Chapter two, tightening the noose.

Ryosuke had ridden Bagi across the valley, around the towns, and reached the end of the road near the base of the mountain on the opposite side, the whole time Ryo wondered if he would come flying off. Somehow, he managed, only able to catch glimpses as they traveled. He was amazed at Bagi's running stamina. He had started to wonder what he was going to do after he filled his mothers last request. He could go back to Japan. But that would require money, which he didn't had, plus the president of all people was after Bagi. He could go live in the wild with Bagi, but between him and himself, he knew he wouldn't adapt well. He decided to consult Bagi about it. Later, when they had hidden the rice ball and Ryo could feel his arms again.

They were half way up a mountain when Bagi finally slowed. She was panting heavily, and, with his ear pressed to her back, he could hear her heart beating madly. She slowed to a walk. Ryo, feeling safer now that Bagi was back to human speeds, let his grip slacken. He instantly lost his balance, and fell onto the ground. His arms felt hot and sweaty, and he was sure he tore everything in them. His heart was racing like a car. He turned to his head to find Bagi.

Her body was heaving with every breath, but she didn't stop to rest. She feverishly searched around for something. Ryo could see her effort to breath without letting go of the rice ball. "Bagi… leave the ball… with me…" Ryo said, each word stifled with a slight bubbling. She had placed her paw on the ground, and had been focusing on it. She looked back at him. Through his fatigue, he could see the confusing on her face, along with a trace of hostility. She stared at him… then her look faded. She nodded, then walked over to him. She placed the ball in the center of his chest, then turned back to her task. As soon as she put it down, she opened her mouth to let air back into her body. Ryo winced in pain, but didn't say anything.

Bagi went back to the spot that she had been focusing on. She pressed down on the ground again. Ryo had no idea what she was doing. Her breathing slowed with time. Ryo watched her from the corner of his eye. Her hand tightened around the dirt under her palm. She flung it aside, and put her other palm in place. She was digging a hole, her speed increasing with every handful. Within seconds, she was under the surface and out of site. More than enough stray dirt hit Ryo, and he was unpleasant with several rocks to his face.

Eventually the digging stopped, and there was a padding sound as Bagi come out of the hole. Ryo stood, picking the rice ball off of his chest. He looked into the hole. He couldn't see the bottom. He looked at the rice ball. It was covered in marks. Finger-prints, cracks, and teeth marks. The marred surface told held a terrible weapon. With the importance put in this ball, Ryo couldn't help but to want to keep it. He could use it to kill others tactfully. No one would be able to trace him. But, with the request of his mother still fresh on his mind, he shrugged away the thought.

Bagi watched him expectantly, and Ryo dropped the ball into the hole. He listened for it to hit the bottom. He counted to 6 in his head before he heard the plastic hit the soft dirt. It had probably broken. Bagi started to throw dirt over the hole. Ryo thought for a moment. The soft dirt would be a give away for anyone looking for the rice. He decided throw in various rocks. It would make it harder to dig for, and in considering dirt settlement, they would need some extra stuff in the hole. He started with smaller rocks first, then, as they got scarce, he moved up to bigger rocks. Rocks he thought would be easy would often prove too difficult. It had taken this long for him to realize how tired he was.

Ryo told Bagi to pile up the dirt in a pile on top of the hole. When she finished, she and Ryo pushed a large bolder on top of the pile. He leaned against it, his head light with the effort. "I think… we should rest. Your tired, aren't you?" Ryo asked. Bagi shook her head, but Ryo could see she was having difficulty standing, even on all four. Bagi was a terrible liar. "Yes, you are.

Look, I know that we should get moving, but if you go down, we're both vulnerable. I can't carry you the same way you carry me. Besides, We don't even know where we're going. First, lets eat and rest. Then, we'll discuss what we should do. You stay here. I will find us something to eat." He left her in the clearing, and made his way into the forest. Only now he wondered what he would find. He was no hunter, and had to tools. He suddenly wondered what kind of idiot he was. Bagi was several times the hunter he was. But, she had been working so hard for so long. He figured she would need the break more than he would. He started looking around for something to eat. Any manor of food would do. Bagi might have been a mountain lion, and thus, a carnivore, but she had human in her too. Surely she would be able to eat a plant like him.

*The next part has been completely censored, because not only am I not a hunter, but I am also squeamish, along with no doubt many readers. In whole, a stray hare meets its end by rock*

"Alright." Ryo said. The sun had set, and the quarter moon shone in the sky. Bagi had started a fire using her claws and a rough stone, and it had been burning since Ryo got back with his catch. "We're enemies of the countries leaders, we have no money, and your easy to recognize. Do you have an idea on what we could do or where we could go?" Ryo directed at Bagi. Ryosuke was leaning against the rock, using his sore arms as a head rest. Though it hurt, in considering the tear in his arm, but it was better than laying on the rock directly. Bagi was a little farther off, lying in cat fashion with her back exposed to the fire, and she was purring like an engine. She looked at Ryo, the fires glow reflected in her eyes. She said nothing, just shrugged.

Ryo was left to the thinking, and he was glad she didn't hint towards living in the forest forever. Ryosuke started thinking of home. With his mom gone… maybe…, life at home would hardly change. She was never around anyway. His father was one of the people who pointed to Bagi as a devil long ago, so having a full grow she-cat/human cross would push him over the edge while lighting him on fire. His gang, the ones who practically raised him the last year, wouldn't be thrilled either. Not only would they fool heartedly try to get revenge again, but, with Bagi as she is now, she would tear them apart, no questions asked. Besides, being out here with Bagi had taught Ryo that the life he had wasn't the life he wanted.

Ryo would never adapt to wild life, he was to much of a human, and would grow board of it quickly. Also, he wanted to fix what his mother had done to Bagi. Ryo knew the drug she had used. It turned of half of the humanistic brain, making even smart people like animals. He was surprised that Bagi resisted the effects so well. In Ryo's mind, anything that could be resisted could be cured. But, he was no doctor scientist. Only one plan stuck out in Ryo's mind. "I think… I think we should go back to the super life research center." Ryo started. "There may be a cure there for what you've been injected with. My mother first developed it there. Also, we need to stop the research there. It's just wrong to be screwing with the natural order of nature. If anything, you were the only good thing to come out of it.

We should also try to pin down a steady life. Though I think we could get my dad use to you, and let you stay with us, we'll need a back up plan if that doesn't work. Also, we need to find a way back to Japan. I know we got here by plane, but we were sky dropped in, so I don't know if there are any air ports anywhere. The best we could do is find a village and get directions… though it might be hard since everyone around here speaks a different language." Ryo had wondered why everyone at the lab spoke Japanese, but figured it wasn't important. "So our other option is to follow a road to a city and find a plane headed back to japan. It shouldn't be to hard." Ryo turned to Bagi, looking for her input. She stared at him with her insightful eyes, and nodded.

"I guess that's the plan…" Ryo couldn't believe how easy that was. Though it was common logic, it still felt like a hard way off. "And Bagi…Remember how I promised to keep you as family but if you cut your claws?" He felt like a new man saying this. "I'm changing the promise." Worry crossed Bagi's face. "I will keep you as family, just so long as you don't clip your claws. I can't imagine where we'd be if you hadn't kept them, and thinking now, it wouldn't be right to de-claw you." he said. She stared at him, the fire's glow reflected in her eyes. If it weren't for the warmth behind them, Ryo would have though it an omen.

"We need to find the cure for the serum my mother gave you." Ryo suddenly remembered. "If there is one… I don't know what she gave you, but we should look into it wherever possible. Did my mom tell you what she doused you with?" he asked hopefully. Bagi's eyes turned away for a second, then back to him as she shook her head. "… I see. Well, maybe when we get back to japan, we can go raid the Super Life Center again and get you fixed. I bet they will be happy to see you." Ryo slid down from the rock. "We should sleep. Goodnight, Bagi." he said. She responded him with a low purr… sound.

Ryo hoped it meant what he thought it did…