He did not belong to the world of man and it's smoggy streets overrun with bodies, people selling truths and lies for a quarter at the corner. He had once upon a time. He had been a street-rat, cutthroat and caring for none until one day, heartsick and stomach twisted with gnawing hunger, he had left the city life and laid down beside a creek deep in the woods. He had no thought to ever awaken.

But he had. He awoke to the crackle of a glowing fire and the scent of cooking venison and the knowledge that he was not alone. At first all he saw was a gray shadow half concealed by the pale gleam of the half-moon, then, the clouds parted and he looked upon the creature for the first time. His heart thudded, a caged bird beating at the bars of its cage, and his small elfin face turned to ash.

The creature regarded him solemnly.

Waiting. It was waiting. But waiting for what, that's what he wanted to know. Did normal creatures act like this? He did not think so - there was a strange way about this creature which stood so much larger than an ordinary wolf. It was a creature from myth, surely. And here he was, simpleton as he was, encroaching upon its home with reckless abandon. Had the situation been reversed he would have been sorely offended. He knew what it was to be cast out of a warm hearth in the dead of winter. He had thought to let the cold work his end but if this creature was to be death's agent instead, he would have no say in the matter.

It was the way of things on the street, walking around alive one day then dead and rotting in the streets being devoured by rats and stray dogs by nightfall. It was a rough place, the city. Every soul for themselves, it was. He had become tired of the daily grind of city-living. He must have been conceived under a Dark Star. Doors that opened for other little boys remained firmly shut to him; he was not a Tom or a Dick with blond curls and bright blue eyes the color of wild bluebells.

He was a nobody, a shoe-shine, a news-boy, a jack-of-all-trades - small, dark eyed, and undersized as he was he knew how to fight dirty and how to pinch pennies to keep his belly fed. This was more than he could imagine, more than he could grasp.

He had come here to die. Had he woken only to be devoured? Small and useless though he was he decided he wanted to live after all. He raised his chin and stared back, it had worked on a mean dog. Once.

He was found himself deeply confused when the creature blinked, a long slow affair, hiding away those eyes that burned with unnatural light, as though its very being were infused from within. A red tongue lolled in wolfish grin as it lazily moved closer to the fire.

Perhaps it was cold, too?

He shuffled his feet, unsure if he should run, knowing if the creature wished him dead not even the fastest horse in the city would be fast enough. He sat down with his back pressed to a sturdy tree-trunk, drawing his knees to his chest. If the creature wanted to eat him it would have. He grudgingly decided it would not be so terrible to share the warmth of the fire. Fingers, thin and bony, reached out, snatching up the venison. He decided he did not care who had cooked it, or what fate had befallen them, so long as it tames the wild hunger in his belly.

It was all so strange and wondrous to him that he wondered if perhaps he was wrong, perhaps he had never woken at all. He did not mind terribly, he was warm and fed, and for the first time in his life he was not alone. Below slender boughs the dark eyed boy fell asleep, bathed in the ghost glow of the moon and lulled into the realm of dreams by the haunting chime of the wind swaying the branches of the weeping-willow.