Disclaimer: I do not own any of Keiko Nobumoto/Bones characters or ideas. This story is for entertainment purposes only and not for sale or profit.
A/N: I have never seen the end of Wolf's Rain, or the 'recap" episodes that explained Tsume's scar. Researching it online, I used other people's descriptions of what took place and my own imagination to fill in the obvious gaps. Any mistakes are through my own ignorance. This has been gratifying to write, and I hope you like fluffy WAFF as much as I. Thanks again for your support! (Fate)
Chapter Eleven: World Without End
ooo The End ooo
He was not allowed enough time to mourn her, but would any time have been enough to truly mourn all that she was and all that she meant to him? For he knew only now how truly she had captured him, how truly she had caught at his heart and entangled herself up in it. He would never, ever, forget her and time would never dull the ache in his heart, even though the passing of many long years lay between then and now as he felt his own life's blood slowly seeping out of him.
Had it felt like this to her? Had she felt the pain and the almost ethereal sensation of being not quite in her own body. That she was somehow detached and only dimly aware of her body's weakening struggle as it drew ragged breaths against the inevitable end to all struggle? It was as if death were creeping up to claim someone else and not him. It was strange, distant, the world's edges blurring as his vision swam in and out of focus.
His breath came labored, his life leaving him in aching slowness as it bled out of him across the uncaring ground. Everything was ashes---their dreams, their hopes, their desires. Funny how even he, cynic that he was, had come to believe in the end. He had needed to believe, had needed that desperate, last hope to cling to that he might find it, might find Paradise, even as he knew deep in his gut that he had found it long ago in the arms of a woman long dead.
The memory of her burned in him, undimmed by time. He could see her, with his mind's eye, in aching detail---her buttery blond curls falling over her shoulders as she gave him a sensual smile full of teasing promise. He could reach out and touch her…trace his fingers across the curve of her sweet lips, feel the warmth of her breath against the sensitive pad of his thumb as he stared deep into her laughing, blue eyes.
"I love you," she whispered, her voice soft and husky, her eyes deepening sapphires of rare indigo.
"I love you, too, my Marie…" he said, whispering the words he had never uttered while she were alive to hear them. The pain of that hurt him. She had never heard those simple, true words, had never known and would never know how much she had caught him as he in his proud, arrogant youth had never expected to be caught. He almost hated her for that, that she had taken his heart and left it ashes at her pointless death. He hated them for that---the humans, the men who had taken her from him too soon, and the Nobles who had ordered it without thought or concern for the innocents who might die in their stupid, petty plays for power.
He had never been given a chance to truly mourn her. The guards had come upon them, the riot quickly diffusing as soon as its nasty purpose had been accomplished. The professor had died, the book mysteriously disappearing. It was a small triumph---though he had not known at the time the significance of the manuscript---and hardly cared, even now that he did.
They had spoken of it, those guards, those men who were supposed to protect the city and had betrayed it for a Noble Lord's greedy whim. They had not seen him huddled in the shadows of the wrecked diner, his love held tight in his arms as he curled around her in silent protest of the growingly empty night. Their scoffing, smug words had slowly penetrated his dull inattention to the world around him. Pulling his aching mind from the utter ruin of his life, their words kindled a sullen anger in his blood until it sang in screaming fire in his heart, boiling over until he had become more the primal wolf than ever before, a maddened beast bent on revenge.
They had died under that rage and anger; that seething, boiling, never-ending fury that he had used---if only temporarily---to stave off the stark truth of all that he had just lost. He had killed until the blood matted his fur black and still the rage howled at him, denying what his reality now was. But it had not been enough to assuage his loss, and eventually the rage had left him with only the bitter ashes of a world now dead to him, without hope or meaning.
He was young then, or, at least, younger. He had left Freeze City to return again to his pack. They had laughed before at his foolishness in leaving them for the city and the nagging curiosity that had drawn him there. Returning was bitter, and he had changed. Grown more brooding and silent, his eyes old beyond their years and full of a pain that he hid deep in his heart, he did not want their sympathy or disdain that he, foolish wolf that he was, had fallen in love with a human woman and then lost her, his mate, forever to the cold night.
He had feared death then as he never had before, and felt no loyalty to his kin and clan as he once had. There was no one who could ever replace the bittersweet memory of Marie in his heart. That fear of death was only that she would be lost to him forever---that once he was torn from this earth, than she was torn forever from his memory and his heart. He could not believe in God or Fates now---if They had truly existed, then They would never have permitted such a thing to ever have happened. With no hope of a life past this one, he could not bear to lose her twice, and so he had betrayed his kind for the mere sake of keeping a faint memory of her alive in his selfish heart.
And so he had fled when the men attacked his pack, and he was hunted down like the miserable dog that he was and scarred forever with the mark of utter betrayal. He despised himself and hated her then, for costing him even his heritage. His pride was all he had left, his pride and his cynicism and the empty, aching, never-ending loneliness of his traitorous heart. It was then the he buried her memory beneath a wall of anger and resentment, bitterness and pain. He slunk back to the city he had once known and became as one of the thieving dogs in the alleys squabbling over trash and broken bones, scraping a bare living by stealing what he could to survive. Ever lonely---though he denied it fiercely enough, even to himself---he had gathered a gang of human dogs to himself, only to betray them, too, in the end.
It was Toboe who had pulled him back from the uncaring emptiness of his lonely wandering. Toboe, with his bright-eyed innocence and persistent eagerness for life, had reminded him achingly of her. For the first time in many years, he had been forced to recognize all the painful promise that had died along with her. He would have had a son, maybe, if she had lived to bear it. He had never allowed himself to think of that fact, the thought had hurt too much, but Toboe---Toboe reminded him of the son he could never have now, and it was Toboe himself in all his pure innocence who had touched his heart for the first time since Marie's death left it bitter ashes.
It was all of them---Kiba and Hige, and yes, even Cheza and that half-dog Blue---who had touched him and brought him out of his own bitter, empty world and back into this one. Kiba challenged him with his faith and his unwavering confidence. Challenged him to live once more, to hope and to dream, even though he had fought it---hard. It was Hige's humor, Cheza's compassion and Blue's quiet dignity that had shown him how truly unworthy his own bitter resentment was.
It was that woman, though, that scientist, that Cher Degre, who had finally jerked him out of his smoldering anger toward the past. She was so like his Marie, even to the scent of her---though it was not the same, could never be the same. Seeing her had brought back all the pain and heart-wrenching loss of Marie's death, smacking him right in the muzzle with the memory of it all over again as if it had just happened, her dying whispers and his howling contradiction…
But it was only then that he was finally able to weep, silently and unheard, yes, but it had healed him enough to look once more outside of a barren world locked in misery to see hope and possibility once more, allowing him, even, to dream.
He had scoffed at Kiba, even as he had hoped that it was true, that he could find it. Paradise…it was a beautiful, silly dream. Paradise would have been him with her, alive, his son by his side and life stretching out before them to be lived together…laughing and loving and fussing and fighting and shouting and making love as one melded together and never undone…
He coughed and the blood frothed bitter and metallic in the back of his throat. He wanted to vomit, but lacked the strength, for it was seeping from him even as he panted, choking on it. How fickle Fate was, how evil the One God. They had denied him, twice now, his hopes.
A bitter laugh, a mad laugh, echoed in his mind and he huffed weakly, his tongue lolling out as silent misery crept into his heart. They were dying, all of them. Dead, dead, dying, dead…their dreams pathetic, their life forgotten, their world doomed.
"Tsume…Tsume, please…" The memory of her words echoed bitter in his heart, mocking him. "I loved you, Wolf, I loved you…"
She was there, suddenly, cradling him in her arms, her scent welcoming him as his eyes dimmed on this world for the last time.
The dream faded, as his awareness faded, and all was blackness as he breathed his last breath on a dying world.
ooo The Beginning ooo
Life was not yet done for him. His spirit hung, suspended, between the very stars of the universe as it was born anew. The world was remade in hope, for that was the one thing that could never be denied the living, the hope that Life and Love and Truth would eventually prevail in the end. The wheel was turned, the gate opened, so that they could learn anew and perhaps, this time, to do it better…
One moment he floated amid the stars, of them and among them, and the next he was astride a motorcycle, of all things, the wind blowing against his face as his hands curled tight over the bars, the machine humming jauntily beneath him. He had always wanted to experience it, had always secretly desired it---though he would have sharply denied that wistful longing if anyone had asked. He remembered them faintly, those others he had journeyed with, and would journey with again. But for now…for now he had another life to live, perhaps several, before that last cycle would begin again.
Life to live, with love reborn---for there she was, his Marie, his love, the soul that was the other half of his own, no matter what form they took in this life or any other. She was his other---probably better---half, and life could not be complete without her there with him.
She waved at him, the buttery blond curls flying all over her beloved face, her blue eyes laughing up at him as he pulled alongside, the motorcycle purring contentedly. He bared his teeth in a grin of triumph, the wolf there still---though this human form was more solid than the one in his last life---and she slipped behind him, her arms twining around his taut middle as she rested her curly blond head on his broad shoulder and sighed.
"I have something to tell you, love," she whispered to him, joy in her hidden gaze.
He dropped a hand to tighten it over hers. "I know, my own. I know," he said, voice hoarse with pride of the promise once again renewed within her quickened womb.
"Do you now?" She stiffened, growling her displeasure that she could not surprise him with the news.
He laughed, the sound utterly unfettered and free and joyous, and she pushed at him as he held her hands tight in his one, her arms kept prisoner around his waist.
"Damn it, Wolf!" She scowled, and he laughed again, loving it and loving her.
"I love you, woman! God, how I love you!"
"Like I don't know that!" she huffed, and tried to jerk her hands free, but he turned and captured her scowling lips with his own, sealing the promise of life reborn between them, saved by her as he had once saved hers.