Layla Nasser was a clever little thing. Few ever noticed Okami skulking behind. Even fewer dared to call out the Big Bad Wolf instead of waiting for him to attack on his own. He was just a little bit frightened of her for challenging him so openly, but also a bit enraged that she would take him so lightly.

She had known he was following her, so he’d decided to attempt something different, something as bold as she had. He’d quickly run a distance that would take her over an hour to bike. There he set up the remnants of his camp from the day before. He avoided making it too perfect.

He heard her approach earlier than he’d expected, but he had been ready for a long while. From behind a bush, he watched her scrutinize his set up. Just as she took her first steps away from her bicycle, he stepped out of the shadows, zipping his fly up with a deliberate buzz. As her grey eyed gaze met his, he thought of what he must look like to her with his tightfitting t-shirt and shorts. When he smiled, he knew his canines looked like wolf fangs, glinting white in the noon sun.

“Hi,” he said.

As he stepped closer, he was impressed by the courage in her eyes and the bit of curiosity in the tilt of her head. Although she was an inch or two shorter than him, he imagined that even if she were to fit in the palm of his hand, she would retain the fierceness with which she now looked at him.

“Hello,” she said carefully, lowering into a stance made for fight, or flight.

Her bicycle was left to stand on its own behind her.

The list of personas he’d considered before flitted through his mind. The simple hiker, the hunter searching for game, or just a boy who had glimpsed a pretty red haired girl in the woods. Yet, he was drawn to telling her the truth. His name was Okami Futaba, but he was notoriously known as the Big Bad Wolf, or simply the Wolf. He had no parents, no home other than the training room in Hans Security Bureau, and his greatest companions were the weapons hidden under his clothing. As inclined as he was to do otherwise, he decided to offer her only a half-truth.

“I’m Okami. What brings you to my little camp?” he asked.

He watched her relax her stance, just enough that if he had been someone else it would seem real. The smile she pasted on her face as she walked backwards also almost fooled him. However, he noticed the slight tension in her smile that didn’t reach her eyes. He imagined she was even more beautiful when her smile wasn’t forced.

“It’s on the path I’m taking to somewhere,” Layla answered, looking away.

The locket at her throat glinted in the sun, like some sort of warning that he was trouble. It was more than the need to find her grandmother’s location that bid Okami to make her stay.

“Do you need any help getting there? Any food?” he said. “Any muscle to protect you on your way?”

His last comment drew a slight grin from her.

“No, thank you,” she replied. “I’ll be on my way.”

She kicked up the stand on her bike and settled on the seat. Before she could take off, Okami raised his hand in front of her. This encounter would put Layla on guard, perhaps even delay her trip. That would set back his own plans.

“You have some leaves in your hair,” he said. The faint scent of vanilla he’d caught before became stronger when he leaned in close to her ear. Okami swept lightly over Layla’s red locks, a foolish grin gracing his face. He stepped away as she mumbled a thank you.

“I hope you get where you need to go,” he shouted after her receding back.

He’d see her again soon enough.

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