Wolf's Rain Fan Fiction ❯ Signs Of Paradise ❯ A Walk to Remember ( Chapter 4 )
Disclaimer: I don't own Wolf's Rain.
ch-san: I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Yesh, it is I. Did you miss me? Of COURSE you didn't! But I missed all of you. Yesh I did. ^_________^ Ach weel. On with da show!
Hideki placed the phone back in its receiver with a somber clunk. He sighed heavily, slowly examining his office. It was dimly lit; a fire crackled merrily in its grate, throwing shadows across the room like a morbid puppeteer. Hideki noted each and every little thing about the cozy room: the worn carpet, the peeling wallpaper, and the dim shape of Puppy, asleep on her frayed cushion in her corner. He smiled and clicked his tongue softly. Puppy's ear twitched in his direction. She twisted her head around and gazed at him with intense green eyes. He clicked again. With a bit of an effort, she lifted herself up off her bed and, stretching in the process, ambled over to Hideki's side. The middle-aged man scratched her behind her ears. She whined and looked up at him between his fingers. After a time, Hideki turned from Puppy. He took a key from his pocket and unlocked the top drawer of his desk. Puppy cocked her head inquisitively. When the drawer was firmly closed and the key returned to his pocket, Hideki knelt before the silver canine.
"Puppy," he whispered, "This is…What I have in my hands is something very special. Never let anyone take it off of you, and never lose it. One day, when the world is coming to an end, you may need this. Puppy…I fear the worst may be ahead." Puppy whimpered at this and nuzzled Hideki's hands with her snout. He motioned for her to sit, and when she had, he snapped a chain around her neck. From the chain dangled a silver heart-shaped locket. It blended with her fur perfectly. She gazed at her reflection in his reading glasses. When she was satisfied, she yipped and licked his hand. Hideki chuckled and hugged her tightly.
"Puppy… Puppy, my sweet puppy…" he murmured, tears in his voice. "I… whatever may happen… you… just take care of yourself. Whatever happens, I just want you to be happy." He let go of her, shocked to find that he had been crying. He took out his handkerchief and dabbed at his cheeks. Now Puppy was on her feet, whimpering and nudging Hideki's chin with her nose. He laughed and ruffled her fur.
"It's okay girl," he assured. "Nothing is going to happen for a while." A soft knocking on his office door interrupted their one-sided conversation. Hideki stood and opened it. The firelight illuminated the figure of a young boy. Sheepishly, the child entered. His shoulder-length hair seemed redder than the embers in the iron grate. Nervously he bit his lip, glancing from Puppy to Hideki.
"Yes, what do you want?" asked the vet stiffly.
"I…uh…well, I was…um…" he stumbled nervously.
"Toboe, what is it?" Puppy questioned. He glanced at her and grinned.
"I was wondering, since it's almost sunset, and the others need to get some fresh air, d'you think I could take Puppy for a walk?" Hideki pushed up his lab coat sleeve to look at his watch.
"Now would be a perfect time for a walk," he said, face expressionless. "Be back by nightfall. That should give you about a half an hour."
"Okay! C'mon, Puppy!" chirped Toboe. He slipped out of the room, not wanting to wait for her to catch up. She took a long, hard look at Hideki before following. Once alone in the hall, Toboe laughed with relief.
"That human of yours is so shirty sometimes. He's almost scary, isn't he?" bubbled Toboe.
"He isn't scary," snapped the silver wolf.
"Okay Ayume, I didn't mean anything by it." Ayume said nothing as they exited the hall through a set of double doors. There in the waiting room sat Hige, Tsume, and Kiba. Soundlessly, the four humans and singular dog waltzed out of the veterinary clinic. As soon as they were a block away, the humans took on their true form, and with Kiba in the lead, raced up and down the partially crowded streets of the city. It must have been eighty blocks later that any one of them spoke.
"Ayume," called Toboe, "What was with your human?"
"Your human was acting weird?" wondered Hige, mainly to himself.
"I'm not sure. He was so solemn and cold. He's never acted like that before," answered Ayume. The unease in her voice gave the others reason to leave her be. They ran in silence, occasionally looking behind to make sure the others were there. Rapidly the sun's golden disk slipped behind the buildings. The sky was a brilliant violet by the time they stopped.
"Hey, Ayume, didn't your human need you back by now?" asked Hige.
"We can be a little late," smiled the silver wolf. "It's not-" Suddenly her eyes widened.
"What is it?" Hige questioned. She remained rigid, shamrock-colored orbs dilated with fear.
"Something's wrong," Kiba answered for her and, turning on his heels, sped back to the lab. He felt Ayume's shoulder brush against his as they ran. Out of the corner of his golden eyes, Kiba tried to read her features, but it was all too confusing. Instead, he focused on the path in front of him. They silently pounded their way through the growing night. When they finally reached the lab, they skidded to a halt. The air was frozen, as if time had stopped. The four men calmed themselves and changed back into humans so as not to startle anyone inside. Cautiously, they crept into the waiting room of the veterinary clinic. The whole place was as black as death and twice as quiet. Tsume's eyes scanned the deepest shadows for any sign of movement. Their footsteps echoed through the empty halls. Toboe made to call out, but Tsume pressed a hand over his mouth.
"No," he said in a voice barely above a whisper. Toboe nodded. They wandered down the corridors, ears perked for whatever noise they could catch. Hige sniffed the still air. Finally, he led them to the very back room. They all took a deep breath and opened the door with a squealing creak. A smell rolled over them that made the hair on the back of their necks' stand on end. Tsume groped for the light switch on the wall next to him. The sudden blast of white florescent light blinded them. They buried their eyes in their palms in attempt to block out the offending light. All of a sudden, Ayume screamed. The boys looked up and gasped as one. Every single creature in the veterinary clinic, animal and human, was on the floor in an immense pool of blood. The red liquid was everywhere; it collected on the tiles, dripped from the ceiling, and rolled down the walls. Birds, dogs, cats, ferrets, nurses, doctors, Tensai, Kosuke, Jiro, Sen, and…
"No…No! Hideki! Hideki!" shrieked Ayume. She dashed over to the crumpled body of the doctor. At least twenty bullet holes decorated his chest, but she hardly seemed to notice as she flung herself onto him, shaking him madly.
"Hideki! HIDEKI!" she screamed at the corpse. His pale, lifeless eyes stared up at her, unseeingly. Wild tears cascaded down her face, landing on his metal plugged bosom. When shaking his bullet-peppered body failed to do any good, Ayume wrapped him tightly in her arms and sobbed into his shoulder. Her fits of crying were only interrupted by the occasional agonizing wail. The boys stared at her, transfixed. She clung to his frigid, tear-stained, blood-soaked body for hours, only loosening her grip when the clock in the hall chimed midnight. She had transformed long ago, but only realized it now. She was ashamed to turn around and face them. Finally she turned, wiping her nose on her wrist. Unkempt, raven-colored hair framed her pale heart-shaped face and fell to the small of her back. Her emerald eyes glistened with moisture. She smiled weakly like a child who was unsure about what was going on. After a few seconds of intense silence, she spoke.
"He's dead," she confirmed absently. Shock, horror, and pain clung to her waning smile.
"We realized," said Tsume coldly.
"Tsume!" chided Toboe. "Ayume, he's just…" He paused, trying to find a way to respond. "What are you gonna do now?"
"What, you think I know?!" she laughed in a furious way. "I didn't plan for this, Toboe! I didn't want…Why would I want… I just…" She lifted herself to her feet and smoothed out her royal purple, knee-length coat out of habit. Uneasily, she stumbled over to the boys. Kiba reached out and steadied her. She stared at him, searchingly, before looking back at Hideki's body. Almost as if staring at his corpse for the first time, her eyes widened again. Blinking back her tears angrily, she wriggled past the four spectators and dashed down the hall. Without looking back, she burst through the doors of the veterinary clinic, speeding out into the night. All she knew now was instinct. She had to get away. She had to escape the pain. Escape the pain….
They found her a little before sunrise that day. Ayume was perched on the tallest building, watching the horizon intently and yet seeing nothing. She didn't even make a move when the boys padded up behind her and sat down. They were silent for quite some time. The only sounds were of the early commuters starting cars, honking horns, bickering to one another, until-
"Who would do such a thing?" gulped Ayume. No one had an answer, so no one attempted to respond. She continued: "I never even conceived that Hideki would die. I knew he would, for all things end eventually, but he was murdered…everyone was murdered… It's all so… It's just too unbelievable… If only I hadn't have gone for that walk, I-"
"You would have saved him?" cut in Kiba sardonically. She closed her eyes and raised her face up towards the rising sun.
"I don't need your bitter comments right now, Kiba," she muttered. Though she could not see him, she felt his eyes boring into her. Wordlessly Kiba rose and began to walk away. Tsume was quick to follow. Hige looked from Ayume to the slow retreating backs of his comrades in a dull way before getting to his feet.
"Sorry about your human." He clapped her on the shoulder and dashed after his friends. Toboe leapt up.
"Hey!" he yelled. "Hige! Tsume! We can't just leave her here!"
"Why? She's not our problem!" Tsume barked.
"C'mon runt, let's go!" said Hige over his shoulder. Toboe balled his fists in anger.
"I'm not abandoning her!" he shouted.
"Suit yourself," called the others as they leapt off of the building and into an alleyway. Toboe watched where they had been standing, waiting for them to hop back up and retrieve him. When they did not, he turned to Ayume. She still had her eyes closed, and her face was still craned towards the morning light like a sunflower in bloom, but her cheeks glistened with dampness. Toboe crouched down next to her.
"I didn't mean to tear you from your pack, Toboe," she whispered.
"Hey, don't cry. It's okay, honest. We get split up all the time, but in the end we always find each other again," he consoled. Her eyes opened as she turned to face him.
"Why d-did you…?" she wondered in a strained voice.
"I wasn't about to let you be alone after what had happened," he half-smiled, sadly. "It's not like anyone likes to be alone anyway. Well, except maybe Tsume, and even then I know he gets lonely sometimes." Toboe looked away as she wiped her face off on the sleeve of her coat. When her cheeks were dry of tears he turned back to her, only to be enveloped in a constricting hug. Ayume buried her face into his chest and sighed in a pitiful way. The youngster was completely taken aback, but recovered quickly and hugged her back.
"Ayume…" he murmured reassuringly, "it's okay. I won't leave you; I promise."
"I kn-know you won't, Toboe. Th-thank you," she choked. After a while she let go and wandered over to a corner of the building. A light breeze played with her hair, tossing it gently to and fro. Toboe crept over and stood beside her. Silently they watched the townspeople below them.
"You know," Ayume muttered after a long while, "it is so hard to believe that there are people out there in this world leading happy lives when something so horrible has happened."
"A lot of terrible things happen all the time that we don't know anything about," he reminded her.
"But not to me!" she gasped. "I was one of those people! I was happy, and Hi-Hi-Hidek-ki was happy and we didn't have a care in the world." Toboe said nothing, but placed a hand on her back. She collected herself and took a deep breath. "So what do I do now?" she asked herself aloud. "I have no purpose; nowhere to go."
"You can come with us if you want," he suggested.
"Go with you?" she echoed, staring at him out of the corner of her eyes.
"Yeah. Well, we gotta find the others and convince them, but I'm sure it would be okay," he offered.
"But…why?" she asked.
"Why do you want me to come with you?"
"What better option do you have? You're all alone, and it's not like we don't accept new company. And there's strength in numbers!" he added quickly. "Aw, c'mon Ayume! Say you'll join us! Please?" She shrugged half-heartedly at him and he took it for a `yes'. His face broke into a smile.
"Well then let's go! We gotta find the others!" he bounded across the rooftop and vaulted onto the neighboring building. Ayume followed. "Tsume!" they called. "Hige! Kiba! HEY!" Many blocks away, Hige poked his head up out of a trash can.
"Toboe! Over here!" he beckoned. Tsume rolled his eyes at the teenager.
"Do you have to eat that crap?" he asked.
"It's not crap," Hige defended.
"Then what is it?" Kiba shot at him.
"It's previously chewed, but high quality, food."
"Interesting. What food group do plastic bags fall under?" commented Kiba. A hint of a smile played about his lips. Hige laughed nervously. He hated when Kiba smiled like that.
Toboe and Ayume dropped down into the alley, breaking up the riveting trash conversation.
"Hey guys," chirped Toboe.
"What's she still doing with you?" Tsume asked tersely. Ayume's gaze dropped to her feet.
"Be nice to her, Tsume!" Toboe ordered, face flushing scarlet.
"Why should I?" he snapped.
"Because she just lost her human!"
"You think I give a damn?!"
"You better, because she's coming with us!"
"WHAT?! Like hell she is!"
"She is! I promised her she could come!"
"Well it looks like she's gonna have her heart broken twice in as many days because she is not coming with us."
"SHE IS!" Toboe yelled. Tsume fell silent. None of them had ever heard Toboe raise his voice to a fellow wolf before. They were quite taken aback.
"She isn't," hissed Tsume through clenched teeth. "End of discussion."
"No, this is NOT the end of the discussion! Tsume, you may not care about her at all, but I know what it's like to lose a human! And it hurts, Tsume. Please, let her come along. We can't just let her stay here all alone."
"We can, and we will."
"If I may cut in," Kiba interjected, "think about this: one more wolf might slow us down, and it's one more stomach to fill."
"Kiba! You're on his side?!" Toboe implored.
"I am on no one's side," Kiba stated.
"But you don't want her to come!"
"I never said I did or didn't want her to come."
"You helped Tsume out, so help me out if you're not choosing sides!" Kiba thought for a moment, before saying:
"Another set of fangs and claws could help if we run into anyone suspicious."
"Yeah, like when we were jumped a few weeks ago and she slaughtered those guys." Hige threw in.
"See? She can help us! Come on, Tsume. Let her join us. Hige and Kiba want her to!" Toboe urged.
"I never said-" Kiba started to point out, but stopped when he felt Toboe step on his foot. Taking the hint, Kiba fell silent. Tsume's brow furrowed in agitation.
"Fine, whatever, but if she holds us down any then she's out of here." Toboe laughed with relief. Ayume, happy that her hair hid her face, smiled. But her expression quickly became solemn. She lifted her head.
"Thank you," she said. "I'm sorry to ask you this, but before we leave this city, I need a favor."
"What?" snapped Tsume. She stared straight at Kiba when she said:
"I need your help burying the murdered creatures at the veterinary clinic."
"Are you insane? The police are probably swarming all over down there now!" Hige exclaimed.
"I don't care. They were my only family."
"Sorry, but we don't help people for nothing," Tsume said coolly. She gritted her teeth resignedly and flicked her head to toss the hair out of her eyes.
"Fine," she snapped. "I don't need your help. I don't need any of you. Thanks anyway, Toboe, but I can tell when I'm not wanted."
"Took you long enough," Tsume snorted. She screwed up her face in anger before turning on her heels and storming off down the street. Toboe stared at her with wide eyes.
"No, Ayume, come back!" he called. She raised her hand in a backward wave as she turned the corner. He watched her go, but not willingly.
"TSUME!" he yelled, rounding on the powerful male. "I can't believe you said that!" Tsume glared at him coldly. Then, to their immense surprise, Kiba slipped his hands in his pockets and started slowly after her. Hige cocked his head at him.
"Kiba, where're ya going?" he asked.
"To bury the dead," he said curtly as he disappeared from the alley and walked onto the street. Toboe threw Tsume a disgruntled look before he caught up to Kiba. Hige shrugged and chased after them. Now alone in the alley with only trashcans for company, Tsume rubbed his temples with a callused hand. He sighed and, resignedly, trotted out onto the street.
"So we're just going to become servants to this spoiled princess now, are we?" He growled.
"Knock it off, Tsume," chided Hige. "What do you have against her anyway?"
"I don't trust mindless dogs," he said gruffly. Even though she was at least a block away, Ayume whipped around and narrowed her eyes.
"I am NOT a dog," she snarled loudly. He raised an eyebrow at her agitatedly. "Or mindless," she added.
"Whatever," he grumbled. They continued to weave through the derelict buildings in a huffy silence. Even in the morning sun things seemed shadowed and uninviting. So the five wolves padded along, Ayume leading by several yards and the other four conversing in hushed voices.
"Really, Tsume, what's eating you?" whispered Hige.
"She sold her pride to be a lowly pet for some human. I don't see how any of us can trust her," he hissed.
"I think she's nice, and what's wrong with living with humans?" muttered Toboe.
"Nothing, if you're comfortable with being a house pet."
"I was not Granny's pet, Tsume, and you know it."
"But Ayume was `Hideki's pet."
"There's nothing wrong with that."
"There's everything wrong with it!"
"It doesn't matter now anyway, you two. We've already decided that she's coming. Fighting about it won't change anything," Kiba said under his breath. "Besides, she's listening to us." Sure enough, when they looked up, they saw that Ayume's head was tilted ever so slightly. She was staring at them out of the farthest corner of her eyes. Hige gulped.
"How well can she hear?" he whispered from behind his hand.
"Better than you think," she answered. "We're here." Sure enough, they were standing in front of the veterinary clinic. It was crammed with policemen, privet investigators, and spectators. Even with the hundred-odd people around, Ayume walked unabashedly through the police zone. Many men called to her, telling her to stop, but she just kept on going forward. An investigator by the door held out a hand.
"Sorry miss, but you can't go in there." She shot him a deadly glance.
"Oh can't I?" she said coolly as she slid past him.
"Wait! Miss! You can't go in there! MISS!" he yelled. But she ignored him. Instead, she pushed through the crowded halls to the back room where she and the boys first discovered the massacre. When she got there she found the room close to how she left it. Only a few men were dusting for prints, picking up bodies, collecting samples, and jotting down notes. She waltzed over to one of the policemen and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, but have you seen the dead body of a middle aged man with glasses and graying hair?" she asked. The uniformed man looked at her like she was speaking gibberish.
"Who the hell are you? Who let you in here?" he demanded.
"Really, I'd love to answer your questions, but I must find that man."
"Listen lady, I don't know how you got let in here, but all of these victims need to be transported to the police lab for further examination."
"But you don't understand! That man is very important to me!" she insisted.
"All right, all right. Don't get hysterical," he took out a pad and pencil and jotted down a quick note. He tore off the slip of paper, handed it to her, and straightened his tie importantly. "That's the address for the station. You can go and wait there for your body. When we're all done, you'll be informed and given directions to the coroner. He'll dress and bury the body for you. Now I've got a lot of work to do, so if you'll excuse me…" He turned from Ayume who was immediately nabbed by two burly guards. They took a shoulder each and, without much effort at all, drug her down the halls and shoved her out onto the street. She stumbled, landing roughly on her knees. The boys were there waiting for her with mixed expressions. Toboe offered her his hand. She took it without hesitation. They looked at one another before Tsume said:
"So where do we get his body?" Ayume's forehead wrinkled in confusion.
"H-he's being examined at the police lab. When they're done with him, they'll send him to a coroner. Here's the address." She presented it to Tsume nervously. He took it, looked it over, and handed it back.
"Right. Let's go, then," he nodded. She gaped at him absently. What had spurred the sudden change in him? She didn't know and sure as heck wasn't about to complain. Wordlessly they set off for the police station.
ch-san: WOO-HOO! Who's a writing machine? Chihiro's a writing machine. Uh-huh, uh-huh, oh yeah. *prances around the room* Anyhoodles, thank you for reading and PLEASE review! R & R is a GOOD thing! It ENCOURAGES the writer! ^_____^ But y'all know that. But it was an exciting chappy, no? Ha. Well, now the REAL fun begins. *evil cackle*