore a calm counterpart to the frantic splashing of the fish.
“No, I’m not,” Leon murmured, as he waded barefoot out into the shallow water to where a large trout thrashed and churned the water. “See?” he indicated, pointing to the struggling creature, knowing full well that D couldn’t see it from where he hovered on the beach just out of reach of the water, “My hook doesn’t even have a barb.”
“You mean you’re not going to eat it?” D asked incredulously, raising one hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the setting sun.
“Hell no, I can’t even cook toast without burning it. Fish is definitely out of my league.” Leon turned his head and glanced at D, his lips twisting in a teasing smile. “That is, unless you want to cook him for me?”
D snorted derisively. “I don’t think so, Detective."
“Yeah, yeah, that’s what I though. But you can’t blame a man for trying.” Turning his attention back to the fish, Leon removed a small pair of pliers from the back pocket of his denim cut offs. He carefully examined the fish and grunted in satisfaction when he saw it was hooked in the lip. This is going to be a piece of cake, he thought with a brief sigh of relief. It was always a lot easier to remove a hook from a fish’s lip without doing major damage than if it were hooked in the gullet or gills.
“Easy… easy boy,” He crooned softly to the fish as it thrashed its tail in agitation. “I’m not going to hurt you.” With slow, sure movements, he lowered his free hand into the cold water, palm flat and brought it up under the fish, lifting it by its side just far enough out of the water to have a better look at it, being careful to not wear away the protective coating of slime that covered the fish’s magnificent scales.
“Looks to be roughly thirty inches long,” he mused with a grin, “which probably makes you about-“ He did a rough mental calculation, “ten or eleven pounds. Not bad for a good day’s fishing, Orcot. Not bad at all.”
Careful to avoid wiggling the hook, Leon gripped the pliers making sure that the fish was not struggling too much. Then, quick as a flash, he twisted his wrist and simultaneously unhooked and released the fish. The fish slapped the water into a white splash that caught Leon in the face, and then it was gone.
Ignoring D’s delighted laughter, a dripping Leon returned the pliers calmly to his pocket and headed back toward shore. “You’re welcome,” he mumbled aloud. As he reached dry ground, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning, he saw D was at his side, holding out a clean linen handkerchief.
“You look like you need this more than I do at the moment,” D said, eyes flashing his merriment, the corners of his mouth turned up despite his efforts to look serious.
“Thanks.” Dutifully he began mopping his face but when he handed the handkerchief back, D held up his hand.
“No, you keep it.”
Shrugging, he stuffed it into his pocket along with the pliers. The sun, slanted low in the sky, had turned the lake into liquid gold. He breathed in the fresh air, his senses bombarded by a myriad of different scents, each more interesting than the last. Pine trees, wild flowers, moist earth and the cool, clean scent of the water… and of course, the nose wrinkling stench of fish.
Though he enjoyed the sport, he didn’t particularly care for the smell. With a slight moue of distaste, he knelt down near the edge of the beach and splashed his hands in the crystal clear water, rubbing them together vigorously.
When he was satisfied, he straightened up, drying his hands on his red crewneck tee-shirt. “I’d rather have cow over fish anyway.” He said happily as he stepped into his tennis shoes without even bothering to tie them. “There’s some hamburger meat in the large cooler back in camp.” From the corner of his eyes he saw D sigh and shake his head, no doubt rolling his eyes heavenward for being stuck out in the wilderness with an unfeeling meat-eater.
“Don’t worry, Count, I have some fruits and veggies in there, too.” He took up the chair in one hand and the mini cooler – much lighter now that its burden of beers had been relieved – in the other and glanced back at D. “God knows I’m not going to eat them.”
When D didn’t fall in beside him, he glanced back again, curious. “Hey, you’re not coming?”
“Earlier I noticed some wild berries growing on the far side of the bank on our way up here. I think they were blueberries.” D replied, scooping up the small wicker basket, “Or at least I believe they were. I’d like to gather a few before heading back to camp, if that’s okay with you. They’ll make a splendid dessert, you know. And naturally grown fruit tastes ever so much better than the store ripened variety.”
“Yeah, well, whatever trips your trigger, dude. See you back at camp.”
D watched Leon walk up the beach until he disappeared into the foliage, then, humming under his breath, set off down the beach in the direction of the berry bushes.
Leon couldn’t recall the last time he had felt so content and it was a feeling that for once had little to do with the happy alcohol buzz he was riding. He moved along the faint, winding path with ease, his legs carrying him silently to his destination. Long shadows were closing in from every direction now that the sun was going down, but this didn’t bother him. Once he got to camp he’d make a fire and slap some hamburgers on his small portable grill. The memory of the smell of hamburger on the grill came to him and he began salivating hungrily. He hadn’t downed anything but beer for at least a couple of hours and he could almost taste those thick, juicy burgers.
Something squelching beneath his shoe brought him out of his reverie, and the aroma that accompanied the sound left little doubt as to what he had just stuck his foot into.
He was no tracker, and hadn’t been to a Boy Scout meeting for years and years, but he knew shit when he stepped into it, by God. Looking down at his foot in disbelief, he saw that it was indeed a rather large pile of excrement, moist, fragrant and still fresh looking.
How in hell do you know it’s still fresh? His mind asked. He looked down and examined the pile critically. Dog shit, cat shit, whatever, man, he thought. Shit’s shit and that is some fresh shit.
Grimacing in disgust, he dragged his foot along a grassy spot in the path again and again until he had gotten most of the crap off his shoes, dimly grateful that he had had the good sense to put on his sneakers before heading back to camp. It was a crying shame that they were, or had been, white. “Damn it, I just bought these shoes, too!” He grumbled. If wiping them off in the grass didn’t help, then he’d just have to rinse them off in the lake…
Still mumbling to himself, Leon stepped into the clearing where they had set up camp and immediately forgot all about the shit and how he was going to get it off his new shoes.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed in a small breathless voice, too surprised by what he saw to achieve anything in the way of volume.
The first thought through his head was that they had been burglarized. Who in their right mind would follow us all the way out here to rip us of? his mind demanded. But then he realized that their stuff hadn’t been stolen, it had been vandalized!
The tent had a decisively sway backed appearance and a few of the lines sagged where their pegs had been deliberately loosened. One of the sleeping bags, his sleeping bag he saw through a reddening cloud of anger, the army green one he had gotten from the Goodwill when he was but a Cub Scout, was hanging halfway through the ruined tent flap, spilling white cotton like guts every which way. Cooking and eating utensils were strewn about Hell’s half acre and the cooler with all their food had been ransacked. Bits of plastic and half-eaten food were scattered everywhere. The only thing that hadn’t been touched - and Leon breathed a sigh of relief about that - was the 4x4 truck one of his fellow officers had lent to him over the weekend.
With exaggerated care, Leon set down both the cooler and the chair. Rage whipped through his body with such intensity that his whole body was trembling. He had come out here to get away from this kind of bullshit, for crying out loud. Having his stuff ransacked while he was clear out in the boonies was simply too fucking much.
He felt like he was walking on stilts as he stalked toward the tent. He paused for a moment when he heard scuffling and low grumbling sounds from within. A twisted sort of glee filled him and he felt a smile form. It was not a nice smile and he knew it. He had caught the no-good sons of bitches in the act and by God he was going to open a can of whoop-ass on them.
Without regard to the fact that he had no idea if the intruders were armed or not, he went up to the front of the tent and yanked the ruined tent flap open, yelling in his best cop voice, “What the Hell is going on here?”
He had been expecting teenagers. Or maybe homeless people who had camped out in the woods. Or end of the world survival freaks. He had not expected to see two black bear cubs chewing their way through his backpack. One of them had a pair of his briefs dangling from one ear. The bear cubs bawled in surprise and the sound mingled with Leon’s own cry in almost perfect harmony. It might have been funny if the three of them hadn’t been so freaked out.
Leon recovered first and pulled back from the tent, partly in deference to the frightened cubs, partly because of the stench of shit that fouled the interior.
“Get the hell out of here, Pooh Bear,” He ordered gruffly, “Before I go medieval on your ass.”
Realizing that the cubs were probably more frightened of him than he was of them, he backed up several paces from the tent opening, prepared to wait as long as necessary for the little guys to come to their senses and haul ass out of the camp site.
Man, all this mess from just two bears. Jesus Christ, what is the wild coming to? Leon watched the cub poke its head out of the flap and cringed when it bawled pathetically. Surely they couldn’t be that afraid of him… could they? He almost felt sorry for the little guys. The operative word in this case, of course, being almost. All alone and cornered by some strange two legged creature twice as tall and ten times smarter-
Wait just a minute, the more rational part of his mind interrupted frantically, if those are the baby bears, where the hell is the mama?
As if in answer to his question, Leon heard an angry growl off to his right. He froze and felt his heart squeeze tightly in his chest. Slowly, very slowly, he turned his head. A female black bear bore down on him, lips pulled back in a vicious snarl to reveal a mouthful of very sharp looking teeth. At the edge of the camp she stopped and rose onto her hind legs, swinging her head from side to side as if trying to pick up his scent. She roared angrily once then a second time. Huffing and hissing, she returned to four legs, lowering her head and laying back her ears.
Oh shit, oh shit, it’s Mama bear and she looks pissed! Moving at the speed of molasses in winter, Leon began to back away, hands held out as if showing the bear he was unarmed. Desperately his mind scrambled for some tiny shred of knowledge he might have learned as a Boy Scout, anything that would help him deal with what was, for a city boy, a near impossible situation.
Taking great pains to avoid making direct eye contact with the irate creature, Leon continued to back away, speaking in the lowest, calmest voice he could manage. “Sorry to interrupt you guys,” he babbled. “Just carry on with what you were doing. There’s no need to pay any attention to harmless little ol’ me.”
The mother bear didn’t seem to be buying this at all. She slapped the ground with her feet and edged closer, growling low in her throat. Suddenly, she dashed forward a few paces then pulled herself up short. Leon nearly jumped out of his skin, but he found that his body simply refused to respond to his mind’s frantic orders to run as fast as he could in the opposite direction.
No, you never run from a bear, he remembered. That marks you as prey. Don’t run, don’t run, whatever you do, don’t run!
Oh, but the temptation to do just that was so goddamned strong.
Well then, he argued, what the fuck am I supposed to do now? Play dead? No, wait, that’s grizzly bears.
His mental argument died in mid thought when he thudded heavily into a tree. The dense bark scratched roughly along his back and, without turning, he reached back and measured the circumference of the trunk by wrapping his arms around it as best he could from such an awkward angle. It wasn’t a sapling, thank God, but a tree of substantial size. He tore his gaze away from the bear for a moment and glanced upward. Pretty tall, too…
An idea began to form in his mind, but before he could work out any sort of details, the mother bear appeared to reach the end of her patience with him. Forcing his hand, she bawled her rage and hurled herself at the detective. Instinctively he knew that this time she was not bluffing.
Screaming, Leon turned and hurled himself at the tree, leaping for the lowest branch with speed spurned on by sheer terror. He didn’t consider himself a coward by any stretch of the imagination, but this wasn’t some coked up druggy waving a gun at him. It was a freaking bear! There was no reasoning with this creature and he was unarmed, not that he though his service revolver would be enough to stop that charging behemoth.
He caught the lowest branch and hoisted himself up, the soles of his sneakers scrambling for purchase against the gnarly bark. Cold sweat trickled down the column of his spine and into his eyes. Like a monkey he worked his way higher and higher into the tree, cursing breathlessly as the bark ripped into the palms of his hands and branches lashed his face. The bear’s angry roars echoed in his ears.
Ten feet…twenty… thirty feet...
His heart hammered in his chest, sounding loud as drums in his ears and his throat and chest were constricted as if he were having an asthma attack. He climbed until the branches groaned beneath his weight and only when he was panting too hard to catch a proper breath did he dare look down toward what waited for him on the ground.
“Man, I need to cut back on the cigarettes,” he panted harshly and would have laughed aloud had he the breath to do so.
The bear, he saw, was at the foot of the trunk, reaching up toward him with immense paws. To his horror, she rested both paws against the bark and pushed at it with all her strength. Leon’s stomach lurched when the tree swayed noticeably beneath her weight.
“Go away!” He yelled, but of course she didn’t listen. Ah, man, where the hell is D when you need him?
His heart almost stopped dead in his chest when he saw the mother bear actually beginning to climb the tree, massive claws ripping into the bark and clawing long wounds that bleed sticky sap like blood. He tried to scramble higher, but the branches groaned indignantly and he caught the sickening sound of wood cracking.
Leon did the only thing he could in light of his current predicament – he screamed.
D strolled along the darkening path carrying the folded lounge in one hand and his wicker basket of blueberries in the other. His hands were cold and damp from rinsing the blueberry stains from his fingers in the lake, but he had given his handkerchief to the detective and he was not about to wipe them dry on his chao-fu. That sort of behavior, as far as he was concerned, was strictly reserved for little children… and Detective Orcot.
The encroaching dark did not bother him for there was nothing in these woods that would harm him. Surrounded by foliage and wildlife, by Nature herself, he was in his element. It had been so long since he had abandoned himself to the sensual delights that the world had to offer and he deliberately slowed his pace to prolong this time of solitude. Spending quality alone time with the detective was nice and he had enjoyed their time together much more than he would care to admit, but there was much to be said about being by one’s self.
Dappled sunshine patterned the ground and foliage about him and D exclaimed in awe when a particularly beautiful specimen of butterfly flitted across his path. Almost purring with pleasure, he set the folded lounge against a tree and went off in pursuit of the delicate insect. Still holding the basket in one hand, he followed the butterfly and drew close to admire its markings when it alighted upon a fragrant blossom.
He smiled to himself but then that smile evaporated when he heard a scream coming from the general direction of their campsite.
The butterfly flitted off, ignored. He cocked his head, listening, and sure enough, he heard another scream and there was no disguising the fear in that oh so human voice. The basket fell forgotten from D’s hand, hitting the ground and tipping over to spill almost half of its contents into the dirt. Then he was off, sprinting toward the camp site as fast as his legs could carry him, his heart pounding and his guts clenching in what could only be fear for while there was nothing in these woods that would harm him, all bets were off as far as Detective Leon Orcot was concerned.
Another scream ricocheted through the trees and D broke into the clearing at a full run and skidded to a complete stop when the full extent of the trouble became apparent. Some thirty odd feet up a tree, a pale faced Leon had his arms wrapped in a death grip around the trunk, all the while yelling threats and curses at a female black bear that was clawing at him less than five feet below his frantically kicking legs.
D cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled to get the other man’s attention. “Detective, you must calm down!”
“What the fuck do you mean, ‘calm down’?” Leon roared. “This bear is trying to eat me, for Christ’s sake!”
Upon hearing D’s voice behind her, the mother bear swiveled her head and bawled at him in undisguised anger, baring her sharp, yellowed teeth. Her cubs, milling restlessly by the ruined tent, answered her with frightened cries of their own.
Quickly, D scanned the camp site and ascertained for himself what must have happened. Scattered refuse, trash, half-eaten bits of food… It all made a sad sort of sense. Shaking his head, he then returned his attention to the man trapped up in the tree. The bear had inched up a bit further and was making another aggravated swipe at the detective.
“Do something, D!”
“She will not hurt you, Detective,” D called, keeping his voice level, “but you must calm down and stop yelling. You are only making matters worse.”
“I’m up a tree with a fucking man-eating bear! How in Hell can it get any worse?”
Pulling himself to his full height, D took several slow steps toward the tree, keeping his eyes on the angry bear. He raised his arms to his sides and waved them slowly as he called to her, letting her know who and what he was by his scent, his voice, and his words.
“Madam, please, I know that this is a very tense situation for you, but I assure you that the human means you no harm.”
At this, D saw Leon open his mouth as if to protest, or say something stupid, but he silenced him with a glare and a sharp shake of the head. Be quiet, you, that look said and for once the detective obeyed.
D continued speaking to the bear, reassuring her and her family that neither he nor the human caught in the tree meant them any harm. He maintained his calm demeanor despite his frantically beating heart while he carefully refrained from making direct eye contact with the irate mother.
Eventually, the bear slowly began scooting backwards, climbing back down the tree. Thankfully, the detective remained perfectly still throughout the ordeal, as if afraid that the smallest movement would draw the animal’s attention or worse, provoke it into making another attack. When the mother bear was firmly on the ground, she lumbered over toward her cubs and huffed at them gently, ascertaining the level of damage inflicted. They bawled and nudged at their mother with fearful impatiently until she finally herded them toward the darkening trees.
Once they were well out of sight and earshot, D called up to Leon, “You can come down now, Detective, they are gone.”
“Are you sure about that, D?”
“Yes, I’m sure.” He replied calmly.
Slowly, Leon began to descend, complaining all the way down. His language was most colorful, but D made no effort to correct him. He had, after all, just undergone a life threatening situation. No doubt he needed to calm down, and if swearing helped him do this, then he was willing to ignore his vulgarities.
“Thank God you showed up when you did,” Leon called, lowering himself onto a branch of suspicious thinness some fifteen feet above the ground, “That fucking bitch was about to slice and dice my ass. I would have had to go Kung-fu on her and it would not have been a pretty sight.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” D muttered under his breath.
The branch Leon stepped on, though strong enough to support his weight on the way up, had been severely weakened by its efforts to support the massive half ton mother bear. When he had put his own meager weight on it, there was a loud cracking noise and the branch broke nearly in two, sending him plunging to the ground, where he landed with a heavy thud.
“Detective,” D cried, rushing toward the tree, “are you alright?”
When he reached Leon, the other man was cursing a blue streak and tightly gripping his left ankle. D knelt by his side and shooed his hands away so he could examine the leg for signs of injury.
“Are you alright, Detective?” he asked again, his voice soft with concern.
“It’s pretty bad, but I’ll live,” Leon muttered through tightly gritted teeth. For one instant his expression softened as he caught D’s eyes, “Thanks to you, D.”
“You know, this camping trip hasn’t turned out exactly the way I planned.” Leon mumbled, staring into the dancing flames of the camp fire. His stomach grumbled noisily, but he did his best to ignore it. Sighing heavily, he popped the top of the last beer, and by way of gesture, offered it to D, who simply shook his head.
“Mother Nature seldom concerns herself about the plans of mere mortals,” D replied gently, taking note of the fact that Leon’s words more than slightly slurred. That wasn’t a very good sign. The last thing he needed after a day like today was a hangover. How many cans of beer had the detective drunk, anyway? He had dragged along at least a dozen. D silently berated himself for not keeping better track.
Silently, he offered the last remaining berries to the detective, grateful at least that he had had the foresight to go back and collect them before the other wildlife could run off with them. There hadn’t been much left, but it was more than they would have had otherwise - the cubs had made short work of the meat and vegetables. All that had remained untouched from the raid were a few cans of beer, which Leon had prudently kept locked in the truck.
“How is your ankle, Detective?”
Leon smiled wanly. “It hurts. I twisted it pretty good falling out of that tree, but better sprained than broken. It’ll be fine in no time.”
Leaving Leon to his private thoughts, D cleaned up the last remaining dishes, taking extra care to stow everything in the camper shell, where they would not attract the attention of any hungry creatures. After all, the last thing they wanted was to attract any more bears. When everything was stowed and ready for their early morning departure, he returned to the campfire and took a seat next to the other man, who continued to stare into the fire as if mesmerized.
“She didn’t mean you any harm, Detective.” He said quietly.
This earned him a scoff. “Could have fooled me,” Leon muttered. “Maybe she didn’t want to eat me, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she wanted to hurt me pretty damned bad.”
“She was simply defending her young.” D stressed. “You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Maybe,” Leon conceded with reluctance, “But why the Hell was she around here in the first place? I mean, I thought bears went out of their way to avoid humans.” He glanced at D but shadows danced over his features making his expression unreadable in the flickering light.
“Normally they do, Detective. But once a bear, or any other wild creature for that matter, becomes accustomed to eating human food and garbage, they are often drawn to areas of human occupation.”
“You mean they think they’re just going to help themselves to the all-you-can-eat buffet?”
D twitched a half-hearted smile. “Yes, something along those lines, Detective.”
“Yeah, but we’re in the middle of freaking nowhere!” Leon argued, “We’re far off the beaten path. Hell, only a handful of hikers and campers ever come this far into the wild.”
“Maybe so, but poor backcountry garbage management by careless backpackers and campers only serve to add campsites to a bear’s regular forays. She was looking for an easy source of food… and she found it, just like she was expecting to.”
Leon was silent, expression thoughtful as he started into the fire. When he finally spoke, his voice lacked the hostility or indignation D was accustomed to hearing. “So… in a way, you’re saying it's Man’s fault that this sort of thing happens, is that right?”
“Yes,” D replied simply.
Silence stretched out between them for several minutes, vaguely uncomfortable. It was D who broke it. “It’s getting late, Detective, and we should go to sleep. If we want to be even halfway to civilization before the sun sets tomorrow, we’ll have to pack up and leave early.”
D turned on a portable lamp and shoveled dirt onto the fire to extinguish it. Then, as an extra measure, he dumped a bucket of lake water over the embers and watched as large puffs of steam billowed skyward. It has been a hot summer and he didn’t want to risk the wind blowing the embers. There had been quite enough fires this year caused by careless humans. Then he stowed both the shovel and bucket with the rest of their gear in the cargo carrier on top of the trunk.
“We’ll have to sleep in the back of the truck,” Leon said, standing a bit unsteadily, “but it’s equipped with a camper shell and a truck bed air mattress so it won’t be too bad. It’s probably a lot more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, if you get right down to it.”
“You’re probably right,” D replied, stifling a yawn with the back of his hand.
He helped Leon hobble over to the truck, and tried to tell himself that his unusually wobbliness was caused by his injury and not his alcohol intake. Then he climbed onto the truck bed and began unrolling his own sleeping bag. Something nibbled at the corner of his mind but it wasn’t until he turned his head and saw Leon standing uncomfortably by the tailgate that he suddenly realized that the other man’s sleeping bag had been shredded.
“I’m afraid we’ll have to share the sleeping bag, Detective.” He stated, correctly guessing why Leon looked so disconcerted. “After all, the cubs ruined yours. It’s a single, but I can unzip it fully and we can lie under it like a blanket, if you would like. That’s the only way it will be big enough, I’m afraid.”
Leon cut a glance at D, then back at the bag spread out on the air mattress. He pressed his lips together momentarily in thought. After several moments he offered a sigh of resignation and scratched absently at the back of his head.
“Yeah, I guess we don’t have much of a choice in the matter,” he conceded. “It may be warm enough right now, but without a fire going, it’ll get colder than a witch’s tit before morning.”
D cocked his eyebrow at this vernacular. Silently, he watched Leon as he climbed into the back of the truck, shutting the gate behind him. He then closed the door to the camper shell, making certain it was secure. He could not blame the man for his precautions, not in light of his recent experience. When he was satisfied, Leon sat there on his knees in the corner looking decidedly uncomfortable. He kept cutting glances at D, but seemed unable to decide what he should do next.
Finally, D, who had eased under the heavy sleeping bag, patted the empty space beside him invitingly. “There’s no need to be shy, Detective,” he said and his smile had a gentle teasing quality to it. “I won’t hurt you.”
“That’s not what I was worried about,” Leon groused half under his breath, but he moved forward and lay awkwardly next to D. He squirmed around for several moments looking for the most comfortable position and finally ended up lying flat on his back. Once he was settled, he pulled the sleeping bag up to his chin and stared, stiff and still, up at the low ceiling.
For a long time they lay there in silence. Tired, but not necessarily sleepy, Leon slowly relaxed as he listened to D’s slow, rhythmic breathing. At first he thought the other man had fallen asleep, but then he shifted under the covers so that he was on his side propped up by one elbow. Several minutes passed and he swore that he could actually feel the weight of those oddly colored eyes on him.
“What is it, D?” He asked quietly. “What’s eating you?”
For the longest time, D just looked at him, his expression hidden by the night, but finally, he spoke, and his voice was barely more than a whisper.
“I was worried earlier, you know.” D uttered a short, mirthless laugh and shifted closer. Leon could feel the heat of his body through the layers of clothing that separated them and it was…maddening. “About you, I mean. That mother bear,” he paused and Leon heard him swallow, “she was in such a rage. Her desire to protect her young was so fierce, almost all consuming. For a few minutes I didn’t think she would back down.”
“Yeah, you and me both,” Leon confided, his voice thick. “But she finally did and that’s all that matters at the end of the day, you know?”
“Maybe so,” D whispered, and he laid his hand gently on Leon’s chest, a strangely tentative gesture from a guy who was usually so certain of himself and everything around him. “But still… I worried. That has never happened before.”
Somehow Leon was willing to bet that being worried meant something different for D than it did for him. But all he could think of was how good D’s hand felt resting on his chest, making small, maddening circles against the smooth texture of his crewneck. His nipples tightened at the contact, but whether D noticed or not, he couldn’t say. But then again, how the Hell could he not notice? Other parts of his own anatomy had certainly noticed.
Leon opened his mouth to speak but the words died in his throat because D’s hand had somehow managed to slip down under the hem of his tee shirt and was now rubbing against his abdomen. He cleared his throat roughly and tried again. “I guess it’s a good thing bears are much better in the listening department than your average human.”
“Indeed,” D murmured… and then he kissed him. The taste of blueberries lingered on his tongue.
Leon found himself kissing D back and he didn’t mind at all. We can’t do this, he thought, but it was fuzzy around the edges and lacked focus, but D was pulling at his shirt, up and over his head and he was helping him, raising his arms in an obliging fashion. Then D’s hands were tugging at the waistband of his shorts, unfastening and unzipping with an urgency he never would have guessed existed beneath D’s cool exterior. And all the while they kissed, all lips and teeth and tongues. Not since he was a teenager making out in the back seat of his mother’s car, had Leon felt so desperate, so clumsy.
We can’t do this, Leon thought again, we can’t, and this time he was able to break off their kissing long enough to speak the words aloud.
But D’s only reply was, “We can,” and he took possession of his lips once more.
The next thing he knew, D was shrugging the top of his weird dress thingy off his shoulders, baring pale flesh to his eyes, his touch. One of his nipples found its way into Leon’s mouth and it was pink and hard and when he sucked, D moaned low in his throat. It was a sound that drove hot darts to his groin.
Near delirious and unable to hold back any longer, Leon welcomed D’s advances. White cotton slithered down raised hips and suddenly his cock was jutting free, swollen and more than ready. It’s been so long… Leon’s body groaned with need. As if in response to that need, D pushed Leon back against the air bed mattress. He dimly heard the soft sound of silk sliding along skin and then D was hiking up his skirt around his hips, lowering himself slowly onto Leon with a series of soft, whimpering sighs.
Moist heat enveloped him and it was so right, so familiar, but something wasn’t - quite- right. D shouldn’t be wet like that, should he? He thought, gasping. He lifted his head and peered at D’s… his body. His skin glimmered in the pale moonlight that seeped in through the camper’s windows. And yes, as far as he could tell he had the same parts that Leon had, but something was different, damn it, both right and wrong at the same time. But his mind was too bleary from booze and sex to put his fingers on it.
Then D was moving, sliding up and down on him and all thoughts of right or wrong vanished. His hands gripped D’s hips hard enough to leave bruises, helping him, guiding him. "Detective!” D gasped, and stifled his cries against Leon’s shoulder.
Leon wanted it to last, wanted to make it something wonderful, but it had been too long. He struggled for control, but D danced his nails along his back, leaving furrows in their wake, urging him, driving them both toward climax. He came just moments after D and together they sank back against the mattress, panting and exhausted.
Just before sleep overtook him, he felt himself being drawn into D’s eyes, his yellow and purple eyes. Painted lips moved as he whispered, sad, reluctant. But he couldn’t quite make out the words…
And then it didn’t matter because he was falling…falling…
The sun was much higher in the sky than expected when Leon opened his eyes the next morning, feeling fuzzy headed and disoriented. So much for leaving at dawn, he thought, disgusted with himself for sleeping so late. Absently, his hand roamed to the other side of the mattress, but it was empty. Not even the smallest hint of body heat remained. For some unknown reason, his heart gave a small lurch but, not being able to understand it, he chose instead to studiously ignore it.
D must have been up for quite a while. Nice of him to wake me up! He knew we have to be on the road early if we’re going to make Los Angeles by nightfall.
Strangely, he wasn’t able to work himself up enough to genuinely care one way or the other. So they wouldn’t be in L.A on time. What was the big hurry, anyway?
Shivering in the cool mountain air, Leon scrambled around the back of the truck looking for his clothes. When he found them, rumpled but none the worse for wear, he pulled them on as fast as he could, pausing as he pulled his tee shirt over his head.
The scent of fish, sap, wood smoke and sweat lingered in the fabric, outdoor smells, smells of the wild… but something else was there as well. But his head reeled from too much beer and not enough food and he couldn’t put his finger on it. His groin tightened, but he ignored it as best as he could because, damn it, they needed to get packed up and ready to go. Brief, confused images danced through his mind but were gone before he could get so much as a proper glimpse at them.
“No more drinking on an empty stomach,” Leon swore thickly. Oddly enough, though he had downed quite a few beers yesterday and last night, he didn’t feel as bad as he thought he might. Oh, he had a mild headache, slightly upset stomach, and a mouth that tasted like a baby dragon had taken a dump in it, but other than that, he was fine. Not that he was complaining. He just wished he could remember what he had done differently so he could keep it in mind the next time he wanted to get shit-faced.
Shaking his head, he finished dressing and sat on the tailgate to slip on his shoes. When he picked them up he immediately noted that although they were wet, they were also clean with no remaining signs of scat. I guess that makes one more thing I’ll have to thank D for.
Once he was fully dressed, he took a few tentative steps and was pleased to find that although his ankle was still sore, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been last night. Favoring his injured ankle, he wandered out to the edge of the campsite to answer Nature’s call, craning his head this way and that as he did to make sure there were no (bears) wild animals in the vicinity – he did not need a repeat of yesterday, thank you so very much. When he was finished, he zipped up and hurried to the campfire, which, though small, was burning merrily.
Why the Hell didn’t you wake me up earlier? That’s what he meant to say, but the words died in his throat when D, who was tending the fire, glanced up as he approached and smiled.
“Good morning, Detective. Did you sleep well?”
By gesture he offered Leon a mug of hot, rich coffee, which he gratefully accepted. A cup of Joe was just what the doctor ordered. It also gave him something else to concentrate on – the smooth heat of the porcelain against his calloused hands, rich, eye-opening aroma, the heat of it as he took a swig, no sugar, thank God, but black as he liked it – other than of the small swarm of butterflies that had suddenly taken up residence in his still upset stomach.
He cleared his throat. “Fine, I slept fine… uh… You?”
D turned his attention to his own cup of what could only be tea, his dark hair swinging to obscure his face as he did so. But not before Leon caught another, almost secretive smile. “Like a baby, Detective,” he replied quietly.
“That’s, uh,” he cleared his throat again, “that’s good to hear.”
Together, they huddled around the fire, drinking their beverages in relative silence for a few minutes. Leon found himself darting sideway glances at the other man, observing him on the sly. There’s something different about him today, he thought, something I can’t quite put my finger on. Oh, he was still dressed in one of those weird dress things, and he was as neatly turned out as ever, but he seemed… more relaxed than he had ever seen him before, cat on a warm window sill relaxed. His smiles also seemed more… more real than any smile he had seen to date. There didn’t seem to be any undertone of sarcasm or superiority or any of his usual, petty bullshit.
“Would you care for some blueberries, Detective?” D asked, holding out a small tin cup. “I gathered some earlier and it would be a shame to let them go to waste.”
“Hell, yeah,” Leon grinned, accepting the tin, “Man, I love blueberries.”
D smiled and lowered his eyes, black lashes fanning like soot across his pale skin. “That’s a good thing, Detective, because I’m afraid it will be all you’ll get until we stop somewhere for lunch on our way back to the city.”
After Leon finished eating, they extinguished the fire, washed up the few dishes they had actually used, and stowed them along with the rest of their gear. Within half and hour they finally broke camp, which was a good thing because although his ankle was much better than it had been the night before, it was starting to seriously protest by the time they were finished cleaning up. It hadn’t taken them long because D had taken care of most everything the night before, for which Leon was grateful. He still felt kind of guilty about leaving most of the work to D, and he said as much as they neared the truck.
“There is no need to feel guilty, Detective,” D reassured him, opening the passenger side door. “You had a very rough time, what with the bears and all. It was least I could do.”
“No,” D cut him off, “No buts. If anything it is I who should be thanking you, Detective.”
Leon peered at him over the roof, squinting against the bright early morning sunshine. “Oh, yeah,” he exclaimed with some surprise, “what for?”
“For inviting me out here in the first place,” was the soft reply. “It has been a very long time since I was able to get away from the pet shop to commune with Nature.” He cast an almost shy glance toward Leon. “Too long, really, but I feel better about things now than I have for a long time.”
“Well, that’s good to here. But I guess we should be heading out. I promised to have this baby back before I start shift tomorrow.”
“Yes, let’s go home, Detective.”
Grinning, Leon slid behind the steering wheel and shut the door. He reached toward the glove box, opened it, and withdrew a pair of sunglasses. He put them on, inserted the key into the ignition slot and stared the truck. It sprang to life with a rumbling roar that only hinted at the horsepower beneath the hood. He was dying to really let her rip but knew that he wouldn’t. Not because he was averse to letting loose once in a while, but because drag racing along California mountain roads was a sure way to end up as a smoldering pile of melted metal on the foot of some drop off.
Instead, he maneuvered the truck at a sedate pace onto the dirt track that they had followed to get to the campsite. Tree branches and wild grasses swayed gently in their passing. He couldn’t help but take a long look in the rear view mirror just as the clearing was almost out of sight. It had been a good trip, all in all, and definitely one he would never forget.
“Hey, D,” he said, turning his eyes once more to the road ahead of them, “You know, I should have tried this whole ‘getting back to nature’ thing a long time ago.”
Still looking out the window at the passing scenery, D smiled and nodded his head. “Indeed. It is rather therapeutic to get in touch with one’s wild side now and again.” He turned his head and smiled at Leon, who just happened to be looking at him at the moment, with a sort of perplexed smile, as if he were trying hard to remember something he had forgotten.
“We should do this again soon, Detective.”
Leon’s grin lit his face, “Oh, definitely."