Chapter One: Ruben’s Fate

The following story and all characters are Railo Wolf.

The night began warm at first, quickly growing cold as night fast approached. Time seemed to flow surprisingly fast as the young wolf ran through the long corridor, his pants flapping in the air. The pale light of the new moon shone through the open windows, glinting off of the paintings that hung along the length of the darkened walls. The wind seemed to cut to the bone on his flesh, as his silver and white fur moved at almost a blurring speed. The sound of claws tapping against the ground was the only distinguishing sounds save for the wind flowing over the drapes.

Running as fast as he good the young gray wolf sprinted towards a deep red door positioned at the end of the hallway. The usual trip of only a few minutes seemed like hours as his paw finally grabbed hold of the door knob, throwing it open. He stopped cold in his tracks, his free paw clutching the side of his stomach. Straining to look forward, his vision became a blur and he collapsed onto the ground. A final vision burned into the back of his mind; the gun, the anger, and the blood.

Ruben sat up in a panic, cold sweat flowing over his body as he looked around to make sure he was still in his bedroom. Bringing his paws to his face, he covered his eyes and began to sob, “Why? Why won’t they stop?” He spoke to himself as he slowly wiped his eyes clear. Tossing the sheets off his body, he glanced over at the clock as it blinked 5 a.m. and saw he still had quite some time before he needed to head off to work. Slowly sliding to the edge of the bed, his large white paws touched the floor and he stood.

Ruben began walking slowly toward the bathroom, his normally beautiful fur an absolute mess. His body seemed limp and lifeless, tail remaining motionless as he began ponder silently. “What’s going on? Why do these dreams keep reoccurring?” He slowly washed his face with the damp washcloth. Looking into the mirror Ruben stuck out his tongue and looked deeply into his gentle emerald eyes. “Well, I don’t think I’m sick” he thought as he slowly turned on the shower. “Maybe this will ease my mind for the time being.”

Going about his usual morning routine, only a few hours ahead of schedule, he washed up, grooming his fur out as he slipped into his work clothes. A nice pair of tan khakis followed by a deep blue dress shirt fixed with a solid black tie. Flopping down onto the couch the time was now around 6 a.m., still having a good hour or so till he had to leave for the office.

Turning on the TV, Ruben decided to check out the week’s weather and to gather a quick update on current news. He let out a soft yawn, the lack of sleep obviously overtaking him. He laid back his head, his ears slowly tipping back as he decided to take a quick nap before time to leave. His senses were higher than usual, and with the smell of last night’s dinner still lingering in the air, and the sound of the faucet dripping over the unfinished dishes, he was unable to gather more than a total of 5 minutes rest. Disgruntled, he glanced at his watch in a daze, grumbled to himself and grabbed his id tag, car keys, and wallet and decided he might as well head to work.

The day seemed to linger on; and lunch time could not have come sooner for the young wolf as he walked slowly toward the lunchroom of the office building. Grabbing a soda from the machine, he decided that would be more than enough nourishment for the remainder of the day. Being an assistant manager he decided to check on the employees, seeing if anyone might need help.

After receiving what appeared to be an all clear, he decided to sit back and relax for the few minutes he had left of his break. As he began to stand up to head back to his station, he bumped into his boss, a large black bear named Cashua. The bear set his large paw on the wolf’s shoulder, looking down at Ruben and smiling, “Ruben, you’ve been working too hard, please take some time off.” “All right sir” he responded. “Come back next week” the bear said as his paw gave a small pat on Ruben’s shoulder. “Thank you sir” he responded as he began walking toward the exit. Smiling up at the bear, he gave a soft nod and slowly made his way to the exit. His ears picking up the sound of his boss’ voice from behind, “Make sure you get some sleep!” Giving a whole hearted chuckle he waved back at Cashua and headed for home.

After checking his e-mail of the usual spam messages and finishing up the dirty dishes, Ruben decided to kick back and take a nice bubble bath. Drawing his bath, he poured in the scented bubble mix as the soothing smell of vanilla filled his nostrils. For the first time today, his tail began to wag as his mind slowly drifted to peace. Stripping out of his clothes, he tossed them to the side and slowly lowered himself into the bath. For a solid hour, he just laid there, savoring the feel of the warm water over his fur and flesh, as the soft bubbles tickled his nose. His tail was lying over the side of the tub, trickling a small bit of water onto the tiled floor as he let out a relaxed and peaceful sigh.

Then suddenly in the other room, the phone began to ring. Not owning an answering machine, Ruben turned his head toward the wall and closed his eyes, choosing to ignore the caller. When his phone finally stopped ringing, he snuggled back into the water and smiled again. His ears perked up, letting out a low growl as he heard his cell phone ringing from the kitchen. “Who the hell could possibly be calling me?” he said to himself as he reached for his towel. Quickly tying it around his waist, he dashed for his cell phone as it continued to play the usual annoying tune, his tail trailing water over the carpet as he ran.

Grabbing the phone, he pulled it up to his ear. “Hello?” It was his best friend, Neon. “Ruben, please come over quickly, I need some help.” “Kitten? What’s wrong? Where are you?” Neon seemed troubled. “Please come quickly, I’m at home.” On that note, the phone was disconnected and without another moments notice, Ruben gathered his things, threw on a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt and headed out the door. “I’m coming Neon, I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’ll be there soon.” He thought to himself as his car sped through town.

Parking in the yard, Ruben dashed for the door which surprisingly was unlocked. Slowly walking inside, he saw his best friend on the ground, crying, the lion’s large mane resting against his knees, holding his tail in close. Slowly walking forward, Ruben looked around the house. It had been completely destroyed. He sat down next to Neon, putting his arm around the crying lion. “Neon, what has happened?” Slowly raising his head, Neon’s normally strong and caring face was covered in tears, small streaks running down through his fur where the salty fluid ran. “When I came home from work, my house was like this. I’ve been robbed. I’ve already spoken to the police, and I didn’t know who else to call.”

Laying his ears back, Ruben put his arms around Neon and whispered softly, “come here”. The lion gladly accepted as the two held each other, the wolf comforting the lion, no words being exchanged as Neon just cried. After a fair amount of time passed, the wolf decided they should leave. Ruben helped Neon to his paws as they left the house. Setting the large feline down into his car, the two drove back to Ruben’s home. The two had been friends for many years, as well as lovers on many occasions, but neither knew how the other felt. Ruben wanted Neon, desiring that for so long, but the wolf was far too scared to propose.

Arriving at home, Ruben led Neon to his bed, tucking the cat in comfortably. Leaning down, Ruben gave Neon’s cheek a soft lick as he dimmed the lights so his friend could rest. Walking back into the living room, Ruben sat down and shook his head, contemplating the long day’s events, and what was to come of things. He clicked on the television to a low volume and quickly fell asleep on the couch.

As morning slowly approached, Ruben’s mind had wandered off. He opened his eyes, letting out a soft yawn. He perked up as he realized he was in his own bed, all his clothing removed except for his undergarments, as the large lion nestled next to him with his paw across his chest. Giving a tender smile, Ruben nestled closer to the lion’s chest; his head burrowed into the soft mane as the two held each other and rested for a little while longer. The lions strong scent filling his nostrils as he gave a deep murr of happiness.

Dawn’s calming light shone through the blinds of Ruben’s bedroom window, warming his face as the cool morning breeze flew through their fur. Stretching a little, he glanced over at his friend, giving Neon a small lick on the nose to wake him up. “It’s morning big guy.” Letting out a roar of a yawn, Neon stretched his claws out and chuckled, “Just a few more minutes mommy” Ruben laughed and gave the lion a tender nuzzle on the cheek, “Come on silly, let’s get some food” The two anthros got up, each shaking out their fur and heading toward the front of the house. Each wearing a pair of respectable boxers as there clothes from yesterday laid strewn on the bedroom floor

Ruben turned on some soft music and began fixing breakfast, his soft fluffy tail swaying with the beat as he cooked. Neon took a chair at the table and watched Ruben, his ears laid back as his paw ran through his mane, “Ruben, I’m sorry to burden you like this.” The wolf gave a soft chuckle and smiled over to his friend, “Hush, you’re not burdening me, you’re my friend, and friends help each other in times of need.” Giving a playful grin and shake of his tail Ruben spoke softly, “and your staying here whether you like it or not, heh.” Neon stood up, and walked slowly in behind the smaller wolf, putting his arms warmly around Ruben, he hugged him warmly and whispered softly into the wolf’s ear, “Thank you for being here, I don’t know what I’d do without you.” The soft mane and fur of the lion pressing into Ruben’s back made him let out a deep murr as he relaxed in his friend’s arms. The delicious smell of steak, onions, and bacon filled their nostrils as the sound of Neon’s purring passed through the air.

After a hearty breakfast, Ruben sat down on his couch as Neon decided to take a shower. The two needed to head back over to the house and search for anything salvageable. Hearing the water turn on, Ruben sat up and walked very quietly to the bathroom, slipping free of his boxers, he opened up the back part of the shower curtain and stepped in behind the large lion. Neon let out a deep purr as he leaned forward, the wolf’s soft paws rubbing over his back as the two began to wash each other. The warm water cleaning off their fur, as they eased the other’s mind. Cuddling, licking, and kissing, the two relaxed together, soaking in the warm shower, surrounded by bubbles and fur.

Once they both cleaned up and dressed, they drove back over to Neon’s home. Padding trough the rubble and destruction that was the lion’s home, Ruben headed toward the living room as Neon headed to the back toward the bedroom. “I don’t see anything in here that we could take, it’s all destroyed Neon”, Ruben yelled from the living room. The large cat searched through his bedroom franticly, searching for something he had hidden long ago. Letting out a sigh of relief, he spoke to himself, “Thank god it’s still here.”

Sticking the small box into his pocket, he glanced around his bedroom and decided there was nothing he needed. “Ruben, come here, I found something!” Neon called as his tail swayed nervously. “Now is a good time as any” he thought as he rubbed the small box in his pocket. Gulping back, he whispered to himself, “R-Ruben, I… love you.” His large paw fiddling around in his pocket searching for the silver ring he bought long ago which laid waiting in the small box. Ruben’s paw steps could be heard approaching as Neon’s eyes caught a glimpse of something black and shiny lying in a dimly lit corner.

A pistol lay near the shattered window. Slowly walking toward it, Neon reached down and lifted it up. Tilting his head curiously as he examined the object, he could tell it had been recently fired. Just at that moment, Ruben’s paw turned the door knob. Not wanting his friend to see him with the object, Neon quickly threw the gun to the other side of the room. Ruben opened the door with his tail wagging and a tender smile on his face just as the gun landed on the ground, letting out a loud boom. In utter disbelief and shock, the lion dropped the small box containing Ruben’s ring as the bullet tore through the young wolf’s flesh, leaving a small hole in the door. Ruben’s paw clutched his stomach as he looked forward before collapsing unconsciously, blood pouring from his wound as his last conscious image appeared before him; the door, painted a deep crimson red.

“Dreams are our visions of our reality, so take heed to them”, the keys on the computer made small clicking noises as the lion’s paws finished typing the last sentence. “It’s been 2 years since that accident” he thought, running his paw through his mane. Feeling a set of warm paws closing around his neck, he looked over his shoulder to see the wolf, his love. “Hey sweetheart, I’m just typing in my journal”, he smiled. “Come to bed kitty, you need some rest” the wolf spoke, his warm breath caressing Neon’s whiskers. Giving each other a tender kiss on the muzzle, they decided to retire for the night.

In the calm darkness, a glimmer of light shone from the silver rings they wore on their paws. “I love you Ruben” the lion purred, hugging his wolf tightly “I love you too Neon.” They fell asleep holding each other tenderly as the soft pale winter moon shone down on them. Fate is what brought them together, and together, they knew they would overcome anything that fate had in store for them.