Disclaimers: See Part 1
Chapter 4 - Mine
Entering the mansion at Sonny's side, all Alice wanted was to curl up in her bed. True, she had slept most of the day, but feeding always made her either giddy or bone tired for a few hours. Now it was the latter, she could barely keep her eyes open. The Elders had assured her that strange effect would pass in the next few months, but right now that didn't cheer her up.
She all but tiptoed through the house, hoping to avoid Sonya and the lecture she sure held ready for her.
She'd already made it to the stairs, when a voice like a whiplash rang out. “Stop right there, kid!” Nox strode up to her and Alice cringed. Great. That was even worse than running into Sonya.
But instead of yelling, the lithe warrior almost gently lifted the sleeve of Alice ' shirt, looking at the fading bruises on her upper arm. With the blood Alice had just had they would be gone within the next hour, but Nox seemed abashed nonetheless. “I'm really sorry about this.” she said, sincerity in her warm brown eyes.
Alice shrugged uncomfortably. She had not expected an apology and now she didn't feel like she deserved it either. “It's okay, really. I shouldn't have gone in there in the first place.”
“No, you shouldn't,” Nox actually smiled. “And the next time you pull off something like this, I'll tan your hide.” She held out her hand to the youngster. “We cool?”
Alice , too, smiled, relief flooding her body, and gripped Nox' forearm in a warrior's handshake. “Yeah. And... uhm... thank you for saving me from that Hunter.”
“No big deal, I'd have killed him anyway. Now get your ass to bed, you look like shit!”
She came to lying on her side, her head bedded on something soft, and feeling entirely not-cold. No , she suddenly realized, there was a word for that. Warm . She remembered it now.
A new word, she mused. No, an old word actually. This meant there could be others, too, that she had forgotten.
The Wolf had slept for hours, not moving and barely breathing, completely dead to the world. It was almost midnight when Gabriel felt her move slightly. She gently ruffled the hair at the nape of the Wolf's neck.
“Hey there, sleepyhead,” she murmured. “Hope you're feeling better now.”
The young one was still here. It was not-hurting her head again and making soft noise. Another word came to her mind. Stroking . It was stroking her and this stroking-thing was not meant to hurt.
This monster was, indeed, different. She needed a word for it, she decided. It was her monster. ' Mine ' she thought. She would go with that until she could come up with a better word. A name . Yes, a word for a thing was its name. If she had one, too?
The Wolf opened her eyes and looked up at her. Physically she seemed to be completely restored now. The bruises gone, she had a natural tan and stunning light blue eyes framed by long black lashes.
“Oh...” Gabriel whispered, transfixed. “You have blue eyes, did you know that? And they are... wow!”
Talking . This soft noise Mine made was talking. Her monster obviously knew some words as well, but she didn't recognize any of them. Better answer it, though. She wasn't sure if she was able to form any words, but she sure couldn't be wrong with a little noise?
The Wolf opened her mouth slightly and purred a greeting and Gabriel couldn't help but notice that she had beautiful fangs as well.
She let her fingers wander over the Wolf's cheekbone, then stroked a gracefully curved eyebrow. “You look much better now, beautiful. How do you feel?” She didn't really expect her to answer, but noticed with a certain satisfaction that she had the Wolf's full attention. Those stunning blue eyes were fixed on hers and the Wolf slowly lifted a graceful, long fingered hand and touched Gabriel's face, perhaps in imitation of Gabriel's own movements.
Gabriel kept very still, since the Wolf's claws still were fully extended, but the Wolf moved carefully, only touching Gabriel's cheek with the back of her hand. She didn't seem agitated at all, only curious. Gratefully Erin was keeping quiet outside.
The young one's skin was soft and warm. It didn't try to keep her from touching it, but suddenly bared its teeth. Was that a threat? She couldn't be sure, it still looked so nice…
Perhaps she could tell if she wasn't looking up at it upside down. She'd sit up. That would be better anyway, if the monsters came back.
Mine didn't seem to object, in fact she felt its hands on her shoulders, helping her up.
Gabriel felt the Wolf's muscles tremble, obviously she wasn't used to moving. They would have to work on that, among other things. She helped her settle with her back against the wall, trying to keep the blanket around her, but the Wolf shook it off, her eyes riveted to Gabriel's face.
It still was baring its teeth, but... no, that just couldn't be a threat. It looked even more harmless than before, it... was smiling ! It did it to show it was friendly.
She tried to smile back, but it made her face hurt.
The longer Erin watched the two of them, the more her doubts increased. True, the Wolf had not once tried to hurt Gabriel, but she still jumped whenever Erin moved and her only communication consisted of growls and grunts.
A few moments ago Gabriel had managed to get the Wolf up on her feet and ever since the beast was pacing up and down behind the bars, glaring at Erin and flexing her clawed hands.
This was better. It hurt and made her head spin, but when the monsters came back, she could fight them now. It wouldn't be long, there still was one of them outside, waiting for her to get careless. She'd kill it first.
Gabriel was getting a little concerned. For some reason the Wolf seemed to have taken an intense dislike to Erin and this surely wouldn't help to get her out of here. She needed to distract her. Perhaps now was the time to work on their communication.
She stepped in front of the Wolf, gently halting her movements with a hand on her shoulder. The Wolf stopped pacing, but still stared at Erin , over Gabriel's head now. Gabriel stretched up on her tiptoes and took the Wolf's face in her hands. “Wolf,” she said softly.
No reaction and the Wolf still tried to squint around her. “Wolf!” she repeated slightly more forceful.
Now Wolf looked at her, frowning.
Wolf . She had heard that word before, it meant something with a lot more hair than she had, so this couldn't be her name. But probably her monster, too, had problems remembering the right words.
Perhaps she should react to that, just so the young one knew she understood it. She tried to repeat the word, but only managed a low growl. Nonetheless her monster seemed happy, it smiled.
That really sounded like the Wolf was trying to talk! Gabriel fought the urge to jump up and down in excitement. “Did you hear this, Erin ?” she said softly, not taking the eyes off the Wolf. “She almost has it!”
“Oh, yeah, impressive. 'Grrr' was my first word, too.”
“Now don't be such a nitpicker, she's learning!”
The young one's voice had changed, it sounded higher now and in a sudden inspiration she realized that it was female, just like her. So it wasn't an 'it' but a 'she'. She thought about it for a moment and had to admit that this did sound much nicer. 'She. Mine. '
One hour before dawn and Erin was sitting in the niche Alice had occupied before, fighting a hard battle against her sinking eyes, when she heard Gina's voice over her headset.
“Hey boss, mission accomplished! We just got into their database and we're copying it down. We'll be done in about half an hour. Looks like there's a lot of interesting stuff in there.”
“Well, I'd be pretty pissed if I had waited all this time for their WOW passwords,” she stood up, knocking the dust off her pants. “Time to get out of here, I'd say. Van's in the back?”
“Great. Who's on guard upstairs?”
“Sam and Luca, I think.”
“Good. Tell Sam to get her explosives ready, Luca is to bring the three of you home as soon as you're finished. Call the mansion, I want Sonya and Cheyenne here ASAP. Then see to it that all the doors are wide open. I'll be feeling much better when we have Gabriel's Wolf securely in the van and I don't want any obstacles in the way.”
“Aye, Sir! Over and out!”
Erin rolled her eyes and pocketed her phone, taking up her gun again. “Gabriel?”
When she stepped up the bars, the Wolf whirled around, flashing her fangs at her.
Gabriel quickly gripped her arm. “It's okay, Wolf, she won't hurt you. What is it, Erin ?”
“The geeks have the data. We're heading out as soon as my warriors get here. Gabriel, I really think she's dangerous and –“
“Don't.” Gabriel stepped in front of the Wolf and her sweet face was set in grim determination. “Don't even think about it, Erin . I won't let you kill her!”
Erin snorted. “Don't you think I know that by now? I only wanted to tell you that you should try your damn best to keep her in check. I've sent for Cheyenne and Sonya and neither will hesitate to shoot her if she attacks any of us.”
“There was no need to scare me like this,” Gabriel jerked her chin in direction of Erin 's gun, “You've got the tactfulness of a bulldozer!”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, honey. However, I'll just sit down like a good little Queen till the cavalry gets here and you – sing her a lullaby or whatever else keeps her calm.”
“Would you all please step back? I'll never get her out of here if you're crowding us in like this!”
The monsters were back and they had made the bars disappear. And this time they had things in their hands. Things that were meant to hurt.
Gabriel couldn't believe it. Two experienced warriors behaving like bloody amateurs. Only Cheyenne seemed relaxed, she was leaning back against the wall with her arms crossed over chest and didn't even look at the Wolf. Erin and Sonya on the other hand stood almost directly in front of the open door, with their guns pointed at the Wolf.
“Move!” Gabriel snapped.
Hesitantly first Erin, then Sonya backed away, leaving only Cheyenne between the cell and the stairway.
“That's better. Come on Wolf, we'll get you out of here.” She tugged at the Wolf's hand and slowly walked forward.
The young one was heading through the bars and it wanted her to follow. She felt something pounding deep inside her, warning her.
No, they couldn't go there. The monsters were waiting out there, they would hurt her again. And they probably would hurt Mine too, for being nice to her. Couldn't Mine see it? She growled and tried to pull her back.
“Wolf?” When Gabriel felt the resistance, she turned around and saw the silver return to the Wolf's eyes. Oh gods, not now! She almost had her in safety!
“Please, Wolf, come with me! No one will hurt you!”
When Wolf ignored her and continued to growl at the others, she understood. She let go of the Wolf's hand and stepped out of the cage. Deliberately turning her back to Erin and the others, she held out her hand again. “See, it's okay. They're not dangerous.”
Wolf hesitated. She didn't want to face the monsters, but she couldn't let the young one go alone. Mine had been good to her. She had to protect her.
Erin saw the Wolf's stiff posture, the glowing eyes and was sure she would freak every moment. She sighed. “It doesn't work, Gabriel,” She made a move to turn Gabriel around by her shoulder.
For the rest of her life Gabriel would remember the next few seconds like some slow motion from one of the Matrix movies.
The Wolf let out a roar and practically exploded from her defensive stance, jumping at Erin .
Erin , startled by the sudden attack, but with a warrior's reflexes nonetheless, shoved Gabriel out of the way and barely managed to twist her upper body so the Wolf's claws missed her throat but left four deep gashes across her right cheek.
Sonya pointed her gun at the Wolf's head, but just as she cocked her finger on the trigger, Cheyenne lurched forward and her massive fist slammed against Sonya's forearm, knocking the weapon from her hand.
Using the Wolf's momentum, Gabriel grabbed her by the shoulders and slammed her against the wall, bringing her own body between her and the others.
Wolf's eyes, wide with fear, locked with hers and the world turned to normal speed again. Where their bodies touched, Gabriel could feel her trembling, could feel her pulse race at a speed that would have killed any human.
Cheyenne had positioned herself between them and the others, her face impassive, her posture relaxed. "Now wasn't that fun." she murmured.
Sonya jumped to retrieve her weapon and then spun around to Cheyenne . “What the fuck did you do that for?”
Cheyenne lazily motioned to the Wolf, whose eyes were bright with fear but nonetheless searching Gabriel's face for any trace of injury. “She was trying to protect Gabriel. Would've been bad manners to shoot her for that. Sorry 'bout the arm.”
Sonya grunted, grateful it wasn't broken.
“Your Wolf has guts,” Erin murmured, wincing as she touched her bloody cheek. “I'll give her that. She is scared to death of us, but still trying to protect you.”
Gabriel ground her teeth. “Make it a little easier on her and back up a few steps, will you?”
That big one was a good monster, too. It had helped her fight off the others. If they worked together, perhaps Mine could flee.
Suddenly Wolf shoved Gabriel out of the way and positioned herself side by side with Cheyenne .
Erin 's finger on the trigger twitched, but she managed to keep from firing. “Hell, Gabriel, can't you stop her jumping around like this?”
“I better,” Gabriel murmured. She could see the faint glow in the warriors' eyes. In this strained atmosphere every move could end deadly. “Okay, we try this again. She doesn't trust the two of you, so you'll go in front and Cheyenne brings up the rear. Move it, girls, this isn't getting easier for any of us!”
Erin and Sonya slowly made their way up the stairs, actually walking sideward as not to turn her back on the Wolf. Gabriel took the Wolf's hand and, talking softly to her, dragged the reluctant Female along.
The monsters were fleeing, even though in an inappropriately slow pace. She didn't understand why Mine wanted to follow them, but again, she couldn't let her go alone. A short glance backwards confirmed that the big one was keeping pace.
Wolf held her hand in a death grip, almost breaking her bones, but as long as she followed her without another incident, that would be a small price to pay.
On top of the stairs, Gabriel looked back at Cheyenne . “Thank you.”
Cheyenne shrugged. “Any excuse to beat up the Chief.”
Gabriel heard Sonya chuckle and held the Wolf a little tighter.
Erin had been worrying how to convince the Wolf to enter the van, but when Gabriel climbed in, the tall Female followed swiftly.
Erin grinned. “I think she'll go anywhere as long as it's with you, Wolf-whisperer.” she blew her a kiss and quickly closed the door before Gabriel could reply. Then she turned to Sam who had come out to have a look at the Wolf.
“We're outta here. Blow this hellhole up and see to it that there are no humans around to get hurt! And –”
“I know how it's done, Erin ,” Sam drawled. “Stop treatin' me like a child and get your ass off my playground, will ya!”
Erin snorted, but obediently jumped in the driver's seat and slammed the door behind her as Cheyenne and Sonya mounted their bikes. “You all right back there?”
“So far, yes,” she heard Gabriel's voice, “But better make it a quick ride, I don't think she likes it here.”
A glance in the rear-view mirror confirmed that the Wolf, pressed tightly against Gabriel's side, looked ready to bolt. She nodded at Gabriel through the mirror. “One hell ride ignoring every traffic rule coming right up.”
When the van stopped in front of the mansion, Cheyenne was already waiting for them. She was leaning against her bike, cleaning her finger nails with a knife and only looked up when Erin jumped out and opened the doors for Gabriel and the Wolf.
“Get in there,” she grunted. “Sun's going up in a few minutes.”
Following Erin and Cheyenne , Gabriel led the Wolf over the driveway and into the house. Upon entering the living room, she stopped, a bit confused.
Curtains were drawn in front of the windows and the glass door that led out to the patio, the lights were dimmed almost to extinction and the house was quiet as a graveyard. Gabriel, holding the Wolf by the hand, looked around. “What happened here? Where is everyone?”
This was nice. No blinding lights to make her eyes hurt.
Erin 's lips twitched. “Knowing them – in the kitchen, tattling their heads off. Sonya probably told them to clear the ground so your Wolf wouldn't get a heart attack.”
“Good thinking. What do we do now?”
“We all sit down and then we call the others in. One by one, that is, so she can get used to all of us being around. I guess if she doesn't try to kill us all, she can stay.”
Gabriel nodded and led her Wolf to one of the sofas. She sat down and gently tugged at her hand. “Come on, Wolf, sit with me. I'll protect you.”
Protect ? Finally a word they both knew. And the young one knew she needed to be protected. Better get between her and the other monsters.
The Wolf nodded vigorously. She squeezed in between Gabriel and the arm rest, turned that angelic face of hers to Erin and growled a warning.
Erin sighed. “Fine, be that way. I'll just sit down and pretend I'm not the evil witch you make me out to be.”
She took a seat at the sofa farthest away from the Wolf's and Cheyenne wordlessly left the room to get the others.
Mine felt warm against her side. Her breathing was soft and even, so obviously they weren't in danger here.
Nox was the first to come in, dressed in a gaudy orange trouser suit everyone else would have looked ridiculous in. “So, this is your Wolf,” she grinned, but was smart enough not to look directly in their direction. “She sure smells the part.”
Gabriel laid a protective arm around Wolf's shoulder. “It's not her fault! You go without a shower for a few weeks and we'll talk again!”
“She, right, sweety,” Sarah had appeared in the doorway and immediately went over to Erin to take a look at her still bleeding cheek. “We could smell her from the kitchen, but that's nothing a shower can't remedy. Erin , you could at least have pressed a tissue against it!”
“Do you know how it feels to peel a stuck tissue out of an open wound?”
“Probably not half as bad as what Michelle will do to you when she sees you've bled on the couch.”
About half of the clan was assembled, when the Wolf started to get fidgety. She kept checking out the entrances, obviously planning her escape, and still occasionally growled at Erin .
Too many. The monsters had followed them and were crowding them in. She couldn't fight them all and Mine was in danger. They had to get out of here. There were doors only a few steps behind them and they led outside. If she could just...
Gabriel could feel the Wolf's tension mounting, could smell her fear. She kept talking to her, stroking her hand, tried to calm her, but to no purpose.
Cheyenne , who had been in the kitchen to give the others instructions how to behave around the Wolf, came back just in time. She cast one look at the trembling Female, came over and took a seat on the arm rest next to her. Gabriel was about to protest, when she saw the Wolf's eyes lose a bit of their manic glow and her slender body relax slightly.
The big one was back and now it was guarding her right side. Together they could protect Mine .
About an hour after their arrival, all of the clan were gathered in the living room, talking only in hushed voices and since the Wolf still seemed pretty nervous, she, Cheyenne and Gabriel got to keep their sofa to themselves.
It was good to have the big one here. The evil monsters were afraid of it, they stayed at some distance and didn't even make the usual noises.
Erin cleared her throat to get Gabriel's attention. “Well, I guess we better get your Wolf accommodated. We have one of the cellar rooms ready for her – I'm not sure if the bars are strong enough to hold her if she gets in a Rage, but it's better than –”
Gabriel's eyes darkened. “Forget it, Erin !”
“I didn't get her out of this cage to put her in another one!” She tried to keep her voice even, but Wolf seemed to feel her agitation nonetheless, she started growling again.
Erin drew an exasperated sigh. “It's not really a cage, it's more of a –”
“Cell? Forget it. She stays with me! If you won't allow her in my room, I'll take her to a hotel!”
“As if I'd leave you alone with her! No fucking way! You –”
“Uhm... excuse me,” Alice went bright red when everybody's attention turned to her. “What about that old room on the first floor the geeks store their equipment in?” (“We're not geeks!”) “There are bars in front of the windows, but it is a room, and it even has its own bathroom.”
Erin thought about it for a moment, then she nodded. “Fine with me. What about you, Gabriel, is this up to your requirements? Or would you rather I move to the basement so you can quarter your precious Wolf in the Queen's room?”
“You can be a real pest, you know that?”
Erin stood up, grinning broadly. “At your service,” she bowed mockingly, then motioned to the others. “Well, get moving! We better see to it that we get some furniture in our new 'it's-not-a-cell' and get the heating going. I see Gabriel's fingers still twitching to call the Ritz. Chey, you stay with them?”
Wolf tensed when they all stood up at once, her eyes turning bright silver. She was on the verge of jumping up, when Cheyenne calmly took a knife from the back of her belt and gave it to her.
Erin 's eyes bulged. “Are you out of your mind?”
Cheyenne only shrugged.
The Wolf was examining the blade, looking back and forth between it and Erin 's chest, her panic forgotten.
Gabriel chuckled. “Guess you better get going, Erin . You're not really her favorite person.”
“She's not my favorite animal either!”
Half an hour later, Alice knocked on the doorframe before entering the living room, she wouldn't take any chances startling the Wolf. “The bathroom is ready – well, good enough to take a shower at least. Erin said you'd probably want to get her cleaned up before you put her to bed.”
Gabriel nodded. “Yeah, thanks. Could you find me something clean for her to wear?”
“Sure. I think Sam's about her size, I'll just raid her wardrobe.”
As Alice went upstairs, Gabriel slowly stood up, holding her hand out to Wolf. “Come on. I'll show you the joys of soap and water.”
Leisurely Cheyenne hauled herself up to follow them. Gabrielle was grateful for that. If necessary, the tall warrior would be able to overpower Wolf without hurting her too much. But as soon as Wolf had seen that Cheyenne was bringing up the rear, she growled in what seemed to be approval and followed Gabriel like a puppy.
To Be Continued in Chapter 5
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