Title: Fated Rain
Author: Tristripe (Tri)
Rating: R
Pairing: Tsume/Toboe…Hige/Blue
Spoilers: The end of Wolf's Rain
Disclaimer: I don't own the anime or the characters…if you try to sue me I will never write again.

Chapter Warning: Death, and perverts, and breakups, oh my!

A/N: Long story. 'Nuff said. Some details can be found in my profile.

Honorable mentions: Mistress Marly, or your dedication, and constant emails. You are amazing. Msmanga, for beta-ing this ungodly chapter (and nearly blinding me in the process lol), and Cosima, for your offhand comments, and your amusement at my total lameness.

CHAPTER SIX : The Shattering

He couldn't be older than sixteen, his face still smooth, with barely a hint of stubble that would declare a boy a man. He lay on his stomach, his face twisted to the side on the black asphalt, eyes were open blindly, hair falling over his pimpled cheeks, lips parted in last breath. One arm was bent next to him, a curled fist barely touching his cold nose, the other was twisted downward, motionless fingers facing up, catching the raindrops that came showering from above. His legs were sprawled halfway on the sidewalk, a small dot of red on his kaki pants where he must have scraped his knee upon falling forward. The sneakers looked new, the shoelaces left untied in juvenile rebellion. He looked normal really, like any other teenager one would see walking around, talking to his friends, badmouthing his girl, snorting at his parents. Such a normal, mundane young man, yet all Toboe could do was stand still in the down pour of rain, unable to rest his eyes from him…

…from the darkened holes on the boy's back…

…from the stream of crimson spreading across the street…

He had woken up a little before dawn, his hair standing on end, his mouth dry, his shirt wet with perspiration. Feeling claustrophobic in the little apartment, he got dressed quickly, stepped over a curled up Ame, and left the warm space with a note stuck to the door to inform Granny of his early departure. Even in the narrow enclosed stairway he could hear the thundering rain coming down in angry torrents to batter the buildings and drown the few outdoor plants of the city. Gats still had not bought him another umbrella to replace the one that that had been lost, and Toboe vaguely wondered how long the hood of his large sweater could keep away the frigid wetness from the skies.

It was the smell that hit him first when he had walked out into the gray dawn rain. Beyond the scent of humid dampness, of the city completely drenched and drowning, there was something he could not place immediately, but felt so tantalizingly familiar that he found himself sniffing the air to seek it.

…such a sweet smell…

But there had been no need to seek, for laying right in front of the entrance, legs sprawled on the sidewalk, face on the asphalt road, was the body of a boy who had been shot multiple times in the back, his blood spreading with the rain halfway across the street, and being pushed into the gutters and down into the rapidly running sewers.

There was too much blood, Toboe had thought numbly; way too much blood for a human to hold. It was a trick, he reasoned, a sick and twisted trick thought up by a sick and twisted individual. The boy would get up in any minute, now that someone had found him; call Toboe a girlie wuss and walk away feeling very proud. So Toboe stepped forward into rain, to kick the body, to curse it and laugh and pretend that he had not been scared at all, had not believed that all the red that was being washed away into the gutters and down into the dark was blood.

Toboe would deny that he could smell it; that it was real human blood and not pig blood or cow blood, or chicken blood. Warm, sweet, coppery, very human blood smearing the wet street, pooling around that young head, that young, stupid, defiant body that had no right to lie there so motionless in its own gore.

"Is this the first time you see the dead?"

Toboe whirled around and nearly stumbled. He nearly stepped on the body, nearly yelped and screamed out in horror. Jonathan stood behind him at the entrance of the apartment building, wearing a white wife beater and stained jeans that hung too low on his thin hips, his pale feet bare as he stepped out into the rain, teeth gleaming in a lopsided grin.

Toboe willed to open his mouth, but found his wits abandoning him at the man's approach. He was aware that he looked incriminating, standing over the body looking like a drowned staring rat. He stepped back with a wary growl as the man crouched over the lifeless boy, and nearly shouted when two white fingers dipped into the diluted crimson pool near the face and held the redness before Toboe.

The sound of the drumming rain echoed in his ears as he was suddenly held in place by the smell, the color blinding him to anything else but its sweet presence. His breath shuddered and rattled in his chest hungrily. His mouth was suddenly incredible dry.

"You want to try it, don't you?" the man whispered, his face twisted hideously.

Toboe snapped his eyes up, his stomach fluttering in something that he could not comprehend, something that was not disgust.

"I could smell it all the way to my room, such a sweet smell. It's been a long time for me. Far too long." In one smooth movement, Jonathan brought his stained digits to his own mouth, slowly licking them clean. His gaunt features smoothed in absolute pleasure, shivering as if he were a starved man drinking his first cup of water. He chuckled softly, "Once you taste it you can never be satisfied with anything else."

A violent shudder shook Toboe and made his teeth chatter, his bones rattle at the joints. He felt his eyes widen as the man's cryptic words slowly sank in, made him understand and realize the true nature of the creature before him. And he could almost see it: a large hulking beast, hunching over a body, biting, tearing, devouring flesh, crushing bones…


And there was terror, blinding, mindless terror, and pure instinct to flee, making his feet move, sending his body twisting away from the grisly scene. But a large hand clamped on his arm, nails digging sharply through his sweater into his skin, and he was jerked down on to his knees, nearly sprawled onto the dead boy's twisted legs. He opened his mouth to cry out, to wake up the sleeping neighborhood with his howling voice, but Jonathan slapped his hand over his mouth, smothering his cries.

His body went rigid when the man pressed against his back, weighing him down so that he was forced to keep his hands on the wet sidewalk or else be pushed face first into the wet concrete. Toboe could feel the suffocating heat of the man's excitement pressed against him, and tried not to gag in fear. He wondered if the man intended to rape him right there with only a corpse to witness it. His panicked mind shrieked at him to fight, to try run away and hide, but he remembered the inhumane speed of the man, and how easily he had been caught the other day…

"Ah," sighed Jonathan, his hot wet breath stroking Toboe's neck. "I see you've already been marked. On the very same place I had left a little bit of myself. You remember…"

Was it only yesterday? The freak had licked him. Then later, Tsume gave him a hickey on that very same spot. A message for Jonathan to back off.

A message that was not appreciated.

"Tell me," hissed the man, thrusting forward with his hips, jabbing his obvious erection against the boy. Toboe let out a smothered yelp, and tried to surge forward and away, but a long bony arm wrapped itself around his waist, securing him in place beneath the overwhelming presence on top of him. "Tell me, Toboe…" His name sounded so perverted coming from that man's lips "that large gray I saw yesterday, was that him? The one with the scar on his chest? Was he the one who marked you so?"

Toboe feebly wondered when the man had seen Tsume's scar, jerking his head back from side to side in a desperate attempt to dislodge the hand holding back voice.

"Do you fancy him?" came the low question, and the man pulled back, moving his hand from Toboe's mouth to take hold on the back of the boy's neck. "Would you choose him over me? Would it matter? Either way, you would be as you are now, trembling beneath one that is superior in age, strength, and size."

His body shook uncontrollably and unfathomable tears stung his eyes, feeling the powerful jaws squeeze him slightly, easily able to snap his neck at a whim, easily able to carry him off if it pleased. The rain harshly beat down on his head, drenching him, seeping into his skin, merging with his blood and slowly changing him.

Finally, he heard his broken voice, "Rather a squealing pig than you."

The powerful jaw on the back of his neck pushed him down, pressing his forehead into the cold wet concrete, while his body was pulled upward more firmly against Jonathan. Toboe sucked in his breath as his hands vainly tried to find purchase on the ground, wanting to push himself up and away, terrified that beast would truly just rape him there.

Suddenly, the distant sound of a shrilling siren was heard, and with that the pressure on his neck was gone. Leaping away with a terrorized sound, Toboe scrambled to his feet and faced the monstrosity before him. But the man was looking down the opposite direction, toward the sirens. That was all the distraction Toboe needed before he turned and fled.

Danger was hovering all around him, the scent of Jonathan clinging to his clothes and skin; wetness that was neither rain nor sweat burned against the back of his neck. Toboe ran faster, his arms pumping, his baggy sweater flapping against him, his sneaker-glad feet sending puddles splashing around him as he plummeted down the sidewalk unheedingly. He passed people opening their shops, the morning truly beginning for them; cars and taxis had started to come out of the lots, taking commuters to their jobs. And Toboe ran, trying to escape the danger that had already passed, yet somehow continued to threaten him.

Eventually Toboe slowed to a walk, feeling a bit breathless, and wiping rain from his face. Glancing around he found himself in a familiar neighborhood and turned into an alley that Gats and him often met in. Someone had dumped a large bundle of cardboard and trash on one side, and the boy was forced to step over before he came to a complete stop alone in the safety of the shadows.

Jonathan was becoming serious in his attempts to cajole Toboe into his rooms, every attempt proving to the boy that he had no power to stop the manipulations; that he was merely delaying the inevitable. There wasn't a doubt on the perverted man's mind that he would get Toboe, and the boy knew that once the man was ready to take him forcefully, all of his struggles would be for naught. Just as Jonathan claimed, he was superior in size, age, and strength; even if Toboe fought he might be able to injure the man, but in the end he would not be able to escape those iron jaws that had clamped around his neck….

Hands trembling slightly, Toboe brought his fingers to the back of his neck, eyes widening at the pain he felt, bruises from the powerful hold that had kept him in place. Did human hands hold such strength?

A strange, nauseating claw pulled down at his innards, and gagging, he covered his mouth with his hands and dropped to curl up on his knees, his side pressing against the wet brick alley wall. The sodden ground smelled horribly, yet it was soothingly familiar, something that could take away the reek on him, a reminder of the one who could easily possess him….

…who wanted to…

"FUCK!" Toboe hollered into his hands, slamming his head into the ground, before grasping his hooded sweater and tearing it off, flinging it to the pile of trash on the other side of the wall. He only wore a plain white t-shirt beneath, but he did not feel the cold as he rolled harshly on the hard broken concrete, scraping his elbows, scratching his hands in a desperate attempt to get Jonathan OFF him. His hands flew to the skin on the nape of his neck, where he had been held, and dug his nails into that betraying flesh, that weak part of him that left him in the hold of that….

With another shriek he surged up, slamming his back into the wall, digging his fingers deeper, wanting to rend the skin off of him…wanting to tear himself apart.

Weak, useless, and cowardly….that was what he was, too weak to protect himself, so useless that he could do nothing for himself, and even if the opportunity came, he would be too much of a coward to take it. Twice he could have spoken to the authorities about Jonathan. Once when the child services were present, and now when the police were coming to investigate the murder. Had Toboe chosen to stay instead of run, he could have even told them that the pedophile had even tasted the dead boy's blood.


Toboe dropped his clawed hands from the painful grip, staring blearily at the red smeared in his nails. His blood, warm, and so little compared to that boy's. Smelled different, but still the same, in color, in the way it made him feel disgusted, intoxicated, and unnatural.

Because, when it came down to it, Toboe had wanted to taste that boy's blood.

"Toboe? What the hell?!"

Toboe jumped, startled when a hand gripped his shoulder, snapping his head back. It took him a moment to recognize Gats' worried face kneeling over him, green eyes flickered at his under-dressed state and bruised person. He wore a little cap over his red dreads, a jacket that zipped all the way to his chin, his jeans were torn, shoelaces untied and nearly black from city muck.

For a brief moment Toboe felt relief at the sight of his friend, but it was short lived as relief turned into longing.

He wished it were Tsume standing over him.

"Shit! What the hell happened to your neck?! Did you get mugged?"

Hands were on him again, pulling at his hair so that the other boy could look at his injured neck, but the touch was unwanted, the scent that came with it making his arms stand on end and just want to be away. Knocking aside the concerned gesture, Toboe slowly pushed himself to his feet, not looking at Gats when he asked brusquely, "I need to find Tsume…"

There was a moment where Gats stared at him in perplexity, before he snapped, "Forget about that bastard! Dammit! Your arms are bleeding too! What the hell happened?"

Again, the other boy approached him, reaching, wanting to look, wanting to stroke, wanting to do things that Toboe did not want. "Stop!" He barked, bringing his arms around himself. It was early, very early, not even seven in the morning. Would Tsume have left Blue's apartment? "I need to find Tsume. Is he at the Den right now?"

He turned, ready to go and find the man, but was caught by the shoulder. "Toboe!" Gats sounded hurt, confused, a bit angry. "What the hell? If you want to find that dick, we can go find him together."

Together…Him and Gats…

Toboe had promised…..

Taking a shuddering breath, Toboe turned to face the other boy. He didn't know how to say it, how to break it, how his friend would react. He couldn't avoid it, but didn't know how not to. Tsume had called it playing 'games', leading Gats on to believe that there was hope that they would eventually get together, to become boyfriends, gays, lovers, fuck-buddies, whatever the word was…him and Gats…

Far off, beyond the shelter of the alley, the rain pounded harder, increasing its tempo, its fury echoing loudly in Toboe's ears as he felt his mouth moving, his voice saying words, his eyes staring at the only friend he had ever had.

"Gats…I have to tell you something important..."

And Gats looked at him uncomprehendingly, his face puzzled and pale in the gloom of the walls, the darkness of ground. He seemed frozen like that, confused for a second…or was it a minute…and then his expression went slack in understanding.

"No." His voice was even and firm. "Fuck no."

"I am…" Toboe repeated. It was all he could say. "I'm with Tsume."

"NO," Gats repeated, louder, angrier. His thin hands were clenched, his shoulders were up and shaking. "I said NO."

Toboe tried, "Listen—"

Suddenly his back connected harshly with the wall, the back of his head cracking against brick. Gats' face was inches from his, shaking hands clenched in his shirt and pinning him. Before Toboe could even orient himself, he was yanked foreword then slammed back again, his breath knocked out of him making him gasp.

"Gats!" gasped Toboe, grabbing his friend's hands and trying to push them away from him. "Let go of me!"

But the other boy switched his clutching hold from his shirt to his face, bringing him forward in one movement and crushing their lips together. It was harsh and desperate, more of a forceful attack than anything else.

Toboe went rigid for less than a second before he yanked his face to the side, bringing his arm up across Gats' chest as the other boy lunged forward for another kiss. "Stop! Get off, Gats!" growled Toboe, not liking how things were turning out, not wanting to feel fear at the desperation in Gats' eyes.

"We kissed!" shouted the other boy, pushing forward even more, fingers digging painfully into Toboe's face. "We kissed, days ago, and you didn't say ANYTHING!"

And once again he went in for another forceful kiss, but this time Toboe twisted his head away and shoved his hands outward, catching Gat's across the chest and sending the other stumbling back. Taking a deep angry breath, Toboe glared at his friend and gingerly touched his lips.

It made him angry…it hurt that Gats could force him…could hurt him…

But wasn't what he was doing the same? Hurting Gats?

For a moment, just a moment, he wanted to look away, to turn his head in uncertainty. But Tsume had said the games had to end. And besides…


"I'm with Tsume, Gats." His voice began to tremble, such a feeble thing. "We can't do this anymore….you…I…" his words became lost as he watched the anger and violence on his friend's face crumble into total devastation. Those pale thin features that had been his confident for years, aiding him, consoling him, always there for him, were in such a state Toboe had never seen. And he was the cause; his words, his actions, his choices. He had only himself to blame really.

Games, Tsume said; his unconscious game of stringing Gats affections for him while never intending to reciprocate.

Really, now, who had hurt who first?

"I'm…" his voice refused to obey, refused to be steady. It shook as he forced the words out; it broke the same time his eyes filled with tears at saying them. "I'm sorry, Gats. I…I can't be with you…like that."

Perhaps it was the apology, or perhaps it was the tears that Gats had always been weak at seeing. Whatever the reason, Gats did not lash out, did not shout. His shoulders shuddered than drooped down slightly, staring at him with shattered eyes, his skin so pale the freckles on his face stood out like bruises. "Why?" he asked, his voice low, subdued. "Why not me? I…I know I'm nothing like Tsume, but…you KNOW me. How can you choose HIM?!" He looked at him in bafflement. "I know he's had his eyes on you from the start….but….how can you choose HIM?"

"I don't know," was Toboe's helpless reply…for truly, he didn't.

Gat's shook his head, his drenched hair slapping against his shoulders and his faced pitched into a fierce frown. The taller boy stared at him, eyes raking over his form, shivering in the rain, scratched and bruised. His green gaze narrowed, and he stepped forward.

Toboe couldn't help it, he stiffened at the approach.

Gats exhaled sharply through his nose, his lips pinched angrily. "Did…" he stopped, cut himself off and shut his eyes. When he opened them he was able to ask clearly, "Did he hurt you? Did he do anything to freak you out?" His hand reached out, long fingers not touching but gesturing at the scrapes on his arms, the blood in his nails, the horrible claw marks on his neck.

Eyes widening, Toboe shook his head saying, "No! No…he didn't do anything…it was…" And then the urgency of his situation returned. "Gats!" His hands shot out and grabbed his friend. "I have to find Tsume! There's a guy who got shot outside the apartment! And…" He didn't want to mention Jonathan, not now, not to him. "I think someone saw me running away."

Gats' eyes had widened till they dominated his face. "What?!" he yelped.

"The cops were already on their way," continued Toboe, "and I freaked!"

"Fuck…" Gats looked away, darting towards the end of the alley where the main street was. "Fuck," he repeated.

"Gats," Toboe pleaded, "What am I going to do? The cops are going to question Granny, and she's going to find out about the Fang. The cops might even think I'm the one who shot him…or I know who shot him. And that bastard…" He nearly bit his tongue off, snapping his jaw shut, fighting off the building hysteria and the want to tell his best friend about Jonathan. Because even though Toboe had hurt him deeply, he still stood before him, listening to his words with increasing worry on his face. "Gats, I need to find Tsume."

Determination and stubbornness set Gats jaw, and with a firm nod, the other boy said, "Right. The best bet is to lay low at the Den. If anywhere he's going to be heading there." He gripped Toboe's shoulder, and his smile was nothing to what it usually was.

Toboe nodded his head, allowing himself to be propelled further into the dark alley, where it would lead to a less used background that would eventually lead them to the Den.

"Hey, what about your sweater?" asked Gats suddenly, spotting it where it had been thrown.

Toboe's whole body convulsed, his knees nearly buckling under him at the reminder. Taking a hissing breath, he said, "Forget it, lets just get out of here."

Gats looked at him, startled, his lips turned down in discontent, but he said nothing merely stepping ahead of him. With a slight shiver, Toboe followed him, clenching his teeth he felt his stomach churn. Wrapping his arms around his torso, he determinedly refused to acknowledge the cold or the pain that was lacing through his body. He would endure and not let himself be any weaker than he already had.

For Gats' sake at least.

They hadn't gone far when Toboe felt it, a presence behind them that put his nerves on end and having him wish nothing more than to turn and charge at whoever was there. And he did that, turn with every intend as to go off on the person who dared to watch him in such a way…only to have all intend wash away into the gutters, leaving him limp and boneless.

"G…Gats…!" His voice trembled…wouldn't come out of his throat as his eyes stayed rooted at the creature watching him.

"What? We gotta…OH FUCK!!!"

It was too large to be a dog, too muscular and magnificent to be a husky, its fur thick and crispy white like snow, its golden eyes scrutinizing him as if it too could not believe that he were in front of it, watching it, seeing it for what it truly was. Gats cursed behind him, and all three stood still, until the beast seemed to come to some kind of decision and stepped forward with a large dangerously clawed paw.

And Toboe's instincts kicked in. With a stifled sound, he turned, grabbing Gats' frozen hand and fleeing for a second time that morning, and behind them, the monster took chase.

"SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" cried Gats, yanking his arm away from Toboe and pumping his long limbs with everything he had beside his friend.

Rain hitting his eyes, his white shirt flapping wetly around him, Toboe ran, hearing the beast's swift steps behind them without looking, aware of its scent coming closer with every moment.

They darted into a smaller alley, and Toboe saw it immediately, the fire escape with its ladder left pulled down. With an extra burst of speed, he dodged past a large green trash bin, and leapt up, grasping the wet metal bars of the ladder with his hands and pulling himself up. Looking back, he nearly froze, startled with how far Gats had fallen behind…had he not been right beside him just a minute ago. Meeting his friend's terrified green eyes; he called out, "Gats! Quickly, jump!"

Lying on his stomach and preparing himself to reach and help his friend up if he could not jump high enough, Toboe was not prepared to what happened in the next second. Gats reached the ladder, and in the moment he leapt to grab hold of the metal bar, the white beast charged him, tackling him and throwing the boy away and crashing into the alley wall head first. Toboe smelled it first, the blood on his friend's head where he had connected with the brick building, then saw it slowly seep around his motionless body as the monster came to stand over him, sniffing at his head…

…to taste…

"GATS!" Toboe screamed, not realizing that he had leapt down from safety, facing the beast that was threatening the unconscious Gats. It looked up at him, motionless as he shouted, "Get away! Get away from him!" Grabbing an empty soda can, he hurled it at the animal.

When it dodged the flying projectile, the monster growled, and Toboe backed away to the side. In the corner of his eye he saw the trash bin, and wondered if he could run to it without being barreled over like Gats had been. Or perhaps he could lead it away, run to a main street where it was more public and the animal would leave? With that in mind, Toboe took a couple of halting steps to the side, so that his back faced the way he and Gats had come. All he had to do was turn and run…turn and…

"Would you lead me away from my prey?"

The voice was low and soft, inquiring and curious. Toboe stared at the beast's golden eyes, and was drawn in by the intensity there.

"Why do you run with a human instead of your pack?"

Toboe felt his eyes widened in realization at something that could not be, felt something familiar ring with every word coming from that voice, that soft determined voice that he knew so well. It frightened him, this realization, this familiarity, for it was just as real as when he acknowledged everything that Jonathan had said earlier. It terrified him, and Toboe wanted nothing but to run.

"Would you run from me? Run from the truth?" It said fiercely. "You reek of the one who marked you, yet you run beside a human. You stand before me as a human. Face me as you are meant to be."

He didn't understand, and yet he did. He was enamored by the words, by that voice that called to him, yet it drove him away. He was changing, and could do nothing about it. He was loosing something, and had no ways of grasping what it was and what was taking him farther and farther away. Gats still lay motionless, in danger, and he was frozen before a beast who whispered truths in his mind, whispered in a voice that he knew…

"Face me…" It insisted, coming forward, away from Gats, closer to him.

"I am," he whispered. "I am, but I don't understand…I don't understand anything…"

It was so close…so close he could just reach and touch its nose. "Then don't run away…" It told him.

And then Tsume was there rushing from behind him and knocking the large white away with the most ferocious growl, that Toboe stumbled back and fell. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the man holding a curved knife in his hand threateningly.

"I told you to FUCK OFF, filth. Want me to rip into you like I did yesterday?" Tsume snarled at the beast, which shook its fur and huffed at him.

"You call me 'filth'? I do not hide truths from cubs. I protect my pack from being marked by another." It growled, its ear flattening. "Why deny the truth? Why stay when you will be shot down like a dog? How many do you plan to drag with you?"

Tsume stood tall, glaring at the one who dared question him, his eyes glittering with ill contained rage. The knife in his hand shook so much that Toboe was certain he would drop it.

But then the beast lowered its head, and stepped back. "Till next time then, Gray. And perhaps you too will hear the calling?" And with that it turned, its tail waving slightly as it simply hunkered away into the deep alley, without even a glace back at them, or at Gats who still lay unconscious and oblivious to all that had transpired.

The rain continued to shower down on them, unrelenting like everything else in the city. And Toboe allowed himself to finally pull himself up to his feet, staring at the man before him wordlessly.

Tsume turned to him, slipping the knife into a sheath in the leather jacket. Within a second his eyes narrowed and his nose wrinkled. "You reek of the filth from your apartment."

Toboe heard it then, something breaking in him, shattering as everything came down on him like the rain from the heavens. With an angry howl, he charged at the unsuspecting Tsume, pushing the larger man a couple of feet back, before pulling his arm back and throwing the hardest punch he could at that tanned face. His fist connected with chin, and a shock went up arm, to his shoulder and down his back. He jumped away from the man, who had a hand to his bleeding chin and looking at him with unfathomable eyes.

There was something wet on his fist, and when he lifted his hand, Toboe was unsurprised to find dark blood there. It wasn't his, far from his. He sniffed it, and with his eyes on Tsume's, the boy brought his knuckles to his mouth and licked it.

His senses became overwhelmed by the taste, by the smell, and looking at Tsume's face, he knew that the man was aware of everything.

"I don't know anything," he heard his voice say, but it sounded hallow he didn't recognize it. "I really don't know anything…do I, Tsume?"

"No," replied the man softly, wiping at the cut on his chin. "No, you don't."

He laughed; he could do nothing but laugh. Laugh and listen to himself shatter. "But I do know one thing…just one thing…" He looked up at Tsume's eyes balefully. "It's all your fault, you son of a bitch. You SELFISH son of a BITCH!" He felt himself about to sob, but held it back. So weak.

"He attacked you," Tsume stated.

Toboe reached over and dug his nails into his neck. "Forget that," he said lowly. "There's a dead kid outside my apartment. I ran when the cops came."

Tsume shuffled, going over to where Gats lay. Crouching over he gently lifted the kid's head inspecting the wound before sighing. "I'm going to drop him off at the hospital. Idiot's probably got himself a concussion."

Toboe watched as he lifted his best friend into his arms, careful of the head. He found himself staring at the blood caked around the right side of Gats' face and looked away, down to the mud and the rain. "I told him, you know."

"And did you choose?"

How could he forget the uncomprehending look on his best friend's face? "I chose you."

Tsume nodded. "Go back home. With the cops all around you'll be safe from that filth until I can do something about him. You'll also be safe from the war that's brewing between the Fang and the Scavengers."

Startled, Toboe asked, "Was that kid a Scavenger?"


"I'm going to be questioned by the cops about this, Tsume!" he shouted.

"And do you know anything about it?"


"Then you have nothing to hide. Go home."

Toboe looked at him, looked at the cut, looked at the way he held his friend. "You deserved it," he muttered lowly.

Tsume smirked a bit. "Yea…that might be true."

There, something lifted; something warm and familiar that he knew without feeling threatened by. "Tsume, what was that thing?" he asked.

And Tsume came to him, leaning down slightly with the burden in his arms, brushing his cheek against Toboe's and whispering into his hear.

The answer twisted in the boy's mind as he watched the man walk away. Continued to echo and turn and circle around him as he made his slow numb way back to the apartments. Unfeeling of the cold, unheeding to the pain of his body, unhearing to the sirens and lights surrounding the whole street in front of his apartment.

He would have continued to walk through the yellow police tape had he not been stopped by a middle aged man, who flashed him his detective badge and ushered him to a patrol car. Someone threw a brown blanket over his shoulders, and the older man opened the back of the patrol car door and let him sit inside, but leaving the door open as he stood blocking any chance of escape….if he even intended to escape.

Another man came forward, younger, with blond hair and naïve eyes as he knelt before Toboe and handed him a steaming Styrofoam cup. "Hope you like coffee," he vaguely heard the man say. The boy took it, took a sip and burned his tongue, deciding that he did not like coffee very much at all. The older detective took it from him, and Toboe studied the unshaven face of his, and the world weary look in his eyes, so different than his partner's.

"Hubb," said the older man. "Go find what's taking so long with bringing the kid's grandmother down here. While you're at it get a medic, the kid needs to get looked at."

The younger detective nodded before walking off and disappearing into the building. Toboe watched this, letting his head fall against the back of the seat tiredly. The older one took a gulp of the coffee before spitting it out, dumping the whole thing out into the watery gutter. He looked at Toboe, his weathered features creasing in worry about something Toboe did not know. He knelt down, and Toboe realized he was wearing an outdated fedora hat, the rain that had puddle on the top dripping down in a little cascade.

"Hey kid," the man gruffly called him, waving his hand in front of Toboe's face. The boy followed his fingers, entranced. "You look like you were mauled by a bear."

It was the most ludicrous thing he had ever heard, so ludicrous that Toboe giggled quietly, his shoulders shaking in mirth as he looked up at the man who had made the comment so foolishly. "Not a bear," he laughed.

"What was that?"

"Not a bear," Toboe repeated, sitting up and turning so that he was facing the police detective squarely.

Frowning at his reaction, the man asked, "Right. What then?"

Shoulders still shaking, hands gripping the blanket so hard he could feel his fingers tearing into the rough fabric, Toboe leaned forward and told him:

"It was a wolf."


Comments? Criticisms? Mystical curses for my over year-late update?

And for some reason, a bunch of writers have been stating this interesting little tid bit:

Word Count: 6,161