Alex awoke in a cold sweet. He must learn how to control his dreams. His dreams were what got him into this mess, he told himself. It all seemed pointless. He huddled under his blanket. He was cold. He would give anything for a heater to warm him up, or even better another warm body to press against his back, to caress down his side to kiss him…NO! Those thoughts would stop today. Yes they would stop today, and he would become. What would he become? A non-coffee drinker? That was a likely possibility. Outside there were sirens. Sirens meant new animals to share his zoo with. He got up and went to the window. There must of been a raid. There seemed like a lot. Perhaps he was still waking up, but this was not just the normal ‘let’s drop off one lost soul’ in the middle of the night. Alex moved to get dressed. Mama bear would need his help. She was the only person in the universe who seemed to give a care about him. It was the least he could do.
It was far too early for this. Ms. Summers stood outside in her coat and watched as the paitents were unloaded. “How many?” she asked.
“Quite a few.” Mr. Hayden was the laison to the hospital. He always dropped off paitents. He attempted a kind smile to the sleepy woman.
“That really does not answer my question.” Ms. Summers said, counting off. “How did you find so many in one night?” she asked in a huff.
“This is a skim of the jails. All except for the little one. He’s the real reason why I came. I figured since I was on my way anyway, I should leave you a reason to stay busy.” Mr. Hayden offered her a half smile.
Ms. Summer rolled her eyes and wrapped a blanket around the shivering boy that Mr. Hayden had pointed out. “What your name?” she asked gently.
“I..I..Ian.” the redhead stuttered.
“I’m Ms. Summers. Everything is going to be okay, despite appearences, you will be safe here.” she rubbed his back.
In an ambulance, an orderly flew out and landed on the concrete. Ms. Summers looked up. “Dare I ask?”
Alex came out, ankle bracelet flashing. “I can help.” he offered.
Ms. Summers looked at Alex, looked at the ambulance, looked at the small boy. “We have a fighter, Kitsune. If you can get him in safe, I can get you a day pass. I have other patients to worry about. Are you up to it?” Ms. Summers titled her head and looked Alex up and down in what was obviously concern.
Alex smiled, a deadly smile. “I can take him. Everything will be just fine.”
Ms. Summers sighed. “Don’t hurt him. He is a boy, just like you. A boy who can throw orderlies, but still a boy.”
Inside amidst all the other confusion, appeared a boy with sandy brown hair and rockets on his pajamas. “I can help!” the boy jumped up and down.
Ms. Summers looked at the chaos around her. “Can you find Ian a bed?” The boy took Ian’s hand.
“My name is Austin. I’ll take good care of you.” It wasn’t like Ian to go with strangers. His mama had warned him against the act. But Austin’s hand was nice and warm. This Austin was wearing rockets on his pants. Surely he could not be that bad?
Alex climbed up into the ambulance. The boy in front of him was built, and beautiful. He really should not think of that at a time like this. Alex made his body as small as possible, and approached with his head lowered. The boy did not move. Always a good sign when a fighter was not tossing you out on the pavement. The boy cradled his leg. The gash was big, deep.
“You’re hurt.” Alex fetched the first aide box. The boy needed stitches, he could tell that. Alex put his hand on the boy’s knee. The boy pulled away. He did not knock Alex away. Always a good sign.
“My name is Alexander.” Alex took the gauze and started to wrap his own leg. “Do you have a name?” Alex looked up, right into a pair of ice-blue eyes. A pair of dog tags hung from the boy’s neck “Tye, is it? Tye, or you…a slave?” Alex moved to remove the tags from Tye’s neck. He was surprised when Tye leaned forward to help. “You are NO ONE’s property.” Alex threw the tags aside. He looked up and saw shock and amazement in Tye’s eyes. “Let me help you?” Tye moved closer at Alex’s words. “I just want to wrap you up. Papa Bear will have to look at that gash…”
“No…” Tye moaned, he cradled his leg.
“It is okay. No one here is going to hurt you. I promise.”
“Tracking..trace..find..” Tye stuttered.
“Do you have a tracking device in your leg?” Alex asked perplexed.
Tye nodded, solemnly. Alex opened the first aid kit. He took out a scalpel. “I can get it out, but it is going to hurt. Hurt like a bitch.”
Tye nodded. He moved closer to Alex. Alex withdrew a bottle of small pills. “This will help with the pain. Will you take one?”
Tye looked wearily at Alex, but took a pill anyway.
“Lay down. Try to focus on my voice.” Alex soothed and Tye obeyed. “I call this place the zoo, but really, I am freer here inside my cage, then I ever was on the outside. Mama Bear takes care of us, you will see. There are rules, and sometimes they suck, but you are allowed to be angry. There is just a place for it. If you are a slave, and they brought you here, you must have done something. I did something too. I rebelled against my parents. Did you rebel against your owners?” as he talked, Alex made a skilled cut to Tye’s leg, and removed the small tracking device.
“Worse.” Tye pouted.
Alex bit his lip and nodded. “You don’t have to tell me. If you don’t want. But if you do, I am free to talk. Mama Bear calls me her fox, because I can be clever. I wonder what your name will be?” Alex wrapped Tye’s leg up in bandages. He looked up, the boy was struggling to stay awake. “That’s good medicine. Can you lay on the gurney for me?” Tye did what was asked of him.
“Thank you.” Tye said before he drifted to sleep. Alex stroked his face. It had a very small cut under his left eye. A million questions popped up in his mind about sleeping Tye, but he pushed them away to pull the gurney out of the ambulance.
As he was pushing Tye back inside, he saw a rush a blue go past him. “Austin Hare!” Alex called out.
Austin stopped in his tracks, and backtracked to where Alex was standing.
“Where are you going?” Alex asked in an angry tone.
“Ian’s house.” Austin bounced up and down.
“Who?” Alex shook his head.
“Small boy, red hair. Mama gave him the old quilt. That boy’s house. I have to get there before the pickers. It has to be tonight. I will be back before curfew. I promised mama I would.” Austin said quickly.
“Wait. Where is your bracelet?” Alex asked
“Oh. I put it on Ian.” Austin explained.
“Wait. What? Why are you going to Ian’s house?” Alex was confused, but that always happened when he talked to Austin.
“I have to get his music. Ian’s parents died, and left him all alone in this world, and he didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know why he is here, but I am sure he is innocent, so I want to go to his house and get his music for him. Please, Alex? Desert for a week on top?!” Austin begged
“And how, prey tell are you going to get there?” Alex asked
“Run quick as a hare?” Austin shrugged.
Alex shook his head. “No. It be quicker if we took a car. Or a van. What exactly are we getting?” Alex started to push the gurney again.
“Anything..musicy? I’m not sure. Ian is really shuddery, and really cute, and talks really slow, and is upset, and I would be too if I was him!”
“Let me take Tye into Papa Bear, he needs stitches. I’ll drive you, if he’ll give me the pass.”
“THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I owe you like really big, like bigger than big, like a big mountain of bigness. I will never forget!”
In the infirmary, Paul Summers was taking a much needed break when Alex rolled Tye in. “You got him in, good job Alex. Let me guess, he needs stitches in his leg?”
Alex nodded. “Yes. Papa Bear, can you give me a pass? Hare wants to go on a recon mission, we need wheels.”
Mr. Summers looked at the boy carefully. “I am not sure if you noticed, but it is the middle of the night.”
“We have to get there before the pickers do. Please?” Alex put up his ankle.
“If you get caught, I am going to tell them that you escaped. Take the keys to the hospital van. Keep your eyes out for a picker for me, young girl, too young to be out on the streets by herself. One of the new patient’s has a picture, but I can’t convince him to give it up. She has blond hair, blue eyes. Maybe Hare’s age, if that.” Mr. Summers shook his head. “I meant Austin. They have me doing it now. Patients are people, not animals. People, not animals.” Mr. Summers muttered to himself. He walked over to Alex and reprogrammed the anklet.
“You will not regret it!” Alex said. He grabbed Austin’s hand and pulled him away.
“Somehow I already do.” Mr. Summers huffed