The sound of rushing water filled the air – a constant, thunderous rumble that nearly drowned out even the raucous calls of the birds that flitted from tree to tree. Alik moved with care, each of the jaguar’s forepaws testing the ground before he shifted forward to put weight on it; he could see the gap in the trees, off to his right, where the gorge was, but there was always the chance of slipping on loose earth or wet brush, and so close to that gap, such a slip wouldn’t give him much time to recover.

Still, the scent of his quarry was clear. He’d followed it past pungent flowers and sweet fruit, past fallen logs heavy with the scents of mushrooms and decay, past more unpleasant things, and he’d never lost that scent for more than a few strides. He moved with care, yes, but he also moved with as much haste as that care allowed, each step swiftly following on the one before.

Then motion caught his eye – too near the ground to be a bird, too large to be one of the tiny climbers that sometimes ventured down for fallen fruit or nuts. Grinning to himself, he turned leftward and picked up the pace. The gorge bent to the left here; he could cut across the curve and make time on his quarry.

A game trail swung his way, giving him a brief stretch of open ground before turning back into the jungle. Licking his lips, he loped forward, glancing over to his right to keep track of that shape in the shadows. When the trail turned away, he was about level with his quarry. He slipped in amidst the trees again, angling over, drawing closer.

Then, through a gap in the trees, he saw dark fur slipping by, just in front of him, and he lunged.

Something had given him away – what, he wasn’t sure; the wind wasn’t at his back, but nor was it quite in front of him, so maybe it had eddied around. Or maybe something had shifted under his paws, or maybe his quarry had been looking his way and saw the motion. Whatever the cause, Alik’s paws struck only brush and loam, and the other darted forward with a yowl that was half protest, half taunt.

The chase was on now, though. The dark-furred jaguar bounded through the brush, but the golden one was hot on his tail, never letting his quarry leave his sight for more than a breath. His heart pounded with the exhilaration and the energy of the chase, a primal urge giving strength and speed to his limbs, driving him forward.

Now that they had sight of one another, there was no need to keep the chase on the ground in the interest of fair play, and the other cat knew it; between one bounding stride and the next, he coiled, and then sprang upward, right into the side of an ancient tree, practically running up the bark. Alik followed suit, letting his limbs flex the next time he touched down, until his chest was nearly against the brush; and then, instead of forward, he leaped as close as he could to straight up. Even as he sailed through the air, he focused, concentrating on his inner self, shifting ever so slightly more toward a human aspect – his forepaws straightening, claws pushing into view, toes dividing and stretching into fingers – and then the motion of his running carried him up to the tree. His palms struck bark and instantly swept down, redirecting that motion, and he climbed deftly up the great tree.

Out along a mighty branch they went, and the black jaguar bounded from one tree to the next, but still Alik pursued him. Another tree, and another, each jump and scramble working a little higher – and then the only branch near enough to jump to didn’t go toward another tree, but jutted into the open air over the gorge.

It was on that sturdy perch that Alik finally caught his prey, bearing down atop the other feline, surrounding him in the cage of his own limbs. Panting, he pushed his snout down against that dark neck, giving it a nip, scoring his point. “A good chase, father’s son,” he gasped. “But coming up here was such a risk – why, I might think you wanted to be caught.”

His half-brother laughed, shifting his grip on the limb beneath him. It wasn’t quite as wide as they; more than sturdy enough to bear their combined weight, but staying there meant digging claws into the bark. “Would that be such a horrible thing, Alik? To say that being under you, son of my father, is a fate to avoid, why, I would be insulting my own blood.”

Alik laughed as well, shifting one hind paw, then the other, as he stretched out atop that brown-black body. In relatively open space as they were, the sun shone brightly upon them, warming his fur, bringing out the fine rosettes that otherwise lay hidden in that dark pelt. “That’s a fair point, Kale,” he said – still loudly, to be heard over the roar of the water, but his breath was steadier now. “At least you led me a fair chase – and you’ve picked a spot with a very impressive view.”

“I thought you might appreciate it,” Kale shouted back, stretching underneath him, pressing upwards, his tail brushing along Alik’s.

And appreciate it Alik most certainly did. If he just turned his head to the left, the open air yawned below him, clouds of fog billowing up from where the water tumbled over the rocks, far below. They’d come near enough to the waterfall that it could fill the eyes as well as the ears; yet turn the eyes just so, and they were greeted by an arc of colour amidst the churning mist. Only the thick branch stood between them and the rocks over a hundred feet below.

Of course, between him and that branch lay six feet of lithe and muscular feline. His blood was still singing from the chase, and thoughts of the pleasure they’d promised each other, once far enough from home for nobody to notice and mind, kept his heart hammering. He squeezed his eyes closed, shutting away the sight of the drop, and he pressed his cheek against Kale’s shoulder, hands slipping inward, sliding over the other male’s chest, feeling it rise and fall with his breaths, sensing the subtler beat of his heart beneath.

Talking, over the thunder of the waterfall, was too difficult, and not really necessary. They’d already said the things that mattered, many times before, and there would be ample opportunity to do so in the future. For the moment, they did without – sliding against each other, tails twining together. Kale kept a firm grip on the branch, reaching partway around it, his arms tense, and he pressed back against Alik’s hips, against the warm point that was slipping into the open, caressing it with warm fur.

Alik muffled a groan against the side of Kale’s neck, shivering, squirming to fit their bodies a little closer together. Had they been in a more human shape, this would never have worked without at least some form of preparation, but as it was, they were still mostly feline, still large of body and not so much of manhood. Larger than a normal cat, yes.

But not so large as to keep Alik from setting his taper under his half-brother’s tail and sinking it in.

One slow, firm push, and they were as close as any two males could be, every bit of his bare flesh wrapped in Kale’s snug heat.

It was hardly the first time they’d coupled in a tree, and now the motions came almost automatically; curling inward until their balls were against the smooth bark, giving Kale’s own manhood somewhere to go that wasn’t quite so firmly pressed against their perch. Better to have their balls against the branch, as they at least had some fur shrouding them, than bare skin.

And thus arranged, they started rocking against each other.

Going in had been easy; pulling out, the modest bumps and barbs of Alik’s shaft were more aggressive. He knew, from having been on the bottom in the past, how those barbs would tickle inside; he fully understood what made Kale shudder beneath him, made him throw back his head in a roar that cut through that of the waterfall.

And that was a gentle pleasure compared to what the tugging on so many bits of sensitive flesh did to him.

He pushed his snout in against Kale’s neck, muffling a deep groan there, drawing in the scent of him with each laboured breath. His hips churned almost automatically – shoving forward in reflex from the burst of sensation when he drew out, only to slip back once his legs relaxed, triggering the cycle anew. Kale strained to push back against him, to squeeze down around his rough taper, though, hunched down as he was, he wasn’t able to get much support to push against – his hips lurched to the left a little as that paw slipped free entirely, but Alik’s hind paws were both planted quite firmly, and Kale no more than twisted a little under him. Not enough to imperil their balance in the slightest.

Farther forward, it was the black jaguar who held the pair in place, wicked claws sunk deep enough into the bark that they’d left gouges before coming to a halt. Alik clung not to the branch, but to Kale in turn, arms wrapped as tight around him as their still-somewhat-feline configuration would allow. Far enough for his fingers to lace together over Kale’s hammering heart.

Each stroke sent his pleasure soaring higher; within a half dozen he felt it surge, and he shoved forward, grinding against the dark male, his seed pulsing out of him, planting deep in Kale’s hot body. But far from slaking Alik’s desire, that moment of ecstasy only stoked it higher. Again and again he pistoned under the black jaguar’s tail, again and again he came – sometimes he felt his seed rushing out of him, sometimes he did not, but the pleasure never ended.

And then, even as he recovered from one rush of pleasure, panting over Kale’s shoulder, his father’s son shuddered under him, giving voice to another mighty roar, and the rich scent of spilt semen drove Alik back into motion.

Almost a month it had been, since the last time they’d been able to indulge each other. They’d been in a more balanced hybrid form at the time, each of them swallowing the fruits of one intense climax from the other, then spending some time recovering before Kale had slid into Alik for a gentler lovemaking. This time, though each climax was milder, one followed another in rapid succession; Alik came at least once for each of those intervening days before his need was finally dampened by the haze of bliss.

Alik nuzzled at Kale’s neck, still panting, each rapid breath drawing in a lungful of rich-scented, humid air. Part of him yearned to just stay where he was, clinging tight to the other male, his manhood resting warm and spent inside this man he loved; but that scent, pleasing as it was, also brought practical concerns to mind. “I should let you down,” he called out over the waterfall, “before you stick there.” In answer Kale just nodded, hunkering down a little closer to the branch.

Carefully, Alik planted his hands beside his half-brother’s, gripping not quite as tightly, but firmly enough to bear his own weight at least; just as cautiously, he drew his manhood free, shivering as he did so, but not allowing the burst of sensation to deter him from creeping back along the bench. He did indulge himself briefly, once he was completely free of Kale’s body, to dip his snout down and give a light lick over dark-furred balls; Kale shivered and lifted up somewhat at the touch, giving Alik a glimpse of the mess he’d made both of the branch and of his own dark pelt.

Even if Alik had got an earlier start to it, it was rather plain that Kale had come several times in the process. Yes, moving before his semen started to dry was the wiser course.

Gingerly, he turned around on the branch. It was a rather dizzying process, with not even the ground below them, just that yawning drop to the water far below; but he’d done it often enough before, and even with his pleasure still tingling in him, the motion was almost automatic. He padded forward to the trunk of the ancient tree, pressing up against it and gripping the bark tight; a glance over his shoulder revealed that Kale was just behind him, tail held out stiffly for balance.

Alik clambered down the trunk, gripping branches where he could, sinking his claws into the smooth bark otherwise. In time, his hind paws met soil, and he pressed his palms against the bark, straightening at last, stretching out.

Kale dropped the last body-length to land beside him, curling an arm around Alik’s chest, nuzzling at his shoulder. Alik wound an arm around in kind, giving the black’s opposite shoulder a fond squeeze, and with his free hand he gestured away from the gorge, away from the cacophony of the waterfall; nodding, Kale slipped free. Alik resumed a more properly four-footed shape and made his way into the bush.

Once they came to a trail, they made faster progress, leaving the roar of the water behind them. Finally, when it was only a distant rumble, they paused at a small clearing, where a great tree had fallen not long ago and cleared a small space in the canopy, a space that had yet to be reclaimed by the jungle; it was there, in the dappled sun, that Kale stretched out on the brush with a heavy groan, stretching into a more humanoid figure to better enjoy lying on his back.

“You’re a mess, dear one,” Alik said with a chuckle, crouching down between his legs. He was still very feline himself, shifted only far enough to permit speech and not a bit more; when his tongue met the tangled fur on Kale’s stomach, that tongue was still very much a feline rasp, tugging at the matted strands, teasing them apart. Kale yelped out loud, but then clutched at Alik’s head, urging him on.

Well, there had been something of an imbalance between their pleasures, up on that high branch. Once he’d got the last of Kale’s semen off of himself, Alik turned his attention lower, lapping over the man’s balls for a time – and then in between, drawing a comfortable and very rigid six inches of warm flesh into his muzzle.

Kale was still feline enough in profile to bear a tapered tip and, more significantly, a rough corona of barbs; as Alik’s tongue tangled with them, Kale cried out, arching up, shoving against Alik’s muzzle, clutching at the back of his skull. The golden jaguar didn’t let up for a moment; it wasn’t about any notion of fairness or altruism, or trying to match one climax for another – no, this was about his need, a need he hadn’t been able to satisfy up on that limb over the gorge.

A need that was only slaked about half a minute later, when a torrent of hot, sticky cream poured over his tongue and rushed down his throat.

Once he’d swallowed the last drop, he lifted his head and padded forward, reshaping himself even as he lay down against Kale’s side, curling an arm around the panting male’s shoulders and resting beside him in kind. Still quivering in the wake of his orgasm, Kale turned onto his side, nuzzling against Alik’s chest, and there they stayed while Kale’s pleasure receded and his breaths and heartbeat slowed to their normal calm.

Some minutes later, Kale sighed over Alik’s throat. “Do you think all of this sneaking around is truly fooling anybody?”

“Likely not,” Alik admitted with a sigh of his own, but he squeezed Kale’s shoulder. “Still, this way none of them is likely to actually witness our lovemaking, and without that fresh reminder they seem content to at least leave us be.” He shifted his hand up to stroke one of Kale’s ears, to rub and scratch behind it. “It’s not as though we could have a forbidden child, after all.”

“True.” Kale swung over, the black jaguar resting atop his gold half-sib. His lover. “I only wish we didn’t need to hide.”

“I know, beloved,” Alik whispered, stroking along Kale’s jaw, guiding him into a soft kiss.