Wolf's Rain Fan Fiction ❯ Signs Of Paradise ❯ It's Just a Flesh Wound ( Chapter 3 )
Disclaimer: I do not own Wolf's RainÂ© or its characters.
ch-san: Howdy-hey! Man, I'm just poppin' these things out, aren't I? I'm surprised at myself. Usually I have to MAKE myself write, ya know? ^___^ Anyway, here's thanks to all my reviewers and readers. I really appreciate you guys. Honestly.
Toboe was first to land as all four wolves vaulted off the roof of a deserted curio shop. His nose busily searched the air for any new trace of wolf. Soon, the whole pack was on the cement, sniffing. Hige, with his extra-sensitive snout, was first to catch a fresh whiff of she-wolf.
"I smell her!" he exclaimed. "She's about four blocks away."
"Well, don't just stand there. Lead the way," Tsume urged. Hige nodded and bolted down the empty street with the others in toe. They were ever vigilant, stopping every once in a while to make sure they were going the right way. Within minutes, they were gaining on her fast.
"Her smell's really strong here," commented Hige.
"Then she must be just up ahead!" exclaimed Toboe excitedly. He dashed into the murky alleyway before them. All of a sudden, Kiba picked up a scent that the others had missed. His eyes widened with fear.
"No, Toboe, come back!" he shouted. Instead of seeing Toboe return, the three wolves were greeted with a yelp of terror from deep within the alley. Quick as a wink, they were pounding their way through the dark in search of Toboe. They found him soon enough…along with twenty armed men. Kiba, Hige, and Tsume skidded to a halt beside Toboe. Tsume's eyes were frigid and irate as he quickly assessed the situation. They were outnumbered five to one. Things did not look good.
"Heh. What would four fine young gentlemen like yourselves be doing in a dreary alley like this, hm?" asked one of the men in a silky, poisonous voice.
"Yes, fine young gentlemen," concurred the man to his left.
"What the hell are you getting on about?" snarled Tsume. The first speaker clicked his tongue at Tsume like a mother scolding a child.
"Now, now. Didn't your parents ever teach you to respect your betters?"
"Find me someone who's better than me, and I'll let you know," Tsume retorted. The nameless man pulled a face.
"You annoying, rude, son of a-" he fumed as he raised his handgun and fired. Tsume, too startled to react fast enough, attempted to leap out of the way, but a searing pain in his side told him that he hadn't jumped quickly enough. He stumbled and fell to one knee, clutching his wound. Kiba launched at the man who had fired without thinking. Within seconds, the man hit the grimy cobblestones with a sickening thud. Silence fell upon them. The nineteen remaining members of the gang stared at the corpse in shock. The man Kiba had just slain had obviously been their leader. Quicker than lightning, the men leapt on the four wolves. They fought admirably and for quite a long time. As the brawl neared its end, the sound of Toboe shrieking in pain broke through the scuffle like the ringing of a bell. The young pup, steeped in his own blood and the blood of others, fell limply onto the stones below him. Hige immediately left his battle, leaping on the men who had felled his friend. Within seconds he, too, was crumpled and lying on the ground.
"HIGE! TOBOE!" Tsume roared as he sliced through the man in front of him. Even though his bruised and battered muscles ached with fatigue, Tsume pounced on those who had brought down the youngest members in their pack. He snarled, and tore, and clawed like a thing possessed. Without warning, the crack of a gun being fired filled Tsume's ears. His eyes enlarged as an immediate, sharp pain blossomed between his shoulder blades. Back arched, Tsume fell forward onto the cobblestone lane. Kiba watched his friend's progress to the earth with terror-filled eyes, his mouth wide in a silent yell. Unfortunately, Kiba paid dearly for his pause in fighting, because when Tsume hit the cold, hard stone, Kiba felt a stabbing sensation in his lower back. He howled in pain and dropped to his knees. Assorted images flashed before his eyes like bolts of lightning. He had lost. He let his friends die. And how he, too, would lie down and join them. This was the end.
The faint sound of yelling and gunshots shattered his morbid thoughts. Kiba lifted himself up a bit off the blood-splattered stones. Had he fallen? He did not remember doing so. Either way, he watched the men who had jumped them fall, one by one, to an unknown attacker. Kiba cringed in pain although his whole body had gone numb with blood loss. He dully noted that his head was pounding and his senses were growing faint, but the thing he cursed the most was his blurred vision. Who had killed off the rest of the attackers? Who did he know that would? A sudden wave of exhaustion washed over him. Slowly, he slid back onto his side.
Then, almost forcefully, he felt someone roll him onto his back. He scrunched up his eyes as his lower back gave a particularly painful twinge before half-opening them. His eyes were quickly fogging, but even though the haze he plainly saw a silver, blood-splattered wolf standing over him. The wolf blinked its emerald green eyes at him slowly. Kiba opened his dry mouth to speak, but couldn't find his voice. All at once, another wave of drowsiness swept over him. He felt his eyelids grow heavier and heavier until, reluctantly, he closed them.
The first thing Toboe did when he regained consciousness was utter a long, low groan of agony. It felt like every fiber of his being ached. He remained still for a time, letting the acute soreness seep away and trickle down him like a tangible liquid. Soon only small pockets of pain collected under his skin. Feeling his head clear somewhat, Toboe attempted to sit up. An unexpected flood of nausea knocked him back down. He clutched his head with one hand; his eyes screwed tightly shut. The sudden, faint sound of padded paws stepping on linoleum gave Toboe cause to relax. He rolled slowly onto his side to face whomever was next to him.
"Tsume…? Hige…? Who's this?" he whimpered quietly, extending a hand to pat the wolf on the head.
"Are you feeling better, little one?" a soft female voice asked. Toboe stopped stroking the fluffy head next to him and cracked open an eye. There, sitting next to him with her head on his mattress, was the silver she-wolf.
"You…!" he weakly gasped.
"Yes, me," she smiled.
"You…we…where am…?" he stumbled. The silver wolf supplied a throaty chuckle at Toboe's confusion.
"Sleep," she murmured. "You should really get some more sleep. When you have healed, I will answer all your questions." Toboe opened his mouth to protest, but closed it again and nodded. She smiled and, bowing her head, tip-toed out of the room. When she saw that Toboe's door was firmly closed, Puppy skipped down the intensive care ward of the veterinary clinic towards her master. Hideki's face broke into a grin.
"Good thing you found them in time, eh Puppy?" he whispered. Puppy made a noncommittal noise to show she was listening. His smile widened as he led her down the empty hall and into the receptionist's booth. There sat Sen, clicking her freshly manicured nails against the keys of her computer pad. Her eyes busily scanned the monitors above her head before returning to her computer screen. She didn't even move when Hideki and Puppy entered.
"All right, Hideki?" she asked blandly, still typing.
"All right," he assured her.
"Good thing, too. Two of those boys were in serious danger."
"Don't I know it? They were close enough to death as it was, but when you throw my never treating a human before into the mix, I was scared for them."
"But you did well," reminded Sen.
"So how long do you think they'll need to be here?"
"A week. Maybe more."
"A week?" The conversation went on like this for some time. Puppy's head turned from one speaker to the other like someone watching a tennis game. When the talk was over, Puppy still glanced between them expectantly. Hideki rested a hand on her head and chuckled. His attention was not with her, however. It was with one of the surveillance monitors. On screen number sixteen a badly wounded man with a distinctive x-shaped scar on his chest began to stir. Puppy whined and sped off to his room.
Tsume had experienced pain like this before. This was nothing new, although his surroundings certainly were. He gingerly pulled himself up into a sitting position, scanning his room in the process. It was a simple, gray room with drab art on the walls and a single threadbare chintz lounge chair in one corner. He attempted to stand but found that he was too weak to. Sighing, he laid back down on his bed.
The sound of his door creaking open caused Tsume to sit bolt upright. The quick movement was immediately followed by a wave of dizziness and pain. He clutched his middle and grunted. The door clicked shut, followed by the sound of feet touching the floor lightly as someone slipped towards him in the darkness.
"Who's there?" shouted Tsume. The feet halted and the person took a breath. They resumed their trot forward until he dimly saw who it was.
"It's you!" he growled when he recognized the silver wolf. "Where the hell am I?! Where are the others?!"
"Please, calm down," coaxed Puppy.
"I sure as hell won't calm down! WHERE AM I?!" he raged.
"You have every right to be upset, but please calm yourself."
"You give me answers and I'll `calm myself'," he snorted. Puppy sighed, mainly to herself, before stating:
"Your friends are alive and well. That is all I can say until you have recovered just a little more."
"That's it? That's all you can give me?!" he snarled, trying to stand.
"No, no, no! Please rest! Be still!" she pleaded. He stared intently into her worry-filled eyes. Something deep inside of him gave way. Reluctantly, he sat back down on his bed and looked everywhere but at her.
"Fine. But I want answer soon, d'you hear me?" he warned.
"Perfectly," she nodded.
"Good." Puppy turned from him and nosed her way out the door. `Two down, two to go,' she mentally encouraged. She had only walked two steps when she heard a moan come from the room opposite Tsume's. Twitch went her ears in the direction of the noise. Again, she heard a muffled groan. She popped her head into the room curiously to find Hige sitting up and complaining loudly.
"Uggggggghhhhhhhhhh…where am I…?" he asked the wall to his left. Puppy cleared her throat and entered. Hige turned to face her, features dazed and sleepy.
"Where am I?" he repeated. "How are the others doing?"
"That will be answered soon enough," Puppy consoled.
"Oh…okay…well, in the meantime, can I have some food?" he asked plaintively.
"Of course you can," she laughed. "I'll send my human in with something to eat."
"Your human?" Hige echoed.
"Yes, my human."
"But you're his pet, aren't you?"
"We have a mutual relationship."
"But he named you and takes you for walks, and-"
"Enough!" she barked. The sudden harshness in her voice startled Hige into silence. After composing herself, Puppy spoke again with a touch of forgiveness in her speech.
"Hideki and I have a long history. History is what keeps us together. Nothing more." And with that she turned and exited the room, leaving Hige with a handful of questions and an empty stomach.
When Puppy was well away from Hige's room she sighed heavily. That was not the sole reason she was with Hideki and she knew it, but seeing that wolf so unabashedly ask about her and her human's relationship stirred something in her chest that she just couldn't ignore. For the first time in her life, she felt ashamed of herself for living with humans. She had never, ever felt ashamed before and in one conversation with that…that wolf… she was forced look at her life in a different way. Had she really become a pet? Impossible. She was not Hideki's pet. He needed her, not the other way around.
Before she knew it, Puppy was scratching outside Hideki's office door. The kindly doctor opened it, letting her come in. When she was inside, she trotted over to an area on the wall that had three calendars on it. One was an eating calendar for the animals they held and what they were fed. Another was of appointments and kenneling periods. The last was just a normal calendar. Puppy took the meal calendar off the wall with her teeth and presented it to Hideki with a whine. He looked up from behind his newspaper.
"Hungry, girl?" he asked. She wandered back over to his door and scraped at it, informing him she wanted to leave. He folded up his paper, pulled himself up out of his moth-eaten chair, and set it where he had been sitting.
"You know," he began as he meandered over to her, "if you're only going to spend a few seconds in my office, it might be wiser to…" but Puppy wasn't listening. As soon as he pushed the door open a crack she wiggled out and dashed over to Hige's door. There she sat, whining. Hideki raised a confused eyebrow at her. She pawed and whined and hopped. Finally, she spat the lunch menu out onto the floor and barked. It was then that realization hit Hideki.
"Oh! Are our newest patients hungry?" he asked, completely surprised. Puppy whined and he took it for a yes. "All right, then. While I feed these three, why don't you go check on the fourth human patient? He should be waking up right about now." She didn't even bother to answer. She just turned tail and bounded down the hall to where the last wolf was dozing. With trained skill she pawed at the doorknob until it turned, allowing her access to the inky black room. She eased her way inside and over to the bed where the last wolf slept. The only source of light was the slim ray of shine that the partially opened door threw across the room and onto the opposite wall. Puppy inched her way to his bedside, silent and undetected. Or, so she thought. Without warning, Kiba spoke:
"Why did you save us?" His flat tone struck Puppy oddly, especially since he hadn't opened his eyes, or even acknowledged her presence, when he spoke to her. She sat by his side and looked up at his shadowy profile.
"You needed help," she answered simply. Kiba let the words sink in.
"Where are we…" he speculated as he forced open his eyes.
"Hideki's veterinary clinic. He's the real rescuer, to be perfectly honest. I only killed you opponents and carried you to safety. Hideki, on the other hand, removed bullets, stitched up all of your wounds, bandaged all of you up, and gave you a place to sleep. He's the real hero here…" her voice trailed off. Kiba blinked slowly, his eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
"Hideki was that human you were with." It was more of a statement than a question, so she remained quiet. They rested in the dark for several minutes in silence, both waiting for the other to say something but neither wishing to be the first to speak. Finally, Kiba gave a short, crisp laugh.
"Puppy," he said in an amused way. "I heard him call you `Puppy'. Is that what he named you?"
"Yes," she whispered, blushing.
"What a pathetic name for a wolf." Surprisingly, his voice wasn't harsh or critical in any way, but simply factual. `Puppy' was, indeed, a pathetic name for a wolf. She stopped blushing and looked up at him. A shadow of a smile was at the corner of his lips. Puppy tilted her head.
"What's your name?" she asked. He paused, his hint of a smile gone.
"Kiba," he supplied.
"Kiba…" she repeated softly. "Alright." She turned to leave, but a sudden feeling that something was amiss fluttered in her chest. She whipped around to find Kiba sitting up, slightly hunched, and staring at her with intense, electric-blue eyes. For some odd reason, Puppy felt her breath catch in her throat. She hadn't even sensed that he had moved.
"So, Puppy, what is your name?" he wondered quietly.
"My…m-my name?" she faltered. Kiba nodded. She glanced at the door warily, as if expecting to find a horde of people listening in. When she turned back to him, her gaze was on the bit of floor between his feet.
"It's Ayume," she finally gave. Kiba opened his mouth to respond, but she slipped out the door before he could. She didn't want to hear what he had to say about her name. `Besides, the last time I was called by that name was when I was…' she thought as she wandered down the empty ward. `No, no I don't need…I don't want to think about that now…" With one last look down the hall, her eyes falling on each of the wolves' doors in turn, Ayume rounded the corner and disappeared into Hideki's office.
ch-san: DUH-DUH-DUUHHN. -O_O-