HA! Bet no one thought I would get the next chapter up so soon. The muse is in a coma for things I don't feel like explaining, so for now I'm running the entire show. I feel so empowered.

Anyways, this chapter is shorter than the other, but it's just a set up for the next chappy, and I think I handled the atmosphere of this one well enough that you guys won't feel cheated and hopefully will be hungry for more. A special shout out goes to SKIN READY, my almost beta reader until I realized that most technological stuff hates my guts (including my computer, Helga). And another shout goes to all the folks who came back (or joined us) and reviewed the last chapter. I promised no bad poetry, so I'll just have to give you...

Once Bitten, Chapter 14!

Chapter Fourteen

The pack was growing restless.

The black wolf with the white tipped ear stoked the fire eagerly, sitting so serene and composed while his subordinates squirmed. A red aura, unseen by any of the other pack members, slowly surrounded him as he detected three other similar auras: two coming from the direction of the den and one about a mile south. Whereas his sibling's auras slowly shifted from time to time, the other aura had been motionless for a few minutes.

It was his time to shine.

The black wolf knew what his sister was doing. It was quite devious, in its own way. If the beta brother of the alpha wolf could take down Kurosaki, well, what did that say for the rest of them?

Oh well, he'd play her game.

He glanced at their trump card. Two of his men had shifted into their two legged forms and stood quiet guard. At their leader's glance, wolf like claws pierced tender young flesh.

The little girl would give Kurosaki enough pause until he was able to fully disable him. The white tipped wolf was taking no chances. He had used several rather creative punishments on that mewling sycophant Kai, not only to punish him for his earlier failure, but to gather information to use against his prey.

Telekinesis. It was unusual, but not unheard of in humans. But in Japan, more that any others, there seemed to be a particularly high concentration of gifted humans. In a population with such high rates of inbreeding and little genetic drift, it was no wonder. Kurosaki had always been a smug little bastard and he always seemed like, despite the skill he showed, he had something a little special.

It was time. Smirking inwardly to himself, the white tipped wolf marshaled his small contingent forward.

Cry, 'Havoc!' and let loose the hounds of war.

'The mist,' Hisoka thought pensively to himself. 'Why is it always the damned mist?'

The blonde empath still leaned against the fence, chain links rattling and making weird echoes in the night. He clutched the pistol in one hand but had let the fence take his full weight, drawing one of the wakizashis from its sheath under his jacket. He reminded himself that he would have to get a more appropriate coat. This was just annoying.

He lowered his foot to the ground, hissing and jerking back as pain shot through his nerve endings. It was much less painful than it had been, but that wasn't much of a consolation.

"You okay, 'Soka?" Tsuzuki's voice asked from the other end of the speaker, reverting to that annoying nickname as a way of soothing his partner.

"Just testing," Hisoka muttered hastily, trying not to rile the older man any more than he already was. They had enough problems to deal with without Hisoka's stubbornness or Tsuzuki's overprotective nature compounding things.

A scrambling cut through all considerations of his relationship issues. The boy withdrew into his warrior nature, drawing up his injured leg to balance against the fence. His shoulder blades pressed firmly against the crossbeam, supporting the blonde as he drew his sword back along his left arm and prepared himself to shoot at the slightest movement.

The noise continued, the sound of lupine claws ticking against pavement. The creak of a swing set came from the direction of the playground, now long obscured by the ghostly fog. Several black shapes began to materialize out of the miasma.

"Oh shit."

"What's wrong, Hisoka?" Tsuzuki sounded in his ear, voice giving way from concern to slight alarm.

The gunshot was the only thing that broke the silence.

It could never be said that Hisoka didn't know how to shoot. The Beretta was a good gun, but it had been built to stop people, and the thing he was firing at was far larger and anything but human. The bullet brought a bouquet of blood blooming out of the wolf's upper chest, but it slowed only a marginal fraction as it barreled towards him. Hisoka barely had time to crouch and swing his sword around as it closed the distance between him.

The sword bit into the wolf's chest, just below the collar bone, and wedged. Its head thrashed, trying to find a way to get its fangs near the boy's throat, but the empath had ducked too low to reach. Its forelegs were braced against the fence on either side of Hisoka's body.

The lycanthrope snorted and roared in frustration, trying to use its massive size to push forward and crush him despite the sword digging ever deeper into its flesh and bone. But Hisoka had the advantage of both the support of the fence and pure anger. Adrenaline coursing through his system and the dull edge of his sword pressing hard into his arm, he pushed forward.

Sweat beaded down his face as the wolf reapplied its weight on the blade. With a mighty shove, the empath knocked it back to the ground, sword unsticking from the wound with a sickening crunch.

Before the lycan could react, Hisoka brought his other arm around and put a bullet in its skull.

The Beretta might not have had stopping power from a range, but at point blank it did its job admirably. The bullet penetrated past flesh and bone, finally making the journey to the back of the skull. By then, it had lost much of its momentum, so that it actually pinged off the back and ricocheted through the grey matter contained therein. The wolf was completely and irrevocably dead.

Hisoka panted and leaned back against the fence for support, watching as the wolf's body was consumed by ghostly fires, taking it back to Hell where it belonged.

Four other shapes sat around him in a half-circle, keeping a fair distance as they watched the fight. A growl was issued collectively from the whole as the empath leveled the gun at the nearest.

"That won't do much good against these odds, would it?" A lanky figure broke through the center of the ranks, coming to a stop a good ten feet away from the blonde. A baseball cap and hoodie served to obscure most of its features, though the tell-tale red eyes shone like rubies within the dark.

"The boss figure, I presume," Hisoka smirked. He continued on, trying to buy himself enough time until his leg healed and he could teleport out. "No, more like a mid-boss."

"Sticks and stones will break your bones if you continue to use names that hurt me," The other replied. "And I'd suggest that you drop the gun and the butter knife."

"Why the hell would I do that?" Hisoka asked, ignoring the noises of choking distress that broke through on his headset. He could only pray that Tsuzuki stayed put as he stalled. Luckily, his hair had fallen free of its tie during the fight and now served to obscure the headset.

"As I said, they won't do you much good against so many of us," The lycan smirked. "But if you want another reason…"

He moved to the side as two more figures emerged from behind him, dragging something small and limp between them. Hisoka's eyes widened in shock and anger.

A small, mousy brown haired little girl sniffled and looked up at him with pitiful eyes.

'No innocents involved,' Hisoka reminded himself, though he certainly didn't need it. His own code of honor, the very fiber of his being, rebelled at the thought of bringing harm to this child. He watched as the lycan crouched down behind the girl, wrapping his arms around her shoulders in a brutal parody of a familial embrace.

"I'd like you to meet Kazumi," He said, eyes drinking in every reaction coming from the teen. "Kazumi here has been rather down on her luck lately. The kindergarten years are so hard for children after all. And recently, it seems that her beloved parents became the latest victims of the Hyuga serial killer."

The mid-boss turned to the little girl. "Kazumi, be a dear and relieve our friend of his weapons."

Hisoka stood rigid as stone as the child approached him, one of the guards following her to keep either of them from trying to run. Tiny hands loosened limps fingers from the wakizashi's grip, the blade falling to the ground with a clatter. The guard kicked it away.

Hisoka barely noticed, so focused he was on the girl. Tears and snot flowed freely down her face as she loosened the gun from his grasp. Her voice was choked with sobs. "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."

How many times had he repeated that exact same mantra when his parents locked him in the basement? 'I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.'

The Beretta went skittering across the ground like the sword. Mid-boss laughed cruelly. "Tie him up."

Hands reached through the holes in the fence and jerked him back by his jacket. The other guard moved forward, throwing a long two-by-four over the fence, which was matched against his frame on the other side. He jerked the empath's arms up to lay flat against the fence and pulled several knotted cords from his pocket. One of the hands dropped his jacket and began to thread the cord through the fence, tying both Hisoka and the board securely against it.

He struggled half-heartedly against his bonds as two more lycanthropes leapt over the fence to stand beside him. All the time, the little girl's pleas for mercy continued.

The mid-boss grinned viciously at him. "I think we can drop the act now, Kazumi."

The little girl morphed into a black wolf and ran to him.

Numbness turned to disbelief as Hisoka realized what had happened. He had been duped.

His gaze fell on his sword. It began to vibrate as he focused his powers on it.

"None of that," The lycan commanded as he picked up the pup, now transformed back into human form. At his words, one of the men standing next to the empath struck him across the face. Immediately, the sword ceased its movements.

Hisoka's head straightened to glare at the beast with piercing emerald eyes. Kazumi had wrapped her arms around her leader's neck and was grinning smugly at him. A trickle of blood slid down the empath's chin, his face already beginning to bruise. He slumped against the fence, his leg healed much too late.

"All a lie," He whispered, silence greeting him on his headset. His only hope was that Watari and Tsuzuki would get here quickly.

"Not all," The child gleefully told him, licking the blood from his chin in a way that reminded him too much of Muraki. "I needed her skin. She was tasty."

Hisoka's rage flared and he once again tried to summon his powers. It was no use. This time, it was the mid-boss struck him across the face.

"Always a cocky little bastard, Kurosaki. Always too dumb to know when you've been beat," He said in a voice reminiscent of the shrieks of a thousand sparrows. Hisoka's eyes narrowed. Where had he heard that voice before?

"You think you're pretty smart, right?" Hisoka knew he was smart, so he didn't dignify the rhetorical question with an answer. "Familiar with the Romans?"

"Adequately," Hisoka sneered, trying to buy some time. All hopes were lost as the mid-boss turned and accepted a few objects from a guard.

"Then you know what they did with their criminals," The lycan said, hefting a hammer and nails.

Dropped some hefty hints about the wolves to anyone who went back and reread the first few chapters. It'll probably seem really stupid when it all comes out in the end, but it was way smarter in my head than on paper.

Anyways, this chapter is shorter than usual because I'm trying to do two years of school work in one and am literally working myself to death. But I'll try to get one to two chapters done this weekend and get them up sometime next month.