ï»¿[b][u] So close, yet so far [/u][/b]
[b][u] Chapter 3: time to get it on... [/u][/b]
I start to head up to the roof to train a bit, get some fresh air. On the way, I stop at Lukwos' bedroom to try to find some sweat pants or shorts so I can train a bit more freely and not show off to the neighbors in just boxers. At times, I wonder if they would even mind a free show, and grin at myself at the thought.
As I go through Lukwos' stuff, I admire the different kinds of outfits he got. Some very classy and nice materials. But really not my kind of stuff to wear. I guess I'll take him up on his offer after my training and go do some shopping. After all, we might have a similar build, but he is still shorter than me, and I guess it's time I change my old crappy jeans before they start falling apart on me, hehe. By the way... do I really have to wear shoes and shirts? Not everyone seems to wear shoes, depending on the places, and people don't seem to mind that I go around
shirtless most of the time, but should I start to try to get used to a shirt? I guess I'll have to get a few of those too then, just in case. I just hope Lukwos said the truth about the company paying me, and that I'm not going to use his money. Hmm. Lukwos wouldn't lie to me, he knows how I would react if he did, and he's always told me the truth. He's like a real brother to me.
I start getting dressed and I chuckle, thinking at how many different people were here compared to where I grew up. There I was a blasphemy, a curse, the one to blame for everything that went wrong, the one everybody wanted to get rid of. And here, they want me to model and show off because I'm an "exotic" piece. People are so odd and different at times, it's impressive. And something tells me that's not the last of my surprises around here.
As I finally managed to fit inside the sweat pants that I found in a back drawer, I look at myself and nearly get scared at how tight it fits on me. Damn, they don't look so tight on Lukwos; at this point it's like showing off even if I have clothes on. I DEFINITELY have to buy stuff my size. But I certainly won't go for the big brands like he does. Practical is my kind of fashion after all. But I might as well wear the stuff that I think looks cool and always makes me dream about others at the same
time, no? Like Lukwos said, I've always wanted a normal life, and I know mine won't be as normal as others, but I can still do my best with what I have, no? I don't think my master would disagree with me on that point. At least I hope so.
Feeling the perspective of a brighter future and possible new things happening, I start to make my way up to the roof to do some training and relax before I head out shopping. As I go up, I think about what D told me earlier, about the new one being within me now. Is the new one a kind of reinforcement for the fight to come? Or is he a reward to show me that the future can be better? A way to give me a kind of hope and tell me that Lukwos is right?
It's so hard to know the difference when even he doesn't know why he is growing inside me.
Time will tell, as always.
I open the door to the roof and feel the breeze going through my fur, my mane waving behind my back. It plays with it like a kid with a new toy. My mane hasn't been this long in such a long time. At first it was barely reached my shoulders, now it goes down nearly to my hips. It does make a nice ponytail when I feel like it. Seems that even the staff at the photo-shoot was having loads of fun picking how they would do my mane to show better on the next picture. I admit I have no real intention of cutting it so far. I like the feeling of a longer mane, and it gives a
very nice effect in fights, I think.
I fill my lungs with the air coming toward me and do a backflip to get myself on the edge of the roof of the entrance door. Standing on my hands on it, I just start doing push-up on the ledge. Emptying my mind and just concentrating on my training for the next 30 minutes. Then I do a few capoeira turns around on my hands to check my agility and stability before launching myself forward and landing on the edge of the house. I start walking back and forth on the rail. My eyes closed and doing a few cartwheels. I stick my legs under the rail and bend toward the end of the wall to do a few bench presses with the void beneath me, looking at the view as I break into a sweat and feel my muscles finally relaxing. I stay like that, upside down once more, and stare up at the sky. Such a beautiful day. I wonder what kind of "surprise" waits for me in the garage. Lukwos can be so out there at times that I hope he didn't overdo it for once. At this point, from him, I would nearly expect a motorbike laced with gold and diamonds. I shake my head to get the fear of that away. No, he wouldn't do that; at least I hope he wouldn't.
I start to hear some chattering going around under me from the street and that attracts my attention. I look down under my head and see a bunch of people gathering in the street and pointing up at me. Seems I managed to make a show out of myself once again. Great. So I wave down to them and start to talk to them to reassure them as they seem worried that I'll jump off.
"Um... HELLO EVERYONE. I PROMISE I'M NOT A JUMPER, I WAS JUST DOING
SOME EXERCISES AND ENJOYING THE VIEW. NO REASON TO FREAK OUT, I
Seeing that the people kept staring, I am guessing they did not believe me much, if at all, so I just launch myself on the other side of the rail and land on the roof again, deciding that it's a good time to go do the shopping I wanted to do after all.
I head downstairs and stop at the bathroom to refresh myself in the shower. After all, if am going to get new clothes and even if am going with my old ones, I might as well be presentable. I head to Lukwos' big, sparkly shower. He really loves to show off, I swear. The place is full of mirrors and lights; there is not only a shower but also a bath, Jacuzzi, sauna and even a personal full body dryer for people with
fur like us that don't want to waste time using towels. And I swear each of them can easily fit three people at the same time. Does he really shower, bathe and all in groups like that? That would be an aspect of him I certainly wasn't expecting, and I grin at the thought. I start undressing and throw the dirty clothes in the hamper. I decided that the shower would be more than enough for me. I swear it made me feel like I was in a locker room, not a personal bathroom. After a few minutes to figure out which button to press to get the water at the right temperature, I just put my paws against the wall and relaxed, letting the water run down my body, trying to empty my mind and just let the warm flowing water trickle through my fur.
I look around to find the soap and find tons of fur treatments. Shampoo, after shampoo; in the middle of the entire stack finally I find one bottle of body wash. Damn, he is very careful at maintaining his appearance, it's nearly scary. Is that job that hard? I guess I will see if I want to keep doing it like he said or if I search for something else. As I start rubbing the soap in my fur and mane, I think through
all the stuff that's happened since I woke up from the coma. So many changes going on, it's difficult to adjust, to but not entirely unpleasant.
As I exit the shower, I refrain the urge to shake my fur dry to not leave a wet mess in the bathroom and since I don't have any towel, I guess I'll have to try out the body dryer. I give a sigh at the thought of more technology to figure out now. So this button is the on and off, this one is a timer, this one should be the heat, and the last one seems to set a particular parts of the body. Damn, that sure is specific. They do impressive stuff nowadays. I set it up for a full body drying and decide to set the temperature as it goes to try to avoid surprises. The air blows all through my body, in a soothingly warm temperature. This sure feels relaxing, I have to admit. As I head out, I decide to go get my old clothes, thinking that it wouldn't be a good idea to walk around the city in extremely tight clothes, since Lukwos is a little smaller than me. My jeans are ripped, but at least it isn't in bad places, just on the legs, which shows off part of my tattoos. I've had these jeans for a long time, and I don't think I'd throw them away even if I finally buy some new stuff to wear. I pass through my room, grab my necklace and notice Seiichiruu, still asleep as most of the times when I don't need him, then I grab the keys and wallet Lukwos gave me. The key has a label on it labeled, which reads "Yamazakat"; I think that's a brand of racing bikes. That could actually get very interesting and funny, and I smile as I picture the possibilities. So now I go down towards the garage, even more eager and curious to see what he's got for me.
When I get there, I open the garage door and find out that Lukwos decided to go to work with his big SUV, which makes me happy because he'll be at least a little safer in that than in his convertible. Then I start looking around, trying to see the famous bike. At the back of the garage, I see a big shape with a sheet covering it and a kind of ribbon you put on gifts. I can't help but smile to see how much of a kid he still is underneath all the show; this is part of why I like him so much. I grab one end of the ribbon and pull on it to undo the knot. The whole sheet opens in several pieces as a reaction, it was like an instant unpacking present, and this is pretty nice. I turn around it and look closely at it. It's a greyish blue color, with one flashy emerald colored stripe going through it. On the side you could read the brand of it, "Yamazakat", in a lighter blue than the rest, and in the middle of the green stripe you could read the name of the bike, "Ghost Runner", written in a light grey; kind of appropriate I guess. I get closer to it and run a finger through it, being careful that my claws are retracted to avoid scratching it so early after just having it. The back seat's got a kind of small trunk attached behind it, and I don't need to look to guess there is a helmet inside. But sincerely, today is not the day I'll agree to wear it. On my first ride out on this baby, I want to feel the wind freely on my body, I'm not even wearing a shirt after all, and it gave me a smile at the thought.
That crazy wolf really went all out by getting me one of the latest models, one of the fastest on the market too, if I remember correctly. Damn am going to have loads of fun with this little toy, that's for sure. I grab the handlebars and push the motorbike toward the gates, using the beeper coming with the keys to open it. Slowly, it opens up, showing the sun in the horizon, and it was still pretty early. Probably around nine or ten in the morning, which should give me plenty of time to explore and find some shops with what I need. Once I am outside I press the beeper again and while the gate closes, I sit on the bike and install myself.
"About time that you show me what you got in you, baby."
I hear the clang of the gate sealing shut, turn the key and hear the sweet low roar of the engine, then I rise up a little and kick start the bike to life. A loud roar emerged from the engine, like she was actually happy to be with me and get a chance to move around more.
"Oh yeaaaah, come on, baby. Talk to me, tell me more," I say as I enjoy myself with the feeling of the engine in the bike.
I start to play with the accelerator a bit, enjoying the sound of the engine roaring to life, like a very loud purr that made me start to purr myself. Then I realize that it would probably attract the neighbors once again, like I did earlier. Better try to avoid doing this twice in too short a time, and move along now. So I twist the handle and rush along, speeding through the streets toward my destination.
The feel of this bike is literally awesome, as I bend close to the crotch rocket to hold it tight and circle around all the traffic and cars, enjoying the feeling as much as I can. I swear this bike is a real treasure; the engine is powerful and perfect, so smooth it's uncanny.
I make my way toward the center of the city, hoping to find either a mall or several shops close to each other, so I'll actually have different choices of what I want. As I start looking around, a smell catches my attention. Something I smelled in one of the parties Lukwos took me to, something that reminds me of my early trainings. I can't help myself and I start towards the direction it's coming from.
The smell becomes stronger, and just after a corner, I see it, and it strikes in my memory. The name of the place was called "Leather Lads", a leather specialist. When I first started my training, my master was making me wear leather armors. The smell here is not exactly the same, but still so close. Now I think I know what I want, at least for pants and shoes. I just hope they have my size. I park the bike on the side of the shop and look at the window, seeing several models. Some extremely out there, but others very classy and standard. If they got my size, I am definitely going to find what I want inside, hehe.
I step inside, looking around the shop, and realize that everyone is staring at me. Is it because I'm a black-furred lion, or because of how I'm dressed, or because of the loud sound of the bike when I arrived? I shrug and prefer to act like I'm not paying attention, making my way toward the pants section to try to find at least one pair I like. As I go through the stacks of pants, someone gets close to me from behind and speaks up to get my attention. "Hello. Welcome to leather lads. Can I help you?"
I look at him, up and down, from heads to toe; he's an otter, a lot shorter than me, with several piercings on his ears and one on his lips. He wears a leather jacket and a pair of very tight jeans. As he looks at me, his tail is happily swinging back and forth to the point that I am expecting to see the shelves on each side get smacked and sent flying. "Well, yeah, maybe. I'm looking for a new pair of pants to get out of these old ones. I would like some leather pants my size, obviously. Something classic. No straps or anything flashy." That makes him a chuckle, and he starts detailing me.
"Okay, my name is Bruce, and I am going to take care of you, Sir. My guess, with your size and girth, I would say a good 45 should fit you, with a belt to be sure that your pants don't fall while you walk. Not like anyone would mind, I'm sure." And he starts chuckling again, I bet due to his imagining the show.
"Okay, Bruce, show me what you got. And if I find one that I like, I'll most probably leave wearing it instead of my poor old pair of jeans."
"Of course, of course. So now, let's see what we have on your size." He goes through the stacks and comes back with five pairs of pants, different cuts and some with a few simple decorations. I had to admit that he was good; he understood right away what I wanted in style. Then he pulled out three different leather belts that would fit with the pants, and then asked me to follow with a sign of the hand. "It's time to start this fashion show, Sir. If you would agree to follow me, please." He directed me toward the changing rooms in the back of the shop, and as I start heading inside I realize I had a bit of an issue.
"Um...Bruce...I think I got a little problem here."
He looks at me a bit surprised, wondering what I meant. "Oh? What could... oh, ok... never mind my question. I'll be right back, Sir." And he zips away in the blink of an eye.
"Um... okay." How the hell did he guess before I said anything?
A few minutes later, he comes back with a few pairs of Lycra boxers and hands them to me. "This should be perfect for you, Sir. We carry some because they fit perfectly under leather pants." And he gives me a big toothy grin as I start looking at them.
"Um... well, thanks. You really seem to know your work, Bruce."
That gets an instant blush out of him before he even answers."Th...thanks." He blushes even more and looks down, but keeps his smile remains, so I guess he did like the compliment. Since all the underwear are the same size, I decide to just try one and stick with it to try the pants. I get the first one on, and it's perfect length-wise, goes down to just below my ankles. Bruce was right, too, I can certainly use a belt. I pick one of the belts, dark brown in color, and put it on, tightening it around my waist until it's just right. As I look myself in the mirror, I realize how much I missed wearing those leather armors from my training with my master.
But I don't have time to linger in the past, because I hear Bruce outside calling for me. "Sir, you should come out so I can check and see if we need to find you a different size."
I'm a little surprised, I admit. I wasn't expecting such a service. "Oh, no, don't worry. I think they're perfect."
But he insists, apparently not satisfied with my answer. "Please, Sir, let me do my job, so we can be sure I won't sell you something that won't satisfy you fully."
I shrug and with a smile, I give up and agree to it. "Okay, okay. I'm coming out."
I take a deep breath and open the curtain, not expecting what I was about to find outside. Everybody in the shop had gathered outside the changing room, looking at me. When he said "fashion show", I really wasn't expecting a literal one, that's for sure. I can't help but get a loud laugh out of it, and well, if I'm supposed to do modeling on the side to earn a living, I guess I can consider this a "trial by the fire". Everyone starts laughing with me as I start walking back and forth, doing turns, and also doing a few acrobatic jumps to add to the show. I even get applause before I head back inside and close the curtains to try out the next pair of pants. And so it continued, until I was at the fourth pair, when I find out that Bruce got me four other pairs to try out in different styles that he seems to have forgotten earlier. Each time I model a new one, I do a few stretching and martial art moves with them on, to be sure don't hinder nor blocking my movement. They all seem to fit perfectly well and shouldn't be a problem during fights. I get out of
the changing room wearing my last pair, deciding to keep them on and leave the store with them on, as I had said earlier. But I also fold my jeans neatly, with the intention of keeping them as a souvenir from the past.
As I set to go pay and leave with all of my new nine pairs of pants and my old jeans, I see Bruce coming toward me. "Are you sure you don't want to try a pair with a more snug tight fit too?" It gives me a laugh.
"No, no thanks, Bruce. I like to be able to move freely in case of an emergency. But thanks for the offer." He looks a bit disappointed at me but keeps his bright smiles as he looks up.
"Aww, okay. Anything else you would want then, Sir?" I take a minute to think about it, and then I remember what else I needed.
"Well, actually, I would love a pair of shoes. Some shirts, just in case. And a leather jacket." I see him looking around the shop, considering what stuff he could offer me in the style I asked him.
"Well, regarding the shirts, I'm sorry; Sir, but we don't sell any. But I can refer you to a good shop that should have some shirts your size and your style, or at least I think they would look good on you. As for the shoes, please follow me."
We head toward another part of the shop, and I see some leather boots with front reinforcement that I particularly like a lot. "You think you have some of these my size?"
He looks down at my feet, and then speaks up. "Hmm. From the looks of it, I would bet you're a good eighteen or nineteen. But anyway, in some models, we carry up to twenty-one, so I think we can find you what you need, Sir."
We start with the eighteen but they still feel a bit tight on my toes, so he goes and finds a twenty, which fit me perfectly. I really am oversized in so many ways it's scary at times. There is a theory that the magic within me develops my body to have enough "room". I kind of hope that it doesn't mean that when the new one hatches, I might grow even more.
I pick two pairs and give them to Bruce to add with the pants, as I don't feel ready to wear shoes right now. Then we head toward the jackets. They are mostly biker jackets, but I find one that is more like in "between", pretty sturdy leather, but no reinforcement padding on the shoulders or elbows, which fit well for me, personally.
We head back to the entrance of the shop and Bruce starts adding up the amount I need to pay, as well as packing everything in a backpack. "But I didn't ask for any backpack," I say.
He stops and looks up at me with a big shiny smile. "It's on the house, for all the expenses you've made at the shop today. Plus I saw you arrive in a motorcycle, so it'll help you carry everything."
I just stood there, extremely surprised to see people being so nice to me, unlike when I was a kid. I certainly wasn't expecting it at all. "Wow, thanks. That is very sweet of you."
He blushes at that, and then looks up at me again. "Would you mind if I ask you something, Sir?" I see his hesitation as he fidgets around.
"Well, sure. Ask away, I'll see if I can answer you."
He takes a few minutes more to build up his courage then finally asks again. "You aren't from around here, are you?"
I guess I am really going to have to get used to this kind of question from now on. "Um, yeah, I 'm definitely not from around here. Does it show that much?"
He must have thought he got me uncomfortable, because he blushed once more at my answer. "Well, we don't see a whole lot of dark lions like you; you're actually the first I've seen personally. And your pair of jeans was discontinued like ten or fifteen years ago. You wouldn't be able to find them in this city anymore, or at least in a shop."
That gets a chuckle out of me. "Oh, I see. But how come you're not worried that I have enough money to pay for all that, then?"
He gives a little laugh at my statement, as though it should be obvious why, before he explains the reasons. "Well, as most customers, we all recognized you from the advertising that's going around the city. You're on quite a few of those, and between your body and your tattoos, it's easy to recognize you. So I'm guessing you have more than enough for all this and a lot more than most, probably."
Once again I can't help but laugh at that. "Yeah, I heard I was 'exotic'. So I guess it's kinda true, in a way."
He then joins in my laughter, a bit warmer than before. I guess he's starting to get used to me now. "Oh, it's very true, Sir."
"Please, stop calling me 'Sir'. You've been a great help. I am Karmakat and my friends call me Kat." I lift my hand toward him, offering a handshake. In return he gave me a big toothy grin and beamed, grabbing my paw with both of his and shaking it frantically.
"Th... thanks a lot, Sir! Eep... I mean, Kat."
Seeing as he's finally comfortable enough in my presence, I decide to take advantage of it. "Well I got a question for you too, Bruce, since you've been so helpful to me."
He looks a bit surprised, but just waits for it. "Yes, Kat?"
Not exactly knowing how to phrase it in a more proper way, I just decide to basically spit it out. "Is it offensive to people if I go around without shoes and shirtless most of the time? I'm not very used to wearing them, and when I do, it's generally for a very short amount of time."
He laughs heartily at that and takes a few breaths to be able to answer me. "No, Kat, no worries on that part. Some people might find it offensive because they're shy, or because they don't feel like they have something to show about themselves. But with a body like yours, no one will feel offended, as long as you don't mind people staring at you. Plus, with your 'line of work', I guess it's not a bad idea; it might give you even more job offers. Anyway, the total is three hundred and fifty dollars for the pants, one hundred and twenty dollars for the
shoes, and seventy dollars for the jacket. Which is a total of five hundred and forty dollars. Sir. Will that be in cash or plastic?"
I look inside the wallet Lukwos gave me and find out that there is about three or four times that amount in cash, plus the bank card he told me about. He really is crazy, I swear. So I just pull out 600 dollars and give them to Bruce.
"Wow, Kat, it seems I was right. If I might make a comment? You should be very careful walking around with all that money on yourself. You might attract the attention of the wrong people. But from what you showed us all earlier, I guess that they would be the ones ending up in trouble if they tried to pull off something nasty on you. Do you know martial arts?"
I put the wallet back in my pants and look a bit confused. "Well, first off, all this money idea is because of my crazy roommate. Not exactly my doing. And second, I did grow up in a temple on the mountains, training like ninety-nine percent of the day, and that's if I wasn't doing my chores, eating or sleeping. I had to learn many styles of martial arts and weapons. But I am still in training, and I've been going around the world to keep up on it."
He listens to me carefully and then continues his questions. "Was that your master's request?"
I look a bit toward the floor before I answer him. "Well, not really...my master died in a fight when I was only twenty-one, and no one else wanted to continue training me. So I decided to train as I could, in his honor." I can't help but let out a big sigh at the thought.
"Oh... I'm sorry, Kat. I didn't know I was bringing back such painful memories. I'm very sorry, I talk too much," he says, looking awkward.
I look back up at him with a smile, noticing that he really does feel bad for what he asked. "No, don't worry, it's okay. Like you said, you had no way of knowing about it. Thanks a lot for your concern." And I give him a big hug, taking him by surprise. He tenses up, not knowing where that
came from all of a sudden, but he relaxed pretty quick and hugged me back. "Sorry, I've been told I'm very cuddly."
That gets a giggle out of him. "No problem at all, Kat. I just hope I'll see you again, and get to talk more." And he again shows me that big smile. "Count on it."
After bidding Bruce farewell, I put the backpack on and take my leave, walking towards my bike with my new outfit, enjoying the feeling of leather once again, as I did when I was just a pup. And that's when I hear him from deep within my soul.
"I can smell it..."
It still makes me jump a little. Even now, I'm not fully used to his way of communicating with me. "D? What are you talking about?"
A few seconds later he answers me. "I smell it...fear...pain...blooooood..."
Can't I ever have one freaking regular day? "Damn it. Okay, where?"
I can feel him concentrate to pinpoint from where it's coming from. "It's close by. The alley right in front of you. It's just off wind, so you can't smell it like you normally would."
"Okay, I'm on it," I say, and I start running in the direction he pointed me towards, hoping to be there in time.