Author's Note: Here is the revised chapter two. I hope everyone likes it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Wolf's Rain, which belongs to Keiko Nobumoto and Bones. I am NOT in anyway affiliated with Wolf's Rain's creators or translators. I make NO MONEY from the online publication of this FREE-TO-READ FANwork.
Hunters and Illusions
"I won't ask you again, where is the knife, Mr. Cantrell?" The principal was standing, palms pressed on the desk, face jutted forward, toward me. Mr. Costner was tall and lithe for a human, and believed utterly in justice and discipline. I did my best to stare back at him, straight into his frantic gray eyes. I may live off of the charity of humans, but I would never be afraid of one.
"I told you, there wasn't any knife," I said, tone as even as I could make it. That much was, indeed, true.
"Then how is it that Mr. Lebowski has those gashes on his face?" the principal asked. I sighed, looking at my human hands.
"I have... long nails," I said, grasping almost at straws. I struggled to maintain eye contact, hoping the ploy would work.
"Look, Tsume. Just tell the truth," Mr. Costner said, sighing and sitting back down. "I can see your hands now. You have normal nails." I nodded, then cursed at a sudden epiphany. I could have altered the human illusion in that small way, made my nails look abnormally long. Why hadn't I thought of that?
"They're sharper than they look, sir." How was I going to explain that there wasn't a knife? That the testimony of the guidance councilor in question was simply an illusion that I put up accidentally? Without allowing the image of the illusion to fall, I pulled away the more physical change. I ran my nails along the wooden desk, gently. "See?" I said, pointing at the deep grooves left by my seemingly blunt nails. Mr. Costner seemed at a loss for words. I smiled at him, said, "I can control it somewhat." Upon restoring that aspect of the illusion, I ran my nails across a different area, and made no grooves, "But when I get angry..." I decided to leave the rest to the man's imagination. Mr. Costner clutched the armrests of his navy blue rolling chair.
This conversation, this whole damn day, would only hasten the balding and greying that his hair was already beginning. He also seemed to have noticed that, for his hand ran nervously threw what thin, silver-streaked brown hair was left on his head, "Are you telling me that you're not..."
"I'm not telling you anything," I said, correcting the notion before Mr. Costner went too far with the whole thing. "Don't read too much into what I'm saying and doing." Mr. Costner nodded slowly.
"Well, I'm afraid that you are suspended for a month," he said. I nodded, face as composed as I could make it. I had expected as much. No doubt I would be switching foster homes soon, too.
"May I go see my teacher and ask her for the course work?"
"It will be mailed home. I'm afraid that since Mr. Lebowski is in the emergency room getting stitches, Miss O'Connor is a bit resistant to seeing you until you've calmed down," Mr. Costner said, then he frowned and slumoed deeper into his chair. Che. The damn bastard deserved it, anyway. Well, maybe not.
I was just tired of all that talk of wolfish extinction, that's all.
Hubb Lebowski winced as the dust-filled wind hit him square in the face as he exited the hospital, the right side of his face thoroughly bandaged. His sister, Cher, had called, told him that she was there and ready to pick him up. Hubb was incredibly grateful for the help, but could not see her car for the life of him.
"Hubb!" The call had come from his right side. That explained it. His right eyelid was still too swollen to open. He swung his head around and saw Cher waving her hat out of the window of her car.
"Cher! Hi!" Hubb proceeded to make his way to the car. There was another reason he could barely see it: the sandy yellow-gold color of the damn thing made it nearly impossible to distinguish from the dust storm kicking up around it. Cher got out of the car and opened up the passenger's side for him. She looked at his face, raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, Hubb. He really got you good, didn't he?" she said. He nodded and slid into his seat, letting Cher close the door for him. He watched her go around the front and enter the car herself on the driver's side.
"He's one of your kids, right, Cher?" Hubb said as his sister put the car into drive.
"Yeah," she said, flipping her turn signal on and checking behind her for oncoming cars. After she pulled into the street, she spared a glance at Hubb. "What did you say to him?"
"Nothing! The kid just attacked me!" Hubb said, voice rising an octave. Cher scoffed at that.
"Well, you must have said something, Hubb, Tsume isn't the type to randomly attack people."
"How would you know?!" Hubb slammed his hands on the dash board.
"I've been his caseworker for five years, Hubb," Cher said, flipping a sheaf of blonde hair over her shoulder and out of her eyes. "You've been his guidance councilor for two months." Hubb sighed.
"Mmhm," Cher said, then chuckled. "Your face looks bad, Hubb."
"Yeah," Hubb said, and found himself laughing too.
When they managed to stop laughing, Cher decided to pose the omnipressent question again, "What were you discussing, anyway?" she asked.
Hubb sighed, shrugged. "Some of his drawings, actually. They were all wolves. And I said, 'These drawings are really good. They look so alive, for something that's been extinct for five hundred years,' told him good job," Hubb said. "I said that he was really imaginative. And then he knifed me,"
"Ah," Cher said, wincing. "I get it now,"
"You do?" Hubb looked at his twin sister dumbly.
"Yeah. Tsume's always been really touchy about wolves and their extinction for whatever reason." Cher refocused on the road, squinting to see beyond the thick swathes of dust flying through the air.
"Huh, I wonder why." Hubb ran three fingers along his bandages before folding his hands in his lap.
"Beats me," Cher said, expertly swerving to avoid a car that turned unexpectedly.
"You... knifed your guidance councilor in the face?" Mr. and Mrs. Stevens looked incredibly disappointed. Idiots. Is it really that much of a surprise? I jerked my eyes away from my shoes and forced myself to look at them.
"Look, I didn't knife him," I said, voice rising in both volume and pitch. "It's just, I'm not like you people." That much was true, anyway.
Mrs. Stevens put a gentle hand on my shoulder. I flinched away.
"You aren't like us. You're a traumatized kid who's seen a lot more than he should've had to," she said. I rolled my eyes, and crossed my arms over my chest. She continued regardless. "We couldn't possibly understand you. But we're willing to try."
I blinked. "You can't be serious," I said, having expected to be carted off to my case worker.
"Would you like to go to a different family?" Mr. Stevens asked, raising an eyebrow at me.
There was a tense moment, and the heaviness of it weighed upon my shoulders. I had to struggle tto keep my head up, and my eyes locked firmly with Mr. Stevens'.
I shook my head, said, "Naw. The last family was vegetarian. Don't want to risk that again." Mr. and Mrs. Stevens both laughed loudly, and I scowled. They laughed all the louder for it.
Quent Yaiden wasn't supposed to drink on the job. But he took a sip of vodka as Blue tackled the suspect to the concrete regardless. He noticed that she'd aimed for the concrete. There was a personally reasonable patch of grass the two could've fallen into, but Blue used the suspect as a pillow, and pushed his face into the ground a little harder than necessary.
"Good work, Blue," Quent said as Blue cuffed the man's wrists.
"Thanks, Pops." Blue grinned at the recognition.
"Don't call me that. Makes me sound old." Quent took another sip of vodka.
"You are old," Blue Aoi said, laughing. She dragged the suspect to his feet. Quent noticed the man had aquired a split lip, he then noticed that the man was more of a boy, likely only fifteen or sixteen. Blue refocused her attention on the boy. "You really are scum, aren't you?" she asked. "Can't go around stealing people's possessions, now can you?"
"I steal food," the dark haired young man spat. "To feed my people!" He took a closer look at her, said, "Our people!" Quent froze, suddenly curious. His young apprentice was reluctant to give any details about her past. She seemed a bit thrown off by the question, but she shook it off quickly enough.
"B&E is still B&E," Blue said, shrugged.
"Have you no pride in what you are?!" the thief demanded. Quent looked between the two with interest, taking another swig from his flask.
"And look where pride got you. I value my life, thanks."
"They won't kill me for stealing food," the boy said, blue eyes flaring.
"Probably not, but you should've gotten a real job." Blue's eyes were an even more intense blue, and she certainly matched the suspect for spirit. "Actually done something for human betterment."
"Like a common dog?"
Quent saw that the young man was expecting a reaction other than the smile that stretched across Blue's face as she replied, "Exactly like a dog." She pushed the boy into the back seat of an old, battered sedan that could only be described as maroon. "To central booking?"
"Yeah," Quent said, laughed, shaking his head. "Sounds good. He's fetching quite a price for such a small fry."
"Tell me about it, old man," Blue said as she got in the the drivers side of the dilapidated vehicle. Quent took the passenger's side without too much of a fight. He wasn't too drunk to drive, but he wasn't gonna fight that battle with Blue just then.
"Damn humans," the suspect said. Quent swivled his head to look at him. Blue, however, just snorted.
"So, what's your name, mutt? We got a photo of you from someone's security system, as well as an eye witness who corroborated the photograph after watching you exit one of thr raided houses, but we still don't got a name," Blue said as she made a left.
"I am not a mutt!" the boy yelled.
"I know," Blue said, smirking. "Just tell me the name." Quent fumbled for the clipboard. There was a moment of silence that was broken only by the sound of the news on the radio.
"Kiba Sorensen," the suspect said, conceding that victory to Blue.
"See, that wasn't so bad," she said.
Quent suppressed a laugh. He'd never been anywhere near as good at interrogation as his apprentice. She was born to be a bounty hunter. Quent Yaiden was merely good at it.
Word count: 1836
revised edition published: 6/24/2015
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