credit to fangs of bearbones.
At first, Targaryen had been two seconds away from crying at any given moment. When the world began to look unfamiliar, the boy assumed he had just taken a wrong turn. Yet unfamiliar became strange and strange became foreign. He had danced between hot and cold — one moment he was burning with anger, the next he felt terror sweep over him. He felt disgusted to have found a place he could call home and have it be ripped away so suddenly. He felt even worse knowing that it was his own doing that led him away from Taiga in the first place. And that deep anguish, so tangible it felt like a handful of rocks in his chest, had made Targaryen’s eyes threaten to burst.
As time went on (and he knew it was too much time, months even), the anguish settled so absolutely that the boy wondered if it would ever go away. It trailed him like the shadows, nipping at his heels and mirroring his every step. Cheri was a dream; the girl’s face and laughter and smell and smile and voice echoed in Targaryen’s mind for every second of every day. And he ached. He prayed to the trees, touching his forehead to the bark and asking them to bring him home. He screamed at Jedar, wishing the eagle would guide him to Cheri. He cursed the dark, making it known that if the night were tangible, he would have pulverized it.
Yet the trees remained quiet, Jedar told him to politely fuck off, and the darkness seemed to laugh.
Targaryen had wandered for so long the world began to blur around him. The shadows shifted around him, seeming to pull images from his mind so they peeled away into things he treasured and things he tried to forget. Some days he would run blindly with Jedar cawing angrily in his ear. Some days he would stand in one place until he felt spiders make homes between his feathers. Targaryen felt his life swing into a rhythm that dredged sadness from its small hiding places and made it grow in his chest.
Suddenly, during a spell of nothingness, the light comes. It is too bright to ignore, unlike the stinking pieces of meat-flesh Jedar would drop from the overhanging branches in an attempt to feed the skinny boy. It burns into Targaryen’s eyes, so hot and fierce and welcome that he shudders and dances simultaneously. With the sun comes a warmth soaking into his feathers, adding a layer of shine to their color.
And also with the sun — the knowledge of geography, of direction, of his home.
Though his wings are thin and sore from disuse, Targaryen spreads them wide and flings himself toward that newborn sun. He flies as quickly as his body will take him, and his eagle mirrors each movement the dark green boy makes. Targaryen doesn’t stop until he finds that familiar break in the redwoods, the place Cheri considers her favorite. “Please,” he whispers to the wind, to the reborn sun, to the mighty forest. “Please.”
His landing is terrible and clumsy and painful. By the time he lands, he is gulping for air and his wings burn like hell. But her name falls from his mouth like a prayer, breathless and soft and pleading.
credit to fangs of bearbones.
“Cheri.” It is nothing more than a whisper, but his heart wants it to be a scream. His lungs quiver within their cage, desperate for air from a throat that only wishes to call for a green-eyed girl. And for a few moments (enough where he begins to ache from the sheer tension of it), Targaryen’s body is at odds with itself. It must decide whether to continue breathing or to repeat her name into the empty clearing. The tobiano knows what his answer would be, but this is just another opinion adding itself to the chaos that battles within him.
And eventually, instincts take over. Targaryen sucks in a breath so deep that his lungs squeeze painfully. Yet the breath fills him, bringing life back into the tired cells of his body and offering his heart a chance to steady itself. The rational part of him knows that it would be ignorant to call her name again — the only sign of movement in the empty clearing is an arctic fox who peers at him with twin orange eyes. Its summer coat blends easily into the dead foilage of the clearing, and the sound of its paws crackling against the dry grass makes Targaryen think suddenly of his mother.
Noori has always been a creature of the woods, woven from bark and leaf herself. Yet Targaryen has never learned if his mother survives like a horse or like a tree. When the sun still rose and set, he would find her dormant body rooted into the soil deep in the Forest and wait for a day at a time, watching for the nearly imperceptible rise and fall of her chest. Since the darkness, he hasn’t been able to find Noori (let alone the mighty, ancient redwoods of Taiga).
Now his chest tightens at the thought of his mother gray and brittle somewhere, shriveling without the energy of the sun. So Targaryen focuses on the sun, hoping that its return will bring life back into Noori. The sun’s warmth hits his back so fiercely it seems that it missed them just as much as they missed it. The tobiano closes his brown eyes, enjoying the way the heat soaks into his skin and seems to collect itself into the colored feathers on his wings.
At the sound of a voice — older, to be sure, but a voice that has echoed in his mind for months — Targaryen feels as though the sun has found a home inside him. The sudden shifting breeze does nothing to dim the burning that seems to light him on fire (and he wonders if burning simply by hearing her voice will doom him to a future he still does not quite understand). Targaryen turns slowly, anticipating those green eyes to spark with anger.
The burning becomes something softer, sweeter, smoother and Targaryen relaxes at the sight of Cheri’s slender face. “Cheri.” He feels something release from within — a tightness among the cords of his heart — and assumes it is from relief. He is grateful to be back in Taiga, after all. The redwoods had become home during the time he spent before getting lost, and he has come to associate Cheri with the land. Perhaps that is why he is burning, then simmering, then relaxing… It certainly must be because Cheri reminds him of the first home he has come to love… Right?
Targaryen doesn’t know if an explanation will soothe the anger she must feel, but it comes spilling out of him before he can stop it. “I went for a walk, but it was so dark I couldn’t find my way back, and then I got lost, and I didn’t know how to get home, and no one could help me, and I was so scared, and I am so glad to see you.” Because she reminds him of Taiga, and Taiga has become home… At least, that is what he thinks.