Diary Entry: August 29 P.M.
Today was pretty interesting. I never expected I'd meet up with Souhei again, let alone that he'd ask me out on a date. I wish I knew why he seemed so worried when I asked him where he lived. I don't know. Why did I ask him to stay here, though? Who's to say if I'll wake up tomorrow with my ears tucked in? It would have been a disaster if I woke up as a wolf and he saw me before I could change back. Oh well. I still loved getting to catch up with him. Perhaps tomorrow I'll try to find him and set up a second date. -End
That night, I almost couldn't get to sleep. Thinking back on the day's events just had me so excited. Eventually, I did get some sleep, and the morning seemed to come to quickly. It was the first time in a while I slept in. It must have been 9:00 before I finally got out of bed. I took some time to finish up my homework for the weekend after I had some breakfast. It wasn't too difficult, luckily. After that, I decided to head out and get some groceries. I had the day off from work as well. Everyone in the city was busy doing their own things. That was nothing new. I almost hated days like this. Weekends with no work were exceptionally boring, especially when Shino did have to work, but now, I fortunately had another old friend I could hang out with.
was on my way to the store, I heard a familiar voice. As I looked
over, I caught sight of Souhei trying to sell cell phones at the
local store. “Souhei?” I headed over to see him and find out what
was going on.
“Yuki? I didn't think you'd be coming this way,” he said, looking down. “Well, here you are. Want to buy a cell phone?”
“I'm still in contract. Souhei, I thought you said you worked nights. What's going on?”
He let out a sigh as he looked up at me. “Well, it was only half true. I do work nights, and I work days. Days I work here, selling cell phones. At nights I work cleaning up an old gym across town.” He hesitated a bit. “And in return for cleaning the gym, I get to sleep there, in addition to a small paycheck. Truth is, I never could save up enough for a monthly rent. So I worked it out with the gym owner. Gym mats don't make the best beds, but it's better than the hard ground.”
I looked down as I heard his story. He didn't want to tell me because he didn't want me to worry. “As long as you've got a roof over your head and you're safe, I'm happy.” As we talked, I saw a man dressed in a button down shirt and a long black coat over it approaching. “Your manager?”
“My district manager,” he whispered. “So, you said you're still in contract,” he said with a smile, loud enough for his DM to hear. “I understand. Please, take my card. When your contract is up, come on back and we'll get you set up with the phone that's right for you.” I took his card, giving him an understanding nod as I thanked him and left. It seemed it was a difficult life, but I didn't know how to help.
The days passed into weeks. The old balancing act of school and work now had a third part of the scale; balancing my time with Souhei. It was difficult for us to find the time to date, but we made the time wherever we could. I know it sounds like a sappy soap opera, but I couldn't help cherishing the time I had with him. He was always so kind, and during our dates, he was a wonderful listener. I felt like a treasure when I was around him, and he was always a complete gentleman. It was about 2 months after we started dating that my life changed forever.
never forget that night. It was late, and Souhei brought me to the
same spot as our first date. It was a Saturday, and neither of us had
work the next day, and he'd already cleaned up the gym for the night,
giving us no time limit for the night. He seemed jittery as we talked
and ate together that night. It kept running through my mind, trying
to figure out why. Nothing came to mind, until he took my hand,
looking into my eyes. “Yuki, I've loved this time we've spent
together,” he said, his hand trembling a bit. “I've been thinking
for a long time, and I've decided that I want to spend every day with
you.” I felt my heart start to pound fast as he said that. “Yuki,
I don't have money for a ring yet, but someday, I promise I'll get
one if you say that...you'll marry me.” My mind began to race, but
I knew that there was something weighing heavily on my mind.
I shook my head as I pulled my hand back. “Souhei...you're an invaluable friend to me, and your proposal is like music to my ears. But the fact is I don't have the right to answer that question yet.” I took a deep breath. I knew I couldn't start off a relationship that deep hiding such a big secret. “Souhei, it's been 8 years, but do you remember that day when the wolf appeared out of nowhere and clawed up your ear?” Much as I tried to speak, the words simply wouldn't come, so I did the only thing I could. Slowly, I allowed myself to change to my wolf form. It started with my hands, my fingers extending into claws. From there fur began to appear along my arms, and my face began to extend into a canine muzzle. My ears vanished, reappearing atop my head. A tail began to swish under my dress. I looked over to Souhei, my eyes taking on the shine of a wolf's eyes. Much like when my father showed my mother, I could still stand on two legs. I looked into his eyes, feeling mine about to break loose into tears. “It was me. I've wanted to tell you for so long now, but I was always too afraid. I just couldn't answer your marriage proposal without telling you the truth.”
For a moment, he didn't say anything. I looked away, my heart sinking as I felt I hung upon whether or not he would accept me for who I was now. “All this time, Yuki. All this time, I knew. Ever since the day it happened.” A gasp escaped my lips as he said that. “Don't be afraid. I never told anyone. And I'll take that secret to my grave. I knew all along, Yuki, but I didn't want to force it out of you. I could tell. You had to keep it a secret, because not everyone would be as accepting of it.” He came closer and put his arms around me, holding me close in a gentle hug. “And it doesn't change how I feel. If anything, it makes me happy to know you trust me enough to show me.” I felt as he leaned in to my wolf ear, gently whispering. “My question remains the same. Will you marry me? I'll keep you safe, even if you say no.”
At that moment, I could feel the tears running down my face, getting stopped by my fur. I knew he was a good friend, but up until that time, I never knew just how much of a friend he really was. Slowly, I put my arms around him in return, being careful not to scratch him with my claws. “Souhei. I love you so much. I've been so scared, afraid you knew and had told someone. Please, Souhei. Don't ever leave me. I want to be by your side forever. I want to grow old together. Yes, Souhei! Yes! I want to be your wife!”
It was at least 2 hours Souhei and I sat together after his proposal. It was late enough that no one would disturb us, and I was free to stay in my wolf form for him. My tears flowed freely as I felt so safe in his arms. I knew my life had just taken a turn for the better. “You're moving in with me, Souhei. I won't take no for an answer. Besides, I think you'll find our bed much more comfortable than a gym mat.” He pulled back, looking into my eyes, a tear in his as well as he wore a true smile. He gave me a nod before he moved closer. Even if I wanted to stop him, I couldn't, enjoying our first kiss. The passion I felt in that moment made my entire body quiver, and I think my tail even started to wag. Slowly the kiss parted as I rested my head on his shoulder.
“It'll be nice to have a home; A place I really belong, and someone to belong there with me.” His hand came up, resting on my head as he began to rub one of my ears. It was a strange sensation, but not a bad one. As I took a moment to relax, the feeling began to spread, and I even began to enjoy it.
“Yes. Even if we move, we'll still have each other.” Slowly, I got back to my feet, taking his hand and pulling him up. “When we get home, I'm going to call my mother and ask her to visit tomorrow. I know it's short notice, but I think she'll want to hear the good news as soon as possible.”
“I think that's a wonderful idea, Yuki. But for now, can we head home? It's starting to get a bit chilly out here.” His hand in mine, I changed back to my human form. I had not always had such control in transforming, but the changes had never been painful. Not for me, nor my brother, and my mother said Dad never experienced any pain while changing. At least, if he did. He never showed it. With a smile, I led Souhei along the path to the apartment; our home. When we arrived home, I quickly called my mother and asked her to visit the following day. I knew it was late, and I hadn't even stopped to consider how she might perceive a call from me at that hour. At first, she sounded worried. She thought I had gotten into some trouble or gotten hurt, but her voice filled with excitement when I told her I had wonderful news. Souhei looked around, soon spotting the bed and collapsing onto it. I headed to the bathroom to change into my long night gown, before coming back and lying down with him. Held in his strong, gentle hug, it didn't take long before I fell asleep with him. Before I drifted off, I planted a kiss on his forehead, saying four words I knew I'd never get tired of telling him: “I love you, Souhei.”
the Sunday morning arrived, I awoke at 7:00 to the smell of sizzling
bacon. Souhei had already woken up and taken to preparing a simple,
yet delicious breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and sausage. He made
quite a lot, a fact I was thankful for. My appetite is one thing that
never changed from my childhood. “Morning, Yuki. I hope you've got
one empty belly, because I kinda messed up and destroyed the
packaging on the sausage and decided to just cook what was left. But
as I recall, you've always had a healthy appetite, haven't you?”
If he had said that to any other girl, they probably would have slapped him, but I wasn't like other girls, and neither of us would try to deny that fact. “You bet I'm hungry. That comes from the wolf blood in me.” Even hungry as I was, I could still eat like a human, instead of wolfing all my food down like I used to. Once he was done cooking, he took his seat at the table with me. “I imagine this is what it was like for my mother when my father first moved in with her.” Souhei scratched the back of his head with a chuckle.
“What, you mean having someone to cook for you?” he asked with a hearty laugh. I couldn't help but laugh a bit, too. He was still the fun guy I knew all those years ago.
“No. I mean having someone to sit and eat with. Someone special to me.” I slid my hand across the table to gently take his. Finally feeling freedom from all the years of worry, I didn't hesitate to change half way to my wolf form, bearing just my ears, wolf nose, teeth, and tail. He had yet to see me in my full, four-legged wolf form, but I would show him in time. I nearly expected him to pull away when my hand gained claws, but to my surprise, he just held it tighter. He showed no fear, even as I reached up and gently touched the scar on his right ear. “It's hard to believe this all started with me losing control and attacking you.”
“It's a scar I wear proudly, even having to keep it secret how I got it. I don't regret that day, because it was the day you came into my life.” My cheeks turned slightly red as I pulled my hand away slowly, trying not to add another scar onto his ear.
Breakfast was rather uneventful, save for some conversation. I was a bit surprised when I heard a knock on the door at 8:00. Looking through the peephole in the door, it was my mother. She had left the house very early to come see me. I opened the door and she rushed in. “Yuki, your ears are out. I haven't seen that in so many years.” She gasped and pushed me behind her as she saw Souhei at the table. “Yuki, who is this? Why are your ears out when you have company?”
“It's okay, Mom,” I told her stepping out from behind her. “You don't recognize him, do you? I suppose he's grown a bit since last time you two met. Take a good look at him.” My mother narrowed her eyes as she looked over him, gasping at the sight of the scar on his right ear. “That's right, mom. It's Souhei.”
“So...after all this time, you told him about your wolf side? That...you're the one who hurt him?”
“She did,” Souhei said. “But I knew long before she told me. I knew ever since the day it happened. I kept her secret, and I'll always keep her secret. I just didn't want to force it out of her. It was worth the wait.”
I helped mom over to the chair as she held her head, confused by the entire situation. “Okay. I believe you, and I trust your judgment, Yuki, but I have to ask. Why did you show him?”
I took a deep breath, wearing a smile on my face as I walked over beside Souhei. “For the same reason I asked you to come here today, Mom. Last night as we were on our date, Souhei asked me a very important question; one that I felt I didn't have the right to answer as long as I kept my wolf blood a secret from him. Once I showed it to him, and he told me he already knew, his question didn't change as he asked it again.” My hand slowly took hold of Souhei's. “Even though he said he didn't have the money for a ring yet, that didn't matter to me. I felt complete when Souhei asked me to marry him, and I told him yes.” For a moment, I thought mom was about to pass out. She looked down at the floor, a tear in her eye. When she looked back up, she wore the biggest smile I had ever seen on her face.
“I always longed for this day, Yuki. The day you were born, your father and I both agreed our wish for you was that you would be happy. I've never seen you happier than this, and I know if your father were here, he wouldn't hesitate to hug his girl and her fiancee. I wish your brother were still around to see this moment, too.” As she wiped the tears from her eyes, I pulled her into a 3 way hug with Souhei and me.
“Still around? What happened to him?” Souhei asked.
“That's one of the stories I couldn't tell you before last night, Souhei. That night we were stuck at school by that rain storm, mom was late because she was out trying to find Ame. He had run away into the mountains.”
My mother nodded a bit, that smile still on her face. “Needless to say, Ame had the same wolf blood in him as Yuki, but it called much louder to him. He had chosen a life in the mountains to take the place of his Sensei. I tried so hard to find him until I fell down a hillside and blacked out. When I woke up, Ame had carried me to the school parking lot and was starting to walk away. I called out to him to try and stop him. He ran into the woods and up to the top of the mountain. I could paint a picture of every detail of that day as Ame stood atop that mountain with a mighty howl that echoed through the entire mountain range and through my heart. I knew then, that was where Ame belonged. I haven't seen him since that day, but sometimes, I still hear his howl.”
Souhei simply nodded. “That's kind of a bittersweet story. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he found his place, but it feels like he left it unfinished. He should have at least given you a hug and told you goodbye. Maybe that howl was his way of saying goodbye.”
Mom shook her head, ruffling Souhei's hair. “Let's not focus on the past. You two have a bright future ahead of you together. Yuki, I've been setting aside some money from each paycheck I got at the conservatory just for your wedding. It can be as big or as small as you want it to be.”
I gave my mom a big hug. “Thanks, mom. We have quite a bit of planning to do.”