Shino was surrounded by hunters. The man whose eye was missing was right in front of him with his men right behind him. And what seemed to be an invulnerable wall of faceless hunters surrounded him on all sides until he was backed into a fence.
He sneered at them, feeling the hunger taking over him. He restrained his arm against him, trying to stop himself from turning into the monster he despised. Shino growled when the faceless hunters approached him slowly. He hurriedly escaped by jumping onto the fence to run along the wood to escape the endless mob of hunters.
Shino donned his mask to escape them, brushing past another crowd of faceless citizens until he heard screams from left and right.
He looked down to see blood coating his claws that continued to grow. He continued to run, never looking back to see what carnage was behind him. Shino grinned his teeth as more screams pierced the air, turning the blue sky above him into a more sinister red that matched the blood on his claws.
He looked down again to see the gruesome sight of both his hands transforming into his wolf claws. Shino kept running despite the feeling of being followed overwhelming him.
He began to wonder where his family was. Where was Hamaji? Why is the hunt back on?
He turned around to see the young pup he used to take to see Itezuru. Shinbeh.
“Shin? Shinbeh?” Shino asked the young pup, watching the small child turn into a wolf pup in front of his eyes.
The young pup ran towards him, passing his legs with a giggle. The same giggle the young child would do when he wanted to play a game.
Shino turned around to see where Shinbeh was going only to find himself staring at the victory table of the hunters. The table that held the heads of the seven people he grew close to.
Shino’s eyes opened when he suddenly burst out of slumber with a yell.
Hamaji turned around to face him, “Shino? Are you okay?”
Shino continued to breathe heavily, grasping the sheets underneath his hands to try and find her hand. Hamaji closed her hand right over his, allowing her thumb to rub against the back of his hand.
“It’s okay, you are safe. I’m safe, Yuki is safe,” Hamaji reassured him, allowing him to steady his breathing. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“A nightmare is a better description. Not as bad as the other ones I have, but it was still scary,” Shino admitted.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Hamaji asked.
Shino shrugged, “It was just… bad. I was running away from hunters. I think I killed people, I’m not too sure. All I could see was the blood on my hands. And then I saw Shinbeh…”
“He...he ran past me in his wolf form like he wanted me to play with him. I turned around only to see that wretched table… the table holding my family’s heads like they were trophies…” Shino whispered, allowing his head to fall onto Hamaji’s shoulder. He took in a shuddering breath before continuing, “You weren’t there at all. Yuki wasn’t there. I was afraid something might have happened to you or that this never happened. I was afraid that my nightmare was actually the truth. Like what it might have been if I had never… I would have just been a head on a table and nothing more. I wouldn’t have what I have now.”
Hamaji just held his hand while he talked, giving him her silent support. It took awhile for him to calm down from his nightmare. During that time, Hamaji was patient with him.
But apparently he had woken up Yuki in the process of opening up about his nightmare. He found this out when he saw his child poking their head up at the foot of their bed.
“Your father just had a nightmare,” Hamaji replied
“Ooh, I'll fix it!” Yuki whispered back with determination in their eyes. They puffed out their cheeks before climbing into bed with their parents. “I protect papa!”
Hamaji smiled, “You are going to protect Shino from his bad dreams?”
“Yes!” Yuki answered back quickly.
Shino chuckled, bringing Yuki into his arms for a tight hug that made them burst into giggles. Shino kissed Yuki’s head while Hamaji adjusted the blankets to fit all of them under the covers.
“Alright, let’s protect each other from nightmares.” Shino smiled, snuggling into the comfortable covers of the bed. He finally relaxed once he knew that his family was safe.
He was never going to let anyone hurt his family ever again. He was going to protect them.