**This week’s prompt is for a wolf and a love confession. Enjoy!**
The radio crackled to life and Lou’s tinny voice sounded in the empty office. “He’s at it again.”
Cooper closed his eyes, worry seeping into his gut. He stood and grabbed the two-way radio, keying the mic on his way out the door. “I’m on my way.”
He pushed through the office door and beelined for his ATV. As director for the wild life rehabilitation facility, he had his own, while the rest of the staff shared. The place was almost seven hundred acres, it wasn’t like he could walk everywhere. And when he needed to get to an enclosure in a hurry, it was best he didn’t have to wait around for someone else to pick him up. Like now.
The timber wolf in question was a recent addition. The large male had been found in severely undernourished, covered with sores, and trapped in a tiny cage on some “collector’s” back property. He hadn’t been the only animal there, but the others–a black bear, a cougar, and Siberian tiger–were settling in fine. Eating, playing, healing. This wolf, however, continually became agitated, throwing himself at the fence of his enclosure, and snarling at anything that crossed his path. Cooper thought it was perhaps the twenty by twenty foot space still felt like a cage. But the staff couldn’t chance putting him somewhere larger.
But when the wolf got like this, Cooper’s presence seemed to calm him. No one could explain it. It didn’t make any sense, really. Only Cooper could manage to soothe him. So Cooper rushed, knowing that the faster he got to the enclosure, the sooner the wolf would chill. Being that tense, that on guard, was detrimental to the wolf’s healing, and Cooper needed to know the wolf was okay.
He arrived a few minutes later, and jumped off the ATV the moment he brought it to a screeching halt. He didn’t even bother to walk around the enclosure, just went right up to the fence and got as close as he could. It took a moment for the wolf to realize he was there. But the moment he did, the wolf’s posture relaxed, and he padded over, his head held up and sniffing the air. He let out a whine/howl like noise, and sat right in front of the chain link, before laying down, head on his paws. He kept his gaze trained on Cooper but he was no longer agitated.
Cooper felt the inexplicable urge to reach through the chain link and touch the soft looking fur. Rub his fingers around those ears, along the broad head. But he knew better. For as docile as the wolf seemed in that moment, as he got every time Cooper came near, he was still a wild animal. Putting his fingers into the cage meant that Cooper would most likely be pulling back a stump. So he resisted the urge, though he sat on the ground almost close enough to touch. The wolf huffed out a breath, those amber eyes fixed pointedly on Cooper.
Three months this had been going on. Ever since Cooper and the staff had taken in the rescues from the horrible situation in which they found them, this wolf had been making strides in his recovery only to be set back with bouts of aggression, becoming territorial, and snarling and snapping. Cooper was at his wits end. Despite having worked with and rehabilitated dozens of wolves over the years, this male continued to stump him. While he wasn’t getting worse, he wasn’t getting better either.
So if Cooper sitting at the edge of his enclosure, doing nothing but being, helped this wolf, Cooper was beyond willing to do it. He’d do whatever it took to get this wolf back on the road to recovery, healthy and strong. He might not ever be able to go back in the wild, but he could be healthy and happy. And at this point, that’s all Cooper wanted. He’d been sitting here every couple of days for three months now. He’d do it every couple of days for the rest the wolf’s life if necessary
He leaned closer, keeping his gaze fixed on the wolf without making it a direct challenge. He did his best to keep his posture as non-threatening as possible. Slowly, Cooper breathed out, and whispered, “I’m not giving up on you. We’ll get you fixed up. I promise.” Cooper could swear the wolf’s ears pricked forward so Cooper said exactly what he was feeling. “I love you, buddy. It’s going to be fine.”
The wolf pushed up onto his feet, howled, whined, gave an all mighty shake, and shifted into a man.
Cooper stared at the naked man where his beloved wolf had once been. “Holy. Shit.”