Disclaimer: I do not own MR. Shounen ai/Yaoi Tiger x Hare pairing.
~He hasn't spoken to me for three days.~
Genki glanced ahead at the hare monster striding silently through the tunnel. Hare had barely said anything other than, 'Hurry up. We'll rest now,' and 'I'm not upset,' over the last few days. The boy sighed and turned his attention to the wolf-like beast who seemed to be the only one matching Hare's pace.
Tiger had shown little concern at this new identity that arose from their friend, but he rarely did anyway. Still, it was obvious to someone who knew Tiger well that he was keeping an eye on their guardian. ~I wonder why he's so upset. All I asked was if he had a bond with any of the other guardians and he suddenly pulled this silent treatment on us.~
~I know he didn't mean it. He doesn't get it. Genki is just a child, a human child. I shouldn't be so upset with him. He doesn't understand his questions. I can't help but close myself off, for I... I don't want to risk Tiger finding out my horrible secret. How could I tell him that I want to bond... with his guardian? No one would understand. No one. Especially not him. And I... I've grown fond of Tiger of the Wind, taking pleasure in his likeness to the one I care for. But, they are not the same, and I cannot have either. It is better to just forget these feelings and concentrate on saving the others, if we can stop Moo... If...~
Hare blinked as he nearly walked straight into a wall. Tiger had stopped a few feet back and was now studying the large structure with calm amazement. The guardian blinked and glanced up, noticing for the first time what they stood before.
'The entrance to the Gin'iro Falls,' Hare breathed, unable to believe they had finally reached a safe place. 'Where?' Genki asked, glancing at the awestruck monster. 'The falls that run with silver waves. Of all the waterfalls upon Eternity Mountain, this is the most beautiful, and the most protected. I highly doubt Moo's baddies could even get far enough through the twisted dark of the Emerald Forest,' Hare sighed with relief, reaching out a paw to run it over the hard stone door.
'We're back in the forest again,' Suezo groaned, remembering the baddies that had attacked them earlier. 'Emerald Forest winds around nearly the entire mountaintop, and parts of it are only accessible to those who know the way,' Tiger announced, stepping forward next to the other monster. 'Mm hm. Eternity Mountain knows it's masters, that is why only guardians, and at times someone blessed by a guardian, can find their way. If you were on your own, who knows what sort of dangers you might find yourself facing. This mountain is safe... but not to strangers. I just hope... the baddies have figured that out,' Hare smirked at the thought.
Genki just blinked as the others started to stir restlessly. 'Well, aren't we going through?' the boy asked, gazing at the guardian. 'Huh? Oh, right. Forgot about that,' Hare laughed gently and allowed his form to shift back to his halfling state. Long fingers danced over symbols that were carved into the door, the young man's mouth moving silently as he whispered ancient greetings to the living rock.
The passageway seemed to hum with energy as a crack split the door itself, and the rock seemed to draw back far enough for them all to enter without any hindrance. 'Well, come on. We can't stay here forever,' Hare smiled, forgetting his earlier uneasy thoughts. The group stepped through... into a silvery darkness.
'Is it just me, or are these walls glowing?' Genki asked, glancing around. Mocchi jumped up and down happily as the group peered around. 'In this place, silver runs in veins through the cavern walls. If we continue on, we will reach the entrance to this hidden cave,' Hare pointed in the direction of a single shaft of light amidst the silver streaked darkness. Holly smiled and began to follow Hare, the others coming up behind her. All but Tiger, who seemed to walk in Hare's footsteps.
Genki glanced at his guardian friend, noticing that he had chosen to regain his monster form once more. It was so weird, the change that came unnoticed at times. Truly, Hare seemed to flow between his two forms with ease, so unlike the monster they had met long ago. And Tiger... who can tell what form friendship can take? The pair hardly argued, and even when they did, it was nothing compared to before.
The light grew brighter as they continued onwards, making their way through the dimly lit earthen hall. The faint sound of running water grew louder until it echoed around them with a strong presence. Genki was not the only one to notice that the cave was effecting Tiger and Hare with a different sort of peace. Both continued on with a calmness that seemed to ripple around their bodies, flowing gently down upon the ground and sweeping the dust beneath the their feet. A relaxation had taken over them, giving the pair a strangely regal sense, as if they were born higher than any other and knew it deep inside. Then again, Hare was a Guardian, and Tiger was Guardian touched, so they would be more in tune with the melody of the mountain.
'Gin'iro,' a soft whisper filled the air as the party stopped short. Before them was the entrance, bared only by cascading water flowing endlessly downward past the rock floor they stood upon. Hare took the first step, moving to one side and shifting through the water, his form disappearing from their eyes. Tiger snorted indignantly before following, the long blue wave of his tail fading from view. One by one, the other took their first steps into the outside world once more.
The first thing Genki noticed was the sunlight sifting through the trees that seemed to stretch forward all around them. Looking up, the top of the waterfall was covered with green, so that only the sparkle of water could be seen pouring out from above like an endless flood. However, the second thing the boy caught sight of was Hare, or rather, the Hare Guardian. The halfling stood silently with his back to them, on the very edge of the circular pond. Long rabbit ears twitched, moving slowly up and down and to the sides, as if searching for something. As Genki and the others began to make their way towards the pair upon the shore, finally reaching the end of the rockway that was part of the falls itself, the teenage form began to shift.
Tiger was poised and ready, watching the young man with a strange alertness, as if waiting for something to happen. Hare's eyes, which were closed gently as he twirled to face the waterfall, the tips of his toes barely touching the water as he stood upon the bank. Then, those dark eyes opened halfway, bringing a calm appearance to his face, almost sleepy in a way. Nimble fingers crossed in front of his chest as he began to remove his long shirt robe, letting it tumble to the emerald grass beside him. Genki only had time to blink before the youth dove into the peaceful pool, shattering the surface and disappearing from view.
~I can sense him. He's here.~ Hare ignored his initial fear of the water, letting the waves lap around his body, his eyes peering down into the depths. The silvery water from the falls cast a glint upon the crystals that shimmered and poked out from the walls of the lake. The falls were the main source of water for them, its paths leading it underground to reach all corners of the mountaintop easily. Avoiding the fast currents that flowed close to his body, the teenage formed youth narrowed his eyes on a faint, but ever glowing circle of crystal on the very floor of the pool. Within that ring was a large translucent bubble, and inside the bubble was a golden winged boy.
~So, it is you. I knew I'd find you, I should have guessed you'd hide here.~ Hare smiled, reaching out his hands to touch the bubble's surface gently, careful not to break it as he lifted it towards the surface. Glancing down, he noted the sleeping form with appraisal, and a little concern. It seemed the dragon guardian had been down there for a very long time, time enough to heal nearly all his wounds, though a long scar was still visible on his cheek. ~I am sorry to have to wake you before your rest is completed, Dragon Guardian.~
With that last thought, the halfling broke the surface of the pool.
A short while later found the group huddled around a fire, the dragon winged boy laying motionless on a soft blanket Hare had pulled out of nowhere. And speaking of Hare, he was busy trying to fend off Genki's upset accusations about scaring the group half to death when he jumped into the pool. 'You were down there for over ten minutes, at least! We thought you drowned or something!' Genki panted, his body overworked and beginning to calm down without him realizing it. 'I felt him, Genki. I had to find him. Besides, it takes a lot more than a little water to kill a guardian,' Hare winked, flipping a long rabbit ear over his shoulder.
Tiger glanced away from his vigil over the other guardian in time to see the taller youth turned away and bend over to pick up his robe. A cute brown bunny tail stuck out from overtop of his silken pants, enticing and deliciously pert. At that thought, Tiger shook his head and glanced to the side, trying to forget what he had just thought. Hare was not cute. Hare was not cute. Maybe if he kept telling himself that, he'd start to believe it one day. But, for now...
Hare turned, readjusting his robe around his shoulders, fingers holding the cloth over his bare chest. He blinked, finding himself staring into pools of gold that sent shivers down his spine. ~Man... what is it with tigers? First the Tiger Guardian, now Tiger of the Wind. Creator help me, I think I've fallen for them both.~ Hare winced as Tiger looked away quickly, as if he had found nothing of value in the guardian before him. ~Yep, I've so got it bad.~ Hare sighed and forced himself to step closer to the fire.
Genki watched quietly as Hare knelt down next to the sleeping halfling. His dark eyes were focused intimately on the younger looking guardian, filled with a silent respect. 'Who is he?' Genki found himself asking, his voice lower than usual. 'The eldest of us all. The dragon guardian,' Hare replied, half turning his head, one ear perked to listen to the human boy. 'He looks... younger,' Genki stated dumbly, not really knowing what to say. Hare's mouth twitched into a half smile at the statement, before answering, 'It is possible to change our forms younger or older, but we prefer to stay the way we were created. Actually, that isn't quite true. Dragon, Tiger, and I are all first created ones. The second guardians are the ones created through a bond whether on the land between different monsters or upon the mountain by guardians. As I said before, a bonded pair is rare on the mountain, but not unheard of. Those half of the halfling guardians start out very young, children really, and grow until they reach a set age, then stop usually in their teens.'
'Cool,' Genki breathed out, sitting down near them. Hare's lips twitched again, a slight smile, before his attention turned back to the boy laying beside him. The dragon guardian had not woken up as of yet, Hare didn't know what to make of it. He had never actually seen Dragon hibernate in such a way before, though he had heard of it. And, it was true, that Dragon was the first of the monster guardians, but Hare and Tiger were created soon after, nearly at the same time. That was likely the reason for their two species being apart from each other, almost enemies since the dawn of time.
The moonbeams flicked through the tree canopy encircling the waterfall, barely falling upon the ground. It didn't matter if the sun and moon could never truly light up the place, for the silver from the falls created a glow by day and night. On the edge of the water sat a single figure... the guardian of the hares.
Hare sighed, his long robes trailing over the grass beneath him, his arms curled around his bent knees, his cheek pressed into the material of his pants as he gazed at his reflection in the silvery water. Even after so many centuries, he still remembered being created. It was so long ago, when the lands were not so populated with humans and monsters. When the first hare had been made upon the land, so had the hare guardian been created upon the mountain.
The halfling felt his memories taking over as he went back to that ancient time. The first time he had been brought into existence, waking as if from a long sleep. His eyes opening to see the mountain far below him, his body forming in the deep red light that surrounded him. His fingers twitched, his ears flowing in the wind as he got used to the feeling of being suspended so high up. Still slightly dizzy, he had turned his head when the first ray of blue had caught his attention.
There beside him was another creature, and he too was being created in front of him. But, this one had not opened his eyes. All Hare could see was long thunder blue hair shot with lightning white streaks and twin horns. Pale skin and smooth features, so handsome, so lovely. Hare twitched as his feet were formed, his naked form in full view of the other who was still surrounded by blue. Already, he could tell the red around his own body was fading, barely holding him in the air. And yet, just before he was lowered to the ground, the other opened his eyes.
Gold. Golden eyes, so cold they seemed to pierce deep into his soul. He would never forget those eyes, or that body that was now nearly fully formed even as Hare sank to the top of the mountain where a winged youth stood silently. It wasn't until later that he found out who that other boy was. He was the Tiger Guardian, and they were natural enemies. Yes, their fate had been chosen for them before they had been created. But, could not fate be overcome?
Hare sighed again, turning to gaze at the circle of sleepers, focusing on one furry figure asleep by the dragon guardian's side. Tiger... His eyes slipped closed, his form shivering as he slipped back into the full monster one. Even as a normal hare, he could never be with the one creature, well... two now, or so it seemed, that he loved most dearly. ~I don't know why. I can't explain it... Why did I have to fall in love with you?~
The hare could feel the prickle of tears in his eyes, and he opened them to blink away the wetness. Black orbs drifted back to the circle, widening on the empty spot where once Tiger of the Wind had laid. Feeling the wind shift next to him, Hare turned his head to see the one creature who had been on his thoughts standing next to him. Golden eyes were focused on the waterfall, so cold and calm that Hare wondered how he could possibly have any feelings. Perhaps, tigers could not love anyone not of their species. If so, then Hare had no chance of finding his soul, for it and his heart, belonged to the two creatures who had stolen it from him.
Glancing down at the water in sadness, Hare's eyes widened upon the two reflections there. Yes, true, his halfling form knelt before him, not the hare monster who was actually upon the bank. The silver falls were told to show reflections of truth... but that meant that... Black eyes turned to look at Tiger, then at the reflection again.
In the water, standing proud and tall, was the Guardian of Tigers.
Author's Note: How was that for an ending? Leaving everyone hanging? Don't worry, next chapter is coming soon! Love the reviews everyone!