+ Part 18 (cont)
* * * * * *
Speed, the wind from the front, the strength of the machine between his
legs, and all that road in front of him... he had already lived that.
And visibly he still liked it as much as ever.
Wufei was taking a turn, and he was barely refraining from shouting his
joy and his speed intoxication, when a wave of a strange faintness made
him feel all light-headed. The bike yawed wildly, and he barely straightened
it in time. He gritted his teeth under the intense and unexpected pain,
hoping that the attack would pass fast.
Images, sounds, voices, feelings were pressing in his head, turned and
whirled at the edges of his conscious mind, struggling to get out in the
open, rendering him nearly unconscious of what was happening outside of
the little world under his skull. Absorbed, he tried to push the memories
back, to drive them back to the bottom. He was going too fast to take
the liberty of being distracted. He was going to...
... to crash...
He hadn't closed his eyes more than one second ... but when he opened
them again, he was unmoving, so unmoving that he felt ill. He rolled on
a side, vomited bile in long and painful spasms, his throat dry... and
after a few instants of pain so strong that the world seemed to become
black, succeeded in pushing the fainting spell back and regained enough
awareness of his surrounding to realize that he was not on the bike anymore.
He was lying on his back in the grass, on the side of the road, and was
looking at the darkening sky. For a few minutes, or a few hours, he stayed
there with his arms spread open, not thinking, letting the pain flow out
of him like water out of a broken vase, content with appreciating the
coolness of the air and the grass on his fevered skin, with admiring the
darkening skies, going through roses that were changing to mauves and
violets. He felt like he was floating, detached from the Earth, detached
from his body, as if he had been drugged. He felt good.
An aftertaste of smoke was tickling his nostrils, and something that he
didn't identify right on as motor oil. But it was not close enough to
be of any concern to him.
At first, he didn't even pay attention to the motor noises, slowing to
look at the crash then speeding again. He was listening to the birds chirping,
snuggling in their nests for the night, to the little animals that were
crawling in the bushes only a few meters from him, all those little Nature
sounds. But when, ten minutes later, another vehicle stopped just a close
distance to the place where he was resting, bothering the animals and
breaking the peace of the woods, he was forced to pay attention.
Shouts, steps coming closer. He growled low, leaning on an elbow, and
gave a pissed off glare to the imbeciles who dared to come and annoy him,
just when, for once, he had felt at peace.
"Why the hell do we need to take a look at this place, damnit!?"
"Because it's part of our accord with the local police," sighed another
man in a voice implying that he had already repeated that little tidbit
of info more than enough to his tastes. "They need reinforcements, we
needed more influence, not too complicated... "
Three soldiers were examining something... the remnants of what had been
his bike, a few dozen meters away,
'I fled on all that? wow... I was lucky I didn't hurt myself ... '
and were chatting with animation while looking at the bits of twisted
metal. Two other men were looking around, he didn't know for what. They
all turned to him when they saw something move in the shadow of the bushes,
taking out the guns.
They were in his personal space, approached as if stalking him... Wufei
snarled, menacing, warning them to stay away.
The men paused, surprised. Then one of them lighted a torch, flashing
it full in his face, giving him the impression of receiving glass splinters
through his eyes, to his brain. His growl became a roar. He pushed himself
up on his forearms, facing them, staying crouching low. He felt strong,
aggressive, and ready to fight, if they wanted it so much. They were nothing
more than prey.
"Oh man, stripes... " he heard one of the men whisper.
His head didn't hurt as much as before ... this time, it was much, much
worse, no comparing. His skull gave off the impression of compressing
inward. He was hurting all over, violent pulses of suffering, even in
the morrow of his bones. His muscles were protesting the slightest movement,
as if they were slowly tearing under a tension he could feel grow, grow...
and his pain gave birth to a mad rage, a need to dissipate his pain by
inflicting it upon others.
His vision briefly blurred, became nearly black- then cleared out, more
so than before, as if it was twilight still and not nearly night.
"Oh man," he heard once again- but the words had lost all of their meaning.
The intruders made noises, shouted, but their chatter only made him understand
He didn't want them there.
* * *
When the car stopped in front of the abandoned military van, and that
Heero, Trowa and Duo jumped out, gun in hand, they only found the still
smoking remnants of Wufei's bike... and three shredded corpses.
Once they had made sure that no one was there, Quatre got out too, his
hand clenched over his heart. He had decided not to get any weapon at
all, his mind too close to the animal within to really use a gun in a
fight. His tail was swinging in wild arcs behind him, like a cat feeling
uneasy. He wanted to change so much... He stared at Heero, who visibly
had the same problem if you judged by the hypertrophied canines showing
under his periodic snarl, when the need became too strong.
The brown-haired boy was sniffing at the scene, his eyes half-closed.
"He wasn't hurt. I don't smell his blood."
Duo sighed in relief.
"Look at that," said the American, lifting from the ground the shredded
and dirty rests of white pants.
"It's Wufei's," assured Heero after having sniffed at it. "He Changed."
"Changed... Changed?" asked Duo, making quote marks with his hands.
Heero snorted, mocking, then lifted a finger to show him the moon, already
beginning to light the clouds in the distance. His eyes were strangely
glowing with the light coming from Trowa's torch, as if they were reflecting
the lights. They had a red tint.
"Oh. Well at least we know that he didn't have any complications, like
Quatre did... And? Can you know what he is?"
The Japanese pilot shook his head no.
"No. Neither a wolf nor a cheetah, anyway."
"Great... " sighed the American. "I like surprises."
"He chased two other men out of here. I'm going after him."
Duo found himself holding Heero's gun.
"But... " he blurted out.
The Japanese boy's weapon was extremely important to him, nearly like
an extension of his own body, something that he didn't leave behind ever,
not at school, not even when sleeping. Why was he giving it to him?
He turned his eyes away when he realized that the boy had just shed the
T-shirt and the holster behind, and was bending to get out of his shoes
and socks. Heero made a ball of his clothes, threw on top of that the
shorts he was wearing, dumped it all in his braided comrade's arms, and
walked to the forest, with steps that were nearly dancing with the energy
he put in them.
Duo, with much effort, turned his eyes away from the muscled ass walking
away in the darkness, an ass that was surmounted by a line of fur already
lengthening in the beginning of a tail that only accented even more the
curve of his lower back.
"Go back home, you can't do anything," advised Heero, turning toward them
just before getting in the woods. "Tomorrow, if we haven't have found
Wufei, we'll meet you on the terrace at dawn. We'll get together to launch
a search. Quatre?"
"Coming," called the boy, purring with the pleasure of being able to let
the cat out.
The transformation hurt, but he clenched his teeth and let himself be
swept by the tidal wave without a sound passing his lips, clinging to
the memory of the freedom, the strength he obtained after that. This time,
it was a little less painful than what he remembered... and much faster.
He hoped that the more he got used to it, the less it would hurt. Maybe,
one day, he wouldn't feel anything at all? It would be great...
The golden-haired cat stretched his body, surprised at feeling the way
his muscles responded, rolling under his skin, full of a barely restrained
strength. It was a very compelling sensation. He felt in a much better
mood than the day before at the same hour. He was far from being as afraid,
and the nervousness due to mistrust had nearly fully disappeared. Quite
the contrary. He felt content, nearly happy.
The cheetah and the wolf briefly sniffled at each other's nose, acquainting
themselves once again with their comrade's scent, and then disappeared
into the woods, Heero with his nose to the ground, tracking the beast
Wufei had become, Quatre dancing like a mad kitten at his side. Drunk
on the way his body was responding, the cheetah was jumping on the smallest
leaf that had the bad luck of fluttering in front of him, clawing and
biting at it till it was torn before jumping on the next one, jumping
like a mad hare in a grass field... Heero even caught him once running
after his own tail. He snorted, amused and slightly surprised by those
actions whose reason he didn't quite catch, then continued trying to find
They searched for half an hour before finding another corpse, shredded
by large and strong claws, his belly opened, entrails spilled out for
a few meters.
Quatre mewled, slightly disgusted by the look of the cadaver, but his
animal side prevented him from pitying the man. It was prey; it had been
caught by a predator, that was all. Normal. Even if he found strange that
this prey had not been eaten; it was pure waste. If the prey hadn't been
marked in another cat's smell, well...
'it would be cannibalism!!!' protested a little voice, but he snorted
and didn't listen. Cannibalism? He was not a two-paw!! And for a stomach,
it was just dead meat after all...
Heero bumped into him with his shoulder and showed a bit of fang when
Quatre stared at a little animal as if he wanted to jump on it, and, contrite,
the Arab tried to rein in his animal side. But it was not easy; there
were so many scents, so many presences to discover...
/Can't he calm down? all game hears us coming a mile away ... Wufei
Quatre flattened his ears back and took on a shameful stance. Oops, Heero
didn't seem to be in a patient mood... But he was right, Quatre would
warn Wufei, and he was not sure that the boy would recognize them... Maybe,
because of his amnesia, was he totally gone into his animal side, and
didn't even remember enough what it was to be human to master the beast
The cheetah tried to bring himself under control and to take the most
silent walk he could. He tried to smell Wufei's trail, but he didn't have
as much of a sense of smell as Heero and finally, he just followed his
comrade, only glancing back once to a shrew that was running away.
* * *
The big cat was dragging his latest prey under a bush when he caught in
the wind the scent of two other big predators. He uncovered his fangs
up to the gums in a silent snarl, furious that someone would dare to enter
his hunting grounds.
But they were two and he was alone ... and to fight, if it came to that,
that place wasn't the best.
He abandoned the game he had been dragging and jumped with grace over
a fallen log, before flowing between the trees, silent as a shadow.
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