Blue Eyes wasn't sure just what had caused them to get so close but at some point during the night his strong arms had clamped around Ellie's small body and he had instinctively pulled her tight against his solid chest.

Naturally, he curled onto his side and the brunette did the same but rather than accepting his embrace as one of a friend or a loved one Ellie pushed her back against his chest as hard as she possibly could and he had taken her into his arms without much thought of the consequences. The hands that had initially trembled upon touching the human's curves had steadied and slowly, over the course of the night, Blue Eyes had found a very comfortable position for his long fingers around Ellie's waist. She had laughed a little and even blushed when he had initially pulled her close to his own body but Blue Eyes didn't need confirmation of her approval as the human lightly pushed her body into him. For the first time in what would have certainly been months, Ellie relaxed fully against the strong chest of her companion. It took Blue Eyes a little while to realize that her gentle rhythmic heartbeat meant that she'd succumbed to sleep and once he was certain of her slumber, the young ape quickly followed suit.

While mornings were always something that the ape community had anticipated, the rise of the blistering sun and the chatter that subsequently reached the little hut seemed like it had come around too quickly. Sounds of the excited laughter of children was what had caused Blue Eyes to stir initially but he didn't drift back into sleep like he normally did in the comforts of his own hut because the stirring of the woman in his arms instantly reminded him that he wasn't in the place he'd called home.

Although he was still lethargic, the young ape couldn't stop his sky colored hues from bursting open when he realized that the soft warmth underneath his large hands belonged to Ellie. From her lack of movement, it seemed that his human companion was still sleeping but unlike the previous nights he'd found her, she wasn't trembling or cold. Instead her body was just the same as how it was when they'd succumbed to sleep - curled slightly on one side with her back and bottom pressing against his chest and thighs. One of his hands was still wrapped around her but had gravitated down to her exposed outer thigh over the course of the night and without even realizing it, Blue Eyes had been making invisible patterns in the canvas of her soft, hairless skin in his sleep.

There was something unusual about the texture of her skin, something addicting. Initially, it was the difference of her body to his own that had peaked the young ape's interests but touching Ellie and feeling her warmth underneath his rough touch made him desperate for more. He liked to feel the firm muscle underneath her tanned skin and his stomach tightened every time she tensed under his touch. In his sleep, Blue Eyes had apparently grown a little braver and had wrapped Ellie up in an embrace that was certainly only appropriate for a couple in a romantic partnership. He had never engaged in such an intimate scenario with a platonic friend and from what he knew of humans, they didn't seem to fall asleep in one another's arms unless they felt underlying romantic interests in one another.

But it certainly couldn't be that way with Ellie, could it?

A quiet sigh left the light hued ape's lips as he pulled his body away from the sleeping human's as quietly as he could. Already it was too late to sneak back into the hut he'd shared with his parents and while his mother might have believed his excuses for rising early, Blue Eyes knew that his father would easily see past his lies. Unfortunately, truth wasn't an option. The majority of the colony had shown great reluctance at simply allowing Ellie into the community and while his father had shown incredible kindness, certainly he would have held his own prejudices when it came to his own son growing so very close to a human. They had shared a bed. He had held her throughout the night as she slept and now that morning had come, he was so very reluctant to leave her. How could be possibly explain his feelings to his father and claim that nothing but friendship warmed his heart when he set his light eyes on Ellie? At this point, both father and son knew that any excuse that Blue Eyes could offer for his closeness to the human was just that - an excuse. Something more was warming up the young ape's heart. Something he couldn't quite put into words.

Just like he'd made the decision to sleep beside Ellie, Blue Eyes made the decision to stay until she woke. The absence of his strong body beside her seemed to be too great and it only took moments for the brunette to start stirring underneath the thin sleeping bag. Confused, the first thing that the human did was bolt upright and call out the name of her companion. While bolts of sunlight eliminated parts of the hut, it didn't seem that Ellie could see his crouching form beside her little bed so the sky-eyed ape quietly reached out, smiling to himself when the girl released a deep sigh of relief upon finding his fingers with her own. "I thought you'd left."

Naturally, his first instinct was to sign but even with the bursts of morning light, his actions were all but invisible to Ellie so instead Blue Eyes rose again, offering the human a large hand to take. "No, Ellie. I stay." There wasn't much more he could say. His heart still thumped against his strong chest and the tension had returned with an almost physical presence but Ellie allowed herself to be helped up to her feet and that was distracting enough. In the morning sunlight, it felt much more difficult to reach out and find her hands in his and Blue Eyes maintained what he assumed to be a respectful personal distance. "Lets go. Breakfast." But Ellie didn't let go of his hands and he made no move to pull away either. He wasn't sure just how much time had passed by but for a moment, the odd couple just stood by each other, lost in the delightful sensations that ran through their bodies just from the contact of their hands. It was clear that Ellie didn't want their moment of closeness to end and Blue Eyes would have been happy to stay here forever but a familiar roar not too far off in the distance caused his hands to drop like weights by his sides. "Caesar." His father was calling his name. He couldn't put off their meeting for much longer.

'Stay close.' Despite her disappointment at the rather abrupt end to their personal moment, Ellie nodded in understanding to the young ape's sign and followed him outside of the hut to greet Caesar. While the respected ape hadn't yet quite reached their area of huts, his green eyes focused on his son and the human instantly. With a grunt and a nod at Blue Eyes, he succumbed his son over and the younger of the two had no option but to comply. "Stay close to Rocket, Ellie." The thought of the brunette walking around unaccompanied certainly caused a panic in Blue Eyes but the ape managed to keep his composure in front of his father. 'Ape already at breakfast. Walk quick. Find Rocket.'

A firm nod from the human told the sky-hued ape that she understood his instructions perfectly but Blue Eyes still remained on his toes, watching her until she was completely out of sight. He was fully confident that no ape in the colony would harm Ellie because doing so would directly violate Caesar's orders but his stomach still tightened with nerves. The large form of his looming father hadn't helped calm his nerves either but Blue Eyes knew that he had to offer the King of the Colony an explanation sooner rather than lighter.

'Father...' he signed nervously, light hues looking up at the other ape as he finally joined Caesar's side. A large hand extended to stop him from signing further and Caesar's green eyes narrowed into tight slights as he looked from Blue Eyes to the human's hut. 'Why Blue Eyes here in human hut? Why Blue Eyes not with family?' The young ape wasn't sure just what he had been expecting but his father's confirmation of his absence from the family residence had him even nervous than before. The look in Caesar's eyes was stern, lacking the understanding and the compassion that had softened those emerald hues during their last hunt. Now, Blue Eyes could barely maintain contact with his father's harsh stare and his gaze quickly fell to the ground as he tried to offer an acceptable explanation. There were very few acceptable reasons for his impromptu sleepover with a human female.

'I... human...' A mixture of ineligible signs explained nothing and the younger ape wasn't at all surprised to find his father reaching out to stop him mid-communication. His reluctance to meet his father's gaze certainly added to his guilt and Blue Eyes had no choice but to look up and confess his wrong-doings. "Blue Eyes stay with Ellie. One night. Human is sad so I stay. Talk." Apparently his explanation was not satisfactory and had his father crossing his strong arms over his chest defiantly as his wide lips repeated the word 'talk,' clearly not believing that conversation had been the theme of the visit. "Talk. Yes." Nervously, Blue Eyes continued. He had never felt this kind of discomfort when it came to communicating with his father but his explanations seem to fall flat. Caesar knew that there was something more to his relationship with Ellie. It didn't matter what Blue Eyes said to try and convince him otherwise. "She is lonely, father. Blue Eyes and Ellie... friends."

Despite his best effort to remain composed, Blue Eyes felt his shoulders relax as his father grunted and unfolded his arms, his posture relaxed a little now. "Friends good. Friends fine." Green eyes met blue as Caesar offered his hand for his son to take, his gaze still full of concern but his jaw a little slacker now as he signed for his son to join the rest of the colony for breakfast. "As long as Blue Eyes and Ellie stay just friends."

Even though his father made no further comments regarding his relationship with Ellie, Blue Eyes was very well aware of the way his parents eyes even the slightest interaction between himself and the brunette during breakfast. Upon his arrival with Caesar, the brunette girl had already prepared a small plate of food for him and while he was desperate to show her gratitude with more than just a quick sign for 'thank you,' he saw that his mother Cornelia was quietly observing his reaction. His parents carried on the same strict surveillance throughout the dinner, flinching and narrowing their eyes whenever Ellie moved close to their son. While the breakfast hadn't even lasted a half hour, Blue Eyes felt like he'd been awkwardly sitting under their scrutiny for an eternity and was more than happy to jump to his feet to commence the hunt. What he hadn't expected was that Ellie was soon on his heels, following him to the rest of the apes with her bow and arrows under her arm.

"Blue Eyes!" The ape froze in his tracks as soon as he realized that Ellie had every intention of coming with him and his gentle features molded into panic. As usual, the brunette's enthusiasm was hard to control and before the young ape even had the chance to clam the girl, Ellie's hands were excitedly pushing into his chest, feeling the strong muscle tensing underneath the hair. "Rocket said I could come with you today. That's great, isn't it?"

Bright hues blinked furiously as Blue Eyes tried to regain his composure without upsetting the excited human. Even though he couldn't see his mother from here, the confused glares of his hunting party were not all that difficult to misinterpret and the ape had no choice but to move his much larger hands to Ellie's small ones and gently push them away. 'Great,' he quickly signed, taking a half-step back to increase the distance between them and get a better look at the apes that eyed their proximity with distaste. Mostly, he just saw confusion. 'Ellie. It is great. Rocket knows good hunter. Ellie, be good. Be safe.' Maybe she could tell from the disappointment in his own light eyes that he had wanted to reach out and touch her a quick look around had the human backing away as well. Privacy was not something that was commonplace in the colony and it was especially unusual for a human to receive any kind of time alone. Their friendship was under close scrutiny by their parents already and from the flush in her cheeks, Blue Eyes notice that Ellie finally seemed to understand his concern. 'Thank you,' she signed as her brown eyes found his much lighter ones and the pair shared a private smile. There was nothing that Blue Eyes wanted more than to walk side-by-side with Ellie through the woods but he instead chose to stay with his father a few feet ahead of the human and the senior expedition's newest hunters. At least this way, they significantly lowered the suspicion that the other apes felt towards the human girl.

With his nerves riding high, Blue Eyes would still stop occasionally to make sure that he could hear Ellie's voice in the distance and he'd almost always be reassured. He never asked his father's permission to join the young woman again and instead dedicated his full attention to the hunt, knowing that the elders were watching his every move. Eventually, his trust in the other apes had overcome his apprehension and Blue Eyes allowed himself to focus fully on his own hunt. It took a little while but after a few hours, his aim was perfected and he'd added an excellent pair of bucks to the collection. The spring weather was pleasant and always resulted in spectacular hunts and Blue Eyes and his father were ready to push forward into the evening to take advantage of the perfect hunting season. Unfortunately, their focus and concentration was cut short when a startled shriek reached their ears from a hundred or so feet behind.

The scream was human. Blue Eyes didn't need to hear it twice to know.

With just one look at his father, the light hued ape dropped his catch and bolted through the trees towards the sound, his heart thumping against his chest and his feet crushing every branch and twig in his path. It took just mere seconds for the young ape to reach her but by the time he came to Ellie, his mouth was parted in a roar and his muscles were swollen with panic and adrenaline. In his emotionally confused state, Blue Eyes hadn't stopped to ask questions. All he had seen was his fallen friend sitting on the ground and a gathering of apes around her. He didn't wait for an explanation as a roar left his mouth and his strong arms pushed the other bodies aside as if they weighed nothing at all. It didn't even cross his mind to check on the well-being of the apes he'd knocked over because his primary concern was Ellie, who just happened to be looking up at him with red cheeks and confused eyes.

"BLUE EYES! STOP!"

It was his father's roar that snapped him back to reality. A shiver ran down the young ape's neck as he half-turned his head to the senior hunting party that had followed him in a similar panic. Unlike him however, the others had retained their confusion and had kept their cool for long enough to assess the situation. It only took the ape one look back down at Ellie to realize that she hadn't been under attack and that the other apes in her party were simply attempting to help. The pain tensing her jaw, the unusual alignment of her ankle... she had fallen, possibly strained the bone.

"Blue Eyes..." This time, his name was called in a softer tone, one that was still knew but was becoming increasingly familiar with each day that passed by. A quick glance down at Ellie reassured him that she wasn't angry at his outburst but her dark brown eyes nodded to the fallen apes, urging him to help. Of course, the son of the colony's king offered his hand to the others without further prompting but the silence that pressed around the group now was even heavier than before. A mixture of angry green and brown eyes stared at the young ape as he reached out his hand and bowed in apology to those he'd pushed over but his mistakes didn't need to be verbalized for the other apes to understand them. In a burst of uncontrolled emotions, Blue Eyes had been ready to hurt those that were like brothers to him in an effort to protect a human female that he barely even knew. The mistrust in the eyes of the others was as clear as day.

Unsurprisingly, Caesar was the first to break the heavy tension. "Hunt over," the leader announced in a heavy voice as he approached his son. Despite his clear embarrassment, the anger that strained the usually calm face of his son was apparent and Caesar knew that this was not the appropriate time to confront Blue Eyes about his negligence. Instead of taking him aside, Caesar patted his son's broad shoulders and nodded towards Ellie. 'Take her to colony,' he signed and pointed to her ankle. 'Maurice will check leg.'

Right now, any excuse to get away from the rest of his hunting party was greatly appreciated by the young ape and Blue Eyes simply nodded in confirmation of understanding to his father. Ellie didn't seem to completely comprehend the signs that the father and son had shared but that didn't mean that she protested even a little when the sky hued ape reached down to gently raise her from the ground. Certainly, she had noticed the exchanged between the apes following the outburst and was just as desperate as Blue Eyes to get away from the conflict. She didn't say anything as the young ape lifted her and even stopped herself from wrapping her arms around the ape's strong neck until they were finally out of view and had a little privacy. It was only then that Ellie allowed her small hands to travel up the ape's upper body, tracing his scar tissue and the strong, tense muscle underneath his hair. Finally, her fingertips stopped at his neck but she didn't grip hard and let her fingers drift up and down instead.

"What happened?" Her tone was soft, almost a little weak. Blue Eyes couldn't tell if she was scared of irritating him further but her quiet concern was what finally pushed him to release a breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. Without stopping movement, the light hued ape pressed his face into Ellie's neck, the gesture startling her so much that she almost wriggled out of his arms.

He felt like he wanted to scream. The anger that he felt at himself was both humiliating and concerning because while his mistake had been honest, Blue Eyes knew that his reaction was not acceptable. The whispers would surely turn to rumors now and everything he said to Ellie was bound to be misinterpreted in a negative way. He had jeopardized the health of his fellow colony members over one human and had turned to violence when he had simply thought that she might have been in danger. What would the apes say about his behavior? What would his father order? The thought that Ellie might be forced to return to the woodland to live a life of loneliness and solidarity crippled him but the young ape forced himself to walk along slowly, not wanting to cause any more panic in the human girl. Her heart was already beating furiously and while her fingers stroked the hair on his head gently, Blue Eyes didn't know if she could handle the thought of potential bad news.

"I'm sorry, Ellie..." He hadn't intended for his voice to sound so soft against her neck but Ellie froze at the manner in which his breath tickled her skin. His hot mouth was so close to her skin that he could feel goosebumps rising on her neck but he refused to stop walking now, not when the colony was so close. Blue Eyes knew that he couldn't give in to what he truly wanted and he knew that this certainly wasn't the time or place to discuss his reckless antics so he straightened himself again, somehow managing to find his strength for the rest of the journey that the unusual companions chose to complete in silence.

Truthfully, Blue Eyes was would have been just as happy not to exchange another word with Ellie and crawl as far away to hide from his embarrassment as possible but he knew that the girl wouldn't allow him to get away so quickly. Her hands instantly found him once he'd helped her on the bed and she pulled him close despite his protests of needing to find healers. '"It can wait," Ellie insisted, her small hands stroking his large thumbs as he finally succumbed to the pressure and crouched down beside her lying form. She only loosened her grip then, just as he raised one of his large hands to gently stroke at her face. It had been all he'd wanted to do since the morning and finally, in the privacy of her small hut, the young ape gave into his desires and leaned forward to gently press his forehead against Ellie's. While he hadn't been pushing her away, he hadn't quite reached out as boldly as this and he could tell that it surprised Ellie but the brunette quickly calmed. He felt her breath against his own and smiled as they enjoyed this private, quiet moment.

Unfortunately everything good had to come to an end. With a little reluctance, Blue Eyes started to draw back. He found it difficult to meet Ellie's gaze because terrible thoughts of what could possibly happen to her overwhelmed him but the little brunette refused to let him go without an explanation. Small fingers moved up to the back of his head and drew him close again, their mouths stopping only an inch apart. "Why were you so scared?" Even though he had expected the question, Blue Eyes was still surprised when it finally came. He wanted to look away and to hide his embarrassment but Ellie's big brown eyes stared into him and smooth fingertips on the back of his neck soothed his apprehensions as best as the could. Quietly, he spoke, offering the best explanation that he could without speaking too much. "Can't lose you," he confessed, his light hues only remaining open because the brunette's soft fingertips moved to cup his cheek. Blue Eyes had never spoken openly of any kind of emotions to anyone outside of his family but not he was speaking openly of his affections to a human female.

The young ape wasn't sure just what kind of reaction to expect from Ellie but he was happy when the girl didn't move away. Instead, the brunette mirrored his earlier actions and pressed her forehead against his in a gesture that held a great significance to apes. A sigh left the young ape's wide mouth and he closed his eyes as Ellie reassured him that he wasn't going to lose her but the girl didn't just stop with her words. Out of nowhere, the human closed what little distance was left between them, stunning Blue Eyes into absolute silence as her soft pink lips covered his own mouth in a very human kiss.

The tenderness of the kiss had surprised Blue Eyes more than anything else. Despite the passionate beating of his heart, the young ape had somehow manage to keep what was left of his composure. His light hues remained closed as the brunette's lips gently parted around his own, patiently guiding him to do the same. His skin burned everywhere their bodies touched and the taste of her lips caused him to shiver from his fingertips to his toes as he let his senses memorize appreciate everything about their closeness. The softness of her lips made it almost impossible to pull away and the natural scent of her skin made him want more. Despite the tenderness of their affections, Blue Eyes knew that he would never forget even the smallest detail of the kiss and he finally pulled away smiling and delighted to see Ellie wide grin in the dim lighting. There was no sign of regret in her eyes.

If words had been difficult to find before, they seemed impossible to forge now and both human and ape shared a series of nervous giggles and laughter as they finally pulled apart. Their happiness was unfortunately short-lived and one quick look back down at Ellie's twisted ankle reminded Blue Eyes that he had to get out of here and he had to do so quickly in order for the girl's injury to heal well. Plus, there was still his father to deal with and the thought of trying to convince Caesar that his intentions were nothing short of friendly seemed impossible now that he had memorized the feel of Ellie's lips on his own.

"Blue Eyes go now," the young ape spoke in a quiet tone as he tried to ready himself for the disappointment in the woman's eyes. It didn't come easy and Blue Eyes was desperate to reassure Ellie that he would be back soon so he reached out again, this time making the first move and pressing his own mouth to her forehead like he had seen humans do before. "Ellie need healer. I come back." She believed him. She had no reason to and right now, Blue Eyes had no justification to think otherwise. Their hands touched briefly again before he rose to his feet and stretched out to his full height, sending Ellie just one look back before he disappeared to the communal area in search of Maurice and the colony healers.

Unfortunately, Caesar had found him first.

"Blue Eyes. Stop." This time his father's command was a little calmer but there was no mistaking the anger in his tone. A deep sigh left the son's lips as he finally found the strength to look up and face his father. He was fooling himself thinking that he could possibly fool Caesar where his feelings were concerned. Punishment was inevitable but he had to explain to the older ape that he was willing to control himself so Ellie could have a home in the colony. 'Father, I...' One of the young ape's knees gave out underneath him as he offered Caesar his hand but the green-eyed ape put a quick stop to his son's confession. "Stop. Come. Now."

Sky hued eyes shot up to meet his father's equally light ones but concern filled the eyes of the son. "Father, her leg..."

This time, Caesar was not so patient. "Enough! Healer see her. Blue Eyes come with Caesar."

As frustrated as he was, Blue Eyes knew better than to speak against his father. A frustrated sigh left his nostrils but the ape followed suit, using his arm in order to move quicker. Unsurprisingly, his father had arrived at their family hut which was otherwise quiet. His mother and brother must have been preparing for dinner but Blue Eyes didn't doubt that his mother had heard of the events that had taken place during the hunt. "Father, I..."

Again, Caesar raised a large hand to stop his son mid-speech. An uncomfortable silence pressed between the pair as Caesar nodded towards the covered floor. Blue Eyes sat without being needed to ask twice but he shifted uncomfortably on the ground. There were still so many things that he wanted to say and try to explain but before he even had the chance to open his mouth, his father had gained his attention and had started to sign.

'Your friendship with Ellie is dangerous.' Light hues shut tight in defiance at his father's words but Blue Eyes knew that he couldn't keep hiding for long. He had expected this reaction and had anticipated these words. He didn't understand why it frustrated him so much and why he did absolutely everything in his power not to jump to his feet and yell in his defense. He had to show respect to his father, he had to show understanding even if he didn't agree with a single word that the older ape had said. 'Your mother agrees. Apes are talking. Apes are asking questions. Apes are asking why Blue Eyes isn't showing interest in ape female.'

This time it was difficult to hide his frustration. The younger ape's expression twisted into annoyance and instantly, Blue Eyes jumped to his feet but his father held out his hand to stop him from speaking. 'Your mother and I agree. If Ellie stay then Blue Eyes stay away from her.' It took a few seconds for the words to kick in but when they did, Blue Eyes collapsed back into a seating position. His head spun and his heart hurt and he no longer tried to hide his anger from Caesar. His lips mouthed the word 'no' over and over but his father wasn't done. With a quiet sigh, Caesar lowered his head and quietly spoke. "You need to find a wife, Blue Eyes. Ape. Your mother agrees." This time, the older apes tone was gentler but no amount of sympathy could ease the pain in the youngest ape's eyes when his father made his final announcement. "We start to look now. Tonight. First admirer meet you at dinner."

Without another word, Caesar left.