A/N: [Story written for a request on the DGM kink meme on LJ.]
This is the new (longer xD) first chapter. More info about the rewritten story will be on the A/N of the next chapter. Ya know, story length, frequency of updates, differences from the original version, the awaited lemon scene, etc.
I bow down to djewellz's awesomeness, who is a great beta (and a great writer, by the way, I'm a fan of her stories - and I hope she doesn't mind the advertising xD). She did an awesomely awesome job beta'ing this. ^^
"[...] The beginning is never the clear, precise end of a thread, the beginning is a long, painfully slow process that requires time and patience in order to find out in which direction it is heading, a process that feels its way along the path ahead like a blind man, the beginning is just the beginning, what came before is nigh on worthless. [...]"
José Saramago, (Portuguese writer, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998)
Kanda, ever since the tender age of four, had known he was beautiful.
As - like usual - the Shop's Assistants dragged his cage to the center of the stage, to the proper place in the exact center where the spotlights were focused so the clients could see him perfectly, he could see – almost smell in the air - the awe, the admiration, and sometimes even the lust that flashed in all those pairs of human eyes that filled the exhibition room, gleaming in the darkness sinisterly.
It made his skin crawl.
A snarl escaped Kanda. He felt the black and silver collar around his throat vibrate against his skin with it.
He noticed how those eager gazes drank in his pale and smooth skin, his long and graceful limbs, the long hair that cascaded down his back in a waterfall of inky black tresses, even the glossy black fur that covered his long tail and his feline ears. Even the plain white tunic he wore - like all Pets in this Shop - despite its simplicity, seemed to contribute to his beauty, if only by not distracting people's attention with unnecessary adornments. The lithe boy, even immobile and sitting on his haunches, had an air of pride and gracefulness to him.
After they'd raped him with their eyes, they would finally look up at his face, gasp, and forget how to breathe as they stared at the absolutely flawless features – the sharp angles, the dark eyes that were actually dark blue, the straight nose, the pale pink lips. Most would think he was a female - until the Announcer's voice rang through the room, "Yuu Kanda, male, age thirteen, created and raised for seven years in our laboratories in Japan-"
Oh yes. One could say that where aesthetic values of human beauty were concerned, Kanda was the pinnacle of genetic manipulation, a true beauty. From every angle, he was perfect…
"- all others died, making this specimen the only one of his kind. Unfortunately, it seems we have yet to develop a technique to create individuals using this exotic species. Yuu may seem beautiful, like a frail flower that blooms in the beginning of Winter, but his panther genes unfortunately bestowed him with more than the animal's gracefulness and beauty - he also possesses its dangerous and untamable nature, and, we are sorry to say, its killing instincts whenever he feels threatened, which-"
…yet a flawed beauty at the same time.
Not that Kanda was complaining. He was what he was; why complain? It could be worse. He knew of worse. He'd seen Experimental Pets, so yeah. He knew of worse.
So he rarely complained, be it about his general existence or specific situations, like this one. He faced it all rather stoically, if not indifferently. It just didn't matter.
In cases like this Exhibition, he would try to meditate and ignore the annoying Assistants chattering as they went about their work around his cage, then the exposure to the stupid costumers, and then continue to ignore the stupid usual speech. First the Announcer would let the costumers gape at Kanda for a few minutes, then introduce him - and dutifully inform them of his 'problem', trying to sugarcoat the whole business - and then would proceed to describe all his unique characteristics, trying to woo one of the costumers into buying him,-
"-not like the tame, boring kittens we're all so used to. Personally, I'd say he would be perfect for an owner who likes feisty personalities. I'd love to buy him myself-" the Announcer chuckled.
Che. Yeah right. He always said the same thing. 'Would love to buy me, my ass.' The sarcastic thought crossed Kanda's mind, somewhat disrupting the calmness of meditation. He focused on concentrating once more, drowning out the rest of the speech.
"-the unique ears, larger than average, and his plush black fur, not to mention, as I'm sure you are all aware, the sheer beauty of his body and face. His creators designed him to reach the average height of a human male once he's fully matured. Now, if you'd like to see him better, please inform your assigned Companion and you'll be allowed to step closer to inspect him-"
Ah. The final part. Usually too annoying for him to keep meditating. Well, he'd try to continue doing it until the irritation got the better of him. Kanda remained sitting still in the middle of the cage, eyes closed and hands folded on his lap as the Announcer neared the end of his usual speech about him.
"-but as you are aware, we are dealing with an incredibly dangerous wild animal here. He has attacked humans more than once-" Kanda had to suppress a smile as the Announcer began talking faster and somewhat grudgingly. Clearly, he wished the Law didn't force him to reveal that kind of information, "-and he does not hesitate to resort to his natural ability to use his claws with murderous intent skillfully. So I repeat, please do not approach the cage. Keep more or less a meter between yourself and the barriers, so that you will not be in risk of getting harmed."
Because they had tried tying him up - it hadn't worked - and they had tried chaining him - that definitely hadn't worked - and they had tried distracting him with food - that hadn't worked either. They didn't want to sedate him, because then they wouldn't be able to show off the gracefulness with which he moved or the rare colour of his eyes. Besides, if the customers realized that he was dangerous enough to have to be sedated just so he could be displayed, well… the probability of one of them buying him would decrease… even more, that is. So the only alternative left was keeping him in an iron cage and warning the customers to not get too close.
And drag them back and away from it really quickly if they ignored the warnings.
Silence reigned in the room for a moment after the Announcer finished speaking; then a low buzz filled it as, like usual, more than half the room immediately turned to the Shop's servant accompanying them and requested to see Kanda up close. And, oh joy, today was one of those days when they had a full house. That was just Kanda's luck. His tail whipped angrily behind him without Kanda's notice, and the two Assistants behind his cage jumped a step back warily.
It was almost time for the moment when all those disgusting, irritating humans would crowd around his cage, and then one by one, guided by their Companion, get closer to 'inspect' him. Ugh.
Usually, the customers wouldn't resist the urge to do more than stare at him, which in itself was enough to have Kanda pacing around the cage angrily, glaring and hissing, black ears flattened against his skull; more often than not the humans would try talking to him (which earned them angry sentences in harsh Japanese, or extremely rude comments in English about the customers themselves or their mothers if they were especially annoying or disgusting), pat his cage, or offer him something through the bars, like some leftover food from their dinner they'd brought from their table or sweets. It was just… annoying. Disgusting. Kanda loathed it all.
The one thing Kanda liked, the one thing that curious customers sometimes did that Kanda liked best, was actually try to touch him. And why did he like that? Because then he could indulge in the guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure of digging his sharp claws into their soft flesh, and their blood would splatter on the iron cage and the floor; they'd shriek and clutch at their injury like they were dying, and he'd feel really good for a change.
Once, after he'd managed to almost gouge out a fat old man's right eye – and rip off nearly half his face - Kanda heard the Assistants comment amongst themselves in whispered, horrified tones that he always seemed in a better mood after he'd managed to hurt someone, and that they'd rather face a real, normal man-killing panther than Kanda.
He'd smirked smugly for a week after he'd heard that. The Assistants had feared for their lives during that week. More than a third had quit before the week was over.
The soft sound of a dress dragging across the floor reached his ears, making them perk up and turn towards the sound, and Kanda readied himself, tucking his tail around his folded legs. He knew soon he'd be too furious to keep on meditating. Maybe this would even be one of those days when, in his rage, he would throw himself against the iron bars, trying to reach the humans so he could rip out their throats.
But since he couldn't fit through the bars or just magically appear out of the cage, that remained as an impossible fantasy.
With one last sigh, Kanda opened his midnight-blue eyes, looked up at the human lady in a red dress looking down at him with excited brown eyes, and growled.
No one had ever wanted to buy him. Even with all his appealing characteristics – his beauty, the fact that he was a unique specimen no one else had, his exotic appearance that would normally appeal to Collectors (tail and ears longer than average, ears with a slightly sharper form, even better senses than other genetically altered pets, etc.) – his aggressiveness had kept them at bay during the years after he'd left the laboratories in Japan and been brought here to be sold.
The customers always approached him in a daze, mesmerized, grabby hands inching towards him, but they would always step back before the steely glint in his beautiful dark eyes. The animal part of the humans, their instincts, could sense the pure and undiluted anger and the danger. Even if they didn't quite understand what it was that made them step back hurriedly and almost fall on their backs in fright, the low growl vibrating in Kanda's chest almost immediately made them get the message. Don't get near me, his teeth, similar to a human's but slightly longer – especially the canines – and one hundred times sharper, seemed to say, unless you want to die.
As soon as the sound reached their ears, the humans would almost jump, and they would stare, terrified, their hearts beating wildly in their chests, at the panther baring his claws in front of them, sometimes even having tried to strike them and having instead hit the bars, leaving slashes on the iron about one inch in depth. Slashes on the iron.
'No wonder no one has ever bought him', they would think as they walked (or stumbled) away, leaning on their Companion's level and reassuring arm and feeling relief wash over them as they put some much needed distance between them and the dark-haired wild beast inside that cage.
However, Kanda reflected for the millionth time as his eyes followed every movement of the newest prying customer inspecting him up close, one day things might not happen that way. Some creep would be stupid enough to ignore his fear of Kanda, or even be turned on by it, and they'd buy him. As the Owner, they would be able to do whatever they wanted to him. Beat him up, drug him (though unless the drugs were powerful enough to knock him out, they'd have no effect whatsoever on him), let him starve, mutilate him, torture him, whatever they wanted. Unlike at the Shop, Owners didn't have to worry about his physical condition or how he looked unless they wanted to. They had every right to do as they pleased with their Pets – even killing them slowly for their entertainment if they so chose.
And if someone had the guts to buy Kanda, certainly they wouldn't hesitate to use any means to control him if he tried to be violent.
Apart from a few laws that demanded complete honesty from the Shops towards the customers, there were no regulations for Pets – as human/animal hybrids, no rights had been acknowledged since they didn't belong to either of the worlds, and so far no governments had bothered to change that due to the difficulties such a process presented.
Ever since the first human/animal hybrid Pet had been created just a few years ago, existent ethical organizations had raised an uproar, and soon after that associations and organizations that fought for the Pets' rights, safety and well-being in general began sprouting up everywhere, but to no avail. To that day, things remained the same. Pets were little more than half-human slaves.
Kanda was pretty certain he could take any kind of torture and still stay sane and not break. But for the rest of his life? He was like a prisoner in the Shop – always inside a cage, either the small one for the exhibition show or a bigger one in the front hall when they wanted to show him off outside of the exhibition schedule, or his personal rooms with the small bedroom and the entertainment room – closed, with no windows, and filled with surveillance cameras that caught every angle.
But being a slave, subject to every and any whim of his Master or Mistress?
Like Hell he was going to be like that.
Lying on his small nest of blankets, Kanda's ears flattened against his head as he glared at the darkness; his long tail lashed out, making the thin sheet covering his small thirteen-year-old form rise and expose him.
With an annoyed sigh, the small panther hybrid lowered his tail again, curling up with it, and impatiently tugged the sheet up to cover him again. He was still thinking about what he'd been thinking of during the exhibition.
He would not be a slave.
So. The best – or rather, only – way of getting out of this and running away… what was it?
Kanda considered his possibilities for a few moments, the tip of his soft furry tail flicking thoughtfully against his chin. The time when he'd have the most chances for a successful escape would be… right before he had to be taken out of his cage to be handed over to his new owner. Oh yes. That'd be the perfect chance.
But they were probably going to sedate him so they could safely get him out his cage – using a dart, like usual, since that didn't require them to get near him.
So Kanda wasn't really sure if he'd manage to escape even then. How would he get out of the cage unless they opened it? And they wouldn't open it until they were sure he was knocked out… How could he manage to not get drugged?
It was while pondering on all of this that eventually the panther-boy fell asleep.
Well, you can never guess what Lady Luck's got in store for you until it punches you in the face (and more often than not it has a damn wicked left hook), and it turned out Luck was on Kanda's side.
He'd never really looked for a way out until then; so he began paying more attention, and he became more aware of the little things happening around him – like the different Assistants' schedules, or how the locks on his cages were opened, or where the keys were kept.
And how fragile the iron bars could be if he worked them long enough with his claws. Though it was a pain to do it for a while after they'd been trimmed, since short claws didn't do the job as well as long ones. And yes, they did trim Kanda's claws regularly, and they also gave him baths and other such things – after they were sure the sedative in the dart they'd shot him with had taken full effect.
So he'd been taking notice of all these details. Things were always carefully executed according to the orders given, and mistakes were severely punished. Therefore it surprised him a little two or three weeks later, when he was slowly calming down after the exhibition backstage, still panting and leaning on the bars of the small cage, he tiredly opened his dark eyes and realized there was an Assistant quietly snoring on the floor, half leaning against the boxes cluttered behind the stage, an empty bottle by his side (with 'Vodka' written on its label, not that Kanda could read it…) and a set of keys almost falling out of his pocket. So temptingly almost falling out of his pocket. The metal even shined alluringly at the caged feline-boy.
Well, it's not polite to refuse a gift. Especially a gift from Lady Fortune.
The guy was just out of Kanda's small arms' reach, and technically safe from an attack, but…
Midnight-blue eyes flashed dangerously in the dark as his pale lips curved in a grim smirk, pure white sharp teeth reflecting the little light escaping from the main room into the backstage. Kanda had more than just his arms…
So after checking carefully that no one was around yet (soon more Assistants would be back to drug him and move him to his room once he lost consciousness) and turning his ears to every side to catch any sounds of people approaching, Kanda slowly slid his agile tail out between the iron bars towards the keys.
A small tap, and they fell on the ground.
It wasn't like Kanda's tail was prehensile; he had been created with a panther's genes, not a lizard's or a monkey's, or something. His tail couldn't grab things. But it could damn well drag them, and so it did. He hastily grabbed them once he could reach them and looked around once more for any possible witnesses.
No one. Kanda's black ears moved quickly, listening intently. Not a sound of approaching steps from any direction either. And all the scents he caught were fading already, being a few minutes old. No new scents.
Looking down at the keys in his pale hand, Kanda thought for a moment and then shrugged. Well, he wouldn't get a better opportunity than this.
So he turned towards the lock that kept his cage closed, fumbled with the keys (trying to make as little noise as possible) until he found the right one, opened the door and then closed it again, stepping silently out of his prison. Looking around once more, almost surprised by the lack of walls close to him or bars framing his vision field, the lithe half-human boy soundlessly headed towards the door that, judging by how he sometimes saw Assistants wearing normal clothes instead of the Shop's uniform coming through it, lead outside.
Moving quickly, he opened the door slightly and peered outside.
Well. That was unexpected.
In the exterior, there was a parking lot with a few cars here and there, a few lampposts casting circles of white light on the wet ground, breaking the darkness of the moonless night, and a soft breeze reached Kanda's nose, carrying the smell of oil, metal, the heavy scent of rain and of something fresh.
He'd managed to find a door that led outside directly. Nice.
Kanda had rarely been outside. Most of what he knew of the human world, of the outside world, he'd learned through the television in his entertainment room and the occasional rare conversation with another Pet (other Pets weren't quite as controlled and heavily watched over as Kanda was… but they were also very stupid and irritating, so usually the panther-boy didn't bother contributing with much in those so-called conversations… just a short reply here and there and quite a few grunts. And 'che's, if they were getting too irritating).
So this was a first. But whatever. He had to get out and run away, having no time to waste marveling about first impressions and such.
Smelling the strange new scents, Kanda stepped through and closed the door behind him quietly, then walked down the three steps before him and crouched next to them, scanning his surroundings.
There was a tall metal fence surrounding the parking lot. Barbed wire on top of it. And another two fences like that one beyond it. Hmmm. That could be a problem if he didn't want to leave any traces.
But hell, they would soon notice he was missing. And it's not like the holes in the fences would tell them exactly which direction he had taken.
Beyond the fences, there was an empty street, then a few houses, and after that, trees and trees and trees.
It seemed he had been fortunate enough to, on top of having found a door that led directly outside, found the door to the back of the building, the one that turned toward the forest. Which sounded incredibly unrealistic, too easy. Were the Shop owners so confident in their staff that they thought all their safety measures were enough? Was that why they didn't have more corridors and rooms and guards, and didn't feel bothered about having a door that would allow one to quickly escape so close to where they kept their Pets?
Or was it because most Pets would never even dream of trying to escape that there was almost no security to make them unable to leave, only to keep thieves from breaking in?
In the dark, Kanda shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head a little, as if to make the stray thoughts stop. He didn't have time for this. Focus.
With one last glance around, Kanda stood up from the protection of the steps and ran towards the fence, allowing the retracted claws hidden underneath his human-looking nails to come out, sharp and dangerous looking.
Just a few small holes, maybe crossing a few mined zones, nothing much for someone that could tear such fences easily and smell the mines. After that it was just a matter of crossing a street and he'd be free. Truly, magnificently, absolutely free. And they would never catch him again.
For the second time that night, Kanda smirked in glee.
He was just so hungry.
Oh, sure, he had instincts, desperateness, and knowledge (gotten from the National Geographic programs he used to watch on the TV…) enough to hunt. Heck, Kanda even had the innate skill.
Problem was, there wasn't enough food for him to catch. A few small birds. Rats, lots of them. One or two hares, occasionally, which were now a feast to him whenever he caught one. And little more than that.
When he ventured closer to the mountains, he sometimes caught the scent of what he later found out was moose.
They were too big for him.
Right now, Kanda was too small to even hope to get out alive of a fight with one of those. When he was older, and with a proper strategy, maybe, but not right now, and Kanda was well aware of that.
It had been raining a lot lately, so the raven-haired boy hadn't been able to even light a fire and had to eat the meat raw. Not that he minded it that much, but he hated getting all sticky with blood. And cooked food tasted so much better.
Hell, how he missed soba.
The white tunic that had been his only type of clothing during his time in the Shop was now little more than a dirty brown and green rag that barely covered his body.
His once soft and glossy black fur was now harsh, filled with knots and covered in more dirt than he liked to think of. Same for his long black hair.
His once perfect alabaster skin was dirty and covered in scrapes and other minor wounds. His nails… well, his claws were fine - being used quite often and carefully cleaned afterwards because it was easy with them being so long - but let's not talk about his nails. And his feet were cold almost all the time.
And he hadn't been able to take off the damn black and silver collar around his neck, goddamnit.
So in terms of life quality, being free sucked.
However, other than that, Kanda had been having a good time for the first time in his life. He had the kind of personality that enjoyed being pushed and tested to the limit again and again, taking pride in facing harsh conditions and surviving every day. He liked the freedom; he liked how he could run for miles and miles and not be constricted by walls or fences or chains or someone else's will. He loved hunting too – the thrill of searching for an appetizing scent, stalking his prey, and finally the moment when he killed it. He loved it all.
Which reminded him.
Right now, he was so hungry.
Starving, to be precise.
Last thing Kanda'd eaten had been a skinny rat. That had been… three days ago. Bleh. The weather had progressively gotten colder and colder, and whatever small animals there had been to eat had all ran away to where food was abundant – meaning, near the city Kanda had abandoned more or less three weeks ago.
As he forced himself to head towards the city, Kanda's stomach growled loudly, and he felt somewhat light-headed. He knew he could survive longer than most without food, but this was getting ridiculous. He wanted food - he really, really wanted it, and he wanted it now.
Even if he had to approach that cursed place to get it.
That day, after classes were over, Allen felt like sitting on the merry-go-round. Unlike the other devices in the playground, this one was in a corner near the trees, almost hidden behind the tall bushes that almost surrounded it completely. It was a cozy and secluded corner.
Running down the street as fast as he could, Allen was like a brilliant flash of white light – not just because he was running so fast, but because he was all white and light colours. Pale skin, grey eyes, and, oddly enough, short white hair. The only thing with a darker colour and even odder than his achromatic hair was on the left side of his face in the form of a striking dark red tattoo: it began as an upturned five-pointed star on his forehead, above his left eyebrow. Then a line went down from the top of the star and across his eyelid, down to his cheek, where it turned left and then down again in a curved shape, following the curve of his cheek. Under his eye, a small, slightly undulating line crossed the main one. Curiously, the tattoo and the strangely coloured hair only contributed to his beauty – Allen was indeed a beautiful boy, his soft and still somewhat childish features almost unearthly, illuminated by those big pools of grey and blue that were his eyes; his pale complexion, complemented by the whiteness of his hair, sometimes made him seem to almost glow from the inside. Even the tattoo was just the right splash of colour in all that white. Allen was beautiful, but very different.
His appearance made many people wary and suspicious of him - mostly parents of the other children from his school - but despite his strange looks, Allen was a very nice and kind boy, always polite and more mature than other children his age. Anyone who actually talked to him couldn't help but feel captivated by his soft voice, calm manners and subtle charm. His smile cheered and reassured people. His surprisingly intelligent remarks impressed them. And so on. Still, those who didn't ever come into direct contact preferred to avoid him.
He liked to go to that playground sometimes, even though he was already twelve years old – he liked to be there when it was empty at the end of the day, and it was on his way home, anyway.
One day, he would perhaps bring his friends here, when he felt prepared to share this place with them. For now, he enjoyed spending the last hours of light alone in this place. Beyond it, there was just the endless forest that covered the area from there to the mountains, so the wind was fresh and carried that clean scent of wood, leaves, soil and…. wilderness… that Allen loved.
So he entered the playground and went immediately to that almost hidden corner where the merry-go-round was, letting his heavy school bag fall to the ground next to it with a grateful sigh.
Then he remembered the leftover sandwiches from lunch he had in there and almost tripped as he abruptly bent down to open the bag and check if they had been squished or something.
Sighing in relief once he saw that those delicious sandwiches were practically intact (except maybe for the small bite he decided to take from the tuna one in order to celebrate the fact that the sandwiches were safe even after being thrown around so carelessly), he put them back where they were and took out the book he'd borrowed from the school library before leaving the school and sat down, fidgeting a bit to get in a more comfortable position.
But then two or three small branches from those tall bushes that had grown too close to the merry-go-round were poking his back so he had to lay aside his book while he shoved them back.
With that done, he went back to reading and quickly immersed himself in the book.
Allen just loved horror books.
The afternoon was, as it always was in that area, quiet and peaceful. Being the first week of October, the wind was beginning to get chilly; most trees had already begun losing their leaves, and the days were quickly getting shorter, so as Allen read, surrounded by the golden, orange and brown hues of the fallen leaves on the ground, the grey sky quickly began turning orange and red as the sunset approached.
Occasionally, Allen briefly paused in his reading to glance around, feeling peaceful as he admired his surroundings: the reddening sky, the trees, the ground covered in leaves, even the old merry-go-round where he was sitting, noticing how the old blue paint was cracking and falling off in some places, revealing the rusty metal underneath.
As he looked back down at the book, he suddenly noticed something in the corner of his vision field. He turned his head to see what it was (maybe a squirrel had decided to sit on his bag? That had happened before…) and there, coming out of the bushes, was a pair of dirty white hands searching through his bag.
Stunned, Allen didn't move as he watched them move about (it wasn't like he had money in there, so he wasn't worried) - but then the hands stopped and took out his two remaining sandwiches. Allen's sandwiches.
And that was it for Allen's stunned silence.
"Hey!" he shouted indignantly as he threw away his book and dove to grab that pair of thieving hands and his sandwiches with a possessive roar, "That's mine!"
And because Allen was Allen, the white-haired child had used too much force as he leaped and ended up falling into the bush. The tiny branches scraped his soft skin and he let out a grunt as he hit something solid that gave way under him. Then Allen was rolling down the slight elevation located behind the bush along with whatever he'd knocked off, and little stones and other pointy things dug into his back viciously as the world rolled madly around him, and all Allen saw was light and darkness as his face was turned towards the sky or the ground.
Then it all halted suddenly when he hit yet another solid thing, but this time it remained in place. As Allen's head kept spinning for a bit, his breath was knocked out of him when the solid 'something' from before crashed into him; but it disappeared from his side almost immediately with a rustling of dead leaves.
What was that? adisorientated Allen tried to think, even as his head insisted on spinning madly, What was I…? He noticed the mangled sandwich hanging pitifully from his right hand. Oh.
Oh, right, he'd tried taking his food from the sandwich thief, but he'd somehow fallen into the bush, probably hitting the thief in that process, and then rolled down to where he was.
Wait, only one sandwich? Little Allen glared at the one he was currently holding as if it was its fault. What about the other one?
A tree had stopped his mad rolling, and now he was upside down, his shoulders on the ground, but the rest of his back leaning against the tree's trunk, and his short legs hanging down. In that position, all he could see was his own backside and legs, the tree that had stopped him, and the roof of the forest, bits of the sky visible among the brown and green leaves. So where was the thief?
Allen immediately scrambled to his feet and sat up, not dusting himself off just like every kid his age, and his clear grey eyes were immediately attracted to the figure a few steps away, and was surprised to find a furious boy's dark eyes glaring into his own.
The first thing he noticed about the other apart from those fierce eyes was his hair – black, long and flowing like a girl's, even though it was dirty (was that a tiny twig sticking out of the side of his head?) and all out of place. The hair fell over his thin shoulders and down to his back, almost hiding from view the brown and green (was that supposed to have been white at some point…?) long shirt thingy he wore, all ragged and with holes all over it. And it only seemed to cover his thighs. Almost like a dress, Allen snickered to himself quietly. But the kid was obviously male, what with that fierce glare and the masculine features (very pretty, though. And strange… what was the word? Asian, yes, Asian) of his face. And the flat chest, though girls Allen's age didn't have that much of a chest to begin with…
The next thing Allen noticed (and how the Hell hadn't it been the first?) was the long, swishing black tail whipping the ground behind the long-haired kid with a loud rustling of dry leaves, and the two very big black cat ears on his head. Real cat ears, since they were twitching furiously as their owner glared darkly at poor Allen.
The other child was on all on fours– no, wait, he was not using his knees to support himself, he was on his feet. So it was more like a crouch? And the hand that wasn't on the ground supporting him held a sandwich that was as mangled (if not more) as Allen's.
All in all, the hybrid looked like a wild thing – dirty, beautiful, dangerous, and in its element.
The two children stood frozen staring (or in the cat-boy's case, glaring) at each other, the only movements nearby being those of the hybrid's tail and ears.
Okay, awkward… what now?
Why hasn't he run away already? Allen thought as he stared at the other, ignoring the death glare and taking in more details, like the scrapes and small wounds all over him and his overall state – it seemed as if the kid had been living in the wilderness for quite some time. Maybe he's so hungry he wants the other sandwich? Allen thought, a twinge of guilt churning unpleasantly in his gut. If there was anything the white-haired boy knew about, that was being so starved all you wanted was food and would stop at nothing to get it, would do anything to get it. Allen knew that very well. And some other things as well. All of them as pleasant as that 'desperately starving' feeling.
Allen felt like he should apologize and so he opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment the cat-boy's tail hit the ground more forcefully than before, his dark glare intensified so that it looked as if he wished Allen would instantaneously drop dead on the ground, and Allen snapped his mouth shut.
Okaaay… what now?
Kanda was doing his best to remain still. Completely still.
His tail and ears seemed to have a life of their own, but he was more or less used to that. He just had to remain immobile so he could control his instincts.
Killing a kid wouldn't do.
The people from the Shop should still be looking for him. If a kid went missing and was later found ripped to shreds, the eager search for Kanda would turn into a vicious hunt.
So he could not kill, even though all his instincts were screaming at him to do it, that he'd enjoy doing it. Not to eat, of course, his human side shrugged off the idea with disgust.
Not that that scrawny kid looks like he has enough meat on those bones, Kanda thought. The sandwich the white-haired boy had in his hand was quite more appealing.
The human child himself was actually quite strange in Kanda's eyes. Too pretty for a human. And Kanda had never seen one so pale or with white hair – maybe it was dyed? Seemed unlikely, he was quite young. But he even had a tattoo. And quite a bold one, at that. Kanda had learned about tattoos from the TV, but he'd never actually seen one. He'd also heard that many Owners tattooed their Pets, but he'd never met one of those.
And those eerie eyes – big and grey, shining like crystals, and with that intent expression the human wore now, they seemed to pierce right through you and reach your core. On such a pretty face that almost seemed to glow in the shade of the trees, the overall effect was beautiful and almost ethereal, albeit strange.
It was a look fit for an Owned Pet, except that his smell and everything about him screamed 'human'.
Kanda could feel his panic brewing just under the surface, but he kept it under control with an iron will. He didn't have time for that. A human - a human he couldn't kill - had seen him. What should he do?
If he killed him, Kanda already knew what would happen. If he didn't kill him, the kid would tell someone and they would tell the Shop. Which option gave Kanda more chances of escaping? A vicious hunt that would only begin after a few days, when the body was found? Or a gentle but certain persecution that would begin as soon as the kid's words reached the Shop's ears?
The kid was going to say something. Was he going to try to catch Kanda? Had he heard about how the Local Shop was looking for someone like Kanda?
Unable to control it, Kanda's tail moved even more furiously and the human snapped his mouth shut in haste and didn't say anything. Instead he opted for looking at Kanda very calmly. It was almost unnerving. He should ki-
Kanda reigned in on his killing instincts once more. He had to think. And focus.
Under the scrutiny of those eerie grey eyes that were looking at him so calmly, Kanda tried to weigh the pros and cons. Pros of killing the kid: no one would know for sure it had been Kanda and it would give him a few days to run away, maybe a few weeks if he hid the body. He could probably cross over the mountains in that time. Cons: the Shop would be given permission to use all means to hunt him down. Someone would probably demand Kanda's head, too. And he would have a hard time finding food. And surviving the cold.
Pros of not killing him: it'd probably take two or three days for the kid's words to reach the Shop's men, giving Kanda enough time to go back to where he had been before. Cons: the men might come look for him in that area, and if he tried to go further up into the mountains or cross over with the pursuers on his heels, he'd have the disadvantage of not knowing the area. Bu-
Wait. The human had moved. What the hell was doing?
Very, very slowly, the white-haired boy had reached out his hand in Kanda's direction, holding out the poor sandwich.
Kanda stared expressionlessly, petrified. What…?
Understanding flashed in those strange grey eyes, and the human leaned forward slightly (Kanda's ears went flat against his skull at that, and he frowned) and put the sandwich on the ground, in between them.
Then the kid, moving very cautiously, took a few steps back and sat on the ground with a slight smile, looking very pleased with himself.
The weird human kid was clearly offering the sandwich Kanda had been trying to steal earlier, and he'd stepped away from it both to make the offer obvious and to try to convince Kanda to take it. He seemed almost eager to have his "present" be accepted.
Kanda's eyes narrowed at the sandwich, then up at the pretty human child. Was it a trick?
But Kanda's nose didn't detect any strange scents nearby. The only humanoids in the area were him and the kid, so it couldn't be a way to lure him out so they could catch him… unless… it was drugged…?
Letting the sandwich he was holding fall to the ground as if it had burned his hand, Kanda jumped three steps back and away and glared furiously at the kid.
Had the Shop found Kanda already?! Was the human child just a decoy?
Allen couldn't have been more startled when suddenly, and apparently without reason, the animal kid had dropped the sandwich he already had and fled, before stopping not that much farther away, looking at Allen like he'd deceived him. What was all that about…?
Hmm. Maybe he really couldn't trust humans. Kindness made him suspicious. Figures. But then why was the cat still not running away?
But he hadn't taken Allen's generous offer. Seriously, what a waste! And Allen had acted calm and everything, as not to scare him away! Allen, even if he understood the reaction, couldn't help but feel a little insulted.
Well, if acting calm and being generous wasn't going to cut it, then he might as well eat the food.
So Allen shrugged, went to pick up his sandwich and began munching away happily.
"Too bad, kitty-boy", Allen snickered, "it would have been smarter of you to accept it."
One of those large jet-black cat ears twitched angrily at that, and the death glare intensified once more. Damn, if looks could kill…
"Don't look at me like that. It was your fault." Allen chirped. In the quietness of the forest at sunset, he felt like he was talking too loudly. "Are you going to eat that?" he asked, pointing at the sandwich Kanda had abandoned.
The hybrid's only response was a quick movement that Allen barely caught, and the next moment the sandwich was in Kanda's hands.
The human was talking – he had a disgustingly annoying voice, almost like a girl's – and eating the sandwich he'd offered with more enthusiasm than he should be feeling.
So maybe the sandwiches weren't drugged. Well, that was a relief. And so the Shop still had no idea where he'd went. That was a huge relief.
But now he'd had an idea. His options weren't just to kill the kid or not to kill the kid; there was a third.
Kanda smirked deviously.
Allen had just finished his sandwich, and next thing he knew, he was on his back on the ground with something heavy and warm pinning him to it. There was a strong grip around his throat, constricting, but not making him unable to breathe.
The wild cat-boy leaned forward, and the long black tresses fell around them like a curtain. Allen stared up at the other's beautiful but dirty face, grey eyes wide in surprise.
Kanda lowered his face so that their noses were almost touching, and they could feel each other's breath on their skin. He glared down into the human's pale eyes. "Don't tell anyone you saw me," the cat-boy hissed in a low, dangerous voice. It was raspy, like he hadn't talked in quite a while. "Or I'll kill you."
Surprisingly, the human's reaction was to give him a bright smile. "Of course, if that's what you want." And then he rolled his eyes at him – rolled his eyes! – as if he couldn't sense he was in mortal danger. "You could have just asked, you know."
And under him, the pinned human child that should have been scared shitless by now, that should have been screaming or paralyzed with fear, was just there, smiling brightly up at him as if he didn't have a dangerous half-animal threatening to kill him latched on to his throat.
Is he an idiot? Kanda wondered.
Suddenly the expression in those grey eyes turned from good-naturedly amused to interested, and the human stared intently at Kanda's face. Before the hybrid could let out a warning growl, the white-haired child had leaned forward, ignoring the hand on his throat to get their faces even closer, and then he said in that annoying voice of his -
"Your eyes are blue," Allen said, delighted, and a huge smile appeared on his face, brighter than the previous one, brighter even than the sun. He'd thought the cat-eared boy's eyes were dark brown or black, but now he realized they were a very dark blue instead, with specks of dark grey. His eyes were beautiful beyond comparison, and Allen felt fascinated by them.
Kanda's dark blue eyes widened.
And then he was gone.
Only a few seconds later did Allen realize Kanda had turned tail and ran as fast as he could.
This is how Kanda Yuu met Allen Walker for the first time.
"All beginnings are involuntary."
Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet
End of Chapter 1