Part 4
Past Connections: The Plan

Ugh.

Things were still murky. The details of the previous night hadn't registered in my head yet. I opened my eye. Over to my left, Yu was fast asleep on top of Mafa's chest. He looked pretty comfortable snuggled up in his fur.

"Cuddle whore as always."

It was hard not to smile at the sight. Surprise. Surprise. The Wolf Boss even had a soft side too. Although, I gave up the roughy attitude back when my old life died along with my ex-master. And how good it felt to have him dead.

"Good morning Zhong," a voice said back, making me jump.

"Whoa. I didn't think you were awake just yet Mafa."

Mafa stretched his arms out and he yawned. Yu slid down his chest when Mafa sat up, but surprisingly did not wake.

"So are you ready to get moving?" I asked him.

Mafa rubbed his eyes and looked over to me. He gave a half-hearted nod.

"Let's get on with it," The white wolf mumbled to me.

"Hey Yu. It's time to wake up," I said, my voice soft as I gently nudged my son. He shook off my hand and grunted.

"Just five more minutes," the lazy pup replied back to me.

Of all times, this had not been the best for him to have decided to be a slump. He didn't want to get up and I could see why he didn't want to do that, but his life depended on this and I didn't want to waste another moment.

"Get up Yu," Mafa stated. He sat up completely, sending Yu tumbling over backwards onto the ground face first.

"Ow," Yu groaned. "That kinda of hurt."

"You are fine." I scoffed back to him and slightly chuckled. The pup looked to me. My eyes went back to him. He sat on his butt and his tail wagged from side to side.

I gazed over to Mafa. He was packing up his stuff and busy at the moment.

"Daddy. Mafa told me last night we were going to the Valley of Peace!" Yu exclaimed. "Does this mean I'll get to meet the Furious Five?!"

"Damnit, Mafa!"

"You told him!" I said, shooting a glare at my white-furred friend.

Mafa smirked. He threw his hands up to his sides admitting he'd been caught. That son of a bitch.

"Last night when you were dead asleep after we brought Yu back to. He asked me where we going and what we were doing. I told him everything. I'm not going to lie to him." He explained to me.

"Pfft. At least your honest."

A slight chuckle escaped Mafa and then he smirked a second time.

"Daddy!" An all-too-familiar cry came out loud.

Turning to see what my son needed, he lamely attempted to stand up on his legs.

"Oh great he's playing more games to waste time," I commented. Like we had more time for that. At this rate, we'd all be dead by the time we reach the valley.

"Ha. Ha. That's very funny Yu."

Thinking back, the next thing that needed to be done was for us to pick up all of the stuff outside. Making my way there, it was a clear and sunny morning. The only stuff that remained of the fire that had been built last night had been a pile of ashes. A few minutes went by and-

"Zhong Yu!"

"Why did Mafa need me now?"

Being interrupted. My patience became thin.

"What now?!" I screamed, storming back into the tent. (Likely comparable in fashion to a little kid throwing a temper tantrum.)

But now I saw why he had needed me. Yu lay in the wolf's arms. He whimpered and-

Cough. Cough. Cough.

Mafa's face showed nothing but a grim expression. Everything went from bad to worse. Yu hadn't been kidding to me about him being too weak to stand.

"Yu. Damnit!" Cussing at the situation, this felt so helpless. Reaching at his hand, he flinched slightly

"Ow!" Yu cringed and screamed bloody murder. One touch. One light touch from the tip of my forepaw and a raging pain ensued for him. The effects of the poison described by Mafa from last night.

I watched as tears streamed down Yu's face. It showed in him being held lightly by Mafa. Each step he took on the ground. Or no. Anything that involved an aspect of touch was the very definition of hurt.

"Hold him while I pack up the rest of the stuff. And be gentle!"

I didn't question Mafa. He knew what was meant. Looking at me, he stood up and walked out of the tent. He could be heard hear cooing Yu and offering words of comfort as he yelped about in pain. The sound of this tortured me as finished putting everything up.

Fifteen minutes later, we were ready to deploy.

"Daddy..." my head turned to see the whimpered voice that came from Yu. Mafa carried him like a small pup against his chest.

"We'll be there soon," I reassured him. "How much further?"

"A couple of miles and we will be at the outskirts of the forest. From there we will reach the very edge of the mountain range and the entrance to the village," Mafa explained.

The sight, literally-speaking, was in front of me.

"Wow," Awe struck me as the sight of the valley had never been so well- peaceful.

Sunshine casting upon the gray rocks and thinning layer of trees and vegetation revealed the very true beauty of the open valley. The horizon expanded up to several times what had been. A brown dirt path lay ahead of us straight into the opening farmlands. Look ahead a little further, that was where the village lay. In the place where the clouds of the sky seemed to meet the ground.

"Damn! That's beautiful. Maybe I might retire here when this all blows over. If I could ever find a chance to settle down and avoid being killed. It would be a great place to raise Yu."

"Zhong!"

My mind came back to reality. Pulled from my small fantasy of being a normal father, it was a weird scenario my subconscious created.

"Let's get a move on it." I shook my head. Taking one last look at Yu, the reason why we were doing this smacked itself onto my face.

"Go on-"

"Wait a second," Mafa interrupted. "There's something I need to explain before we continue on any further."

"Hmm..."

He caught my attention.

"The way for us to get into the temple."

"Yes..."

"Well," he continued, "I've had affections with a certain member of the Furious Five multiple times in the past before. So-"

"Hold it!" I said, close to howling.

Well this was news to me!

"What the heck!? When did this happen? It wasn't back when you were a member of my troop of bandits, because if it had been and I had found out I would have-"

"Back to the subject at hand!" Mafa redirected me from getting off-track. He was calm and serious as well as being right. This wasn't the time to be ranting about how I would punish him for any of the several past mistakes he had made several years ago in my squad.

"I still know a way to get into that person's room. And by that way, we could convince her to listen to us," Mafa finished.

I had no reason but to smile at him as he had a plan. He would to lead us to the path of saving Yu. Not only that, but he had a member of the Furious Five goading at our paws. The mission suddenly felt like it was made so much easier now. But before dropping the subject at least for the time being, I brought up one question.

"Which member of the Furious Five is it that you had a relation with?"

I noticed that Mafa was now snickering a little bit. He laughed and gave me a big smirk.

"Her name starts with a T," he hinted.

"Tig...ress?" Yu asked.

Watching Mafa, he smiled. With a nod this confirmed the answer to in fact be yes. Mafa had been involved with a relationship with Tigress. The most powerful and fearless of the entire group.

"Oh look at how easy this is going to be now!"

"You should drop all of the hiking supplies that you have on you. From here on out it will be sticking the rooftops and alleyways for you and your son. I'll go on through the city normally as to not pull any suspicious attention towards you. And then at once nightfalls, I will meet you at the bottom of the Jade Palace steps. From there we will sneak into the garden and make it into the bedroom and hopefully rendezvous with a potential ally."

"Yeah. Great plan. But did you ever mention the part to Tigress about how you were a part of a Wolf Pack under me at one point?" I questioned him. That worried me the most. Even if Tigress trusts Mafa, she would never even listen to one word that I'd have to say. I nearly killed her best friend on more than one occasion.

"That I was going to work on. Now if you'll excuse me."

I dropped the huge back-carrier off my shoulders before sitting down next to a bush on the path. "Daddy..." Yu weakly said as my eye watched him being held by Mafa.

The wolf very gently set Yu into my arms.

Whimper. Whimper.

"Shh... It's okay," I cooed him. This was the best I could do. Touching him more, would have made it worse.

"I'll meet you back here at sunset. Alright?" Mafa said.

Turning my head back up to him again, I nodded a silent 'yes' in response.

"I'm off then." Mafa stated. He headed towards the Valley of Peace.

Until then, it was apparent that Yu's pain was getting even worse. With each little frail touch, he cried a little bit or cringed slightly.

"Dad!" Yu sat up and buried his head deeply into my chest.

"Aww... Shh. It's okay dear child. Daddy's got you. And he's not going to let anything happen to you. Mafa has to go and we are going to wait for him right here. Don't worry, nothing is going to come get you. I promise."

Yu slowed down his crying and smiled slightly. Despite the pain, the he was fighting. The question that rang in my mind is simply how much time did he have left until it was too late.