Just About Done

The cottage was nice. The river was calming and lovely. And best of all, it was all out of the way of everything. The moving truck had rumbled away down the dirt road hours ago, and she felt now was as good a time as any to get back to work. The nature around her new home was magnificent. A river (she did, in fact, see the humor in this), dense forest, and a thickly grown yard in between it all. River basked in the stillness, enjoying the sounds of the wildlife around her.

How far away from civilization can I get without losing high speed internet?

The realtor had laughed but still delivered. She could work peacefully and upload her work immediately. So long as her bike stayed in good shape, she could tour around the entire city looking for good locations. There were some mountains to the west that she was particularly interested in.

Camera in hand, River found herself abandoning the stacked boxes in her new home in favor of the trees. On top of her regular clients and stock photo income, River also sold prints of her personal work, printed and shipped right out of wherever she lived at the time. She was glad to be rid of the renter's life. No more neighbors. No more late night noises. Just peace, quiet, and nature. The way she'd grown up. God, River had missed this. The sun was shining through the trees in that ethereal way she adored so much. Removing her lens cap, River got busy doing what she did best.

Yujin was so lost. He had been trying to find his way back home when he had come across the river and given into the horrible temptation. With only a moments hesitation he had gleefully dived in, chomping a fish on his way down. From there it had been a bundle of joy, the water sliding through his coat, and fish filling his stomach. The only problem? He went up river, away from Lavender Heights. Now he was more lost then before. Reluctantly he crawled out of the water on the river bank. There was a rock only a little bit away with the sun shining on it. Figuring it would give him a better spot to think he bounded over and clambered up on top.
It wasn't long before the warmth of the sun drying his fur had him drifting off into sleep, completely unaware of the human tramping through the woods toward him.

River was not a purist. Her camera was a higher-end digital Nikon with all the fixings, though she didn't have her bag at the moment. Normally she had lens attachments on hand, but she got antsy to get outside once she had set up all her pets. She would finish unpacking everything as she needed it, she supposed. Impatience was one of her vices. She had accumulated a nice collection of sun-ray shots for potential greeting cards, artsy angled tree and logs for prints, and she had even been lucky enough to find a fairy ring. She wasn't quite sure what to do with those photos, but fantasy book covers came to mind.

Little did she know how lucky she was about to be.

River spotted it through the dense foliage, wondering if it was just a rock. As she got closer, she began to worry that she had just found a dead thing. As she got even closer, she saw it breathe.

She suppressed a squeal.



River was amazed she hadn't woken it. Now, she knew that otters weren't just cute little chittering mammals. They were actually rather dangerous. It wasn't uncommon for them to attack people that did not stay on the side of caution. God damn it, if only she had her extra zoom lens. Was she really going to risk being mauled by one of the internet's favorite cuties to snap a photo?


Grinning as she bit her lip, River snuck as quietly as she could, hoping to get in range of at least her camera's native zoom abilities.

Just look at him! She thought, not actually knowing if it was male or female. The sun's shining off him so perfect, oh god please don't wake up!

This was viral material. This was NatGeo material. Her heart was pounding.

Yujin stretched and rolled onto his back to let the sun warm up his belly. He was far to content and sleepy to think about his troubles now. An hour of sleep and he would change back. The low sound of a footstep barely registered, and he didn't even give it a thought as he fell back asleep. What was there to worry about in such a secluded place. With the sounds of the river all around him, and the taste of fish on his tongue.

She almost ran, tensing up when it moved. It only stretched out into a cuter position, and River almost lost composure.

This was definitely going into the next photography contest.

River aimed her camera a few times, watching the viewscreen, searching for the most flattering angle for this little guy. She zoomed in until it was properly in-frame.

After a few moments of thinking, River decided she probably should not act like time was on her side, and settled on a from-the-ground angle. A wide shot, as if she were very small looking up at it, with the sun gleaming off its fur. It looked magnificent. This was the one, definitely.


The shutter fired, the photo saved. And she lingered greedily, figuring if he slept through that, maybe she could tinker with some other angles.

The sound of click woke him from his slumber. He sat up with a jolt and looked around. Then he saw her, a woman, with a camera not that far from where he lay. A snarl burst from his throat before he could stop himself. The otter wanted to attack, defend itself from this intruder. But no way was he going to get near a camera. Torn between attack and fleeing he froze on the stone, teeth barred.

It was so sudden; River tried to stand and distance herself from the animal too quickly. Her knees were not happy with the several minutes of crouching and failed her miserably, sending her on her ass in the mud of the bank. "Sssssssshit-" It came out with a breathy laugh, and she struggled to not drop her expensive equipment into the water. At least that was a success.

She had scared the shit out of this poor thing, and it stood there now, staring her down with a...goodness, even its war face was cute.

Slinging her camera around her neck and choosing to stay as low as possible, despite the creeping wetness into the seat of her jeans, River kind of smiled at the otter and scooted back just a tad more.

"Oohhohoh it's okay, I'm sorry little dude, I just -" As if it could understand her. That was a childhood fantasy that persisted into adulthood, talking to animals. "-wanted to get a good shot!" She pointed to her camera, still excited for the treasure of a photo she had just acquired.

Now, the predicament. If she tried to stand and scared it more, she might wind up getting rabies shots tonight. If she stayed there, maybe it would relax and go about its otter-y business. She felt so bad, though. And she talked when she was nervous. "I am so sorry I scared you, oh you poor thing..."

River found some footing under her heel, hoping to slowly get up and give it some space.

Oh god the woman was talking to him. What was he suppose to do? She said something about a picture? No way was he going to stick around to find out more or have another picture taken. Ignoring the angry otter inside of him Yujin jumped off the rock a few inches away from the woman. He gave her a curious look before darting towards the water. With one leap over her foot he dove into the river, coming up a few seconds later only a foot away from the bank.

She had no idea at all that she was actually talking to a person.

River stayed as still as she could when the otter flung itself into the water, watching in awe and excitement. This was the kind of thing that made her buy a high-end zoom attachment, really. This was turning out okay for her, it seemed, but in an alternate universe, there was a River Stone with a furious otter on her face, for sure. She was lucky.

It had nearly climbed over her!

And then, there it was again, peeking at her out of the water. Awwww! River didn't want to tempt things at this point, and besides, every single wildlife photographer had a shot of an otter poking its head out of the waves anyway. She walked backward until she felt grass under her feet, and sat down with her cheek on her fist, admiring it with a smile. Her gut was telling her to leave, but her heart was begging for her to see if it would get into some playful otter shenanigans.

He would have swam away if the adrenaline and fear had been waylaid by the reality of the fact that he had no clue where he was. The woman had backed away, far enough that the otter wasn't crying for an attack.
Slowly he swam back to the bank and clambered up onto the mud. He raised his head up to sniff the air. Water, trees, and motorcycle gas filled his nose, but nothing to tell him where he was. Desperation forced him to crawl forwards, towards the woman. He got as close as he dared, a few feet away. Loosing control and attacking her was not something he wanted to do, so he stayed far enough away that the otter didn't immediately want to tear into her.
But how would she react if he talked? Well she at most would know he was a were, but not who he was, and if it came to the worse he could run back to the river. With that in mind he opened his small mouth and tried to form the words. "Where are we?"
It came out growly and gruff, but at least understandable.

The otter relaxed. And it also returned, climbing out of the water, to River's delight. She had to fight her urge to take even more photos because she was not going to push her luck scaring this creature again. River decided to just enjoy the moment instead of trying to capture it, and the animal ventured closer and closer to her, confirming a decision to not move a single muscle.

And then, the ground fell out from under her.

River didn't quite comprehend at first. It was yet another moment in which one hears something someone said, but it doesn't register immediately, and the moment you would ask, "What?", you already know what they said.

Where are we?

An otter just talked to you, River. What. The. Fuck. It asked a question.

"Wait-what-" She babbled dumbly, sitting up a little straighter and staring at the otter with brief confusion.

As her brain caught up to her shock, River pieced it all together. This was not an otter. This. Was. NOT. AN. OTTER.

She had only met one before now. Be cool, be cool. There was no fear on her face, just excitement. But River always felt like everyone, even if they weren't "human", deserved to be treated like a person. She hadn't watched TV in years, but River was well aware of the social outlook from humans on these subjects. The internet was teeming with stories that just made her angry.

"OH, um! Ravenswood. You're on the east side, kind of away from the city part. Are you...lost?" She asked, a million million questions and thoughts buzzing through her head.

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