Cobalt Ridge Ski Lodge 
@espy, FULL MOON

First thing first--bury yourself in the snow.

It was the sort of sensation a long summer in coming. To have enough snow finally on the slopes for a freshly revealed polar bear to drive his face straight into a drift. It wasn't enough to completely bury himself, of course, but getting his head in there and feeling freshly loosed clods roll down his back was a properly good feeling. Levka could hear it crunch and squeeze as the frozen flake compacted around him, even as he tried to get a little deeper. But there was rock not too far below, and after a moment all he could do was go lax.

Somewhere, very near, there was a not-so-black black bear, but he trusted her with this moment without a second thought.

 Esperanza had made quick work of digging up a marmot out of the burrow it had been attempting to hibernate in. Unfortunate for the fat little critter, but something of enough sustenance that the kermode could tolerate a little while of not actively eating afterwards. It was best that the human mind wasn't exactly present enough to frown a little for it. Her beady hazel eyes would watch one tank-sized polar bear torpedo himself into what snow he could find. She enjoyed the snow, but definitely not nearly as much as her King did!

 Thick paws carried her through the snow, crushing it under her massive weight and absolutely making it impossible to be sneaky. Still, she'd do what she could to creep up on the bear-turned-snow, and ATTAC. With a careful mouth but not so careful paws, she would take aim at one big pointy shoulder.

Inside the snow burrow, his entire jaw popped open as he was attacked while blind! The muffled noise of his (happy) protest as he felt the much lighter bear collide heartily with his shoulder. Instead of doing the smart thing and retrieving his head from the dark and cool hole that was quickly running out of fresh air, he kept his head firmly there and flailed a blind hind paw at her, rolling to sit in the process.

 He kicked her! The bear had no real room for finding offense from it, but would let out a false-angry, guttural groan at him all the same. She'd bite at his foot, snapping at big claw toes, but carefully! Didn't want to cut herself. Then, with all the hurry her hulking form could manage without blasting off at Were speed, she'd lug herself up and away a few feet, then rise up on her hind legs. Hey >:[

The bear gave a very distinct heh heh into the snow as he felt her disapproval at his claws. But he knew the second she backed off, aware of her presence even without being able to see her. And, in need of a better breath of air, he sat abruptly up, lifting a mound of snow on his head and neck as he dislodged himself from the drift, his massive long head swinging with his jaw slack and a deep breath taken through his mouth, condensing on the air when he exhaled--

And lunged! A bit clumsy, having gone from a sitting position, but straight at the smaller bear, intent to wrap her up in all four of his bear paws if he could catch her.

 The kermode's black lips peeled up in mock aggression as the polar bear sat up, and she'd bellow at him as he lunged, knocking them both back into the thick piles of snowdrift. Her hind paws went up like a dead bug, digging into his big white gut, and she would do her best to fit the side of his head in her entire mouth. Which was pretty well impossible given their size difference, but the bear was very intent on trying! If she had the strength, eventually, she'd kick him off to the side!

They basically rolled in the snow with his momentum, and he made low and threatening noises at the sensation of her teeth around his... well, cheek, mostly, and the bridge of his nose when she tried a different spot. He had to squint his orange eyes closed, not really worried about too much other than an errant tooth poking him in the eye. Because for all he sounded threatening, his paws around her were very friendly. Strong. Suffocating. But with love!

And then, with her strong little blackbear legs, he'd get a good wallop to the gut. Small--but strong! He grunted as he was dislodge sideways into more snow, and let himself go flat out on his side, some rocky outcropping at his back.

 Grr, grr, grr. She mocked the bigger bear, even as she dislodged his massive form off to the side. There was temptation to be persistently pestilent, to pounce on him with all the grace of a chunky bear - but instead, she'd snuffle the frozen earth around his face, and very pointy puff a big breath of air to scatter snow in his eyes >:)

Look at him. Such a peaceful giant bear, laid out in the snow...

...which was now in his eyes! With a gape of his white-toothed jaws, he swung for her face, going for revenge--and in a much better position to try and put her whole furry face straight into his mouth.

 The ursine amusement on her part was short-lived as a tire-sized paw collided with her face. She mrrrr'd unhappily, and as her head got locked in his big polar bear mouth, she'd bellow at him in protest! How! Rude! As he'd done just seconds ago, the kermode would swing her smaller but still thicc paw at his face, meaning to slap him into releasing her.

There was something very hilarious about feeling another great beast basically roar into your mouth. It rumbled and almost tickled, but in a way that was inherently thrilling. Adrenaline, knowing that if he really pissed her off properly and let her have the space to do so, she could really hurt him.

Case in point, even a small bear hit really hard. He took the majority of the blow across his long snout and with stinging eyes he released her with a shake of his head and a RUFF of noise, otherwise still laid out.

 Her smack earned her freedom, and the kermode would withdraw with a sparkled mask of slobber. As a beast, though, she had no real concern for the grossness of that fact - it didn’t keep her from shaking out her heavy scruff, flinging particles of his saliva back at him >:[

 The want for food would control the blonde bear’s attention again, and with a puff of air in her King’s direction, she’d begin to wander away from him again, snout snuffling through the snow. Perhaps there was another unsuspecting little critter to dig up somewhere around here.

It was a good tussle. It got them both warmed up and as far as the polar was concerned, it was the purest form of bonding. Maybe others wanted to sit down and discuss things more cerebral to bond with their kin. Levka merely wanted to roughhouse and be given the opportunity to show trust in the face of real potential for harm. Someone could say they cared about you all they wanted, but you never knew for certain until you saw how they acted in the heat of the moment.

He cared for Esperanza very much, and so he would rise up after her, shaking out his fur with a brisk toss of his head head and quaking to his tall shoulders. And then he bounded forward, just as hungry but deeply disinterested in anything small. While he snuffed the snow, his head lifted to scan down the slope into the trees, pondering movement. The sort of prey he was after was always easy to spot even at a distance.

 While their natural counterparts might not be much for group hunting, if Levka was to accompany her, the kermode reasoned that digging around for rodents wouldn’t leave much to share. She paused in her nosing through the snow and rumbled at him inquisitively, trying to follow his gaze through the icy darkness. It would be decidedly easy to take down some buck of bull elk, and certainly more satisfying than a handful of rock chucks.

There was something dark and moving. Large enough that it caught his eye with ease. At this distance they had yet to spook it at all, upwind and camouflaged. But that didn't stop him from slowing, grunting meaningfully to his companion to get her to look where he was looking. A very large female moose--not as big as a male was, certainly, and not quite as dangerous but still a better meal than a even a spindly deer would have been.

He wanted it. And unlike how he had once upon a time behaved with a grizzly he'd once known, he wouldn't fight Esperanza for the best bits of it. The little kermode could eat a lot but they could both get their fair share off of such a bounty.

Slow and steady, he wound down the slope only once he was certain she was in on this with him.

 Moose were the type of creatures that any normal human did well to avoid with a healthy dose of respect. Even a cow elk could cleave a man's face in half. A bear was far less wary - especially when in pairs, and of such gargantuan specs. So, when the polar king began to make his way toward the animal he had just directed the kermode's attention to, she would fall behind him to follow dutifully. Quiet as she could manage in her great lumbering movements, she would seek to match his pace - at least, if the big cow did hear anything, it would think only one creature sought to join its presence.

It was a thought he had, too... let the moose think that he came in alone, if she noticed him at all. Levka hitched his pace after a moment, letting Esperanza fall behind the mass of his shadow. Almost a joke, really, to try and make their prey think there was only one of them--as if she stood a chance either way. But it pleased the bear to feel tricky.

Even so, as they neared he slowed, mindful of the wind and putting an instinct for sneaking to use. It wasn't an ocean with ice holes to peek from, but it was a series of thicker trees and rocks and a lot of snow.

Closer still, the moose didn't seem to notice, focused on chewing hard on a bit of scrub that hid its nutrients under thick winter bark.

 Truly, fish and marmots would only do in great numbers. They were a bit unnatural in this form of hunting, but whatever furious magic lived in the beasts made it a simple hurdle to overcome. Great power and speed made them adversaries of astronomical proportions.

 Esperanza did well to keep her position relative to Levka as they carefully closed the gap between themselves and the oblivious prey. There was some temptation to blow their cover and lead the charge, but instead, the kermode would wait for the King to initiate their attack. When it was time, however, she was finely prepared to lunge her great weight forward and deliver crushing blows with what tools she had.

It almost felt too easy. They got closer and closer and it seemed the moose was in her own little world, peanut-brained and enjoying a meal. But as they were several long strides out, their sheer presence seemed to suddenly dawn on her. Rather than running outright, the giant ungulate's head came up and twisted to find them, twigs still between her lips.

And when the moose saw a giant polar bear coming at her, perhaps she simply had no idea what she was seeing. Instead of putting her long legs to use and running, she froze. And that was just enough time for black-lipped jaws to open and the final lunge was done with such speed that Levka was closing his teeth on his prey's neck before it could even cry out.

He drove it into the snow, feeling Esperanza immediately beside him to knock out the back end and earn the meal as well.

 This was the point at which what little human consciousness remained disappeared altogether. Esperanza had been hunting with her father as a young girl, and even into her teenage years, and of course she ate meat - but the killing like this was so brutal, she didn't really have the heart for it yet. She would remember it all, of course, but not with the weight of killing a person; it was simply easier to let the bear run the entire show.

 Levka meant to crush the thing by its head, she supposed, and so of course she would go for the rear end, lunging to crush down on its back with her weight and wicked jaws. Her claws, while not anything like a fresh razor, had enough point and force behind them to rip open the belly when she grasped at it, puncturing thick skin with such a sound that if the cow bleated or cried, she could hardly focus on it.

 Once it fell, and perhaps before it was even properly dead, she would hastily begin to get to the meat of things, crushing a hind leg in her teeth.

Frankly, Levka loved it. Bear or man--didn't matter. They weren't really... different creatures, after all, not for him. Levka didn't particularly thrive in sheer violence for the sake of it, but as a means to an end he was after? He embraced it. Killing for work was sort of in the rearview mirror for him--and for the best--but killing for food wasn't. And crushing into a giant moose with his teeth and considerable weight made orange eyes gleam with a predatory heart.

He silenced all cries with a heavy series of crunches to throat. Breaking spine and shutting down the windpipe, he didn't leave it to suffer long as the kermode took to eating straight away. Any remaining twitches of limbs and the silent gape of mouth were all involuntary. Muscle reactions as the brain struggled to catch up with the fact that it was over.

Then, ignoring the head for the moment, he dove into the hefty front end of the torso--after his favorite prize.

 Beyond the residual twitches of nerve endings fizzling out of order, the cow went largely limp, an oversized hunk of meat being jerked between two powerful mouths that sought to rip through skin and sinew at opposite ends. The night was utterly quiet beyond the sounds of two monsters sharing a meal, the snow seeming to suck up any stray sound that might occur. Even the chomping and slurping seemed a bit muted, the rustle of dead weight rocking back and forth on the crunched grass beneath.

 By the end of it all, the kermode was an utter mess, blonde fur stained deep red in large swaths on her face and neck and arms. The bear hardly minded making a mess of food, utterly absorbed by the act of eating, the satisfying crunch of hard bones and gristly meat and organs. Both woman and bear seemed to share the idea that sometimes they had the capacity to eat three whole moose carcasses! But as it was, the smaller beast was content as dinner wound down, slumped comically with her back against the nearest pine, still grinding her teeth against an undefeated femur.

He got to the heart and ate it while it was still warm, though it was ultimately a small bite in a much larger feast. It was absurd in some ways how easy it was to put down so many hundreds of pounds of meat, especially with help. It wasn't a lax meal, but they didn't really rush, either. There was no fight over their fair share, simply eating at the paces their different sizes permitted.

Towards the end, when little remained but questionable scraps of fur and largely inedible bones, the polar bear crushed the skull partially between his teeth, to lick out the insides. It might have seemed disgusting to average people, but organ meat had nutrients that a truck-sized bear desperately needed.

On his side, gripping his final prize like a pot of honey as he licked and rumbled, he could not help but feel that this was perfect for them both. He reached out a hind leg to paw at his smaller friend.

 Esperanza rumbled lazily at the paw that haphazardly papped her hind leg. After a few more scrapes of her molars against the bone, it would fall out of her grasp and land by that errant foot of the King! Full and lazy as she was, the bear would roll from sitting to plopping onto her side with a dramatic groan, and... bite Levka's toe beans instead of the bone.

You knew you were good friend when you could bite each other's feet.

Levka remained where he was, with his nose buried in the moose's head, but he wiggled his foot in her grasp, making it difficult for her. Making noises of mild, mild protest, he felt the dumb and pointless thrill of knowing she could have chomped a toe off of him if she wanted to. But he knew this bear better than he knew most, and even when she was full animal she was a gentle soul.

 The polar bear wiggled his foot like a brat! The kermode would have enough of the claws knocking to and fro between her teeth after a while, though, and with a falsely indignant grunt would grab her bone instead. Crunch crunch crunch >:(

 That would be the extent of any play she initiated, however, perhaps for the remainder of the evening. She could probably go on this way for another hour, just lazing about with beary good company and the remains of an astounding kill. If she was left undisturbed, there was a good chance that she would just nod off to sleep.

If he'd been on his own, he would have roamed for a while. The mountain was beautiful on the full moon, especially at this time of year. It was his favorite in many ways. But that was the occasion on many full moons, or even nights without the full moon to make it a requirement. His paws had seen much of this landscape and though it called to him, he was content with what he had right here.

The black bear at his heels meant a lot to him. Her dedication was one of the few things as steady as the mountain itself.

So they played and shuffled and settled, and he stretched in the snow like it was a luxurious and downy bed. And as his dearest ally drifted away from this reality, he let himself soak in the sound of her relaxed state, and his own own would follow shortly after.

He didn't need to sleep this off like she did, but sometimes being sacked out in the snow was a conscious choice he could make.

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