Mori no Hito - The People of the Forest

Attn: This is an AU (of sorts) that takes place after the fall of No.6 where Nezumi doesn't leave Shion, but instead they live together in a newly remodeled village with Shion's mother and Lili. All other events from the series have already happened just as they are described in the original. Inukashi (whom I'm going to use female pronouns for) and 'Little Shion' (or Shi) live nearby, along with the remainder of her dogs.

Preface

After the fall of the retaining wall, the remaining residents of No. 6 and the West Block began to rebuild their broken down city. Over the course of the next few years, a new village, which included both of the previous residents, had been created, housing the survivors of the tragedies that had occurred. Immediately after the wall's demise, there had been a lot of looting and pillaging by people from both sides, however, as time moved on, all involved parties decided that they should let their petty differences go and work together to create a better world. A world where all were treated equally. A world with no class division, no elites, no correctional facility, no corrupt government; just people living together peacefully. It was due to this that this new village was henceforth given the new name: Yasuragi (meaning peace).

Chapter 1: A Birthday and A Surprise

Nezumi and Shion had just headed off to the marketplace to do some shopping for the household which they shared with Shion's mother and Lili. It was a totally different atmosphere than it had been when they were first living together in the West Block. People were much more friendly to one another, smiling brightly as the pair passed their shops. Shion would never forget the first time he had walked these streets with Nezumi. He had been pushed around, robbed by children, and almost killed by a streetwalker's bodyguards. It almost made Shion laugh out loud to himself at the extreme change.

"First stop is the butcher!" Shion beamed. "We need to pick up some fresh beef for later tonite." Shion felt exceptionally wonderful today, for even though it was his birthday, it was also a very important day to him for a whole other reason. He was very excited about the surprise party he had planned for Nezumi. Although he didn't know everything about him: things like his birthday, backstory or even his real name, he still wanted to celebrate this particular day. It was on this very day, ten years ago, that he had first met Nezumi on that fateful night that had changed his entire world. At that time, they were both children; one a sheltered boy living under the brainwashing facade of No. 6, and the other a fugitive running for their life.

It was Shion's naivety and compassionate personality that led him to help that boy, cleaning and treating his wounds, showing him brotherly kindness and aiding in his escape. In return, he was shunned and stripped of his elite status and forced to live in another part of No. 6. This new life suited Shion just fine, however he still couldn't help but think about the strange boy he had helped. Yet he had no regrets. He knew that if given the opportunity, he would do it all over again without hesitation.

Shion had remained oblivious to the notion that, not only had he saved that boy's life, but he had rekindled his will to live. For the next two years, said boy lived on, silently watching out for his savior, waiting for the day that he would be able to repay his debt. When Shion had been wrongfully accused of murder, Nezumi came to his rescue. He took him away and hid him in the West Block. He remained a loyal friend and companion, ever after Shion's incident with the parasitic wasp, which turned his hair white and left a long, winding scar that snaked around his body.

Reunited once more, the duo accomplished many feats: living together in the West Block, meeting Inukashi and Rikiga, infiltrating the correctional facility, finding and releasing Elyurias, and ultimately breaking down the retaining wall. These adventures strengthened their bond, proving that they were more than just two souls indebted to one another. They had fallen in love and had decided that they would live together for the rest of their days.

Nezumi seemed to be in somewhat of a hurry today, which reminded Shion that he had mentioned having an audition at the newly rebuilt theatre. During the rebuilding period, Nezumi hadn't had anywhere to resume his acting career. It had been almost six years since 'Eve' had performed on stage and he was very excited at this new opportunity. He walked with purpose, a slight spring in his step, leaving Shion panting behind him, trying his hardest to match his pace.

"Wait up, Nezumi!" Shion shouted, nearly losing sight of him. He had wanted to spend the day with him, but it seemed as though he might have to give up on this notion.

"Stop being so slow then!" Nezumi shouted back at him as he continued to push on.

"Come on, Nezumi! WAIT!" Shion begged, but his words were left unheard, for Nezumi had sped out of view. Shion sighed to himself. Oh well, he thought, I guess I'll just finish up here and head home without him. He figured it was a good thing that Nezumi was so distracted today. This would leave him time to finish preparations for that night. Shion went to the butcher's' shop and picked out some quality cuts of beef, then a small fruit and vegetable stand for the sides, and then the florist to buy a fresh bouquet of red roses. Laiden with many packages and bags, Shion headed home.

His mother, Karan, lived with them in a small apartment attached to theirs along with Lili, whose father had died. Next to this, they had built a new bakery for her so she could continue to do what she loved. She had promised Shion that she would make a cake for the occasion, which she was more than happy to do. Karan loved Nezumi, treating him as if he were a second son. She knew that he had been the one that had protected Shion when he was in hiding. During this time, Nezumi had used robotic rats to relay messages to her about Shion that helped her get through those hard times. She wept with tears of joy when they first met, practically adopting him immediately. She was overjoyed at their relationship and supported them without any hesitation.

"I'm back mom." Shion said as he pushed the shop doors open. He made his way to the kitchen where he saw his mother, putting the finishing touches on the cake. "That looks so good! Nezumi will be so surprised. I just hope that Inukashi and Rikiga haven't blabbed."

Just then, a young girl around the age of ten, walked into the room holding a tray. She had brown hair that she wore in pigtails with little pink bows. "Auntie, I finished making the sugar flowers you asked me to… Shion!" She shouted, almost dropping her tray as she caught sight of him. She hastily placed the tray down on the countertop and threw herself at Shion to embrace him tightly.

"Woah now Lili!" Shion said with a laugh, "Have you been helping mom with the cake?"

"Oh yes," she smiled, releasing him, "look, I even made some pretty flowers out of sugar! Auntie's been teaching me how to do all sorts of things!"

"Amazing! Nezumi's gonna love it!"

"Where is Nezumi anyway?" Karan inquired.

"Seems I've lost him again…" Shion giggled. His mother gave him a look of concern, to which he replied, "Don't worry mom, he has his audition today. It was a hopeless cause for me to keep up with him… You know how he is."

"Oh yes, that's right!" She said. "I hope he gets the job."

"Of course he will! I think his audition is just for show… His reputation as 'Eve', even now, precedes him. I'd be more surprised if he didn't get the job!"

"You're right. I just hope he comes home in time for the party. I've already invited Rikiga, and Inukashi is coming with Shi."

"Don't worry mom, he promised me he'd be home before dinner." Shion grinned. "And you know even better than me that he never breaks his promises!"

Karan gave Shion an unintentional tear-filled nod and resumed decorating the cake with Lili's sugar flowers. Shion put all of his packages away and began to prepare the beef and vegetables for that night. Lili pitched in with peeling, she seemed just as excited as Shion, dancing around the room as she set the table.

A knock came at the door, followed by a booming bark and a soft giggle. "Sounds like Inukashi and Shi are here, go let them in Lili." She glided over and opened the door, letting in a large black Labrador that wagged its tail in a whirlwind, bounding straight towards Shion. It licked his face all over in its excitement and wouldn't leave until it had been thoroughly scratched by Shion.

A tall thin girl with long black hair walked over the threshold holding the hand of a young boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. Right behind them was a short and round man with a dark brown mustache, wearing a suit and tie with matching bowler hat.

"Looks like the gang's all here!" Shion laughed.

"Yeah, but where the heck is Nezumi?" The girl, Inukashi, asked. "Isn't this whole thing for him?" After she spoke, the little blond boy came over to tug on Shion's pant leg.

"Where's big brother?" He asked with a look of concern. 'Little Shion' or Shi, as they decided to call him, was a boy that Shion had rescued long ago. Now around the age of six, Shi had been adopted by Inukashi, unwillingly at first, but was now treated just as if he were her son (or another of her dogs).

"He'll be home a bit later on. Why don't you go play with Lili while the rest of us finish getting everything fixed up?" Shion suggested. Shi looked up at him with a wide grin and then ran over to Lili. The two children soon left the room, leaving the adults alone.

Just before 5:00, as the finishing touches had been made, everyone hid and turned off the lights. Within minutes, the front doors burst open as Nezumi waltzed into the seemingly empty bakery. Did they all go home for the day? He pondered. But before he could turn around to leave, Lili and Shi jumped out from under the counter to tackle him as Karan turned on the lights.

"SURPRISE!" They all yelled as they came out of hiding.

Nezumi's face was that of pure shock and confusion. He was completely dumbfounded as to what they were going on about. As far as he knew, the only thing special about this particular day was that it was Shion's birthday, but he didn't understand why they were surprising him. "What's all this? Have you all forgotten that Shion's the one with the white hair?" He asked with a chuckle. When the two children had released Nezumi, Shion emerged, holding the roses he had bought earlier that day and blushing slightly.

"For you." He beamed, handing Nezumi the flowers with a bow. "I wanted to surprise you because today is a very special day."

Nezumi took up the bouquet and vowed back at Shion. "Well, yeah, it's your birthday… But why are you throwing me a party?" He inquired.

Shion smiled, his face growing even more flush than before, "Well…" He paused, trying to gain his composure, "Today is our anniversary, of sorts. It was ten years ago today that we first met and you changed my life forever."

Nezumi couldn't move. He didn't know what to say. He was so shocked he didn't know how to react. Warm tears began to roll down his cheeks as he stared into his lover's eyes. He had always loved him. He had been his savior all those years ago and though he'd never told Shion these exact words, he'd always credited Shion with giving him his will to live, even in his most desperate times.