Sheez-Louise, it's been ages, eh? I've had serious writer's block on this chapter. It's been realllly hectic here lately. First of all, I started school back up and I've been really busy with that. I've also recently signed up on the Lion King Fanart Archive, so I've been doing lots of art for that. Then, we had to evacuate becuase of Hurricane Frances. After we got back, we had had a tree fall on our powerline, so we were witout electricity for a week. Then Ivan and now Jeanne is coming, and I'm able to post this thing before our power went out. This is a turning point in the story, so it took me a hard long while to do this. I think I was thinking about the movie Hook when I wrote this. XD

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Chapter 9: Boss In Training

Young Boss strode along behind Raphael as the two of them trotted down the busy sidewalk of the city. The morning crowd was busy with people going back and forth, tending to their errands.

"Hey, Raphael?" Boss called. "Where we goin' anyway?"

Raphael walked briskly down the sidewalk. "I, uh, just gotta friend of mine I'd like ya to meet personally."

As they walked down the sidewalk, the scent of a nearby snack stand got Boss's attention. The young hamster sniffed the air. "Hey!" he ran up to the cart and propped his front paws up on the side. "W-What's that smell?" He continued to inhale the scent of fresh, hot, buttered popcorn. He hadn't eaten since he had been separated from his parents, and the scent was taunting him. He jumped and made an attempt to climb up.

"Hey, Squirt!" Raphael walked up and pulled him back by the tail. "That's not a very smart thing for a greenhorn to do. You could get caught." He began to walk down a wide alleyway. "C'mon, now! Time's a wastin'!"

Boss ran to catch up with him as they walked down the alleyway. He looked around. "What is this place?"

"This is where my pal lives. His name is Lucky. He's an orphan like all of us, and he's made a livin' out here in the streets. He's a master when it comes to self-survival. But when you meet 'im, just make sure and keep to yourself. You know, take on the cutesy, innocent approach, okay?"

"Okay."

Raphael led Boss down to the end of the alley. There, sitting against the wall was a young human boy. His brown beret was pulled over his eyes. Raphael walked right up and grabbed the corner of the boy's ratty white T-shirt with his teeth and pulled.

The boy lifted the beret from his eyes and looked down at him. "Raphael! Where ya been all day, ya little rat? I've been waitin' for ya!" He looked and saw Boss standing beside Raphael. "Hey! You must be new, ya little codger!"

"What'd he call me??" Boss asked, thoroughly confused.

"It's a human thing." Raphael told him. "And Lucky's a human, so just go with it."

Lucky put his open hand on the ground in front of Boss. "C'mere, little guy!"

Stepping back, Boss looked at Raphael for direction.

"C'mon, Squirt. Don't pull back! He thinks you're cute, so start acting like it!" he said.

Still a tad bit unsure, Boss climbed into Lucky's hand. He was lifted up to the boy's face. Smiling, Lucky took a finger and scratched him behind the ear. Boss gratefully accepted it and took it in. He decided that this new creature was all right. He rolled onto his back as Lucky began to scratch his belly. If Boss had been a dog, he would've wagged his tail.

When Lucky lowered his hand back down, Boss climbed off and joined Rocky on the ground.

"Well," Lucky said, and reached into his pocket. "You hungry, Raffi? Managed to grab a little somethin'." He pulled out a single piece of popcorn and offered it to Raphael. The Street Ham gladly took it and began to nibble on it.

Boss looked at Lucky, who laughed a little.

"C'mon, don't give me that look. I haven't forgotten about you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out another single popcorn piece. He gave it to Boss. The young hamster smiled, snatched it, and began to gnaw on it hungrily. When he had taken it, he was so ravenous that he accidentally bit Lucky on the tip of the finger.

"Ouch!" Lucky pulled his hand back. "Hey, don't bite the hand that feeds ya, little guy!" he joked. Then, he stood and picked up his bag. "Now I've got papers to sell, so you two beat it."

Raphael and Boss walked back down the sidewalk minutes later. "So, whaddaya think of Lucky?" Raphael asked.

"I like 'im! He's cool…! At least for a human."

Raphael shrugged and smiled a little. "Of course."

The two hamsters walked back down the sidewalk. "Now, listen up, kid," Raphael said. "If you wanna be part of the gang, we've gotta know if you're worthy of it. It ain't your pretty pine tree world out here. That's one thing you gotta get through your head. Here, you gotta fight 24/7 to keep yourself alive. Just watch, all of us are gonna get you into fit fighting shape."

Back at the alley, Rocky smiled mischievously as he paced back in forth across from Boss, who was doing the same.

"Go easy on 'im, Rocky!" Raphael called from where the rest of the gang stood and watched. "He's just a kid!"

"Round one, DING!!" Rocky suddenly shouted and bolted for his opponent.

Young Boss crouched and growled, then ran and leaped on him. Rocky quickly received him, then turned and caught him in a headlock. Boss struggled, pulled himself away, and pounced again. They both wrestled and scuffled for a few minutes, but it was clearly obvious that Rocky was the superior here. More times than one, he successfully pinned Boss to the ground.

"End round one!!"

Boss pushed Rocky off, got up, and walked over to where they stood across from each other again.

"Show no mercy, kid!" Rocky said.

"Show no mercy! Show no mercy!" the gang chanted.

Boss looked back and forth between Rocky and the gang.

"YAAAHHH!!!!" Rocky screamed and barreled towards Boss.

"YAAAHHH!!!!" the gang yelled in unison and pumped their fists in the air.

Boss scowled in determination. "YAAAHHH!!!!" he shouted at the top of his lungs and hurtled himself towards Rocky. But at the last second, Rocky leaped out of the way and Boss instead tripped and tumbled until he collided upside-down against the wall, his tail hanging in front of his eyes.

Rocky brushed himself off with satisfaction. "And that is the last time you tangle with The Rock."

Rolling her eyes, Chrissie leaned towards Victor and muttered "You know you've lost all means of self-pride when you start addressing yourself after a wrestling figure."

Raphael sighed and hung his ears. "Let's try something else."

Later, Victor stood at the end of the alley. His arms were folding across his chest, and he had a sly smirk on his face. Boss stood at the open end of the alley. "G'head!" Victor smirked. "Make my day."

Boss launched into a sprint and ran towards the big hamster as fast as he could. When he reached him, he rammed into Victor's belly hard, but then bounced off like a tennis ball thrown against a brick wall. He tumbled onto the ground until he crashed into a pile of cans. "Oog…" Boss climbed out of the pile after a few seconds and shook his fur.

"Stamina!" Raphael observed "Check!"

Boss shook his head dizzily and wavered on his four feet.

That afternoon, Boss was digging through one of the trash cans in search for food. Suddenly, a cat seemed to leap out at him. He screamed and leaped up, darting off like a rocket. Victor, Rocky, Chrissie, and Screech all poked their heads out from behind the cat mask and grinned.

"Speed!" Raphael looked on from the top of the fire escape railing. "Check!"

When evening came, Boss was sneaking along the shadows of the alley, trying to lay a surprise attack on Screech and Raphael. With a mischievous smirk on his face, he leaped up on top of some old boxes and crept quietly along until suddenly, he stepped onto a weak box and he slipped, falling into a mess of packaging popcorn and paper shreds. Raphael and Screech looked up just in time to see him fall in.

"Cunning…" Raphael started. "…needs a little work."

That night, Boss lay in his new sleeping spot inside the tin can, out light a light from training all day. He was lying on his back with his head propped up against the side of the can, all four legs in the air, and his mouth hanging open.

"Dead-out sleeping position." Raphael and Rocky looked at each other and smirked. "Check."

The next morning, Boss stirred awake in his tin can. At first he thought that either he wasn't seeing straight or he was dreaming, but then he realized that he was looking at everything upside-down because he was lying on his back. He rolled onto his stomach, then slowly stood and yawned. It was early morning and he could see the other gang members still sleeping in their spots. But then he heard a familiar male voice singing.

...Broke the lookin' glass

Seven years of bad luck

The good things in your past

When you believe in things

That ya don't understand

You suffer

Superstition ain't the way

He noticed it was coming from inside one of the standing trash cans. He heard the singer moving around in the trash as he sang. He smiled. He knew who the only hamster singing that song this early in the morning would be.

He climbed to the top of the trash can. Sure enough, there was Raphael digging through the trash and singing.

…Do all that ya can

Keep me in a daydream

Keep me goin' strong

You don't wanna save me

Sad is my song

"Hey, Raphael!" Boss greeted him.

Raphael looked up. "Oh, heya, Squirt."

"Whatcha doin' up here?"

"Meh, hanging around."

"I've been having the time of my life out here!"

"Mmm." Raphael muttered, continuing to dig.

"No rules, no restrictions…" Boss spun around and fell back into a crumpled newspaper. "Oh, yeah. This is the way to live."

"That's great, kid." Raphael said unenthusiastically.

"Come tomorrow, I'm gonna be the official Numba 6!!"

Raphael stopped digging and looked up at him. He lowered an eyebrow. "…You're sure about that."

"Yeah! I mean, I'm not the type to brag, but I was born for this kind of style. I think I'm ready to be part of the gang."

Raphael smirked and rolled his eyes, returning to digging through the trash.

Boss looked at Raphael's scar. His face became more solemn.

"…So, uh…" he started. "…H-How did that happen?"

Raphael looked up at him in slight irritation, but then his face softened and he looked down. "…Had a best friend named Oscar when I was a kid. Long story short, we were in an alley looking for food and had a run-in with a cat. I tried to help Oscar outta there, but in the end, all I came out with was this thing and no Oscar. That's when I learned what happens when ya get involved with someone else's problems."

"…Oh…" Boss muttered, regretting that he even said anything.

"Hey, look, you should get what little sleep you can before everybody wakes up and causes a riot."

Without saying a word, Boss switched his eyes to the side, then he walked over to the side of the trash can and climbed down the side.

As he went out of sight, Raphael looked up from his digging. He walked over to the side of the trash can and watched as Boss climbed back into his tin can. He muttered to himself.

"I'm getting too soft…"

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Oscar's actually one of the names I've reserved for my hamster when I eventually get one. It's a cool name.