The Wolves We Are : Old Dogs, Old Tricks (4/7)

Wordcount: 1,340 words
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, Cursing
Summary: Old legends have sharp teeth and Meg’s evening goes from bad to worse.
 

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~*~*~*~

Old Dogs, Old Tricks

Ten minutes later they pulled into the apartment complex and Meg glanced around as she pulled into the space. All clear, thank God. “Theo, go fuzzy- who knows what we’re walking into.”

“Aye aye captain,” Theo’s crisp salute started with a hand and ended with a paw as she effortlessly downshifted into her disproportionately massive wolf form. Meg stamped down the habitual flare of envy, her own change wasn’t anywhere near as smooth.

Christopher’s eyes widened as he caught sight of Theo in the rearview mirror, but to his credit his phone conversation didn’t pause. He finished up and snapped the phone closed in annoyance.

“She’s not very subtle.”

“We’re not going for subtle, we’re going for terrifying.” Meg said. “Whoever shot Keeper could have followed him home.” Although if they did, that’ll make things a lot easier.

Theo snarled softly, showing off an impressive set of teeth.

“Keeper– Derek’s,” Meg corrected, “on the third floor, second door on the right after the stairs. Theo will clear the way. Don’t suppose the Council has stooped to using firearms yet?”

Christopher raised an eyebrow.

“Then keep back or add to the fuzz factor,” she reached across him to snag her handgun from the glove box. “I’m not that great an aim under stress.”

“What, no shotgun?” But he kept out of her way as she loaded the clip and flipped off the safety.

“It wouldn’t fit in the trunk.” She looked over the seat at Theo and tried to squash down her own panic, “Ready?”

Theo pawed at the door latch.

~*~*~*~*~

The run up the stairs was fast and as silent as three hundred pounds of rust-colored wolf and two humans could manage. Thankfully Derek’s neighbors were all out partying or too busy watching TV to care.

It took three knocks before Derek answered the door, the teenager’s t-shirt was tattered and his clothes were covered in blood. He was pale, almost shaking, but he had a half-empty pack of hot dogs in hand.

Shit, forgot about that. Meg hadn’t thought to stop and grab him food. Healing was ruthless in energy consumption, the kid was lucky he was standing.

“You’re here,” he sounded pathetically grateful and Meg stamped down a flare of anger that he’d thought they wouldn’t come.

What Northside breaks stays broken. She thought bitterly, but Theo was already pushing Derek inside and at least temporary safety.

~*~*~*~*~

“Was getting off the bus, didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything, just ‘boom’ and I was falling.” Derek fished the last hot dog out of the pack, talking between bites. “I was running before I hit the ground. Wasn’t thinking, I shouldn’t have gone wolf– I don’t remember doing it; I just wanted to get home and then all of a sudden I was.”

Derek was circling the living room as he talked, keeping Theo in sight as the wolf prowled the apartment, but didn’t seem to notice he was doing it.

Ever since Theo rescued him from the Northern pack’s pest control squad and dubbed him ‘a keeper’ the teenager had followed her with unswervingly loyalty. It was only in the past year that he’d recovered enough to move out of the house and out on his own.

So much for that. Meg had to concentrate on not pacing herself, her own adrenaline was still jumping and Derek and Theo’s constant movement wasn’t helping.

“If you don’t mind,” Christopher said, “I’d like to take a look at the wounds.” He’d kept to the background while Derek calmed down.

“They’re gone now. Closed up right after I got in; pain’s still there a bit, but they’ve all closed up.” Derek lifted the shirt a bit and Meg could see the flushed areas where his body was still reacting from the silver. “I kept the little bits, I don’t know what they are.” Derek scrounged for a moment in the kitchen and then handed Christopher a coffee cup with tiny silver balls the rattled as he moved.

“Buckshot,” said Christopher as he rolled the silver out onto his hand. Meg flinched, but nothing happened and Christopher dropped them back into the cup.”It’s not magical silver, but whoever did this must have thought it was– they were expecting you to convulse not run.”

“It still hurt like hell,” said Derek now slightly more terrified. Theo moved to his side leaning and growling softly. He leaned against her and Meg went to the fridge for another pack of hot dogs.

“At least it’s just Hunters and not a Silverwitch,” Christopher gave the kid what he apparently thought was a comforting smile as he put the cup back on the counter.

“There are no such things as Silverwitches,” said Meg automatically and Christopher laughed.

“Maybe not this time, but trust me they’re out there.”

Meg and Theo exchanged glances, they’d always been told living Silverwitches were nothing more than folk tales to scare gullible wolves with. Hunters were just normal humans that worked with cursed silver that they passed down generation to generation, bequeathed to them by the long dead magic users.

“So someone’s still trying to kill us,” Derek said quietly, taking the offered hot dogs.

“Looks like it.” Christopher took out his phone and started scrolling through the contacts.

“What now?” asked Meg.

“We get him back to the house with rest of the pack and then we wait for news from the council.” Christopher said.

“They’re gonna run,” said Meg flatly. “We’re nothing but sitting ducks in the house– they’ll be out the door and gone before you can get another word out. There has to be another option.”

“Why me?” Derek broke into the conversation, “Why didn’t they shoot Meg if they’re killing alphas?”

“You’re the weakest,” said Christopher without apology. “They took out the head, now they’re going after the flanks. They’ll go for as many easy kills as they can get, then they’ll vanish again; it’s standard strategy.”

“Then we have to stop them now before they find ammo that works,” snapped Meg and Theo snorted in agreement. “We’ve got three other wolves at work—”

“No, what you have to do is listen to me.” Christopher snarled back, snapping the phone closed in frustration. “I am the Council’s reprehensive—”

“And the Council couldn’t care less if the Hunters trim off a few of their loose ends. You said as much with Donny.” Meg pointed out, anger overcoming her fear. “We don’t have time to sit around– I’m not waiting for you to take care of this. You said I’m the alpha, then fine, I’ll do it myself.”

“You’re a joke! You couldn’t lead a dozen chihuahuas much less this chaotic failure of a pack. Get out of the way and let me do my job.”

Christopher was furious and should have been terrifying, but Meg was already moving. “Theo keep Derek inside and away from the windows.”

Before she could talk herself out of it she was opening the door and on the landing.

Bus stop is two miles from here, easy run— For the first time since she became a werewolf the change happened smoothly, not as fast as Theo or as flawlessly as Susan, but it was like she was diving into wolf form instead of the frustrating struggle from one self to the other.

Then again, she’d never been this angry or this scared. There has to be a clue, something to tell me where they’re going next. Three targets, two of which got off work in the next hour, were depending on her now.

“You’re going to get yourself killed.” Snapped Christopher stepping through the door behind her. “Wait until we have proper reinforcements—”

She snarled up at him and then bounded down the stairs, picking up speed as she went. Come on jackass, just do your job!

A heartbeat later she heard the click of claws on the stairs behind her and she moved into a flat out run as the larger smoke-colored wolf caught up.

Now we just have to survive…

~*~*~*~

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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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