The final chapter to the introduction of Shadow and Troy
He looked around groggily. Was he still in the van....? He blinked and the pain it caused him made him consider just leaving his eyes closed forever. He whimpered a little, and was barely able to lift his head off the floor of the vehicle as he tried to get his bearings. His mind and memory were so fuzzy...he couldn't remember quite how to get things to work properly. He sighed and gently let his head lay back on the floor.
There wasn't much to see in here anyway, it seemed like it was night outside and the inside of the van was dark. How long had he been here? It felt like days. More like years. He tried to move a little, to get into a more comfortable position. But that caused all the pain to redouble, and he couldn't help a small groan from escaping. Despite the agony, he eventually decided to crawl his way to the double doors at the back of the medium sized, nondescript van. There was a hint of some kind of flickering light coming from somewhere outside. Even though it pained him terribly, he wanted view the light. Laying here in the dark, his mind fragmented and unable to focus, he was unsure at times if he were dead or not.
As he crawled, Troy could feel that his fur was matted and thick, grimy. He looked down at himself. He couldn't remember where his jacket had gone. It was hard to see, but he knew his shirt was in tatters. He felt the thin strips of its remains on his chest.
The whole thing was hazy to him. Just snatches of pain and snarling angry faces. At first he had been afraid they were.....Troy reached down and felt his jeans. He breathed a sigh of relief. They felt stiff and crusty, but intact.
Closer to the windows, the dim light from outside allowed him to get a better view of his body. From what he could tell he was covered in his own blood, mostly dried now. He felt around his body, wincing a bit, which in turn made the pain worse. He had numerous cuts and his body was littered with painful bruises. After just a few moments of examination, he was exhausted. Troy sighed and leaned his back against the doors. At least nothing felt broken.
His mind was drifting away again, but the rough and jumbled images were slowly regaining a slight cohesive order. He remembered being grabbed, remembered Shadow calling out for him. A sharp pang in his heart closely followed that memory.
"Shadow.....where are you? What have they done to you?"
What if he didn't get his medication? Images of Shadow writhing and choking on the ground fluttered through his weary mind like malignant spirits he could not dispel. He wanted to sob, but lacked the strength to do so. After a while, he began to get uncomfortable again but he didn't think he could summon the energy to move again. Suddenly, however, Troy thought he heard someone approaching from outside.
He started as he felt the doors click and begin to open. Despite the searing agony it caused, Troy quickly crawled away to the far side as much he could go, shielding his face and shaking. "Please no...no no no no........." He whined in his head. The memories were returning. The savage, relentless beating he'd endured the last few hours. The mocking laughter and cruelty. He'd almost rather they just killed him rather than go another round. He'd beg them if he had to. He'd do whatever they wanted rather than go through that again. He started crying, the salty tears stinging the cuts around his eyes.
The double doors swung wide and a lithe figure stepped into the van. "Come on out, cocksucker." The figure said. He had a rasp like quality to his voice, with the slight hint of a slur to his "s" sounds. Troy couldn't bring himself move however. He was still too scared and hurt to consider moving his limbs toward that awful voice. The strange voiced fur let out a small hiss and roughly grabbed Troy about the shoulders, hauling him out of the van and throwing him roughly on the ground outside. The pain this caused was exquisite and Troys breathing stopped for a moment. As soon as he could breathe, paws and arms grabbed him and hauled him backwards, causing his breath to catch again as he was dragged.
Troy could hardly concentrate enough to get a view on his surroundings or the monstrous group that had grabbed him. A pair of uncaring paws pushed his face to one side, then the other. After a short moment, a voice directly in front of him said "eh, he looks alright." Then the owner of the voice shoved him hard to the ground. "You stay right there for a while." The voice said.
Finally Troy dared to raise his eyes and look around. He was outside, at some kind of campsite. There was deep snow all around them but a couple big bonfires lit the area and chased back the bitter cold, melting the snow directly around the camp. A few large trees had kept most of the nearby ground clear of snow and dry. Still terrified, Troy risked some quick glances at his captors....he recognized them.
Sitting on an improvised log bench was a cat with brown and black calico fur. Standing over Troy himself was a another cat; tall and tawny colored. This ones jaw seemed just a bit out of place, though that may be because of the loathing sneer it wore. He remembered a couple months ago, these two ambushing him in the park. Saying that he should be known at a glance for what he was. At that time, Shadow had appeared suddenly, saving him and pulling him away from danger. Troys throat felt tight with despair. Where was Shadow now? Who would save him this time?
Troy remembered there being a third...he glanced behind him, to the figure that had given him his cursory medical exam. And there he was, grey fur with some speckles of white throughout. All three were fairly muscled, being some of the top members of the college track team.
"What are you looking at, you little fuck?" Said the tawny feline with the offset lower jaw. Shane. The most angry of this trio of monsters. Troy quickly looked away, he didn't want to antagonize him.
"Calm down." The grey cat said with a low voice as he restrained Shane with a paw. Troy was grateful. Shane seemed eager to pummel Troy back into unconsciousness.
Tail twitching, the angry cat went over and sat on the log by the fire. They all seemed content to let Troy lay there on the hard earth. Despite the fire, he was starting to feel the bite of the cold. However, he couldn't hardly bring himself to move at all, much less crawl his way closer to the flames, lest it attract attention back to him. He crossed his arms over his shredded shirt and shivered a little. After a few minutes, the voice of the grey furred cat came to him.
"Hey, you can get closer to the fire. No sense in you freezing to death right away"
Troy looked up at him, then hesitantly made his way closer to the heat. Why did he care? why were they doing any of this? Why had they taken him and Shadow? Shadow.....despite his exhaustion, the thought wrung a single sob out of Troy.
"Shut up, dammit." Said the calico. Jake.. or Joey, Troy thought his name was. The feline grumpily kicked some of the burning branches within the flames, causing sparks to drift and flutter into the dark, cold air. Troy watched them float away with an odd, sad detachment. This was just all so....awful. Evil. Why? Despite his fears, Troy couldn't resist the urge to ask.
"W...why...? Why....all of this?" He said, his raw throat making his voice barely above a whisper.
The grey feline looked at him quizzically. Then he walked over to Troy and leaned down. The utterly emotionless expression on that face and in those eyes was somehow worse than the raw hatred permanently affixed to Shane.
"Unless you're completely idiotic, you know at least part of the reason. We still have unfinished business from last time, when your little friend interrupted us."
Troy wanted to cringe away from those soulless eyes. The way they looked at him as if he were less than living. No more than a wretched stain that needed cleaning. The grey cat looked back briefly at the two by the other fire, then back at Troy.
Then the feline knelt and leaned forward, talking low so that only Troy would hear. "You remember what I told you all those weeks ago, don't you? If you didn't give me what I wanted, I was going to make your life very difficult. I'm just keeping my word, here."
The slightly mad expression that crept onto that face began to refuel Troys terror. The empty stare was preferable to the increasingly intense gaze now filling the felines features. Troy couldn't help but remember the first time they met.
The cat had introduced himself as Zachary one day after class, then had made a few obscene propositions that Troy had flatly and angrily denied. Zachary had coldly made his promise and said it was in Troys best interest to meet him in the locker room in a few minutes. Troy hadn't showed up, and the next day found him being chased into the park by Zachary and his two friends. Troy had dared to hope that Shadows intervention last time had permanently discouraged Zachary's advances.
Looking over his shoulder briefly to make sure his friends weren't watching, Zachary placed a paw on Troys inner thigh and gave a soft squeeze, his claws digging into Troys flesh just slightly, causing Troy to wince. He leaned slightly closer and whispered. "Now..my friends and I are gonna take off while you stay here and think about things.They don't know that I'll be back a little later, alone, to settle your debt to me."
Troy shuddered at that touch. He wanted to cringe away and curl up in a ball. But his concern for his friend was overwhelming. He had to ask.
"What...what did you do with Shadow?" Troy asked anxiously, forcing himself to meet Zachary's gaze. The light from the crackling flames caused the darkness to swirl and cavort around the felines face, giving him a demonic appearance that was chilling. When Zachary smiled in response, showing his sharp feline teeth, it was as if all the worlds evil had been distilled into this single figure.
He removed his paw from Troys leg and spoke in a louder voice. "Well, I called up an old friend of mine. He doesn't come cheap, for sure. But I figured your little boyfriend needed an extra special touch. I'm afraid dear old Shadow won't be fit for much for a long while."
Shane spoke up from his spot by the fire, the odd quality of his voice exacerbated by his angry tone. "That sucker punching faggot broke my jaw. I hope he has to drink his food for the rest of his life." The cat angrily tossed another piece of wood into the flames. "So what now Zach? I'm tired of being around this sick fuck."
Troys heart sank and despair crashed over him in a black wave. Tears began rolling down his face again as the thought of Shadow being hurt caused his heart to sear with pain. He shuffled forward a bit toward Zachary, pleading.
"Please...I'm sorry. Please don't hurt Shadow..I'll do whatever you want. Whatever you wanted to do last-URGK!!"
Troys voice was strangled to a stop by Zachary's paw around his throat. The cat had an insanely tense expression on his face. He glanced quickly at the others, then back at Troy.
"Shut. Your whore mouth. Now." He said in clipped, angry tones. Then he released Troys throat.
Troy fell back on the cold ground, coughing to get air back in his lungs. Then he felt himself being hauled backwards.
"Put him up against the tree there." Troy heard Zachary call out. "We'll leave him here tonight and see if he's still alive tomorrow."
Troys mind was still spinning a bit. The pain from his beating earlier was still acute and all the dragging and shoving his captors were doing was making it hard to focus. But his mind latched onto Zachary's words. Leave him? It was freezing, he'd die for sure out here! Then, he remembered what else was going to happen. Maybe he wouldn't freeze. Troy was uncertain which outcome was worse.
As he lifted his head, he saw Zachary over by the van, rummaging inside for something. Most likely some kind of restraint to tie Troy to the tree. Troys breathing became rapid as the full weight of his situation really began to truly form in his mind. He was going to die, or worse, become Zacharys plaything and possibly die anyway. Small sobs starting escaping him as he began to panic. He had done nothing to deserve this, nothing! Why!? How could such evil exist in these three?
"Oh, you gonna cry some more?" Shane rasped, looking down at where he held Troys shoulder with a single paw. "This is what happens when you choose to be a disgusting freak." Shane smiled, the odd angle of his jaw making the grin grotesque and macabre. Troy shuddered and looked at Joey. The calico had no definite expression. He didn't seem to care one way or another what happened to Troy. He was just following orders.
Adrenaline pounded through Troys body. No one was coming for him. Shadow wasn't coming. The thought hurt. Somehow, he'd expected Shadow to show up at any moment. To whisk him away from danger like he'd done in the past. But no, he was alone. It was up to him if he wanted to live. Troys heart pounded even faster as terror gripped him. He had to do something!
Troy hung his head in despair. What could he do? He wasn't strong like Shadow. He'd always depended on others his whole life. He wasn't strong enough. It was his fault this had happened anyway. Shadow had just gotten swept up in Troys problem. Troy ceased the few feeble struggles he had been putting up. There was no point. He leaned against the tree, feeling utterly defeated. Troy wondered despondently what was taking Zachary so long. And why he seemed to be yelling. A few snatches of what he was saying registered. Especially since he began screaming more than simply yelling.
"What do you mean he's GONE?! What the hell were you doing, that he just got up and walked away? What?! How?......you fucking moron, you...what? You told him what? Fucking stupid...DON'T YOU FUCKING GROWL AT ME, YOU DAMN STUPID COYOTE! IT'S YOUR FAULT HE GOT AWAY FROM YOUR NASTY, FAGGOT ASS! NOW I HAVE TO CLEAN UP YOUR MESS! DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND LEAVE TOWN NOW, OR I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU MYSELF!"
Troy looked up and saw Zachary punch the side of the van, leaving a dent. The enraged cat then just stood and leaned against it for a moment, obviously trying to regain control of himself as he continued to talk angrily into a cell phone.
Shadow. He had to be talking about Shadow! He'd gotten away! He was coming! Troy turned his gaze quickly to Shane and Joey. They were both looking away from him, their attention focused on their enraged leader. Troys heart pounded in his chest. Shadow might be coming, but who knew what Zachary would do now? Perhaps they'd just kill him right now, and lie in wait for Shadow. Troy had to help. Had to buy time. Time enough for Shadow to get here. For some mad, illogical reason Troy believed that if Shadow could just get here, everything would be alright.
Troys mind raced. He only had this one moment. If he failed, they'd never give him another. He thought desperately what he could do. After a few panicked seconds, his mind stopped. He remembered one particular thing. To help ease Troys mind about being bullied, Shadow had tried to teach Troy a few basic defensive techniques. Troy hadn't taken very well to them. He was too hesitant, too slow. But one of them occurred to him now.
"If you do happen to find yourself on the ground, you still have a few limited options. In a fight, most guys will immediately run at you unthinking, trying to take advantage of your position. In that situation, try to think quickly and clearly. Wait till you see them put their full weight on one of their legs, then kick out as hard as you can right at the kneecap. Envision you are kicking straight through it. You'll most likely break it, or at least dislocate it. Either way, they'll be done fighting."
Fuck. He had to try though. He had to get away before they started paying attention to him again. Troy lowered his head, trying to appear hopeless again.He shifted his body a little, pressing his back more firmly against the trunk of the tree. Shane looked back briefly, but then returned watching Zacharys heated conversation on the phone. Joey had removed his paw from Troys shoulder and stood looking away as well. Him, then. Troy waited, the energy and adrenaline causing a slight ringing in his ears. Finally, Joey seemed to be getting tired of standing there. He began leaning slightly. Left leg...right leg....left leg. Troy watched, his vision narrowing. He had to be perfect. Time seemed to stretch out indeterminately, Troy was unable to breath, building up all his pent fear and energy. At last.....right leg.
"NOW!" Troy screamed mentally, and kicked out desperately at Joeys right kneecap. There was a wet sounding pop! followed immediately by a brittle crraack! as the knee slid much farther than it was supposed to, dislocating and breaking some cartilage. Joey screamed and hissed, toppling and grasping at his ruined, useless leg.
In the moment Shane lifted his paw in shock of Joeys agonized howling, Troy rolled to his left and began scrambling out and away from the camp. His muscles were bruised and stiff; and although he had made good distance in the moment of confusion, there was no way he could outpace Shane. With Zachary screaming in the background, Troy felt strong paws try to grip his shoulders from behind.
With a yell of panicked fear, Troy lashed out behind him with his elbow. There was a short cry and the paws fell away at once. Troy didn't stop to see what had happened, he continued blindly forward into the dark, snow covered surroundings, praying fervently that Shadow was close.
Shadow stopped the truck where he saw tire tracks veering off into the dark forest. Although the snow was deeper here, it wasn't thick enough to prevent him driving all the way there. However, he didn't want whoever was up there to know he was coming. Besides, going on foot would only be slightly slower than driving, with this whole area being crossed with ravines just big enough to get a careless driver stuck.
He killed the engine and got out, leaving the keys in the ignition. Jogging quickly through the snow, he made good time, even with the darkness blanketing everything. The moon was starting to peek out through a break in the clouds, illuminating the area with an otherworldly glow from the reflected light. All the while, his mind was wracked with fear at what he might find. Troy hurt...or worse. Shadows jaw tightened. If it was the other...it would destroy him, he knew. He would not be able to go on, not with that.
He slowed as twin points of light appeared in the distance, the obvious flickering of campfires. There it was. the large black bulk in the distance must be their vehicle. He slowed to a walk as he approached carefully, one paw behind him gripping the butt of the gun he'd taken from Johnny.
Shadow cautiously reached the front of the vehicle, he crouched and slowly looked around towards the fires, trying not to look directly at the flames. What he saw surprised him. One figure laying on the ground, groaning pitifully and gingerly holding his leg. Another a little ways off, leaning against a large tree, one paw massaging the side of his face. Shadow looked all around quickly. There didn't seem to be anyone else around. Where was Troy? Shadow looked back at the two by the fire briefly, then moved and peeked in the side windows of the van. It was dark inside, but the growing moonlight revealed no one within. Damn! What had happened?
Shadow approached the ring of light slowly, keeping one paw on the gun. He knew he wasn't a trained shooter, but the smooth feel of the firearm gave him a small sense of protection. He stopped just outside the revealing light of the fires, and examined the two figures before him. After a few moments, he recognized them. It was that group of felines that had been knocking Troy around those few months ago. Shadow felt a deep current of anger begin to course through him. The one crying and clutching his leg didn't seem to be much of a threat, so Shadow stepped into the light directly in front of the tawny colored one.
The cat looked up, surprised. Then an obviously terrified look spread over his features. Shadow only growled as he took a few more steps toward him
"You know why I'm here." Shadow said in a somewhat shaky voice. He could hardly resist throttling this monster for answers.
Shadow leaned down till he was eye level with the cat, but still a short distance away. "Where is he?"
The cat glared but said nothing, rubbing his slightly protruding jaw. Shadow recalled now why it probably looked so odd. He stepped near the closest fire and pulled out one of the branches that was sticking out, a bit of flame curling around its tip.
"Figure out how to tell me what I want or this time, I'll make sure you can never open your mouth again." Shadow said in a completely honest tone.
The cat quickly brought up a paw to forestall. "Kicked Joey." He mumbled, glancing and the moaning figure on the ground. "Got away. Zachs after him. All Zachs idea."
Shadow dropped the branch back into the fire. Though his face was calm, he felt a fierce pride in his friend. He had fought back! Had resisted! He quickly glanced around, looking for what direction he had gone. A trail of disturbed snow led off a bit northward from where he stood, going off into the blackness. Shadow felt a pang of worry grow within him. That was deeper into the park. It was full of half filled creeks and empty, rock filled ravines. Troy could kill himself trying to run about out there. Not to mention how cold it was.
He looked back at the sitting cat. He may not have come up with all this, but he had been a willing participant. He felt a small urge to see what putting a bullet through someones skull would feel like. But he resisted it. Instead, he told him to help get the other one up and take that van out of here. If Shadow ever saw them again, he'd beat them to death.
Then he turned and quickly began following the tracks in the snow. The bright moon above was fully visible now, most of the clouds having blown past. Shadow was grateful, with Troys white fur, it'd be that much easier to spot him moving around. Shadow fervently hoped Troy was okay as he loped away in pursuit.
Troy crouched low in the snow covered scrub and tried to control his breathing. Could he still hear him, out in the dark?....no. No, there wasn't anything. There was only the low sigh of the air as it moved along through the dark, desolate park. Should he keep moving? Maybe he'd lost Zachary already. Maybe running now would only give himself away. Troy couldn't be sure.
He tried to calm his furiously beating heart while he considered. The way it was thundering, Troy was almost sure Zachary would be able to hear it fifty feet away.
"Breathe...relax...I have to keep calm...I have to try..." Troy thought to himself. He tried to close his eyes but couldn't manage it for more than a second or two. The darkness with his eyes closed seemed somehow deeper and more unnerving than the vast, velvety blackness that already surrounded him.
"I'll just...stay here for a bit. He could wander right past me as long as I'm quiet" Troy crouched even lower, trying to suppress his shivers as the snow covered ground rapidly sapped away the little body heat he had left in him.
Despite his efforts to stay still, his head and ears swivelled in all directions as he tried to keep watch for any sign of Zachary. Where had he gone? Troy hadn't gotten that far ahead, shouldn't he still be able to hear Zachary if he were close by? His heart continued to pound in his chest.
"Troooooy......c'mon, don't hide...."
Zachary's voice was terrifyingly close. Troy was so startled he barely managed to clap a paw over his mouth to keep from screaming. Where was he? Troys ears moved rapidly, though the rest of him remained petrified from fear.
"Come out...you won't be able to stay out here long. It's too cold. Would you really rather freeze to death?"
Troy wanted to shout that he'd rather die a hundred different ways than let him have his sick pleasure. He prayed that Zachary would walk past him. He sounded so close! But in the open space, it was hard to tell exactly. Troys eyes scanned all around, the features of the landscape strangely becoming more clear to his eyes. He dared raise his head a little to look around, but he still couldn't see any movement. What was he doing? Waiting?
"I'm going to find you here in a bit.....If you'd been good, we could've had lots of fun. Now, I think I'll just take you out here. And leave you buried in the snow. Still....it's a bit romantic, don't you think..? Out in nature...under the stars..and moon."
Troy looked up then, seeing the moon as it began to shine brighter as the thick clouds began to clear and reveal a starry sky. Lead filled his stomach. That's why things seemed to be getting so bright...Zachary was waiting somewhere..waiting for the light to show exactly where he was! Troy looked at the bright white fur oh his paws. Shit!
Troy panicked, knowing that he'd be revealed soon anyway, and leaped up trying to sprint away once more.
"Hah! No more running, precious!" Came Zacharys voice, closing in rapidly to the side. Troy was shoved down hard to the ground, where he rolled a foot or two before stopping. His aching body screamed and he tried to get up, but a strong pair of arms shoved him back down in the snow again.
"Whew...now..no more games." Zachary said cheerfully, his outline against the shining moon making him a living patch of blackness. He struck out a hard blow against the side of Troys head, disorienting him. Troy tried to crawl, to kick out, anything, but the blows kept coming. He felt his vision tunneling....
"I tried Shadow...." Troy thought with detachment, the pain of the blows fading to soft touches. "I think...you would've been proud of me....for that...."
The world began to fade away, and Troy couldn't summon up the energy to hold on to it any longer.
Shadows breathing was becoming ragged. It wasn't too difficult to follow the tracks, but they meandered crazily. Troy must've been very panicked, running in different directions. It didn't look like his pursuer had been chasing heavily though. The paw prints following Troys were even, as if he'd been walking, not running. The trail started going up the side of a fairly steep hill. Shadow angrily began climbing it. He knew what was happening. But he refused to let it become reality. At least until he was sure Troy was safe.
The stress was telling though. Shadows limbs felt shaky. The muscles between his shoulder blades and along his lower back were twinging slightly. Shadow growled...continuing up the steep slope.
"Not now...not now..." He said over and over in his mind. Even with his medicine, the exertions his body had gone through today was beginning to force an attack into being.
Shadows heart thudded painfully in his chest. But he was almost at the top. The thought of Troy scrambling, terrified, up the hill in pitch blackness spurring him on. He had to get there, had to save Troy. Just a bit farther.
"Please..." Shadow begged, to what he did not know. His heart continued to labor.
Thud thud, thud thud, thud thud, thud....thud, th-ud thud...
Shadow stopped and gripped his chest in pain as he felt his heart quiver. Without realizing, he had crumpled face first into the snow. His back twinged and he felt his legs kicking out slightly. Fuck...he had been so close...but he couldn't fight this..the inevitable had caught up with him at the worst possible moment. He closed his eyes in despair, shame and regret filling his pained body as well.
"Hah! No more running, precious!" Came a voice from just over the crest of the hill.
There was a small cry of pain. Troy! The thought pulsed through Shadows mind like a blast of lightning. Growling, he tried to focus his mind. But his chest screamed with pain and his limbs were beginning to snap out of their own volition.
"I..must...do...this..." He told himself. If he could just push up...if he could just get to Troy. It might make up, in some small way, for the uncaring treatment towards his parents...for the years of unchecked anger and cruelty towards others that followed. If he could just...get...UP!
Thud...th-ud...thud, thud thud, thud thud, thud thud, thudthud,thudthud,thudthud!!
A ripping growl issued from Shadows throat..he placed one paw, then the other, flat beneath him and pushed. But there seemed to be no strength remaining in his limbs! He growled again and his heart seemed to thrum in response. Straining, he pushed again, this time more and more energy began coursing into his arms and legs. His chest and muscles still seared with pain, but they obeyed, and that was all he wanted. He pushed and raised himself back up to his knees. With a savage grin of triumph he began quickly scrambling up the crest of this damned slope.
As he reached the top, Shadow looked down. The hill was barely steep at all on the other side. At the bottom, lay Troy, his arm across his muzzle in a dazed and feeble defense against the figure standing over him raining blows upon his head. At last, Troy seemed to go limp. As the person standing over Troy raised his arm for another blow, Shadow didn't think twice. He rushed down the side of the hill, pulling the gun out from behind him. Lined in the white blue moonlight, the light furred cat made an outstanding target. Without uttering a single word, Shadow brought the gun to bear and fired as close as he could to the center of the standing figure.
The guns report cracked and rolled for long moments among the empty hills and trees, before being muffled by the cold snow. The moment seemed to drag on for an extended period. The vast silence of the park after the shot seemed to magnify and made it seem as if the whole world were holding its breath.
Then, the figure slowly fell to one side, like a great felled tree. Shadow continued forward, still holding the gun in shaking paws. As he reached Troy he bent down and desperately checked his breathing. It was slow, but there, thank any god that ever was! He was just unconscious. Shadow saw movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to see Troys assailant slowly crawling away. With a snarl, Shadow approached him.
When he got close, he could see that his aim had been off. He had hit the attacker, but only through the side. It hadn't killed him. A shame.
"You...fuck...shot me..ugh." The cat said in a pained, angry tone. "I'm..gonna kill you for this.."
"No, you won't." Shadow said in a sure voice, and walked towards him.
"Heh...you don't have it in you..."
"Oh?" Shadow replied, pointing the gun at the felines head.
"N..no..you don't. You didn't kill Johnny when you should have..you won't kill me. Go, and just watch your back." He said bitterly and continued crawling.
Shadow took a brief look at Troy. Even in the moonlight, he could see the dark bloody stains, the ripped clothing. His fur was matted and even torn off in patches in some spots, pale flesh gleaming in reflected light.
"A mistake." Shadow growled. He turned and strode towards the crawling creature and brought the side of the gun down hard against his head. Once, twice...a total of five blows until he stopped moving or even twitching.
Shadow wandered around until he found what he was looking for. Then, with strength he hadn't felt in years, he hauled the unconscious monster to the edge of one of the deeper nearby ravines. A good depth of water still remained at its bottom, a thin layer of ice shining on the black surface. With one more glance at Troy and then to the unconscious cat..Shadow heaved and tossed him into the black depths of the freezing water. His heavily muscled frame passed through the thin ice with ease, and he sank down, floating away beneath an unbroken patch of water.
By the time the weather and ferals were done...nothing would remain of what happened. He would worry about what to say to Troy later. For now...he just wanted to get them home, and safe. His body still hurt horribly..and he felt a little nauseous. He didn't know what was going to happen. He'd never pulled out of an episode like that. Maybe it would come back, worse than before. He wasn't sure. He had to hurry, if that was the case.
He walked over to Troy, and gingerly lifted him up and placed his head and shoulders underneath one of his arms. Troy stirred, mumbling.
"S...Shadow, that..you?" His head lolling a bit, as he tried to focus.
"Yeah, it's me. You're safe now." Shadow could feel tears welling up and his throat tighten.
"Thanks..for saving...m..again.." Troys voice was distant, but he was managing to hold a little of his weight on his legs.
"Shh..." Shadow hushed him gently. "You saved yourself this time. I'm proud of you. Now, just try to walk a bit. We're going home now."
Shadow was surprised a little, when he felt Troy manage to lift his head a bit and kiss the side of Shadows muzzle.
"I love you Shadow.." Troy said.
Shadow smiled slightly, a couple of tears slipping from his eyes. He gently held Troys chin and placed a long, soft kiss on his lips.
"I love you too, Troy. I always will." He said, happy about how the surety of that statement reverberated through him.
Troy smiled, then lowered his head, still exhausted from the ordeal. Slowly, they walked together through the shining snow, back towards home.
Thank you to all my friends and their long suffering patience for the release of this part. I know there are a few more things that need covering, but I decided in the spirit of finally getting this uploaded, that I would condense a few things into an epilogue that will be added later. Again, thanks to all my friends who have supported me. ^_^