IS ANYBODY HOME
Torrance James & Cara Springs
prompt: happy birthday, nenti!
He wasn’t sure what it was exactly that woke him up. The sound, whatever it was, hadn’t come from inside the RV, its origin was outside somewhere. For more than half a minute he just sat there in bed, his weight supported by his arms on either side of him, hands flat on the mattress, groggily looking around. On top of his head his hair was a chaotic mess, sticking up in every direction imaginable. With one hand he wiped his face, roughly, trying to clear away the fog of sleep.
There was that sound again.
Tor managed to find his pants without tripping over anything, moving quietly as he pulled a t-shirt over his head, padding out of his room in complete darkness, looking this way and that. The RV was more spacious inside than it appeared but it only contained two bedrooms of differing sizes, one for him and one for Jenny. The couch in the rear of the vehicle could be converted into a bed but the third member of their party rarely bothered with that. Tonight was no exception, the only illumination in the RV coming from his workspace in the form of a single lamp that had been left on and tilted low so it wouldn’t cast too much of a glow. Freddie was folded over the desk, his head pillowed on his arms. He’d been wearing headphones but they’d been knocked askew.
The noise definitely wasn’t coming from inside. Freddie’s laptop had powered down a while ago from the looks of it. It wasn’t even humming.
That led Tor outside, following his first suspicion. He left the RV cautiously, opening the door as silently as possible so he could step out and down the small steps leading from their home on wheels. It was dark out here, too dark for a human to see but for wolves there was enough starlight -- enough moonlight too -- to get by. After a few moments Tor could see perfectly well and he cast his gaze along the length of the vehicle in which they lived and worked and then across the stretch of land on which they’d parked to the home of the only other occupant.
There was no light on in Cara’s place but as Tor watched a shadow ducked around the back. He straightened, tension threading through his shoulders and down his back. There was someone there. Slowly, quietly, he advanced on the camper, already preparing himself for a fight. It might not come to that, he might have scared them off already, but he was ready all the same.
He’d barely made it to the end of the camper before he heard a rattle and then a yelp of surprise followed by the sound of a scuffle. Tor froze, listening, and when a shape appeared from around the other end of the vehicle he felt the surprise form on his face, his expression touching on incredulous.
“Evening,” Cara said by way of greeting, dusting one hand off over the other. Inside the camper Ajax appeared at the window, his paws on the sill, his keen gaze switching between his owner and her companion.
“Cara,” he returned, looking past her into the shadows, though from here he couldn’t see anything. “Everything okay? I thought I saw—”
The she-wolf could obviously see him well enough to read his lips, she had no trouble whatsoever making out what he’d said despite her poor hearing. “Oh, that.” She smiled. “He wasn’t exactly stealthy, was he?” A small laugh tumbled free. “He probably thought I was sound asleep. I’ll call the police and get them come out and pick him up.”
Well. Okay that. Tor glanced up, realising what the rattle was that he’d heard. Skylight. Of course. He couldn’t help but smile, before glancing back at the RV. “In that case, I’ll just, uh,” he began, lifting one hand to scratch through the dishevelled hair at the back of his head, “head back to bed. It seems like you’ve got everything under control.” It was for the best if he was out of sight -- and therefore out of mind -- before the police arrived to pick up Cara’s would-be unwelcome guest. Tor and the others’ activities were less than legal and it was better not to take any unnecessary risks.
He thought Cara might have read some of that concern in his face, as skilled as he was at schooling his expression. If she did she didn’t say anything, just smiled and lifted a hand in a sort of wave. “Goodnight,” he said with the sort of cheer he had come to expect from her now that they’d gotten to know one another a little.
Tor returned the little wave. “Night,” he returned, glancing once to the dog inside the camper, who gave a whuff that might very well have been his own kind of goodbye. Or maybe he was just imagining things. Whatever the case he was too tired -- now that the danger had passed he was back to feeling groggy -- to figure it out one way or the other. There was a bed inside that RV just waiting for him to crawl back into it.