Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hybrid Chronicles: Toby and Mason

Here it is, the story you've all been waiting for!!! The collaboration of Gweall and Kitten2010. BOW DOWN TO OUR GREATNESS!!! :) Not to be arrogant or anything *Cough*... It to SO much work to get this story done (you have NO idea) and I have to give a huge thanks to Kitten for putting up with me.

Message from Kitten: Sorry for the mix up, and yes there will be more from me just not for a few months at least ):

The rest of this doesn't matter, just read it if you want some more info:

We put in a lot of long hours (So many late nights ._. and she's two hours ahead of me so I feel bad for her haha) and I'm sure a lot of headaches for our lovely editor (Golf claps for Gbc5452 for putting up with both of us) This story takes place in the same world as my series like 'Wings of Gray', 'Things Change', and 'Revolution' (Which I will finish eventually...) This is BEFORE WoG and TC but around the same time as Revo. Feel free to read her version or mine, don't matter. And we MIGHT (I know we both want to but we both have busy lives) Do another chapter of this (Different characters but still a chapter in the chronicles) I'll keep yalls posted. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did writing it, and of course I'll be the feedback troll: FEED MEH YOUR COMMENTS OM NOM NOM!!!! Get to readin' y'all!

From Gbc5452: Sweet lord in heaven...the number of time I had to correct spots where the space bar had been tapped


Mason walked on the cold concrete floor and felt the gravel cling to his feet. His tail was a few inches off the ground and the thin leather skin that formed his wings ran up his tail and attached to his arms. The extra bones that had grown to fill his wings when he had started his mutation were hollow and thin, but strong enough to support him if he chose to fly. The sound of the chains around his ankles sent shivers up his spine. He could feel the sharp teeth in his mouth and his ears twitched and turned with every sound.

"Move it, Dracula." One of the handlers pushed passed him. Mason scowled at his back.

"Yeah, cause I haven't heard that one before." Mason rolled his eyes. 

"You say something?" The guard turned around and switched on the cattle prod they used to keep the infected in line.

"No." Mason growled.

"Good." The guard turned and walked off. Mason was sick of the vampire jokes, leave it to him to get the traits of a bat. Mason arrived at what the hybrids had come to call 'The Doctor's Office', The clean room was filled with different tools and devices designed to harvest rare (and very much valuable) parts from the hybrids. Every month Mason was brought to the eerily white room to have his brown soft fur shaved and sold. Hybrid bat fur was rare and expensive for it's soft feel and durability. Unlike most furs, it was best shaved rather than pelted. Pelted hybrid fur was taboo, since hybrids were still genetically similar to humans. People would pay thousands of dollars for it, many royalty across the world would pay to have clothing made with the precious fur on an almost weekly basis if they could. Others would use it in ceremonies and other important events. Mason didn't mind being shaved, the fur was hot. 

As the creepy nurse in the white mask began shaving the soft fuzz from his chest and arms, Mason went with the motions rather than fight back. Fighting would only result in the cattle prod, and after the first few "haircuts" he'd much rather let them shave him bald. After half an hour of clearing his body of any hair, he was sent back to the holding cell. His body was hairless again and he thought he looked weird with his naked ears and brown wings. He glared at the guard ahead of him. He hated the escorts they were forced to endure, honestly whoever would have thought that after the camps an underground black market would open up. Dozens of Infected had been pulled from the camps before they were closed. Mason hated the black market more than he did the camps.

Mason had been fourteen when he entered the camps. He remembered the masses of Infected entering the camps at all different stages of their transformation. Some had just been diagnosed, others had already grown their various tails and teeth. Mason's wings had grown in the day before he was shipped off. He remembered the scratches he got from dragging them on the ground. With his new appendages, he struggled to learn how to fold them correctly so they would hide under his arms and not drag in a long trail behind him. 

Mason remembered when the news first hit. When the doctors had told his mother and father that he was already infected. They had thought it was the flu but the doctors discovered his failing liver. His parents were wealthy and could afford all of the needed procedures to keep him alive. He survived the transition, but his parents didn't live long after that. Four months before being shipped off to the dreaded camp, his parents had been killed. 

A riot had started and a bunch of Anti-Hybrid groups set fire to many houses that were known to contain Infected. No one knew about Mason's situation, but his house caught fire when a neighbors was lit purposely. It was in the dead of night and by the time the fire department got there, his parents were dead. Mason had been saved, and put in foster care until they could find a place for him. That place turned out to be the camps.

Mason hated being a bat. Hated being a "New Zealand Long-Tail". Most hybrids knew how they became infected. When in the hell did he ever get near a bat that comes all the way from New Zealand? He hated the need to take off at every sound. He hated the need to hang from the rafters of the low ceiling, and he despised the urge to catch the moths, roaches, and other insects that scattered across the room. Sure, flying was cool. But it wasn't worth the hassle of trying to keep from swallowing one of the dusty fluttering creatures every time he saw one. His teeth and ability to fly came in handy during the 'Dog Fights'. He may not be a lion, tiger or a bear. But he could bite like Count Dracula. He also hated the Vampire jokes. He hated those a lot. 

Mason sat in his corner of the holding cell that he shared with at least fifteen other infected. He poked at his teeth with his tongue, he was due to have them pulled tomorrow. Bat teeth were used in jewelry and to decorate weapons. Mason looked at one of the other cowering men in the cell. He was horny, it had been a long time. Many of the other captives had taken it upon themselves to... satisfy their urges. Most of this wasn't consensual, but they didn't care much. Mason had never stooped that low, he may be a mutant but he wasn't a monster. Mason yawned and stretched his arms, unfolding the wings until they were fully spread. He curled up in a ball, using his wings as a makeshift blanket.

The sounds of screams and cries could be heard throughout the building. Mason sighed and closed his eyes. He could hear the sounds of a fight in one direction, the sound of a rape in another. And somewhere in between was the whirring saw of The Doctors Office. There was no doubt about it, he was in Hell. He wondered if he would ever get out... ~~~~~ *******

Toby was nervous to return after years of being away from home. He wondered if it would be the same there, since he had changed so much. He touched the cold glass of the car window, frustrated that he couldn't see the scenery. The vague memories made him long even more for the sight he'd lost to the surgeries. They hadn't been his choice, none of it had.

He couldn't remember much from being sick. It was all just a blur. He didn't remember exactly when his mother died, whether it was before or after his sister had passed on. What he did remember was his father's anger and disgust. And then going away.

Then the surgeries passed in a blur as well. Three years of his life, gone in an instant. Spent with the surgeons who seemed to feel nothing for him, no sympathy for his pain, no regret for ruining his eyesight in an attempt to return his eyes to the baby blue they had been before the change. They viewed him as something less than human and the only way for him to cope was to believe that as well. It was hard to accept, he still struggled with it. But facts were facts. Toby had become a freak.

Toby was ashamed of what he was. The sickness had made him disgusting. He had mutated into a gross combination of human and frog. Though he knew the surgeries had changed him so much that he looked normal, he never would be. There were things that couldn't be changed.

He felt the car come to a stop and he gripped his cane. He still wasn't very good at feeling around with it, but he was learning fast. The air smelled like rain and Toby felt a strange urge to swim, to feel mud between his toes and soothing water all around his body. He shook his head, ridding himself of the thought as he tapped the tip of the cane to the ground a few times experimentally. He hated not being able to see what the driver was doing or who was there. He felt so exposed. His body tensed up and every little sound became amplified.

"Son!" his father barked.

Toby reacted before he could control himself and a soft croak escaped his throat. Even without his sight, he knew his father was disgusted by him. He could feel it. He hung his head, pulling down at the knitted cap he wore, pushing black yarn and straight black hair to hide his face even more.

"Let's see if I got my money's worth," his father said coldly.

Toby was able to restrain himself from croaking again as his father grabbed his chin, examining the extensive skin grafts on his neck. He made a soft, indifferent grunting sound as he grabbed his son's hand, pulling away the glove. Toby winced as his father prodded the places that the webbing had been cut away. It was still sore, but Toby didn't say anything.

"Well, it's about as much as I expected. At least no one can tell that my son is a freak."

The glove smacked Toby in the chest and he knelt down, feeling for it with his palms because his fingertips were numb from the removal of the suction cups. He found his glove and stood slowly as he put it back on. He felt childish and foolish, which was ridiculous. He wasn't a seventeen year old kid anymore. He'd just turned twenty. He didn't have to fear his father anymore. And yet he did. He feared the man, but was also desperate for some sign that he was still loved in some way, however small an amount that may be.

"Dad..." Toby said. The word hung heavily in the air. It felt awkward to say.

"Take him inside," Toby's father said, not acknowledging that the young man had spoken. "I've got to oversee a shipment."

The man that had been driving took Toby by the elbow and led him up the stairs. Toby stumbled a bit, at one point croaking in protest when his toes, which had endured as much pain as his hands, banged against a step.

"Shut up, freak," the driver said. "They ought to lock all of ya up and light a fire. Abominations..."

Toby heard a door opening and suddenly he was pitching forward. He heard the footsteps of the man leaving and he was glad. He sighed and pushed himself up off the ground, using his cane to get on his feet again.

The McIlrath mansion was a huge property and though he had lived there his whole life Toby always got lost at least twice a day up until he'd gotten sick. And that had been when he had his sight and was there everyday. He was nervous, trying to remember the way to his old room. He recalled one staircase that led straight up to his attic. Motivated by the opportunity to sleep in a real bed for the first time in ages, Toby started moving his cane around, taking timid steps forward.

He grew a bit braver in his steps, remembering now that the staircase should be just a the end of the farthest hallway. He put his palm against the wall as he moved faster. Toby was sure this was the right way. He felt the frame of a door, exactly where he had remembered it. He pulled the door open, in his eagerness rushing to take that first step up. His stomach sank as he quickly realized that this was not what he'd had in mind.

Toby lost his grip on his cane as he fell down the stairs and he heard it snap as his leg, then hips, then shoulders took the brunt of the damage. He came to a sudden stop on a concrete floor, scraping his cheek. He propped himself up on his elbows, letting out a pathetic whimper that turned into a sad ribbit.

He heard a rustling sound and his body grew tense, almost as if ready to spring. "Hello?" he said softly. "Is someone here?"

After a heavy silence with no response, Toby began to feel his way around the ground, hoping to make his way back up the stairs. He felt the edge of something rigid and patted his way up the side, quickly realizing that it was not a stair but a box. He removed his gloves and slowly reached inside. As he did it, he felt a deep sense of guilt, as if he knew he wasn't supposed to be finding this.

Toby didn't know what it was he was feeling. Some of the hairs must have become airborne because Toby started to sneeze. The fibers were soft though, possibly the softest thing he'd ever felt. He closed the box, backing away and stumbling over another box. He heard the tinkling sound of items hitting the ground as they spilled. Toby bit his lip and dropped to his knees, grabbing what handfuls he could of the spilled content. He winced as one of the objects pierced his skin.

In his nervous rush, Toby was not aware of the approaching footsteps until they were immediately upon him. "What are you doing?" the voice demanded

"Dad, I...I, uh, fell down the stairs. Where am I?"

"What have you done? These are valuable."

Toby grunted as he was pushed backwards. "I'm sorry," he muttered, trying not to let it sting too much that his father didn't seem to care if he was injured or not.

"Why are you so useless?" his father continued. "Do you know how rare these are?"

"Dad, I don't know what they are..."

"These are hybrid artifacts. People pay millions for things like this and you just come down here and destroy them!"

"Artifacts?" Toby whimpered at the blow his father delivered across his face.

"The only good thing about you freaks is the parts you produce. These are bat teeth. Do you realize how fragile they are? You shattered one. That was worth at least a thousand dollars!"

"How did those get here?" Toby cringed at the sound of his father's movement.

"I did this for you. To pay for the surgeries to fix you so that you wouldn't have to live like a disgrace and embarrass the family."

"Dad, I don't understand..."

"Of course you don't. You were never very bright. I am in possession of several Infected abominations. They're barely even human. My business associates and I farm their parts and sell them."

Toby's jaw dropped. "Dad...that's cruel..."

"No! Cruel is being left with a useless son. You should have been the one to die, not your sister. If you're going to be ungrateful, then perhaps I should show you what I spared you from. A night with the other freaks should teach you a lesson."

************* ~~~~~~~~ 

Mason sat in the dark cellar that served as his room. Not really his, since he shared it with so many others. He had just gotten his fangs pulled, but was glad that they would grow back in time. Only to be pulled again, of course. Bat fangs were very popular. Cheaper than other parts that he could provide, it was still used a lot in Gothic jewelry and other things. He shuddered when he realized his wings had almost completely grown back. They took longer to grow back than the fangs, fur, and claws he also provided. But they were worth at least ten times more. People would pay millions for a single wing. The hide that formed his wings were thin but strong, and could be used for many things. 

"Mason?" A voice called in the darkness. He knew a lot of the other Hybrids had a problem with being in the dark all the time. But he liked it, he didn't know if it was because he was nocturnal or because he didn't want to see the horrors that the others had to go through, too.


"I heard that you were due to fight tomorrow." The voice said.

"Great, I got my teeth pulled today." Mason knew that it would be more difficult to survive the fight without losing an arm to some stupid cat.

"I'm sure you'll be fine, you-" The voice was interrupted by the sound of the only door in the dark room opening. A figure was shoved inside and Mason heard a soft 'oof' as he landed roughly on the ground. Mason furrowed his brow, he could have sworn everyone was in their proper place, there shouldn't be an extra running around.

"Must be a new guy." The voice said, obviously thinking the same thing.

"I guess." Mason mumbled. "Hey, you alright?" He asked in the dark.

"Where am I?" 

"Welcome to Hell." Mason rolled his eyes in the dark, he heard a laugh to his left and figured it had been the man he was talking to before.

"I...uh, I don't..." The boy stammered nervously and a few of the others started to circle around him, sensing his weakness.

"Back off guys, leave the kid alone. It's his first night in here you could at least refrain from giving him permanent scarring." Mason chirped at the surrounding predators. He shifted on his leathery wings and walked over to the cowering figure, who was jumping at every sound.

"Thank you. I'm, uh, Toby, by the way."

"Mason, come on. You can stay near me until we get you situated tomorrow. These guys will watch you like a hawk, if you're not careful they'll get you while you're alone. Try not to be alone, alright?" Mason smile, giving him a crash course in surviving. He put is arm around Toby's shoulders and walked him over towards his wall. He felt him jump when his leathery wings touched his shoulders.

"I'm sorry," Toby said softly, stumbling a bit over a ridge in the concrete.

"It's alright, you get used to it. I'm mutated with a bat. Any vampire jokes, and you can go back to the middle of the floor." Mason chuckled, but wasn't joking.

"Didn't even cross my mind," Toby replied with a small smile. The boy tripped for the second time. "Sorry." 

"It's alright, It's hard to get around in the dark. You get used to it eventually." Mason reached his spot on the wall and sat down, pulling Toby down with him.

"I should be used to it by now. I'm always in the dark." 

"What do you mean?" Mason asked. He spread out his wing and curled them around himself again. He yawned and closed his eyes.

Toby shifted a bit, pulling his hat and hair back a bit to reveal blue eyes obscured by a slight grey cloud. "I'm blind and I'm still not very good at it."

"I'm the bat here, aren't I supposed to be blind?" Mason smiled. "I'm sure it will get better for you, other blind guys find a way to manage right?" He asked. He crawled up a large wooden support beam against the wall.

Toby nodded. "I hope so. Falling gets old fast. What are you doing?" Toby asked, hearing his nails click against the wood."

"I sleep in the rafters, it's more comfortable for me. I'll help you up." Mason grabbed Toby's arm.

"I can't see, remember? Falling gets old fast." He mumbled, hesitating. 

"Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds." Mason pulled him up to the rafters. He put his back against it and let Toby sit between his legs, which were hanging off the wide beam.

"You should have seen me when I figured out I could fly." Mason laughed. "I was jumping off anything and everything I could find." He felt weird talking to someone he just met a few minutes ago about this kind of stuff.

"Flying must be nice. I can't really do anything special." Toby wrapped his arms around his knees. "Is it always so cold?"

"It's not all it's cracked up to be. There's a lot of falling, and some crashing, a few bone breaking experiences." He laughed. "Yeah, they keep it pretty cold in here to keep all the poisonous ones calm." He said. He heard a hiss to his right as some scaly creature voiced his objection to the temperature. "What hybrid are you, if you don't mind me asking." Mason ignored the angry reptile. 

Toby was silent for a while. "I" He sighed. "A frog."

"That's not so bad. I've definitely seen worse.There was this guy at the camp I was staying at, everyone called him Mango for some reason..." Mason shrugged in the dark. "He was mutated with an elephant. He couldn't fit through the door so they kept him chained outside. He had really bad allergies too... the spring was awful." Mason mumbled to himself.

Toby started to respond, but he had started to shiver. The sound of a predatory cat roaring from across the hall startled the young man and he let out a soft 'ribbit'. He pressed his hand over his mouth.

"Sorry," he said, barely audible because his soft voice was muffled.

Mason couldn't stop laughing. "Man that was adorable!" Mason wipe tears from his eyes. "I was I could make some cool sound. All I can do is chirp like a hyena who's had way to much helium." Mason chuckled.

"I think you're the only person that's ever called that adorable," Toby said. He curled into a tighter ball. "I suppose blankets are too much to expect..."

"Well it is. Adorable I mean." Mason laughed. "And yeah, don't expect much in the way of blankets. Us lucky ones have wings or fur to keep em warm." Mason smiled. "I'm a lucky bastard and got both." Mason opened his wings, revealing the tiny pocket of warmth between the thin skin of his wings and his chest which had a slight dusting of bat fur on it, already growing back from being shaved. "Crawl in. I'm nice an warm." Mason laughed.

"Thank you so much. I promise I'm not slimy." Toby's hands timidly sought out the warmth. He quickly cuddled against Mason and let out a loud 'ribbit' at the relief of something to keep him from freezing.

Mason chuckled and closed his wings around the frog. "I wasn't worried about slime by the way." Mason said. He felt Toby cuddle against the fuzz on his chest and his breathing slowed, relaxing for the first time since he had entered the room.

"Shut up!" One of the infected across the room shouted. Mason giggled and closed his eyes and began to fall asleep.

"You're soft," Toby whispered.

"I said, shut up!" The same guy shouted. Mason sat up, supporting his weight on his hands above Toby.

"You shut up!" Mason growled and curled up with Toby again, who was trying hard not to giggle.

"And you're not slimy." Mason whispered in his ear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ********************

Mason woke and smelled the shampoo his frog boy used. He opened his eyes and found his wings empty.

"Toby?" He looked around the still somewhat dark room. Sunlight poured in from a few windows in the walls and Mason didn't see his tadpole anywhere, not that he had had a good look at the amphibian.

"Toby?" He called out again. He sighed and stood up, stretching. His fur and wings smelled like his tadpole.

'Hmm, tadpole... I like it.' He thought to himself. He ran a hand through his light brown hair and yawned. The door opened and Mason looked up, hoping to see his blind little frog boy there.

'Not even a full night with the guy and I'm already calling him mine, what have I gotten into?' Mason laughed at himself when he saw it was only a handler bringing in food. He sighed and headed towards the food.

"Eat quickly, you have a fight in half an hour." The handler snapped at Mason before walking out. The normal routine occurred and people fought for more food, or fought to keep what little thy had. The strongest got the most and the weakest were lucky if they managed to hide in a corner with a scrap of bread. Mason was glad he didn't have this problem. Of all the various animal hybrids, none of them were insectivores. He hated the crunch the moths made, but he felt sick if he ate anything else.

Once he was done eating he stood. It seems the handlers had been waiting for him because the second he stood up they came in and dragged him out of the room. ~~~~~~ *********

"Where are we going?" Toby asked, still drowsy. He was sad to feel the last vestiges of Mason's warmth fading away.

"Shut up," a gruff voice that Toby didn't recognize instructed, "Be thankful you weren't in there for feeding time. Those animals have no decency. I'm surprised you even made it through the night. Or did you let the vampire play a little leap frog to save yourself?"

Toby blushed at the insult but otherwise showed no sign that the comment effected him in any way. Because of his small stature and soft-spoken mannerisms, Toby had been dealing with those assumptions for most of his life. He'd never given it much concern. Privately, he wondered if he was even inclined to have any sort of sexual attraction.

Mason changed that completely. Toby liked the way Mason made him feel. It was a combination of warm and protected and accepted. Though he'd never experienced it before, he knew what it was. Toby had a crush.

"Where are you taking me?" Toby asked again.

"Your father invited you to join him at the fights. If I were you, I'd show some appreciation. Not every father would pay for surgeries the way he did. Hell, if you were my kid I would've just shot you."

Toby remained silent, hoping that the man didn't have children. He was shocked at the cruelty people showed towards a group that was different by no choice of their own. What gave them the right to judge?

The man opened a car door and shoved Toby forward. Toby got in the car and felt around for the seat belt. He wished that he had the courage to say that he didn't want to go. Something about it didn't feel right.

********* ~~~~~~

Mason was thrown in to a pit and the crowd cheered around him. Another Hybrid was throne in and the handlers switched on their cattle prods, in case they didn't fight. He looked up at the horde of people cheering and booing. He saw people collecting bets and the big boss man in a chair away from everyone else. He stared down at Mason like a king staring at a bug.

'Bite me, jack ass.' Mason thought. As if reading his mind a handler stepped up and shocked Mason. Mason screamed and fell on the ground. The other hybrid stepped into action when the Handler headed towards him. He grabbed Mason by the hair and pulled him up. Mason screamed and reached up with his hands to try and get the clawed fingers to let go.

"Sorry about this, guy." The other Hybrid said. Mason opened his eyes to see that the other infected wasn't holding him with claws, but very large fingers.

"Oh God." Mason said before a fist the size of a baseball glove slammed into his face. The gorilla stepped over to his fallen body and used one massive arm to pick him up by his ankle. Mason dangled at least a foot off the ground as the large, furry, strong man held him.

"No hard feelings." Mason mumbled, already feeling his eye swelling from the blow. His arms dangled above his head, wings unfolded. The gorilla turned and flung his body against a wall. Mason swore he heard something crack. He hit the dirt with a solid 'oof' and waited for the huge beast to return. He heard the large footsteps on the ground and opened his eyes as the monkey reached for him again. He used the claws on his hands to scratch at the creature holding him up by his neck, but he hardly even made him flinch. Mason kicked and struggled against the gorilla and was rewarded with a grunt when he landed a kick in the face.

The gorilla dropped him and he began scurrying away. He made it halfway across the arena when he heard the beast recover and turn around to face him. They stared at each other a moment and after a second the gorilla charged. Mason glanced up and saw the cage on top of the arena. Without hesitation he jumped up, flapping his wings as best he could and grabbed hold of the fencing above him. He dangled from the roof and looked down at his opponent. He knew he stood no chance and just hoped he could prolong the inevitable. The gorilla looked up at him and began getting angry. He beat his chest with his hands and looked at the guards.

"That's not fair, can he do that?" He growled. Mason stuck out his bat tongue. The gorilla glared and tried jumping for him, but Mason was to high. He smiled and looked around at the crowd. It was then that he saw him. Sitting in the once empty seat next to the head honcho was Toby.

"Toby?" Mason said, and felt a large fist grip his tail. He was jerked down suddenly and felt a claw catch on the chain link above. He screamed as he broke his nail and the gorilla pulled him down. He saw the beast raise both fists above his head and slam them down onto his rib cage. Mason curled up and choked. He rolled onto his back, trying to protect his vulnerable stomach, and was met with a kick to the side. He tried to stand and lift himself back up to the cage top, but the gorilla wouldn't give him the chance. He took him by the tail and threw him against the wall, where the chain dome roof met the concrete walls. He felt blood trickle down his face and a few lose teeth. He opened his eyes and was staring directly at Toby's blind eyes. He had thought he had seen wrong before, but now he knew. No one else could have beautiful blue gray eyes like his, and a small patch of green frog skin just under his collar.

"Toby..." He saw his tadpoles eyes widen as he heard the voice.


"Toby I thought-" He felt his tail grabbed again and he was thrown backwards into the dirt, away from the answers to all his questions. The gorilla raised a fist and punched Mason in the stomach. Mason felt the air leave his lungs and he struggled to pull more in. He attempted to crawl away and felt the large hand wrap around his neck again. He struggled to breath as his face was shoved into the cement wall. He felt consciousness slipping away from him as his face was slammed into it again. He coughed blood from his mouth and his eyes met with Toby's. He knew Toby couldn't see him, but he also knew the boy knew what was happening. He watched the wall grow closer again and the right side of his face connect with it once more. He saw stars and black clouds in his vision, and the last thing he saw was Toby's sickened face.

~~~~~~~ **********

Toby had felt himself getting more and more nauseous with each sound that came from below. Hearing Mason's voice made it worse and he finally couldn't fight it. He dove out of his chair, dropping to his knees and dry heaving quietly. His father grabbed him by the back of his shirt, demanding, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Toby coughed weakly. "Dad, what are you doing to those people?"

"They aren't people! You're just as stupid as they are. I should have known better!"

Two men grabbed Toby roughly and carried him away. He attempted to struggle but it was useless. He could smell that they were outside and feel the sun on his face. It was the only comfort he had as the two men punched and kicked him for a while before throwing him into a vehicle. Toby winced and wondered if he was hallucinating when there seemed to be a flash of light.

Toby sat up slowly and nervously awaited his fate. The vehicle stopped and he was led to what he assumed was the same night as before, based on the smell. He could hear voices mumbling as the door slammed shut. "Mason?" Toby said, cringing at the hissing sounds. "Mason, please? Are you there?"

"Look who it is..." A broken vice said. A cough followed, and a weak moan echoed once the coughing stopped.

Toby moved towards Mason's voice, ignoring the angry sounds around him. "Mason, are you hurt? Help me find you, please. I'll help you."

Mason was silent for a moment.

"Why should I? What the hell were you doing there? If you were inside of the arena I could understand that, but you were with the big wigs up there... who the fuck are you?" Mason coughed again.

"Don't bother talking to him," A voice said, ending with a hiss. "Let us have him."

"Maybe I will..." Mason's voice echoed the dark empty room.

"Please, I'll explain," Toby said, trying to move closer to Mason, longing for the security he felt the night before. "I promise it's not what it looks like. Mason, I didn't want to be there. I swear I didn't know."

"Yeah right. You're a liar.You lied to me last night, why should I help you now?" Mason said.

Toby felt something touch his shoulder and he whimpered and backed away from the unknown threat.

********* ~~~~~~

Mason heard the blind man shuffling around on the floor, he also heard the sounds of night predators shifting around his tadpole.

"Mason, please!" Toby sounded frightened and tried desperately to find Mason among all the others.

Mason's heart hurt, he felt betrayed by the smaller man. He stayed quiet and he heard the others closing in on their prey.

"I'm not a liar. I didn't know. It wasn't my choice. Just let me explain."

Mason sighed. "Get away from him." He grumbled.

Toby stood shakily. "Thank you," he whispered.

"I'm over here." Mason growled.

Toby took a few uncertain steps. He reached out and gently grabbed on to Mason's leg that was swinging from the rafters.

"Ow, watch it." Mason grunted. Mason shifted his leathery wing down towards the floor to give Toby something to grab onto. Toby was pulled up by Mason's weak and shaking arm, it was obvious he was in pain.

"Mason, please don't be mad at me," Toby said softly. "I'd never hurt you."

"Obviously that's a lie considering you sat there while I got my face beat in by a gorilla."

Toby sighed and tugged at his glove. "I didn't know. Mason, it wasn't my choice to be there. It was my dad..."

"Why didn't you tell me you were related to the man who is directly responsible for me being in here?"

"I was afraid to. It's not like we're close. He..." Toby removed his glove. "When I got sick, he sent me away to have all these surgeries. It's why I'm blind. I didn't know what he was doing while I was gone." Toby spread his fingers to show the thick scars.

Mason struggle to see Toby's hand in the dark. "Come close, I can't move much." Mason grasped his hand, pulling him closer to him. He saw the thick scars Toby was showing him and his heart broke, who could do that to their own son?

"They didn't think they went that far, but they did. They had to keep cutting deeper and deeper," Toby explained. "My hands took the longest, but the grafts they did on my throat to hide the frog skin...those hurt the worst. They were trying to stop the croaking, but it didn't really work."

"I'm sorry I snapped at you. I was just pissed off and confused. I don't think you needed the surgeries. You're beautiful now and I'm sure you were before." Mason said, not letting go of his hand. His claws brushed across the soft skin of his hand and he brought his other hand up to hold it too.

"My dad doesn't care about me, Mason. He just didn't want to be humiliated by how disgusting I was. I swear I didn't know it was you down there." Toby sighed. "You cared for me more last night than he ever has. I'm not going to let him keep doing this to you or at least...I'm staying with you. If they come back for me, I won't go."

"You don't know what you're getting into." Mason started, "If you stay here you have to fight. There will be times when you're alone with other hybrids, I won't always be there to protect you." Mason said. "The only reason those guys backed off this time was because they know I won't be afraid to kick their asses if I have to, once I heal up. One of them could take me with a single finger in the condition I'm in now." Mason grunted and held his ribs as another wave of pain kicked in.

"In case anyone ever asks if a bat could beat a gorilla in a fight, bet on the gorilla." Mason mumbled.

"I don't want to leave you though," Toby said. "I could learn to fight. I know I could as long as you keep me warm every night." Toby blushed and smiled shyly.

"The second part sounds good to me." Mason chuckled. "But I don't think my body could handle a snuggle session tonight." Mason opened his eyes and looked at Toby, who was brushing his fingers across Mason's hand.

Toby looked disappointed. "Can I do anything? I'm so sorry I didn't help you."

"I don't think so. And don't feel bad, you were scared. Even if you had wanted to help, I doubt there was much you could do." Mason coughed. He was silent for a moment before adding, "I think maybe just a small snuggle session would be alright." He smiled in the darkness and pulled on Toby's hand.

"I like you," Toby admitted. "Is that okay?" He was careful as he moved across the wood beam he was straddling closer to Mason.

"Yeah, just watch my ankle." He mumbled, as Toby slid into his embrace. He lifted his arm and draped it over his tadpole. They were silent a moment when Mason breathed across Toby's ear. "I like you too, tadpole." He smiled against the ear.

Toby laughed softly. "Tadpole?"

"Yeah, like it?" Mason chuckled, trying not to hurt his battered body.

"No one ever called me anything like that before," Toby said.

"If you don't like it I can stop." Mason said. "I just think it's cute. I remember catching tadpoles down in the river that ran behind our house." Mason brought forward the vivid memory. "It was always too cold to go catch them early in the season, so by the time we got to them they had just started growing their legs. Fat little round things with tiny legs underneath, always had a frightened look on their face, but they were so damn cute. " Mason smiled.

"I like it. Just as long as you don't think I'm a fat little round thing with tiny legs," Toby said. "I never did anything like that. My dad wanted me to be better in school so I could help with the business. Back then he was an art dealer but I don't think he ever cared about the beauty in it. He's always been about money and reputation. It's why he's mad I'm the one that survived."

"What do you mean he's mad that you're the one who survived?" Mason sat up as best as he could to look at Toby. "I don't want you to keep any more secrets from me, tadpole." he said. "I want to care about you but I can't do that if you don't tell me these things." Mason waited for him to speak.

"My mom and my sister died. I don't really remember much. I had such a high fever, I was delirious."

"How old were you?" Mason stroked his hair softly.

"I was seventeen," Toby sighed. "I wasn't grateful for what I had. My mom was an alcoholic and she was kind of fickle, but I know she cared about me." Toby wiped at his eyes. "Sorry."

"Don't be, I know it's hard." Mason hesitated. "My parents died when I was fourteen." Mason said. "Our house caught fire and the fire department got there in time to save me, but no one else. I was in foster care for awhile and then I was shipped off to the camps." Mason said. "I figure if I expect you to tell me everything, I should be honest with you too." Mason said.

"I'm sorry that happened to you. Were you close to your parents?" Toby gently moved his hands up, his thumb brushing Mason's lip before moving to Mason's ears. Toby petted the fur that was growing back there, softly commenting, "So soft..."

"Ha, yeah, who knew bats were so fuzzy? We were a close family." He said, "I guess when they died I never really grieved... Everything just happened so fast. The fire, and then foster care, and my wings started growing in. The labor camp was rough since I had no family or friends to look out for me." Mason reached for Toby's hand with his own, holding the smaller hand gently. He resented the position they were in, only getting to speak in the dead of night. He wanted to be able to walk around with the man he was interested in. It had just occurred to him that he had never actually been on a date.

"I know I'm essentially useless, but I want to be there for you," Toby said, his voice full of sincerity.

"You're not useless... " Mason started, he turned Toby in his arms to face him, "You're beautiful." Mason smiled. He wished Toby could see him, he didn't mind that he was blind. But it would be so much greater if they could look into each others eyes.

"I hate that I'm like this," Toby said, brushing his fingers underneath his blind eyes as if sensing Mason's fixation on them. "It makes me so helpless."

"I don't think you're helpless. You just need to learn how to be more confident in yourself." Mason said, brushing a lock of hair from his unseeing eyes. "It doesn't mean you have to be a cocky bastard." Mason laughed, "It just means that you have to believe that you're more than a helpless blind frog. How many of those do you see hopping around?"

"Well I wouldn't see them," Toby joked. "I could learn to protect myself," he added more seriously, "Maybe I could even protect you too."

"I'd like to see that." Mason laughed. "I can fly, you however are stuck down here on the ground." Mason shifted his wing. "If that stupid monkey hadn't grabbed my tail..." He trailed off.

"Did he hurt you?" Toby sighed, "I don't understand why my dad would do this."

"People find it entertaining." Mason shrugged. "And asking if he hurt me is like asking if a bug was hurt when it flies into a car." Mason cringed, "People can be cruel. Too cruel." He brushed his hand across Toby's face.

"Maybe I could find a way to make it stop. Maybe if people knew..."

"If people knew then there's no promise that it would get better. Your father is loaded. He could probably cover it up easily. Besides, the outside world isn't much different for us than in here." Mason looked around the dark room.

"I just don't understand how people could be like this. It's not our fault. We just got sick, we didn't ask for this."

"It's how history has always been. Even if it's not your fault, if someone doesn't like it, you'll be punished for it." Mason shrugged, "But things always get better, even if it doesn't seem like they will, it will happen...eventually." Mason rolled his eyes on the last part.

"I didn't know it was this bad," Toby said, with a yawn. "I never left the hospitals. No one but the doctors and nurses were there. My dad didn't come to see me." Toby yawned again. "I don't know what I did to make him hate me."

"You didn't do anything, tadpole. You cant control what people hate. It's not an emotion that's easy to understand." Mason said, "You're exhausted. We should get some sleep, I don't know that I'll be able to do much tomorrow as it is." Mason groaned. He nuzzled Toby's hair and smelled the delicate shampoo he used. "You smell nice." He chuckled.

Toby yawned for the third time. "I'm not tired. I like talking to you."

"Liar." Mason chuckled. "Tell you what, if I give you a kiss, will you get some sleep?" Mason asked.

Toby gasped and nodded. "I'd like that."

Mason used one of his winged arms to turn Toby's chin. He pressed his lips firmly to Toby's and licked gently at his bottom lip. He nipped at it once before pulling away with a smile.

Toby was trembling and smiling. "One more. Please?" He moved closer to Mason, seeking the man's lips.

"Greedy." Mason smiled and moved closer to Toby's lips. "This time, you have to start it." He teased the boy by staying less than an inch away from his begging lips.

Toby let out a loud, excited ribbit as his lips met Mason's. His hands explored up to Mason's ears and Toby pulled them lightly, forcing Mason closer to him as he timidly pressed his tongue against Mason's lips.

"Well damn, babe. That's a start" Mason pulled away just long enough to speak. He dived down to Toby's lips once more, enjoying the soft lips and timid tongue. "You got your kiss, actually you got three." Mason laughed, "Now sleep." Mason turned him to face towards the door again, spooning against him and kissing his neck.

Toby sighed. "That was a good first kiss." He yawned. "And second. And third. I don't think I can sleep now." Toby wiggled against Mason, but soon his sleepiness overwhelmed him. He yawned once again and cuddled against the arm Mason had wrapped around him.

"Goodnight, Toby." Mason whispered in his ear. He listened to Toby's heavy breathing and smelled his hair once more.

*********** ~~~~~~~~

Mason woke to the sound of the metal door to the room opening. He heard the heavy boots stomp across the dirt floor. He snuggled deeper into the warmth that was Toby's hair. He felt the gloved hand of one of the handlers lift his arm and pull Toby away.

"Hey!" Mason growled and sat up. He regretted his actions and felt the pain in his ribs. He grunted and laid back down, watching them drag the struggling Toby away.

"Mason?" Toby cried out.

"It'll be okay, just stay calm." Mason cried out. He watched the door slam shut and groaned as he slouched against the wall. He poked at his many bruises and cuts to make sure he was still in one piece.

"Mason." A voice spoke. Mason looked up and saw a large stag hybrid in front of him. His antlers nearly touched the low roof and his hooves clicked on the ground as he shifted from foot to foot.

"Yes?" Mason raised an eyebrow.

"What do you want for him?" He asked.

"Excuse me?"

"The toad. What do you want for him?" The stag asked.

"One, he's a frog. Two, he's not up for grabs." Mason glared at him.

"Fine, what if we just share a little? What would you want for one night with him?" He asked, puffing out his chest.

"I said he isn't up for grabs. Period. Not for five minutes not for five days." Mason narrowed his eyes.

"You can't keep him to yourself forever."

"I can and I will." Mason snapped. "Don't bring it up again or you'll find yourself impaled with your own antlers." Mason said coldly. He watched the stag huff with anger and clip clop away on the large hooves.

~~~~~~~~~~ ***************

Toby shivered and shifted uncomfortably on the metal table. The room he was in smelled like a hospital and it brought back bad memories. He did his best to follow Mason's advice, trying to stay calm. He recognized the footsteps approaching him.

"Dad?" Toby whispered. He cleared his throat. "What do you want?"

"Have you decided to stop being ungrateful?"

"What you're doing to these people is cruel."

His father moved uncomfortably close, grabbing Toby's shirt. "You have no idea what cruel is. I've been too kind to you. You've forgotten your place. You're only good for what you can provide to decent human beings. No one wants frog parts. You wouldn't last in a fight." He let out a short, derisive laugh. "But I'm sure you have to be good for something."

"You can't keep hurting people. One day it'll catch up with you."

A backhanded blow sent Toby tumbling off the examination table. "Don't make empty threats, son. After you see what I have in store for you, you'll be begging for my forgiveness."

Toby propped himself on his elbow and waited for the guard to take him back to Mason. He was afraid what his father had in mind, but hoped that Mason would make sense of it. He followed the guard willingly, for the first time anxious to return to the cold room.

*********** ~~~~~~~~

Mason heard the door open and watched t guards throw in his tadpole.

"Toby." Mason called out to the confused looking boy.

"Mason, I did it. I stood up to him." Toby held out a hand, searching for Mason.

"What are you talking about?" Mason asked. He ran his hands up and down Toby's arms to make sure he was okay.

"He wanted me to say I'd learned my lesson but I told him what he was doing was cruel. I can't leave knowing what still happens here."

"Are you talking about your dad? Toby that's great, but what are you doing back here? You don't belong down here, you could get hurt, or worse." Mason glanced at the stag he had been 'talking' to earlier.

"He's not going to let me leave here until I admit that he's right and I can't do that. Mason, if I did that I'd be just as guilty as him."

"Toby, you don't belong here! You deserve better than than this! What are you going to do if he makes you fight? Or worse! I know what you dad is like, he wants something from everyone... What does he want from you?"

"I don't know exactly." Toby shrugged, some of his earlier excitement fading. "He said that no one is interested in frog parts. Do you think he's going to make me fight? He said I wouldn't last but...that's not important, is it?"

"No, the people pay for entertainment. Watching a frog being eaten by a lion isn't entertaining enough for them." Mason rolled his eyes, he had a feeling what his father had in mind. "Toby, you have to get out of here. Just tell him that you think he's right." Mason begged.

"But.." Toby's eyes were wide and innocent. "Mason, I want to stay with you. Don't you believe in me? I can learn to fight."

"He doesn't want you to fight, Toby. There are worse things that are done down here." Mason said. "I know that you want to stay with me, I want that too, but we cant." Mason hugged him to his chest. "I believe in you, but that doesn't mean I want you to suffer like we do." Mason looked up around the room at the defeated captives.

"Mason, I've never been a strong person but with you I feel like I could be. I don't want to just let all this go unnoticed. I have to do something."

"You can do more good on the outside than in here." Mason sighed. "You're probably too strong willed for me to convince you not to stay just by telling you 'no'." Mason laughed. He got a serious look on his face. "Toby, it's not just the fights you have to worry about. Surgeries, experiments, testing, they'll harvest bits and pieces of you until there's nothing left." Mason held his hand. "In your case I think they'll force you into prostitution, porn, you name it they'll do it."

Toby shuddered. "Did they ever do that to you?" he whispered.

"No, I was lucky enough. Bats aren't the sexiest things out there, plus I bite." He chuckled at the last part. "But with that tongue.... You could bring thousands of dollars." Mason frowned.

Toby sighed in defeat and bit his lip. "Promise you won't hate me?"

"I could never." Mason kissed his lips intensely. "Just promise me you'll stay safe." Mason hugged him.

"I don't want to be away from you," Toby admitted quietly.

"I know, but the only thing I can think of that's worse than being apart is knowing that you have to live in these conditions." Mason gave soft pecks to his face and neck as he spoke.

"I'm afraid that...if I go...what if we can't be together again?"

"I don't know." Mason was honest. Both options made him want to scream. He had to leave he man he knew he was already falling for, or watch him suffer. He couldn't stand the idea of either choice. "We just have to make what time we have together count..." Mason kissed Toby's lips softly. He moved down his neck and licked at his collar bone.

Toby gasped and blushed, his skin exuding warmth. "Is that okay in here?" Mason asked. Toby whimpered at Mason's touch. "Don't care," he muttered.

Mason smiled and nipped at the skin on Toby's neck. "We can stop if you're shy." Mason looked up at his Tadpole, before moving to nip at his ear.

"Is anyone looking?" Toby whispered, pulling at his clothes as if they had suddenly become uncomfortable.

"Yes, but who the hell cares?" Mason smiled into Toby's throat, and ran his hand up the inside of Toby's thigh.

Toby grasped Mason's forearm, urging Mason's hand higher with the uncertainty that came with a lack of experience. "Mason..." Toby sought the older man's lips. "I love your hands."

"I love your everything." Mason moaned and licked and Toby's neck some more. "You're neck is so beautiful." Mason groaned.

Toby arched his back, moaning and whimpering slightly before letting out a not-so-quiet ribbit followed by a whispered request. "Touch me. I want to feel you. I can't see you, but I want to feel. Please?"

Mason smiled at Toby's request, feeling how the boy trembled at his touch. Toby fumbled with his gloves, finally freeing himself to reach for Mason's face. Mason smiled as he kissed the smaller male, sliding his hand up from Toby's thigh to his stomach. Toby moaned softly.

"Don't worry. No one will watch us," Mason whispered. "I'll keep you hidden."

"I don't care," Toby said, his voice straining with desire. "I want you."

Mason slid his hand up over Toby's chest, chuckling at his ribbits of enjoyment at stimulation on his sensitive nipples. Toby gripped Mason's shoulders, panting in his ear and grinding his body against Mason's. "Please," Toby groaned.

Mason grinned, freeing the erection straining in Toby's pants and expertly giving his tadpole all the pleasure he could with only his hands, careful to keep his wings positioned to shield his lover's body from view.

Toby fumbled with Mason's waistband, clumsily trying to mimic what Mason was doing. Mason found the innocence of it incredibly endearing. "You're doing great," he whispered.

Toby bit his lip and moaned. "Can I...uhm?" he panted.

"Yes," Mason whispered back. "Yes. Come for me."

Toby gasped and softly moaned. With a load throaty croak, his body tensed and he came. Mason pitched forward, finding his own release. He kissed Toby's hair and cheeks. Both of them had so much to say, but that moment of pleasure in the cold prison was too pure to spoil with words. In silence they kissed and tenderly touched until sleep overtook them.

~~~~~~~~~ *************

Mason woke up to the feel of Toby's soft body in his.

"Morning." Toby mumbled.

"Morning." Mason nuzzled he back of his neck.

"This is nice," Toby smiled, Mason felt the curved lips on his arm. "I wish it didn't have to end." Mason felt the smile vanish.

"I know, but it's what's better for you."Mason sighed.

"But is it what's better for us?" Toby sat up, grabbing his shirt and fumbling with the buttons.

"Yes, I don't think I could handle seeing you being touched by other men. And you would hate having me touch you after those men had." Mason sat up and pulled on his pants.

"You're probably right." Toby searched the ground blindly for his gloves. Mason picked them up and placed them in his hands. They stood still for a moment, sitting on the dirty floor. Mason leaned in and kissed Toby's lips.

"You're going to talk to your father today right?" He asked. Toby nodded silently and Mason kissed his forehead. "Good." The word hardly left his mouth when the handlers stepped in, cattle prods on and sparking. One reached for Toby's upper arm and began dragging him off.


"Hold on, Toby. It will be okay." Mason called after him, he stood up and the second guard put a hand on his fuzzy chest, keeping him from his tadpole.

"I love you, Mason." Toby called out weakly as he fought to stay in the room.

"I love you, too, Toby." Mason tried to step forward but the hand on his chest kept him back. He felt tears sting his eyes and soon found himself sobbing quietly on the floor.

***************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Toby faced his father and tried to keep from trembling, thinking of the words Mason had uttered only a few minutes before helped. Or made it worse, he couldn't tell he was so numb with excitement.

"I'm giving you one more chance to show how grateful you are for everything I did for you." His father spoke. "You're lucky I'm so nice." He glared at his son. Toby swallowed the insults that boiled forward in his throat.

"I didn't realize how big of an ingrate I was being, thank you for everything you've done for me." Toby had to keep his head down to keep the hate that boiled in his blank eyes from giving him away.

"Good, at least you realize what an idiot you are." His father rolled his eyes.

"Come on, we have to-"

"Sir." A handler with a cattle prod ran up to his father.

"What is it?" He snapped.

"A fire has broken out, in holding pin A-47." The guard spoke. Toby felt his stomach twist in knots.

"What? How much product did we lose?"

"All of them were out except for the bat." The guard said.

"Idiot probably lit it himself and couldn't escape the flames. You would think since they were once human they would retain some shrivel of intelligence." He muttered the last part.

Toby couldn't breathe, what if Mason was dead? Mason wouldn't set the fire would he?

'Of course he wouldn't.' Toby told himself.

"I'll deal with him." His father spoke, "If it's going to start setting fire's, we'll take what we can from it and toss the rest aside." He heard his father begin walking out of the room when the footsteps stopped.

"My driver will take you back to the house, shower and get some decent clothing on. You reek like the animals. It smells like one has been all over you." He could practically hear his father wrinkle his nose.

'I have to help Mason.' Toby said mentally, as he was escorted out to the car. He felt a searing flash of light for a brief second and then it was gone.

'What the hell?' He rubbed his forehead.

"Come on." The driver growled and shoved him. Toby forgot about it and focused on his lover.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ******************

Ben's hooves clip clopped across the floor as he tried to hide his bulking shoulders behind the door. He looked into the room and saw Mason sitting there. It had been a day since the toad had been pulled from the holding room and Mason hadn't eaten since. Ben snorted at the sulking bat. His nostrils flared and the large ears on the outside of his antlers twitched. He pulled out the box of matches out of his pocket, and picked up the gas can he had put on the floor. He sat where he wasn't scene until Mason drifted off to sleep. He gave a wicked smile and lit a the match.

**************** ~~~~~~~~~~~

Mason didn't remember the fire starting. He remembered coughing himself awake as the black smoke filled his lungs. The dry hay that served as flooring to the dark room had caught fire quickly. The room was filled with flickering reds and dense black. Mason coughed and covered his face with his wing, stretching his arm across his face like count Dracula. He felt ridiculous but was more concerned about air.

"Is anyone here?" Mason coughed, he could hardly hear himself over the roaring of the flames. He got down on his hands and knees, attempting to crawl under the smoke, but was met with burning hay. He choked and coughed as he tried to find the door. He was beginning to panic as he got lightheaded. He fell on his stomach and felt the burn of fire licking his sides. He groaned and began crawling where the wall met the floor. Mason nearly gave up when he saw the speck of light behind the smoke. He pushed himself up and collapsed outside the burning room. He coughed and choked, pulling in large gasps of air. He looked at the expensive shoes standing in front of him.

"You." The shoes spoke.

"Hey look, it's the big-man upstairs." Mason smiled up at Toby's father.

"Miscreant." He scowled.

"Douchebag." Mason raised an eyebrow and got onto his hands and knees before struggling to stand up.

"Why did you do it, scum?" He pointed a cane at his throat, forcing his chin up.

"Do what? I didn't do this." Mason looked at the fire behind him.

"A criminal and a liar." He said with a scowl.

"I didn't do it." Mason glared back.

"Get him out of my sight." The evil man in the expensive suit walked away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *********************

Toby listened to the driver as he shut the door to Toby's side of the car. He felt his heart pounding in his chest. It was now or never, Mason needed him.

"Uhm, excuse me?" He said, once he heard the drivers side door close.

"What?" He spat, and shoved the key into the ignition.

"I forgot to tell my father something, could you take me to him please?" Toby lied. The driver sighed and climbed out of the car.

"Pain in the ass." He muttered before slamming his door and opening Toby's. *************** ~~~~~~~~~~

Mason was dragged through the halls roughly by the two handlers and was thrown into a nearly empty room. The guards shut the door behind them and picked him up by his upper arms.

"Ow, watch it!" Mason snapped. They threw him down on a table and strapped his arms and legs in.

"What the fuck are you doing? Let me go!" Mason snapped at a guard when he reached for the strap to hold his head down. The guard pulled his hand away from Mason's sharp teeth and glared at him.

"Just leave him, he cant get free anyways." The one guard said to the one glaring at Mason.

"What am I doing here? I didn't start the stupid fire!" Mason growled.

"You're being punished for your crimes, you'll have all your important bits harvested and sold." The guard sneered at Mason. Mason felt his blood run cold.

"What crimes? I haven't done anything! And since when are you the legal system? And fyi, those important bits are kind of necessary." Mason spewed sarcasm.

"You wont need them for much longer." The one guard put a hand on the gun at his side. Mason froze and stared at the cold eyes. The door opened and he turned his head to see Toby's father walk in.

"The harvester is on the way." A guard accompanying Toby's father said. If Mason hadn't already been scared stiff, he would have been then. The Harvester was a name given to a specific 'surgeon' who's only job was to harvest the organs and other parts of Infected who were being executed, or were no longer of use.

"I'm telling you, I didn't start that fire! Why would I start it and nearly choke to death inside?" Mason scowled.

"Your kind aren't the smartest out there." Toby's father said.

"Oh yeah, that's not racist or anything. Are we even considered a race? I think we should be, cause God forbid I be the same race, let alone species, as you." Mason rolled his eyes and set his head back on the metal table he was strapped to.

"Shut up." One guard glared at him.

"Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just sit here and sing. What are you gonna do? Murder me and harvest my kidneys? Oh wait..." Mason rolled his eyes. He was met with a shock to his stomach from a cattle prod. Mason shut his mouth and waited for, what he could only picture as, a needless death.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ******************

Toby heard the driver's foot steps ahead of him, echoing off the empty walls of the hall. His own feet made a smaller echo. Toby didn't know what he was doing; What would happen when he got there and his father was waiting? What would he say? He was so fucked. As they walked down the hallway Toby continued to see bright flashes of light.

'What's going on with me?' He held a hand to his head. He had never seen light since his sight was damaged. He closed his eyes tightly, the light becoming overwhelming to the point that he couldn't bear it. He heard determined footsteps approaching, knowing they must belong to his father.

"What now?"

"I wanted to..." Toby searched his mind. "To be there. At the execution."

There was silence for a moment and then Toby felt a hand clasp his shoulder. "It would be good for you to know what will wait for you if you ever disobey me again."

Toby followed his father in a daze, shocked that he'd come up with an excuse and completely clueless as to how he was going to rescue Mason. If he even could. He felt sick to his stomach, realizing that there was a very high chance he was about to hear the one he loved draw his last breath.

The temperature was suddenly cold and it smelled like the operating rooms Toby had become much too used to. He barely whispered his love's name, hoping to know if they would at least be together if things went wrong. "Mason..."

Toby heard Mason squirm on what, he assumed was, the table he was strapped down to. He heard the frightening sounds of cattle prods at the ready. Toby wanted desperately to tell Mason that it would all be fine, but he didn't know what to do. He hoped for some sort of distraction, something to give him a moment to speak with Mason for what could be the last time.

In what was possibly the biggest stroke of luck of Toby's life, a loud banging sound filled the air. Toby could hear running in the distance. Toby was shoved against a wall and the crackling electric sounds faded with the sound of guards running. "Mason? Are we alone?"

"Yes, love. What are you doing here? You should leave you shouldn't see this." Mason's voice shook as he spoke. Toby heard him struggling with what he assumed were bonds holding him to the table.

"I didn't want you to be alone," Toby said, stepping away from the wall and toward the sound of Mason's struggling. His hand brushed over warm skin to the cold steel of the table, slowly feeling for the restraints.

"Toby, what are you doing?" Mason spoke, "If they notice me gone, they'll know it was you." Mason watched Toby's hand climb to the restraints on his wrist.

"I don't care, I have to try," Toby said, his voice straining with concentration. "Tell me what to do to get these off of you."

"Toby, I wont let you ruin your life for me. Now leave, before they get back." Mason begged. Toby heard the regret in his voice, he knew he hated what their lives had become.

Toby sighed, still struggling with what felt like the most complicated restraints in the world. "I'm not leaving."

Mason gave a similar sigh. "It's just the cloth ones, pull on that strip of cloth and pull them metal bar out of the hole, like a belt." Mason instructed him. In no time Toby had one of his wrists free. He began working on the other wrist as quickly as he could. "Why are you doing this for me? We'll have to run away from here, we can't ever settle down until people accept us. And it's very possible that that won't be in our lifetime." Mason asked.

"I'd rather take a chance now," Toby replied. "If I don't, I'll spend my whole life wondering! Mason, I want to at least do something that matters, even if I'll always be an outcast!"

"You won't be an outcast to me, thank you for this Toby." Toby heard Mason sit up and help him with the restraints around his ankles. Soon he was free and was pulling on a pair of shoes, ready to run.

Toby grabbed Mason's sleeve, his heart pounding. He wondered if his nervousness showed. "Where should we go?" he asked, trying to sound confident.

"We need to make our way outside, the fence isn't the best quality and I'm sure we can find a weak spot to climb over or go through." Mason said. Toby felt him grab his shoulder in reassurance. "I won't let anything happen to you, lets go." Mason began leading him towards the doorway.

Toby pulled Mason toward him, giving the taller male a quick, passionate kiss. "I trust you," he whispered.

*********************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mason looked up and down the hallway before running into the well lit corridor. He held Toby's hand, leading him through the long twisting hallways. He ducked down near the floor pulling Toby with him when he heard a handful of guards run by. They disappeared around a corner without noticing Toby's soft ribbit of surprise and Mason stood.

"Have to stay quite, love." He patted Toby's shoulder with his free hand and took in the young man's scent like it was his last breath.

Toby squeezed Mason's hand and nodded seriously. "Are we safe now?"

"Only for a second." Mason tried to catch his breath. "We should move again." Mason stood and pulled Toby down the hallway. He opened a door leading to the roof of one of the main buildings.

"There's a hole in the fence a few feet from here." Mason let go of Toby's hand for a second, walking to the edge of the roof. "It looks like all the guards are inside, there's a ladder going down that should work for us." Mason said. He turned to look at Toby and saw him clutching his temples with a dizzy look on his face.

"Toby?" Mason held onto his shoulders ,worried.

"I'm okay, for a few days now I've been seeing weird flashes of light." Toby opened his blue gray unseeing eyes and blinked.

"Are you getting your sight back?"

"That's impossible, Mason."

"Toby, have you ever done any actual research on your species?"

"Well.... No..." Toby muttered. "I was in and out of surgery and recovery most of the time. Not really time to wander around the internet." Toby frowned.

"Some species of frogs are able to grow back damaged tissue, like corneas." Mason said.

"How do you know that?" Toby asked.

"I had to do a science project in the eighth grade on frogs." Mason shrugged, smiling

"You remembered that from eighth grade?"

"What? I'm a bit of a geek."

"Do.... Do you think it's possible?" Toby asked, rubbing his hands nervously.

"I do." Mason hugged him. "Look." Mason held up Toby's hand. "Your webbing is growing back too." Mason brought Toby's other hand up to feel the thin skin stretching between his fingers.

"So... Does this mean I'll be able to see again?" Toby asked, heart pounding.

"I don't know. It could just be part of the way. Or I could be completely wrong. We can talk about it later." Mason pulled him to the side of the roof.

"I'll go down first and help you down, okay?"

"Mason, I can't see where I'm going." Toby said nervously.

"I know, babe, trust me." He whispered, kissing Toby's temple. Mason climbed down the ladder slowly, until he reached the bottom.

"Okay, Toby. Just lower yourself over the edge slowly." Mason said. "I'm right here." Mason talked him down. Toby paused nervously, before turning around and feeling for the first rung on the ladder. It took him a minute but once he got started he climbed down to the ground easily.

"This way, Tadpole." Mason grabbed his hand and pulled him against a wall.

Toby stumbled a bit, but followed along to the best of his abilities as the two fled. The compound was now barely a spec in the distance. Mason could see vague outlines of people. He grew a bit nervous, praying they weren't guards. Getting caught was not an option. Mason knew all too well what would happen to Toby. He remembered the others he'd seen that had been used for the movies or prostitution, with their empty eyes rocking back and forth, flinching at nothing. The thought of anything like that ever happening to Toby made him sick.

"Is something wrong?" Toby whispered.

"Just worried, tadpole." Mason said, looking back at the compound again. Mason squeezed Toby's hand trying to reassure him.

Toby bit his bottom lip as they slowed to a walk. He drew the slightest bit closer to Mason, grabbing Mason's bicep and nearly resting his cheek on Mason's shoulder. He looked terrified, yet determined to be strong. It took every last bit of will power to suppress the urge to croak.

"We'll be okay. We just have to get as far away from that place as fast as we can, it won't be long until they notice we're gone." Mason said. He held Toby's hand and let him use his shoulder for comfort. They walked on for a few hours before Mason stopped to rest.

"You wouldn't happen to have any water on you?" Mason laughed.

"I wish," Toby sighed, "All I have is my clothes and a peppermint, I think." He felt in his back pocket and pulled out a crinkled candy. "I don't think this is going to work." He was smiling, managing to find at least a little humor in the sad situation.

Mason took the peppermint from his hands, smiling. Toby frowned at him. "I'll share." He stood up and kissed Toby firmly, letting him taste the cool peppermint flavor. "We should get moving again, I'm sure we can find water around here somewhere." Mason looked around.

"That way," Toby said abruptly, pointing to the west as soon as a breeze came from that direction. "It smells like mud."

"Creepy." Mason laughed and hugged Toby to his side. "Good job tadpole, I'm glad I chose you to kidnap." Mason kissed him again, beginning to walk in the direction that Toby had directed him to.

"I smelled it before too, when I first got here. I get these feelings like I should be swimming sometimes, but they never let me do it."

"If it makes you feel better, I can't help but smell moths flying around. And hear them too" Mason shivered. "And, when we get safe, we'll find a farm somewhere. Start a new life for us. And we can swim together whenever we want. Not sure how the wings will hold up in water though..." Mason added, flexing his wings hesitantly.

Toby shrugged. "I guess we can find out. It smells really close, Mason."

"I can hear it." Mason felt the air cool as they grew closer to what sounded like a flowing river.

Toby grew jittery. "I can really smell it," he said, laughing. "Can I...uhm? I need to get in the water right now."

"Jump in tadpole." Mason knelt down and drank a few handfuls of the fresh water.

Toby kicked of his shoes, putting a toe in the water a bit tentatively. He sighed happily wading out into the water. His clothes clung to his body as he sank down, his nose barely above the water line.

"Happy?" Mason leaned against a tree as Toby swam around in the clear water. The water looked inviting but he was nervous. They would expect them to head to water first.

"Mason, this is amazing," Toby said. He was acting more animated than he ever had except for their night of exploring each others bodies. He moved his hands slowly back and forth, grinning at the feel of the water over the bit of webbing that had grown back. He let out a ribbit and laughed with delight when the sound was returned from further down the river.

Mason chuckled. "You're so cute when you laugh... It's a sound I'll never hear enough." Mason smiled as Toby swam in happy circles.

"I never got to do this," Toby said. "I think I have my fill for now. Talk to me so I can come be by you." Toby waded to the edge of the water.

Mason was about to say something when he saw something squirm in the water. He knelt down by the waters edge and saw them. "Tadpoles..." He mumbled.

"What?" Toby said, easing up onto the bank next to Mason. The wiggling creatures seemed surprisingly undisturbed by Toby's movements.

"What? Oh, no not you. There's tadpoles, in the water." Mason bent down and managed to capture one in his hands. "Feel it." Mason picked up Toby's placing it on the small creature.

Toby laughed at the fluttering feeling against his palms. "I don't want to hurt them though. Are you sure it's okay to touch them?" Despite his words, the tadpoles seemed anything but hurt by him. They were flocking to him.

"You're fine. They're swarming you like crazy, they must see you as one of their own. I'd hate to see what would happen if I ended up in one of those caves with all the bats." Mason cringed. Then reality struck him. "I knew I recognized this place, this is where I used to catch tadpoles with my parents." Mason set the wiggling creature gently down in to the water, watching him swim off with his tail flopping.

Toby cuddled against Mason's side. "You sound...sad, I think."

"Just stirring old memories..." Mason remembered the way his parents smelled. How the sound of his mothers laugh echoed through the valley. He stood silently and walked over to the tree he had been leaning on.

"Mason, don't do that," Toby said, stumbling to follow. "Don't walk away, okay? I just...I like feeling you near me." Toby finally located Mason, crashing against his chest. "Sorry. I don't mean to be selfish. You can talk about them if you want. I remember you said how you had to deal with it so fast, it must hurt still. I want to help."

"I'm okay, and sorry. I know how scary it must be to feel alone when you can't see." Mason mumbled. "We should get moving again." Mason said, still bitter, he started to walk off when Toby grabbed his hand.

"We can stay for a minute, can't we?" Toby asked. He grabbed on to Mason as much as he could, physically trying to create the closeness that Mason didn't seem ready to share on an emotional level, at least not when it came to that part of his life.

Mason chuckled, the bitterness leaving his voice. "You know I can't say no to you." Mason hugged Toby to his chest. His chest was soaked with the water that clung to Toby still. "We're all wet." He laughed, after they held each other silently for a minute.

Toby smiled, pressing his cheek against the pounding of Mason's heart. "I don't mind."

"Me neither." Mason leaned in to kiss Toby's lips. He nibbled on the soft skin of his neck before looking up. "I like the sound of the river. It's comforting." Mason whispered.

"It would be so nice to stay here," Toby said softly. He sighed at the feeling of Mason's soft lips on his neck, knowing that his face was probably turning pink from the arousal that was brought on so easily when Mason kissed him. He shifted a bit, finding that his pants were a bit tighter when wet and that wasn't helping his situation at all.

Mason pressed his hand flatly against the crotch of Toby's jeans, teasing at the zipper. "You're so cute," he whispered, smiling as Toby blushed a bit more. Mason led Toby, leaning him against the sturdy tree and sliding the zipper down.

Toby gasped and wrapped his arms around Mason's neck. He moaned a bit, pressing his lips to Mason's neck, wondering if the other man could feel how he trembled. For a moment, they both forgot what they were and what they had just escaped from. The river's sound seemed to carry it all away as they kissed. It was a natural rhythm, first fast, hard, passionate kisses and then gentle, exploring probes of the tongue. Mason's hand rested over Toby's open zipper, feeling how the arousal grew and stimulating it just to feel the hungry response.

"How do you feel, tadpole?" Mason whispered.

Toby moaned softly. "I want..."

"Want what?" Mason smiled, moving his hand ever so slightly.

"I want you to..." Toby moaned again, pushing his hips toward Mason, his fingers digging in to his lover's shoulder as he struggled to stay upright. "Touch me please."

"I am touching you," Mason teased, enjoying Toby's flustered response.

"More, damn it." He bit his lip and started to pull at the wet denim around his hips. His need to be touched grew so intense that he let out a ribbit of frustration when the clothing was being difficult.

Mason knelt and helped his tadpole out, easily getting the jeans and boxers to slide down his lover's pale thighs. Mason kissed the head of the dripping erection. Toby groaned and thrust his hips up. Mason held him down while he tortured his tadpole with the warm touch of his tongue.

"God, Mason please!" Toby let out a slight croak-groan.

"Beg me again, tadpole." Mason loved the sound of Toby's voice.

"Please fuck me, Mason!" Toby squirmed under his grip. Mason slid the boxers and jeans completely off and sucked Toby's hard cock into his mouth.

"Oh god!" Toby grunted and filled Mason's mouth with his hot seed. Mason swallowed and smiled up at his lover.

"I'm sorry, I didn't want it to be over... I just-" Toby started.

"Oh, it's not over. I'm gonna make you cum again and again until you beg for a break." Mason whispered in Toby's ear. Toby shivered.

"Promise?" He smiled. Mason nodded and pushed Toby's legs up in the air, exposing his bare ass.

"God, you're beautiful." Mason whispered. He got down and began licking at Toby's twitching hole.

"Mason.... Please." Toby gasped and moaned, shocked at the pleasure of the act. It was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. He felt more open to Mason than ever before, longing to feel the man inside him in every way. He bit his lip hard and arched his back, his thighs quivering. "Oh," he whispered, "Mason...that feels so good..." He moaned again and felt his cock stirring to life once again.

"Told you." Mason licked at Toby's cock.

"Never said I didn't believe you. Now please, more." Toby pouted. Mason spit into his hand and rubbed it over his, now free, cock. He licked at Toby's hole a few more times, making sure it was wet, and lined himself up.

"Ready?" He asked. Toby nodded franticly. Mason pushed in, Toby hissed and Mason stopped.

"You okay?" Mason asked.

"Yeah, just give me a sec." Toby breathed deeply until the pain subsided, he motioned for Mason to move again and he did. Soon Mason was buried into Toby's tight ass.

"God you feel good." Mason kissed Toby, stroking his hair.

"You feel good too." Toby proved this with a ribbit.

"God I love it when you croak." Mason kissed Toby again. Toby blushed and Mason began moving in his ass, making him blush harder. Toby and Mason soon fell into the rhythm of pure sex.

"I love you, Toby." Mason whispered in his ear.

"I love you too, Mason." Toby leaned up to kiss Mason as he thrust in and out of his ass. He fell back onto the ground and enjoyed the thorough fucking Mason was giving him. He had handfuls of leaves between his fingers as Mason pumped in and out of him.

"Mason, I can't last much longer." He panted.

"Wait for me, love." Mason kissed him. Toby arched his back as he tried to keep from cumming as Mason went in and out of him. Mason moaned and bit down into Toby's neck as he filled his ass with cum. Toby grunted and coated their stomachs with his own seed. The couple collapsed as Mason's soft cock slipped from Toby's ass. Toby panted softly.

"God, I should have done that that first night together..." He laughed.

"I don't know, I kind of liked the wait. Made it much hotter in the end." He laughed and wrapped an arm around Toby.

"Mason...." Toby sat up suddenly.

"What?" Mason looked around, wondering if Toby had heard something.

"I... I think I'm starting to see..." Toby trailed off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *******************

Toby saw several spots of color and light. He didn't think seeing random shades of something could be so beautiful. It had been awhile since he had gone blind, but to see again was amazing. He couldn't see very clearly but it was getting better by the second. The fading light of what Toby deemed to be the afternoon was hurting his head, but he wouldn't stop looking. In front of him he saw a tan blob with streaks of black in it. He held his hand out and touched the soft fur he knew belong to Mason.

"Toby? You can see?" Mason spoke.

"Kind of... It's all blurry." Toby rubbed his eyes. Mason gently pushed his hands away.

"Don't touch them, you could do more harm than good." Toby's eyes watered as his vision returned slowly. He looked down and saw the webbing on his hands had grown thicker within the time they had been at the river.

"How well can you see?" Mason asked.

"Not that great. Just a few colors and some blurry shapes... I can't tell the distance of anything." Toby said, moving his hand out and touching Mason when it seemed like he was miles away.

"Maybe it will get better..." Mason said hopefully. He was crouched in front of Toby on his knee's, holding his tadpole's hand.

"Can I get in the water again?" Toby asked, he felt uncomfortable and felt so much safer in the cool flowing water of the river.

"Sure, here." Mason stood up and helped Toby stand. Toby looked down at the brown blob that was the ground as he walked. He saw the vague outline of tree roots in the dirt and stepped over them.

"Good, good." Mason mumbled. He reached the water and wasted no time in sliding into the cool liquid. It felt better now that he was in the water naked.

"Mason, come in." He begged, wanting to share it with his lover. Mason seemed to hesitate.

"Okay..." He stepped in, bare feet on the rocks that formed the bed of the river. He only went up to his knee's before stopping.

"Please?" Toby begged. Mason sighed. "You don't want to." He frowned.

"It's not that, you know I want to share this with you. But every one of my bat instincts is telling me water is bad. It's like me asking you to hang from a tree branch." Mason sighed again. Toby thought that sounded unappealing. Unless it were a rainforest branch. That sounded perfectly fine.

"I understand." He said, though he thought he would hang from a tree branch if Mason asked him to. He heard Mason splash in the water and felt the large arms around him, the leathery skin enfolding him. He smiled. "You came in."

"I did." He kissed Toby's back. He swiped his hand down Toby's stomach, cleaning off the cum that was still stuck there. Toby turned around in his arms and kissed him.

"Thank you." He whispered. Mason smiled and nuzzled the top of Toby's head. Night had fallen now and the sounds of frogs and crickets filled the air.

"Your brothers and sisters are talkative tonight." Mason smiled, enjoying being free.

"Apparently, so are yours." Toby said, as a bat squealed and flew over head.

"Man, is that what I sound like? I'm annoying as hell." He laughed as the bat chirped and flapped away.

"No, your voice is just a hair deeper." Toby giggled and laid his head against Mason's chest. He loved the feeling of the cooling water rushing over them as they floated gently in the small pool that the rocks had made in the otherwise running water.

"It's getting cold, you know I'd love to sit here with you, but I'm freezing my ears off." Toby felt Mason's ears twitch next to his head. He laughed and began climbing to the bank of the river, with Mason close behind.

"We should be safe here for tonight, if they haven't gone looking for us already they will in the morning. We have to move early and find someplace farther away." Mason said. Toby heard him climbing the large tree they had been near since they got there.

"Okay. Can we stick to the river though? I like being able to swim, and it gives us water to drink...and it's nice here." Toby looked around with fuzzy eyes that had grown worse with the arrival of night.

"Of course. I'd like that too. After awhile they won't stalk us up the river. They'll probably assume we went west, towards the city." Mason said. Toby heard him up in the tree now and saw a black fuzzy arm reach down. He stretched his own hand out and missed Mason's at first, but found it the second time. Mason pulled him up into the tree and positioned him so he was against the trunk and close to Mason.

"Maybe in the morning, my vision will be better." Toby thought out loud.

"Hopefully." Toby heard Mason settle and try to drift off.

"Maybe...I'll be able to see you." Toby said. He saw the fuzzy yellow dots appear as Mason opened his eyes.

"Amen to that." Mason kissed him once more and got settled in. Soon, the night air was filled with the sounds of chirping crickets and a snoring bat.

****************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mason woke up and looked down at Toby who was asleep in his arms still. It looked as if the sun had just risen not more than an hour ago but it was already bothering his light sensitive eyes. He yawned and stretched as best he could in the tree. He felt safer up here than he ever did on the ground. Toby yawned and rolled over, trying to scoot closer to Mason than he already was. His leg caught on a branch protruding from the one they were already sitting on and he nearly fell. He let out a frightened croak and Mason caught him quickly, lowering him to the ground before jumping down himself.

"Jesus Christ. I miss the rafters." Toby frowned and sighed.

"Are you okay?" Mason asked. Toby suddenly froze and just stared at him.

"Toby?" Mason asked again, worried. Toby stretched out a hand and touched the side of Mason's face.

"Mason..." Tears filled his eyes and he began smiling.

"Toby...? Can...can you see me?" Mason gave a small smile, hopeful.

"Yes!" Toby put his hands on either side of Mason's face and cried.

"Hope you're not too disappointed..." Mason smiled shyly.

"Not at all, you're much better than a blackish tan blur." Toby laughed, tears falling from his face.

"Glad you approve." Mason smiled, showing his pointed teeth. The ones Toby loved to feel on his neck and lips as they kissed.

"Not everything is quite as clear though." Toby squinted, looking around them.

"But you can see me?" Mason frowned.


"What about the tree?" Mason asked. The tree was only a few feet behind him.

"Uh, kind of...." Toby squinted.

"Huh... I guess you're nearsighted..." Mason mumbled.

"It's better than no sighted in my opinion." Toby smiled. Holding onto Masons shoulder.

"I'm so happy." Mason lifted Toby up and spun him around.

"Hey, don't be squeezing the tadpoles!" Toby smiled. His face suddenly dropped and looked serious. "Can I see one?" Toby asked, truth be told he had never actually seen a live Tadpole.

"Uh, let me see." Mason turned around and walked ankle deep into the water. He dipped his hand in and after missing a few times, managed to catch one of the nearly grown tadpoles.

"Here." Mason walked back up the bank, cupping his hand in a bowl shape. Toby got closer and got Mason's hands only a few inches from his face. The tiny creature was just as Mason had described them. The green and black spotted babies were round with a long tail trailing behind them. The tiny black eyes showed fear and the chest heaved as it breathed.

"It looks so scared."

"He'll get over it, I'll put him back in a bit." Mason stroked the smooth belly of the tadpole. The creature wiggled until it flipped itself over on it's back, revealing two tiny hardly formed legs .

"See, it's getting late in the season. I'm sure we could find some with full back legs now." Mason smiled. Toby smiled and reached out a finger, touching the smooth pale belly of the tadpole.

"We should get moving." Mason said. He gently placed the tadpole back into the water and it swam off quickly, only a gray black blur to Toby, which soon disappeared into the similar colored rocks of the river.

"Okay." Toby said. Mason stretched and for the first time Toby saw the thin leathery wings that were pink and filled with veins when Mason stretched them with his back towards the sun.

"Where are we going?" Toby asked.

"I don't know... I guess we'll just follow the river." Mason smiled.

"Do you know where it goes?"

"Uh...nope." Mason smiled. Toby laughed.

"So...we follow the trail!" Mason pointed off into the distance, going upstream.

"What trail?"

"The trail we blaze!" Mason shouted.

"You watched that movie too?" Toby asked.

"Fuck, I lived for that movie. I always told my parents that one day i would find Eldorado." Mason smiled.

"And did you ever?" Toby asked, as they started walking.

"I like to think so."

"Oh yeah? Do you plan on sharing this wealth?" Toby asked, looking at the blurs of shapes and colors around him.

"Hmmmm, well I can't."

"And why is that?" Toby frowned.

"Because, the city of gold just happens to be a man." Mason smiled. "And I don't share well with others." He winked.

"Oh yeah? A man huh?"


"Who is this golden man."

"Well.. He's kind of short. But pretty. He has webbed hands and feet, and makes the most adorable ribbit when you do this." Mason turned around suddenly and nipped at his neck. Not expecting it, Toby let out a loud ribbit, before giggling.

"Cheater I wasn't ready!" Toby pushed him.

"Well, are you ready now?" Mason asked.

"Yes." Toby nodded. Mason nibbled on his neck again. Toby fought to keep the ribbit in his chest but failed when Mason moved up to his ear. Mason giggled and Toby punched his shoulder. They walked silently for awhile, Mason leading Toby by his hand.

"Mason?" Toby asked.


"Do you think that tadpole had a family?"

"I don't know." Mason shrugged.

"What if he didn't? What if we just put him back into a world full of things that want to eat tadpoles? What if he swam off, just to be eaten by some jack ass fish?" Toby wondered.

"Well... The world can be like that sometimes I guess." Mason sounded sad. "But it doesn't have to be. Maybe he'll find a nice rock to hide under until he has legs and little frog hands. His tail will fall off and he'll be a handsome toad." Mason smiled.

"And then something will eat him?" Toby rolled his eyes.

"Maybe, or maybe he'll be one bad ass toad and meet a lovely sexy toad who'll sweep him off his feet and they'll get married and live happily ever after." Mason said.

"But it doesn't always end like that." Toby frowned.

"No, but I have a feeling that this little tadpole will get a happy ending." Mason wrapped his fingers around Toby's.

"I do too." Toby said and stared up at Mason with all the love in the world.

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