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Sprint went to go find food, and I was left alone in the cave. I had offered to go with her, but she said she was going to go hunt, and figured it would be hard for me with my hurt arm.
As I sat there in the silence, listening to a few birds chirp on their perch, I had time to think. I was growing more and more used to Sprint. Getting used to her mind, her way of living, thinking, and the weird, light, happy feeling that I got when I was around her. Just hearing her voice made me smile, no matter what mood I had been in before. I think... I think I like her. I concluded. Not the way I like Tigris though, not like a sister. More like... I don’t know. A partner? It’s more like in people’s memories, when they’re young and have dinner alone with one of their best friends, and at the end, they’re lips connect. I don’t know why they do that? ...not that I’ve been sneaking around looking at people’s happiest memories. I felt a bit guilty, and I think my cheeks got a bit pink. Anyways! Stop thinking like that. She’s only helping you ‘cause your hurt. ...but she did save your life. But still, just stop! I looked out the cave again, and out of habit, looked around for indecent minds.
I stopped, recognizing a familiar mind, and concentrated in it’s direction. My mind zoomed in on it, and I recognized it instantly. “Tigris!” I shouted, without meaning to. She calmly sprinted the yards between us and was at my side in no time, inspecting my arm. “It’s nothing.” I told her.
“You consider a broken arm nothing?” she communicated mentally.
“It’s much better now.” I insisted, as if I was a little kid trying to convince my mom that a bruise didn’t hurt.
After a few more minutes of poking, sniffing, and inspecting my arm, she finally seemed satisfied, and sat down. Then, she stared into my eyes and commented, “You seem different.” Then she cocked her head slightly to the side, “You seem... happier.” them she smiled slyly. “Have you met somebody?”
I smiled back and stared at the ground shyly. “Maybe.”
“Who is she?”
“Just a girl.” I said, blushing towards the ground.
“Just?” she said, eyes intently looking at me.
I felt my cheeks getting pink again. “Ok, I think I like her.” I confessed.
She sprawled on the floor so her head was under mine. She turned on her back, and looked into my eyes. Her greenish-orange eyes seemed to be laughing at me, teasing me. I couldn’t help but smile, then I nudged her paw away, and she rolled over onto her side, still facing me.
“So,” I said, changing topic, “How have you been? How come it took you so long to come visit me?”
“Visit you? hmm... You really have settled in.” she continued teasing.
“Now you are the one avoiding the question Tigris.” I stared to tease back, now it was my turn to inspect her. “Did you take a bath?” I asked as I petted her fur.
“You’re much cleaner than usual, and you’ve gained some muscle. Have you been playing rough and tumble lately?” I studied her face. “Your mood seems different too.” I noticed. “But you’re still the annoying little sister you’ve always been.” She smiled mischievously. “Though, you do seem lighter and happier and more energetic. Have you met someone you like?”
“Maybe.” she studied the floor.
“Who is he? Another tiger.”
“Tigers don’t live in forests silly.”
“Are you going to tell me, or do I have to guess?”
I sighed and stared out the cave’s mouth again. I was staring off into space when a blur of orange and black leaped into the cave. My eyes focused and I saw two tigers standing, circling each other. Tigris jumped forward a few inches towards the other tiger, testing her reflexes and the tension between them.
At first, I didn’t quite know where the other tiger had come from. Tigers don’t naturally live in forests. Tigris and I had settled that conversation years ago.
I concentrated a little more on the tiger, the details. Studied it’s fur, it’s muscles, it wasn’t facing me, but I could tell it was perfectly healthy. Comparing it to Tigris, it didn’t seem very different.
The tigers kept circling.
Now, it’s body was facing me. I glanced at it’s face and immediately recognized those deep brown, almost black eyes. It’s Sprint! The other tiger is Sprint. If Tigris and Sprint start fighting... Oh my gods! This could get really bad. They are both smart, strong, skilled, and I think I can assume they are both good hunters too. If they got in a fight... I don’t want to even dream about it. I quickly entered the circle, “Cut it out!” I ordered. “Both of you!”
“Me? Who’s she?” they both communicated to me in unison.
“Gods!” I murmured under my breath. “I’ll introduce you to each other as soon as you sit down-” I said looking at Tigris “-and you calm down.” I said as I turned towards Sprint.
They both obeyed. “Sprint, this is Tigris, Tigris this is Sprint.”
“Oh, I’ve heard so much about you! You’re the tiger he’s been traveling with for so long! You’re practically brother and sister!” Sprint commented.
“You’re the one who saved his life! Nice to meet you sister in law!”
“Shut your snout Tigris!” I communicated to her (and her only) annoyed, but at the same time flushed in the face.
“Good to finally have another tiger to hang with.” she finished.
Before I knew it, they rushed forward and greeted each other, more friendly this time, and started playing together as if they’d known each other forever. Sighing in amusement I retired to a corner of the cave, and watched them, making sure they didn’t start fighting again; but after a few minutes, it was obvious it wouldn’t happen again. They’d made friends.