Disclaimer: both of these aren't mine. the end.

Note: No specific knowledge of the Okami game is needed for this, but you will need to be familiar with the Speed Racer series, more specifically with the most recent movie. If someone had asked me when Okami would decide to write with me, I never would have guessed it would have been coupled with this series. But the fleeting comparison stuck and I had to get it out of my head.

The portions in italics refer to periods in the past.

Comments are always welcome.

The Wolf Who Was Also a Car

By, Nicole Silverwolf

"To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul - hope you like what you see."

-Aldo Leopold

"Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door."

-Saul Bellow

Cars were living, breathing things and Speed had never really needed Rex to tell him that. They most definitely had souls. On some level he knew that too, like instinct. So as a child the things he saw never bothered him.

The fact that he was seeing them now though was honestly starting to freak him out a bit. The dog standing in the driveway didn't seem to be particularly impressed by his gaping stare, promptly laying down to take a snooze in the morning sun.

Speed couldn't be a hundred percent sure he wasn't losing his mind. There was no way that those markings were real. Right?!

He clearly remembered the first time Rex had snuck him out to the track. It was one of those memories he cherished. Speed had been ecstatic, Rex had been somewhat nervous and had only given him the illusion of getting to steer. They'd glided around the track a bunch of times that afternoon without any kind of incident (though that couldn't be said of all their outings in Rex's car). The wind against his face and Rex's steady arms under his elbows, guiding them through the turns were the best feelings ever Speed decided.

Not consumed with watching every inch of the track, he'd glanced out the window, catching sight of the whole of Thunderhead from an angle he'd never seen before. It was beautiful, all arching metal and corkscrewing turns against a bright blue, cloudless sky.

And then he'd seen her.

Streaking alongside the Mach, matching her pace for pace was a huge white dog. Or maybe a wolf. The world was moving so fast Speed could not tell. She had her mouth open in a grin, bright white canines glinting in the sun. And there were markings, red ones on her forehead that looked a lot like the white M on the car's hood. She was obviously enjoying this run. It was the most natural thing in the world; so he just smiled and the dog smiled back.

Rex arced them into the next turn and the wolf was gone as suddenly as she'd appeared.

After they'd finished, Speed hung onto his brother's neck and thanked him with enthusiasm usually reserved for Christmas. Rex had been smiling, the regret gone as he'd hauled the six year old up onto his shoulders. The youngster knew exactly what to do and shook his hands back and forth, waving to an imaginary crowd he could envision even now.

"When you win your first race Speedy, I'm gonna haul you up like this all the way to Victory Lane," Rex promised. Speed had cheered his approval to that, catching another glimpse of white fur marked with red out of the corner of his eye.

As they'd cleaned up the car, Speed still riding the high of a lifetime after his first drive in a real race car he'd asked about the dog.

"Did you see that wolf running with us? She's really fast! I didn't know they could run as fast as cars could!?"

Rex looked a little confused as he'd glanced up from changing the tire. "What wolf kiddo?"

"The one running along side the Mach," Speed answered nonchalantly, as if he were discussing dinner or his dislike of homework.

Rex's eyebrows drew together and down. Animals on the track weren't unheard of but it was usually birds who loved to perch high on the edges of corkscrews where there was good nesting grounds. He wasn't expecting such an odd flight of fancy out of grounded-to-all-things-cars Speed Racer. It wasn't like him to make up things and especially not strangely specific things like wolves running on the track. His little brother continued without prompting, oblivious to Rex's thoughts.

"Didn't you see her? She's really big and she has these markings on her forehead like the car does. Maybe she's the soul of the car!"

Rex smiled at that, glad that his mention of cars being alive had made some impact--however strange.

"Maybe you're right Speed. You should keep an eye out for her. But you can't be looking for her or she'll never show up. But when you listen, then you'll hear her. She'll talk to you and tell you what she wants."

"SPEED! Breakfast's ready and we're waiting on you and I'm STARVING!" Spritle shouted from the front door bouncing impatiently from foot to foot.

The youngster looked at his brother crouched in front of the Mach 5, which had been rolled out in anticipation of the beautiful day for a tune up. Bright eyes were focused down the driveway, which caught Spritle's curiosity. It took a lot to get Speed not to stare at the Mach, and usually it involved cooties and Trixie. Whatever had captivated his brother, he wanted to see it too.

He bound across the lawn, trampled a tulip or three and gasped in pure excitement.

"We got a dog?!? HOW cool is that! What's it's name Speed? How'd you convince dad?" The child sprinted up to the huge form only to be intercepted by said Racer. Caught around the middle more urgently than he expected, Spritle didn't exactly stop. More like he kicked and squirmed harder.

"Hey! Lemme go! Did she follow you home? She's so BIG!" On and on he went as the elder brother responsibly held him back. It sure as hell looked like a wolf that was for certain. It was just plain too big to be a dog. In any case Speed was pretty sure it wouldn't be a good idea to land on the dog like a horse as he imagined Spritle might do.

The commotion Spritle made could wake the dead so it wasn't surprising for the rest of his family (Sparky and Trixie included of course) to be out the door to investigate a few moments later. It sure felt like chaos as the resultant shouting, questioning, pointing and raised voices probably woke the whole of their neighborhood. Speed didn't relish the possibility of being on the evening news for something like this.

"Where did THAT come from?" Sparky pointed at the wolf as if his words alone might induce its attack.

Speed shook his head in denial. "I don't know; it was there when I came out to set the car up this morning."

"Honey shouldn't we call the zoo or something? It's probably dangerous..." Mom had taken Spritle's struggling form from Speed's arms, firmly holding him in place.

"Did she follow us home or something last night?"

"I'm not going anywhere NEAR the garage if that thing's staying there," Sparky asserted. He'd been terrified of dogs as a kid (having been bitten by a Chihuahua once at age five). So while big dogs might not bite him, it was better to be safe than sorry he concluded.

"Maybe it'll go away if we leave it alone...like a skunk or a raccoon."

"What if she's injured?" That was from Speed and he was suddenly sure it was a girl though he had no proof. This creature most definitely wasn't dangerous either, though he wasn't stupid enough to voice his opinion about the subject.

"Exactly why we should let professionals handle it," Pops asserted.

"Can we keep it mom please?! I've always wanted a dog!"

"NO SPRITLE!" was the very loud shouted response from both of his parents.

Through the commotion, the wolf ignored them all. An ear twitched at the most high pitched shout and the animal raised her head to yawn her disinterest. Two rows of bright white teeth were bared before she laid back down and continued her doze.

That got Trixie's attention at least. "Did that dog just yawn at us?" Her voice was incredulous, and almost ready to burst out laughing. You had to admit that the thought of a dog yawning at you was pretty darn funny.

"Well...if we're lucky it'll get bored and will run off wherever it came from," Pops declared. "If not we'll call animal control and they can figure out what to do."

And Pops laws were iron in the house at least. They left the wolf in the driveway, which seemed to be just fine with everyone including Speed. He was truthfully a little spooked by seeing the wolf with the red markings. Hadn't that just been a story Rex had told him on thundery nights when he couldn't sleep?

The crack was like a car crash and the resultant thunder shook the house hard enough that the light fixtures wobbled. It was so fierce that despite the fact that Rex had been sound asleep he jerked awake in the dark of his room. Disoriented and not entirely awake, he peered at the clock next to the window to ascertain that yes it was three thirty four AM thanks for getting up to check. Another crack of thunder on the heels of a brilliant flash and he slid to the side of the small twin bed.



Speed hadn't even tried to knock, hand curled tight around the doorknob.

Rex didn't need to reply and just pulled the blankets back in a wordless invitation.

There was an armful of child pressed against his side not a moment later. Shaking, but not on the verge of crying which meant he hadn't gone to see Pops and Mom who would have promptly put him back in his own room. Character building was the term their father used for it. While Rex had turned out just fine from the treatment; he'd hated those nights curled alone under blankets and trying valiantly to ignore his own fears.

"Hey it's okay bud. It's just thunder remember? Not gonna hurt us."

Of course a lightning strike less than a mile from the house shook them both. Rex couldn't help the instinctive jerk that betrayed his words.

Speed just hung closer, fingers fisted in his dark blue shirt. Tenser than before, and clearly not going back to sleep anytime soon. Despite the tense adrenaline and fear running through his little brother, Rex could tell he was exhausted.

"You know what...I think I saw your wolf friend yesterday during time trials."

This got Speed's attention. True to Rex's initial predictions, the next six or seven times he'd tried to look for the big dog running beside the Mach he hadn't seen her. Even when he'd just glanced out of the corner of his eye, all he'd ever been able to catch was the briefest glimpse of a black tipped tail, a reprimand from Rex to pay attention to what the car was saying and a reminder to keep focused.

"Nu-uh," Speed asserted. Rex didn't get distracted during races or time trials and so Speed was very sure he didn't take the time to glance idly out the side of the car. He only did that because he was so sure that his big brother would keep them both safe. It was okay to watch the world go by when he was with his brother.

"Oh yeah I did. She's got these huge ears right? Black tip on her tail? And those red markings on her forehead, kinda look like this?" He traced them across Speed's forehead in imitation, exactly as the wolf was marked. It lit his little brother up like the sun as he nodded a emphatic confirmation.

Because while he was half telling a tale, he had glimpsed the wolf. Never enough to be 100% sure he was seeing anything other than a hallucination or a flash of light against the metal of the track; but enough that when Speed had described the creature he had been able to confirm some features. It might have been the spirit of the Mach or just a trick of his own imagination.

Common sense pointed to the latter.

Rex had never seen the wolf before he'd started to take Speed out on the track. It was probably just fueled by some part of him that didn't want to disappoint his sibling. But he could never shake that idea that Speed shared his vision. There was no way that that was a total coincidence.

"She loves to race," Speed assured. Rex had to agree with that.

The Mach was built for racing and it ran best when it was simply challenging the wind. While racing demanded aggressive handling, occasional liberal use of jump jacks and the like, it was true racing when one could simply run full out. The Mach never complained when it was just them on the track spinning through the dogbowls or soaring high over the jump.

"You know what her name is?" Rex questioned, his ears keen to the rumbling thunder that was finally beginning to abate. The distance between lightning and thunder lengthened, storm moving south.

"No. Maybe her name should be Mach though...cuz she's the spirit of the car," Speed reasoned, turned now with his back to his older brother's chest and hands twisting puzzles into Rex's fingers.

"I don't think she'd like to be called by the car's name. What about Snowy?" Rex teased. The name didn't fit in the slightest.

"No! That's silly," Speed giggled.




"Sounds like that stuff mom makes us take if our stomach hurts."

"Lightning?" Now he was just getting silly.

"Don't like lightning," Speed pointed out.

"What then?"

"I dunno." Speed let out a yawn. Rex could just barely see it in the dark, but could feel Speed's hand snagging more firmly inside his own. He was almost asleep.

"How 'bout Okami?" Rex questioned very quietly. His tutor (who was basically helping him pass high school at that point) was a Japanese history fanatic and had been doodling the character for the word on scrap paper while he'd been crawling through a chemistry question on his problem set.

"It's the Japanese word for wolf," she'd responded absently to his question, looking over his balanced acids and bases equation with an approving nod.

It wasn't like Speed to gobble his food down; that was an art Spritle perfected every morning. But it also wasn't like him to dawdle, pushing food back and forth over his plate and picking at it distractedly. The weather was textbook perfect, he should have been rushing to get outside.

Spritle was dominating the conversation, mostly begging for them to keep the dog. Which if Mom was seeing correctly hadn't moved very far from where it had lain in the driveway almost a half hour prior. Pops was studiously working through the paper, feigning ignorance and projecting that annoyance he was known for when any of them begged for something.

"What if we just let her stick around?" Speed asked quite suddenly.

All sound seemed to be sucked from the room. There were suddenly a great deal of eyes boring into the top of his head. He could feel Trixie slide a little closer, her knee just barely grazing his own in support. Speed continued to study the half eaten pancakes, nudging them through golden syrup.

Pops was very quiet when he responded. And when Pops was quiet was usually when he was most annoyed.

"That "dog" belongs in a zoo Speed. It's probably an actual wolf, I've never seen a dog so big before."

"She didn't do anything."

Pops gave him an eye that said he'd made a particularly weak argument.

"Besides...she seems kinda familiar. She must belong to someone; she's well taken care of. Maybe someone will come looking for her."

Mom interceded at that. She hadn't expected his reaction and was diplomatically gentle in her rebuke. "We have the ability to tell them that animal control has the dog Speed. You can't mean to keep her as a pet anyways. With racing, we're almost never home during the season. Where would she stay while we were at Fuji to just name a single example?"

"Not a pet, no mom, just...if she wants to stick around..." Speed was a little more insistent. It would be bad karma at the least to put that creature in a cage anywhere, even if it was only temporary. He was certain he'd never win another race again should she be taken away.

"Would that be fair to her?" Mom countered sensibly.

Speed didn't have an answer to that. And couldn't meet his mother's eyes.

Pops had remained silent through this exchange before abruptly rising. Sparky jumped up on instinct, as Pops body language spoke of immediate work to be done. He had his cell phone in his hand as he strode for the garage.

Chairs clattered backwards and Speed was practically on his father's heels.

He shot out the front door in the hopes of getting between his father and the wolf. He didn't have a plan. Just knew that his father shouldn't do what he was thinking of doing. The rest of the family trailed behind.

The wolf had positioned herself very deliberately in front of the Mach 5. The tip of her tail twitched slightly, tipped with ink black fur just like his memories. There was a tiny pool of oil underneath that tip, almost like the fur had been blackened in an inkwell.

She seemed pleased.

And it was only then that he noted that Pops was not growling and shouting at the top of his lungs like he'd expected. Speed tore his eyes away, glancing into the garage to his father's notoriously messy workbench.

The Racer patriarch was gaping. Since the very disassembled Bernoulli engine he favored was currently sitting in completely finished, functioning order on top of all the paperwork.

"Holy cannoli..." Sparky murmured from his friend's side, then stumbled past to gape at the finished product. Sparky knew, probably better than anyone aside from Pops how long it took to reconstruct one of those pieces of machinery from its former state to now.

While his father and their number one mechanic argued over how exactly this happened Speed glanced at the wolf. 'Did you do this?' his eyes questioned.

The wolf was most definitely grinning.

This race hadn't been going as well as it could have. Rex had been slammed on several of the turns and was having a hard time even keeping himself in second place, let alone retaking the lead he'd had several laps ago.

To make matters worse, the Mach was acting up. Sparky was feeding him stats and general warnings, aware through his equipment that the car built from the ground up by the both of them wasn't running properly. His best friend's voice was a little panicky, but trying to muscle through it. Sparky was a professional and knew when to stow it.

Rex risked a shift to fourth, trying to skid around a few drivers. There was only a lap or so to go and if he timed it right he could just push around the competition and limp the Mach through to the finish line.

He needed to place in the top five to advance his current standing. That seemed like a reasonable goal at this point.

He heard it before he felt it.

A snapping thunk and the car skidded wild, growling and angry. There was almost nothing he could do, except take his foot off the gas and try to control the spinout.

Sparky was shouting in his ear but he tried to tune it out; listening for what the car was telling him.

It was hard. There was a LOT going wrong.

Maybe it had been a strut or the axel and hopefully not the steering column but there was serious damage to the Mach 4. He'd be lucky to avoid crashing; finishing the race with a placement was out of the question. Hell, finishing period was still in the questionable column.

Rex was sure that the lead up to the wall he was skidding towards was shorter before. How exactly had the track gotten longer? The wall extended a good fifty feet further than what he'd seen the night before when crews were allowed the traditional opportunity to inspect courses. It allowed his momentum a chance to slow, just enough so that when he hit the barrier the car did not completely fall apart around him. He bounced, spun a couple more times and slowed to an agonizing, screeching halt.

Shaken, pissed off and riding an adrenalin overload Rex could only pound a fist into the steering wheel. "Damn it," he cursed, still hearing Sparky calling to him through the headset. Trying to ascertain if he was alright.

"Yeah Sparky...I'm fine," he bit out, fighting to keep his anger from being directed at his best friend; taking the time to survey the carnage. Several of the track's technicians were hiking towards him, cautiously hauling equipment to try and patch repair him off the course.

Relief was clear in Sparky's voice. "What happened?"

"Not sure," Rex trailed off, staring out of the window. He was struck dumb when he'd meant to continue.

The wolf was there. She was gingerly bathing her left foot with studious licks. Fathomless black eyes seemed to glare at him.

Now that he had a moment to think of it, the car had pulled left just slightly before he'd lost control.

"Could have been the left forward though, she was pulling just a little before I spun out," Rex relayed absently.

There was a derisive snort that clearly spoke of how obvious that response had been. The wolf went back to what she was doing, ignoring him in favor of her foot.

The race did go down as a DNF, and though Rex was upset about the loss, he was now certain that there was something to Speed's theory about that animal. If nothing else this was a reminder; there was never a good reason to disrespect warnings from the car.

Speed hadn't expected the distraction to actually stall them from taking the dog to the local pound. For what else could the repaired part be, aside from some bizarre show of good will by some mysterious benefactor. Certainly couldn't be due to that suspiciously dripping tail he assured himself, inspecting the engine over his father's shoulder.

That was just a little too much to swallow.

But it did have the desired effect. Pops and Sparky were so wrapped up in arguing about who had done the work, whether it was actually finished, and when they'd gotten around to fixing the Bernoulli up that the issue of the wolf in front of the Mach fell to the wayside.

Spritle and Chim-Chim had decided that if Pops was distracted, the dog was as good as theirs and were taking full advantage to more closely inspect their new canine acquaintance. The wolf was tolerant; obliging Spritle's huge eyes and poking with a stoic kind of dignity. It was clear that Spritle did not see the red markings across her fur. She was more accommodating to the chimp however; tilting her head and wagging a greeting.

As they'd never had a pet before, Spritle was miffed that the dog didn't fetch like the pictures he'd seen in countless children's books. Content to wait the dog out, he'd started a game of fetch with himself and Chim-Chim instead. The dog would catch on, he was sure of it.

Pops and Sparky were obviously going to test the newly repaired piece of equipment and their eagerness to get to the task overrode all else. Trixie had wisely headed for her copter, knowing better than to get involved when the two of them went at it about engines.

Speed too, knew to stay clear. He might be a driver and extremely knowledgeable about every functional part of a car, but he was not a mechanic. Scrambling over the back of the Mach he made his way around to the hood. Popping it and going through the motions that normal maintenance required was an acceptable excuse if asked why he wasn't getting involved in an engine test.

He had company a moment later tail wagging frantically, eyes happy and eager. "You wanna help?" Speed murmured with the tone that anyone who'd ever had a dog before has used. Somewhere between thoroughly amused and incredulous.

A head that came past his waist merely had to bend to peer at the low car's innards. She seemed interested at least. And so Speed Racer and the supposed spirit of the Mach set to work.

"You need a name. I mean if you're gonna stick around." Speed spoke casually, perfectly assured that the wolf was listening. "Pops'll be much less likely to kick you out if you have a name."

He was hesitant. "It's not Mach...is it?"

The wolf huffed her annoyance. No then.

This went on for a few more rounds as he tried to remember every name he and Rex had ever come up with for the wolf. Spritle joined them towards the end, each name more ridiculous than the last, as he avidly watched his brother tuning.

Speed hadn't even noticed Trixie leaning over to watch him work as well. The wolf politely sniffed his girlfriend's outstretched hand. She smiled, and continued to listen to her boyfriend talk to the wolf and his brother unawares.

When Spritle's suggestions had reached the seven syllable limit, the wolf seemed a little panicked.

Speed considered the pleading look.

"How about Okami?"

"Little bit literal, isn't it?" Trixie asked. Speed shrugged and wouldn't look up, a sure sign he was embarrassed. But she could see the wolf wagging, thick bushy tail thumping rhythmically against the Mach's steel frame.

"Well, I guess it's her choice," Speed turned it over to the wolf. The three of them gazed at the creature.

She let out a bark of approval.

And it was settled.

Pops and Mom couldn't withstand all of them. They were certain of that.

What exactly does one take with them when they're leaving home forever?

'Your family,' some insistent part of him hissed again. Which of course was impossible now. Not when they'd given Speed a bomb, not when they'd come too close to taking something so precious from him.

Even pictures would be too dangerous to bring with him into this new life.

So he'd pulled out a few pairs of red socks (they saved us Speedy, must be magic), the multitool Sparky and he had gotten when they'd started repairing cars. The jacket that mom said made him look so handsome, the battered work hat he'd snuck out of Pops closet years ago found their way into the duffel too. A tattered, much loved copy of 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' followed.

Anything more seemed like too much of a risk.

Down to the garage to grab his gloves, goggles and helmet (essential equipment they wouldn't suspect was being taken for sentimental reasons) he paused in front of the Mach 5. She sat still and beautiful in the garage's harsh fluorescent lighting. He'd taken the car out for what he knew would be the last time this morning.

And for an unexpected moment he'd seen the Mach's wolf running along with him on the track.

It was the first time he'd ever seen her in action. She was beautiful.

He hadn't expected to feel so grateful for that brief glimpse.

Rex had toyed with the idea of giving the keys to Speed because of that. After all, if he hadn't taken Speed out, maybe the Mach's spirit might have never shown herself. He hadn't settled on the idea completely. It would probably be a better idea to simply leave them on the kitchen counter for his parents to find.

As it was, he didn't know how he was going to say goodbye to his little brother. If he should even do so. He couldn't imagine what he would say. Speed wouldn't understand, not for a long time anyways.

"Keep an eye on him, okay? When he's old enough to drive?" he spoke it aloud, to the car and immediately felt a bit foolish.

Rex still believed that cars were living breathing things. And if that were so, then the Mach should be able to hear him. If nothing else, maybe that wolf would.

"I'm gonna do my best to fix this mess; but if I can't Speed'll need all the help he can get."

There was no acknowledgement from the sleek lines and beautiful curves. Rex didn't expect one, remembering that the wolf had only shown up when you weren't looking for her. He was surprised to find that he still felt better for having asked his favor of the car despite the lack of response.

Speed found him in his room moments later and it was hundreds of times worse than he'd expected a goodbye could be.

He didn't remember the photo that had been stuck between the book's pages as an impromptu bookmark. When he found it weeks later, he'd almost cried. Speed and him, curled in a hug on the hood of the Mach 4 after a race. Both of them smiling, carefree and now a lifetime from where he'd ended up.

It was the only thing that survived through Casa Cristo.

When dinner had come around, they still hadn't called animal control.

Though Spritle had been hoping to feed his broccoli to their new canine friend, the wolf had disappeared. No one really knew where she had gone off too, though Pops seemed happy that his predictions about the wolf had come true. She'd gotten bored and went on her way.

Trixie had been a bit more adamant about searching for the animal. But when her search around the house and even down towards her own home turned up nothing Speed had simply shrugged.

"Aren't you worried?"

"Not really. She seems like she was doing just fine before she got here," he said with a confidence he didn't quite feel. There was still a chance this had been some mass hallucination. His common sense demanded that he still entertain that reality.

Okami did show up sometime after dinner (no one was quite sure how she'd gotten in the door), curling up to snooze in the shadow of the Mach while Pops and Mom were watching the evening news. The wolf simply stayed out of view, and neither of the adults was the wiser to her presence.

Sparky however, nearly had a heart attack when he'd tripped over her on the way to bed.

"Easy doggy...easy," he'd cautioned/begged, hands up in his most placating gesture as he'd backed slowly away. The wolf gave the mechanic a brief glance but nothing more. Deciding not to tempt fate, Sparky shot off towards his room.

A few hours later, Speed slipped quietly into the silent and dark living room. Tired but in the good way that came from a great night spent in even better company. The wolf was waiting for him. She was imposing in the room, somehow larger now that she was in the perspective of their house.

"Hey," he greeted, approaching what had clearly become her territory in the last few hours. Mom was not going to be happy about the white fur currently creating tumbleweeds on her floor.

Speed grinned faintly as the wolf wagged in greeting. It was odd to think of the wolf as both the soul of the Mach and as a living breathing creature. He was plainly hesitant when he held out his hand. Was it okay to pet her? He appreciated the Mach under his hands all the time, gliding fingertips absently over the machine when he was distracted.

But this was a wolf.

And maybe it wasn't the same thing.

Was it possible to offend a car?

Okami didn't seem to think so. She surged into his outstretched hand so Speed's fingers slid into the spot behind her ear she liked best. Her fur was rough and soft at the same time, not tamed like a well groomed dog might have been. The red markings were a part of her fur. He'd wondered about that. It was impossible to miss the deep, active muscles even on her head. They spoke of incredible power.

"Wow," he breathed in clear awe. And there wasn't anything else worth saying.

Speed could feel the Mach in her.

They stayed that way for some time, Speed balanced on the balls of his feet and Okami directing where she wanted to be scratched. His toes were going numb and sleep was creeping in but he didn't want to let go. What if she never came back?

Perhaps the wolf could tell, because she nudged past him suddenly. And when she nudged, it was somewhere closer to being shoved in a direction. Speed found himself sprawled on his ass and then scrambling after the wolf, who trotted towards his room with purpose.

She settled for the floor until he'd crawled under the covers. Then she'd relocated to the foot of the bed, practically crushing his feet.

When he woke up to sun peaking through the window, Okami wasn't there.

Panic had him out in the garage before even Pops had gotten up (and that was saying something). It had been a dream and Speed hadn't expected to feel crushed.

Until he saw them.

Sparky was crouched low, face screwed in that expression he got when he was trying to get something out of his reach. Just out of arms length, bent in a play bow with a spanner between her teeth, Okami seemed unawares of the panic she'd induced.

"You're still here," he blurted out before he could think.

"'Course I am. Live here don't I?" Sparky grouched without taking his eyes from the wolf. Clearly he was attempting to outstare the animal.

Okami shot a look to Speed that was remarkably similar in tone.

He suddenly couldn't wait to get out to Thunderhead with her.


I'm not sure that these guys are done with me. That isn't such a bad thing I guess.

So...comments, criticisms, flames, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.

Thanks for reading!