A/N: This is not a new chapter, I'm sorry. I'm just cutting the existing chapter 4 into two, since it was so ridiculously long. But this is all in preparation for the posting of chapter 5, okay? Thanks to everyone who's been poking and prodding and not letting me forget about the next chapter. XD
What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939
For some reason, the cat-boy was extremely difficult to talk to. Usually he preferred staying away from Allen, a tree or two away, either hiding up in the tree's leaves or under some bush near it.
Sometimes, no matter how much Allen talked or what he said, the hybrid refused to say a word. On good days, he got a snarl and a pine cone thrown at his head. On the very good days, anything Allen said would earn him a caustic response from somewhere nearby – usually from a branch somewhere up on the tree Allen was sitting against – and a pine cone thrown at his head.
He really wished the hybrid would lose that appreciation for throwing things, it hurt like a b- Ahem.
From time to time, Allen didn't feel like talking much and brought his notebooks with him, so he could do his homework. They both stayed silent on those days, but Allen could sense the cat-boy closer than usual.
It also happened that sometimes the Pet was on the ground, wrapped up in his blankets, and only half hidden behind a bush, a tree or a rock – these were the exceptionally good days, and Allen knew better than to spoil the other's mood with talking, so he just sat down nearby and stayed silent. He usually busied himself with mental calculations or thinking about what chores he would have to do once he got home, or what he had to tell Mana to buy next time he went grocery shopping.
Kanda and Allen quickly found a comfortable routine that seemed to have been going on forever, like they knew each other since the beginning of times.
Comfortable, of course, had nothing to do with "companionable".
"You. Are an idiot."
"Says the one living in trees. Monkeys are less intelligent than humans, you know."
"Plants don't even have a fucking brain, moyashi."
"Would you quit calling me that?" Allen blinked up at the hybrid half hidden in the leaves of a branch. "Wait, that is some kind of plant? You've been calling me a vegetable or something all this time?"
"…bean-sized brain to match your bean-sized body, yeah?"
"Please. Go lick yourself or something and spare me the stupid comments."
A thundering growl coming from above was what he got for a reply before his head nearly split open in pain. Yet another pine cone had made enthusiastic acquaintance with Allen's head. "AH-OW! WHAT THE-" Allen yelled, looking up at the hybrid hidden from his sight. "Would you stop doing that?"
"Fucking be grateful I didn't kill you." Which was something Kanda wouldn't do, for several reasons – one of them being the food the human brought with him – but the kid didn't know that.
Allen rolled his silver eyes. "Yes, because having to deal with you is so much better than being dead and not having to constantly hear you bit-! insult me. And throw things at me." He rubbed the back of his head with a frown. "With a killer aim, might I add."
A mildly amused snort came from somewhere up in the tree.
And then Timcanpy, who so far had stayed asleep in his lid-covered basket, decided to wake up and announce his presence in the waking world with a loud mewl.
At the sudden stifling silence, Allen didn't know if this had been a good idea.
But it was not like he cared. That much. Surely a cat hybrid wouldn't mind meeting a real cat?
The sudden mewl sent warning bells ringing in Kanda's head and he stiffened, body locked into place by his usual fight or flight instinct. Which usually ended up with him automatically choosing the first one, anyway (a rather inconvenient instinct when the situation demanded thought and not gut-driven action).
But to suddenly hear something you were not expecting while in the company of a human who had had contact with the Shop's men… Kanda snarled.
"This is my kitten, Timcanpy!" Came the human's overly cheerful voice from below.
Kanda was already on hands and knees, claws digging into the wood and dark slit eyes set on that white head down below – when had he changed from lying on his back on the branch to this position? – and his dark hair fell on the sides of his face as he leaned down, perched on the edge, following every minute movement the human made.
"Mana gave him to me yesterday." The human was saying as he reached for a basket he'd brought with him – Kanda had assumed it contained food – and taking off the lid. A furry yellow head popped out of the basket, followed by a pleased long swishing tail. The human kid picked up the golden kitten and set it on his lap, under the blanket.
Kanda's eyes followed the action like a hawk's. The dark-haired hybrid watched the mitten-clad hand rise to pet the furry golden head, as the pretty human child continued saying something Kanda didn't pay attention to. The kitten nuzzled the hand petting him, looking relaxed and content. Such was obvious even in his scent, that Kanda could now catch. The cat also looked pretty comfortable in that warm lap, half-covered by a blanket.
This entire situation had been unexpected. Suddenly the human had brought something new into the equation, and thus surprised Kanda.
Kanda did not like being surprised.
His dark blue eyes narrowed at the yellow kitten down below, on the kid's lap, purring into the hand petting him.
Unexpected. No, he didn't like it.
Oh, Kanda did not like it at all.
"So, this is Tim. Well, his name is Timcanpy but that was too long so I decided to just call him Tim. And Tim, this is…" Allen trailed off. Come to think of it, he'd never asked the Pet his name. He'd always just shouted "cat guy!" while planning to ask him his name as soon as they properly talked, but he'd somehow forgotten. He looked up, big silver eyes curious, trying to see the other through the leaves and branches that were in the way. "What's your name, by the way? You never told me."
His words were only met with silence.
Allen blinked. And suddenly noticed the absence of the now so familiar feeling of being watched.
"Hey…?" he called hesitatingly. "You there?" Stupid question, really. He already knew the Pet was gone. Yet he tried again. "HEY!"
Timcanpy did not usually get bored when at home – there were lots of things for him to do there. Eat, sleep on Allen, chew Allen's slippers, hunt flies on the windows, eat, sleep on Allen's bed, run all over the house after a little ball with a bell inside, climb to the kitchen table, perch on Allen's head while his human did his homework, pester Mana with annoying mewls for no good reason, sleep on Allen's discarded shirt, eat some more…
But that did not mean Tim didn't like going out. There were all sorts of interesting new scents and things to see, and Tim enjoyed it a lot. He was even planning on exploring a bit on his own one of these days. But for now his human seemed to like taking him along, and it was all very nice.
The golden kitten couldn't help but wonder, though, why there were always these waves of distress almost emanating from his Allen whenever they went back to that tree.
For the next several days, Allen faithfully went back to their meeting place, occasionally bringing Tim with him. Considering the cat-boy had disappeared when he'd announced his presence, maybe that was not such a good idea, but...
But there was nothing (else?) Allen could do to make the Pet come back. All he had was Mana's suggestion that maybe "the kitten would come out if Allen brought Tim with him."
Which wouldn't work. But still. Still.
(Allen found himself clinging almost desperately to it.)
But no longer did he feel eyes on him whenever he visited the tree behind the playground.
There was the tree again. Instead of approaching it immediately, Allen always found himself staring up at it from a certain distance, trying to see a shadow hidden somewhere among the leaves, hear the rustling of clothes against branches, feel the weight of solemn dark eyes watching him.
Just the quietness of the forest. Somehow it always seemed more silent during winter, as if the snow muffled the sounds.
Not. A. Sound.
The white-haired boy did not like it.
"Well", he muttered, and fell silent.
The rustling leaves, shaken by the wind, were the only sound. And then the boy just couldn't take it anymore.
"YOU'RE A JERK!" Allen yelled, feeling a sudden anger welling up in his chest. His gloved hands were tight fists pressed against his sides. He could feel Tim against his chest, under his jacket, and he was probably scared, but there was just too much, too much, too much- "YOU'RE A GIRLY HAIR FREAK, A BASTARD AND A BLOODY COWARD! YOU AFRAID O' SOMETHIN' OH KITTY BOY?"
And nothing, nothing, nothing. It made him want to kick something.
Allen was angry. So, so angry.
So why did he feel like he wanted to apologize?
Every day Allen came back.
And every day no one was there.
He liked to pretend there was, though. Anything to fill that hateful silence (somewhere along the line, Allen had forgotten how to not feel affected by the lack of response). Even a pine cone directly aimed at the bridge of his poor nose would have been welcome by now. But he got no such thing, and so Allen talked to himself. Or to Tim, whenever he brought him, which wasn't as often now. He talked and talked and talked.
The silver-eyed child slowly lost that habit as well, though. He just wrapped the blankets more tightly around his thin body and waited for his not-exactly-friend to come back.
Turns out Lady Luck was not feeling generous towards Allen. Or maybe she'd just forgotten about him, since he was so tiny (according to that pest of a hybrid- whom Allen would not think about).
So first, the Pet disappeared. Then at school, they got their math exam's results – and Allen's was so terribly bad that even Daysia flinched at the grade. At home, the damn pipes in the bathroom decided to rebel and start leaking water everywhere. Timcanpy almost drowned in the toilet (was saved by Allen's timely appearance). Then Mana burned his hand on the stove. Allen lost an umbrella somewhere. And a pair of gloves. And forgot to do his homework. And accidentally broke a glass. Mana scolded him, but then ended up breaking one as well almost immediately after. It seemed that when bad luck struck, it was not just a single it, it was an avalanche.
After that, fortunately, things seemed to calm down a little ('Thank god!' Mana had muttered, on his knees in the bathroom, cleaning the floor). The Pet was still gone, but there were no more awful grades on tests or glasses breaking or pipes rioting. Things were somewhat stable. Not good, but stable.
And then Timcanpy went missing.
Contrary to what Allen believed, Kanda hadn't really left.
He hadn't suddenly found himself being persecuted by a bunch of the Shop's men, hot on his trail, so obviously the Moyashi's sudden addition to what Kanda unconsciously had already deemed "normalcy" hadn't meant anything besides that. So Kanda didn't run to the mountains.
Worse than that. He found himself occasionally going back to the area surrounding his meeting place with the Moyashi. Sometimes he even got close enough to hear that annoying high voice. Once or twice he'd dared sneak a quick peek at the kid and his cat.
However, the panther hybrid was still not comfortable about it, so he didn't go back to the tree. Dark ears flat against his messy long hair and long black tail rigid, looking at that ball of yellow fluff in the kid's lap made Kanda feel uneasy. He couldn't exactly say why. He just didn't like it.
Staying away had been the smart, cautious thing to do. It was still the smart and cautious thing to do. He'd already started getting too involved with the human kid. Kanda should stay away, no matter how many times the kid came back. And that's what Kanda did, ignoring the talking and other sounds he could hear from the human whenever he was in the area, and almost never briefly peeked at him from afar again.
Gradually, he heard the human less and less, until the kid stopped talking at all. But the wind still brought his scent to Kanda, so the Pet knew he was there.
Thinking about the kid sitting under that tree silently waiting irritated Kanda for some reason. So he chose not to think about it, and kept avoiding the place.
Even though he was quite hungry and hadn't managed to find that much to kill lately. And hunting at night, considering how low the temperature got at that time, was absolutely out of the question. Kanda was a half-animal, not an idiot.
Even if that was false, according to a certain human kid Kanda was not going to think about.
Somehow, that day Kanda found himself near the area once again. And the fucking silence was goddamn bothering him.
So it surprised him a little when he sensed hurried steps and a quickened breath barreling through the plants separating the playground from their meeting place and towards the tree. Curiosity prickled in a corner of Kanda's mind, but not enough to make him go take a look.
He'd be able to know what was going on perfectly well from where he was.
The scent hit him a second before the kid erupted from the bushes, panting loudly.
The human took a few moments to catch his breath, and Kanda could imagine him looking around, trying to catch a glimpse of the hybrid, or maybe using that weird-ass sixth sense of his to guess if Kanda was there or not. He was probably wearing those stuffy warm clothes Kanda always saw him wearing, and must be all flushed and sweating, spikes of fluffy white hair a mess and falling over his face in stark contrast with the maroon tattoo.
It still disturbed Kanda how much like an Owned Pet the human looked. Too good-looking to be human. Or maybe Kanda's memory was deceiving him – he hadn't taken a good look at the Annoying Kid in a good while, after all.
After a few more moments of silence, the human's child voice rang through the trees, loud and clear. Kanda could have been even farther away than he already was and he still would have heard him perfectly.
"I know-" Kanda heard him say, breathless and sounding resigned.
"I don't know if you're there," he went on after a pause, clearly rethinking his words. "I don't know if you were there yesterday or the day before-"
So apparently it was not the first time he came here specifically to say this… whatever it was.
"-and I don't know if you'll be there ever again and I'm here just talking to myself as usual." The boy let out a humorless little laugh. "Just like usual,'s not . But he needs-" He hesitated, for a second, and then suddenly the words were tumbling out in a rush and with a tint of despair somewhere in there. "You must be mad at me, I realize that, but whatever I did, please, I'm sorry, I'm terribly sorry, and I'll apologize a thousand times over for my very existence if you want, I'll do it, I swear- Just. Please. Help him. Find him. Find Timcanpy. He's just a kitten. Lost out there. I hate having to- I'm not- I-" he was stumbling all over his words now. "It's… it's the only thing I'll ever ask of you. Please." Kanda's sensitive ears even caught the gulp, like the kid was having trouble swallowing. "Help."
Things have a lovely habit of never going as smoothly as one wished.
Kanda narrowed his dark eyes, feeling the snarl deep in his throat make his skin vibrate against the black collar around his neck. His breath was a puffy white cloud in front of him and a cracking sound came from below, where his claws were digging deep into the cement as he flexed his hands reflexively. Great, now he'd have to sharpen them again on something after this was over. Kanda's glare intensified.
The huge black dog at the entrance of the dark alleyway glared back every bit as fiercely. It took a slow step forward. Kanda's snarl immediately turned louder in warning, his tail whipping around behind him. He hunched his shoulders, the muscles in his arms bulging. Kanda was watching everything with wide, wild dark eyes, ready to attack. No move from his opponent would surprise him.
If a human had witnessed the scene, he would have thought he was seeing an abandoned child, starved, tangled knots of black hair spilling down his shoulders and back and dirty and bloodstained clothes, going against a dangerous dog. The tail and the ears would be strange details, of course, but seem nothing that the kid could use to protect himself.
But to the dog, even though the Pet had a mostly human appearance, the hybrid was something other, dangerous and feral in all its snarling glory, that had intruded in the dog's territory.
With a growl the dog, a Doberman, bared his gleaming white fangs and leaped towards the half-human, all teeth and claws and muscle in compact and agile figure, against almost bare skin and sharp claws.
Minutes later, a black dog shot out of a dark alleyway howling, a large bleeding gash along its flank, and ran down the street looking absolutely terrified.
In the alleyway, only the shadows moved.
An old human male passed by, and Kanda ducked under the car, smooth as a shadow.
The dog had been fun, but he couldn't possibly do the same to a human. There was a limit to his idiocy. (His miniature sane self in his brain scoffed at that.)
Avoiding the line of sight of the human, Kanda got out of under the car to disappear behind the corner of the nearest house and barely avoided crashing into a trash can. Stepping around it in one fluid four-stepped movement, the Pet hid behind it. This narrow space in between two buildings was empty, stray plants growing from the cracks on the cement ground, another trash can a few ways away with two plastic bags beside it, a shallow pool o water. The graffiti on the walls was barely visible as the sun sunk in the horizon and the shadows lengthened and darkened. And it seemed this in-between area went all the way towards the back of the building, too. Good. Kanda could go that way, then, and see where to go from there.
No new scents being brought by the breeze, no sounds of steps. Good. Kanda glued himself to the wall and ran towards the corner of the house.
And barreled into a trash can that he had not noticed earlier.
Godfuckingdammit- oh, what the hell. More fruit. And what's this white thing- smells gross-*
In this rather unplanned adventure in the strange and unknown world that is 'civilization', Kanda was quickly learning one very important thing: trash cans are evil.
They hide behind corners you turn and on the other side of walls you jump over, and the smells (even before you crash into them and they fall and spill their contents) are intense and distracting and misleading. No matter how close he had his nose to the ground, once Kanda reached one the trails quickly faded into the other, stronger scents, and the panther couldn't find them again. Not that he had found the right trail as of yet.
And he was covered in trash. Ugh.
Disgusted, Kanda flicked his right ear briskly so a rotting banana peel fell off his head. This was all so very frustrating.
Fucking cat, he thought grudgingly as he avoided almost slipping on some oil spilling from an almost empty plastic bottle he'd overturned. Fucking useless waste of fur.
He'd followed the Strange Moyashi Brat home. Oh yes. He was closer to the cursed city than ever before since his escape, and he was feeling every cell in his body scream at him to turn around and leave. Also, his survival instincts were calmly informing him - with the tone of those personally offended - that Kanda was obviously an idiot.
Someone smart wouldn't have impulsively followed the human kid after just a few seconds of profound consideration. Which had basically consisted of a first thought of "ha! What do I fucking care?", a second of "I should find that stupid cat and show this little human bastard how it's done. Heh." and there had not been a third thought.
This had not, his instincts told him, been a rational, careful decision.
The thing with Kanda is that for a human that has roughly 38% of his DNA in common with a wild animal, he can be terrifyingly rational. It just so happens that he chooses not to exercise that rationality most of the time, or his temper chooses for him. A trait that in the past had meant quite a bit of trouble for Kanda.
In this particular case it meant actually considering doing something rather risky for his well being and freedom, for the sake of a whiny brat and a disgusting excuse for a yellow mop that was to blame for all this.
(What 'this' was exactly, Kanda never really put much thought into it.)
Of course, in Kanda's currently not-so-highly-rational mind, things were not phrased like that. In his mind, there were words like 'clothes' and 'food', which for some strange reason made him feel uncomfortable and the word 'debt' appear, and also 'unhappy kid means no kid which means no helpful info on the men from the Shop', which was probably the most logical thought he had going and the one he'd cling to whenever he thought back on this once the whole thing was over.
Meanwhile, he was just focusing on mapping out all the scents around the kid's house and immediate surroundings, and trying to find the right one. Good thing he'd brought with him the cat toy he'd found in the kid's garden. The scent in the toy was strong, and having it with him was better than just relying on Kanda's memory.
Ignoring the slimy feeling on the side of his head left by the banana peel from earlier, Kanda climbed up the wall separating the kid's neighbor's garden from the outside, jumped to the ground and promptly fell onto a bunch of plastic bags that burst open under his weight, covering the panther Pet and the ground in all sorts of trash.
Blowing his own dirty (now dirtier) hair out of his face with a furious snarl, Kanda swore profusely as he got up and shook the junk off of himself. His long tail whipped around furiously behind him, dripping some foul smelling liquid everywhere. He'd have to steal new, clean clothes when this was over.
Things were not going well.
All in all, it was a smelly, tiring and nerve-wracking experience. Kanda wandered around the kid's home and nearby houses, hiding under cars and carefully trimmed bushes and in the growing shadows as the sun set, always jumping at the smallest sound, claws extending immediately.
It was not like he expected the Shop's men to know he was so near the city, but one of them could have been passing by and seen him and come back with a bunch of friends. Or one of the neighbours could have seen a kid with a tail and cat ears crawling in their garden and thought it best to call the Shop. Or something. Kanda's eyes kept darting around even has he had his face so close the ground he shouldn't be able to see anything else, but the truth was that healthy levels of paranoia keep the half-human alive and free. But not from stumbling into trash cans whenever there was one nearby.
(It was like there was some sort of law of attraction. Kanda + trash can nearby – inevitably led to clumsy collision and scattering of rubbish. One would think a half-animal wouldn't have this sort of problem.)
In gardens and backstreets and trees and trash cans (which were evil) and under cars (which was oily) and inside the empty house nearby and on roofs (which made Kanda imagine the human kid searching there as well and falling off, a rather amusing thought) and in more trash cans Kanda searched, trying to catch a whiff of the same scent the toy he carried had.
That scent would be easy enough to recognize, if not to differentiate from the surrounding ones – a mix of the smells surrounding the kid's house (that made wood, ceramics, fluffy carpets and blankets and food come to Kanda's mind) and the warm musk of an animal, with the sharpness that indicated a fellow feline, and under all that, the faint scent of human, that Kanda could recognize as Moyashi's.
The scent of feline was much stronger than he'd ever smelled, though. Was it because the track was fresh, or because it was from an actual animal and not one of the hybrids Kanda had met all his life? Ah, whatever.
The Annoying Human Nuisance's house was in the outskirts of the city, and its back garden led directly to the forest, separated from it only by low trees and bushes and some plants. It was more than likely that the kitten had wandered that way and gotten lost, but Kanda, trying to think rationally for once, decided to try looking in the urban surroundings first. The cat might have chosen to go explore something that was more familiar to it rather than the absolutely unfamiliar forest, or have been attracted to the strong smells and shiny things or something.
This actually meant that in his practical and optimistic mind, Kanda figured the cat would be quicker to find if it had been run over by a car.
Which would make this stupid search fucking pointless, but then – the kid's plea echoed again in his ears. Which it had been, a plea, that is, and half of Kanda had wanted to laugh at the kid's expense, how does it feel to be powerless, human? and the other half had been too focused on the unpleasant [angry] churning in his stomach at seeing that bratty, stubborn kid like that.
However, Kanda really would have to give up if he found the scent and the trail led deep into the neighborhood, towards the city. There was a limit to how close he was willing to get to civilization – and to the Shop, in particular.
But in the end, all the panther hybrid got for his troubles were smelly, dirty clothes, a new collection of scratches, fur covered in all sorts of sticky, goo-ish things, and the paranoic belief that trash cans were out to get him.
Conclusion? Either Kanda had failed to find an existing trail (which should be impossible), or the fucking cat had wandered into the forest (which maybe should have been obvious).
What to choose?
Well, of course the fucking cat had gone to the forest. Damn all motherfucking stupid cats with a beansprout's sense of direction. Or lack thereof.
And so Kanda quickly made his way back towards the forest, narrowly avoiding more strange encounters with the urban fauna (including the plastic, filled with trash sort) except for the unavoidable ones (having cats yowling and hissing and sniffing at you was not pleasant or convenient when you were trying to go unnoticed here).
He'd gratefully greeted the trees, the fresh scent invading his nose immediately once he submerged himself in the green, hidden from the sight of the Annoying Moyashi's house.
It was almost insulting when, more or less a mere hour and a half later, he found the scent he'd been looking for for the past 4 hours. From there, it was almost easy tracking down the stupid cat, half dead and half buried in the snow, where it seemed to have fallen asleep. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The moon was high in the sky and the wind was picking up as Kanda, knees deep in snow and long hair fluttering around him, gazed down at the yellow kitten almost completely covered in snow, heaving shallow, slow breaths as it froze to death without noticing.
Stupid, so stupid.
Kanda bent down and picked it up with both his hands, and raised it to eye level.
The Pet felt a little angry, a little frustrated, and a little something else he couldn't really identify as he looked at the unconscious cat in his hands. He'd never seen a real cat from up close before. And this strange little furry thing, all wet and cold and pathetic, with its dirty yellow fur and the ridiculously long tail, so cold it was past trembling and so stupid it couldn't survive on its own, was- It would be so easy to-
White hair, white skin, a red mark and silver eyes flashed in Kanda's mind.
Dark, unreadable eyes considered the little yellow body in his hands for a moment longer.
Then Kanda slipped it under his shirts, not even hissing at the freezing temperature of the small body directly touching his skin, and disappeared in the depths of the forest.
Kanda was pretty sure about what he'd have to do. First, get the stupid cat to his place. Second, dry it. He'd use a blanket for that. Third, keep it warm. This was all very obvious since it was what Kanda himself wanted when he was cold.
He'd done all that, he'd even been generous enough to offer a bit of the leftovers he had – two little birds and a half-eaten lizard – to the half-dead cat. But after Kanda was done energetically rubbing the cat all over with a blanket, it had suddenly woken up and bit his hand. It fucking bit him, that little piece of shit, and scratched at him and slipped from his hold.
And Kanda had leaped at him, ready to beat some fucking respect into his inferior. He'd fortunately reminded himself in time that the little yellow fucker was not to be eaten, killed or maimed, and so it ended up being a rather one-sided bout of scratching violence, from which only Kanda walked away with battle scars, that ended with a pissed off panther making little enraged noises in a corner and a little pile of golden fur silently gloating and emitting waves of smugness from the other.
And now Kanda could feel those golden eyes glaring holes into him, for whatever reason (who the hell was the yellow midget to be offended when it had been the disrespectful one?) from across the small space. Which made Kanda glare back just as fiercely. The atmosphere in Kanda's little spot was tense.
Outside, the wind roared.
This was going to be a long night.
Kanda carefully scratched the new wounds in his fingers. Rather than hurting, those small scratches caused by the yellow fucker's tiny claws itched like a-
Footsteps, snow being crunched under shoes. Kanda's ears tilted immediately in the direction of the sound.
Hmmm. Was it the Brat at last? Kanda shifted in his position, trying to get the squirming bundle of blankets under his clothes into a more comfortable position. Maybe crouching with the stupid cat still in its blanket and under Kanda's shirts had not been a good idea.
Moyashi's scent reached his nose. Time to move. Only a few seconds left.
The Pet got on all fours, slapped the bundle under his clothes for it to stop squirming, and moved down the tree and to the ground, his feet and hands seemingly finding the best spots to grip without effort and naturally choosing where to step that would make no sound. After all this time in the forest, how to move silently had become second nature to Kanda.
He carefully made his way towards the tree where he and the kid used to sit but stopped before leaving the tall vegetation behind it. Lying down on his side on the snow, he took out the blanket and put it next to him. Inside it, the cat sensed he was being let out and started struggled violently.
Kanda rolled to lie on his stomach, holding the blanket-covered cat under his right arm so it wouldn't get free, and only a second later, the human kid arrived, looking around. The white-haired boy stopped briefly, looking surprised, and then hugged his jacket closer to himself before walking to the usual tree.
"I know you're there." He said.
Freaky sixth sense still as healthy as ever. Glad to know.
Kanda's hands moved to let out the cat, but then hesitated over the knot. He stared at it, then looked back at the kid.
"I don't really get why, though. Suddenly changed your mind?" the child's gloved hands were curled into fists at this sides. "I've been here every day. And every day I've said the same thing. My cat got lost. I'd like you to help me find him. But for some reason I doubt you'd do that, you selfish bastard. You just want to laugh at me, don't you." He sneered to himself.
The Pet stared at the white-haired child, scratched hand hovering over the knot keeping the cat trapped and away from the kid, long black tail still and rigid behind him. Suddenly he felt like going up to that brat and knocking him a new one, kicking him around and adding a few punches for good measure, and then killing him. He was freaking annoying, even just standing there looking expectant and tired and sad.
Kanda looked down at the balled up blanket with the human's cat inside, and loosened the knot after only a second of hesitation. The stupid yellow thing hissed and tried to scratch him again, but Kanda ignored it and picked up the cat with both his hands. Then putting the cat in front and away from him, Kanda lightly shoved him forward. Go, stupid cat. Shove shove. Go.
With a dismissing flick of tail and one last glare from the corner of his eyes, Tim just sat there and refused to move. Finally he was free of that moron not-person thing that didn't know what real food was. But like hell was Tim about to do what it wanted.
Kanda could feel a vein popping out on his forehead. You little bitch-
He grabbed the cat by its sides and crawled forward, through the bush, using his knees and elbows, with a litany of fucking bitch, stupid yellow fucker, hateyouhateoyou going in his head as the cat struggled in his grip.
Allen was glaring at his boots. The feeling of being watched was there again, it had been so long since he'd felt it, or been sure that's what he was feeling, that it felt almost weird. But nothing was being said or thrown at him, there was nothing else to tell that the hybrid was there. It was just like Allen was alone in the middle of the empty forest covered in snow. Just like in the first days.
A rustling of leaves and strange sounds made him look up. From the middle of the small leaves and tiny branches, two pale and dirty hands covered in scratches appeared, carrying the yellow kitten Allen had been so desperately searching for for the last four days. The hands carefully put the squirming kitten on the snow and quickly retreated and disappeared.
Tim sent one last glare through the corners of his eye and stepped away from the not-person's hands. The snow was really cold, though. Really, all Timcanpy wished for right now was to be home again with his Allen-human. Tim was tired of plants and snow and no-food. The interesting things he saw around here were no match to food and warmth and Allen-human.
As for Allen, he couldn't believe his eyes. Was that-? Was that-?
"TIM!" he shouted. "C'mere, Tim!"
Oh, Allen-human was here! He could go back home now! Tim immediately forgot about the not-person thing and happily made his way towards his most adored human in the whole wide world, mewling softly and fully intending to rub himself all over Allen's legs to show his happiness.
"Oh, Tim…" Allen said, feeling too many things all at once. His words were coming out sounding more like sobs. He kneeled on the snow and held his arms out. "Tim…"
Hidden in the middle of the vegetation, Kanda watched. This was how it was supposed to be. Heh. He'd showed that human bastard how things were done! Yes he had! And now that fucking cat was rubbing his furry head against Moyashi's cheek, probably purring. Heh. Stupid fucker. And the kid was all teary, pffff. What a stupid little bitch, he really looked just about ready to cry. It made Kanda kind of mad, actually.
The kid should just leave now. Why wasn't he leaving? Kanda didn't want to have to watch some sappy happy reunion or the kid's sob fest over that waste of fur. Yeah, Kanda should be the one to get up and leave then. He had nothing to do here. At all. Should just go back to his place and mind his own business. He had nothing to do with those two. Fuck, he wanted nothing to do with those two. He'd never wanted anything. Che, he'd never want anything from a human.
So yeah. He was going to leave and go find something to eat and stay the fuck away.
Kanda went on watching, dark blue eyes never leaving the happy pair by the tree, black furry ears lying down against his head and a strange feeling in his chest. He didn't leave.
When Allen finally calmed down, it was only to go on a scolding rant, mingled with the occasional sniff here and there, and squeezing the poor cat in his arms the entire time.
"I missed you so much, Tim! Don't ever, ever, ever get lost again, I was so worried-!" Allen babbled as he squished the poor kitten against his chest, that responded by lovingly chomping on his exposed wrist in warning. "Ow, watch the teeth, the teeth!"
When he was finally done, after much squeezing and sniffling and a few more bites, Allen got up with the golden kitten purring happily in his arms, nibbling on the tip of the braided tie hanging from the right earflap of Allen's dark blue winter hat.
"Thank you!" Allen yelled, smiling so widely it felt like his face would split in two. "You're not that much of a jerk after all! Really, thank you so much!" Really, that arrogant, selfish and rude Pet wasn't so bad after all. Allen really had been right in wanting to help him. And he would! Allen now felt more determined than ever.
With a determined mental nod, Allen looked at the trees all around, his breath making a white cloud appear in front of his face.
Che. Kanda didn't need fucking 'thank you's, that was not why he'd done it! The fuck! Maybe he should go up to the kid and set him straight. Really, he should.
Or maybe just hit him with another pine cone. That should get the message along quite nicely. The brat should just go away and take his dear fucking cat with him and never come back. Kanda didn't want to see his face ever again.
He really, really didn't. He wanted the kid gone. He didn't want to see more of this.
Kanda glared at the human bastard and the little yellow fucker so cozy in his arms and wished they'd all just fucking disappear and fucking hell, shut up with the thanking! Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!
Why wasn't the kid leaving? Why? He had his cat already. Wasn't he fucking happy? Shouldn't he go to his goddamn house to his goddamn parent and leave Kanda the fuck alone? He should.
"Could you… please come out?" the human brat said.
Kanda stared, black ears perked up in astonishment. What was this now?
"Please. I really want to thank you for saving Tim. I bet he would have died out there in the cold if you hadn't found him. I- I know you probably- that is- I mean…"
Kanda's ears flattened against his skull and he narrowed his eyes in suspicion. This couldn't be good. Wasn't the kid fucking happy with his little yellow cat? Was this related to the Shop?
Kanda slowly got on his knees, not bothering to shake off the bits of snow clinging to his clothes. He was ready to run any second now.
"Please come home with me!" Allen blurted out, his face, already pink from the cold, getting a darker shade. But he seemed to toughen up and went on with a determined face. "You shouldn't live out here by yourself! If you're hiding from someone, I can help you! If I ask Mana, I'm sure he'll agree!"
The feeling of being watched was still there. The Pet was still there. It was a good sign.
"We can help you. You won't be cold anymore. And food. There'll always be food. And you won't have to run all the time. Just hide in our house."
No sound. It was just like that time. Only the wind in the trees made a sound.
Allen decided to try another approach.
"Can't you at least come out? I want to talk to you. I want to thank you properly."
Not a word.
Now from behind a tree, Kanda stared. It felt like until now someone had been driving a knife deep into his chest, and then twisting it. Or maybe Kanda himself had been the one doing the twisting.
And now the kid was asking Kanda to stay. To go home with him, even.
It annoyed Kanda. Made him want to punch the kid. But there was no longer a knife in his chest. Annoying, frustrating, terribly irritating, but soothing. What in the fucking hell. Kanda hated this type of people. Really, he did. They were the absolute worst.
Kanda stared at the kid, angry and surprised.
Allen stared at the trees, happy and hopeful. He really wanted to see the Pet. Take a good look, have a nice talk. Probably filled with insults and rude language, but it would still be interesting.
The hybrid watched the kid look around expectantly, clearly hoping to see Kanda emerge from the trees. "I promise we'll help you!" the Moyashi tried again. "So please come out?"
The Shop, its men, the forest, winter, lack of food, hunting, freedom. This human and its parent and their house with the nice smells and the fucking stupid cat and how much better he felt hearing those words for some reason. All this ran through Kanda's mind.
Allen waited, hope clear in his pretty pale face.
After a few more moments of silence, Kanda turned away and disappeared.
But for a second the corner of his lips curved up in the tiniest of smiles.
Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would, I would never leave you.
A. A. Milne, English humorist, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh
End of Chapter 4
*that's actually a diaper…
Kanda was meditating.
Meditation had been an essential part of the day to him ever since it had been taught to him, not too long after he'd opened his eyes for the first time. It helped him clear his mind and control his emotions and his instincts. Meditation had always played a key role in his life, and even after escaping the Shop and hiding in the forest, that hadn't changed.
Now, sitting on the top branches of some evergreen tree, hidden in the shadow of its foliage and completely surrounded by the rustling of leaves, Kanda's mind was empty. The cold weather did not reach him. Legs folded, hands on his knees in the right position, back straight and long black tail relaxed and only moving with the wind, the whole word was his breathing: inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale-
-And the scent of pure bliss filled his nose and washed over his senses. Warmth filled his entire body despite the cold. That scent… mouthwatering, mind-numbing, a siren's call impossible to resist that sank deep into his limbs, like hooks, and pulled him to a standing position, forcing him to move and seek the source of that smell, not that he was unwilling, he wanted it, wanted to be closer to whatever smelled like that, touch it, lick it, possess it-
"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…" Allen called as he waved around and shook the bag filled with catnip, an unholy smirk plastered across his pretty face. "Here, kitty, kitty…"
A/N: *slowly rises from the coffin* I LIIIVE! …After months of no updates, no new stories, not even funny or sexy one-shots, and barely any signs of life whatsoever (except on my LJ), I'm back… *makes puppy dog eyes* Please don't hurt me?
Because I love all of you, I swear. 138 reviews, 101 favourites, and 120 alerts (I feelz the luurve), and some by some of my favourite FFn authors. I feel like throwing myself to the floor and groveling and wailing that I am not wooooorthyyyyyy
*composes self* Anyway. Moving on.
In my tiny cubicle with no natural light, curled up in my bed under all my blankets with my laptop, I've spent the last few months struggling with this chapter that absolutely refused to be written. It just didn't want to, I swear. I was all, "I MUST finish you." And it looked at me with a raised eyebrow, the little bastard, and went, "You can try." And I just wanted to grab its scrawny little neck and shake and break it and- well. Okay, forget I said this.
Then there were three one-shots that just begged me to write them and after I was halfway through with them they changed their minds like the little bitches they are and left me howling at the unfairness of it all. There's one in particular that needs only a little bit more to be finished – it's an AllenxLavi massage fic for Angel Fantasy. Imagining having Lavi all to myself to grope (the story is from Allen's POV actually…) was just... YUM – but I haven't managed to pick it up again. GODDAMIT. But at least, when I found some time, I wrote some drabble requests (which were kinda fail) so I wasn't completely slacking off… and hey, if you wanna make sure I'm alive when I haven't updated in half a year, go see if I have anything new on my LJ, yeah? Link's in my profile.
As usual, I can't promise when the next chapter will be out… seriously, please don't hurt me. Still, feel free to send me PMs threatening to damn me to Hell if in three months from now I haven't updated yet… Though just so you know, KayDay has been doing that for you. She really is a slave driver, I swear! And Kay, I finished and posted the chapter now, see, see? Don't hurt meeeh… And write moar zombie!Allen for meh~
P.S. Oh, I almost forgot. One funny thing is that SnowFoxAllen kinda guessed this whole thing with Kanda getting jealous of Timcanpy (of sorts) a long time ago. I still remember reading her review, back in chapter 2 (that was how many months ago?) and thinking, "waaait, what the hell? How did she know I'm planning to write that?" xD
P.P.S. Latest DGM chapter is LOVE. LOVELOVELOVE. Oh, Kanda… *sighs* Anyway. See you guys around~