Breath of Fire II is property of Capcom.

Just in case you wonder, this takes place in Cotland after the fight of Ryu and Tiga for Katt's hand.

Tender Claws
("Remastered" Version)

The coldness of the night gripped Cotland, the lone female Woren, Katt, sitting up against a large log in the ground, partially curled up into a ball with a roaring, albeit weak fire a meter ahead of her. Shivering under her arms, she weakly snapped the first branch she could find while feeling around the log before tossing it to the fire, making it spring back to life; if ever so little.

Her mind kept racing through the events of the day. Wondering about how Ryu, the dragon boy, lost a fight that meant almost everything to Katt. But it was too late to wonder, now she was destined to be joined in matrimony to Tiga. A Woren like herself, indeed, but... But the way the fight had proceeded, the simplicity with which he spoke... Just about everything of him constantly made the feline wonder if he really loved her as much as he declared.

Losing focus on the Woren, she relived the fight in her head. Was Ryu even trying? She knew him. After all, they had been traveling companions for quite some time already. It was with his help, along with everyone else, that they had managed to clear all the hardships they had run on their way here, and knew it would hold true for the rest of their journey. Moreover, he was the first person to actually defeat her, and in a clean fight no less. She shook her head. No, there's no way he could have lost to someone like Tiga... She further buried her head in her arms. Why... Ryu?

She let out a hollow sigh into her hands before a second shiver gripped her body. If nothing had happened, she would be inside one of the houses sleeping peacefully under the warmth of the covers of a bed, but right now... Right now she couldn't face anyone, much less Ryu. Without any other options, she rubbed her palms one against the other in a futile attempt to maintain some of the fleeting heat of her body. With the sound of approaching footsteps, her head snapped upwards. Please, don't let it be...

"What's wrong?" Can't sleep?" A rough, gruffly voice asked from the shadows, before the tall, strong male Woren with its rather large build stepped into the dim light of the fire.

"Tiga..." Katt muttered, a hint of anger and sadness in her voice. She lowered her head once more, letting it rest on her hands but still being able to look at the large feline, which now took a step closed to the fire. "Why me, Tiga...?" Katt questioned, her head rising a bit again. Her voice, this time, sounded almost like a whimper, as if she wanted to cry. Tiga never noticed that though.

Slightly taken aback from the question, the large Woren pondered for a second. "Um... Oh... I like you," he spoke and smiled in such a carefree way it only served to rekindle the fire raging inside the female, her doubts about his feelings increasing, but she had no time to interject as the Woren continued. "We're both from the same tribe... When I first met you... It hit me... I wanted to make you mine," he paused there, looking at Katt's expressive-less face. "...Are you mad?" He stepped closer to the fire, so that the weak fire was now directly between them.

Lowering her head once more, the feline pondered on the question for a few seconds. With a faint shake of it as she brought it up again, she spoke. "Oh no, I'm happy about the way you feel about me," she said, a smile appearing on Tiga's face. "You're strong, you're a good guy... I like you too--"

"Then, there's no problem?" He interrupted her. Katt simply sunk her head again.

"But Tiga," she spoke. "I think being in love is different," her voice started to regain her usual firmness and strength. "I don't think that what we feel for each other is love," she finished, placing an emphasis on the word 'love'.

Tiga cocked his head in wonder. "I don't understand." Katt sighed as she heard that. "Anyway," he continued, his head now straight. "When we attack the church please stand by me... I feel I can do a good job if you're there with me."

Katt nodded slightly, so slightly Tiga wasn't even able to notice it. "...Sure," she spoke slowly. Without further words, Tiga simply walked away at that moment, leaving the female Woren in solitude once more. Katt merely sunk her head again as another shiver ravaged her body.

Staring at the colors of the swirling fire in front of her, the girl was so distraught in her thoughts she failed to notice the sound of approaching footsteps coming from behind.


The feline snapped back to the reality, her head turning around to look at the source of the voice, knowing well by heart already who had said that. "Ryu..." She spoke, a subtle tone of disappointment and sadness present in her voice as she looked at the light-blue-haired boy with a long, white sheet draped around him.

The dragon warrior frowned, "What's wrong?" He walked over the log, standing next to the girl before slumping down, sitting next to her. He grabbed one side of his sheet and extended it to Katt, who eagerly grabbed it with a smile, covering her body with it.

"Ryu... About the fight..."

He looked away from her piercing eyes, "Sorry, I couldn't win..."

"It's ok." Did he honestly really try? Or is he lying? "It's just that..."

"But Katt," he interrupted her, his gaze returning to her face. "Shouldn't you be happy you are back with those of your race? That you someone who cares for you here?" His words hurt her deeper than he thought.

"That..." She sighed. "Is not the point," she paused for a moment, looking at him. "I can't marry Tiga!"

The boy knew that in no way his next words could come right, so he decided for a simple, "Why's that?"

"Because..." Because I love you, not him. She had wanted to speak that, she really did, but her mouth just wouldn't do it. "You saw him... He can't really love me!" She almost screamed. "He barely saw me and already me to marry him!" Ryu had nothing to say in return.

"I'm sorry, Katt, I really am. But I had to lose..." He knew that would hurt her more, but he had no choice. It was the truth in the end.

Her heart sank, feeling as if something had suddenly pierced it. Her head falling back to her arms in dismay. No... No! That's a lie... You wouldn't... Do anything like... Her thoughts were interrupted when she felt a finger trace around her right cheek, wiping a tear that had run free from her amber eyes.

"Katt, you really think I would deliberately set out to hurt you?"

You did it this time... A second pair of tears left her face.

"Remember how the coliseum ran, right?" He asked, awaiting no answer as he continued. "One way or another, the fight was going to end in my demise. A single glimpse at their men told me that. They had the same look as those running that place."

"But... You could have warned us!"

The boy shook his head, "If I had done that, we would have lose their support. It's only because of them that we'll be able to attack the enemy tomorrow."

Katt knew so, and she hated to acknowledge it. Even so... Though selfish, I would have preferred to be by your side in a torn world, that without you in a safe world...

"Don't worry. I won't leave you here, I promise," he smiled. "You won't go back to living in solitude like you did before. Not if I have a word in it." His words relaxed the Woren as she let her head rest on his left shoulder.

Thank you. She wanted to speak those words. She hated the time where she had to live alone, just training all day and night, with no one to rely upon, or talk to, to share her thoughts and ideas. Only fighting to entertain and gain enough money to allow her live and treat her wounds from those meaningless fights. When she saw Ryu, standing in that log like her as they fought, she knew her life wouldn't be the same anymore. She had lost all that time from her life, but she didn't care. He was the first person to truly care for her. Smiling at her thoughts, she realized just how much she changed in these few days as she traveled with him. She cuddled closer to him, adding in tot he warmness that the small fire was creating for them.

Looking through the corner of his eyes, Ryu gazed at the beautiful girl resting her head against his shoulder. He owed the girl a lot, as it was thanks to her support that he had been able to go through many of his hardships. His sad memories from Gate, of the monster that nearly killed, and many more had been long gone from his mind and instead replaced by those of his adventures with the Woren female. Both were grateful to each other, and they knew it even if they didn't say it.

It's not the end of our journey... And hopefully, we'll keep traveling together even after this. The dragon warrior thought to himself as Katt grabbed his hands.

Soaking in the warmth that their bodies shared; a warmth of safety and calmness as they held hands, and by the fire and cover of the white sheets, they soon drifted away to sleep. A smile present on their faces.

I love you.

Rewritten for your reading pleasure. Have I mentioned how much I love the title of this story?

Ah, if you wondered for a moment (I mean, why should you?), the final 'I love you' was a thought of both.

Alan "Gray Fox" Quirino - grayfox2510 (at) gmail (dot) com