Author: Asuka Kureru
Warnings for this chapter: Hmm... I dunno why, but somehow, if I tell you "nudity" I don't think it's going to make you leave ^^;

Garou + Part 19

Quatre shivered and made his fur stand on end to try and gain a little warmth, but his hairs were so short that it didn't make much of a difference. Sneezing, he envied with sadness the thick coat of fur covering the wolf. Quatre hadn't been made for damp and cold climates.

/ah, k'so!!!/

Quatre jumped at the perceptible annoyance in Heero and flattened his ears back. He mewled feebly in question. Had he warned Wufei with his sneeze?

Heero pointed forward with his muzzle, groaning and grunting like a pissed off bear.

They were in front of a river. Wufei had to have used it to cut his trail. But had he gone upstream or had he let himself float downstream, had he gotten out on the same bank or on the other side? To know that, there was no choice...

Quatre mewled, disgusted. To cross water... Eww.

* * * * * *

It was nearly dawn when, after hours and hours of turns, tricks and mad runs, Heero finally found, for certain, Wufei's trail. His paws were hurting from the stone fields the other had made them cross, his fur was full of thorns, small branches and dead leaves, and to be truthful he was beginning to get fed up with tracking the moron.

But Wufei was too good at cutting his trail; if Heero let him get too much ahead of him, he would probably never find him again.

Quatre had had enough in the middle of the night, and had returned to the house alone. His long paws were made to gallop on flat ground, not to slide between thorny bushes and along rocky grounds. And he didn't want to get a thorn between his pads again, thankyouverymuch! It was something that was really annoying, on top of being painful. So, two times in a row... He had made sure that Heero understood what he was doing and wasn't bothered by having to chase Wufei alone, then had left him, knowing fairly well that anyway, as long as they were animals, the best thing for Wufei was to let him run to calm down, while making sure that he didn't go too far, to be able to get him back by morning. And the animal he was now would surely feel less threatened by one predator on his grounds than by two.

Even if the cheetah wasn't really a danger... Quatre knew instinctively that his claws, thick and non-retractable as they were, wouldn't be of much use in a fight. His only strong point was his speed, but in a forest he couldn't really take advantage of that.

* * *

Dawn was approaching when the brown wolf finally stopped at the edge of a small clearing, silent as a shadow. The thick bushes hid the place well, the river was flowing on one side at the bottom of the little slope, procuring an evasion route, and the thorns everywhere would be good at discouraging most intruders ... It was a good hiding place. The grass was tall, visibly comfortable ... but it wasn't in the grass that the beast had chosen to lie down.

In the clear brown sand at the edge of the river, one of his paws trailing in the cold waters, his muzzle resting on his other paw, a tiger was spread, half-sleeping, the contrast with the sand and the first rays of the rising sun making the warm tint of his pale golden fur glow. The lines marking his coat were thin, emphasizing his curves, and a black so dark it seemed blue. The beast had a long and muscled body, even if the length of its paws indicated that it wasn't yet out of adolescence. And the werewolf could see that the tiger was much heavier than him, and higher on its feet too.

A dangerous adversary, if he chose to fight him... but he didn't want to fight in the least. He could only hope that if the feeling wasn't mutual, he would realize it before the tiger was too close to escape it.

The wolf observed in silence for a few minutes, entirely immobile. The tiger wasnít moving, apart from a few short jumps of his whiskers from time to time. He seemed to be deeply asleep.

Sitting back on his haunches, Heero wondered how the inverse transformation would happen. Would Wufei feel disoriented? What affect would that have on his memory?

He had not betrayed his position, but when the tiger lifted his head and opened his eyes, he was looking right at him anyway, as if he had known precisely where he was all along. The wolf didnít move, the tiger didnít either. For a long moment, they stayed staring at each other across the clearing.

Wufeiís eyes were of an abyssal black against the pale gold of his fur, and the dark stripes all around the dark orbs acted like mascara, making them larger and accentuating the slant. Two lines left in a diagonal from the inner corner of his eyes, giving the impression of perpetually frowning eyebrows. A line of clearer hairs barely discernable went between his eyes and to his muzzle, following the scar of the wound that had contaminated him.

A bird fled away, provoking the awakening of the woods population and making the predators blink, marking the end of the staring contest. Wufei stretched his paws out, unsheathed his claws, and yawned, unveiling fangs of an impressive whiteness, as scary-looking as Heeroís. Then, stretching like a cat, first his haunches, then his front paws, he got up and walked nonchalantly toward the still staring wolf. Heero stayed immobile. The other didnít show aggressive behavior, just defiance in the way he was looking at him.

He sat down in the middle of the clearing, in front of the wolf, and they kept looking at each other for a while. The tiger seemed confused, his tail lashing around his haunches, proof of his unease. Heero tried to be as unmoving as he could.

Slowly, very slowly, Heero lay down on the ground, sphinx-like, and waited again. The tiger crouched and his tail went to curl around his paws, his eyes not leaving Heeroís, visibly extremely disoriented.

* * *

/eyes blue as ice, blue like outer space, deep and cold/

Like... The boy. Wing. The one who had stalked him in the roses garden.
But it wasn't possible.

Wing was a /two-paws/ 'a human', not a four-legged predator like him... 'but I am not a four-paws either...or am I?'

The tiger shook his head, confused, attacked from all sides by all sorts of mental pictures, sounds, and feelings, all without any meaning. Humans with whom he...hunted? Killed? At whose side he fought /but humans are preys/, with whom he talked...

'how can I understand them? I don't remember, but I know it's important...'

'Stupid, that wolf can't be the two-paws, not logical...'

But he knew that even if they weren't the same being, he knew that animal anyway. He confusedly remembered seeing his dark shape jumping between bushes, running right and left, and his own laughter and that of his friends when by reflex he ran after some rabbit...

Wufei blinked and shook his head, trying to straighten his wandering thoughts. And then he started and jumped, totally caught by surprise.

In front of him suddenly, to his total astonishment, the otherís scent was totally modifying, was going from wolf to a two-paws, so frail, nude, exposed. His body was slowly shifting, his fur disappearing back under his skin or just falling off to leave the place to fragile, brownish-pink skin. A moment, the man-beast directed on him two eyes so blue, so human, in the middle of a face that was still halfway between wolf and man, and he jumped. He had seen that face like that already, he had already seen 'Heero' like that, feral human baring fangs, plunging forward for his throat ...

He had been in the living room with... Wing? Heero? And another, a silent one with eyes as green as grass, and they had been angry, dominance conflict, and Wing had attacked, and ...changed...

The boy with the green eyes ... his name still evaded him ... But he remembered him, vaguely... silent presence in the shadows, but always there. And...two others... he thought.

/I am

'I am



'who am I? it's hard to remember...'

The memory when he had been at Treize's. Metal and fire... a black-furred two-paws, fallen before him, a girl, not a true woman yet /my mate still/ fallen in his arms, her blood, her life escaping through his fingers and hers

'my hands are red...'

Rage of the combat, vengeance, ferocity, nothing else for him anymore than the cold of the metal, no warmth, no life... by leaving she took with her everything.

'my hands...' he repeated, staring at his striped paws, knowing, feeling, that it was not what he should have been seeing.

'Nataku, goddess of the war I'm fighting, armor of the hardest metal


* * * * * *

After having spent half of the night wearing a hole in the floor with their pacing, Trowa and Duo had abandoned the very idea of going to sleep in their respective rooms, and had moved out onto the terrace, rolled into the covers the American had brought with him to make the wait more comfortable. From time to time, one of them got up to walk along the guardrail, but the darkness didnít reveal the slightest thing.

The American sighed loudly and leaned back on the swing at his comradeís side, tightening the covers around himself. The tip of his nose was nearly anesthetized by the cold, and his pants were too short to protect his ankles very much. He should buy another pair, he had grown up a little and it was beginning to get annoying. Shivering, he slid his feet out of his boots and tucked them under him, nestling into the cushions. Only a conscious effort prevented him from nestling against Trowaís side, but he didnít dare, even with the cold.

He didnít know why, but even if he was big on physical contact, he couldnít touch Trowa as easily as the others. Heero, he touched him to annoy him ... well, at the beginning, he had done that because it annoyed the Japanese teen, and after a while, because he found it comfortable, and he knew that even if Heero protested and groaned about his touching habits, he kind of enjoyed it a little, too; and now he seemed to be petting Duo all the time. Quatre loved hugs so it was absolutely not a problem. And Wufei... Wufei bitched for hours, but he never pushed him back, using the pretext of humoring the lunatic to accept a human contact he needed more than he wanted to admit. But Trowa... Each time Duo touched Trowa without him expecting it, it was as if the ex-mercenary changed into stone. He never dared to say anything, but his discomfort was palpable, and much more real than the two Asian boysí hands-off attitude. Duo wanted to share the well-being he felt, not make him ill with barely held back nervousness. Duo was seriously beginning to wonder how he had been raised, to be so spooked by simple contacts.

Well... It could just be his character. But their friendship was still too new and too superficial for him to be able to ask that kind of question.

He sighed, sad. He was cold, and he was worried about Wufei, and now there was the Trowa mystery running in circles under his skull ...

"Ne, Trowa?"

"Hm?" muttered the other boy without turning toward him, his eyes still fixed on the horizon the sunrise was turning pink and gold.

Duo swore mentally. He had not wanted to speak out loud, but it had escaped without his consent! An idea, fast, fast!

"Weíre the last two non-Weres now... Weíre the minority. Feels strange, doesnít it?"

The other boy nodded, but didnít add anything. Augh, did he even have a tongue? Duo told himself that he would have to ask Quatre to see about it for him one of these days ... and then remembered with a surge of sadness that they couldnít. It was one of the first things Heero had told him, back in the first days, when Duo had admitted that he kind of liked the 01 pilot. Even one kiss would contaminate him.

"Wonder what it feels to be a Were ... To be able to shapeshift... To have such open, powerful senses... to feel the animal inside ... Heero seems happy like that. Heís getting so open compared to before. Quatre, I donít know yet, I suppose we didnít see enough of his post-transformation personality to judge, but at least the mood shifts should disappear, I know he felt bad about that ... I was more or less expecting the sudden bursts of anger from Heero, but it always looked strange to see lilí Quat' throw a temper tantrum and then burst out in tears because he had been angry with us... Heís gonna feel better now," he repeated with confidence.

"True. He tormented himself often about the changes in his personality."

"I suspected that, but he never wanted to talk to me about it. I hope he was at least open for you... It would have been too hard for him otherwise."

Trowa nodded soberly.

"We talked ... a little."

Duo smiled at him.

"Itís a relief. If anyone could help him, itís you, Trowa. Heís always had so much trust in you, yanno? Even if you just listened to him, I think it helped him more than I would have been able to."

The clown didnít answer, lowering his eyes, looking seriously bothered by the praise. Duo didnít insist.

"I hope theyíll be able to get Wufei back..." he sighed before letting his head fall on the headrest, pensively staring at the sky over the swing. "And I really, really hope itís not gonna mess with his memory even more..."

"Amen to that," murmured Trowa.

* * * * * *

The transformation took Heero by surprise, and as he was very calm and his human side had been in control even in the animal, he couldnít prevent the Change from taking place before he was already halfway there ... too late to change back into a wolf. If Wufei decided to attack now, he was dead. After several seconds of indecision, he tried to hasten his return to human form. As long as he was in between, his mobility was too strongly compromised. He was vulnerable and he hated it.

The tiger jumped when he saw him change, and Heero stared for a few seconds. The beast seemed troubled... Slowly, the Japanese pilot lifted his hand toward the tigerís muzzle, palm upward, giving him the opportunity to sniff at it if he wanted, but Wufei was so surprised that he didnít react.

And then, slowly, the striped fur began to shrink and the limbs to creak under the Change. The sun being up, the moon's influence on their bodies had stopped. Wufei had been so deeply immersed into his animal body that he had managed to hold on longer than Heero had, but apparently he didn't desire to stay a tiger strongly enough not to change back after a while.

Heero just hoped that the adolescent he had got back at Treize's would not throw a fit when he found himself butt naked in the middle of the woods with another nekkid guy in front of him, and too vivid memories of a strange dream to give out a background to those strange scratches the brambles had covered him in.

Wufei panted a few minutes, then looked up at the young man who was crouching in front of him. They stared at each other once again, as they had been doing all night long... And then the Chinese boy gave a long sigh, closed his eyes and relaxed, leaning on the ground. After a few seconds, Heero slowly caught his wrist to make sure that he was still alive and ok. He was sleeping, so deeply that the contact didn't even make him stir. The Japanese teen gave an imperceptible sigh.

The moment of post-transformation tiredness was past, his muscles had their old strength back; he lifted his comrade across his shoulders and began his trek back to the house. With a little chance, and if he didn't damage his feet, he would be home in something like three hours... providing Wufei would not wake up in a mood to try to run away once again.

* * * * * *