2015 Edit: So, I decided to go back and essentially touch up this entire story. I wanted it to not sound so much like a fourteen-year-old wrote it, haha. I didn't change anything that altered the story, just fixed the structure and continuity errors and whatnot. Hopefully this makes Paradise Reborn a little easier of a read!
Disclaimer: I do not own Wolf's Rain, and I most likely never will.
Prologue: Discoveries on Main Street
Sometimes, I didn't know what to make of things.
I was only fourteen years old, and yet… I felt so much older than that.
I didn't even think my mother knew what to make of me. I was very different from my brothers and sister. They all had black hair and blue eyes, like our mother, and yet I had auburn hair and brown eyes.
My older brothers liked to tease me about that and say that I was adopted. And no matter what Mother said, I couldn't help but wonder. My siblings liked to have friends come over, and they were very social. But not me.
I liked company, just not the company of my family. I felt more at peace outdoors, in the woods on the outskirts of the city. I went there in my spare time, although it aggravated my mother to no end. But I just couldn't help it.
Sometimes… sometimes I swore the woods were calling to me. I knew it sounded stupid, and it was probably just my adventure-starved mind searching for something more than what I had, but yet another part of me screamed that it wasn't stupid, that there was something I was missing.
A gust of wind blew at my face, almost knocking my umbrella out of my grasp. I gasped and held on tighter, grabbing onto my hat so it wouldn't blow away. The rain poured around me, and I watched it, along with all the other people walking about today.
I always took walks on Saturdays when I finished my chores – and my siblings' chores if Mother wasn't around to see – if only to get away from that hell house I called home. I loved my family, I really did, but for some reason, it just didn't feel right. That didn't make much sense, even to my own thoughts, but it was how I felt.
I didn't belong there. I didn't think I ever did. I had this unbelievable urge to just… run. There had to be more to life than being my siblings' personal slave and sneaking away once a week for a twenty-minute walk that didn't even satisfy my ever-growing urges.
I sighed, wiping away a drop of water that landed on my cheek. There was really no point in dwelling on these things. I was thirteen years old. I couldn't just run off without being noticed. And where was I going to go? I may have liked to spend my time in the woods, but I was a city boy through and through. There was no way I'd survive in the wild for more than a few days on my own.
I slowed my pace slightly when I heard something to my right. I turned my head but didn't see anything other than windows upon windows of clothes, toys, books, and other things that people in this world desired.
I wasn't one of those people. I didn't ask for stuff because I knew my mother couldn't afford a lot of useless junk. With all the stuff my siblings "required", I was surprised we still lived in an actual house.
Shrugging, I passed off the sound as nothing and continued on my way. I frowned when I heard it again, glancing around once more. I'd always had sensitive hearing, but this was just insane. How could I possibly be hearing anything over this rain?
I moved away from the main sidewalk and over towards an alley, convinced that was where I'd heard the noise. There was a box sitting at the entrance, an old, tattered blanket flowing over the edge. I peered into it, my eyes widening slightly.
It was a kitten, white and fluffy with blue eyes, no more than a few weeks old. I crouched down, staring at it uncertainly, and it returned the look, blue eyes wide, mewing happily, as if it weren't sitting in a box, in an alley, in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I didn't really know what to do with it. I loved animals, but could we really afford to have a pet? I didn't want to give my mom another mouth to feed, but I couldn't just leave it there. And even if I'd never said so aloud, I'd always wanted a pet.
Maybe Mother will let me keep it. I thought, reaching into the box with one hand to scoop up the kitten. And maybe Airi, Kato, and Hiro won't try to torture it either.
The kitten purred, and I smiled, running my fingers through its fur.
I jumped, glancing cautiously over my shoulder. Had I imagined it, or had someone just said my name? No one was looking in my direction, or giving any indication that they knew who I was and was trying to get my attention. I glanced back down at the kitten in my arms, pulling it close to my chest, safely concealed from the rain. "You didn't hear anything, did you?"
It stared up at me, its blue eyes uncomprehending. I laughed as it leaned up to lick lightly at my nose. "I know I probably shouldn't do this, considering that I might not be able to keep you, but I think I'll give you a name. How about… Snow? For your fur."
The tiny creature snuggled into my chest, rubbing its head against the fabric of my shirt. I smiled again, glad that I had picked a name that would work both ways, if this cat was a boy or a girl, and turned to walk back the way I'd come. I'd cut this walk short, just this once.
"Alrighty then. Snow it is."
He kept running, pushing past everyone and everything that got in his way.
He couldn't have imagined it. It was crisp and clear, almost as if whoever had done it had been right next to him. It had been a long time, years since the thought had even crossed his mind, that maybe this wasn't the life he was supposed to lead.
Life was just too peaceful – maybe Paradise wasn't supposed to be his main priority right now. But now he thought differently, for he'd heard the voice. It was calling to him. And there was only one way to find out if he wasn't just crazy.
"Watch it, kid!" A man snapped as the boy rushed past him, splashing rainwater all over his long trench coat.
The dark-haired boy turned his head slightly, taking note of the hat, the large, hooked nose, the squinting, untrusting eyes. The man was younger, but it was definitely him.
The boy looked around mostly out of instinct, looking for those familiar blue eyes and dark hair. He sniffed the air, then turned away empty handed. She wasn't there.
Maybe in this life, she'd found someone that accepted her for who she was.
He kept racing through the rain, only one destination in mind. He wasn't sure what he'd discover there, but he was willing to find out.
He bounded up the steps of the old apartment complex on the plaza, throwing open the door and slowing his frantic pace once he was inside. He didn't want to appear shady, not when he'd spent so long trying to pretend that things were normal and he was nothing more than a seventeen-year-old boy trying to make it on his own.
If none of this turned out to be real, then there was no need to alert everyone to a change in his demeanor. He walked up two flights of stairs, hands in his pockets, footsteps echoing throughout the silent halls. He stopped outside his room, pulling out a key and unlocking the door before stepping inside.
He threw the keys on the table, looking around the apartment. "Hello?" He growled under his breath when there was no reply, running a hand restlessly through his hair. "Damn it."
A noise behind him made him turn, posture tense. Old habits die hard, I guess. He thought.
His light-haired roommate threw his bags down on the table as well, staring over at him like he'd seen a ghost. "You heard it too, right?"
"What are we going to do, Kiba? We can't just… pick up where we left off and start searching all over again. We don't even know where to start looking for her! And where's Tsume? He must have heard it, too."
"I know he did, Hige." Kiba said, crossing his arms over his chest and turning towards the window. "It was too hard to ignore. But we have to go. She said my name. She called for us. She's waiting for us to go and find her."
"But it's not the end of the world! Things are different than how they used to be, Kiba. Cheza might just be lonely."
"No, I don't think so." Kiba replied, watching the comings and goings of their neighbors from his vantage point. "Cheza told me that we would find her again when it was time to search for Paradise. She must know something that we don't, or she wouldn't contact us like that. Maybe everything's not as perfect as we think."
Kiba heard Hige sigh in exasperation, and felt the floorboards tremor as he started to pace. "Okay, fine. I've been starting to get restless anyway. We'll just find Tsume, and then head – "
"No? What do you mean no?"
"We can't just get Tsume and leave. He'll show up here later, and when he does, we've got more searching to do."
"But, Kiba – "
"What?" Kiba challenged, turning to face his friend, eyes blazing. "Why are you resisting so much? Finding them was all you wanted to do a few years ago."
Hige sighed, slipping his hands into his pockets and averting his gaze. "That was then, this is now. I haven't so much as smelled them at all."
"What makes you think they're in this city? Just because you, Tsume, and I were doesn't mean they'll be, too."
"It's not just that." Hige said softly, his eyes taking on a faraway look. "I just can't sense them anymore. I thought I could, at first, but now I know that I was just imagining things, hoping that they were around. Kiba, what if they weren't reborn like we were? What are we going to do then, huh?"
"They're alive." Kiba said firmly. "The universe isn't that cruel, Hige. They deserved this second chance just like we did."
"I know they do, but – "
"No more excuses." Kiba growled. He'd failed his pack before, letting his own personal feelings get in the way of doing what was best for them on more than one occasion, and he'd be damned if he moved on without attempting to get them all together again.
Finding Hige hadn't been especially hard, and Tsume had found them on his own. But some part of him wondered if Hige was right. He couldn't sense the remaining members of his pack at all, but he simply refused to believe they were gone. If Pops was around, then so were they.
"I'm going to go back out for a bit." Kiba continued. "When Tsume gets back, tell him that we're going out to search for them tomorrow. And this time around, we're going to find Paradise."
Hige nodded, brown eyes hardening with determination. "Okay. No more distractions or excuses. But seriously, Kiba, what are we going to do if we don't find them?"
Kiba walked past his friend and out the door, feeling more alive then he had in years. "If we don't find them, then finding Paradise will be worth absolutely nothing."
And with that Kiba was gone, leaving Hige alone with a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. He wasn't used to a world where Kiba didn't want Paradise unconditionally. But he agreed with his friend.
A paradise without Toboe and Blue would be just like their normal lives without them – a living Hell full of sorrow and regret.
A.N. This picks up where the TV series ended.