- Chapter 4 -

"You are, " he snapped, standing. "So that means... you belong with me."

She shot to her feet, swaying uneasily. "Like hell I do! Who do you think you are ordering me around? Dragging me into the woods to some god-forsaken place that mankind has never seen, and then going all transform-y! You can't do that!"

His expression didn't even twitch. She raised a hand, pointing at him accusingly. "And that's another thing!" She was set to launch into another tirade when she realized. She was standing.

On her feet.

She blinked and looked down. Her legs were not exuding the piercing pain that had been present just a short time ago. There was still a dull throbbing sensation though, but no actual pain. Her gaze shot up again, meeting a pair of amber eyes that were filled to the brim with smugness. They almost taunted her, as if saying 'I told you so.' Misao clenched her fists at her side and, growling low in her throat, stalked up to the infuriating man until she was nose to chest with him.

"What did you do?!" She demanded, her head tilted back in order to glare up at his face. "How did you make my ankle better, huh? I know it was you!"

He grinned. "Me? Nah, I don't do the miracle thing. You did it yourself, weasel."

Misao frowned, backing up a step to cross her arms over her chest in a huff. "I don't believe you." she grumbled.

He mirrored the motion, crossing his arms also. "I could care less what you believe. You don't look like a stupid girl, but I could be wrong about that."

Seething, Misao closed her eyes in an attempt to stem her growing frustration. "Fine!" She ground out between clenched teeth. After managing to get her temper under control, she opened her eyes and stared at him warily. "So you say I'm one of your kind... what exactly does that mean?"

He snorted. "No more screwing around." The amused light in his eyes, vanished. He stepped forward, gripping the fabric at her hip and yanking her forward. Still leary of her ankle, she tumbled in his direction, falling against him. "I'll show you what it means." He lowered his head, slanting his lips against hers.

Misao's eyes widened in shock but soon after fluttered closed as a sudden heat coursed throughout her body at the touch of Saitou's lips on hers. Her hands flew up to bury themselves within his dark hair as she felt something wild, something almost feral take control of her senses, driving her to act almost impulsively as she returned the heated kiss fervently.

Saitou growled, licking tingling lips as he pulled away from her. Misao, for the barest of moments, looked startled at the beastly sound. His lips quirked into a twisted grin, almost bordering on malacious, as he repressed the powerful instinct that whispered loudly that he should mate with the girl. She seemed disappointed with his breaking away. Good, that meant he wasn't the only one affected by the powerful pull between them.

"No time for playing, weasel. There's lots of things to learn and little time to learn it."

"No time?" She asked, bewildered, still flustered from the heated embrace. She bit her bottom lip nervously. "Time for what?"

He cocked a grin at her. "Heh, just you wait. Go sit down for a few more minutes. It'll be easier when your ankle is completely healed. I don't want any excuses for failure."

She grumbled, but obeyed, looking lost in her thoughts. He was almost overwhelmed. He had never intended to find a female of his own kind. He had never expected to find any one of his own, let alone a female of breeding age.

He all but shuddered. Breeding age.

But first thing was first, he had to ensure her survival. She was coming of age now, it was important for her to undergo the coming of age ritual involving her first transformation, no easy task. Especially for one raised as a human with no background in their ancestral arts. It would, doubtlessly, be difficult for her to accomplish, but he was determined to see her succeed.

Misao retreated back to the spot she had been originally sitting in before she had lept to her feet in anger. She watched as Saitou proceeded rearrange the meager furnishings of the cabin so that the center was cleared. She figured he expected to 'train' her here... whatever that meant.

"Get up, weasel. Your rest time is over." He growled.

He was turned away, facing the door, but he turned back pinning an intense stare on her all too soon. She wasn't happy for it. His features were all hard and unrelenting. He looked so... battle ready. As though with a moment's notice he was out the door to sink his teeth into something. Maybe her imagination was going overboard though, she was under a lot of stress. This kind of thing just didn't happen everyday. Or any day, really. She pulled herself up and walked over to where he was standing. She was half surprised and half not surprised her ankle felt perfectly fine. Despite the weirdness of this whole situation that injury recovery thing was really cool. That would be handy.

"Sit down."

"Eh?" She looked up only to find him pointing at the floor.

"Sit."

"I'm not a dog! Don't-"

He leaned close, interrupting her would-be tirade. "You sit, or I will sit you. Trust me, weasel. Obediance is less painful."

She backed up a pace and sat down cross legged on the floor.

"Sit properly," he growled, walking around behind her. She grumbled pulling her knees up under her like a proper young woman, but scowled at the effort.

Saitou returned setting a dish in front of her. She almost laughed when she realized it was incense.

"What is this?" She asked, feeling stupid.

"Meditation. First rule of everything is inner peace. Always takes block-head students like you forever to learn, so start now. You don't move on until you get it and until you get it, you don't eat."

"You're kidding." She gaped, her eyes narrowing when his expression remained serious. "You're not kidding," she brought up a hand to massage her left temple as she seemed to have developed a headache. Finally, she sighed, "You said move on... Move on to what?"

"The next step," he replied in a tone guaranteed to irk her as though the answer had been and was obvious.

Misao ground her teeth to keep from snapping at him. "Which is...?"

He turned his gaze toward the window, eyes scanning the horizon. "I'll tell you when you get there. Pull your back up straight, close your eyes and concentrate. You aren't learning," he snapped, eyes gleaming with amusement.

Her eyes continued to glare kunai (imaginary though they were) at the arrogant Worg for a moment longer before they closed in resignation and did as he had bid her. She straightened her posture and lowering her head, began to concentrate.

He watched the girl do as he bid. She certainly didn't seem the type to master meditation, but she'd have to be adept enough at it to complete the ritual, otherwise this was a waste of time on a hopeless cause. There was nothing he hated more than wastes of time, but despite her character incompatiblities with the ceremonial rites, he couldn't simply give her up, the opportunity was one he was almost assured never to have again.

A living, breathing female of his own species, completely capable of mating. He broke off such thoughts, turning his stare critical once more.

She was slouching slightly, but he held off criticising for the moment. She did look to be trying. Question was, how was he going to assess whether or not she had actually gotten the jist of meditation enough to move on?

He'd just have to go on instinct then, hoping he'd have a clue. There weren't any major signs for a transcended state of awareness, at least, not that he could remember. It had been a long time.

He repressed a sigh, taking a cursory glance around before seating himself a few feet away. He had the feeling this was going to take a good long while.

He sat for the next hour and a half, his eyes never leaving her frame. Watching every miniscule move, every rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. They seemed even and calm, a very good sign indeed.

Allowing his instincts to guide him, Saitou rose silently to his feet. His hand inched down to withdraw a wickedly sharp kunai from a hidden pocket, bringing the weapon up and taking a deadly aim at the seemingly oblivious girl. With quick precision, Saitou let the kunai fly and the gleaming tip appeared to hone in on its intended target.

At the last moment, Misao's arms shot up, her hands coming together before her face at such a speed that it seemed unfeasible to the human eye. Saitou smirked. Between her palms, the deadly blade had been caught, halted only inches from her face.

Misao's eyes shot open, her mouth falling agape in shock at what had just occured before shooting Saitou and accusing glare.

"You threw a kunai at my head!?" her tone was filled with just as much accusation as her eyes.

He grinned.

Onto step two then, he determined, pulling himself to his feet.

Time had escaped him as he'd sat watching her, half day-dreaming. He stretched, trying to shake off the feeling of fatigue. Sometimes he hated sitting around, he liked being out doing something. When he sat down for long periods of time, he got sleepy.

Ah, well, the next task would wake him up suitably as images of a disgruntled female pranced in his head. This was going to be fun.

"Well, let's head out, burning daylight," he mumbled, patting down his own pockets. Where were those cigarettes and how did he keep displacing them?

The girl behind him shot to her feet like lightning and somehow got between him and the door, holding out her hands as though to keep him inside.

He slowed his pace coming to a stop in front of her, towering over her slight frame in definite amusement at her newest display of unusual antics. He took in her furrowed brow and thin lipped frown.

"What the hell was that?!" She ranted, pushing against his chest with her outstretched hands in frustration. Apparently, she was still pissed about his little test. "I mean, you threw a freaking kunai at my head! You coulda' killed me!"

"But I didn't," Saitou smirked, "You caught it. And you could have only done that if your sense of awareness had been awakened... which it obviously was, or else you'd be dead."

"Oh! Sure, just kill me! What kind of twisted, moronic logic is that?"

His lips quirked and leaned down, closer to a face to face level with her that almost had her backing out the door, but she held her ground.

"You want to move on or continue with the theatrics?"

Misao practically growled such was her level of frustration; instead, she nodded, crossing her arms in a huff. "Now what?" she asked.

"Now.. the next step. Purification." he replied simply.

Misao quirked an eyebrow curiously, "Purification?"

Saitou's eyes gleamed, golden orbs of mischief as he nodded. "Purification."

Misao looked up and then quickly looked back down. Her hands were tucked behind her back as she paced looking uneasily at him and then the roaring waterfall behind her and then him again. Somewhere in between she took measured glances at the ground before resuming the uneasy shuffle of glances.

He puffed on his cigarette watching the amusing display.

"You ready?"

She stopped suddenly, pulling her hands up to her hips. "I'm not doing anything until you tell me what I'm doing here!"

Her voice was shrill over the roar of the waterfall.

Saitou smirked, flicking the cigarette butt away from him as he elaborated. "It's simple, weasel. You get undressed. You get under the waterfall. You wait." His lips stretched into an even broader grin as her eyes widened at his words.

"U-undressed... Not on your life!"

He calmly flicked his cigarette to the side sending a dash of ash into the wind.

"Two options here, weasel. You take the clothes off willingly or I wrestle them off you."

Misao gawked, "You. Wouldn't. Dare."

"You want to risk it? I won't put down my cigarette for much, but I haven't had a good tumble with a woman in a long time. Sounds refreshing," he grinned, displaying teeth as though threatning her.

Misao hesitated. For some reason his words sent a peculiar tingle throughout her body and she felt halfway tempted to accept the challenge. Violently, she shook off the notion. What was she thinking!?

"Fine!" She did growl this time, there was no doubt about it. Bringing her hands up to the buttons of her top, she began to viciously undo them from their button holes.

She paused when she realized that Saitou had not turned around. He stood his ground, staring at her intently.

"Turn around, hentai." She spat.

He abided by her request, but it would be a temporary appeasement. He heard her clothes shifting as he imagined the silky skin her fingers were running over with a complete lack of appreciation.

'Women,' he thought, sourly. They never appreciated the simple beauty or touch of their own bodies. He tilted his head slightly, smirking in pure, male delight. He could always make that point later.

The faint splashing of a body entering water, followed quickly by a feminine squeal, drew his attention from his entertaining thoughts. He turned slightly, glancing from the corner of his eye as the girl stood in hip deep water, her arms wrapped around herself as she shivered slightly. "I-i-i-it's f-f-freeezing!" she managed to say through chattering teeth.

Saitou sighed, shaking his head. "Duck under the water quickly, it won't be so bad after that."

Misao shot him a disbelieving look. "Are you crazy!? I'm gonna catch my death out here as it is, and you want me to dunk myself?!"

Turning fully, Saitou tossed away his cigarette before crossing his arms over his broad chest. "Trust me, weasel, and do it. Then move over to stand beneath the waterfall. I intend for you to stay there for the next forty five minutes."

She growled, but when he seemed to move closer to the water she retreated back toward the waterfall. She climbed up on the slippery rock surface and then realized with complete and utter horror she'd be standing naked in front of him.

She was just supposed to cash in her modesty? And for what?!

She whipped around, only to have her foot slip on the rock and plunge face first into the water as she lost her balance.

Saitou watched with a grin, chuckling as she burst up through the water, coughing and spurting.

"Stupid, idiot... bastard," she snapped, mumbling angrily to herself as she made her way back. "I'm not going up there!"

"Why the hell not? What's your problem now?"

"I'm naked, moron! I'm not standing, naked, in front of you for forty minutes!"

Saitou's amber eyes took on a seemingly glowing quality as his lips pulled back into a smirk. "Well, there is something else you can do for the next 40 minutes… but then, we'd both have to be naked."

Flustered, Misao could only glare red faced at the infuriating man, lest she stutter her words. Besides, her teeth were clenched so tightly together in anger, she doubted she would be able to manage more than one word anyway.

Turning jerkily away from Saitou, Misao trudged through the water until she had reached the waterfall. The splashing droplets of frigid water hit her skin as she neared it and she shivered. Damn, but this was gonna be brutal. Taking deep, calming breaths, Misao finally gathered herself up enough to take the final step, submerging herself in the icy waterfall.

"Kyyyaaaaaaaaahhhh!" she screeched, the sound of her cry reaching Saitou's sensitive ears from across the spring. He grinned.

"Having fun, weasel?"

His reply was a broken and barely coherent string of very inappropriate words never to be repeated in polite society… or anywhere else for that matter."

Saitou looked up watching as she stood under the torrents of icy water, his grin widening. He slid his eyes slowly down her body, not noticing her eyes staring back at him until she pulled her arms up across her chest.

"You're doing it wrong," he commented dryly. "The point is to purify you. You can't stand there huddling."

"Stop looking at me," she shouted.

"Why? You look just like any other naked woman."

"And I guess that's supposed to make me feel better?"

"You want to feel something, come out from under that waterfall. Otherwise, get to meditating."

Her eyes remained narrowed on him for a moment longer, but finally, she conceded and allowed her arms to fall limip to her sides, her eyes closing and her head dropping down so that her chin nearly rested on her chest. Her entire body seemed to lose all tenseness as she proceeded to meditate. Again.

'Kami-sama,' She thought. 'This is rediculous! What is he trying to prove?!'

Sadly, an answer was not forthcoming.

Saitou watched her a moment before deciding he couldn't stand for 40 minutes and took a seat by the river side, leaning his back against an upturned tree. He leaned back, turning his head upward. What an unexpected turn of events this was. He wasn't sure if he was lucky or cursed to have stumbled upon this girl in the middle of his territory.

It seemed like forever as the sun trekked across the cloudless sky, the minutes ticking away until finally, the forty minutes had passed. Heaving a sigh, Saitou rose back up to his feet. "Alright, weasel, that's it. Time's up."

He turned his eyes toward the waterfall only to catch a glimpse of skin as she dove beneath the water. He watcehed, waiting for her to surface and finally she did, sputtering and glowering, no less. She approached the shore, eyes frantically searching for her clothes. He stood and walked over, tossing her a towel. He didn't bother turning away as she got out, obviously too cold to care he was watching.

She snatched the towel he'd tossed to her and wrapped it around her body hastily, using the edges to rub furiously at her skin, which had taken on a slightly bluish tint due to her extended stay in the cold waters.

Finally, she felt the needles of pain begin to subside as her blood began to flow more easily throughout her body. This guy had to have some serious problems. What person in his or her right mind would tell somebody to stand beneath freezing cold water for nearly an hour? Then she scoffed at herself.

'And just what kind of person is dumb enough to actually go do it?' A teasing voice whispered in the back of her mind.

'Shut up.' she growled mentally, throwing the towel down and began to get dressed once again.

She certainly didn't feel any different, she thought. At least, not any purer than she had before. "Okay, Mr. Bossy, what now?" Her sarcastic tone nearly matched his and Saitou fixed her with an amused stare.

"Not so fast. First, we need to make sure you are, indeed, purified." He stated, walking up to her until there was barely a foot between them. Leaning forward, he brought his head nearer to hers, his lips a breath away from her right ear, so close that every puff of warm air that filtered from his mouth seemed to caress her skin in spine tingling intervals. Misao stiffened, but remained put, wondering what the Wolf thought he was doing now.

His eyes seemed to narrow on her and she tried to step back from him cautiously, but he reached out. His large hands gripped the curves of her shoulders, pulling her nearer.

"I think someone is a little too close-" she started only to be cut off in surprise as one of those dangerously large hands moved up to her chin. She could feel his calloused finger tips against her skin and tried to repress the shudder, but couldn't.

"Finally found a way to shut you up, minx?" His grin was downright predatory, she thought, hardly registering the words. "I'll keep that in mind for later."

Try as she might, Misao was unable to gather herself together in order to issue a retort. Instead, she found herself falling prey to what could only be described as a sensual assault. Those long, nimble looking fingers began to dance across the skin of her shoulder and neck, carressing a sensitive spot that she had been unaware she'd possessed. Her eyes fluttered closed and her breathing became shallow pants as she felt herself lean into him when his mouth drew back to her ear and his warm tongue made a quick swipe across her pulse point, eliciting a gasp from her. What was he doing?!

Better yet, why was she allowing it?! She could feel a sudden tightening in the pit of her stomach. A feeling that she'd felt occurring the last time he'd kissed her...back in the cabin. That undescribably pleasant sensation that had left her breathless and nearly begging for more after he'd pulled away. Leaning against him as she was, she felt it when his chest expanded in a deep, exhilarated breath before chuckling lightly. She nearly growled when he once again pulled away, leaving her unbalanced and swaying with the after-effects he'd had on her body. Her eyes felt heavy, but she forced them open anyway, only to find him smirking down at her. Immediately, she scowled.

"You do that entirely too much," she snapped, feeling uneasy with the way he was looking at her and feeling as though she'd just been toyed with.

"You asked what was next," he replied, turning his back to her only causing her anger to rise a notch.

She pulled her hands up to her hips, giving serious consideration to jumping up onto his back and slapping the back of his head as hard as she could.

"So what was that supposed to prove?" She asked, tone snippy.

He turned just slightly, his sharp eyes darting over her figure. "Your purity."

Her purity? She furrowed her brow in concentration, thinking the matter over.

"Don't exert yourself," he scoffed, moving off apparently heading back to the cabin.

She followed along mumbling obscenities. He continued on without waiting for her and by the time they got back she was feeling the work of the day. She could really use a nap, but she didn't feel like going to sleep around this guy. He was already in the cabin when she arrived.

"Nice of you to wait for me," she snapped.

He shrugged absently. "You gonna sit down or prance around the cabin all day?"

Misao huffed, crossing her arms defiantly and leaned against the wall of the cabin. Saitou heaved a deep, frustrated sigh as he ran a hand through his dark locks. "Fine. Suit yourself, Weasel. But trust me when I say that you're going to need all the rest you can get before you reach the final step." Saitou hid an amused smirk when she tossed a slightly curious glance toward him.

'Final step?' She thought, as full blown nervousness flooded her entire being. As if what she'd already been through hadn't been enough, there was more that she had to endure? Looking at the wolfish man standing across from her she asked almost timidly. "What final step?"

"Transformation." He replied evenly, his eyes trained on her.

Her eyes widened slightly. "Transformation?"

That even sounded exhausting, she thought, somewhat irritably. "Wait a second- transformation into what, exactly?"

"Well, not much for memory, are you, weasel?"

Her face scrunched up into an expression not quite rage, but not quite offensive, but bordering on both.

"Sometime between now and the mid-noon of the following day, you'll proceed to the third and final step. Your first transformation into your secondary form."

She blinked. Oh, she didn't like the sound of that. Secondary form?

"I still don't get-" Misao paused mid-sentence. Her eyes glazed over as it finally dawned on her what Saitou was saying. Secondary form, as in, another form other than the one she was now in. That meant that, if what he had said earlier was really true...if she was really a Worg like Saitou was...then she would be able to change into a wolf, just as he had. Just that thought alone chased away all ability to speak.

Seeing that she'd finally gotten what he was saying, Saitou lit up another cigarette as he waited for the shock to wear off. Finally, Misao's eyes focused again and immediately rose to look at him as dozens of questions filled her mind. "What... How... I mean... is it dangerous?" She fought to hold back the tremble in her voice as she asked the most important question.

His lips turned up into a primal grin that overrode her restraint and she felt her shoulders tremble slightly.

"Isn't everything?"

She paused. "No. No, everything isn't. At least, not to normal, everyday individuals. But we've already established that you're some very strange man living in the middle of absolute nowhere, so I guess normal doesn't apply to you, does it?"

Her mind was whirling in a thousand different directions. She wasn't sure if her rambling continued or if she stopped for a moment, turning her back to him. Then, a moment later, she turned back.

"You know what. I don't think so. I don't want to turn into some ugly, snarling beast. Death take me!" She shouted to the ceiling, momentarily forgetting the insult she'd hurled at her host in her personal cinema.

She heard the rustle of movement and paused, deathly still as he pulled himself to his feet in one perfect, glided movement. 'Uh oh,' she thought.

"Ugly, snarling beast?"

"Uh, what I meant was ... uh ... I-I don't want to lose my mind. You know, not be able to think while I'm like that."

Saitou continued to stare down at her, unyeilding in his intimidating stance. Raising an eyebrow at her, he spoke, his voice reminiscent of a growl. "Don't lie to me. You conversed with me just fine while I was in my other form. So don't use that for an excuse."

She cast a feeble glance around the room as though looking at anything but him would help her think. It wasn't helping. She had spoken to him in wolf form, hadn't she? Or... maybe that hadn't happened. Perhaps not? She brought her hands to her head, grabbing the hair at her temples, fisting her small hands pulling her hair slightly.

"Why, me? Why?" She whined.

Saitou's response was a scoff, as though to say without words he was getting the short end of the stick being stuck with her. Suddenly, she stood straighter and pointed an accusing finger at his chest.

"That's it! That didn't happen at all. I have an overactive imagination you know. I always thought it was a gift." She smiled but his stare was anything but amused.

"Oh?" He asked, a deadpan sound that caused the hair on her neck to rise.

"I," she pointed to herself. "Am going for a walk. No weirdo half man, half wolf people invited."

She turned to skip out the doorway, her previous exhaustion forgotten in her new panic, only to gag as he yanked the back of her collar. He pulled again, harder and she threw her arms up to try to stop herself from falling and failed.

Her backside smacked hard against the floor and she winced. "Ouchies..."

"You will remain here until mid-noon of tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and go to sleep."

She blinked. Ah, she was tired, but did she want to sleep around this guy? Everything about him seemed to give her chills and she wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. Conceding to her fatigue, she agreed, lumbering to her feet.

"Okay, I'll go to sleep. But don't think I'm going to be any less of the perfect companion with a great, bubbling personality when I wake up again."

His lips quirked slightly, either in amusement or annoyance, she couldn't tell. She headed over to his rolled out futon and flopped herself in it without so much as glancing back at him She snuggled down, sighing contentedly, closing her eyes.

"Sleepy, sleepy..." she muttered slowly.

He had never valued peace and quiet as much as he did in that moment. At the same time, he couldn't wait until the bright eyed annoyance opened her eyes, and her mouth, to disturb him again.

It had been too long without company.

TBC...