Where He Began
a ‘fic by Dot
“Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begun.”
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
The boy—what was his name? Oh, yes, Eiji—was having nightmares again, thrashing and crying out in his sleep.
The Wolf frowned. This was not how one honored the dead. Eiji was just making himself a victim again, reliving the horrors of that day over and over again. That was not how one healed from wounds of the heart.
The Wolf extracted himself with no noise, being careful not to disturb the sleeping form next to him, and entered Eiji’s room. He nudged the boy, waiting for him to rouse himself, and when he didn’t, spoke with the voice that all but she found terrifying.
“Stop making so much noise. You’ll wake the baby. ”
This got Eiji out of dreamland in a hurry. He wiped the sleep from his eyes, blinking. “Sorry, Fujita-san.”
He pushed the boy as he tried to sit up. “What do you think you’re doing?”
For the briefest of moments, defiance flashed in Eiji’s ki, but he fell back into a prone position. “I was just going to get a glass of water.”
The Wolf narrowed his eyes. “Liar. You were planning on pacing until you were too tired or the sun came up, whichever happened first.”
Eiji’s hands tightened around the edges of the blanket. “I don’t want to go back to sleep right now.”
The Wolf was tempted to call Eiji a moron, but he controlled himself. Instead, he asked, “What does Tokio do when you can’t sleep?”
Eiji almost sat up again in surprise, but the merest twitch of the Wolf’s closed fist kept him in his place. “She sings. Or tells me stories.”
“Aa. Tokio is still sleeping, and I don’t sing, so I suppose it will have to be stories.” He felt the need for cigarettes, but pushed it to the back of his mind. After all, he’d made an Agreement. “And I only know the tale of the Lone Wolf.”
“I haven’t heard it yet,” Eiji answered, giving at the Wolf an odd look.
The Wolf ignored the look. He didn’t have to explain himself, not to Eiji. “Once upon a time, there was a Lone Wolf. Being a predator in nature and disposition, he was obnoxious and disliked. Many hunted this Wolf, but since he was crafty as well as ruthless, no man ever captured him.” Which was true, to an extent.
Eiji rolled his eyes; it was obvious that he was not enjoying the story. The Wolf wondered if he could simply bore the boy to sleep.
He continued. “One day, however, the Wolf got careless and fell into a very clever trap, becoming injured in the process. He managed to escape, but he knew it was only a matter of time before his enemies caught up with him and finished him off for good.” His hand drifted to where the scar should be. “So the Wolf swallowed his pride and took on the form of his tormentors, walking among them as one of their kind.”
“Did they ever find him?”
“Of course not. They were looking for a wolf, not a man. But the Wolf hated pretending to be something he was not, and his injuries had yet to heal. So at night, he would sneak into abandoned buildings and revert to his true self, thinking dark thoughts about the ones who sought his life.” The Wolf smirked, remembering what he had ultimately done to his hunters. “One of the houses, though, wasn’t as empty as he thought it was.”
Eiji started sliding under the covers. “Is this a scary story?”
“If it were, would I be telling it to you at this hour?”
The Wolf grunted. “You made me lose my place. Where was I?”
“One of the houses wasn’t empty,” Eiji prompted, his voice remaining timid.
“Oh, yes. The Wolf had fallen asleep, because he had lost a lot of blood by now, and was very startled to find a young lady doting over him when he woke up.”
“Did he—eat her?”
The Wolf didn’t even bother to twitch with annoyance this time. “Wouldn’t be much of a story if he did, would it?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “No, the Wolf was far too weak to even raise his head.
He just growled, angry at himself both for not noticing this girl and being so helpless in front of her. But the girl didn’t run away, despite the Wolf’s best efforts.” He allowed himself another small smile. Patience of a saint, indeed. “Eventually, the Wolf came to realize that she was as determined to stay by his side as he was to get rid of her, so he decided to ‘suffer’ her ministrations in silence.”
Eiji giggled. “He fell in love with her, didn’t he?”
“Hardly. They just met. The Wolf was grateful even if he never admitted it, but he was planning to leave as soon as he was well enough. The longer he stayed at any one place, the greater chance he had of being discovered. And—” Here he paused for effect, waiting for Eiji to react.
The moment paid off. “And?”
“And the Wolf missed his true home, in the mountains and forests of the wild. He dreamed of running again, of chasing down the wind, of watching the moon dance with the stars.” Those had been her words, not his, but she had seen through his mask and spoke the very desires of his heart. She wouldn’t mind this little bit of plagiarizing. “He recovered on the first thaw.”
“So he left,” Eiji guessed.
“You’re not as stupid as you look. His first act was to avenge himself on the men who injured him,” the Wolf caught sight of the boy starting to look scared again, and decided to skip the gory details. “He gave them a quick death. Next, he returned to his lair, or at least tried to, but found it overrun with men. The entire realm had become enmeshed in another one of their petty conflicts, and the fires of war touched every corner of the world. Having nowhere else to go, the Wolf thought of the young lady.” He stopped again, building up some expectations before he went on. “As things turned out, she wasn’t what she seemed.”
This time Eiji sat up. “She was a man?” He exclaimed, horrified, without a doubt remembering that scythe-wielding minion of Shi-Shi-O’s.
The Wolf laughed for a good minute, the sound coming out in strangled wheezes because he did not wish to awaken the rest of the household. “Ah, what a tale that would have been, if that were the case! No, moron,” and here he let his tone soften, so that the boy understood that this time it was a term of endearment, “she was very much a woman, as the Wolf later found out. She just wasn’t a human woman.”
Eiji blinked. “She wasn’t?”
The Wolf sighed. “I just said that, didn’t I?” He decided to keep going. “She was the kami of the house the Wolf had thought to be empty.”
Eiji looked even more confused than before, if that were possible. “Houses have kami?”
The Wolf shrugged. “Why not? Perhaps she inhabited the tree that the house had been built with and managed to transfer her essence.” He poked a gloved finger at the boy’s shoulder. “Now lie down. You’re supposed to be sleeping, or at least pretending to be asleep.”
Eiji obliged, but kept his eyes open. “Not until you’re finished with the story.”
“Yes, yes. I’ll do my best to be brief, then.” The Wolf wondered what Tokio would do, in this situation, and settled on continuing as before. “The kami, of course, already knew the Wolf for what he was, but she revealed herself to him because she had grown to like him. The Wolf, while he hadn’t returned those feelings yet, tolerated her, and that was saying a lot for a Wolf who had hated the company of even other wolves.” And if he’d known what she had planned, he might not have agreed to it, but he was, above all, a Wolf of his word. “After a brief discussion, they came to an Agreement: they would marry, so that people would not find it strange for a man and a woman to be living together under the same roof, and would remain so until the danger had passed. Perhaps, as revenge for being such an insufferable ass when he was injured, she would ask him, every morning, whether it was safe for him to leave.” He stopped a third time. He shouldn’t excite the boy so with these cliffhangers, but he couldn’t help himself. “He never said ‘yes’.”
Eiji grinned from ear to ear. “He did fall in love with her, then.”
“Of course. Even Lone Wolves need companionship, eventually.” It had taken him a damn long time to realize it, and an even longer time to admit it, both to himself and to her. Perhaps if he had been a little less stubborn, he could have enjoyed the inevitable union more. “It was only a matter of time before they had a veritable army of children and grandchildren at their feet.” Her annunciations of her impending motherhood had been the sole interruptions to their strange routine. In the beginning, he’d balked at the thought of raising brats, but he soon found that there was no better way to pass on his ideals. Why, they could have taken all of Japan, and perhaps the world, if they had been so inclined. “In the meantime, the Wolf found a pack to run with, a group of humans he could almost call friends.” The streets of Kyoto hadn’t quite been the same as the mountains, but they had been thrilling nonetheless. “And to maintain the illusion of being human, they pretended to pass away every few decades, only to reunite again under a different name.” They turned faking their own deaths into a game. She’d almost got him last time, making him think she was a victim of that moronic ‘Heaven’s Justice’ the Manslayer’s group always seemed to be touting. He’d mourned her for what felt like an eternity before he was introduced to her next mask as Takagi’s daughter.
There was no eager question from Eiji this time. It seemed that in the silence that had lapsed while the Wolf reminisced, the boy had fallen asleep. Good. He was running out of material anyway.
The Wolf rose, stretching to allow the blood to return to his legs. He padded quietly back to their room and lay down next to Tokio. With luck, she’d never know he had been gone.
“What happened to them, afterwards?”
No such luck. “How long have you been awake?”
“Long enough. I need even less sleep than you do, you know that.”
“Fiddlesticks. The little one has taken his toll on you.”
“Moron,” she added at the same time he did. She smirked and kissed his nose. “Has the danger passed?”
“No, the danger has not passed.” So she sensed his impending departure as well. He would have to explain things to her in full, later. “It will never pass, as long as evil exists in this world, and as long as my duty is to slay evil wherever I encounter it.”
“Ah, so you figured me out at long last, hm? Took you long enough.” She didn’t call him a moron again, but her tone implied it.
“Will you be home a little longer this time?”
“That answer had better be more affirmative, if you want to keep your hand in my yukata.”
“You know I can’t stay away from you. You keep me on a short leash.”
She giggled. “Now there’s an interesting mental image.”
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress Notes:
Because every RK fan has to write something speculating on the nature of the Saitou/Tokio relationship, so I threw in as many clichés as I could think of and tried to make them non-cheesy. Excuse me while I ward off the Plot Bunnies who are trying to draw parallels to Vegeta/Bulma.
“Moron” is my translation of RK Saitou’s favorite catchphrase, “ahou“. It might not have the same punch, but I’ve resolved to write almost Japanese-free fan fiction for a while now, excepting those annoying little honorifics that have no English equivalent.