The second the train comes to a stop I'm off and running. Well, not literally, but I'm definitely putting some distance between myself and the Moron Twins.
"Call my cell," I shoot over my shoulder before hitting the street. Somehow I doubt Dorobou heard me; if that trash can was alive it wouldn't be anymore under that glare. I make it three blocks before I realize I'm being followed. And when I do, I feel like kicking myself.
"Seto, why. The hell. Are you following me?"
"Did you really expect me to stay back there with him?" Seto snorts in reply. I growl quietly and continue walking, listening as he falls into step beside me. After a minute he adds, "Besides, I wasn't about to let my kitten wander off alone in this city," under his breath. Heh, probably thinks I'm too pissed to catch that part... either that or he knows a hella lot less about Weres than he thinks he does. Either way, I'm not too sure how I feel about the name 'kitten' but I'll think on that later. Right now, however....
"Dorobou and Yami'll probably hit the university library," I say. "If we could talk to the local Were or vamp communities we might be able to find out a little something. Hell, if we could get a meeting with the Master of Tokyo that would be even better."
Seto nods. "I doubt we'll be able to see the Master but we can still check in with the Were communities." As he's talking, I pick up on a scent approaching us. Something about it sets off my fight-or-flight reflex and I find my claws lengthening. Seto's still speaking: "I have a few contacts here that might--"
"Kaiba Seto." It's not a question, and before I realize what I'm doing I've placed myself between Seto and the Were who'd spoken. Tiger from the scent, and stocky. He glances at me, confusion lighting his gaze for a moment before he realizes what I am; then the expression becomes more cautious. Good, he knows I'm dangerous.
"Who wants to know?" I hiss, my own eyes narrowing. I barely feel Seto's hand on the small of my back, some mild attempt to keep my temper in check possibly.
The Weretiger chooses to err on the side of caution and takes a step backward. "Kajiki Ryouta. My Master wishes a word with Kaiba-sama."
"For what reason?" Seto asks, his tone cold and eyes sharp. He's a suspicious bastard, yes, but right now I don't blame him. A car has pulled up next to where the three of us are standing, and I can scent three more Weres inside. I do not like this one bit and a low growl escapes me. Kajiki's eyes narrow as he shoots a quick look towards the car.
"Protocol," Kajiki replies. He's still glowering as the car door opens and one of the Weres steps out and makes the biggest mistake of his life--taking hold of Seto and trying to drag him to the car.
When I surface to consciousness once again, I realize two things: one, we aren't on the street anymore and two, I ache all over. Apparently I full-shifted when that tiger grabbed hold of Seto. All I want to know is who kicked whose ass, because I feel like I did the night I took on Hirutani... only more stiff and sore. Bet Kajiki and the other two got me from behind, four on one ain't fair.
After a minute or two I register fingers running through my hair and two hearts beating nearby. I open my senses and catch Yami and Dorobou's scents from the vicinity of the heartbeats. Seto's scent is strongest of the three, as I realize my head is on his shoulder. I slowly open my eyes, absently noting that I've lost my clothes and Seto's coat is wrapped around me.
"Jyonouchi?" I lift my head just enough to meet worried blue eyes. "You've been out for a while, ki--tomcat. You all right?"
I take a moment to think and mentally curse. It's two days till the full moon and I shifted to leopard form. If I hadn't gotten into the fight I might be fine, but it's hell trying to turn back this close to a full moon. My vocal chords still think I'm in leopard form for at least an hour at this time of the month. Still, I managed to reply after a fashion, mewing quietly.
"Take that as a 'no,'" Dorobou offers from the other side of the room. I turn to look at him, catching the faint smell of blood as I do. He doesn't appear to be injured to that extent, although from his eyes I'd say he was knocked out for a little while. Yami, on the other hand, is doing a damned good job of keeping Dorobou's attention off him, so I'm guessing that the blood I smell is his.
And that's probably why Seto and I are over here instead of closer to the bed.
"Why can't he speak?" Seto directs the question to Dorobou although he's looking at me still. I lift a hand to my throat self-consciously, fingers meeting leather and metal. A quick glance confirms that Yami's collar is no longer around his neck. I mewl Dorobou's name and a thank you; he nods shortly before answering Seto.
"Full moon is two days away. It's taxing on Weres to shift and shift back again this close. Kitty'll be fine in a little while, but for now I'll play interpreter... maybe, if you're lucky."
Seto shoots Dorobou a glare that says he's far from amused. I make an attempt to diffuse his temper, giving a questioning meow and nesting my head against his neck. Luckily it works, Seto's attention snapping back to me and a faint hint of curiousity in his scent. It seems that for all he thinks he knows about me there are still a few mysteries.
"Hmph. Well, I know of at least two Weres who aren't going to have that problem anymore," Seto grounds out after a moment. I wonder if he realizes that he's still petting me...?
Dorobou has noticed if his slightly amused expression is any indication, but it's Yami who asks the question I can't yet voice: "What do you mean, Kaiba?"
"Four Weretigers tried to grab us," Seto replies, "literally. Jyonouchi snapped the first one in half and tore a few limbs off another. The second one attacked him from behind." He snarls then, fangs flashing, and suddenly I'm very glad he's on our side. "That is cowardice, and I will not tolerate it. Suffice it to say, I doubt I'll need to feed again tonight."
If Yami or Dorobou reply I completely miss it. All I'm aware of is the fact that Seto drained a Were, and the only reason is because he attacked me from behind. This is bad news on several levels. One, by law Seto committed murder. Weres can do anything to each other, but vamps aren't supposed to get involved, period. I don't know if even his influence can keep him outta trouble for that. Two, I know my reasons for acting on instinct were exactly that--instinct. Seto most likely acted on principle of logic. Third--and far worse I believe--is that most Wereleopards don't actually choose who they take as a mate; it's more like we're claimed through blood and battle. And my instincts are now screaming at me that so far as they're concerned, Kaiba Seto pretty much owns me now.
And I thought this was gonna be a boring day.
The sound of a key in the lock finally draws my attention and I snap my gaze to the door as it opens. At the same time Seto's protective (?!) grasp tightens and his eyes narrow to slits. I hiss loudly as Kajiki peers in almost hesitantly. Hmph, see all his limbs are still attached. Pity.
The other Were is at least smart enough to keep away from me, shrinking back for a moment before speaking: "The Massster wishesss to extend hisss apologies forrr the trrrrouble we may have causssed you."
Hmph, I sound way cuter at the moment; leopards are a smaller breed of the big cats, y'know, and we are capable of the more 'housecat-ish' sounds than the others. Seto continues glaring coldly at him and I growl low in my throat. Apology so not accepted, it was four on one!!
Seto opens his mouth to say something, but whatever he was about to say is lost as a larger Were--not sure what species, but he's not feline--shoves Kajiki aside and strides into the room. He has this whole "I'm better than you" vibe that has me on edge. The strange Were storms past me and Seto, stopping on Yami's side of the bed.
"The Master wants to see them now," he growls (wolf, has to be, they think they're the best there is at any-and-everything), grabbing Yami's arm and yanking him to his feet. The smell of blood becomes that much stronger and my friend stumbles, a soft sound of pain escaping him.
I notice Dorobou's scent shifting, anger overpowering the annoyance that's been hovering about him since we arrived in Tokyo, and that's all the warning I have before the overwhelming heat-smell of electricity fills the air. All I can do is whimper as the small room is suddenly crowded by angry ghosts, because that is what they are. Visible, tangible, and very, very angry.
"The fucking hell?!" Seto hisses out under his breath, somehow managing to place himself between me and the Angry Ones without getting up from the chair. I can't really see anything past him but I don't think I'm ever going to forget the sound of flesh and bone seperating from the still-screaming wolf, of flesh hitting the walls like so much meat, nor the smell of blood and heat and electricity and rage and fear, Seto's and Yami's and Ryouta's and that human in the hall's and holy fuck I can smell my own fear and Dorobou is a wall of anger and I'm mentally babbling but if I stop I might scream and draw his/their attention to me.
Then Yami pushes his fear under concern and calls to him: "Kura?" Dorobou looks at him blankly, and the Angry Ones seem to falter for a moment. Yami carefully steps around--something, I have no idea which part of the wolf that used to be--moving closer to my brother. I slide from behind Seto, watching for any sign of the thief I know yet still getting the blankness and wall of not-Dorobou. Then Yami's close enough and he reaches out, touching Dorobou's face gently with both hands.
"Wake up, Kura."
Just like that the Angry Ones vanish, not even a hint of electricity left in the air. Dorobou looks a little confused, but even before he speaks I know he's alone in his head again. "...Yami?"
Okay, I do love Seto, but neither he nor Ryouta nor that guy in the hall needed to sigh in relief that damn loud. If my voice was back I'd chew out the lot of them; as it is I resort to growling my displeasure. Seto turns to give me a look and I take the opportunity to shove him out of the chair. So what if he owns me, it's not like I'm made of glass and will break if he let's me get up.
"Yeah, it's me," I hear Yami say as I stand, testing my legs and pleased to find that they're not damaged or anything. Wha--oh my god, Yami's petting Dorobou. That's so... well, cute. "Are you all right? Are you... you again?"
"What are you doing?!" Seto hisses in my ear. Hmm... ignore him? Yeah, ignore him. I focus on my brother instead, he still looks drained.
"Mostly, I think," Dorobou replies to Yami's question. "My head still feels a little muddled, but not as bad."
Yami nods and says, "Good" right about the time the guy from the hall says, "Eww." I glance over in time to see him jump over a clump of wolf before straightening up somewhat and brushing non-existant dust off his sleeves. He's just a human, no power to speak of, but he's not that put off by what just happened.
Seto moves up behind me, one hand resting on the small of my back; I'm honestly not sure whether to be pleased with the attention or (somehow) ask him to back off for the moment. Instinct once again makes the decision for me and I lean into the touch. It surprises him for a moment before he puts that non-expression on once more. He might be fooling the human and Yami, maybe Dorobou, but any other vamp or Were can smell the truth: contentment, affection, a stab of arousal and possessiveness that the Weres back in Domino can probably pick up on right now.
"I should smack you for that." I glance over to see Dorobou knotting the makeshift bandage he's apparently fashioned out of bedsheets during our mini-showdown. An amused mew escapes me and Yami suddenly flushes three shades of red. I'm impressed for the sole reason that he almost matches his hair. Dorobou seems bemused at having all our attention on him once again.
The old guy clear his throat, drawing our attention once more. "If you're done, um, conjuring up the local ghosts, the Master would like to speak with you," he manages after a moment. Another few seconds go by then he adds, "Just please don't kill anyone else."
Erm, okay, but Dorobou wasn't really responsible... well, maybe he was by proxy but still! See, this is why ghosts and shit freak me out. Vamps, Weres, spirits that are nonviolent, those I can deal with. Ghosts and zombies and anything else associated with violent ends, hell no.
Dorobou has that look, the one that says 'I so need to fuck with your head right now' so I'm not surprised by what comes out of his mouth: "I'll try, but if I do kill anyone"--and there's the smirk--"you'll be the first to know." For whatever reason he grabs Yami's hand and brushes past the old dude (who, by the by, looks a little green). Dorobou chooses that moment to add, "I think you have some brains on your back."
The guy spews like a can of beer and I cover my mouth and nose to block out the smell as best I can. Seto sneers at him in disdain before apparently deciding that I shouldn't walk around this place barefoot and picks me up. Damn he's strong; wonder if he carried me when we got grabbed...?
Ryo--I mean, Kajiki gives the four of us a look I can only interpret as 'people/vamps/Weres from Domino are fucking scary' before speaking: "Um, well, I'll just take you on in to see him now." Hmph, no sign of a hiss, but on the plus side I should be able to articulate actual words soon. Still I hiss at the bastard out of principle. Did I mention that four on one isn't fair?
"Lead the way," Dorobou says, a hint of annoyance in his tone. I can only assume that Yami is making him behave somehow. They really are cute together, even if the pair of them are fumbling through their mutual attraction like they're in the dark sans flashlights. Kajiki doesn't say anything, just gives a half-nod and walks ahead of us. Seto hangs back a little and I take a moment to study his face.
Brrr... if I didn't have my Were senses to rely on, I'd believe him as cold and unfeeling as the gossip-mongers at school and the press make him out to be. Seto's like a statue, cold and hard and unfeeling, at least on the surface. The truth is in his eyes if you can get close enough to look, in his scent if your senses are enhanced enough to pick up on it. He is a mystery wrapped in an enigma and neatly tied together with secrets.
Never let it be said that I, Jyonouchi Katsuya, don't love a challenge.
Before I know it we've reached our destination, if the annoyed voice coming from behind the door is any indication. The wood is thick so I can barely make out something about provoking an unfamiliar Were--got to be talking about me--and a hope that the limbs grow back crooked. Either the Master of Tokyo is a hardass or he has a really twisted sense of humor.
A door off to the side opens and a smallish Weretiger slips out of the room pushing a shopping cart with another Tiger in it. I recognize him as one of the jerks who jumped me and growl at him. Dorobou immediately picks up on my annoyed vibe and opts to be his lovable self.
"Defective Were, aisle three." He says it just loud enough for the human ear to pick up and earns a smack from Yami. But I don't think he's in any real trouble since Yami's snickering at the moment. I see Seto's mouth quirk into an amused smirk for a second before he regains his control. I offer another low growl and bare my teeth; the Tiger pushing the cart whimpers and rushes away.
The old guy goes to hold the door for us, quickly regaining his own composure: "The Master of Tokyo will see you now."
Well, no shit, dumbass. I'm not the brightest crayon in the box but I'm no dumb blond either. Seto gives him a look that says just how highly he ranks the guy's intelligence--hmm, somewhere around peatmoss, apparently--before we follow Dorobou and Yami.
My brother gets off one last parting shot, though. "Thanks a lot, Alfred." I snicker at my ma--I mean! Seto's expression; guess he's not a Batman fan. "And... you missed a spot."
...now the old dude kinda looks like peatmoss, too. Dorobou looks proud of himself.
Next think I know Seto bumps into my brother, who has frozen in his tracks. I mewl questioningly and glance up to see what's stopped us short.
"Welcome back to Tokyo. How have you been, Bakura-boy?"
And suddenly I realize where I've seen the Master of Tokyo before... on the fucking gaming network.
...well... Dorobou's always said it best: Pegasus J. Crawford is a freaky, freaky man.
Who saw that coming? Only one more real chapter to go and then the epilogue!