Chapter 1 - Paths Crossed and Re-crossed
September 4, 2007
September 4, 2007
|My first Balto fanfiction. When the white wolf that Balto had met that fateful night appears, what kind of tale does this wild wanderer have to tell? And what does the future have in store for him?|
Chapter 1 - Paths Crossed and Re-crossed
Chapter 1 - Paths Crossed and Re-crossed
Tale of the Wasteland
Chapter One: Paths Crossed and Re-crossed
His name was Frost. He knew this much, at least. A loner was what he was; having had no pack since the last one he’d been a part of had been destroyed. Winter had come early this year, that much was certain, as he wandered through the icy days and nights alone. Then, one rough, wintry night, his path was crossed with that of a wolf-dog. The fellow was at the bottom of a ravine, weeping softly at some perceived failure on his part, at least until he noticed him standing there, and looked up; his sorrow mixed with some fear. But all Frost could think to do, at that point, was howl and try to offer some wordless encouragement to the young mixed-breed. At first, it had the opposite effect on the young stranger....He, at first, laid his head back down, and turned it away, so that his ashamed gaze was not on him. Then, the mixed-breed’s ears pricked, and he slowly stood and looked up at the sheer ravine behind him; almost as though trying to gauge how much strength he was going to need in order to climb it. Then the younger canine placed a paw into one of Frost’s pawprints, tilted his head back, and howled strongly. Up until this point, Frost had been walking away, thinking that there wasn’t any more he could do; pausing when he heard the wolf-dog’s howl. At this, Frost hid a smile.
“So he has the courage to embrace it, after all.” Frost mused, as he returned to stand in front of the other, and they both howled; their song of triumph sending chills down the backs of those who were able to hear it......
Winter of 1929: Nome, Alaska
Balto roused up from sound sleep with a start. In his mind’s eye, he could still see the powerful form of the white wolf he’d met, almost four years earlier.
“I haven’t thought of him even once in these four years since my return here that night with the medicine. I wonder if he’s even still alive?” Balto mused, then turned his head and gazed softly at his mate. She slept peacefully beside him, her chin delicately balanced on his left forepaw, and the rest of her body was curled up against him. Once again, her belly was swollen with new life; she was only a week or so away from delivering her newest litter of puppies, and they couldn’t be more excited at the prospect.
“I wonder how many there will be, this time? And if one of them proves to be more wolf than dog?” Balto wondered, as he slowly got up, trying not to wake Jenna by doing so. She sighed sleepily as he gently removed his paw from under her chin, and she smiled when he pulled a blanket over her in a loving effort to keep her as warm and comfortable as possible.
“I’ll be back in a little while, Jenna.” Balto whispered, before nuzzling her cheek, and then going outside for a walk. It was still fairly early in the morning, so not too many people were out and about. There were even fewer dogs wandering around, as well; he could only guess that most of them were still asleep in the boiler room.
“Mornin’ Dad.” a voice called, making Balto turn, and smile.
“Good morning, Kodi. What’re you doing up so early?” Balto asked, getting a somewhat sheepish grin from his son as a response.
“Well.....just taking a walk....and giving Dusty some space, as well.” Kodi replied, getting a nod of understanding from his sire.
“That’s right. She’s also about a week away, isn’t she?” Balto murmured, thoughtfully; grinning when he saw what would have been a blush appear on Kodi’s face, had he been human.
“Uh....yeah....and she STILL isn’t happy about it. She’d threatened to kill me if I ever even look at her when she’s in heat again.” Kodi muttered, giving his father a deadpan look when Balto snickered at his expense.
“I see....” Balto murmured, allowing some silence to come, and giving his son a chance to collect himself again before saying anything else.
“Why’re you up so early, Dad? Did Mom kick you out?” Kodi asked, jokingly, as his father quietly laughed.
“No. She’s actually very happy with the prospect of being a mother again, and is looking forward to it. I, on the other hand, can only hope that my ears and tail don’t get used as chew-toys this time around.” Balto replied, giving Kodi a meaningful look that made the younger dog squirm a bit.
“Uh...eheh....Right....” Kodi said, with an embarrassed grin, as they both trotted out of town and headed towards the wrecked fishing boat that had once been Balto’s home.
The snow crunching underfoot was the only sound he could hear, at this point. Nothing else seemed to matter, so long as he kept moving. He didn’t even seem to care that his paws were leaving a blood trail behind him; lacerated pads bleeding from deep cuts that the ice had inflicted. His proud head was down; so much so that his nose almost touched the snow beneath him. He was, in no uncertain terms, completely exhausted.
“Well, Frost, it looks like this might be it. If anything comes upon me, I won’t have the strength to fight it.” the wolf somberly mused, vaguely aware when something crested the hill in front of him, and growled menacingly.
“What’re you doing here, wolf?” a male voice asked, prompting Frost to slowly and laboriously lift his head and look at the speaker. A large black and white Malamute stood before him; piercing blue eyes narrowed as he barred the way into what appeared to be a human town.
“Why do you wish to know, dog?” Frost retorted, quietly, as he braced himself for the fight he could sense was coming.
“Feh. It’s bad enough that this town has accepted that mutt, Balto; now I have to live on the edge of it, and listen to them sing his praises to the skies....Quite sickening, actually.” the Malamute snarled. It was then that a slight smirk crossed Frost’s features.
“I see. You must be the dog known as ‘Steele’. The one who had been the best lead dog in all of Nome, until Balto came around. Your ego took quite a blow, didn’t it?” Frost stated, appearing nonchalant to the disgraced sled-dog, but was actually preparing himself for a fight.
“Shut up, you worthless bastard!” Steele roared, before flying at the white wolf; his jaws seeking the other’s throat. With a mighty effort, Frost leaped to one side, and jerked his neck out of the angry dog’s reach. Then, almost expertly, Frost snagged Steele’s collar in his teeth, and threw the snarling canine headlong into a snowdrift.
“Unless you want to injure your ego any further, dog, do not do that again.” Frost growled, watching with narrowed eyes as Steele climbed out of the snow, and glared daggers into his pure white pelt. It was a look Frost promptly ignored, as he slowly made his way into town; not knowing why exactly he was doing this, but sensing that some help could be had here.
“I can only hope I find it.” Frost mused, as he cautiously walked down the main street.
Kodi and his father had both known, right from the moment that they’d heard Steele’s enraged snarls, that something was up. They now raced to the scene, the snow under their paws flying up in a fine white mist behind them. However, they stopped short when they came upon an unusual sight; there, walking slowly towards them, was a huge male wolf! His proud head was lowered in fatigue, and his eyes, though wary, showed clearly the pain and sorrow he carried within him.
“I don’t believe it! It’s him! It’s the wolf I saw that night, four years ago!” Balto thought, as the wolf became aware of their presences, and looked directly at them.
“So, we meet again.” the wolf murmured, seeming to also share Balto’s feelings of irony at the strange situation they now found themselves in.
“Yeah.....But what are you doing here? Why did you come here?” Balto asked.
“I don’t know what brought me here, exactly.....When you have nowhere else to go, your paws can take you just about anywhere.” the wolf stated, almost casually; smiling slightly when he noticed the curious looks he was getting from Kodi.
“Speaking of paws; yours’ are bleeding pretty badly. Did you run all the way here?” Kodi questioned, knowing from experience just how much distance the white wolf had to have covered before arriving there with paws that badly cut. The wolf regarded him for a moment, then nodded.
“Most of the way, yes. Until recently, I was staying the winter with a pack near the mountains. I guess I outstayed my welcome, and the new alpha male elected to send me on my way.” the wolf quietly said, then added, with a slight smirk, “And I have the many bumps and bruises to prove it.”
“I see.....Come on. The least we can do is offer you some shelter for the night.” Balto stated, as he turned to head back in the direction he and Kodi had come from.
“Thank you.” the wolf murmured, gratefully.
“Don’t mention it.” Balto replied, then added, out of curiosity, “By the way, what do you call yourself?”
“Frost....At least, that was the name I was given.” the wolf replied, as he followed the pair to the old trawler; sighing somewhat in relief when they arrived inside, and he was finally able to sit down.
“Your name suits you well, since our paths first crossed in a snowstorm.” Balto murmured, getting a slight nod from Frost in agreement.
“Hey, Dad, I’m going to go back and get something to treat Frost’s paws, okay?” Kodi asked, before trotting briskly back into town.
“Hopefully the humans here won’t get the wrong idea.” Frost muttered, as he watched the younger canine go.
“I guess we’ll soon see.....By the way, I’m going to drop by later with some food. Also have to make sure Steele doesn’t raise a fuss about your being here.” Balto said; getting a nod of approval from the wolf for his foresight.
“Go to it, then. I will more than likely sleep till one of you returns, anyway.” Frost assured him, and as Balto started to walk away from the old boat.
“What a strange turn of events, this is! The one who had helped me regain my lost confidence, is here.....It seems I will finally be able to repay the debt I owe him!” Balto mused, as he galloped back into town, intent on the task at hand.