Closed RP Mutualism

This RP is currently closed.


Sammy hadn’t been there when he went back.

Sure, Cryptid had taken a while to eat the kid – kicking and twitching dragged out the process just a little too long – but she’d been so badly wounded he’d forgotten that his little firebird could fly off. The anticipation had given way to concern. Not quite fear – he was somehow still high on the hunt. It should’ve worn off while he ate. Maybe he’d been starving himself too much over the last few years, halving the number of meals each month. Or maybe the way thinking about her excited his hunger was affecting him.

But she was gone, and he had a nervous energy about him in the place of real nerves.

He could hunt again, maybe. Maybe he could disappear, get in the Malibu and wake up somewhere else; but that would only result in confusion when he woke up. He could leave a note for himself, but he didn’t trust himself not to drive back and accept death. Plus, most of his stuff was at Sam’s apartment. And given her track record with Slate, once she’d healed, there was no way he was going to escape from her without a long hunt.

He hated the idea of being prey. He understood that there were forces he should be afraid of. Slate as a pack, even just Obsidian. He briefly considered going to the Diamond instead of a truck-stop shower. But his quail was the alpha’s little sister. Obsidian wouldn’t forgive him, and he wasn’t in the mood to try to play that to his advantage. Still, he had to do something if the shower didn’t bring him down. He could at least get the blood out of his skin, and use the recently replaced spare clothes from his kit until he could wash out his coat. He hadn’t bothered to change when he ate the little bug. It would’ve been a waste of time before he got back to his firebird.

But he had to do something. Driving usually helped. Even if he didn’t leave town, he could at least drive long enough to settle his spinning mind. Long enough for his hair to dry.

Long enough to realize he was parking outside of a familiar house.

It was late. Later than he’d ever been picking Adelyn up for anything. He didn’t bother looking at the time; late was good enough. He stared at the suburban home, with its clean front door and neat yard. Through the crack in his window as he finished his cigarette, he could smell her here. He could smell the similar scent that had to be her grandfather, and the other scent that had to be her grandmother. This was a home. This was something he’d never had.

In a better headspace, he would’ve turned the car back on and left before he could disrupt that. But the buzz of the hunt, combined with a memory of a scaled girl held close in his arms, sharing his limited body heat with the smaller predator. There was attraction there. Nothing like Sammy, not at all. If anything, the opposite. The way he’d caught her watching him once or twice when the facade slipped, when she got to see his predator. When she got to see this.

He flicked the cigarette to the ground, crushed it, then picked it up and dropped it into his cupholder before closing the door behind him. Maybe the tobacco smoke would hide the blood to the overly-observant. Hopefully.

Then he made his way up the driveway to the door, and rang the bell.

From within the house, the quiet sound of the television shuts off. There’s a low murmuring and a creak as Adelyn’s grandfather stands from the couch and goes to the door. His wife and granddaughter are already in their beds, and he calls down the hallway to answer a groggy question from the former.

He checks the peephole before swinging the door open. Age has stamped lines in his face, and the milkiness that looks strange in Adelyn’s eyes suits him better, where it might be passed off as cataracts. There is that same sharpness of being seen, but he breathes a sigh like a warm cloud and stands tall in his housecoat and slippers.

There is something about him that is warm, like an old leather couch sitting in the summer sun. He looks at the young man on his doorstep, reeking of cigarettes and unease, and offers him a kindness. The door opens a little more, and he moves to one side. “Come on in, you’ll let the heating out.”

As the door shuts again, Adelyn pokes her head out from her room, still soft and rumpled with sleep. She blinks at the two men in the entryway, and a moment passes before her brain catches up. “Todd!”

She scuttles down the hallway with her claws clicking on the wood floors, all set to wrap her friend in a hug. She isn’t sure why he’s here, but it’s always nice to see him!

Cryptid nodded to the old man as he stepped into the home. It took deliberate self-control not to show off his teeth, but he managed. There was no weakness in his host’s body, outside of age. He stood with pride, and Cryptid did not challenge him in his own home, avoiding his eyes and keeping his body language relaxed despite the humming excitement that sank into his very bones.

“Thanks,” he said cheerfully as he crossed the threshold.

Inside, he turned his senses outward. The house was familiar to him by proxy, by the scents that Adelyn had carried with her since the first time they met. The house was exactly what one might expect from a suburban home; none of the sights in it interested him, no knicknacks or books or blankets caught his attention. He listened to what was happening in the far rooms, and it wasn’t long before he heard Adelyn’s footsteps tic, tic, ticking against the hard floor.

He smiled when he saw her, opening his arms to receive her hug. There was the briefest flash of teeth before he remembered his manners. “Hey, Addy! Sorry to wake you up.”

Though his voice was familiar, his tone carried the strange notes that came with the song in his bones. He wasn’t dangerous, not to the little creature that threw herself into his waiting jaws. Something about her made her safe. Her smallness, maybe, or her own teeth.

Well, whatever it was, he’d find out soon enough. He knew, without really thinking about it, that that’s why he was here. To find out.

Adelyn’s momentum sends her into Todd’s arms and then some, but she just giggles sleepily and tries not to scratch the floor too badly as she finds her footing again.

“’s okay! ’m awake.” She can hear her grandpa shuffling off into the kitchen, can feel his eyes on her through the doorway. As though he needs to worry about her, when it’s just Todd.

Todd who is here past dark, who smells so strongly of not-fire smoke that she wrinkles her nose a little, who feels warm for once rather than freezer-cold.

She isn’t sure what she notices first. Maybe it’s when she takes a deep breath and the sharp sting of smoke doesn’t quite mask the coppery scent of blood. Maybe it’s the edge of something like a growl in his voice. Whatever it is, she suddenly feels very awake.

When she draws back from the embrace, there’s a wrinkle in Adelyn’s brow. She sniffs again, not put off by what she’s sensing as much as… confused. “Were you out hunting?”

It’s the only explanation that makes sense, to her mind. It’s not too unusual to get some blood and stuff on you when you kill an animal, after all. But she’s seen Todd on the prowl before, and knows he has the stealth to catch whatever he likes without too much of a mess.

“Did something go wrong?” She asks next. “Do you need help?”

Maybe he got in over his head. Everyone does that, sometimes. She’s been practicing her hunting skills when she can, so maybe she can go back with him and together they can catch whatever… got away from him? Or maybe he needs someone to keep other predators off his back while he carries his find. Whatever it is, they’ll figure it out.

He felt the old man’s eyes on him as he caught Adelyn. He helped her find her balance with a laugh that flowed freely out of him, in tune with her own. Genuine and untainted by sadness he’d forgotten when the hunt began. Her grandfather wasn’t a threat, and as soon as he was in the kitchen, he slipped out of Cryptid’s mind.

There was a moment, just a moment, when he had her in his hands. Where he remembered the last time they met like this, the first time they met like this. She’d run. The chase stirred up the other memories of that hunt, the long hunt where time had stood still. He could have hunted there forever. But he hadn’t. He had stopped because of her. Self-control was so much harder with the high singing in his veins, but he managed it, the danger passing as if it had never existed. He put his hand on her head and ruffled her hair.

Whatever he’d been about to say faded out of view, however, when she asked her questions. He had never told her what he hunted, but she knew they were close. He knew she didn’t eat what he ate, but she didn’t know he ate what he did. He let her naivety lie, though. Now wasn’t the time. Maybe someday, when he could show her the beauty he found in the kill and the chase, but not now. Now he was satisfied, a little tired himself. Not enough to come down yet, though.

“Yeah. Yeah, Addy, I was hunting. I’m done now, though. It’s all taken care of, don’t worry. I was just coming around to say hi.”

He didn’t find anything wrong with visiting a friend right after eating – though, that might just be inexperience. He’d never had a friend before. Not a real friend, not someone who might understand, who’d see this and wouldn’t run. Or – or like Sammy, who would kill him when he went home. Like Arlo, who’d tried.

But Addy wouldn’t try. She’d understand, wouldn’t she? He hoped so. Or at least, she wouldn’t judge him. Not for hunting. Not for surviving.

“Oh.” Adelyn’s shoulders relax a little, and she finds her smile again. She feels silly because, really, why was she so worried? Todd is a capable hunter, of course he wouldn’t need her help. Not with something he could walk away from unhurt, anyways. “If you’re sure. I’m glad it’s all worked out.”

“Well, I know we’ve already said hi, but you could stay a while if you want.” She angles to look around her friend and into the kitchen. It’s difficult for her now, focusing on things that aren’t right in front of her, but she manages. “Is that alright, Gramps?”

It is his house after all, his and Grammy’s. He has his back to her for the moment, but he waves his hand in an agreeable sort of way. “Sure, sure.”

He mumbles something else, but all she catches is ‘strays’. It doesn’t matter, because she has permission to have a friend in the house! It’s not that she hasn’t been allowed to do that before, but she’s never had the opportunity.

Trying her darndest to remember good hosting manners, Adelyn gestures towards Todd’s coat. “Can I put that on the coat-rack for you?”

The coat rack is right there beside her, but she thinks this is the polite thing to offer. She’s sure she’s heard of it somewhere, in one of her Grammy’s stories, maybe. She ruins her presentation by shivering, reminded of her reptilian nature by an errant draft. Her grandparents have been doing their best to make sure the house is warm enough for her, but she was supposed to be asleep and bundled in covers by now. The fire is burning low, more embers than flame, and the pile of blankets on the couch is looking more appealing by the second.