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Ghost and Karl - Mirror Image

[Cross posted were_ghost and bq_karl ]

The sounds of the bayou was soft around him, night creatures - other than himself - slipped through the thick underbrush in search of food or shelter adding the occasional brush of leaf against bark. It wasn’t often the beta patrolled the swamplands, but sometimes he simply enjoyed the solitude of it. Pausing, he sniffed then frowned, not expecting to find that particular scent this far out. Wondering if an adventuresome cub had gotten lost, he almost shook his head in dismissal; the scent was too strong.. too adult.



The huge Siberian wolf loped along over the solid patches of ground in his inherited range. He was out for a romp through the bayou. His human had spent hours this morning arguing the finer points of a surveying contracts. He had remained in one position for so long that his muscles were twitching to get out. He wanted to feel the earth beneath his paws and smell the poignant odors of his swamp.

He wasn’t really interested in eating at the moment. He had finished off a good meal this morning but the tempting scent of hare called to his wolf coaxing him into a chase. There was nothing like pitting his animal cunning against something equally wild. Besides the stretch would do him good. Too many meetings had both his human and animal form in tense knots. His human mentally rolled his shoulders and yawned while the wolf extended his lean front legs out as far as they would go. His nose dipped to the ground and he breathed in the surrounding fauna. There were two raccoons, various rodents and one spooked hare in his immediate vicinity. The hare was just be a bit of fun. He would run it about a little and then just before pouncing on it he would let it escape.

The big wolf took off in the direction of the hare’s scent. He could smell it’s fear. He was not the only one on the trail of unfortunate rabbit. He was not the only wolf on the trail either. There was another moving in the direction of the unfortunate furred creature or more accurately toward him. The wolf slowed his pace and then came to a halt. The hare took advantage of the distraction and escaped into the thicker undergrowth. Was Ghost ready to really meet another wolf? Almost a year ago he come to the bayou to hide out but that reason no longer existed. It died with Mitch and most of his former pack. He still was without a pack but perhaps his shadow was too. He decided to stop and wait. He was a strong animal only the threat to his sacred vow had kept him in seclusion. There was not a werewolf who could best him in fair competition. He’d stay put and let the other wolf come to him.

He’d heard the ruckus in the surrounding thickets, the brush and scrape of branches and leaves as something passed, and Karl hunched down, shedding his clothing and placing them behind a large moss covered stump. Shimmying into his large black wolf form, Karl-human smiled in pleasure; he was more relaxed as his animal. Knowing he had the power of Hoot and Prince Liam behind him to pursue his responsibilities, the large animal moved forward, not hiding his presence. It wasn’t further up the track the scent became stronger and he slowed, keeping his pace steady and non-aggressive. That could change if needed, but he’d rather meet others on a friendlier term.

Ghost’s wolf stretched out at the base of an ancient cypress. The old tree stood strong at his back though he didn’t need it. If something else should threaten from behind that he couldn’t handle with his brawn he would simply fade away leaving the predators with only his scent. There was no danger here. The approach of the other was steady. The wolf sniffed the air. This one wasn’t familiar to him. Ghost had made several trips into town and had scented a number of the local residents but this one was not among them. He would wait.

He felt the eyes, knew there to be another of his kind near. Stopping, Karl let his eyes, a golden hazel and bright in the soft light of fading night, scan the area. Since there was nothing discernible in direct line of sight, they must be above. Lifting his large head, he stared up. And into the eyes of a very spectacularly looking wolf...

Ghost watched with interest as the black male wolf came into view. He was certainly male and very healthy. A well proportioned specimen from the parts Ghost could see. He wondered briefly what his human half would look like then mentally shook his head and decided it would be better to see how the new comer reacted to his wolf before moving on to “other “ things. Ghost had been out of the game for awhile. Rene had been his only intimate encounter since the death of his mate, Lucinda and Rene was human so he could take the full force of a alpha male were. The were that approached was not alpha but he had the scent of a pack animal. He posture told Ghost that he was probably highly placed or he wouldn’t be out in the bayou by himself. Ghost had smelled traces of pack animals at the edge of the bayou during the time he had been here.

The question was what to do with this particular one. The wolf had moved deliberately toward him. He hadn’t shown any aggression so perhaps he was just curious. Ghost had come out here for a good run so perhaps that is exactly what he would try for. He would just have to see what the new comer thought of the idea. Ghost’s wolf rose slowly to his full height. While keeping his eyes on the other wolf he stretch his muscular limbs and then leapt away into the brush. He stopped a few yards away and looked back.

Head to the side, ears pricked forward, Karl watched with appreciation the strong leap and soft landing. /Nice form./ was the thought that touched his mind and he realized he didn’t mean just the dismount and execution of the moves. Giving a mental shrug, the black wolf moved forward, eyes intent and scanning the surrounding area. He’d not smelled others, but it never played stupid to be cautions. So, he followed.

Seeing that the other wolf was going to play along he set off at a easy lop while he scanned for local prey. He wasn’t really hungry but a little healthy competition never hurt and his muscles really did need a work out. At first there was nothing but then something came into range. He veered off moving parallel in hopes of penning it in. Of course that would all depend of his new companion. Would he understand the intent and follow through?

Pausing, Karl-wolf moved his eyes before his body, spotting what had caused the other to turn suddenly. Slipping through the brush, body caressed by leaves and twigs as he moved, the black wolf crouched low, keeping most of his large frame hidden by green. The other wolf was coming in from one side, and he the other. This was going to be interesting.

Ghost, seeing the other wolf following through, tightened up his movement pattern. He knew what they had now. It was a bobcat, male and young. It’s reactions seemed too casual for an alert animal. This young one needed a lesson in survival. It wouldn’t kill him but he’d remember it and perhaps live a lot longer for it. The wolf gave him a bit of room, tempting him with escape and then snap it closed again. He was herding the bobcat closer and closer to his silent partner.

Half crouched, his big body tense, Karl watched the game, eyes alert and focused. At first he wasn’t sure what the other was doing, but as thing progressed, he saw and silently agreed. It was very similiar to what they taught the young cubs coming into their teen and adult years. Leaping out, he sent the animal scurrying in a different direction and smiled to himself.

Ghost changed direction and gave the scared creature just enough room to gain some ground and then bounded back cutting the smaller animal off. He felt a moment of guilt for wounding the poor bobcat up but it couldn’t change form to escape an enemy. It needed to know how to make the most with what it was born with. He sent the bobcat darting back into the path of the other wolf. A couple more minutes and Ghost would have a convenience misstep and the small cat would run for freedom. He loped ahead in anticipation of the bobcat’s return.

Cutting directly into the path of the frantically running animal, Karl gave a low growl, more a rumble and watched as the bobcat skittered then turned direction, heading back toward where he’d come from.

Ghost watched the bobcat swerved quickly to avoid the other wolf. He could hear the heartbeat of the animal as it struggle to keep the bobcat supplied with oxygen. It was wearing out. He didn’t want to tire it too much because then it could fall prey to a real danger like an alligator lying in wait. Besides he’d warmed up his muscles and worked out some of the kinks.

When the bobcat came close enough the wolf took a very carefully calculated leap. One that had him tripping over a cypress tree that he knew was there and he could have easily avoided. The bobcat snarled and prepared to fight rather than being forced into a corner between the two predators. As Ghost stumbled over the exposed tree part the bobcat took the offered hole and darted right in front of him. Ghost’s wolf made a half-ass attempt at a swipe but deliberately missed. His pace slowed until he came to a safe halt. His sides expanded to take in more fresh air. That had felt so good. He had really needed that. Now to see who this obliging wolf was.

Shaking the debris from his fur, Karl hunched his back and stretched, claws spreading wide in the soft earth. Half crouching in a sitting position, he calmed his wolf. Golden eyes stared fixedly at the other, debating before coming to a decision. Seconds later, the human was sitting cross-legged and quite naked in the soft grass.

Ghost mentally shook his head. His wolf stared unblinking at a carbon copy of his human self if slightly younger. If he had himself been a younger wolf he would probably have attacked believing that he had been tricked but this fellow who sat naked and calmly in front of him. Could this be another from his line? Could Katarina have brought others with her when she came to check up on Ghost? His wolf carefully circled the man. His movements casual and non-threatening. When he was directly behind the man he shifted to human form. “Curious. You have my face but your scent is unknown. Most perplexing development..... or should I say, ‘this is just weird’.”

Peering over his shoulder, Karl started to laugh, but stopped. “Shit...” Swallowing, he slowly turned so he faced the other were. Trying for levity, he gave a crooked grin, “You’re one hell of a handsome guy!”

“Really, I was thinking you were kinda’ ugly.” He mimicked the crooked grin. He circled back around and squatted down in front of the other were. “Are you from the local pack?” He needed to decide quickly if this was just a big coincidence or if this fellow was a danger. He felt no malice coming across. The other seemed genuinely surprised by the likeness and rather relaxed about the whole encounter.

“Not local, but from the pack. Beta.” Inhaling, Karl tried to place the scent and couldn’t; this one didn’t seem related to others in the pack nor from the pack. “You?”

“Neither local nor pack.” He looked the were over. He was attractive and he thought he could even get by the whole “twin” thing if it weren’t for Rene. Their relationship was new and fragile and he wouldn’t do anything to harm it. Still the likeness was intriguing and worth checking out. “You are second to the one called Hoot?”

It wasn’t surprising that someone of their kind had heard of the Alpha, “Yep, that I am. How do you know of him?” Standing, unmindful of his naked form, Karl rolled his neck, stretching the muscles.

“The bear who runs The Den. Since I decided recently to stay I thought it wise to check out the local politics. I’ve never been much for pack life. No disrespect intended but I wanted to see who was in charge.” Ghost consciously stretched warmed muscles. The run had been just what he needed. “You are a curiosity. I’ve never seen a resemblance so striking except in my own line.”

“Maybe we’re related then?” Karl moved to the side, letting some of the moon touch the other man’s face. “I don’t know much about my family though.”

“Very curious.” Ghost’s forehead wrinkled as he thought about the possibilities. He tilted his head as if to scrutinize the other man. Ghost had a larger frame and their wolves were definitely different. He had always been told that the powers he had only passed to the first male born in each generation but of course some of the males in his line stayed with their mates and produced additional cubs. Could this man be from one of those? “I have a few discreet contacts who could make a few inquires. I had thought I was alone in the world ever since my father was killed. It’s a odd thing imagining that there might be someone else out there.”

Ghost eased closer to his “double”. He reached out to touch his face as if to assure himself that the other were was real. It was a strange feeling. He thought he’d be raising his own son right now not mourning the death of his mate and struggling with the emotions of the new and fragile relationship he had with Rene.

“Do you want to know if we are?” The touch had been light and non-threatening, almost a caress. “I’ll admit I want to know.”

“It is a perplexing feeling.... to look into a face that is so much.... like my own. One that I would only expect to see on a relative.... if at all.” Ghost’s voiced drifted away. His mind lost in a jumble of conflicting thoughts and theories. All he could see were a pair of blue eyes. His hand slipped from a slightly bristled cheek to a bare shoulder. Ghost hadn’t even register the movement. Had he found family or a clever enemy or both?

Karl wasn’t one opposed to a touch; having grown up in pack, it wasn’t often you weren’t pressed against someone else. “Yeah... I can try to ask my family back home, but... not sure I’d get a response.”

Ghost shook his head to clear it. He felt like he was coming out of a fog. “I ah.....I have someone who could check on backgrounds....discreetly.” Ghost’s voice strengthened as he came back to the here and now. “He understands our need for privacy. If you would be willing to give me a few simple things like name, age, pack location, those sort of things he could compare it to my history and see if it overlaps.” Ghost put on his most honest and sincere face. This were didn’t know him from Adam. Why would he be so forthcoming with personal information? “I realize that we just met and seeing that we are standing here in the middle of the bayou buck naked, which is not that unusual for our kind, I have little to hide except things that are very dear to me.” Wanting to give the other were an out, Ghost stepped back removing his hand from Karl’s arm. “If you want to leave now I won’t stop you or follow you but I’d really like to learn more - about you.”

Karl’s head tilted to the side, eyes focused and unblinking. “I want to know... but... like you said, we don’t know each other... could I defer my answer until such a time as I’m more... comfortable in giving it? Perhaps spend more time together... come to Hoot’s for a drink...” Here he smiled, eyes crinkling in amusement, “I’m sure we’d cause a bit of uh... discussion amidst the other customers.”

Ghost chuckled.They certainly would turn heads. Doppelgangers couldn’t be that common. “No doubt. A drink sounds like a great way to become more... comfortable. So ah...when would you like to do this? I eat out a lot lately. I could come by for a bite to eat.”

“That’d be great - burgers are huge and greasy with the works if you want and never ending fries.” Karl screwed up his mouth in a smirk at the growl heard from his belly. “whenever works for you - now or...” Checking the position of the moon, he shook his head, “Nah, kitchen’s closed now... tomorrow maybe?”

“That will work. Game’s rather scarce around these parts lately. You’d think there was some big, bad predator around.” He smirked. “I can always use a good wolf-size meal especially something I don’t have to cook.” Ghost paused to consider something. “Am I likely to run into Hoot tomorrow night? I might not be into pack living but... I respect the position. I’ll like to bring something for him. Does he have a favorite libation?...liquor?....booze?”

Karl was tempted to say lube but thought better of it. “He’s into antique cars.. models and things... not much into drinking, working and owning a bar and all. Don’t think you need to bring him anything though... he’s not about material.”

Ghost nodded. “My kind of wolf. Personally I prefer living out here but... I’ve met someone who probably wouldn’t take to roughing it for too long so I’m moving into town.” He looked Karl over again and shook his head. “You are a mystery, Karl. If you knew my family background you’d understand.” He smiled. “We will talk tomorrow. Give us both time to do a bit of thinking.” Ghost nodded respectfully at Karl. “Until tomorrow, Karl.” Ghost flashed back into his wolf form and turned to leave. He glanced back over his shoulder and tilted his head up in a final acknowledgement and then lopped away.

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