This was irritatingly hard to get done- mostly because I'm back in the phase of "get home from work, sit in front of computer fighting to stay awake for hours." It's not fun, especially when I have stuff I'd like to write but don't even have the energy to sit down and type it up. Blah.
Anyways, here it is. Rheugan and Shaur have met ICly before, which left Rheugan feeling a little bit like O_o. Shaur can be... interesting if you don't know her, heh. But he did like her well enough, and I thought maybe he could use an impartial ear again, given what's been going through his head lately.
I have no idea what Shaurria is doing here, by the way. I think Alanon is rubbing off on her.
Shaurria was back in Stormwind.
Rheugan found her on the lake shore, watching people move in and out of the portals at the Earthshrine. He hesitated, then left his cat form and approached as a human. She heard or sensed him somehow and looked up, giving him a welcoming smile and patting the ground beside her. "How've ya been?" she asked as he sat down. "I'm well," he replied. "You?" She nodded as she turned back toward the Earthshrine. "M'good. Did you have any more stories?"
Rheugan chuckled, more amused now than surprised at her directness. "Actually, I thought maybe you'd have some to tell." She looked back at him in surprise. "Me?" He just nodded, waiting patiently.
Shaur frowned in mild confusion. "Like what?" He shrugged. "How about something from when you were younger?" She looked at him doubtfully, so he tried again. "Well, what have you been doing recently, then?"
She brightened at that, sitting up straighter. "Alanon took me to Hyjal!" she told him. "He showed me the Ancients, and Goldrinn let me ride on his back. I wanted to ask Tortolla too, but Alanon said it wouldn't be polite." Rheugan found himself chuckling again, and she gave him a crooked grin. "So what have you been doing?" she asked him.
Rheugan's good humor vanished, as he wondered exactly how much he could tell her. They sat in silence for several minutes, until Shaur finally spoke. "Rheugan?" He looked up to find her studying him with concern. "S'there anything wrong?"
He hesitated a moment more. "There have been... incidents of people, ahh, expressing their dislike of my kind," he said slowly. Shaur's eyebrow went up. He continued, "Some folk think that we're a curse, a blight, and we should be.. dealt with. There's been some violence." He stopped, hoping he hadn't said too much.
Shaurria stared at him thoughtfully. "They've been mean to you?" she finally asked, and he shook his head. "No, to a friend." She frowned. "And it's just 'cause ya can turn inta a wolf?" "Worgen," he corrected automatically. "Not quite a wolf." She snorted dismissively. "Same thing." He chuckled, giving up the argument, and she grinned briefly, then grew serious. "Rheugan?" she said hesitantly. "Can I.. can I see ya in your wolf shape?"
He stared at her for several long seconds, then sighed and closed his eyes. Calling the wolf took only a moment. He grunted as the change took him, then heard Shaur's muffled gasp and opened his eyes, bracing himself for the worst.
She wasn't huddled in fear, like he expected. Instead, she was studying him in fascination. Finally she met his eyes and smiled. "S'not so bad," she said, then lifted a hand and reached toward his muzzle. He sat perfectly still as her fingers brushed the short, coarse fur, then the hand withdrew. "Yer not so bad. I like it."
Rheugan blinked, not knowing what to think. After a bit he changed back, the wolf reluctant to leave but going without a fight. Shaur simply watched him, not speaking, and they sat in silence again until Rheugan finally broke it. "I wish everyone shared your opinion of it," he said quietly. She shrugged, her attention going back across the lake. "Pitch'n Alanon don't care either," she said absently. "Y'can't make everyone happy, so why bother with it? Just so long as no one's hurtin' ya." Rheugan could only shake his head.
Shaurria glanced at him crosswise. "What kinda teaching did y'get?" she asked him suddenly. He blinked at her in confusion. "Pardon?" "Your druid teaching," she explained patiently. "How much have y'had?" He paused to think. "I've had some teaching when I was younger, although I didn't know at the time it was druid magic I was learning," he said slowly. "Since then, all I was taught was the shape-shifting, and the feral combat that Pitch has been helping with."
Shaurria nodded, then she turned in her place so that she faced him squarely. "Druids are about balance," she told him, her voice taking on the tone of a teacher instructing a student. "We're connected to the earth, which is connected to all living things. When everything's balanced, the grass and the trees grow up healthy, and they feed th' animals which in turn feed th' people. If something's out of whack, then stuff goes out of balance, and it's th' druid's job to find out what's gone wrong and fix it. That's what we do." She paused, then shrugged. "That's what Alanon says, anyway. He does it better than me."
Rheugan was bemused. "That's very interesting, but I'm not sure how much it applies to me," he told her. She shrugged again. "Maybe you're just out of balance," she said, surprising him. "Maybe that's why you're having problems, why y'aren't happy any more. Maybe... maybe you just need to find it in yourself." Rheugan blinked at her in amazement- she suddenly seemed much older than the elf-girl he had thought he'd been speaking with. "Maybe," he finally said, softly. "I only wish I knew how." Shaur gave him a small, sad smile, then reached over and patted his hand. "You'll get it, s'why Pitch is helping ya isn't it?" "I suppose," he replied slowly.
They sat in silence for a long time after that, Shaurria going back to her people-watching and Rheugan lost in his own thoughts. As the sun started to drop below the horizon, Shaur finally began telling him more of the Ancients, and they were still sitting there chatting when Pitch found them.
* * * * * *
The shaggy black cat most often referred to as Rheugan stretched out on the railing and idly watched the others, only half-paying attention to the conversation going on around the main table. When Alanon entered, he noticed immediately, his one ear pricking up as he watched the older druid approach him. "Rheugan," Alanon said when he reached the druid-cat's side. "Can I have a word with you? Should just be a moment." He paused and glanced at the main table. "Upstairs, perhaps?" Rheugan eyed him curiously. "All rright," he rumbled, then slipped off the railing and followed the Night elf upstairs to a table.
Alanon took a seat and waited as the younger druid shifted to a human and did the same. "Shaur told me she spoke with you earlier," he said once Rheugan was settled. "She said you spent quite a bit of time together." Rheugan raised an eyebrow. "Yes," he replied. "And? What of it?" "You do know that she is still very young, by our terms, right?" Alanon asked, waiting for the other's nod before continuing. "I was just wondering what your feelings are toward her."
Rheugan blinked, suddenly uncomfortably aware of where this was probably going. "She is... a friend," he said. "That's allowed, isn't it?" "And that's all she is?" Alanon pressed. "Yes," he answered, then paused as a thought struck him. "Surely you don't think I'd do anything to her," he said, staring at the elder druid in surprise. "I didn't, but I had to make sure," Alanon said, rather gently. "Shaur is young, and can be rather... impressionable."
Rheugan frowned. "I'd never do anything like that," he protested. "I wouldn't hurt her for anything." "And that's why I won't ask you to stay away from her," came Alanon's response. Rheugan blinked again. The Night elf went on, "She is my ward, and I will do whatever I have to to protect her. You understand that, correct?" "Yes..." he said slowly. "I just... it's nice to have someone to talk to, that's all." The Kal'dorei eyed him curiously.. "You can talk to Pitch, you know that." "I know," he replied. "It's not the same, though."
Alanon sat back in his chair and studied Rheugan as understanding suddenly dawned. "It's because she accepts you," he said quietly. Rheugan nodded, studying the tabletop with entirely too much concentration. He hoped the other druid really did understand as well as he thought, as he wasn't even sure if he could explain it to another.
Alanon studied him thoughtfully for a while. "Just be careful, Rheugan," he finally said, softly. "She's too young right now for that kind of relationship, and by the time she would be old enough, you'd be an old man." "You think I haven't realized that?" Rheugan cut in, a little more sharply than he had intended. "I don't want her like that. She's a friend, and that's all I'm looking for." Alanon studied Rheugan closely, then nodded. "Then I will trust your judgment. Just.. remember what I've said." Rheugan resumed staring at the table. "I will."
Seemingly satisfied, Alanon stood. "I'll see you later, Rheugan," he said, and Rheugan nodded without raising his eyes. He listened as the druid left, then at last he got up and went back to his cat shape and the railing. With a quiet sigh, he wondered if his life would ever be simple again.