Rusty hadn't forgotten the old bear he had run into in town earlier in the spring. Both he and Moose badly wanted to get back together with Josephus and run wild with him in the forest. The press of work and a series of open mic nights at the Brown Bear had kept them all busy. Moose had been pressed into service as a general dogs body, watching the door, moving sound equipment, and just being 'useful'. He enjoyed the music and stand-up a lot, the poetry less.
Finally, in late spring, the opportunity presented itself. Two new workers at the Brown Bear had been trained and were doing fairly well under Bekah's stern eye, making a weekend off with Brian possible. Both Moose and Rusty wanted to take Brian out into the woods, both to let him see another aspect of werebear life and to make a proposal to him.
As Brian was helping load the last of the camping stuff into the back of the SUV, he turned to Moose and said, “This is going to be fun! I haven't ever been camping before, well, not voluntarily, anyway.”
Moose caught the slight change in Brian's voice with the last words. “Do you still think about that? Those times are gone, you know.” He rested a paw on Brian's shoulder.
“Well, not a lot, no. Sometimes I have dreams. Oh, not when I'm sleeping with you guys. I always have good dreams then. I feel safe, comfortable.” He paused. “It's more when I'm sleeping downstairs. Sometimes I dream of the shelters, or of sleeping half-awake, under an overpass or in a park.”
Moose gave his shoulder a squeeze. “Those days are over now.”
Brian nodded. “I know.” He hugged Moose.
Rusty brought out the last of the food. “Geez, I leave you two alone for a minute and you're making out. His grin negated the sting of the words. “Snacks for the drive,” he said, putting the bag in between the front seats.
“Is there enough food here for all of us?” Brian asked, eying the rather small box of freeze-dried meals and fruit and trail mix in the back.
Moose chuckled. “Wait and see. We won't be eating much of that.” He nodded at Rusty. “We will forage on our own, but we won't expect you to eat like that.”
Brian scratched his head, plainly doubtful. “OK.”
They all piled into the vehicle and, with Moose driving, headed out for their first spring run in the woods. It was very early in the morning and the air was fresh and scenting with green growing things. They all had their windows down, enjoying the beautiful late spring weather. “This is going to be SO much fun!” Brian exclaimed, and both bears smiled. The miles unwound as music played, alternately oldies for the bears and house and 'hippity-hoppity music' as Rusty jokingly called it for Brian. During the drive, Rusty spoke to Brian while Moose focused on the road and traffic.
“Brian, we wanted you to come with us so we could show you an aspect of werebear life that you haven't seen.” Privately, both Rusty and Moose had been discussing what they thought might be an inevitable question on Brian's mind. Both wondered if Brian would ask about becoming a werebear himself, and how they would handle that. Both were in accord that they themselves would welcome Brian as a were, but both firmly insisted that the decision would be entirely Brian's, and that they would both insist that he take a great deal of time, years if need be, before making the decision. They had decided that Brian should see a variety of werebear as well as gay life. The Thanksgiving bear run in Eugene had been one part of that. This weekend was another.
They reached the area they favored for these jaunts and Moose piloted the SUV carefully along a rutted track that curved around an outcropping and then down a ways.
“Brian, take a look here. We can't just go to a campground and set up camp and then turn into bears. The campers wouldn't take well to nature that up close and personal.” Rusty grinned. “So, when werebears go out to run in the wild, we have to do things differently. You see that we've parked the vehicle well out of sight of the highway. Moose is using a branch to sweep our tire tracks away. Help me unload this stuff.” Rusty took a few minutes to carefully scan the area for other humans. He neither heard nor smelled any. “We always check carefully before we change out here, just to be safe.”
Once the SUV was unloaded and the rather small pile of tent and supplies was on the ground, Brian spoke up. “What about all that?” he said, pointing to a larger tent and other stuff that remained in the back.
“Oh, that's camouflage, in case someone would look in there or if we would get stopped for some reason by the state police. We won't need tents or cooking supplies for us. Your stuff, you'll have to carry with.” Both Moose and Rusty shed their clothes and folded them up and placed them on the car seats. Brian looked kind of puzzled but started to strip, too, as he admired the two fine hairy naked men.
“You can get naked if you want to, Brian, but keep your clothes with you. Now watch.”
Moose locked the SUV, and then Rusty and Moose took branches and dead-fall from the surrounding area and piled it artfully around the vehicle. When they were finished, no one would know there was an SUV there unless they came very close and started moving branches. Both Rusty and Moose began peeing all around the perimeter and on the branches and leaves. Brian started to unzip, too, but Moose stopped him.
“Not you. Just us. It keeps the other wild critters away, sort of a warning that something big and dangerous is around and that this belongs to them. Your pee might actually attract them, curious about a human; us, they’ll avoid.” He shook off, and both Moose and Rusty looked at Brian.
“Now, we'll change to half form and walk away from there and towards that ridge over there.” Rusty gestured towards a nearby ridge that was crowned by trees. “It overlooks a small lake and will be a good camp site for you.”
Brian nodded and shouldered his backpack and the small dome tent in its carry bag. He watched with eager delight as Moose and Rusty changed into half form after carefully scanning the area again for any stray campers or hikers. “Come and walk with us, Brian,” Moose growled, barely intelligible.
The three moved off, Moose in the lead, Brian behind, and Rusty bringing up the rear. “You know, I've had dreams where I was walking and running with bears, but it wasn't like I was walking exactly. It was more like gliding or floating... and I rode on their backs some, too.” Although he couldn't see it, Moose smiled at Brian's comment. Rusty, who was easier to understand in half form, growled.
“When we change to full form, you can come with us while we forage. You can ride on our backs if you like, too. But first we need to get your camp set up. We won't have to worry about food or shelter, but you will.” They walked on.
Not quite an hour later, the bears and Brian were on the ridge and had found the cave and stone ledge that looked out over the lake. Moose showed Brian how to set up the dome tent while Rusty unpacked the small camp stove and other necessities.
“I need to pee,” Brian said. “You think I could... I mean, over the ledge?” Brian was unzipping and pulling out his cock.
“Sure, knock yourself out,” Rusty said, noticing that Brian's meat was getting a bit thicker with arousal. Brian put his hands behind his head, arched his back and let go with a long, satisfying piss. “I always wanted to do that for some reason.” He tucked back in with some difficulty and zipped up.
“Get something to eat now, Brian,” Moose said, “We're going to change into full form and go forage. You can come along if you like, but don't forget your sunscreen.”
“Yeah, got it right here. I guess you guys won't need any, huh?”
“No. We won't. We don't sunburn, and we don't have to worry about skin cancer. There ARE advantages to all this,” he said, gesturing to Rusty as he was changing into full bear form, “and ain't he beautiful?”
“Oh, yeah!” Brian said, filled with admiration for the stocky, obviously successful Kermode in front of him. Rusty padded over and nosed Moose in the crotch and chuffed, plainly urging Moose to hurry up and change.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, in a minute!” Moose chuckled. He turned to Brian.
“You won't be able to understand us in full bear form, you know that. But we can hear and understand you, and if there is something you have to know or ask, we can shift to half form to talk. Rusty says I'm a lot easier to understand in half form now, and you didn't have trouble understanding me that way at the bear run. So, you OK? Anything you want to ask before I shift?” Brian shook his head.
“OK, here goes.” Moose finished his metamorphosis into a full, powerful grizzly, imposing in bulk and stature. In this form, he was the very picture of a bear god of legend. Rusty, although slightly smaller, was striking with his glowing, creamy coat; and a perfect complement to the glossy brown of Moose's coat, tipped with silver. He and Rusty touched noses and wuffed, looked at Brian and then ambled slowly off. Brian grabbed a water bottle and compass and his binoculars and followed.
The afternoon was spent in pleasant foraging, with Moose and Rusty sharing delectable roots and tender green shoot and leaves. It was too early for berries, but there were many delicious flowers to sample. Brian followed at a slight distance, watching how the bears interacted with their surroundings and each other. He had to keep reminding himself that he knew these two creatures, that they were the men he often slept with and not only wild forest creatures. He rode on Moose's back for a while, then on Rusty's. He joined them splashing in a cool stream that exited from the lake.
“Can you swim?” Brian asked. Both bears nodded vigorously and plodded to the edge of the lake and waded in, eventually swimming off a ways. They turned and looked at Brian in open invitation. Brian shucked his clothes and waded in and immediately regretted it. The water was damn cold. His ball sack contracted tightly and he began to shiver.
“Too cold! I gotta get out!” Brian splashed to the narrow sandy stretch that bordered the lake as Rusty and Moose laughed.
“We shouldn’t laugh,” Rusty said. “He doesn't have our coats and layer of fat; of course he's cold.”
“I think that's the smallest I've ever seen his cock,” Moose said chuckling.
The bears swam for a bit, then joined Brian on the sand where he was trying to warm himself up in sun. Both bears growled and chuffed and rolled themselves next to the shivering young man to help warm him. In only a minute or so, Brian stopped shaking as the almost furnace-like warmth of the bears' fur and bulk soaked in. “Thanks, guys,” Brian said, kissing both bears on their muzzles and then dressing.
Later in the afternoon, Moose found a bee's nest in a partly hollowed tree and motioned to Rusty to join him in the feast.
The two bears slurped up the honey with their long bear tongues, ignoring the angry buzzing of the bees and the frequent stings, which healed quickly in any case. The sweet sticky honey was a real treat, high in energy and a delectable taste to cap off the afternoon's feeding.
“Reminds me of how sweet you taste when you feed me, woofer,” Moose said to his mate and he clawed another section of comb and pushed it towards Rusty, who chuffed with pleasure. Both bears were anticipating a vigorous mating once finished with the snack.
Brian watched the pair devour the honey from a safe distance, wary of the bee's anger. 'Poor bees,' he thought. 'But they'll have all summer to restock, I guess. Everybody's got to eat.' He took a long drink from his water bottle. His attention was forcefully shifted from the bees to the bears as he saw Rusty nose under Moose's hefty belly and begin lapping at his slowly extending cock. It was obvious that he was nursing on it, slurping and lapping with his long, curling tongue. Very soon, Rusty turned and Moose mounted his lover, hunching over the slightly smaller bear, working his cock into Rusty's ass slowly, almost lazily. Once embedded in his bear's butt, he began the age-old rhythm of bear fucking, rocking his hips back and forth, reveling in the feeling of his thick meat sliding deep into warm inviting bear ass.
“You think Josephus knows were here?” Rusty growled as Moose penetrated him.
“I'm sure he does now if he didn't before. We're both pumping out pheromones and when you shoot, big boy, this whole valley's gonna smell of bear sex.” Rusty said.
“I want you to add to that, you know,” Moose growled as he continued to piston in Rusty's tunnel. “Ah, shit, man, I am so fucking close.... you get me movin' like no other bear, you know that?” He hunched in hard, driving his cock in especially deep and Rusty whined and chuffed in ecstasy. Rusty pushed back equally hard and Moose exploded in Rusty's ass, filling his rectum with a very large load of seed, even for him. He roared out a thundering announcement of bear virility, a challenge to any other male bear.
Off in the distance, the old bear raised his great head and sniffed the air once again. Earlier, he had caught the scent of the two bears he remembered from last season, a pleasant memory. This time, the scent brought back the meeting in full sensory detail, enhanced with the sounds and smells of that moment, perfectly preserved in his brain. Now he heard the triumphant roar on one of the bears, most likely the larger one, not the one that smelled of summer fruit and sunshine. He also caught the scent of another, a human, close to the others. Both curious and aroused, he moved off purposefully towards the happy mating sounds.
Back by the lake, it was Rusty's turn to mount his bear, but he decided to roll Moose on his back. He motioned with a paw for Moose to raise his heavy back legs, and Moose obliged, resting them on Rusty's creamy shoulders. Rusty reached down and laid a paw on Moose's belly and gave it a friendly scritch with his shorter black bear claws, and then gave his now-receding cock a tug. He gently patted his scrotum and then used both paws to part the thick fur surrounding the bigger bear's anus. He chuffed and put on paw on the top of his own rigid, drooling penis. He pushed it down slightly so it matched Moose's hole. Moose growled loudly, plainly asking to be fucked.
Rusty nodded his bear head and pushed forward, removing his paw once his bear cock was properly lodged. He leaned forward and pushed in deep, savoring the heat of Moose's gut. He noted with pleasure that a fat blob of bear cum appeared at the tip of Moose's penis that last of the load he had so recently pumped out. Rusty could usually last a long time, but the heady mix of having just been royally fucked, the fresh pine-scented air, and the glorious weather all combined to shorten his ability to last long. He started moving faster and faster, with Moose chuffing in time with him, sounding like a human urging their lover on towards their climax. It hit, the sensations exploding in Rusty's were brain; and he, too, roared out a tree-shaking shout of joy.
Josephus picked up the pace and hustled towards the lake and the rutting bears with their happy roaring. When he got close, caution made him slow down. He sensed the human again, still close by. In general, the old bear didn't much like human company. He avoided them whenever possible, but here was a puzzle. His two fellow weres were together with what was obviously a human, and a human that didn't smell as if he was approaching his first change, either. Obviously not a cub, then. But what? Josephus approached slowly through the undergrowth.
Brian had watched, mesmerized, as his two closest friends in the world mated and bred each other, the fat and muscle of their magnificent bodies rippling with their exertions. He had seen Moose and Rusty fuck many times before, but never in full bear form out in the open. It was a revelation and the full-throated roars of virility at their climaxes startled and somewhat shocked him. He realized, though, that always before they had muffled their cries of joy in either human or bear form, in spite of the thick walls and double paned windows back in town. Out here, in the wild, there were no such constraints. He was about to go over to the two panting bears and hug and nuzzle them when Josephus moved into the clearing.
Brian froze. This bear was larger than Rusty, and only slightly smaller than Moose, and he was advancing directly towards where Brian was standing. As he made to run, Rusty reared up on his hind legs and motioned for Brian to stay where he was. Brian and Moose both instantly recognized Josephus by his scent. Rusty motioned again for Brian to stay still as he changed back to half form to speak.
“It's OK, Brian, we know this guy, but he doesn't know you. Stay there and we'll let him know it's OK.” While Rusty was talking, Moose padded over to Josephus and touched noses in greeting. The two bears snuffled each other and both turned as Rusty came over to them. It was plain that the bears were in a conversation, one that Brian hadn't a hope of understanding. He quelled the urge to run and stayed still as Rusty had asked.
After some minutes, the three bears turned and walked towards Brian. Brian took a step backwards, but both Moose and Rusty shook their heads. They both shifted back to full human form and stood next to the large old bear.
“Brian, this is Josephus. We met last year out here. We've explained about you to him and...”
Brian interrupted Rusty. “Is he...”
Moose answered, “Yes, he's a werebear, like us. He's very old, and he doesn't much like people. He spends nearly all his time in full bear form, and...” Moose stopped, then turned to Josephus.
“Josephus, this would probably go easier if you shifted to human form. Would you be willing to?”
He looked steadily into the eyes of the two weres, and then at their human companion. He was plainly considering, and for a moment, it looked as if he would just walk back into the woods; but finally he growled a deep basso rumble and stood, and shifted into fully human form.
Before them stood a tall, broad but stoop-shouldered bear of a man, naked but covered in iron gray fur with a thick mountain-man beard that came to his mid chest. His arms were shaggy with fur, as were the backs of his hand and the tops of his feet. As a bear, he had looked somewhat shaggy and unkempt; as a human, he looked like Sasquatch.
A deep but rusty-sounding voice said, “I'm Josephus,” and stuck out his hand towards Brian. Brian reached out somewhat hesitantly and shook the extended paw. His own hand nearly disappeared in Josephus'.
“Come back to Brian's camp with us and we can talk.” Josephus paused to consider and then nodded at Rusty. “Alright.” He followed them back to the cave and ledge overlooking the lake. On the way, Brian peppered Moose and Rusty with questions, but neither answered. Rusty said, “Not now. Later.”
Moose asked Rusty, “How come you didn't know he was close? We could have gone to him, let him know about Brian.”
“I was busy. But it's funny, I didn't sense him fully in town until he was close, and not at all the first time we saw him last year. He said he was good at not being noticed.”
Once back at the ledge, Moose suggested that Brian make some dinner for himself. Both bears were still pleasantly full form their day's foraging and Josephus indicated he was not hungry. The three bears fell to talking, the conversation plainly about Brian. It was not always low and quiet, with the bears alternately raising their voices in argument. Brian wanted to listen but he suddenly realized he was ravenous. He set the water to boil on the camp stove and selected a pouch of freeze-dried chicken alfredo. Shortly, he was wolfing down the steaming meal.
The bears' conversation continued. “I don't know. You guys are a-tellin' me that he's OK, but it's dangerous for human ta know about us.” Josephus' voice relayed his concern. “I jes don't know.”
“Look, we know it’s unusual, but you CAN trust him...we do. He knows about keeping secrets, and he understands how vital it is. He's gay, he knows how to avoid questions and about not making careless mistakes.”
“Well, iffin you say so, I guess it's OK. Still...” Josephus still had his doubts.
Brian approached the bears after his meal. “Guys, I am bushed. That was a long hike today. You mind if I take a nap?”
“Not at all,” Rusty said. Moose gave Brian a hug and a smooch, and Brian headed to the cave opening, where he had spread his sleeping bag inside the dome tent. He crawled in and was almost instantly asleep.
Josephus stared at Brian for a bit and then said, “You gonna turn him, make him a cub?”
Moose and Rusty blurted out almost in unison, “No!”
Josephus looked at them. “Has he asked?”
“No, he hasn't. I don't even know if he's thinking that way at all, not yet anyway.” Before Rusty could continue, Moose said, “We'd never consider it without his knowing everything there is to know and thinking about it long and hard.... real long and real hard.” Moose was almost defiant.
“Settle down, young'un. Jes askin'.” Josephus paused. “You fuck?”
Rusty was silent. But Moose answered sharply, “Yes. And before you say it, we are careful, we ALWAYS use condoms and we are very careful.” The defiant tone continued.
“Those things kin break, I hear.”
“We are very careful, Josephus.” Rusty was trying to play the peacemaker. He got up and came over to Josephus and sat down close to him and put his arm around the old man's shaggy shoulders. “We don't know what's ahead for Brian, if he will want to become one of us or not. He’s kindred to Norman, he’d make a good cub. He’s with us this weekend to give him a chance to see us out in the wild, to see that aspect of being a bear so he can know us better, see us for what we really are. We want him to see as many aspects of all this as possible. Maybe he'll want to stay human and live among humankind and see us only rarely, I don't know. But he won't be changed without a LOT of thought and consideration on his part. We, both of us, will see to that. Right love?” Rusty looked at Moose, who's face and eyes had softened.
“Yes, of course. We wouldn't have it any other way, not at all.”
“Well, t'ain't any business o' mine, really. Up to you... and him. You two seem pretty steady, so I guess it'll work out.” He stood up and stretched, arching his back. His cock and balls were thrust out, the thick foreskin covering the tip and only barely revealing the ridge of the tip nestled within. “I should head on out.”
Moose saw Rusty eying the old bear's tackle, and said, “Oh, come on and stay with us. We've got a bottle of good applejack we can share. Bet that's something you don't have much of out here in the woods.” He looked hopefully at the old bear.
“That's mighty nice o' you to offer to share. Iffin yur sure you can spare it, I'd sure like some.” Josephus licked his lips.
“Oh, we like to share don't we, Norman?” And so, over mugs of coffee and applejack, the three traded stories as the stars came out. At one point, Rusty brought up Boris' name.
“He said if we ran across you again, we should mention him to you, and tell you he wishes you well. He thinks he might know you.”
“Big Rooski bear, hairy as hell, horny as fuck?”
Moose laughed out loud. “Yeah, that's him alright. I take it you do know him.”
“Ayup. We met a lotta years ago up in Canada, away east. His cock ain't purdy, but it shore feels good.” Josephus mused for a moment. “His ass is purdy, though.” He sipped the last of his applejack. “Speakin' o' ass....”
“Well, I thought you'd never ask!” Rusty said, lust lighting his eyes.
The noise of vigorous bearsex woke Brian from his nap. He lay, still but wide-eyed, as he watched the three bears couple, break, and reform their couplings. Josephus' meat had a strong, pronounced upward curve when hard, and both Rusty and Moose squirmed with delight as he pumped their asses, firmly massaging their prostates in the process. The friskiness continued through much of the night, but Brian never tired of watching. Finally, plainly tuckered out, both Moose and Rusty fell asleep in full bear form, pressed tightly together. Josephus sat, now in human form, on the ledge, looking out over the valley to the slowly lightening horizon, the empty applejack bottle beside him.
Brian got up and lit the camp stove and boiled water and set to making coffee. Josephus didn't stir from his dawn contemplation. Brian shivered a little in the dawn chill, and when the coffee was ready, he gulped several mouth-fulls to warm himself and then took a mug to the old man. Sitting, he offered the mug. Josephus turned and smiled and accepted the mug but still said nothing.
“Josephus, can I ask something?” There was no response except the old bear sipping from the mug. “How old are you?”
Josephus sipped again, then said, “Don't rightly know for sure. When I was born, they didn't do birth certificates. My people were country folk and we didn't need calendars much. The last time I had to fade away over there, I hopped a ship and came over here to settle. That was easy in those days... easy to get lost and start over with a new life in the new world. I stayed around what became Boston for a time, and met up with another bear. We both had had enough of people by that time, and we lit out for the west.” He paused, and smiled. “'Course, 'west' back then was still east of the Mississippi. We just kept a' moving further north and west, staying ahead of the rest of the 'pioneers'. Silly word, that. Like they's were the first. Anyway, finally ran outta land and had to turn south agin. So', prob'ly ‘bout 600 or so years. I figure I was probably born between 1380 and 1390” He sipped the coffee again. “You make good coffee, son.”
“Wow! Thanks... about the coffee, I mean. Rusty taught me. But man, you must have seen a lot. You got to see almost the entire life of this country and a lot more before.”
“Nah. My Nate and I, we kept mostly away from folks. We heard stuff now and then, Civil War an all, but it didn't matter much to us. We kept to ourselves. Then he died.” Josephus closed his eyes.
Brian sat still for a moment, then said, “I'm sorry. You were together for a long time.” The old bear nodded. “Would you find another mate?”
“Nope. Don't seem to feel like lookin' for one. Don't seem right.” He stood up and drained the mug and handed it back to Brian. “Thanks young'un. You take care of yourself, now. I've already said good-bye to your two bears.” He extended his hand to Brian and they shook. “I wish you well, pilgrim.” With a wave, he made to set off down the trail.
“Wait! Can I watch you change?”
“I reckon so, young'un.” With that, Josephus morphed into a full bear and then shambled off, heading for the lake and the forest beyond.
Later that morning, Moose and Rusty finally surfaced. Brian told them about the conversation he and Josephus had had.
“I figured he might head out early,” Moose said.
“Yeah, he said he was getting 'itchy'. But, damn, that bear fucks well! I was whipped but he was still ready for more. Good thing you could tag me out, Norman.” Rusty absently scratched his butt. Both he and Moose were naked, unlike Brian. The morning chill didn't bother them like it did Brian.
“Well, it had been a long time for him. I don't think he'd fucked since he was with us last year. Just his own paw for relief.” Moose scratched his ball sack and gave his cock a tug.
“Anyway, you got more out of Josephus than either of us have about his past. He must like you.” Moose grabbed Brian and gave him a morning hug and smooch. “And don't think I didn't see you watching us. You must have gotten an eyeful.”
“Oh, yeah!” Brian blushed slightly. “I hope you guys don't mind, I still can't get over how... powerful you all look and act. You're so big. It's hot!” He blushed again.
“No worries, Brian. We're not shy, you know that. You've seen us fuck before, you've fucked with us. There might be times when we want to be alone together, but we'll let you know, OK?” Moose smiled. Now; I'm hungry. Rusty, how about we go forage?” He started his change even before Rusty could reply.
Brian spent part of the day following them as they wandered the valley, but when they started to roam further afield, he returned to the camp site, fixed a meal for himself, and napped a bit. He pulled out a paperback he had brought with him and read for a while, and spent time just gazing out over the peaceful landscape, thinking. It was late in the afternoon when Moose and Rusty padded back into the camp and plopped down on their furry rumps. They gazed around and then, as if they had only just remembered that they were still in full bear form, morphed back to their full human form.
“Geez, guys put some clothes on, you're gonna make me all horny!” Brian said, half joking. Both Moose and Rusty raised an eyebrow.
“Nookie?” they said together.
All three broke out laughing. “Maybe later,” Rusty said, still laughing “Besides, our clothes are back at the car.”
“I have a question.” Brian said.
The two bears answered in unison, “What is it?”
“You seem more...” Brian shrugged, “shaggy? …a bit like Josephus and your smell is stronger too… you smell more like, well, more like bears, I guess, even though you're human now. And it’s really turning me on.” Brian’s cock was at full mast, tenting his pants.
“We’ll take care of that for you later Brian.... unless you want to jack in the back of the SUV for some relief. You'd have to wait a bit, but I’ll even clean it off your hands if you want to feed it to me.” Rusty said with a lustful grin.
Brian smiled widely and blushed a bit, but continued, “Does that happen to you when you stay bears for longer, I mean, I figured you’d smell stronger of bear, but I didn’t know about the hair growth.”
“It’s something that happens, yes. Our hair grows faster, so by the time we’re finished with one of these trips we both need a haircut and beard trim. I can trim us up when we get back,” Rusty said.
“So this happens to all werebears, when they stay in bear shape for extended periods?” Brian asked.
“Apparently so; it’s kinda convenient if you want to grow your beard and hair out I suppose. Some of our bear brothers will do it purposely just so they’ll have longer hair and beard quickly, like before attending a bear run. Changes your appearance drastically… also helps you win those beard growing contests with your human friends!” Moose laughed. “I’ve seen some of our biker bear brothers with long thick braids after a winter’s hibernation, it’s kinda impressive.”
“And now I think it’s time to break camp so we can get back to the car before nightfall.” Rusty said. “I also smell rain, maybe six hours out.”
“Developing another superpower?” Moose asked with a smirk, “Shall we call you ‘Weather Bear’ and use the Warner Brother’s logo on your super suit?”
Rusty swiped at his love but didn’t connect, “No! Doofus! Heightened were sense of smell, just like yours. I’ve just been paying attention to how the change in weather has different smells, unlike you.”
Moose took a deep breath through his nose, smelling the air, “Oh… OK… so that’s what an oncoming front smells like?”
“Oncoming RAIN front, different smell from snow. Mark my words Norman; rain before we get home.” Rusty said as he scratched at his bushier beard.
The three set to clearing up and packing Brian's stuff into his backpack. Brian broke down the tent as Moose had shown him and packed it into its carry bag. They headed back on the trail to the car. On the way, Moose whispered to Rusty when Brian was far enough away not to hear. “Now?”
Once they reached the car and the branches were cleared away and the gear stowed, they climbed into the SUV, but Moose didn't put the key in the ignition. He turned to Brian.
“Brian, there's something else we wanted to say to you this weekend. No, it's not 'serious' like, 'bad'. But it is serious.” Brian got quiet and listened attentively.
“You never had the chance to finish college. And we both know that you'd like to, one day. Take it from me, it gets harder and harder to go back the longer you wait. Believe me, I know. Been there and done that.” Moose was remembering his own return to an unfinished college program. “We, and I mean both of us, want to make that happen for you.”
Brian opened his mouth to say something but was quieted as Moose raised a hand to hush him.
“Now, let me finish. Boris tells us that there is a scholarship fund set up by bears for their cubs and for their kin.”
Once again Brian began to interrupt and Moose gave him a look and raised his index finger.
“Now, I said, let me finish. You are our kin as far as we are concerned. We're your family. We want to help, and since we will be paying into that fund as time goes on, Boris says that we can make a claim on it. Besides, Boris thinks he owes me, so he's more than willing to make this happen. You won't owe anything, this is a scholarship, not a loan.” Moose paused and took a deep breath. “What do you say?”
Brian was frankly stunned. Such generosity was beyond his understanding. Bears? Scholarships? Boris? People… no, bears, who didn't even know him?
“Guys... I don't know what to say. I don't even know for sure what I want to major in, or where I should go. I kinda thought I might get back one day, but not right away. I just.... I don't know. Can I think about this? And thank you! Thank you!” He grabbed Moose and hugged him tightly across the seat and turned to Rusty and hugged him equally tightly. “I don't know what to say...”
“It's OK. Take your time Brian, there's no rush. Think it over, look around some. Wait a year if you need to, or more. There is no rush, your home is with us and you can stay local or go away if you want, we'll support whatever you decide.”
Brian nodded, not trusting himself to speak. They drove back towards Wolverton in the gathering dark, with only the hum of the tires on the road breaking the quiet. Brian finally leaned forward and put his hands on both bear's shoulders. “Thanks for this weekend, guys. It was... amazing. I get how you can just be out in the wild. The diet is kinda weird but I get how you can relate to everything differently. I guess I can't really understand your senses but I see how it's freeing to be out in nature for a bear. You're kind of between two worlds, but at home in both. That's cool. I think I need to do some more hiking and camping, see what the natural world has to offer.” He paused. “Thanks, guys. For everything.” They drove on, with Moose and Rusty smiling, and Brian looking thoughtfully out the side window of the SUV as fat drops of rain began to fall.
“Told you, just about six hours.” Rusty said.