Chance stepped out of the rusty piece of shit Kehpri called a truck, and gave a half assed wave as she walked up the steps into the small two-story building that was the local FBI.
She opened the door and saw all her fellow agents sitting around. Six, including her, had been out in the field following up on what little leads and hunches they had. Three others had the night off, to work the morning shift or to receive a call to come out and follow up if need be. It was a rotating shift for the full moon coverage.
The over pumped up ultra dick Halstead turned around first, and noticing her.
"Hey, nice of you to join us, Super Agent," he smirked at her, getting everybody else in the room to turn and look over at her.
She bristled but said nothing; just happy she'd had the presence of mind to have Kehpri stop at her crappy studio apartment so she could change.
The local branch director frowned at her, his eyebrows looking like a fat fuzzy caterpillar dancing on his forehead. "Agent Pavel, debriefing starts at 9 sharp, it is now, 9:09. You're late."
"Sorry, sir, I was shot last night..."
"Yes, I know. I received a phone call from Doctor Miller when you disappeared from the hospital with another woman."
"Alright, Chance! Getting so desperate you have to steal the warm bodies from the clinic?"
"Halstead!" the director barked out before Chance could. "I know we give a certain amount of latitude, on all sorts of things, for agents who choose the Human-Werewolf Affairs posts, but one more outburst like that and you'll be off duty and seeing a shrink."
The bulky man's face went stony and he turned back around.
Everyone there knew he had only stayed in the FBI program because he had agreed to be posted here; anywhere else and they would have booted him out.
"So, Agent Pavel, I understand you were in a shooting. Your first since you've been here with us. Jeremy is still the winner at four bullets removed."
The agents cheered for a moment as the short, stocky man stood and gave a small bow.
"Now that you are officially one of the boys, I will need to see your weapon, take a statement, and we will have to go out to the site and do the usual processing of the scene.” He held out his hand.
Chance looked sheepish. "I don't know where my weapon is. I think it may still be at the scene."
"You think," the director made an annoyed face. "And do I want to know why you called your sister to get you, opposed to protocol and calling in?"
"Well, at the time, I thought I was dying, and knew she could find me a lot quicker than you all...err, sir."
"Mule," someone coughed under their breath, and Chance's face started turning red in anger. The director either didn't hear it or ignored it.
“Whatever. Chance, we got you a new partner, finally. Say hello to Donald Gibbons,” the director swept his arm out and a young man stood up, barely topping Chance’s own 5’10” by a couple of inches.
God he’s young…was the first thought to enter her brain. He was still bright-eyed and happy. The world of the Reservation hadn’t crushed him yet. Chance stepped forward and shook his hand with a quietly spoken, “Donald”.
“Okay, with that out of the way, we’ll finish reporting in of the shit from last night and then everyone can get on assignments. As always, those of you who worked last night have the day off…except for Pavel and Gibbons. You two get to go process the scene of the shooting. If in anyway it looks like there will be any sniffing of Internal Affairs, give me a call. And Pavel can come back and start on paperwork. Alright, people,” he clapped his hands together, “let’s start the healing.”
Chance hated that joke.
“Video conference initiated,” said the computerized voice, and the screen blinked into life.
On the screen was an old, white male with eyes that carried dark black bags under them. “What’s happened?” he barked out, running a hand through his wispy white hair.
“I was in the middle of a test run on the new batch of WH3435, so this had better be important.”
"Of course it’s important, Bob," the voice purred out.
"Doctor Stetler," the man corrected sternly.
"Of course, Doctor." The woman barely resisted rolling her eyes.
"So, what’s so important?"
"Well," she started, a huge grin forming on her face, "I was finally able to use Subject 122. And I must say…the initial results were fantastic."
"Subject 122..." The older doctor turned from the screen and the sounds of papers being moved around could be heard.
"Yes. She was brought to the clinic with a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen, considerable loss of blood. During the operation to remove the bullet and stop the bleeding, I was able to inject her with WH3434. I have to say it was like she started to heal on the table. When she woke up a few hours later, you could barely tell she had been shot at all. She was up and moving..."
Stetler cut her off as he came back into view, a file in his hands. "Agent Pavel," he threw the file down with disgust. "That's if she's not already a Were to start with."
“Sir, I think it’s time to let those hunches of yours go. She went under a full belly of testing to see if she was a Were, and passed all the tests with flying colors. Never once were they able to trigger the change. And from my notes here, you went above and beyond in the test scenarios on her."
"Yes, well..." he grumped, "I just have my reservations as using her as a test subject. In my opinion, she should be in one of my cells."
"Yes, well, you know the ruling of 1962. All children of mixed heritage with one Were and one human parent shall be considered a human and given all rights and privileges as such, pending the passage of two full moon nights supervised without change. Agent Pavel is for all purposes a human. All be it, a special one."
"Yes, yes, Dr. Miller, I am aware of the Carolian study of mixed breed children; how they hardly get sick, how they tend to be superior athletes, and heal more quickly from minor injuries. Although nothing compared to their full-blooded Were cousins. That is why I think Agent Pavel should not be in the study, she isn't a full human to start with."
"Well, she's hardly been in the study at all. She never comes to the hospital."
"I thought all agents on the Reservation were supposed to come in once a year for a physical?"
"They are, but Agent Pavel has only been out here for two years, and so far she's managed to get out of it. But that doesn't matter. She sustained a serious life-threatening wound that, from what little is known of mixed-breed children, the rate she healed at was not normal."
"Yes, but it would have been normal for a Were."
Dr. Miller closed her eyes for a moment, wishing Bob would get over this fixation he had with Chance Pavel.
"Perhaps, Dr. Miller, if you could get me a blood sample of her sister, then I could be more convinced she is what..."
"Everybody, and all the scientific data, points to a mixed-breed child," Miller cut in. "And while Zoya is more than willing to share other fluids with me, she is way too smart to give me any blood. And trust me, Bob, I like my lungs and liver right were they are."
"Fine, fine...if you think it’s necessary keep tabs on Chance. But I'm telling you, her results will skew the final measurement of the testing."
"I realize I'm not your precious Dr. Madison, but I worked just as hard to get into the program and..." She was cut off as Dr. Stetler ended the video feed.
"Uptight asshole," the doctor cursed.
It was awkward in the jeep, driving out into the middle of nowhere. She hadn't had a partner for almost nine months now. Alexa Stevens, a grumpy African-American woman, had been her partner when she'd first taken the assignment here. Alexa was good, a wealth of information that Chance readily soaked up, but the woman had been here for six years, and was in the deep stages of burnout.
The Reservation had that effect on people. Despite all the noble intentions an agent had when coming out here, they burned up rather quickly under the assault of reality. The reality was…Weres resented being taken away from their native territories and shoved on to the Reservation. They resented the fact they had sided with the humans during the Vampire Rebellion of 1899 and their thanks was to be classified as a hostile, rounded up and shoved on to a piece of land no bigger than Rhode Island. Reality was…local law enforcement couldn't enforce the laws on humans on the Reservation. So a human drove across the border, walked into a store and then walked out with a case of beer without paying. Law enforcement couldn't do squat. A human comes across the border and rapes a woman, the local LEO couldn't do shit. That was where the Federal Agents came in. But up until recently, there was maybe one agent stationed on the reservation as a liaison. And normally, he was there because he was one more fuck up from being kicked out.
Things changed a bit in 1965, when Weres went from being hospital animals to Para-humans. It was the time of civil rights and advanced technology, like cameras, were able to show the horror of Reservation life. Things changed a bit, and from then on out, things started to slowly change in the minds of the people. But on the Reservation, the Weres didn't change; they stayed regulated to separate packs. Most packs distrustful of other packs. Zoya's territory was on the upscale of change, but honestly, her sister was more progressive than other packs. Zoya was the Alpha, dictator supreme; there was no doubt about that. But she had shifted the territory into more of a town, allowed some industry in, and started a town council. She allowed other Weres to join her pack, not just wolves.
But that didn't change the fact that there was still a lot of distrust and anger deeply entrenched between the humans and the Weres. And there were a total of ten Agents out here to follow up on all the shit people did to each other. All that shit wore her old partner down. Chance, in retrospect thought that maybe Alexa had wanted to die, she had certainly gotten sloppy the weeks leading up to the accident. In the end, Chance’s first and only partner had her leg chewed off by a Were-cougar doped up on meth. It had taken months, but Chance didn't have nightmares about that one anymore.
"So..." she said to break the silence.
Gibbons just looked at her with trusting brown eyes, that weren't yet shuttered to holding the horrors of life at bay.
"Why the Reservation..?"
He smiled, showing dimples. "Well, my wife wanted to move closer to the family, and there is a signing bonus now, if you sign up for Reservation work."
"No shit, a bonus?" Well, fuck, she'd missed out on that. "So where's you're wife's family?"
"They own the Blackwater Ranch, up north just into Nevada."
"Huh, really…you're married to a Were?" Well, didn't that beat all?
Gibbons’ face took on sort of a stony look.
"Oh, hey, I don't mean it to be an asshole, just surprised. The Blackwater family is good people. Their ranch gives a lot of jobs and money into the community." Truth was…the beef was considered some of the best, but until recently, nobody in the US would by, it was all shipped overseas. Japanese and Russian politicos and wealthy elite loved it. She had no idea how they ran the ranch, considering that Cattle and Weres probably shouldn't mix. Somehow they made it work.
"Well, Justine can't, well..." Gibbons looked uncomfortable.
"Whoa, whoa, don't be putting me in the middle of the family secrets here. We haven't been partners that long." She took the jeep off road and they bounced along inside.
"Nah, the Blackwater family has a genetic defect; about 2% of the kids born in the family are non-shifters. Justine's one of those. Shit, I don't know why I shared that with you."
Chance made a face, "You did it ‘cause I might sympathize. You heard Halstead's comments about my mixed race."
The agent looked uncomfortable for a moment. "Yeah, maybe.” he hedged.
"Don't worry about it. But the moment you start telling me how lousy your sex life is, I'm kicking you out of the car."
Gibbons just threw back his crew cut head and laughed. "No worries, there is no problems there."
And Chance felt like kicking him out of the car for that too.
They pulled to a stop in the middle of nowhere.
Getting out of the car, Gibbons looked around. "Jeeze, how can you remember this was the spot?"
"I got shot, not going to forget it anytime soon."
"And that's my car," she pointed to the crappy, late model, compact hidden behind some boulders.
"So why here? What made you think hunters would be up here," he asked his young face eager.
Chance had to wonder if this was what Alexa felt like with her.
"Natural blind of rocks to hide the hunters, and it looks down on that pond, a water source for predators and prey."
They paused awkwardly as they found where she'd been shot. There was a decomposing body on the ground and blood soaked the dirt floor. "That's an awful lot of blood."
"Yeah, it is," she agreed, and started looking around for her gun. "I'll leave you to process the body."
She found her gun where his buddies had kicked it into the scrub along with her badge. She snapped gloves on, took a couple of pictures then picked up her stuff and put them in a bag.
Gibbons looked a lot green as he asked, "Should you even be here?"
Chance snorted and looked over at him. "Kid, you got a lot to learn about working on the Reservation. First thing, is that the Weres don't like us, and the humans don't like us, and Halstead's a first rate asshole. No one will help you, and nobody but that guy’s family is going to care he's dead. And nobody but me cares that I was shot." That wasn't true, she was sure Zoya cared.
"That's a bit jaded," Gibbons shot out as he processed the body.
"And you're still green, but you'll learn. If you're in a tight spot with hunters, pull out your gun and use it. If you're in a tight spot with Weres, pull out your gun and use it. ‘Cause, kid, they all want you dead."
Gibbons just shook his head but stayed silent, though he was getting a little tired of being called kid.
Chance just grinned and tossed her badge and gun over to Gibbons. "I'm going to go see if I can find where his buddies ended up. Or at least get some tire treads."
Gibbons nodded, but he'd gone pale. It looked like a fox or coyote had gotten the dead guy’s eyes during the night.
She walked down the hill weaving in and out of the squat and sparse conifers, bent with lack of water. She remembered seeing the flash of something in the night, and coming up to investigate. She'd gotten out of her car and walked over to where the three yahoos were making a hunting blind, although they were being way too loud and drinking. But it was only sunset at this point, with dusk dripping down and starting to coat the landscape. No moon, yet.
She hadn't really expected them to shoot her; they hadn't done anything yet. But a few more hours and a lot more alcohol later, all sorts of bad shit would happen with these guys.
She'd told them to explain themselves, and a short, squat guy who probably had short man’s disease had gotten in her face and pulled a gun on her. She, of course, had pulled her own. Still, she had been surprised when he pulled the trigger, and only managed to fire out of self-preservation. All this time out here and she'd never been shot. Plenty of other bad stuff, but not shot.
She hadn’t felt the bullet that pierced her flesh, but she had felt the burning in her gut, as well as a flood of blood exiting her body. She had writhed and screamed on the ground with the remaining two hunters gibbering in a panic.
Jesus she'd probably just lost what was left of her faith in her fellow man. She spotted tire tracks and took a few pictures, as well as bagging a beer can.
She hiked back up to Gibbons, who was sitting on a rock in the shade. "Alright, I found where they parked. Took some pictures and bagged a beer can for DNA." She tossed the jeep keys at him.
He stared at them for a moment. "Are we going somewhere?"
"Nope, but you're going to need a way to get back to the station," she said with a grin. "I'm taking my car back and start filling out the incident paperwork, as well as working on some other stuff. You get to wait for the meat wagon. See you back at the station." She grinned and pulled out her car keys. Take that, Mister-I-have-a-perfect-sex-life. Her grin got wider.
Back at the station, she turned on the small fan she had nailed to the window and it weakly moved the hot air around. She stared at the three messages on her desk. Dr. Miller had called her three times already. Jesus…if she'd known the woman would notice her, she would have gotten shot then snuck out of the hospital months ago.
She moved the notes up to her "I'll get around to that soon” pile and looked woefully at her "Get this done right fucking now" pile. Her computer screamed in agony as it booted up. Her ribs were throbbing, but she knew any ice would melt long before she made it back from the fridge.
She studied the map, three more missing Weres last night that they knew of…a mother Werebear and her cub, then a werewolf from Nightshade, which was a creepy town. They rarely got calls up there. It was sort of like a more intense version of Las Vegas for extreme adult appetites. She wasn't certain her appetite would ever be adult enough for that place. She'd heard rumors of Vamps up there, and maybe a witch or two. So they'd have to go sniff around but… She shuddered just thinking about it.
With a groan, she decided to go make some coffee.
Zoya turned off the shower and stepped out into the thick steam covering the bathroom. She yawned and brushed water-drenched locks out of her face and grabbed a thick towel. Wiping steam off the mirror, she studied her face. She was tired, full moon nights did that to her. Alphas, those with the ability to resist the call of emotion and mood, that so ruled the Were nature, were rare. Most of her full moon nights were spent running herd on her pack. Of course, last night had the unexpected complication of Chance.
She sighed as she vigorously dried her hair. Fucking Chance… Her half sister was always a mystery to her, why she had stayed in the human world, joined their ideals, and became a federal agent. Once Chance had turned eighteen, she’d begged her sister to come back to the pack, to rejoin them. But no, Chance wanted to change things from within the system.
She hung the towel back up and stepped out into her luxurious bedroom. The windows were open, letting in the bright afternoon sunlight. She could see the haze of the heat baking the world outside. In the distance she could see the city, her city, spread out, and the garish military complex where she let the humans stay and pretend they had influence in her world.
The comforter on the bed moved, and a blonde head poked out of the covers with a squeak.
Zoya frowned and wondered what the hell she’d been thinking, letting Veronica into her bed. She kicked the bed. “Get your clothes and get out,” she said matter-of-factly, turning to her huge closet and pulled out a designer suit and jacket that fit her body very well.
The woman in the bed pouted, “You can’t mean that, especially after the fun we had last night.”
Zoya chuckled and turned with an evil look on her face. “I’ve had better. Now get out. I have a meeting, and you’re lowering my property value.”
There was a small feeling of remorse as the woman sniffing back tears grabbed her clothes and ran out of the room, but then Zoya just shrugged it off. Being a leader of a pack meant not dwelling on the unpleasant things she did sometimes.
She finished getting dressed and pulled her long hair into a ponytail. Opening the door, she found Terry standing outside with her phone and a cup of coffee. She smiled at the old woman and took both. “Lovely as ever, Terry,” she said with a grin.
“Zoya, stop bringing home those bitches, you get yourself a good strong Alpha bitch to help you rule, and things will get better.”
“I know, I know. But you know me…I’m just not ready to settle down.”
The older woman sighed and swatted Zoya’s behind as the woman passed, going down the stairs to her office. She flipped open the phone. “Yes, Bill, I know you have a problem. You have a problem because you tried to screw me. I allow you’re company to come in and build a mining rig, and you try to get out of hiring my people and paying fees. So if you want your copper plant and you’re fucking copper, you better start meeting our agreement.”
She listened to the guy on the other end try to wheedle his way around their agreement.
“Let me see…you thought you could outsmart the stupid animal person. Now listen here, Bill, my land, my mining facility, and oh yeah, jobs for my people. Or you can explain all the arsenic you left in the ground at your other mining sites when they closed down.”
There was a stunned silence from the phone.
She grinned, “Yep, I bet you thought you bribed all the right people to make sure that report never saw the light of day. Funny thing there, Bill…my nose alone can detect a plethora of disease and poison, so I didn’t need any report to know what you guys buried in those sites when you closed them. You think I was just going to bend over and let you rape my people, think again. So, is it going to be my way, or am I going to be kicking your people out and selling all that copper to somebody else?” She grinned. “Yeah, you have a nice day too.”
She might not have a fancy degree like her sister, but that didn’t mean she was a stupid animal. It was a wonder what a fake identity and a credit card could get you online now. She had a couple of online degrees in business and other things that caught her fancy. Of course, Zoya Pavel had none of those.
There was a knock at her office door and she leaned back in her leather chair and stared around her. She’d built a good life in the shadow of her father’s death. She’d brought the pack here farther then he ever would have, but he’d been stuck on the idea of them being the noble savage. The best of animal and man, and that someday the human race would realize that. She snorted, not likely. She’d brought many of the packs together, opened inroads on the Reservation to industry. And because they were considered their own sovereign nation, she could undercut taxes and prices elsewhere in the US and abroad. Big business didn’t see color or the furriness of skin, they saw the bottom line. And she helped them achieve that bottom line quick and easy.
Of course, the big picture was to unite all the rag-tag packs and prides under her, because as the good old American saying went, ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. United with hundreds of Weres under her, it’d be best for the humans to start watching their backs. She grinned evilly.
The knock came again, only louder.
She blinked and came out of her daydream of world domination. “Come in.”
Duncan stood filling the doorway. “Um, you wanted me to remind you of the two humans in the holding cells.”
“Oh, right. Thank you.” She got up and followed Duncan into the basement, which smelled strongly of animal musk. She normally held more feral members or teenagers with hormone issues, and the occasional female who was going into heat during a full moon. Regardless, on full moon nights she held pack members who needed help controlling themselves when the moon was high. With a strong Alpha influence, many Weres learned to remain themselves even when they slipped their skin, but it took practice, and many lone wolves went feral in the scrub of the high desert, and true Alphas were hard to find.
However, one cell in the back, still housed two humanoid figures.
Seeing them approach, a raspy voice strained from overuse called out, “You can’t keep us here. You don’t have any authority to hold us.”
Zoya and Duncan stopped in front of the cell. She barely kept her distaste from showing in her winter blue eyes. “You two were found speeding away from a shooting.”
“Yeah, so what?” one of the men challenged, his face gaunt and tired, huge dark circles spread out from under his eyes. “You…” he pointed a finger at them, “don’t have the authority to hold us. When I get out of here I’m having the feds come in and shoot your freak asses full of sliver.”
“Really?” she raised an eyebrow and smirked at Duncan. The big man barely kept his face neutral.
“Jacob, shut up,” the other man said from where he sat, a defeated slump to his shoulders.
“What? I know the laws, and the law is only a federal agent can charge us.”
“Oh, like the federal agent you shot last night?”
“Yeah, your buddy shot a federal agent.”
“Oh God,” his face went pale. “I didn’t look too good at that badge. I thought it was just one of your mule local law officers out.”
“Wow, and the fact you think it would be okay to shoot anybody boggles my mind. But you see, it gets worse, that federal agent just happens to be my sister. So now you can understand my level of pissed off.”
“Good,” the hunter said, getting his steam back. “Freaks are now infecting all levels of the government. You are a disease that needs to be stopped.”
The other hunter stood up. “Jacob, shut up.” He turned, looking at Zoya. “I’m sorry. I…I’m desperate. I lost my job a month ago, and my little girl, the doctors say there’s something wrong with her heart. I needed money and Bobby, he’s the guy your sister shot, he said I could get the money I needed coming out here and hunting Weres. I know it’s murder, and wrong, but I’d do anything for my little girl. Please, Bobby had some connection for body parts of Weres.”
That wasn’t the first time she’d heard that. There was a huge black market in Asia for were-animal bodies. The Asian continent didn’t really have any Weres left, so to speak, tigers, foxes and the mythical shark hadn’t been seen in decades.
“God you are such a fucking whiner,” Jacob turned on his fellow hunter.
“Just because I have a family to live for, you bitter old fuckhead.”
Zoya let the two men bicker, before she held out a hand and Duncan dutifully placed one of the hunting rifles pulled from the cab of the truck the two men were driving in, in her hand. She made sure it was loaded and pulled the trigger. The sliver bullet slammed into the hunter’s head, and exited out the back with a splatter of blood and brain.
Jacob, stunned, watched his fellow cellmate slump to the floor dead, “Holy shit!”
“Jacob!” Zoya said, getting the man’s attention. “You’re probably thinking to yourself that somehow you’re the lucky one, right now, at this very moment. But you’d be wrong. I showed him mercy, gave him the quick kill that you’ll be begging for six months from now.” She turned away from the cell, Duncan following at her heels.
“What do you want me to do with him?” he asked, his Scottish accent slipping out with the smell of fresh blood getting to him a bit.
“Send him on to Nightshade. I’m sure he’ll feed somebody’s kink up there. Send the instructions he’s to survive at least for six months of hell there before somebody better even think of going too far.”
The big man nodded.
“The other one…find out if he does, indeed, have a family. And if his story was true, make sure his little girl gets that surgery she needs.”
Duncan’s stride paused for a moment in surprise, “A human.”
“Don’t question me on that. He was a desperate man thinking of his family above all things, even right and wrong. I respect that. If he was lying for my sympathy, I want to piss on his remains.”
Leaving behind the annoying agent, Kehpri spun the wheels on the truck as she pulled away from the nondescript looking building that housed the FBI offices. Nobody had given her a second look, but just being there was enough to make her uneasy.
She was glad to see the place in her rearview mirror. The brown-haired woman started singing when she couldn’t see it anymore at all, after rounding a bend in the road.
With the windows down, the wind causing her hair to fly about unrestrained and the music as loud as the pitiful speakers could handle, she even felt close to normal. The full night’s sleep had been wonderful.
“Then she had to go and ruin the moment by jumping out of bed, like I was some sort of crack whore or something,” Kehpri frowned, her mood turning dark again. “Fuck her. I don’t need her to like me.”
It would have been nice to have a friend though. It had been a long time since she’d been able to talk to someone. Even before she’d gone on the run it had been tough to talk to anyone.
“Crap. Pull it together. You don’t have time for memories.”
“Time to go to work…” She couldn’t let herself she’d fall back into a pit of despair comparing her current work place to the state of the art facility she’d once worked at. The self-storage place was nearly abandoned. Certainly she’d only seen one or two other people using it in the months now that she’d been set up.
“Shit, gotta remember to find some money to cover next month’s rental.” That was getting harder also. She’d run out of things to sell a while ago. Parking the truck next to the end unit, she hopped out and fished around under her seat for a tightly bundled plastic bag.
Pulling out her keys, she unlocked the heavy padlock on the door. Quickly, she slipped inside, closing the door behind her to keep any possible prying eyes from seeing inside.
Paranoia wasn’t something she really joked about anymore.
At least the place had electricity, which was more than she could have said for her current home. The industrial switches hummed as she forced them into the on position. Fluorescent lights flickered and came on, illuminating the workspace she’d made for herself.
Equipment was piled across benches. Most of it was standard biological laboratory fair, centrifuges, computers, and microscopes. All of it had been stolen or bought through far less than legal routes. The plastic bag she was holding was tossed onto one of the benches. The blood-soaked cloth inside, from Agent Pavel, would be analyzed soon enough.
The only thing that was obviously out of place was the bullet reloader setup that she had in one corner of the rental space. Bags of silver powder and pellets rested around it.
Today she ignored the scientific equipment and went to the main computer system and its attached scanner.
Reaching down her pants, she pulled out the photograph she’d smuggled out of Agent Pavel’s apartment.
“All right…let’s see if I can find out who you are.” She put the photo on the scanner and started to work.
A thick bunch of cables ran from the back of her impromptu computer network up to the roof above her. She was sure that the owner of the shit dump would probably be furious if he ever found out about the small satellite receiver she’d drilled onto the roof, but she really didn’t care.
As always, she was careful to cover her tracks as best as she could. She’d never been a fantastic hacker, though, and without the programs that friends had given her; this little jaunt into the government computer systems would have been well beyond her abilities. First up, a look into the FBI files that she’d only briefly skimmed through a couple of days prior. This time she made full copies of the personnel files on the ten agents that were stationed on the Reservation.
That would be her bedtime reading later.
Closing down the window, she shifted to the Department of Defense net and pulled up a nifty little program she’d stumbled across. Feeding in the cropped pictures of the faces from the picture she’d borrowed from Agent Pavel’s house, she set the program to analyzing them.
“For once this facial recognition software is going to actually help me.”
The prospect of using the department of Defense’s programs against it always made her smile. Leaving that to run, she considered the experiments she had lined up on the bench.
None of them were possible, since her mission to the hospital had frankly been a failure.
“Well, I did get Chance out of there, before Dr. Miller could do anything else.”
It really annoyed Kehpri that she hadn’t been able to sneak in while they’d been working on the agent during the first few frantic moments. She’d seen the good doctor inject something into the agent, but she hadn’t been able to get a sample, or even get the used syringe.
Unfortunately, that meant she was going to have to go back to the hospital and try again.
Hopefully the staff wouldn’t just throw her into some psychiatric ward.
“Hmmm...” Picking up a small data recorder, she flipped it on. “It’s now been three weeks since I’ve come to the Were Reservation. I know that there is an answer here, somewhere. The files that Tim got me, along with my mysterious contact from the DoD, show that the tissue and blood samples came from here. My attempt to find out what Dr. Miller is doing here have not been successful yet. Note to self, attempt infiltrating the hospital again, perhaps not as a patient this time.”
She clicked off the recorder, staring at the lab bench as she considered her possible plans of action.
“Oh, note to self. I have to return the picture to the Super Agent’s place - soon.”
Again, the recorder was clicked off. This time she set it aside on the desk.
Since the program was still dutifully sifting through data and trying to match a name to the faces on the faded out picture, she leaned back in the chair and laced her hands behind her head.
There had to be a connection between Dr. Miller’s presence here and the disappearing Weres. She was sure of it. Bob had to be involved in it somehow, also, although he was doing a great job of keeping himself clean of any incriminating evidence.
“Goddamn it! Six months now and all I have are fucking rumors!”
It was infuriating. Six months on the run, six months of hiding out and trying to piece together what was going on. And what did she have…a banged up pickup truck, an ancient Gulf Stream trailer, and a lab, of sorts, hidden in a space rental place.
She was alone, utterly alone. No one would care if she died suddenly out here. No one would even miss her. In fact, a few people would be pretty happy if she did.
“Fuck it.” Grabbing the photo off of the scanner and leaving the computer to do its thing, she decided to get to work on the blood samples. That would give her something to concentrate on so she wouldn’t feel so lonely. There were days when she thought she would go insane from loneliness.
“Maybe I already have.”
She laughed, “Talking to myself again.”
Sighing, she pulled on some gloves and pulled open the white plastic garbage bag she’d used to stuff the cloth in. Time to find out what Agent Pavel’s DNA could tell her.
Chance got out of her car, not as cool as the work vehicle she got to drive and not as many gadgets, but it got her from point A, her house, to point B, her work. The day had been hot, and her shirt was stuck to her back with sweat. She pulled into the local market near her house.
Instead of suffering the food at the Frosty Stand, which she was pretty certain the young punks who worked there spit into her food, she was going to try cooking for herself…which was depressing.
Her day had been full of shit, the kind of human shit and suffering that made her sometimes sit at home with her gun in her mouth, thinking seriously of eating a bullet. A roughneck Were full of attitude coming out of the store slammed into her. She gritted her teeth and attempted to move around him.
"Fucking puppy, go back to your human masters, we don't need no human-loving piece of shit stinking up our territory."
The tic started in her right eye again, and she just gritted her teeth and went inside.
Chance just didn't need this shit today.
She had spent most of her day just across the border following up on a rape charge. The smug asshole who had raped at twelve year old girl would probably never see the inside of a jail, and now she was just feeling filthy and like she'd failed.
Everyone stared at her, and whispered behind her back, and she wondered how Halstead had managed this for five years, and she was nowhere near the asshole he was, although, he did live off the Reservation.
She bought some steaks and a sack of potatoes, just because it was a good buy, and beer. Then feeling guilty, threw in some apple juice, to pretend she was healthy. The cashier rang her up way too high for the steaks, but Chance didn't have it in her to argue. She just kept seeing the beaten and bloody face of that girl and kept thinking about how much she'd failed her.
As she walked out to her car, she cursed when she saw her left back taillight had been kicked in.
She dragged her tired ass up the three flights to her apartment, took one look at the door and knew someone had broken in. The open door was a big clue. "Fucking great," she muttered, kicking the door shut.
A startled yelp echoed from deeper in the apartment, and Kehpri appeared at the door from the bedroom, grinning sheepishly. "Hi."
Chance just stood for a moment, her lips pursed. She thought about an outburst, but gave up the idea it wouldn’t do any good. "You…but it’s only been a week since last we saw each other."
"What a week though," Kehpri grinned, which turned into a smile when she spotted the shopping bags. "Oh, are we having dinner?" She rubbed her hands together hopefully.
"Yeah, why not," Chance said. "‘Cause if I asked you to leave, would it do any good?"
"Nope," Kehpri said happily, very, very glad that she'd managed to return the picture to its spot in the back before the agent had barged in.
She walked past her to the kitchen, flipping on a light. "If I find any of my underwear gone, I’m shooting you, just so we're clear."
"As if I want anything to do with your underwear…" Kehpri trailed along behind her, still fixated on the bags of groceries that the dark-haired agent was carrying. "So what are we having for dinner?"
“You a vegetarian?" Chance asked, setting the bags down.
"Like I could afford to be a vegetarian." She didn't have the finances to be choosy about the things she ate.
"Well then, we're having steak and potatoes." She rubbed her face wondering why she didn't just kick the insane woman out of her place. It wasn't like Kehpri weighed anything.
"Steak and potatoes," the other woman almost drooled right there. "That sounds great." She hesitated a moment "Did you want, I mean, is there something I can help with?"
"Yeah, um, you can um... no, not really. Give me a moment to change and I'll start. You want to take another shower?" Chance asked as she walked to her bedroom, un-tucking her shirt from her pants.
Kehpri frowned and looked down at herself. "No…I don't think so. Why, are you saying I smell?"
"No," Chance shouted from her bedroom. "You just seemed to enjoy taking one when you were here on Tuesday." She paused, thinking to herself that she really hadn't been home since then, either. "Jesus is it really Friday already?" she muttered and threw her blazer on the floor and started unbuttoning her shirt.
Her stitches were itching like crazy, and maybe she should go in and see Dr Miller to get them removed, the woman had been calling for a follow up.
"It is? Oh, right, yeah it's Friday," the distracted sounding shout came from the other room as Kehpri started to fiddle with the fairly nice stereo system in the living room. "If you're offering, though, I might take you up on the shower thing later."
"Yeah, why not, you already broke into my place." She shucked off her pants and slipped on some well-worn jeans. With her shirt unbuttoned, she wandered to the doorway. "Why are you here?"
"Hhhhhhmmmmmmmmm..?" Kehpri looked over, grinning as she took in the rather interesting fashion statement. "What?" She had to mentally slap herself to get her mind out of the gutter. "Well, your door was open, so I decided to see if you were in."
"My door was open?" She frowned and walked back to her closet. "Well, fuck." She took her shirt off, pulled on a t-shirt, and pulled her hair back in a short ponytail. She grabbed her keys off the key hook, unlocked the gun box and put away her service weapons.
"I know, and I came ready to try and pick the lock. Good thing it was open though, I really suck at lock picking." Finding a channel that she liked, Kehpri flopped down on the couch and listened to the smooth jazz that was being played.
She looked around but didn't see anything missing. "Well, I haven't been home since Tuesday, so God knows how long it’s been that way. I don't see anything missing, so I guess that's good." She threw a towel at crazy and went out on the balcony to start her small gas grill. "So what's your week been like? You feeding and watering your flamingos?"
"Of course not, they're plastic." Kehpri wandered after the agent, making sure that the music was loud enough to hear out on the small slab of a balcony. "Besides, I don't have much water. I've been trying to figure out what the hospital people have been doing." The brunette looked so very earnest in answering, that even as her stomach rumbled at the sight of steaks.
"Hospital?" she raised an eyebrow then just shook her head. "And why were you trying to break into my place?" She looked up and sighed, "Never mind."
Happy that the grill was going, she let the rack heat up and went back inside. She popped the steaks out and ripped open the wrapping. She'd been planning on cooking both and eating the other one tomorrow, but she was committed to feeding the crazy lady now. She opened the 5lb bag of potatoes and pulled out two good-sized ones and rinsed them off, popping them in the microwave.
She asked, "How do you like your steak?"
"Medium…" Kehpri perched on one of the barstools that seemed to double as kitchen chairs, watching the goings on with great curiosity. "How do you know how to cook?" It wasn't gourmet cooking, but it was more than she herself knew how to do.
"After my parents died, I went to live with my uncle Paul, who was a dick. Women did all the cooking and cleaning, and men sat on the couch and farted - I guess. So I was regulated to the kitchen to learn my womanly duties. Now my uncle Paul is still an ass, but when I went away to college and then joined the FBI, knowing how to cook came in handy, especially living by myself. Do you have any idea the crap they put in fast food?" She stopped massaging the steak-rub into the meat and blinked at Kehpri, "Well, that was an intensely personal story I had no intention of sharing." Self-consciously, she went out to the grill and turned the heat almost off, and threw the meat on, leaving Kehpri to fidget a bit awkwardly in the kitchen alone.
Not particularly liking the feeling, she jumped down off the stool and went to stand in the doorway to the balcony, watching the woman grill. "My mother always tried to get me to learn how to cook. I never really figured out how to do it without a recipe. She always said it was more of an art." Maybe an exchange of stories would set the other woman at ease.
Chance nodded and sat down on the one dirty, plastic chair out on the balcony. "Well, recipes are good templates, but they're general in a lot of ways. Different altitudes and climates can affect a dish greatly, and then sometimes your palate just craves more than what the recipe says. But that's my opinion.”
Unconsciously, she started scratching her ribs where her stitches were driving her nuts.
"What's wrong with your stitches? Don't tell me you tore them again!" Kehpri was quickly out of the doorway and kneeling by the chair that the agent was sitting in, pushing up the shirt material to try and see the stitches she'd redone just a few days ago.
"Stop it. They itch, just means they're healing." Chance was a bit bemused to have Kehpri kneeling at her side.
"As if you know anything about healing…" The brunette managed to push up the shirt enough to see the wounds. Her eyes widened then narrowed as she studied the stitches. "Well...your stitches have to come out."
"Okay, I'll go see Dr. Miller on Monday. She's been calling me all week to come in for a follow up."
"No!" Kehpri's eyes got all wide again. "No Dr. Miller! She's evil. I'll remove them myself."
Confused, Chance sat back. "She's a doctor, they take a Hypothetical Oath or something...you know, to help mankind. You have some sort of hospital phobia?"
"Of course not, I was in the hospital when I met you, wasn't I? Don't move." She got up and dashed inside, going to grab a few things she'd seen in the bathroom on her last visit.
"Um, I think Dr. Miller is a little more qualified to do this. Plus she's hot." She grinned a bit at the thought of being topless in Dr. Miller's hands. That faded though, and she pondered, if that was so appealing why was she putting the good doctor off. That…she didn't have an answer for.
"You think she's hot?" Kehpri asked, emerging with a bottle of peroxide and a nail cleaning kit. "She's evil and demented. She'll use you for one of her demented experiments." So saying, she knelt again and poured a liberal amount of peroxide over the small pair of scissors.
"Don't move," the skinny woman demanded, then gently started to snip off the knotted end of the stitches and pull them out.
This had to be the most interpersonal contact she'd had in a while, barring the guys at work and her sister, how fucking weird was her life. Chance didn't move a muscle. "This couldn't have waited until after dinner?"
"No," was the short answer as Kehpri worked her way down the line of stitches. "Dr. Miller could have done a better job stitching you instead of flirting all the time," she grumbled, not taking any pains to hide her disdain for the good doctor.
"Okay, then. You're jealous of Dr. Miller…which is understandable. She's a doctor with a staff and a hospital and you're not."
The last stitch was removed a touch more roughly than was really called for. "And you are a bitch," Kehpri said, tossing the scissors back into the toiletry kit.
Chance thought about it for a minute. "Yeah, you're right. I'm sorry. Shitty week," she said in her defense. She had to chuckle because they were all shitty weeks. God she was overdue for a vacation.
"Are you always this annoying or only to those people you think are insane?" Kehpri asked, getting up from next to the seat.
"Um, well...is that a trick question?" She blinked then pulled her shirt back down and got up. "It’s possible, I suppose, that I am always annoying."
"And this is the best conversation I've had in months," Kehpri grumbled to herself, stowing the toiletry kit aside to watch the grilling that was going on.
She checked the steaks, happy that they were cooking slowly and that they might just been done at the same time as the potatoes. "But you may just be overly sensitive, since you're insane.”
"You know, I really don't remember admitting or agreeing to this insane thing." The slim woman perched on the edge of the dirty plastic chair, trying not to drool as she caught a whiff of the delicious smells of cooking steaks.
"Semantics," Chance muttered out. She walked into the kitchen and grabbed a beer. "You want a beer?"
"You have beer?" Kehpri very nearly leapt off the chair to follow the agent into the kitchen, "Cold beer?" She really had to come around here more often.
"Well, it was cold when I got it at the store thirty minutes ago." She grabbed one and twisted the top off. "It’s an amber, I think."
"Oh God, I think I love you." Kehpri snatched the bottle out of the other woman's hands and took a deep drink. The sounds that followed were probably a shoo-in for any porn movie out there.
"Um..." She cleared her throat and felt a little flush. "I'll be right back. I'm just going to go to the bathroom."
Rolling the bottle along her neck, Kehpri made some sort of vague agreeing motion. It had been so long since she'd had actual cold beer, she'd forgotten what it tasted like. "Want me to look after the steaks?"
"Um, yeah, whatever..."
Chance shut the bathroom door and turned the faucet on cold and splashed water on her face. She stared at her reflection. "You need a girlfriend. Okay, you need to get laid…if the crazy lady is making you hot." She slapped more water on her face.
The alcohol was going straight to the brunette's brain. Taking another drink that emptied the bottle almost halfway, she wandered back out to the balcony to watch over the all-important steaks.
"Hey, how do you want your steak?" the shout from the balcony came.
Chance came back out, pulled the potatoes out of the microwave and threw them into the oven.
"You can pull it off now. I like it more on the raw side." She grabbed a beer and started drinking.
"Hope you have more beer too." Kehpri started getting the steaks off the grill and onto the plate. "I need to come here more often for dinner," she grinned widely, as she carried the plate with steaks inside.
"I have a six pack. Erm, well, a four pack now, I guess." She scratched her head in wonder at the domestic scene going on in her apartment.
"Perfect." This was turning into a really good day as far as Kehpri was concerned. "I don't suppose you have ice cream for dessert, do you?" she asked, so very hopefully.
"Dunno, check the freezer." She stared at their dinner. "Jesus I need to eat more vegetables. I'm never going to have another bowel movement again."
The freezer would have to wait. The meat was entirely too tempting right now. Without waiting for permission, she grabbed the largest of the steaks and started right in. "Dinner's great like this," she mumbled around a piece of meat.
Chance watched stunned as the woman grabbed the bigger of the two steaks and started inhaling it. Grumbling about rude, uninvited house guests, she pulled the potatoes out of the oven and opened her fridge, pulling out some butter and tossing the sour cream into the trash without even looking at it.
It was passed its prime by a month.
Juggling her beer and plate, she went back outside where the scorching day had given way to a pleasant evening.
"This is really good," Kehpri called after her, licking her lips in a pause that was dictated by the need to breath.
"Glad you liked it. Come over anytime and sponge off me." She was being sarcastic, but oddly, it had been nice to cook for someone else. She checked that the grill was turned off then swung her feet up onto the railing and started to eat as the sun disappeared.
The last of the meat was carefully gnawed off the bone, and only when it was completely clean did she set it aside and pick up her fork again for the potato. "Thanks for the invitation," the brunette said happily. "I'll bring beer next time." She'd try to bring beer, anyway.
Chance just grunted and cracked the bone of her steak with her teeth and started to suck the marrow out.
There was a moment of silence as Kehpri stared at her dining partner, and then she looked back down to her potatoes. "Sooo...you said you can't change shape, right?"
Chance raised an eyebrow, set the well-gnawed bone down and picked up her beer. She took a long swallow before finally answering. "No. I'm human, I'm FBI, and unless they've changed the wording somewhere, no Para-humans may be in any level of government. Mixed-breeds are considered human."
"Right, right…" She took a bite of potato and studiously watched a car passing down the street below. "So how'd you heal so quickly?" she finally asked, in what she was pretty sure was a neutral tone.
Shoulders shrugged and Chance got up suddenly, no longer hungry, and stalked inside. "I guess I wasn't hurt as bad as everyone thought." She tossed her food in the garbage.
"Do you enjoy living in denial?" Kehpri called after her, the neutral tone gone and replaced by annoyance.
There was a headache forming behind her eyes, and a whisper of memory wanting to get out. But she wasn't up for dealing with the past, so she pushed it away.
"Look, I've had a shitty day. Some prick raped a twelve year old, and by the time someone thought to call us, the evidence was already corrupted and he'd gotten five of his buddies to swear up and down he was with them. So...yeah..." She finished scrubbing her face. "I'm going to go take a shower then maybe drink myself unconscious, ‘cause I have tomorrow off. Help yourself to..." She gazed around her pathetically stocked kitchen. "…stuff."
From the door to the balcony, Kehpri winced, feeling like an ass. "Look, I'm sorry, I just..." She grimaced. "I'm not really good with people," she offered, finally, a bit lamely.
It probably wasn’t wise to leave crazy alone in her house, but she'd already broken in and kidnapped her. Chance held up a hand to silence her. "No more talking until I have a shower and another beer. Then you may have a shower and join me in getting drunk."
She pulled her shirt off as she entered her bedroom and stripped off the rest of her clothes. She started the shower, opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed the aspirin and took a handful.
There were only two more beers in the fridge. That would make getting drunk rather hard. Kehpri weighed her options. She did feel bad about making the other woman give her food.
Well, she felt kind of bad about it.
Digging into her torn and dusty jeans, she pulled out the crumpled bills in it and shrugged. She probably had enough time to go get some more cheap beer. Tearing a piece of paper off a takeout order form, she scrawled a note, left it on the table and closed the door after her.
Shower was hot, scalding into her skin, burning away most of the shit, leaving her in a better frame of mind. With her mood considerably better, she turned the shower off and stepped out, grabbing a towel. "Hey, you'd save any beer?"
When silence was her only answer, she stepped out of her room. "Crazy?"
Chance looked around on the off chance Kewpie doll was lying in wait with a sharp knife. Instead, she found a note saying 'BRB with more beer'. She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Jesus. I had hard alcohol in the cabinet above the fridge."
She looked at the time and sighed. Really, how much trouble could the woman get into? "Right…" She ran back to her room and pulled on some clothes.
The door to Agent Pavel's apartment banged open and Kehpri leaned against the doorframe, out of breath, a case of the cheapest beer in both hands. "Did you know you live in a really crappy neighborhood?"
Chance skidded to a halt halfway down the hallway. "Jesus…I was almost worried. Yeah, I know, I live in not the best place."
"No, I mean it's really a bad neighborhood. These guys were following me almost all the way back here..." She paused, slowly smiling. "Aw, you were going to come save me! You care!"
"No, not," Chance grumbled and tightened her towel that had come loose. She stood awkwardly for a moment. "Uh, thanks for getting beer. I'll just go get dressed."
"You did care!" the taunting yell came down the hall after the agent. Laughing happily, Kehpri slammed the door shut behind her and started to pile beer in the fridge, singing off tune again.
Now dressed, Chance came back out. "Please don't sing anymore." She wandered over to the stereo and turned off the light jazz station that was driving her nuts and put in a Jimmy Buffett CD. Blushing, she quickly skipped it past 'Why don't we get drunk and screw' to a different song.
The beers safely in the fridge, Kehpri shoved the box next to it to host the inevitable empty bottles. An open one for herself and one for Chance, she said, "You don't like my singing?"
"No, not really…" She took the beer and sat on her overstuffed couch with a happy sigh. "There's a towel and some clothes in the bathroom if you want to shower. And you're sleeping on the couch tonight. Remind me and I’ll grab you a pillow and a blanket.
Both eyebrows went up as Kehpri found herself a seat on the opposite side of the couch. "I'm staying here?" She grinned. "Don't I get the bed?"
Chance snorted, "No. You only get the bed if we're sleeping together…which we're not. And you're drinking, so you're not driving, which means, ‘cause I'm feeling nice since you braved my shitty neighborhood to get beer, that you get the couch."
"Otherwise, what, you'd make me sleep on the balcony?" That seemed a bit rough to Kehpri. Thankfully, she had beer to down to dull the pain, which she did.
"Um, nah, I'd still let you sleep on the couch. I was just giving you a hard time." She downed her beer and got up to get another one.
"You want another?" she held up a full one, shaking it."
"Better bring two." Kehpri showed no indication of getting up off the couch. In fact, by the fifth beer of the evening, she was pretty certain she was never going to get off the couch again.
Slumped back onto the arm, she stared up at the ceiling above her.
"You're ceiling is really dirty," she said, managing to raise her beer and take a drink without dribbling too much.
"Yeah, well, it’s the maid’s week off." She brought the beer over, handing it to Kehpri, and sat down. She sipped her beer then pulled her shirt up. She looked down, studying where Kehpri had taken the stitches out. "It’s not going to be a horrible scar. You did good work on the stitches, Doc."
"I did great work. I can't believe that hack Miller ever got through medical school." The empty beer bottle joined its pack mates on the floor by the edge of the couch, and she took the new one.
Chance wisely said nothing. She was well aware by now that Kehpri had issues with Doctor Miller, "So why aren't you a doctor anymore?"
"Who said I wasn't?" She managed to lift her head and narrowed her eyes at the other woman.
"On vacation then, to the lovely and scenic Were Reservation?" Chance sat her empty down and started humming to the music.
"Hmph…you can hum to music but I can't." Kehpri let her head fall back and laughed. "Yeah…vacation. I'm taking a sabbatical. It clears the head."
"Humming is okay, but no singing."
Kehpri snorted, "That's discrimination. I thought you super agents were supposed to be above that sort of thing." She took another drink.
Chance chuckled, "Fucking place to take a vacation." She looked over then reached over, brushing an unruly strand of curly hair behind Kephri's ear. Her fingers lingered for a moment then she snatched her hand back. Wow, maybe it was time for bed if she was thinking that Crazy was looking sort of cute in a mad doctor way.
"Hmmm…good place for a vacation," Kehpri mumbled, eyes closing. She'd had enough beer to be feeling very nice; maybe she'd even get a good night sleep. "I thought you didn't like me," she mumbled.
"I don't." Chance got up. "Let me get you a pillow and a blanket."
"What a sweet talker you are," Kehpri grumbled, putting down the half empty beer. That was enough of that, before she said anything really bad.
Chance laughed, a full, rich sound, "You want sweet talk and pretty words, go to Zoya." She returned with an extra pillow off her bed and a blanket.
Chance woke, sitting straight up in bed, the nightmare already receding. Her t-shirt and boxers were soaked with sweat and her panting breath sounded loud in her bedroom. The nightmare had shifted somehow. Normally it ended with the death of her family, with the crack of a rifle, and the smell and taste of blood everywhere. This time it had kept going. Her Uncle Paul had been there with a baseball bat. He was screaming at her, and hitting her over and over again, calling her a freak and a monster.
Jesus she shouldn't drink so much before going to bed.
Her door slid open and she looked over, easily seeing Kephri in the dark room.
She thought about lying, making Kephri go away, but then she settled for the truth, "No, not really, you?"
Chance could almost taste the unasked question by the other woman, and she threw back the covers. "Why don't you, sleep in here with me…safety in numbers."
A moment’s hesitation and then Kehpri was walking over and sliding into the bed. Chance spooned around her and had to wonder if there were two more fucked up people on the planet, or perhaps misery really did like company.
"Don't you wish, sometimes, that you could avoid ever sleeping again?" Kehpri's voice sounded lost in the darkness, weary.
"Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no…sometimes...even though it’s a nightmare...I get to be with my family again. I can't remember what they look like. It’s so clear on waking, but then it fades."
"What happened to them?" Feeling the other woman tense, Kehpri stroked the arm around her mid section. "You don't have to tell me, just, you know, sometimes it helps."
"Shot by hunters. It was a clean kill; both of them hit in the head. Weres can't heal that. My brother Ivan wasn't so lucky, glancing wound causing brain damage, and Zoya and I were fine. Well, if you consider being covered in your pack mother's blood and brains okay."
There wasn't really so much that Kehpri could actually say in response to that. Everything that came to mind seemed too trivial and she knew how much she hated it when people said stupid inane things. "I hope they got what they deserved,” she said instead.
"Maybe… Zoya was hiding in the shadows of night, and I pissed myself. I was lying under my pack mother's dead body, hearing the footsteps getting closer and closer and then Zoya attacked them. She killed them, ripped their throats out."
Kehpri shuddered at the rawness in the agent's voice. She could almost picture the scene that the dark-haired woman was describing; seeing it in her mind’s eye. "Then you decided to join the FBI, to make sure that people like that would get caught?"
"Yeah… I understand why Zoya did it. She was protecting me, her pack. But in the end, the FBI came in, investigated, took me away from Zoya, and sent Zoya to a sort of Juvi for minors. I had to live twelve more years with my birth mother's dick of a brother. I spent all that time thinking, nobody was wrong, but the results were still fucked up, so the system needed changing." Chance unconsciously held on tighter.
"And have you?" The smaller woman turned her head just enough so that she could get a look at the other woman's face in the near darkness. "Changed it?"
"Maybe…" She blew out a breath, "Probably not. I try, I try to do everything I can to help them. I try to prosecute all the crap. Because when I do, it shows the world out there, humans are more than capable of being the bigger monster, sometimes."
"You should keep trying. No matter what, keep trying to change it. Don't let them drive you away, just because you know what you are doing." Kehpri snuggled deeper into the embrace, a topic that they had tacitly chosen to ignore.
"Thanks. You want to talk about your demons tonight?"
"No." The answer was short and to the point and the thin woman nearly convulsed at even thinking of sharing her demons with Chance. "Not tonight." Not ever, she was pretty sure. The good agent wouldn't be likely to be sympathetic. In fact, she was pretty sure that Chance might kill her, or at the very least, turn her in.
Chance stiffened a little at the abrupt response, feeling hurt. "Okay, but just so you know, I'm a horrible listener. Any of my ex's will tell you that," she joked it off.
"Any of them?" Kehpri raised an eyebrow in the darkness. "Are there many of them?"
"Um, no… Not really. I was one of those kids in school who studied all the time. And then at Quantico, it was the gym or the books." Although every once in awhile her roommate had gotten her out, and it was amazing how quick she could get a bed partner for the night.
"I'm sure the girls swooned all over you." Kehpri grinned. "An FBI recruit all full of righteousness." Hell, she would have swooned over that too.
"And a badge, gun, and handcuffs. Some women really dig those handcuffs," she shrugged, not getting the appeal herself.
"And handcuffs…" Kehpri laughed suddenly. "Yes, I bet that led to some interesting games." She closed her eyes, trying to sleep or at least pretend to. It would be best to stop this conversation before it got onto her past.
Chance shrugged, but didn't answer. She yawned, and let her eyes close. As she dozed, her nose burrowed under the hair at the nape of Kehpri's neck, and exhaled soft little puffs of air and breathed in Kehpri's scent.
It was a very long time before the smaller woman managed to slip back into sleep. Once asleep though, she relaxed into the embrace and images of running through the desert sands playing with a pack of wolves played through her dreams.
Chance came instantly awake, her hand grabbing the gun out from under her mattress.
Zoya held her hands up. "Whoa there, champ," she stated, her eyes going cross-eyed as she looked down the barrel of the gun.
"Zoya? What are you doing breaking into my place?"
"You know the lock is busted on the door? That's not safe, not for this place, at any rate. So I thought I'd make sure you were okay." Zoya's blue eyes roved over the other person in her sister's bed. "I see I'm interrupting."
Chance clicked the safety on and placed the gun in her nightstand. "No, its not... You know what, yes you are. Was there something you wanted?"
Zoya looked hurt at that. "Work on your manners, Chance. Do you have to be such a bitch? I'm sorry, I was worried about you. Remember how I had to rush you to the hospital earlier this week."
Chance looked down, feeling bad.
"Yet, not even a phone call, letting me know you were okay."
Feeling guilt, Chance ran a hand through her hair. "I'm sorry. Um, you want to go for a run? We can talk."
Zoya nodded her head at Kehpri, "You want to leave that warming your bed? Sure, she's a little skinny, but not too bad, nice tits."
Chance frowned and shoved her sister out of her bedroom. "Five minutes and I’ll be ready for a run."
"Is there a reason your sister came to check up on you at..." Kehpri cracked open an eyelid to double check, "before dawn?" She'd been having such nice dreams for once, and the brunette really would rather still be sleeping.
Chance leaned over and pulled the covers back up. "I've been a bad sister, and she knows it’s my day off. Go back to sleep, I'll be back in…ah, forty-five minutes.” She went over and pulled a sports bra and some shorts out of a pile on the floor and started changing.
Kehpri made an annoyed sound and snuggled into the blankets, closing her eyes. She really didn't want to get up, and there was no way in hell that she was getting out of the bed within forty-five minutes. "Have fun," she mumbled, already half asleep again.
Chance felt like she was going to hurl up her lung, but stubbornly kept pace with her sister.
They’d been running for a while, and she was highly annoyed that she was feeling the burn.
“Should you even be doing this so soon after being shot?” Zoya asked.
“I have no idea,” Chance gasped out. “But I got my stitches out yesterday, so I’ll be fine.”
The white-haired woman stumbled at bit, “Really? Didn’t they dig a sliver bullet out of you?”
“Yeah, I guess it didn’t hit anything vital. Just a flesh wound. God it bled though. Maybe I’m just a bleeder.”
“It’s possible. Probably just the good genes dad passed on to you.”
Chance just grunted and swept sweaty bangs out of her face.
“So, who’s the piece of tail in your bed?”
“Just a friend… She’s having a hard time lately,” Chance said vaguely.
“Must be a hell of a time, to be hiding out in the middle of the Reservation, especially since she’s human… You need to stop dating those human girls, they’re just too breakable, and they always end up freaking out when they meet your family.”
“Well, when you shift into your wolf form during dinner…that can be a bit much.”
Zoya sniffed. “She didn’t think a woman as attractive as me could really be a Were.”
Chance nodded and didn’t say anything, trying to save her breath. For a while nothing was said, there was just the rhythmic pounding of their feet on the paved street.
“Come on, lil’ sis, you really need to take better care of yourself and stop holding back. You should not be this winded.”
“Fuck you. I was drinking last night.”
“Pussy,” Zoya snapped back. “Race you back. And…if get there first, I get to wake you’re girlfriend up.”
“Asshole… And she’s not my girlfriend. She’s just a…”
“A friend and a girl, hence girlfriend… And one I get to crawl into bed with and wake up. Later, Chance.” Zoya put on a burst of speed and took off down the street.
Chance growled and produced a burst of speed, chasing after her sister.
Five minutes later found both of them gasping for breath on the steps leading up to Chance’s apartment.
“Such an asshole,” Chance grumbled out, her head between her knees.
“Whatever, and just so you know, I let you beat me.”
“Uh huh,” Chance said looking up with a smug grin.
“Fine… I’ll leave you to wake up your ‘friend’. But seriously, Chance, you’re not human, so stop training like you’re one. You need to push yourself more, or you’re going to get lazy.”
“Well, it’s not like there’s a plethora of mixed-breeds around for me to play hoops with.”
Zoya snorted and got up, giving her little sister a noogie. “Moron. Come out with the pack, we’ll make sure you stay above and beyond FBI fit.”
“No thanks, I get enough shit around town. I know everyone thinks I’m a puppy for the government, I don’t need a bunch of Weres being nice to me, just ‘cause you’re my sister.”
Zoya’s face went white with anger. “Who fucking called you a puppy?”
Annoyed, Chance pushed her sister’s hand off her head. “I’m a big girl, I can take it. It’s no different from the humans calling me a mule, so I guess that’s something you guys have in common.”
“I don’t condone that, just like I don’t condone mixed-breed children being exiled to the human world.” In fact, Zoya had found mixed-breeds to be really handy, especially on full moon nights. She’d started sending such kids to college, bringing them back to work in the clinic and in local law enforcement.
“I know. I think that scholarship program you created is the best thing. But it doesn’t make all the hurt go away.”
“Well, Chance, you’re the one that wants to carry the baggage. If you’d put it down and get that stick out of your ass, about one-half of you being werewolf, maybe you’d find your place in the world.”
“A fun run as always. See you next week,” she said tightly, her blue eyes stormy as she turned going up the stairs.
“Chance…” Zoya started as her sister stormed off.
There was something that maybe, in another dimension, resembled singing going on inside of Chance's apartment. There was also the smell of something being cooked on the stove. The kitchen had been turned into a disaster area; pans and pots covered in what looked like pancake batter everywhere. Kehpri was in front of the stove, studiously watching pancakes cook and trying to improve on her record. So far, three had burned and four hadn't…which was a good record for her.
Chance winced at the singing and opened her apartment door, and stopped, staring in horror at her kitchen. "What, are you doing?"
"Pancakes!" was the delighted reply. "Damn, burned another." She tossed the smoking husk into the trashcan and poured another lump of batter into the still hot frying pan.
"Oh Jesus…" She rushed over to the stove and looked into the skillet. "Go, go, go…I'll finish this."
"Hey!" Kehpri complained as she was shoved out of the way. "I was trying to do something nice here." She crossed her arms over the shirt she'd 'borrowed' from Chance's bedroom and glared.
Chance wiped sweat off her face and turned to look at the other woman. "That was nice, and I appreciated it. But let me finish up, perhaps there will be a few more we can get." She smiled at Kehpri. "Honestly, it was a nice gesture."
She looked back suspiciously. "Ok. Well, as long as it's appreciated." She perched on a stool to watch. "I really don't understand it. I should be a great cook. I follow the recipe to the second."
"Hmmm, well, you’re a doctor, right?" She didn't wait for an answer. "When you look at somebody, do you read off a list to see what’s wrong with them, or intuitively do you just know things?"
Kehpri narrowed her eyes and didn't answer for a second. "It depends what’s wrong with them." She saw the point though, and grudgingly agreed.
Chance flipped the pancake and reached over, turning down the heat. She looked over then grabbed the box of mix and turned it around, showing the recipe. "This is a guideline, but it’s not everything." She flipped the pancake on to a plate then poured on two more.
"Well, I get points for trying," Kehpri grumbled, sitting on the stool in the agent's dress shirt and nothing else. "You and your sister have a good run?"
Chance gave a genuine smile. "Yes, you get major points for trying, and yes, we had an okay run. You're lucky. You know, she almost beat me, and then she would have come up and woken you up."
"Awww... did you get jealous?" Kehpri grinned wickedly.
Startled, Chance flipped the pancake out into the middle of the living room. "Jealous? Why would I be jealous?" She flipped the other pancake onto a plate.
Kehpri leaned out a bit to see where the pancake landed. "Well, I was joking, but maybe I shouldn't be."
Grumbling about crazy people, she shoved a plate into Kehpri's hand and opened her fridge, grabbing a bottled water and the syrup.
"The crazy person didn't throw a pancake into the living room." Kehpri liberally poured syrup over her pancake.
"It was an accident." She tossed a few of the pancakes Kehpri had made onto her plate and then Kehpri's.
"Mmmmmm…" Kehpri decided to let it go as she enjoyed the food. "So, are you working today?"
"No, it’s my day off," she mumbled, her mouth full.
"Days off…" Sighing fondly, Kehpri finished off her pancakes. "So I guess I should leave you to your day off..." She didn't sound too eager to do that.
"Leave? Um, I guess." It had been kind of nice to have someone around.
Kehpri carried her plate over to the sink and hesitated. "So I guess I should, umm, let you be?" She'd have to find her clothes.
"Well...um..." Chance scratched her head. "We could…um…do something…"
"Really?" Kehpri's eyes lit up. "Road trip! Somewhere out of this town." It was a bit of a depressing place, and she wanted to go somewhere else, where she could pretend things were nice and normal, for at least a little while.
"Uh, sure..." Chance ran a hand through her sweaty hair. The crazy lady had to have used some sort of mind control on her.
Kehpri jumped down off her stool and walked closer to Chance, getting well inside the other woman's comfort zone. "Do you know what I'd like to see again? A lake… Where people picnic and laugh because they have a great life and love one another. Can we go see a place like that?"
"Um, sure..." she said again.
"A lake; let me think. We could go north. It’s kind of a hike, I think, two-miles up to Crater Lake. It’s in Cougar Territory, but I'll call a buddy."
Kehpri nodded quickly. "Sandwiches…we'll need sandwiches and beer for the picnic." The beer they had, but she was fairly certain that there wasn't anything like sandwich meat that was safe to eat in Chance's refrigerator.
"We can make a stop at a Deli or something." Chance was getting caught up in the idea. On her day off, she normally sat around or slept. When she had first started her post here she masturbated a lot, but as time went on, her libido died.
"Yes! Good." That sounded like a great plan, and Kehpri nearly danced with joy around the small kitchen as she contemplated it, "A day being normal." That would be a novelty.
"Let me get changed, and we can go."