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Where I Live (Part 4)
When I awoke, it was to the sound of a bird chirping alarmingly close. I thought I closed the window yesterday. I thought, rubbing my eyes as I stood up. I wasn’t looking where I was going and just happened to trip over something. I was only half awake and couldn’t stop myself, so I put out my hands, bent my knees and landed on all fours.
The impact brought me into full awareness and I looked back to see that I had tripped over someone’s leg. “All right, wipe that grin off your face. It’s not funny.”
The Bird nodded and chirped again.
“We have so got to figure out a name for you.”
He looked down at himself for a few seconds, then back up at me. There seemed to be no purpose to the motion.
“Okay . . . we need to go out and get you some new clothes. . . But if anyone I know sees me with you I’m gonna be in big trouble so I want you to do everything I tell you, exactly as I tell you.”
“Okay . . . let’s just go, I guess.” I went to my room and changed. When I came back I grabbed a non-girly jacket out of the closet and gave it to him. “Put this on.”
Once he did so, I grabbed a hat, put it on and led him out the door, locking it behind us. I begrudgingly had to lead him by the hand since he got distracted every few seconds. When we got to the store and almost had to follow him into the dressing room, I was forced to lie to one of the workers and say he was slow.
When I had gotten him three pairs of pants, a few shirts and some underwear, which I thought would be enough until I figured out what to do with him, I paid for it and we left. I sincerely wished that I hadn’t had to use that much of the money in my checking account and that I was going to miss work to search for –
“Ah crap!” I muttered under my breath.
Bird boy looked at me.
“Come on,” I tugged his hand a little harder and made him walk faster. “We have to get back.”
He stumbled a little but managed to stay upright until we got back to my apartment. Once there, I sat him down on the couch and tossed the bag of clothes into his lap a little rougher than was necessary.
“Okay . . . I promised my mom and dad that I’d come home today to help them with something. Another Cat like me went missing a while ago and we’re going to try and find him so you need to stay here.”
He nodded and then smiled when Tally jumped into his lap. I had forgotten about her. I went to the kitchen and filled up her bowl with food which reminded me that neither of us had eaten yet.
“Well . . . I guess I won’t be lying if I said I had to make breakfast first.”
I glanced at the Bird who was petting Tally contentedly and decided not to make eggs, just in case he had an issue with it. When I had made pancakes, I put a couple on a plate, buttered them, cut them and then gave them to him. Not really caring what he did, I let him eat it with his hands, but after we were both done, I made him wash them.
“Okay, I have to go. . .” I said, grabbing my keys. “I’ll try to come back soon to check on you, but I don’t know how soon. Will you be okay by yourself?”
He just looked down at Tally, giving a tiny shrug that I barely saw.
Hopefully he doesn’t get himself hurt. Wait, what am I thinking? He’s a Bird, I’m a Cat. We’re supposed to be enemies, both in real life and the animal world. Taking one last look, I locked the door behind me and headed to the parking garage.
When I got there and had already started up my bike, I saw a familiar face in the headlights. “I don’t have time for this, Ran.” I pulled my helmet’s visor down.
“But I always have time for you.” He said with a sneer. “I need to pay you back for last time.”
“Seriously, I don’t have the time. Now move or I’ll run you over.” I revved the engine.
“You wouldn’t.” His eyes narrowed.
In reply, I shot out of the parking space and turned so my back wheel slid towards him with a high pitched squeal. He jumped back out of the way and I sped down the ramp at a dangerous speed. Once I got out onto the road, I slowed down to the speed limit so I wouldn’t get pulled over which would just waste precious time.
When I got to Mom and Dad’s house, I found that my thoughts kept drifting back to who was in my apartment – hopefully – at that very moment. Everything passed by like a dream. Mom offered me breakfast but I told her I’d already eaten. Not having had Mom’s home cooking in a while, I regretted the choice.
When I went up to Dad’s study, he wanted to know if I had gotten attacked that day. At first, my instinct was to say no, but then I thought about how the Bird’s scent would be all over me and said that I had had a little spat with one the night before and hadn’t had the chance to wash it off. That seemed to satisfy him and he told me that he had been going to contact Ty Lan’s parents, but they had died some time ago. His friends said he had been missing for at least three months and that they had looked for him but he had been a little solitary and hadn’t given any of them a key to his apartment.
Together, though it made me pretty nervous, we went back to where I lived, but we were headed towards Ty Lan’s apartment, not mine. When we got there, Dad got the young Cat’s scent as I had. I waited anxiously in the living room as he searched around the house, looking for evidence. He found none besides the damage in the bedroom. This Hunter liked to be thorough.
When we were done with that, we spent almost until lunch searching and checking on leads, but there seemed to be no trace of Ty Lan. The friends, family and coworkers we asked all said they hadn’t seen him in days. I was getting more and more depressed by the hour. What made it worse was that I was stressed over having a Bird of Prey found in my apartment. When lunch time rolled around, I was surprised I hadn’t developed a twitch.
I told Dad I needed to call it a day before I had a complete and total mental breakdown. He told me that he would keep searching and maybe enlist Marc and a few others’ aid, then told me I should go home and rest. I took my bike home and when I got back, I was scared to open the door. When I finally got up the nerve and walked inside, I almost had a heart attack. Then, the surprise melted into pure, blind fury. I could smell a scent that hadn’t been there when I had left.
Slamming the door shut without locking it, I sprinted to the end of the hallway and jumped off the second floor, clearing the stairs. Landing in a crouch, I sprinted out onto the street and ran full speed, putting a hand on top of my hat so it wouldn’t blow off. How did this happen? My thoughts raced as I ran. How did he get into my house? Where did he take the Bird? When did I get so attached to him, anyway? It happened so fast . . . but it made me so mad when I smelled him. I’m being protective of a Bird of Prey. There’s no way that should have happen. Ever. And yet it happened . . . and now I’m following his scent, racing down the street to save him.
Practically growling at myself, not caring who saw me running so fast, I turned into the parking structure. I knew he would be there. I could smell him. Not bothering with the slow elevator, I ran up the ramps to the third floor where I had parked my bike. How did I not smell him before? He must’ve come here after I had already parked. We just missed each other.
I inhaled deeply and could smell the Bird’s scent going up the ramp. I followed it until I could hear faint sounds of struggle. It sounded like the Bird was near tears, about to start sobbing. Then, there was a growl and he cried out in pain. I picked up the pace.
When I found the Bird, I didn’t know whether wanted to kill the person on top of him, or beat him senseless and leave him alive to feel it. “Let him go, Ran.” I said, surprised that my voice sounded only a little bit strained.
Ran was sitting on top of the Bird, on his stomach, probably crushing his wings underneath their combined weight. He had the Bird’s arms pinned above and to the sides of his head on the concrete. He struggled pitifully, sounding like a little kid.
The sound made me angrier.
“Why should I?” Ran asked, easily keeping the Bird pinned.
“Just get off of him.” I said, trying to keep my anger under control. “He’s done nothing to you.”
“He’s not a Wolf and he’s not human, that means he’s an enemy. Who cares if he did something to me? Just the sight of him makes my jaws ache.” He leaned down closer to the Bird’s face with his teeth bared, making the older boy look away and squeeze his eyes shut in fear.
“That’s the kind of mentality that gets us killed.”
“What do you care about this guy, anyway? He’s not a Cat. You should be joining me.” Ran’s grip tightened on the Bird’s wrist and he moved so one of knees was on top of almost all of the Bird’s torso. He practically sobbed as he squirmed underneath Ran’s considerable bulk, his breath coming shorter and shorter.
“Stop it!” I shouted almost instantly. “You’re hurting him!”
I mentally shoved my foot in my mouth as Ran’s head shot up to look at me. “What – Did you just . . . Have you started caring about a Bird?” He said the name in disgust.
Cats and Wolves were a little more closely related to each other than to Birds, which was why he said I should have been joining him, but I didn’t care. I wouldn’t join him. I might have been shocked for a few seconds at what he said and what I had said, but I was still going to kick his butt.
“No.” I said after a few seconds. “No way. I wouldn’t care about some stupid Bird.” I started walking closer. “I just wanted him for myself.”
Ran gave a slightly sadistic smile. The Bird looked at me as I got closer, his expression one of utter betrayal. I tried not to look at him.
“Switch with me.” I said to Ran with a small smile.
At first, he looked a little hesitant and wary, but then he slowly began moving off of the Bird. I took Ran’s position, pinning the Bird’s wrists as he got up. I tried my best not to look him in the eye as he stared up at me, completely still. He didn’t understand why I was doing this and I could see I was hurting him, but I had to do this to save him.
I bent down so my mouth was right next to his ear, out of Ran’s view and spoke quietly so only he could hear. “Calm down. It’s all right. . . I’m gonna jump off of you and when I do, I want you to go down to the next level as fast as possible.”
I pulled back and moved his arms so I could pin both of them with one hand. Drawing my left fist back, I acted like I was going to hit him. Then, without warning, I shifted the direction of my punch, jumping up off of him, and tackled Ran. He barely had time to yelp before his back hit the ground. Inwardly, I kind of wished he would have hit his head and gotten knocked out, but my luck wasn’t that good and with the way things were going I didn’t see it improving any time soon.
I felt his foot shove up against my stomach and flew backwards. The lift the kick gave me was good enough that I landed on my feet. He sprung up and I lunged forward. Our hands locked together, each of us pushing hard in a test of strength. A glance to my left showed me that the Bird was still there.
“What are you doing!?” I shouted at him, making him flinch. “Get out of here, you idiot!” He just stood there, stunned, staring at us with a wide-eyed, fearful gaze. “Go! Run!”
He shook his head pitifully.
“I can handle dog boy, just run!”
As if determined to prove me wrong, Ran growled and pulled back, then gave one, strong push. One of his legs curled around mine and swept it out from under me, taking me completely by surprise. I fell back and landed hard. My head cracked against the cement and everything seemed to dull. I barely felt Ran picking me up, lifting me over his head, and carrying me to the edge of the platform. I passed out as he threw me, hearing a loud screech I could only describe as a hawk in death throws.
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Well, it felt like I was on the ground floor, but I couldn’t feel cement or dirt or grass underneath me. Instead, I felt an arm underneath my shoulders, a hand on the back of my head and another arm underneath my legs. Everything was fuzzy for a few seconds and slowly came into focus. I found myself looking up at the Bird I’d been taking care of. He was looking over my head.
I glanced down and saw that he was on his knees and that I was sitting in his lap, both of his arms supporting me. Feeling extremely tired, I slumped against him, leaning my head on his chest. His heartbeat was loud in my ears and I realized that my hat was gone. And then there was another thing, something surrounding us. It was white and feathery.
I picked my head up again as urgently as I could muster. “Y-You need to . . . p-pull your . . . wings in.”
He shook his head slowly, looking down at me.
“Someone . . . Someone might see. . . What . . . What happened to . . . Ran?”
He looked up.
I followed his line of sight and saw Ran’s head and arms sticking over the edge of the wall, his eyes closed and limbs limp. “Is he dead?” It wasn’t like I was depressed that he was dead, we had been fighting for a long time and sooner or later one of us had to lose for good, but that didn’t mean I wanted him dead.
He shook his head and I felt myself being lifted up as he stood. He pulled one of his legs in to support me for a second and I felt my hat settle backwards on top of my head, but I was still disoriented and didn’t see him move to put it on me. He pulled his wings in and started walking. My eyes felt heavy and the soft rocking of his steps combined with the steady beat of his heart made me fall asleep again.