Disclaimers: See Part 1
Chapter 3 - The Wolf
Minutes went by with Gabriel staring at the Wolf and Erin staring at Gabriel, then Alice stumbled back in, a bit out of breath, her arms full of units of stored blood.
“That's all there was, I told Max to look out for more, but –”
“That'll do for now, thank you.”
Gabriel took one of the plastic bags and stepped closer to the cell, directly in front of the bars. To her delight the Wolf didn't attack her, but pressed deeper into the corner. If she was frightened, she couldn't yet be completely mad, there had to be some thoughts and feelings left.
She threw the package through the bars and waited.
The Wolf looked up at the sound and recognized the package. She scrambled forward to get it and quickly sank her teeth into it before someone could take it away. In a matter of seconds, the package was empty, her hunger barely appeased and she slid back into the corner, wrapping her arms around her knees, and hid her face again.
Now the pain would come. It was always the same. They gave her food and then hurt her for drinking it.
Gabriel took off her gun and gave it to Erin , then slowly entered the cage. Erin closed the barred door behind her and sighed. This was to be a long day and Gabriel probably had a big disappointment coming.
“So, my little hero...” the Queen drawled, turning to Alice . “Exciting enough for you?”
“ Erin , I'm really s– “
“Shove it, I'm not in the mood for that now. Just get out of my way like a good little girl and repair my holster. And don't talk to Gabriel when she's in there, you never know what might trigger the Wolf.”
Alice bit her lip to keep from answering and trotted off to a niche in the wall where Erin wouldn't stumble over her. Obviously it was too early to apologize.
Erin cast a look at their meager supply of stored blood and drew her cell phone. In the highly unlikely case Gabriel was successful, they would need a lot more and Sonny was just the woman to get it.
There. One of the monsters came in.
Gabriel tried to ignore her friends' voices as she slowly approached the Wolf who glanced up and quickly hid her face again.
Strangely, it seemed smaller than the others and it didn't make the same noise they did. It moved almost soundlessly and stopped directly in front of her.
And then the pain came, on the back of her head.
Only that it didn't feel the same.
Gabriel stepped up to the Wolf and gently stroked her head to show that she didn't mean her any harm. The Wolf shrank back in fear but made no move to attack.
The monster was making slow movements that lacked the necessary force and... didn't feel bad. First she didn't know what to make of it, but then it came to her.
This monster was smaller than the others, it probably was a young one and didn't know yet how to hurt properly.
She made a small, whimpering noise to convince it that it was doing it right.
Gabriel ground her teeth, that fearful little whine going straight to her core. This wasn't what soulless monsters sounded like, and she sure as hell couldn't let her down, no matter what Erin said.
The not-pain continued for a while, then it stopped and she heard something in front of her.
She looked down. There was more of food.
She had already drunk half of it before she realized what that meant. The young one had understood it hadn't hurt her as it should, so it gave her more food to start all over again.
She couldn't stop drinking though, the hunger was overwhelming and soon the empty package fell to the ground.
The young monster crouched down in front of her and again tried to hurt her, on her arm this time, but again it was doing it wrong.
She was relieved that monsters obviously didn't learn fast.
Gabriel fed her another six bags before the Wolf's skin felt a little warmer under her touch. Still not warm enough though, and she didn't have any more blood. She had never seen anyone drink so much at a single blow; the Wolf really must be starving.
That had been more food than she ever had been given before, the monster still hadn't figured out how to hurt her and she started to feel – different.
Her body stopped trembling and the ever-present cold was replaced with a feeling of not-so-cold that she liked.
And that was not all. She now realized, she had not seen very well before. What had only been blurry shadows became clearer by the minute.
The young monster had fair hair and was even smaller than she had thought. She could smell it, too. She had never smelled something before, but the young one's scent seemed to be pleasant.
Gabriel slowly stood up, careful not to startle the Wolf. “I'll be right back. You just... uhm... relax, right?”
It made a soft noise, then stood up and left. She wondered how it did that. She could remember that she had once tried to get behind those bars, but they had not moved for her.
Why she would try to get out there, she didn't know though. The monsters lived there. Better not to move. Perhaps they'd forget she was here.
Closing the door behind her Gabriel looked triumphantly at Erin, who still stood outside, with her gun at the ready. “See, she's not even aggressive!”
Erin snorted. “She could barely move until you started to feed her. Just you wait till she's had the time to process all that blood.”
“Speaking of blood – have your girls perhaps found another storage?”
“Nope. Not a single drop. I've sent Sonny to the blood bank, but that will take some time – they do not exactly leave it lying around these days.”
Gabriel's face hardened. She leaned back against the bars and closed her eyes, trying to come up with an answer she already knew. After a few minutes she had made up her mind. “Well, no other way then.” she stated and entered the cage again.
Erin started cursing.
Alice who still sat on the floor just couldn't keep quiet any longer. “What is she doing?”
Erin growled. “The Wolf is completely starved – Gabriel's trying to replace all the blood and energy she's lost in the last weeks, but we ran out of stored blood. I've just sent Sonny off to get more, but obviously Gabriel thinks the Wolf can't wait any longer, so she'll feed her her own blood.”
“You don't like the idea.” Alice stated.
Erin cursed again. “It's fucking dangerous! The Wolf could try to overpower and completely drain her, hell, if Gabriel isn't careful, she is dead before I can shoot the beast,” Erin started pacing, her eyes never leaving the cage. “And even if it goes well, it's a bad idea.”
“You haven't tasted an Elder's blood since your Turning, did you?”
“And there's a good reason for that. To youngsters like you it's almost like a drug – a bit like H for humans. It makes you feel like flying, like there's nothing in the world that could harm you, nothing else that matters to you... and if you drink it just once too often, you get addicted. It will be everything you can think of and you'll do everything to get more. Our Wolf there has enough problems as it is, without adding an addiction.”
Again a monster stepped through the bars and she tensed.
... perhaps she could fight it. They had made a mistake by giving her so much food. She was stronger now. Perhaps...
She recognized the fair monster and relaxed. 'It's the young one' she thought 'the one who does the hurting all wrong!'
Perhaps she didn't have to fight.
Not seeing any signs of an impending attack, Gabriel sat down in front of the Wolf, crossing her legs. She was too experienced to let the Wolf drink from her neck – although she fought Erin tooth and nails in this matter, she knew she was dealing with a predator right now. Letting the young Female drink from her neck would give her the opportunity to wrap her arms around Gabriel and, even with Erin standing guard, that did not seem like a good idea.
So she slit her left wrist with her thump nail. Immediately red blood started flowing and she held her arm out to the Wolf. “Drink.” she ordered gently.
Again this nice, soft noise. What did it... food...
The Wolf hesitated, obviously confused by the lack of a plastic bag around the blood, but then her instincts took over and she bent her head to drink.
Gabriel felt her fangs sink deeply into her wrist and winced. The Wolf was already stronger than she looked. She started to stroke the dark head to calm her down a bit.
It had, she decided, found a new approach. Feed and hurt her at the same time. Luckily, it seemed to get even worse at the hurting-thing, she almost enjoyed its feeble touches.
And it tried a new kind of food. It was quite different from the usual, it tasted sweeter and much more powerful and her head started spinning. She tried to concentrate, tried to make it believe she was hurting, but the food's taste proved to be too much of a distraction. After a few gulps she didn't feel her body anymore, or the floor beneath her, didn't even feel the not-pain the monster was inflicting on her or the not-so-cold she had come to like.
Gabriel gasped as her mind flooded with the Wolf's feelings. The bite allowed vampires to create a mental connection between them and their prey. It was an inbred ability, and while an experienced vampire could control it to let their victim feel whatever they wanted them to – even unbearable pain, if they were inclined so – youngsters did it instinctively, just conveying what they felt themselves. Since drinking was a very pleasurable experience, it was a good way to keep their victims calm.
For the Wolf it seemed even more than pleasurable. The peace Gabriel felt come over her was like nothing she had ever felt before, like a warm blanket covering up her mind, erasing all thoughts.
She tried to drink more, to keep that incredible feeling, to hold on to that first peace she had ever known, but she couldn't concentrate, couldn't hold on, couldn't...
Gabriel felt the Wolf's desperate sucking falter and slow down and finally stop, as the Wolf let go of her wrist and, almost in slow motion, sank to the floor, her breathing shallow, her silvery eyes half-closed and unseeing.
Gabriel took a deep breath to calm herself and licked her wrist to close the wound. Her own blood tickled her tongue and reminded her that she now urgently needed to feed herself. The Wolf had been very hungry, taking more blood than Gabriel had expected and she would have to replace it soon.
With trembling hands she took off her waistcoat, folded it and gently pushed it underneath the Wolf's head. With her mind slowly returning to earth, she was now, more than ever, determined to save her. There had been no malignity in the Wolf's mind, nothing evil at all.
She waited, for hours as it seemed, until the Wolf's breathing evened out and her eyes closed.
“That's right,” she murmured, “You just sleep it off.”
Staggering a little from the loss of blood, she got to her feet again to join her friends outside.
In the meantime Erin and Alice had found a table to put in front of the cell. They were leaning back in cheap metal chairs, playing cards, and for all the world gave a good impression of serenity, but Erin 's gun lay ready to hand.
Gabriel closed the door behind her. “As I told you before, she's not aggressive. She's only scared and doesn't have a clue as to what's going on.”
Erin growled at her cards, not even looking up to Gabriel. “Neither do I. I'm sitting in a house stuffed with a shitload of explosives, waiting for the geeks to hack a damn computer and you to tame that lunatic, hopefully before we get raided by a new batch of Hunters. And as a little incentive I have the kid here kicking my ass!”
Alice gave her a sweet smile, but didn't comment. Erin 's mood had improved considerably since the Wolf had not tried to rip Gabriel in pieces and she wouldn't risk setting her off again.
Gabriel rolled her eyes and continued as if she hadn't been interrupted. “I don't think she remembers anything that happened before her Turning. Or anything before yesterday, that is.”
“No, not likely, that will take some time,” Erin snatched up the cards with an expression of deep resentment and started shuffling. “ If she gets her memory back.”
“So, if she doesn't know who she is, what do we call her?”
Erin shrugged. “Call her Wolf, that'll do.”
“You still don't believe I can do it, do you?”
“No. For all we know she might be a vegetable and I'd rather you didn't become too attached to her.”
Gabriel sighed. Wolf wasn't such a bad name, though. For the time being. She took off the shoulder holster and laid it on the table.
“She'll be sleeping for a while now. She took a lot from me, so I'm going out for a drink. Erin , no matter what happens, please don't go in there. I think she is starting to trust me, and I don't want you to spoil that!”
Erin chuckled. “Don't worry, honey. I wouldn't poach in your territory. By the way, Joanie left her bike at the front entrance, in case one of us needs to get somewhere fast.”
Gabriel nodded gratefully. This would make her trip considerably faster than it would have been taking the van.
On her way out through the hole in the wall, she passed Sam standing guard, who looked considerably calmer than an hour before. The geeks probably were watching the whole estate over the conveniently installed cameras, but it was reassuring to know Sam and Max were guarding the entrances.
Joanie's bike, a blue Fazer stood in front of the house, the helmet hanging on the handlebars, gloves stuffed inside, leather jacket thrown over the seat. It was late morning by now and she hurried to get into the gear and close the black tinted visor. She was already weakened from the Wolf's feeding and wouldn't keep up for long against the sun.
It took her twenty minutes to leave the industrial area and find a fairly full pub near the docks. Usually she preferred nice, classy clubs or decent lesbian bars, steering clear of the kind of sleazy, murky sinkhole she now was entering.
Humans drinking in the middle of the day weren't her usual choice and for a moment she considered turning on her heel and looking for a coffeehouse or diner.
Unfortunately she knew that wouldn't work. Humans who'd just been fed from always gave a slightly drunk impression and that would have been too conspicuous in a coffee shop. Besides, she really needed to hurry up.
She ordered a beer and let her eyes wander around the place.
It took her about five minutes to make out a guy who at least didn't seem dead drunk and looked rather clean. Good.
Almost immune to drinking and drugs in as such, vampires reacted strongly to those substances in the blood of their victims and right now she really couldn't afford to get tight. She'd once made the mistake of feeding from a girl drunk as a newt and it had taken her two days to get sober again.
Tuning her senses in on her prey, she decided he didn't smell bad either and so she took her beer and sauntered over to him.
Using all the charm she could muster given the circumstances, she needed about two minutes to convince him that it would be in his best interest to accompany her to the bathroom.
All in all it had been an hour when she made it back to the Hunter's den and she was pretty nervous about it. Erin had made it clear how she felt about the Wolf and she didn't want to leave those two alone any longer than necessary.
She needn't have worried. Erin, now equipped with a bottle of beer and a plate of sandwiches, greeted her with a smile, having sent Alice off to sleep, as the Wolf still did the same.
Gabriel looked closely at the sleeping form behind the bars. The Wolf's body had already made good use of the last feeding. She had gained weight, and some color had returned to her skin, most of the bruises were gone. Her long black hair still was hopelessly felted, but had regained some shine. The hollows under her cheekbones had filled up, and for a moment Gabriel's eyes lingered on the fine, classical features. Completely recovered, she would be a real beauty.
Erin offered her a sandwich that she declined, then stood up to join her at the bars. “I know what you think – she's already looking so much better, so why shouldn't it all work out. But try to remember that the real problem is not her body but her mind. Just keep some distance until we know more.” she gently stroked Gabriel's cheek. “You look tired – Alice is taking a nap in the common room, why don't you go join her for a while?”
Gabriel shook her head, her eyes still riveted to the Wolf. “Nah, I'd rather be here when my... the Wolf wakes up. Could you find me a couple of blankets?”
Erin cast her a strange look, but wordlessly went to the get the blankets as Gabriel entered the cell again.
Gabriel sat down next to the Wolf, with her back against the wall, and carefully bedded the Wolf's head in her lap. When Erin came back with the blankets, she wrapped one around herself and the other around the Wolf.
Now she could only wait and hope the Wolf was a fast healer. One day wasn't much and Erin would insist on immediate decampment if the geeks finished their work earlier.
Alice woke up just after sundown, at last grateful that Erin had ordered her to sleep. Of course she had protested, not wanting to make the impression she couldn't stand to stay awake for a single day. But of course Erin had been right, she'd desperately needed this nap. Not because she had been tired, but because she was really, really hungry and had felt her control slipping. She still was a bit shaky, but not as much as she had been before she had slept.
The older vampires got, the longer they could go without feeding, but Alice still needed to drink every two or three days and now it had been almost four. She'd planned to go out with Kara last night, but then Gabriel had turned up and now she'd gotten herself stuck in a house smelling of dried blood. Just peachy.
No way would she tell Erin . No, she could deal with that on her own, she was an adult, after all. All she needed was a little distraction. She decided to pay a visit to the geeks, perhaps they had already cracked the security system.
Now that there was no chance of running into Hunters, the building didn't seem half as big or complex as yesterday. Within minutes she found the geeks in a small room on the second floor which was stuffed with PCs and monitors and loads of things Alice had no clue as to what they were.
Gina and Corey sat on different stations, typing in a speed Alice could only admire and Vic was dozing in front of a dozen screens showing the building inside and out. Her eyes were half closed, but Alice suspected she would be wide awake the second something moved on one of the screens.
Gina looked up, her hands never pausing in their typing. “Hey kid. Nice stunt you pulled there.”
Alice sighed. They would probably razz her about that for the next couple of centuries.
Erin rubbed her eyes. Gabriel and the Wolf hadn't moved for hours, even if Erin was sure that the small blonde was awake. So staring at the still life behind the bars and without Alice to distract her, she was bored out of her mind. She was about to call the geeks and order them to get her something to read, when the heavy door swung open and Sonny came in, covered with dust and cobwebs from head to toe and, judging by her frown and glowing eyes, clearly pissed off.
Erin couldn't help the chuckle that escaped her. “What the hell happened to you? And what took you so long?”
“Blood bank. To both.” Sonny growled. “Their security would put Fort Knox to shame! I couldn't possible Persuade them all, I had to crawl through the air duct!”
“Then I'm glad I didn't send Sam – she'd probably have blown the whole building up.”
“Don't tempt me, Erin!”
“Would I do that? Now, how much did you get?”
“About a dozen. After all the work I put in, they were short in supply. Wonder if I could sue.” She took her backpack off and set it on the table. When she opened it to show Erin the contents, she unsuspiciously leaned towards her so Gabriel wouldn't hear her. “So,” she dropped her voice, “How's it going?”
Erin rubbed the bridge of her nose. “The Wolf's been no problem so far, but I'm really worried about Gabriel, she's getting too close. That's always been her problem. Her compassion overwhelms her and then she can't let go. I tried to warn her, but she wouldn't listen. I just don't know what she'll do if we can't save the Wolf.”
The door opened again and Alice came in, she held up a headset. “Courtesy of the geeks, in case you want to chat a little. They said now that you're calm again you're less likely to shred it. Hey, Sonny.”
“Thanks.” Erin set the headset on the table, but kept her eyes on Alice . She took in the slightly pale skin and the faint glow in her eyes and turned abruptly to Sonny.
“Do me a favor. Take Alice to town for a drink and then take her home. No!” she saw Alice was about to protest and held up her hand. “Don't bother. I already have enough on my hands without you going into a Rage. You need to feed and there's not much you can do around here anyway.”
Alice sighed. It really sucked being the youngest. Even though she knew Erin was right, she hated to miss out on something. On the other hand – exactly that thought had gotten her into trouble in the first place.
She nodded, trying to look docile. “Okay, I'll go home. Shall I send someone to take over for you?”
“Nah.” Erin sighed. “Gabriel's a bit of a fool when it comes to the Wolf, I want to have an eye on her. Just make sure you don't get lost again.”
Despite the jibe Alice couldn't help the feeling of adoration for Erin . She was the Queen, it would have been easy for her to post someone else as a guard for Gabriel and her Wolf, but despite being exhausted and irritable after the fight, she was doing it herself. Perhaps it was better just to do what she said.
For the moment, at least.
To Be Continued in Chapter 4
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