Hunger clawed his belly, made his fangs ache.
Scents both sharp and mellow met his nose.
Ripe scents. Hot scents.
The world was loud. When he shouted, it became quiet. But when he shouted, all the red-scented things scattered away.
Not this one, though. This one always stayed. The red-and-brown-scented thing.
It didn’t smell as good as some of the other things, but it didn’t run away. It smelled like food, but it was very hard to eat. Sometimes it flashed bright, like the heavenly eye, and blinded him. If he grabbed it, or bit it, or brushed the thing aside, it hurt. The red-and-brown-scented thing waved the shiny thing around a lot. Thorns weren’t supposed to move, but this one did.
Maybe it wasn’t a thorn, but a fang.
If it was a fang, then maybe the red-and-brown-scented thing thought it could eat him.
But he was stronger than this food-thing with only one fang.
He tried running toward the other red-scented things, but the red-and-brown-scented thing followed him. When he stopped running, it also stopped. It flashed its fang at him but did not attack.
The red-and-brown-scented thing smelled like it could be eaten, but it neither fled before him nor attacked—neither predator nor prey. They had chased and fought for many nights. Many times, the heavenly eye stared down on them as they ran and ran, close as mates or dear brethren.
He stopped and stared at the red-and-brown-scented thing.
The features dripped with red-scented water. The bright fang wavered in the air. It, whatever it was, stumbled badly and breathed heavily, but remained alert.
Perhaps this was a companion, like the heavenly eye. There was no other who followed him so stubbornly. Close as brethren, right on his heels, always within sight.
He sniffed at the red-and-brown-scented thing.
The red-scented water smelled good enough to eat, but companions were rare. Only the heavenly eye was so constant.
He sniffed again. If this was a companion worthy enough to be by his side, then he had been remiss. The red-and-brown-scented thing was very tired and injured from their fighting. He had thought to eat it, but to make it a companion meant to prevent it from dying.
He took a step toward it, and it likewise retreated one weakly-wobbling step.
A cautious companion.
Well, it was deserved. He had considered it dinner, but now found its loyalty charming. If it retreated when he drew closer, then he would wait for it to come to him. He eased down onto his haunches and offered a single wag of his tail in hopes of luring it closer. It hesitated, so he whuffed softly. Come on, then.
He whuffed again, and still, it refused to move…though it lowered its fang. Or perhaps it was a stinger, rather than a fang? It didn’t smell like death, though. It smelled red-scented, but not in an appetizing way.
It stumbled, but refused to sit. On guard, but constant still as the heavenly eye.
And so, for dawn they waited.