I didn't go to school the next day; instead Dorobou and I had a long talk about everything and nothing at all. It was pretty obvious from the way Ryou unpacked the things Dorobou brought from my apartment that I was officially a member of the household despite only knowing them for a day (two in Ryou's case), and to be honest I didn't mind. Mid-afternoon I called Kaasan and talked to her for a couple hours; I told a little white lie and said I was visiting a friend to explain the unfamiliar number on the Caller ID. I felt it was too early to tell her I'd left home so to speak.
Over the next few days the three of us fell into a comfortable routine: Ryou and I would head to school while Dorobou watched cable and researched potential jobs. After school we'd head home and study before making dinner; usually Dorobou would be there and attempt to help us from time to time. That was when I found out his definition of 'rare,' by the way. We'd eat, sometimes while watching TV, and then just hang around the apartment for the rest of the evening.
It was sometime on the fourth day--around dinnertime, actually, as I was making a vegetable stew that Kaasan had given me the recipe for--that I realized I hadn't even thought of my pard since my conversation with Dorobou. In my brief moment of distraction I burnt my hand on the pot, but I barely noticed it in spite of Ryou's fussing. I was a bit lost in my thoughts, going over what Dorobou and I'd discussed that first morning. Until that point I never really believed his claims that the Master and Hirutani were afraid of me. But I'd reached a point where I didn't need the pard. I would rather be close to my friends... my chosen family.
After being shooed out of the kitchen by Ryou, I wandered into the living room and curled up on one end of the couch. I sat quietly for a while, barely noticing Dorobou's concerned frown, coming up with a plan in my head. Once my decision was made I picked up the phone and dialed Mitsaki-san's cell.
"Hello?" Her tone was slightly suspicious, probably because of the unfamiliar number.
"Jyonouchi-ichi? Where have you been? I've been so worried!" she exclaimed. "The last I saw you was before some Bakura guy started asking around about you."
"I'm sorry, Mitsaki-san," I said softly; from the corner of my eye I noticed Dorobou slipping out of the room. "I've been rethinking some of the decisions I've made in my life. Bakura's been helping me out."
"So he is your friend," she said, relief evident in her tone. "I'm glad. He didn't seem to be deceptive but I didn't tell him too much just to be on the safe side."
"I told him everything he didn't know," I replied; that's another little white. I still have some secrets that not even you know, and I've no intention of sharing. "I have a favour to ask of you, Mitsaki-san."
I glanced towards the doorway to make sure neither of the twins was listening in. "Will you vouch for me?"
"Any time," Mitsaki-san replied, conviction in her voice. "You're strong, Jyonouchi-ichi, and I know you can manage without the Nimir-Raj holding you back. When do you want to do this?"
We talked for another twenty minutes, making plans to meet around ten and confront Hirutani. After hanging up I stood and went into the bathroom. For about five minutes I frowned at my reflection, still dismayed that my eyes were shifting ever closer to amber; at that point they were amber towards the iris and ringed by the deep brown they once were, almost like a reverse sunflower. I hated it because I'd inherited the colour from Kaasan, and it made me sad that I was slowly losing part of who I was. It doesn't bother me now, of course, the leopard is part of who I am. Back then, though, I hated that side of me.
I stood there for a while longer, then finally reached up and removed my collar. Nodding at my reflection once, I left the bathroom, placed my collar on the table by the door and grabbed my jacket. It was already quarter till nine, which meant I'd wasted an hour glaring at myself and that I had to hurry if Mistaki-san and I were going to do this tonight. I'd just pulled on my jacket and adjusted the collar up when I heard Dorobou behind me.
"Going out for a while, Kitty?"
"Yeah," I replied, turning slightly but not enough for my scars to be seen (yeah, I'd mentioned them to Dorobou but I didn't show them to him). "I've got a few things to take care of. I won't be gone too long."
Dorobou nodded slightly. "Be careful. The Master of this city's too lenient with certain factions."
Don't I know it, I thought bitterly even as I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'll be careful. I'm not a kid, y'know."
"Smartass. Just watch your back."
Again I nodded as I stepped out the door, grinning as I listened to the locks click into place. We're careful about that even if it slips my mind occasionally. You'll have to ask Dorobou about why; it's another of those secrets I keep to myself.
It took me about ten minutes to get to the abandoned arcade where Mitsaki-san and I planned to meet. As I walked I consciously shifted into my anthropomorphic form; it's easier to detect potential dangers if all of my senses are open to the world around me, and I'm never more aware than when I'm in full or partial leopard form. That's why I knew something was wrong when Mitsaki-san wasn't waiting for me when I arrived. Her scent wasn't more than six minutes old, and she'd had company; there were eight other scents I recognized as well. Add to that the fact that I could hear shuffling in the alley, it was obvious that the rest of the pard beat me there.
"I know you're still here, Hirutani," I snarled. "Your scent's still fresh."
"The kit's growing up so fast," Hirutani replied, stepping from the shadows. The others minus Mitsaki-san followed him, a couple of the older ones hanging back a bit. I silently cursed the fact that most of the pard was downwind; something was very off and it made my fur stand on end.
"Where is she?" I asked, shifting slightly to keep the Nimir-Raj in my line of sight.
"We've all been concerned, Jyonouchi," he said, ignoring my question. "It's been days. I was starting to think you didn't like me anymore."
"I despise you," I bit out, trying to locate Mitsaki-san in the darkness of the alley behind him. "I don't need any of you."
That caused a flurry of panicked whispers amongst the group. Hirutani paled slightly before shifting into his hybrid form. Yellow eyes peered at me with all the emotion of (pardon the analogy) a housecat watching a beetle.
"So you want to vouch out," he hissed; the Weres closest to him shrunk back several steps. "I was rather hoping you'd come to your senses and accept your place in the pard."
"And play at being content as the resident fuck toy? I have come to my senses. I. Want. Out."
Hirutani smirked. "Ambitious little kit," he purred, taking a step to my left; I countered with a step of my own in the opposite direction. "It's damned difficult to vouch for yourself, Jyono. You can't always count on the Were at your back. After all, the dead are useless in a fight."
It was at that moment the 'elders' of the pard shifted, the scents of Mitsaki-san and blood and death hitting me all at once. Suddenly I had a very clear image of what had transpired in the minutes before my arrival. It doesn't take long for a pard of that size to rip another Were limb from limb.
Hirutani was trying to break me by removing my one ally within the pard.
"bastard," I hissed quietly, sinking into a crouch. "for that i'll kill you slow... but not today. today is for me." I gave no warning; one moment I was hybrid, the next I'd fully shifted and attacked.
Unfortunately Hirutani was fast, too. He just managed to dodge me as he shifted to his full form. I rose from my crouched/landing position and growled softly as he tried to get behind me. The bastard always attacked from behind; I always approached head-on. No way in hell was I gonna let him have more of an advantage than he already did.
I could hear a couple of the other Weres off to the side, most likely plotting to overpower me so that their Nimir-Raj wouldn't have to get bloody. I tensed slightly in anticipation of a side strike, only to be startled by a gunshot and a pained yelp--the American, if I'm remembering correctly.
Hirutani snarled and scented the air, but I knew if I wasn't picking anything up in the faint breeze he sure as hell wasn't. "Who would back you?" he demanded, circling away from me. "What human is your second?"
Dorobou, was the first thought that popped into my head; I guess he picked up the other phone and listened as I made my plans with Mitsaki-san. Aloud I replied, "Nobody you know. I'd suggest we keep this between the two of us." That got a whine covered up--badly--by a growl. Hirutani really was afraid now.
I won't bore you with all the bloody details. I didn't kill him--just made him wish he was dead by the time I was through. Hm? Oh, a few bites and scratches, nothing compared to what I gave him. I think he laid low for two months. That's how long it took to grow all his limbs back and for his insides to knit properly.
As for my former pard, quite a few of them received gunshot wounds; three had limbs actually shot off. I didn't feel a whole lot of pity for them. They were Hirutani's, not a one of them had the balls to take a stand.
I started to walk away then, only to stop and smirk in amusement. Coming towards me was Dorobou, a shotgun slung over his shoulder rather casually. He had his default expression in place by the time he got to where I was standing.
"Hey, Kitty, what's up?"
I almost laughed, he was so nonchalant. Hell, he was obviously proud of something, I wasn't sure of what at the time. So I just played along.
"Oh, not a lot. Got my business taken care of." I shrugged slightly and grinned. "What are you doing out and about?"
"Just taking a stroll." He glanced around at the other Weres; the ones who hadn't passed out from blood loss were staring at us. "This looks like a war zone, Kitty. What happened here?"
"Y'know, it was the weirdest thing," I replied with my own devious look. "Someone started shooting at 'em. I'd guess whoever it was had a shotgun."
"Who'd be toting around a shotgun in this city?"
I swear the American and his bitch whimpered at that. 'course, Chono might have been whimpering since she'd received a hit to the chest, but I'm no mind reader.
"Well, there are four ways to defend yourself in Domino after dark: be a Were, be a witch, be a vamp, or carry a shotgun."
"Hmm... think I'll stick with option number four."
"It suits you." I shot a quick glance at the Weres around us before casually stepping over a random arm. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready to go crawl into bed."
Dorobou fell into step beside me. "What bed? You sleep on the couch, Kitty."
"I like the couch."
"You're very strange."
I just smirked. "Normal is overrated."
So, that's the whole story, or at least the highlights. That was the last interaction I had with my former pard; they stay on their side of the city and I stick close to home.
I know sometimes people think that there's "something" between me and Ryou or occasionally between me and Dorobou, but they're like brothers to me. Hell, they both call Kaasan 'Mom!' No, my interest is fully invested in a certain undead pain in the ass, but don't ask me to explain it 'cause I can't.
So, did that answer your question, Yami?
And thus ends Cursed Gold... not really. This is actually just the beginning. Chapter five will bring everything back into the current Color of Life timeline... just from Jyonouchi's point of view.