Disclaimer: I just own the fic, not the movie or the characters. Sucks to be me.


Die-hard

There comes a day when student surpasses teacher. On that day, the accomplished student is always presented with a choice. Does the student walk away, thankful for the lessons he's been given? Or does he turn his back to the one he depended on for so long, fangs bared and claws at the ready to dispose of any potential competition?

Usually, the student walks away, grateful, heart open, eyes steady. Even with that normality in mind, it's comes at no surprise that his latest prodigy has turned on him.

"Well, old chap," Cat R. Waul drawls, glancing over his sharpened claws to make certain they've been perfected, "I suppose you knew this day would come, sooner or later."

"Never did care for your kind all that much," Wylie admits. "You cats, can't ever be trusted. But I really ain't surprised you're one of the lowest of the low."

"Perhaps, in your old age, you've become a bad judge of character," the cat taunts, tugging at the cuff of his sleeve, adjusting the snap comfortably against his wrist.

Wylie won't admit he saw potential in the young cat he'd stumbled across one day behind the funeral home. He'd been pampered and spoiled, but he had spunk, a fire burning inside of him. There had been a promise of greatness in him. It was just a damn shame it was being put to use in the wrong way in the here and now.

"Maybe," the old dog says, suppressing a growl that's rising in the back of his throat.

"I grow tired of this chit-chat," Waul says, bored gaze turning into something intense, his pupils narrowing into slits and his ears slanting back against his head. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"

"If you insist," Wylie says, the fur on his neck bristling, lips pulling back into the beginning of a snarl.

And teacher and student lunge at one another, growling and hissing, because no matter how much effort was put into this partnership, cats and dogs will always fight as such. There is no defying the laws of nature, the natural urges to loathe one another. Claws snag on tough flesh and grayed fur, jaws snap too close to a thin and frail neck.

The scuffle doesn't last very long, a mere minute or so. It ends with Wylie on his back, Waul pressing his thin body to the dog's bigger one, and the tips of his claws at his neck. The feline grins, rough tongue running across his bottom lip.

"You're but a washed up, old dreamer," Waul chuckles cruelly.

His words are true, Wylie knows, because staring up into those intense green eyes he still dreams of what could have been, if Waul hadn't let his ego get in the way.

"Old habits die hard," Wylie mutters, panting, his breath hard to regain.

"The same could be said about old dogs," Waul retorts, easing up and off of his mentor. "But that's perfectly alright, because I have no intent to kill you."

Wylie raises a brow. "Then what – ?"

"I want you to play dead," Waul replies slyly. "Because, let us face it, old boy," he says, motioning between the two of them, then placing his paws against his chest, feeling his heart throb eagerly against his ribcage. "Your time is over and I am the law here."

"Then why don't you – ?"

"I want you to see me run this pathetic little town in ways you would have never dared."

That's when it begins. Waul recruits the hoodlums and outlaws, forms a gang, and in no time has the town of Green River under his thumb. He constructs an empire, and Wylie lets himself go until he's barely a shadow of the legend he's been made out to be. The townsfolk ask what's wrong, and when they get no real response, they begin to talk. Even if they whisper, he can hear – and sometimes he almost agrees with the rumors going around; maybe his time is up. Maybe it would be better to just roll over and let the Reaper ravage him for all he's worth.

Days and nights bleed into one another in Wylie' mind, the world but a blur as he remains stuck in a dream that just won't die easy. It's a small sliver of hope, but it's all he has to hold on to – a dream that one day the day will come where the wrong will be made right and Green River will be his town again.

And it does come, years upon years later. With it, salvation and redemption in the form of a young mouse. It's Fievel's intensity, his will to survive that makes this moment – this highly anticipated and feared moment – so much easier.

He stares ahead into the menagerie of felines, right into those green eyes that shine with malice and danger. He looks away for a moment, glancing at his companions out of the corner of his eye. Tiger, that sniveling, cowardly cat, is putting on one of the toughest acts he's ever seen. Fievel, old enough to know better and young enough to throw caution to the wind, regards the group of cats with no apparent fear.

He turns his attention back to Waul. His lips split, the corners of his mouth tugged back in a way that bares his teeth.

This is it. There's no turning back. It's do or die now.

"Cat R. Waul, we've come to shut you down."

-End