Miller picked up the phone. "This is Dr. Miller." A smile broke out over her face. "Excellent! That has to be the best news I've had in a while. Where are they?”
Her face morphed into a thundercloud. "What the fuck are they doing in lock up? I want them up here ASAP. Or I may just have a new volunteer, got me!"
Tyler looked up from the work she was studying and raised an eyebrow. "What is it?" she asked, shifting her left hand carefully, in case the syringe hidden up her sleeve would fall out.
"They've caught your friend. Agent Pavel has decided to join us, and she brought a friend."
All Tyler could do was stare at her, in slowly dawning horror. "No," she whispered, licking her lips. That wasn't good, not good at all.
"I'm surprised. I doubt Zoya would try to break into a government facility to save...well, anybody she was sleeping with." Miller had to ponder maybe she'd chased after the wrong sister then had to frown at the absurdity of that thought.
"Zoya..?" They'd caught both Zoya and Chance? That really wasn't good. That meant there wasn't anyone out there to come rescue them. "You can't expect me to help you do anything to either of them," she said faintly, gripping the arm of the chair to keep herself upright.
"What? No, I wasn't saying they'd caught Zoya," she laughed, a sad sound. "Zoya wouldn't risk her wolves for a lowly human. Zoya's just the Werewolf equivalent of Bob. I'm not sure who the other woman is." She stared at Tyler for a moment then smiled. "Oh, Tyler, you don't have to do anything to them, just Chance's blood."
Tyler opened her mouth to tell Miller to go fuck herself in the corner. A thought stopped her though, and she closed her mouth slowly, blinking as she considered the idea. "In exchange for you guaranteeing nothing happens to either of them."
Miller thought about lying to Tyler. "You know, I can't guarantee that. Bob controls everything. But…I...I...can keep the knowledge that Chance is a Werewolf from Bob."
That would be something at least. "I have your word on that?" For what that was worth.
"Yeah, there's no proof anywhere that she is."
It didn't take much thought. "All right," Tyler sealed her deal with the devil. "I'll help you take her blood and process it."
"Deal…" The young doctor changed her lab coat for one that didn't have Halstead's blood splattered on it. "So do you know how she managed to avoid detection? Those government tests are brutal in telling nonhumans from humans?"
This was dangerous territory, and Tyler chose her words very carefully. "I don't know how she managed to avoid being detected as a Were." Which was the truth, she didn't. She knew how to tell if someone was a Were, but there was no way she would ever tell Helen Miller that.
Miller studied her for a moment then shrugged, "Too bad. I bet Zoya put her up to it."
Tyler snorted and pulled out several syringes, getting ready for the job ahead. As if Zoya could put Chance up to anything she didn't want to do.
There came a buzz from the door then it opened. Four heavily armed men came in, sandwiching Chance and another woman.
"Ms. Pavel on the examination table please; the other one in the cage," Miller said in a cold, detached fashion.
From her spot next to the lab bench, Tyler tried to catch Chance's eye, worried as she catalogued a few new bruises and a slight limp in her lover's walk.
Chance blinked, confused when she saw Tyler standing next to Dr. Miller. "Tyler, what’s going on?" It really didn't seem to her that Tyler needed any rescue.
"Dr. Madison is helping me create a super-soldier from Werewolf DNA. On the table please," she ordered.
"Hey, Chance." She glanced sideways, frowning as Miller talked over her.
Chance's jaw snapped shut and she gave both women an angry glare. "You bitch! I tried to save you." She tried to lunge at them, but two of the soldiers held her back and wrestled her to the table.
"Well, that was a pointless effort in femme fatale rescuing. Next time let’s just go get beer and nachos," the dark-skinned woman joked as the other two soldiers shoved her into a cage with silver bars. "Wow, our government is in how much debt, yet you can make cages out of silver?"
Tyler jerked in surprise, wishing she could say something, anything, to reassure the other woman. Instead, she turned her back, making sure that the required syringe was ready. If what she was considering was going to work, they'd only have one shot at it. There wouldn't be another opportunity.
"I was hoping you weren't going to try anything stupid," Tyler answered, instead.
Once the two hostiles had been secured, the soldiers looked at the doctor, "Ma'am?"
"You may leave. They're not going anywhere," she said absently, gathering what she would need to draw more blood.
They nodded and headed out, leaving the two original soldiers who were watching Dr. Madison.
She looked at her assistant. "Remove the patch and cut her shirt off. I can see blood seeping through at the shoulder."
The man nodded and got to work.
"I'm a human being. You can't just treat me like some animal," Chance shouted, straining at her restraints.
Miller ignored the outburst. "Interesting," she murmured. "I think this wound is silver based, judging from the blackened, diseased-looking flesh around the wound. But even more interesting is that it isn't spreading. It should be in your blood stream rushing through your body, killing you by degrees. I think I may have accidentally made a Super-Were." She frowned. That would piss Bob off.
"It probably has nothing to do with you injecting her with your serum," Tyler spoke up, tearing her eyes away from the look on Chance's face. She didn't want to look at the disbelief there, the betrayal that was evident on the agent's face. If the cost of keeping her safe was their relationship, then she would do what she had to.
"You think she comes by it naturally?" Miller asked, looking over at the other doctor.
"It's part of what makes her special. She isn't a typical Were, you know that already." Tyler glanced towards the cage in the corner where the other Were had been shoved. She wouldn't be able to get to Chance and free her, but maybe she could get to the cage instead.
Bones stared over at Chance. "So are we doing a rescue scene here or can I just go for wholesale carnage?"
Miller looked over and blinked as if noticing the woman for the first time. "Right, what the hell are you going to do? Those bars are pure silver."
"Really silver, huh?" the black woman reached out and grabbed the bar, smirking. "Uh, it burns, the pain, the pain," she mocked.
Tyler laughed at the shocked look on Helen's face. "Oops. Looks like you made another mistake. You assumed she was a Were. Too bad…looks like you were wrong."
"You know the best thing about silver, its low melting point." Unseen tattoos on her skin, hidden by the leather jacket, flared to life, turning a dark, angry red.
Flames danced along her fingers, and the bar started to change color.
"Fuck." Tyler didn't know what was about to happen, but she was really sure that it wasn't going to be good. Whatever the woman behind the bars was, she wasn't a Were, that was clear. Shoving away from the lab bench, she threw herself towards Chance.
Chance let out an uff, as air whooshed out her lungs as Tyler landed on her. The gurney slid backwards, crashing into the wall. Chance winced as IVs ripped out of her flesh.
"What are you waiting for? Shoot her!" Miller yelled at the guards who had frozen, staring in surprise at the fire that now wreathed the woman in the cell.
The guards shook off their shock and raised their rifles.
Bones’ eyes glowed bright gold, until they erupted in red. Horns sprouted out of her forehead, hard, cold, bone shards curling back. Clothes melted away, turning into hard, black scales, and dark fur. She looked vaguely like a werewolf, only a hell of a lot scarier.
"Shit," one of the guards yelped.
Casting a look behind her at the screaming going on, Tyler gulped and shifted so she could start trying to undo the straps that were holding down Chance. "What the hell is she?" That didn't look like any Were she'd ever heard about. "Are you ok?" She pulled the first strap loose.
Chance blinked at the woman on top of her, trying to turn her head so she could see her with her good eye. "Are you still on my side here? ‘Cause it looked like you were against me when I was shoved in here?"
"Are you serious?" Tyler stopped what she was doing, staring down at the one-eyed woman and frowning. "How could you ever think that? You got yourself shot to get me out of there!" Biting her lip, she gently touched the eye patch. "What happened to your eye?"
Behind them, the first of the guards finally found his balls and pulled the trigger, then pulled it again when the silver bullet did exactly no evident damage to the thing inside the cage. Miller kept yelling at them to shoot her, and the other guard looked like he was ready to piss his pants as the flames kept growing.
"Halstead's knife was silver, its poisoned the nerves and tissue. Zoya's doctor says it’s not spreading. He didn't have to give me an injection for silver poisoning. He thinks I might regenerate in time." She looked around then back at Tyler. "I'm sorry."
"You should be," she gave the woman a light punch on the arm. "I can't believe you thought I might be on any other side than yours! Do you know what I had to go through with Dr. Insane over there?" Tyler looked over at the ranting woman who was now just screaming things at the soldier who hadn't started shooting.
The silver bars were melting away, but Bones didn't wait for them to dissolve. She tore through them and leapt at the guard currently shooting her.
"Ugh." Tyler looked away, quickly, from what was going on, grimacing at the sound of something tearing through meat. Quickly, she started working on the bonds, cursing at how difficult they were to get loose.
Chance sat up once the strap across her chest was undone then leaned over and kissed Tyler's cheek. "Let's get out of here. Bones said something about chaos and causing hell on earth. Now I don't think she was kidding.
Tyler took a look at the thing that she could just kind of make out through the waves of flames and the body it flung aside. "Jesus." Miller had decided enough was enough apparently, and was currently sprinting for the door also, leaving the lone soldier alone to babble incoherently. Tyler almost felt sorry for him. Grabbing Chance's arm, she helped her up.
"Wait." She ran over to the counter and grabbed the vial she wanted, shoving it in her pocket. "Let’s go!"
Chance rolled her eyes. "So, did she tell you what she injected me with?"
"Yeah," Tyler grimaced, holding the door open for Chance and wishing they could get further away from the thing that was on flames. "Um, it was a derivative of a serum I helped make."
"So, in English?" Chance said, pulling Tyler along after her.
"She was testing out a super-soldier serum on you. But that's because she thought you were human." Behind them, there was a dull explosion and flames burst through the doors they had just left. Tyler started running a bit faster.
"So the thing she injected me with didn't do anything to me?" Chance was confused.
"Welllll…" Tyler drew out the word, trying to buy a little bit of time as they kept running, trying to keep up with Chance. How long was this hallway? It had to end somewhere, didn't it? "It did something to you, just not the same as it would have done if you were human."
"Okay, my brain is hurting. This isn't making things any clearer." She came to a skidding halt as alarms started going and soldiers in various states of dress came flooding out of doors. She pulled Tyler down another hallway.
Smoke and fire started pouring down the hallway they had come from.
"Damn it, that’s a lot of guys with guns. Tell me Zoya is out there somewhere ready to rescue us?" Tyler huffed as she sprinted down the dingy corridor, aware of people yelling behind them.
"She's out there," Chance said, looking around.
Bones came sprinting down the hallway in her full Hellhound form. She could have been mistaken for wolf or a large dog, except all four paws ended in wicked claws, and her belly was covered in thick, shiny, black scales. Dark fur covered the rest, and horns sprouted out of her head.
Some of the soldiers took one look and started running the other way.
Tyler risked a glance over her shoulder as they ran and grinned at the chaos behind them. Bones had promised hell on earth, and she sure seemed to be delivering on that. Everywhere she touched burst into flames, and the smoke and flames added to the already chaotic situation. Some soldiers were shooting wildly, others were frozen where they stood, while a few others were running away, weapons dropped, and screaming.
"You sure know how to set up a party," she gasped to Chance, lungs starting to burn. If they got out of this, she promised she'd start jogging every day.
Zoya's head perked up at the sound of alarms going off. "I believe that's our cue." She shifted her form and started running to the gates, her pack at her back.
"That would be Zoya. She apparently won Bones in a card game. I don't have a clue what she is, but she scares the piss out of me." She was desperately looking for exit signs.
If Tyler let her mind dwell on it too long, it would do more than scare the piss out of her. Instead, she pointed as she saw a door with what looked like a small rectangular window showing sunlight through it. "There!" An exit sign was lacking, but it was better than nothing.
Chance slammed through door and froze. The courtyard was a mass of death and dying. Zoya and her wolves had ripped through the fence and were taking care of the remaining soldiers.
A man had his head ripped off his body so close by that Tyler felt the blood splatter hit the side of her face. Ducking behind Chance, she looked away from the mayhem and screaming.
"Chance, it's Bob!" she pointed towards one of the two massive trucks that were parked on the far side of the compound entrance. A bald headed man was opening the door to one of them and climbing inside.
Chance swung her head around, trying to see where Tyler was pointing. "Okay, what do you want me to do?"
"I don't know! Can't you arrest him or something?"
It was a completely absurd statement, and she turned, looking at Tyler. "Sure, I'll run right over there where he's in a truck with a machine gun on top of it and arrest them. Can we just stick with my original plan? Rescue you and run away."
"You don't understand. That man," she pointed at the truck, having to yell to be heard over the chaos, "is the head of the research project. It will never stop as long as he is around. He will not give up!"
"Fuck," Chance muttered. She turned, looking for her sister.
"Zoya, the man in that truck is responsible for all of this!"
She bent over, grabbing the gore-splattered automatic out of the dead soldier’s hand and opened fire on the tires of the trucks. She cursed, as her aim was off, and tried to compensate for her crippled vision.
"Give me that," Zoya jerked the rifle out of her sisters' hands, wiping blood off her face as she finished changing back into her human shape. The fighting was starting to calm down, with most of the remaining soldiers making a run for it. "You can't shoot worth shit with one eye."
Raising it to her shoulder, she aimed at the truck, smiling ferally. "I was thinking, Chance. You should run for Sheriff or something." Pulling the trigger, she grunted in pleasure as she hit the first tire.
"Yes I can. I just need to get my bearings. I am actually trained to do this, went through school and everything, top of my class." She left, 'asshole', unsaid. "Do I get free donuts?"
"Sure," Zoya tossed aside the empty rifle, "why not."
"And I thought guys were bad with their pissing contests," Tyler mumbled, rolling her eyes. When Zoya had shot out all of the tires on that side of the truck she started walking towards it, quite certain it wasn't going anywhere.
Chance caught the rifle. "Tyler, could you stay over here, I'd feel better, safety in numbers and all that."
"That son of a bitch ruined my life! I have months of aggression to get out. Couldn't we just go grab him, drag him out of the truck, and do something to him?" She stopped walking though.
Chance looked over at Zoya, "Um, sure."
Zoya just shrugged, "Don't look at me. You're the representative of the law."
Behind them, the army outpost was burning. Clouds of smoke rose in a pillar in the sky.
Chance sighed and grabbed another gun and started towards the truck. There was a prickling of unease along her spine. Why hadn't anyone come out of the trucks? "Come out with your hands above your head!" she shouted.
"Why, if it isn't Agent Pavel, I was hoping you'd stick around for the main event," Bob's voice came out, amplified over external speakers. Tyler looked over at Chance, a little worried. That didn't sound like a man who was cowering in fear.
Chance tightened her grip on the gun and looked from Tyler to Zoya. "Bob, you're kind of out of options. You're super secret base is on fire, and your research is going up in smoke. Just give it up."
"Actually, Agent Pavel, this is a perfect opportunity to test out a byproduct of Dr. Madison’s research." Mechanical locks at the back of the truck clanked as they were sprung open.
Tyler slowed her walk then stopped, frowning. What byproducts was he talking about?
"This can't be good," Chance muttered as the doors on the back of the truck started to open.
"No. This is really bad," Tyler agreed, backing up, one step after another, eyes wide as she stared at the truck. The back ramp slammed down to the ground hard enough that it bounced once then settled among the dust. Everyone watched…the wolves and humans who were left in the courtyard.
"I take it back, Chance, we should go." Tyler kept backing up afraid she knew what was inside that truck.
Chance, not sure what was going on, started to back up as well. Her gun was trained ahead of her, never wavering.
A dim shape stirred inside the shadows, larger and hulking. Then another and another, moving until the inside was shifting back and forth. Then, at once, they erupted from that opening. They were neither human nor animal, horrible mixtures of both that should never have seen the light of day. They moved fast, screaming in rage and their own pain.
"What the hell are those?" Zoya yelled.
"Mistakes!" Tyler yelled back.
"Shit!" Chance shouted, backing up even faster. She aimed at the first one out of the back of the truck and fired.
Bullets sprayed into its torso, which seemed to only make it angrier as the thing leapt twelve feet from one spot to another.
Then it was running on all fours, clawing the ground as it came towards Chance, fast.
Chance stopped retreating, and held her ground. She was already compensating now for her limited sight. She watched the thing charge her. Down the sight, she lined up the barrel with its head then squeezed out a few shots, watching its head snap back. Then she dropped her sight down to its joints, and started shredding its joints, moving from limb to limb until it stopped moving.
It wasn't dead, just immobile, and that scared the fuck out of her, because there were more of those things coming out of the truck, and it had taken all the bullets she had to bring it down.
"We're going to have a problem here!" Zoya yelled, jumping up and to the side away from a misshapen clawed hand that tried to rip her head off. The pack was reforming, doing what it did best, bringing down a creature with sheer numbers. It was, Tyler thought, like wolves taking down a bear. It was costing them too. Even as she watched, a wolf went flying with a yelp of pain.
"How do we stop them?" Chance shouted, jumping back as jaws snapped at her, and swung her gun as a club in retaliation.
"I don't know!" Tyler yelled, looking around wildly for something, anything, to help. Even as she did, the first of the misshapen creatures that Chance had shot stirred, tissue starting to knit itself again. Her gaze stopped at the trailer. "I'll be back!" she shouted, sprinting across the battlefield that was the courtyard.
"Tyler!" Chance shouted as the woman ran off. She ducked a swing of claws, but then a backhand sent her flying.
Zoya landed near her, wiping blood from her mouth with a hand that was fully clawed. "We can't hold them for very long."
She got up, growling, which was harder than on a full moon night, but the anger and fear for her sister and Tyler sent the extra jolt of adrenaline, triggering her change. "We do what we can. Because if we don't, they'll get out and wipe out the only place we have. He's fucking not going to stop them," Chance growled out as her skin split and fur began sprouting out.
Despite the situation, Zoya grinned, happy at that moment. No matter what happened, it was good that this had happened if it brought her sister back to her. "Good to have you back, Chance." The last words were growls as she, too, shifted shape.
Ducking around through the fighting, Tyler sprinted through the melee to the side of the truck. Barely pausing, she grabbed the handle and yanked, thanking whoever was up there when it wasn't locked.
The doors to the building exploded out, dark red flames poured out as well as oily dark smoke. After the fire died down, Bones appeared in the doorway. She was back in her human form. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the chaos going on in the courtyard. Her eyes were bright like heated copper, and fire ran up and down her fingertips.
Tyler took one last look behind her, at Chance and Zoya fighting. Zoya was easy to spot, all white fur, but she didn't know how she recognized Chance in the chaos, especially since she wasn’t in her human form, but she did. Swallowing, she swung herself up into the cab of the truck, eyes wide and scanning for any sign of Bob. The cab was empty though, and she carefully stepped through the door to the rear.
The trailer was filled with scientific equipment, a full stocked laboratory on wheels. Along the right were empty cages that had housed the beasts that now fought outside. Still no sign of Bob though, and she crept quietly to the lab benches, searching for something useful.
Chance locked her jaws around the twisted arm of the monstrosity and held on as it roared and tried to shake her off.
The thing swung at her, trying to bat at her, and roared again as it failed to tear her from its flesh. It went down to one leg, bleeding from the wounds of a half dozen different Weres that had tried to stop it before it got to Chance. An eye that was entirely too human looked at her as it snarled, spittle and blood mixing together as it mangled words together. "Kill me," it demanded, slamming Chance against a wall with what was left of its strength.
Chance grabbed on to the arms slamming her back into the wall and crunched together, and she raised her back paws and clawed into its unprotected belly. Her claws easily tore it open.
"Kill me!" it roared, screaming in her face, guts spilling out as it slammed its head into hers, hard, again and again.
Inside the truck, Tyler tossed things aside as she rummaged for something useful, anything that could help. Then her fingers paused, as she stared down into the large drawer she'd opened. The canisters inside were simple enough looking, but she knew the numbered codes that were printed across the tops. "That could work," she mumbled, picking one up and nodding. "Yes, that could work."
Bones stepped slowly down the steps, to the ground. The fire around her fingers began to spin faster and faster, gaining mass, until large balls of fire writhed and rolled in her palms.
The first one was launched at the monster attacking Zoya. After looking around again, she sent one at the one on Chance.
The thing shrieked, burning and collapsing to the ground, going still as it kept burning. "Thanks," the white-haired Were that was Zoya growled through a muzzle that was not meant to pronounce human words.
Chance yelped and rolled on the ground trying to put her fur out. "Thanks," she grumped.
Bones' eyes dimmed, going back to a now dull caramel color, and she staggered, going down to one knee, exhausted.
"Chance!" Tyler yelled from the door of the truck, holding what looked like an air gun in one hand.
A dark-furred head turned at the sound of Tyler's voice, and loped over to her side. While two of the beasts were down, three more were still causing death and destruction.
"I found this in the truck," the brunette yelled, waving the rifle above her as she watched Chance come closer. "It has a fast acting nerve agent in it. I'm betting it's Bob's security blanket in case they turned on him."
Chance came to a stop, towering over the other woman in her Were form. Her body trembled as she shifted, slightly becoming less wolf-like and more human. "Good job," she rasped out.
"I'm here to help." She offered the air gun, smiling into the face she had come to know so well over the past few weeks. It felt longer than that. A lifetime now had come and gone.
Chance smiled, her lips pulling back, exposing sharp teeth. She shifted back even more, looking even more human. Naked, she was still covered in a fine dark fur. She held out her hand for the gun.
The sight was really unsettling, and Tyler blinked a few times to clear her sight and focused on the agent's face. "There's a box full of darts. Enough for all of them, I think," she smiled. "Good news, right?"
She handed over the gun and darts, letting her hand linger on Chance's, savoring the small contact. The sound was a small popping noise, nothing too loud sounding, at least to Tyler's ears. The smile faltered and she blinked in confusion, swallowing against a suddenly dry throat.
"What?" she mumbled, looking down, puzzled at the redness seeping across the front of her shirt.
Chance winced and looked down. There was a bullet hole weeping blood in her abdomen. She followed its trajectory to Tyler's chest. At first, she couldn't comprehend what she was seeing. The gun fell from her hands and she grabbed Tyler as her knees gave out.
"No. No, no, no. Noooooooooooo!" she howled, feeling as if her heart had been ripped out.
"That stings…" Tyler mumbled, collapsing into Chance’s arms out of the door of the truck. Behind her, Bob stood, pistol raised and a faint smile on his face as if he had just seen something ever so slightly amusing. "Good bye, Dr. Madison."
Then he shifted aim just a bit at Chance, and pulled the trigger again.
The bullet missed, because she was falling with Tyler in her arms. Cursing, he moved closer to the door of the truck. "Agent Pavel, you've been an annoyance to me almost as long as Dr. Madison has been."
"Forgive me," Chance whispered as she dropped Tyler and lunged at Bob, shifting completely.
He jerked back, pulling the trigger as he did, bullet bouncing off the door to the cab and spinning within a hairsbreadth of Chance's head. Yelling, he dodged backwards, slamming the door to the rear of the truck shut.
Tyler lay on the ground, gasping as blood pooled around her, pumping out of the wound in her front and back. Ever so slowly, she wormed a hand into her pocket and pulled out the syringe inside. She tasted blood in her mouth, more was coming. She knew what would come after that. With what was left of her strength, she flicked the cap off and jabbed it into her side, shoving the plunger home.
Gasping, her arms went limp and she blinked up at the sky above. Her vision grayed then grew dark. The gasping slowed and stopped, and her sightless eyes stared upwards.
Chance saw only red. Her claws ripped the door off the hinges, not even feeling as two of her claws were broken off. The prey was old and weak, and needed to be cut from the herd.
He was in the back, running for the back door, trying to get to the row of cabinets that were back there. If he could get to them in time, he had a shot. His fingers were actually on the lock of the door when Chance ripped the reinforced steel door right off the hinges.
She never slowed, just came at him with pure hatred pouring out of her eyes. She rushed to the back of the truck, teeth exposed, and all she wanted was the blood of the man who had killed her mate.
He died screaming, his blood painting the walls as she tore through him far easier than she had torn through the reinforced steel door.
His death didn't end the pain. She let the body drop then made her way back to the broken door of the truck, leaving bloody footprints in her wake. As she got to the lip and stared down at Tyler's unmoving form, covered in blood, her body shrank in on itself and spat her out a lonely, naked human. She could care less about Zoya or the monsters, her mate was dead.
Unsteadily, she jumped down and collapsed on her knees at Tyler's side, and sobbed.
Incoming helicopters forced them from the base. She hadn't wanted to leave Tyler, but Zoya had Bones pick her up and carry her away. There were too many incoming military, and the monstrosities that Bob had created had cut their numbers dangerously.
The sweeper team came in and cleaned up, destroying any evidence of Bob's research. The bodies were loaded up onto trucks to be disposed of, Were and human alike, all equal in death.
The back of the large army truck bounced up and down as the truck hurtled down the pothole-filled road. In the front cab two soldiers talked, laughing at each other’s jokes as they followed the convoy through the darkness. They were happy to be away from the work at the Reservation and the Weres that inhabited it. None of them had been really happy at the idea of staying there for too long.
The back of the truck was piled high with body bags. Humans, Weres, and monsters, were all going to the same place, and all of them earned a body bag and a toe tag. The night drive was a long one, and the soldiers purposefully ignored the shifting bags behind them. It was a grim cargo that they carried. One of those black, rubberized body bags shifted without the help of a pothole or turn in the road. A few minutes later, it shifted again, rustling from inside.
A pinky finger worked its way through the zipper at the top, and the zipper rasped downwards, the sound hidden by the laughing in the front seat. Inside, a pale-skinned woman with brown hair lay. She stayed where she was, not moving for a few miles until she gasped, eyes snapping open to stare upwards.
Tyler woke to the sound of laughter from the front of the truck and lying in a pile of body bags. She couldn't remember anything other than the taste of blood on her lips and the horrified look on Chance's face. Slowly, she rolled sideways and started to worm out of the bag. The truck again rumbled over bumps, and the men in the front laughed over another crude joke.
Zoya sat at her desk, just staring blankly into space.
There were dark circles under her eyes, and her left wrist was in a splint. Under her clothes were various cuts and bruises. Things weren't going well with Chance. Maybe it was her fault, she didn't really understand the whole mate thing, and maybe she should have been a little more tactful about the little two-sided bitch’s death. But come on, the woman had lied about, well...everything. This whole thing was just strengthening her resolve to never, ever, fall in love. Nope, she would be a bachelor into death.
It had been three months since the attack in her territory. The military had come in and done what the military does. Sweep death and destruction under the rug. There had been no news stories, nobody had issued her an apology, and the bodies of her dead were being used for God only knew what. That was hard, going to the families of those who had died in that attack and explaining why there was no body to bury.
Outside her window, it was snowing again, and she briefly wondered how Chance was doing. Her sister had moved into Kimberly's territory, a god-awful two-mile hike straight up. She had helped her sister build herself, what Zoya considered, a shack, and moved what was left of Kehp, er, Tyler’s stuff. And to top that off, Chance had started spending more and more time in her animal form. That wasn't good. It was only a matter of time before Chance forgot who she was. Of course, that also meant her sister would forget the pain of Tyler's passing, and be only a simple animal.
She had talked to Kimberly a couple of times, and she was thankful the woman's pride was looking out for Chance when they could, but it was frustrating. She had her sister back, and in her pack, only to lose her again. When she did try to nose in, they only ended up fighting, which accounted for her current state.
With a frustrated sigh, she slumped in her chair and ran her fingers roughly through her thick locks.
There was a knock on the door, and Zoya's head snapped up. "Come in," she mumbled. After a few seconds of nothing, she shouted, "Enter!"
Bones opened the door, peeking in to make sure Zoya wasn't entertaining.
"Um..." Bones said then stopped, frowning, not sure how to phrase what she wanted to say.
"Before I get old," Zoya snapped again.
"Well, I have a surprise for you," she finally said.
The woman behind Bones had shorter brown hair than Tyler, but other than that, she looked an awfully lot alike. "Hey, Zoya," she called, giving a small smile as she stepped out from behind Bones.
Zoya's face went blank in surprise. "Um..."
"Thanks, Bones," Tyler patted the woman, who could make flames on the shoulder.
Bones cracked up laughing. "Oh my...that was priceless…the look on your face."
Striving really hard not to laugh, Tyler gently pushed her out of the room and closed the door. "Sorry to drop in unannounced," she gave a wry grin.
"Um...you're dead," Zoya said, not sure if this was an elaborate joke.
"Yup, so it said on my toe tag. Want to see?" She rummaged into a pocket and pulled out the yellow tag with a mischievous look.
Zoya's eyes narrowed, "Is this some sort of joke?"
"Ha!" Tyler gave a short, bitter laugh before grabbing a chair and sitting down across from her.
"Sure, big joke, it's a big cosmic joke. Where's Chance?" That was why she was here after all, why she had bailed out of the back of a truck going fifty miles an hour and hiked back to the Reservation. A trip that had taken her longer than she'd wanted, but considering she'd been naked at the start…
Zoya pushed her chair away from her desk and stood up, limping slightly. "Chance is none of your business. She doesn't need a liar in her life. Is this another government trick?" Her eyes were flashing silver in their light blue depths.
"Do I look like a government trick?" Tyler kept going before Zoya could answer. "Wait, don't answer that." She sighed, looking away. This was harder than she'd pictured, although it was nice to finally be here. "I didn't know it snowed here in the winter," she mused, watching flakes fall outside the window, then shook her head. "I'm not a government trick." She managed to cut off a few curse words, figuring they wouldn't help. "I...woke up in the back of the morgue truck." She shivered a bit, remembering all those body bags.
"Mountains, cold equals snow," Zoya responded offhand. She shook her head a little bit, "You what?"
"Woke up in the back of the truck," the doctor responded, slowly, in case Zoya was having hearing problems, "in a body bag." She grimaced.
The door opened and Bones came in with a tray with tea and several teacups. It was an odd juxtaposition to her jeans and black leather jacket. "So what did I miss? Did she tell you how she came back from the dead?"
"I woke up," Tyler repeated, annoyed at having to repeat it so many times, but happy to see the tea. She could do with some of the warmth after the long trek back.
Bones set the tea down, "A body bag, sweet. That happened to me once." She poured three cups of tea, handing one to Tyler, who gave her a strange look before carefully accepting the teacup.
"You're really strange, you know that, right? I mean, you burst into flames."
Bones nodded. "Hellhound," she said in answer.
Zoya was mimicking a fish out of water. "Hello…weird situation…dead person walking. And why didn't you hand me tea?"
Bones and Tyler shared an amused look at that. "I'm not dead, obviously," Tyler said, picking up her cup and sipping gingerly at the hot tea.
Bones rolled her eyes, and handed a cup to Zoya.
"You'll have to forgive her. Chance beat her up yesterday."
"Chance beat you up?" Tyler grinned, "Really?" That was interesting. The grin faded. "Where is she, Zoya?"
Zoya looked at Bones and said, "Hold her."
In the blink of an eye, Bones had Tyler in a death grip.
"What the fuck!" The teacup crashed to the floor as Tyler struggled against the unyielding grip that suddenly had her.
Zoya walked over to the pinned woman and brushed the fine hair up off the back of her neck. The sight there made her frown. With a snarl, Zoya threw her teacup at the wall, and stormed over to the other side of the room.
Bones just let go of Tyler.
"Terri's going to be pissed two of her tea cups got broken."
"Shut up, Bones," Zoya muttered.
"Gee, nice to see you too, Zoya." Tyler brushed her hair back in place, frowning. "What was that all about?"
"I'm guessing Chance's bite mark is still on the back of your neck. Means you're still her mate. Zoya was hoping it was gone," Bones said quietly.
"Oh." Tyler blinked, not sure what to think of that. "So that means you're going to tell me where I can find her, right?"
Zoya turned, looking at Tyler. "Why aren't you dead? IF you hurt her, again, I'll kill you." She ran a hand through her hair. "Bones, take her to Chance."
"What? You know I hate snow." She made a face.
Zoya grinned. "Yeah, I know."
"Asshole," Bones muttered.
"Guess we're going for a hike then, Bones." Tyler stood up, smiling. "Bye, Zoya, it's been fun, again."
"Joy," the hellhound said walking out of Zoya's office.
Bones pulled the jeep off the road and parked at the start of the trailhead with a sigh, staring at the snowdrifts outside the vehicle. She hated the cold.
The hike up the mountains, in the snow, was something that Tyler wouldn't have been able to do before her little trip into death. Instead, she carried along besides Bones, as they waded through the snow past the evergreens that grew at this altitude. "Do you often burst into flames?" she asked, finally, not being able to resist anymore.
"Sure. It’s kind of part of being a hellhound." She focused slightly, and a small bit of flame crept down her arms, down to her hands, clothing the flesh there in a thin layer of dark, oily fire. Around her the snow began to melt slowly, and Bones grinned, enjoying being warmer. Although, sadly, she knew she'd have to stop or she'd drain herself.
"Right…" Tyler gave her a look, almost wanting to ask what a hellhound was. The scientist in her wanted to ask, wanted to know more about this thing that was obviously not a Were. There were things, though, that she didn't want to know. She let it go and nodded, looking ahead.
"Have you seen her? Is she all right?" No need for her to say who she was talking about.
Bones chuckled. "It’s okay to ask questions. Unlike other people who've owned me, Zoya gives me a high level of autonomy. I rather enjoy it. But you're Chance is...all right. I've seen her a few times. She took your death very hard. Zoya could have handle things better, but I'm afraid she made things worse." Bones went silent for a moment, trying to find a tactful way to put things.
"Zoya doesn't understand love. She understands loss. They lost their parents and an older brother when they were young. But Zoya doesn't get the loss of love, the heartache and damage that it does."
"Bitch," Tyler muttered, frowning into the darkness, and sighed. It wasn't that big a surprise that Zoya hurt Chance. She'd hurt Chance also. "How much farther is it?"
Bones let her fire settle, containing it back inside herself, and started trudging back up the mountain side, shivering. "With the snow slowing us down, I have no idea. Tyler, your Chance is going feral. She spends more and more time in her wolf shape, forgetting that she is human. She attacked Zoya not because she was mad at her sister, but because she saw another wolf invading her territory."
That was something that Tyler hadn't considered in her list of things to worry about. With a puff of white breath on the air, she ran her hands through short, brown hair. "I'll bring her back. I'll find a way," she stated, even though she had no idea how to even start.
Bones nodded, and continued placing one foot in front of the other. She wasn't happy being here, but knew why. Zoya was no match for Chance until she healed. Also, she was very aware of a few Were-cats trailing after them.
"So," she said after some silence. "I'm guessing you’re the super-soldier Miller and the poor late Bob were trying to make. Oh, Chance tore him apart, by the way."
"Good. I hope he went to hell screaming." Tyler wasn't sad at all to hear about Bob's death. "Yeah, guess I managed to fix the serum at the end," she grinned. "All I needed was a sample of Chance's blood." There was a path of sorts now that they were following, every once in a while she could see wolf or cat prints in the snow. "You don't have to keep going if you don't want to. I think I can find her on my own from here."
"Um, I'll just make sure you get there safe," Bones said. "We aren't in Zoya's territory."
"Yeah, big cats and everything…bet they're thrilled to have a hellhound walking around here." She could just make out the shadows in the trees, which reminded her of the only other time she had walked up this mountain, during the summer heat.
"Yeah, well, they're less likely to do anything. Animals in winter, especially predator animals, don't think too wisely, all they see is a meal in lean times."
That was a good point. "I'm glad you're my tour guide then." They weren't far from the lake now, if she remembered correctly. Where exactly had Chance decided to make her new home?
"So, can you change shape?" Bones asked after more minutes of huffing and puffing. Talking made her forget about the cold and the snow.
Tyler laughed. "Nope, no changing shape for me. I'm stuck just like this, which is fine with me. I have enough problems with one body sometimes." She'd tried though, often, to see if she could shape shift. Nothing had happened, no matter how hard she'd concentrated or tried, so she'd accepted that and moved on. "I'll just have to be content with coming back from the dead, right?"
"Yeah, be thankful for that. Second chances are something rare." She grinned at the other woman for a second.
A large, black wolf stepped out from the trees, its teeth exposed and its ruff up.
"Ah, crap," Bones muttered.
Tyler froze, ever so slowly turning her head so that she could see the wolf ahead of them. "Thanks for the escort this far, Bones. I think you should probably back away and leave me here though."
Bones licked her lips, uncertain. "Are you sure? What if she attacks you?"
"She won't." Tyler was as certain of that as she was of her own heart beating in her chest. "Go on. I need to do this alone."
Bones nodded and slowly backed away.
The wolf didn't move, just kept dark blue eyes on the intruders to its territory.
"Bones?" She didn't move her head, didn't look away from the black wolf for a second. "Thank you. Tell Zoya that also, will you?"
"No problem," the Hellhound said, retreating down the mountainside.
Tyler didn't relax when she left, not now, it would be too dangerous. "Chance, I know you're in there somewhere. I knew it when you changed shape in my little trailer and I had to pet you to come back again." She kept her voice low and as unthreatening as she could, hands held loose at her sides.
The wolf split her attention between the retreating woman and the other one who stood still in the middle of the path. One eye had a milky cloud over its surface, showing blindness. Chance's eye had indeed regenerated, but the sight had not come back. The wolf's ruff stayed up, spiking along her back, but as Bones retreated, her growling slowly stopped.
"That's it. It's just you and me. Bones is gone, don't worry, she won't come back." For her sake, Tyler hoped that was true. Keeping her voice low and calm, she took a very cautious step forward. "You know who I am, Chance. I'm Tyler, remember? Kehpri..?"
If wolves could look puzzled, this one did. There were things and images associated with this woman the wolf didn't want to remember.
"You remember." It wasn't a question, and Tyler felt a little bit of hope at that realization. "You remember me." She let out a breath of thanks. "Chance, please, come back from wherever you are. I need you." She continued her ever so slow advance.
The wolf whined and took a few steps back.
Tyler paused, biting her lip. How could she make Chance remember when she obviously didn't want to? "You remember the trailer, the little Gulf Stream trailer in the middle of the desert that you spent time with me in? We made love all the time, every time we could." She edged a little closer.
The wolf snarled then retreated, disappearing into the trees, leaving nothing but footprints that she'd even been here.
"Well fuck," Tyler groaned. Of course this wasn't going to be easy. Nothing was easy, ever. Letting out a breath that turned white on the air, she looked around trying to figure out where to go from here. With a shrug, she started moving, continuing the way she'd been going with Bones, up the trail towards the lake.
Off the trail, just on the slope of the rise before it dipped down to the lake was a small cabin. There was wood piled up haphazardly on the side, the few windows were dark.
"At least I won't freeze to death." Tyler looked around, trying to spot any dark shadows in the tree line. Odd, she couldn't see her shadows anymore. With a shrug, she headed to the cabin, not entirely surprised to find that the front door was unlocked.
The cabin was sparse. There was a small, wood burning stove, a wood box, the couch from Tyler's trailer, and a few other things.
There were only two rooms, the main room and what looked like it might be a bedroom through another door.
"I was wondering where my things had ended up." Not that she'd had a lot of things, but it was nice to see the couch in here. Ignoring the temptation to sit and feel sad for herself, she set about trying to light a fire, which turned out to be a lot harder than she'd expected. But after a couple tries, she got a small one going.
Hours later, it was dark and cold. The clouds had built up in the night sky, promising more snow. The front door eased open, and the black wolf slunk in, carrying a couple of rabbits in its maw. It sat down on its haunches and seemed to sigh seeing Tyler bundled up in front of the stove.
"You could have made this place a little more insulated," Tyler said, reaching out past the blankets to toss another log on the fire. She'd dragged the couch closer to the fireplace to try and enjoy the warmth.
The wolf dropped the rabbits and its muzzle opened and closed a couple of times, but nothing but a few yips came out.
Picking up a longer stick, the woman reached over to push the door closed with it.
With a sigh, the wolf's eyes closed as if in concentration then slowly, the fur fell away, and bones lengthened and changed until a very human looking Chance stood in place of the wolf. "You look very good for a dead woman." The voice was raspy and quiet, and she padded silently to the other room. She felt stupid now, and angry. Anger was hot and cold, eating away in the pit of her stomach.
She picked up some clothes from on top of a pile in the bedroom. She couldn't remember the last time she'd worn clothes. Of course, she wasn't even sure what day or month it was.
"Yeah, I heard that already from your sister," Tyler let out the breath she'd been holding since she'd realized that Chance was changing form. "You look like you were losing yourself."
"And again you look good for someone I watched die in my arms," she snapped back, exiting the bedroom. She picked up the rabbits and took them into the other corner of the room with a crude skin, and started skinning them. Now that she was human, she wanted them cooked and hot.
Tyler sat back, watching every move, every little gesture that Chance made, drinking in the sight of her. "Then I'm obviously not dead."
"It’s been three months. Three goddamn months! You think you could have gotten some message to me you were alive…or was that all just some government act." She was shouting, her anger at the past months bubbling out. She set the knife down and rinsed her hands.
"Chance, I woke up in the back of a moving truck filled with corpses, without anything but the toe tag on my foot. It took me a while to get back here. Besides, I tried getting in touch with you through the FBI. But for some reason, all they promised was to try and give you a message since you were apparently on extended leave?"
Chance frowned. She didn't remember what had happened with her job. Vaguely she remembered arguing with her Supervisor. Him insisting he wasn't taking her notice. She shook her head and clenched her jaw. Walking over to the stove, she grabbed two whip-thin sticks and shoved the rabbits on to them, then wrapped tinfoil around them before shoving them inside the stove.
She was silent for a long time. "What do you want from me? I'm not in a good place right now. I'm so angry at you..." She trailed off, staring at the fire and the cooking rabbits.
"You're angry at me?" Tyler blinked. "That's why you're sulking out here in the middle of nowhere…because you're angry at me?"
Chance growled, and her skin seemed to bubble slightly before it settled down. "I'm fucking mad at everybody!" She got up shouting, and stormed outside, slamming the door.
"What the hell?" Tyler frowned. This really wasn't going as she'd expected. She'd been expecting a lot more naked greeting and kissing, probably in a different order though.
"Well, I'm not too happy right now either!" she yelled at the closed door, and aimed a kick at the only chair in the place. Then yelped as her foot connected and she ended hoping around on one foot, cursing.
Chance snuck back into the house when it was almost dawn. The small cabin was cool, and Tyler was wrapped up, sleeping on the couch where she had pulled it close to the stove. Chance crouched down and watched her sleep. There was snow in her dark hair, slowly melting.
The woman on the couch shivered and pulled the blankets she'd taken off the bed in the backroom up a bit further, trying to get more warmth out of them.
This is what Chance had wanted for the longest time, for the whole nightmare in that military complex three months ago to suddenly disappear, and to be laughing and grilling outside the Gulf Stream trailer again.
But it had happened, just like her parents had been killed, Tyler had died, and she had failed to save the person she'd loved.
"You're dripping on me," Tyler mumbled, not opening her eyes.
The anger was surprising and she wanted to shift back into her wolf form and let it all disappear. She blinked. She hadn't noticed Tyler's breathing shift into awareness.
One eye opened just a slit, so that the short-haired brunette could make sure that it was, in fact, Chance that was standing over her. "Morning," she whispered.
She didn't say anything, just started to get up to go hide in the bedroom.
Shoving an arm out of the blankets, Tyler grabbed a hold of Chance's arm. "Wait, don't go yet. Please?"
Chance froze, feeling the touch acutely against her skin.
"You're freezing." Tyler frowned; sitting up in the couch and grimacing as her body complained about the odd angle she'd fallen asleep in. She'd arranged the couch as close to the fireplace as she dared, angled so that she could see the front door in the hopes of seeing Chance come back.
"It started snowing," she said lamely.
Tugging on the arm she was still holding onto, Tyler urged her to take a seat on the couch. "Sit?" She lifted up the blankets.
Chance swallowed, wanting to run out of the room, but she sat.
Carefully, Tyler draped the warm blankets over her shoulders and tried to warm up the cold body next to hers. "Where did you go?" she asked, finally, figuring that was a safe question.
She had gone out and let her frustration out on trees, leaving claw marks, until her anger had been spent.
"I let off some steam until it was safe to come back," she said finally.
"I made you that angry, huh?" Tyler gave a wan smile. "I always knew I irritated you."
"Yes...no...I've-I've been...things are too close to the surface, I've been staying too long in my animal form." Being back in her human form was being overwhelming, but Tyler had made her change. She wasn't sure how, but she had called her out of that form back into this one.
Concentrating on getting the woman warmed up, Tyler nodded. "Zoya's worried about you. Even Bones seemed worried, as much as she ever looks worried, I guess."
Chance leaned back, relaxing a little. "I think I attacked her. I vaguely remember another wolf invading my space."
"Yeah, she looked banged up." Tyler slung another blanket up over Chance's lap, happy that the stiffness in the woman's body was slowly leaving. "Do you remember me showing up?"
"I remember confusion, familiarity, and panic. I smelled you and knew you belonged to me, but fear because you were lost." She tried to articulate the thoughts of an animal in human terms.
Staying silent for a moment, Tyler considered how to broach the topic that she was sure had to be talked about and soon. Cautiously, she started talking.
"Were you angry because I came back here?" She wasn't sure what she would do if the answer was yes. Leave, probably. Try to find somewhere else to go, where, she had no idea. But she wouldn't stay here if Chance didn't want her.
"No," she said lightly, resting her hand on Tyler's thigh. "I don't know where the anger’s coming from."
"Okay." Tyler could live with that answer for now. "You must be exhausted. Go rest, I'll be here when you wake up, if you want."
"You can have the bed." She wanted to take it back as soon as she'd said it, because then, Tyler would see all the mementos she'd kept from Tyler's trailer.
“Or we can both have the bed." Tyler looked anywhere but Chance's face as she said it. "To keep warm," she hurriedly added on, hating this tension between them.
"I-we…not yet…it’s a little too much for me." She squeezed Tyler's thigh where her hand rested. "But stay with me, here. I want to..." She trailed off, wanting a lot of things.
Tyler nodded and slowly got up, moving to the bedroom, not wanting to push the other woman.
Chance let out a sigh, and got up, pacing nervously. It was too much, all the emotions. Anger, elation, joy, fear, it was all too much. Quickly, she shucked her clothing and shifted into her wolf form. It was almost too easy to slip her skin now, and harder and harder to remember how to change back. The lanky black wolf curled up on the floor next to the stove, its ears alert for any noises.
When the beast woke up, the sky was gray and heavy with clouds. A light dusting of snow was falling. It got up, stretching, and made its way to the other room. She nosed the door open, easily seeing the woman asleep on the bed. This human made no sense, but she eased the ache in her heart and called to her. She padded silently into the room, and leapt up onto the end of the bed, again curling up in a ball, ready to protect if need be.
It took a little bit of shifting, but the not so human woman managed to sit up without waking up the large, black wolf curled up on the end of her bed. She considered that a success of sorts, as she watched the room lighten from the rising sun outside. Reaching out, she carefully ran her fingers through that dark fur, smiling sadly. "What am I going to do with you?" she whispered.
The wolf's black furred ears twitched at the words, and it gave a quiet groan and shifted position on the bed.
With a snort, Tyler leaned forward so that she could rub between those ears and down the long spine, feeling the wolf's muscles twitch under her fingertips.
The wolf sleepily opened its eyes then had to shift around until it could see Tyler with its good eye. Its tail wagged, and bumped its head into Tyler's chest when she stopped scratching.
"How dare I stop," she grumbled good-naturedly, resuming her scratching until she looked around the small cabin frowning. "Chance, where's the bathroom?" It just occurred to her she hadn't seen one last night.
The wolf sighed and jumped down off the bed and walked out of the bedroom to the front door.
"An outhouse? You have to be kidding me. Please tell me you're kidding me?" Tyler groaned, pulling on her coat and following.
The wolf seemed to just grin and scratched at the wooden door.
"Chance, I'm going back to my Gulf Stream trailer if I have to go to the bathroom in the snow." She yanked open the door, grumbling.
With a happy enthusiasm, the wolf bound through the snow around the side of the house to two small buildings separated from the main cabin by a foot or three. There was cabling that ran from the main cabin to the smaller buildings. Chance paused before going to a plastic weatherproof box and sat next to it. There was a red sticker on it that said generator and safety tips.
"A generator?" That was more like it. "That better be the bathroom then." She pointed to the second building and was rewarded by a wag of the wolf's tail. "Good. I'm going to use the facilities then you and I are going to talk."
Leaving the wolf where she sat, Tyler went inside. "Gah, it is an outhouse!" Tyler yelled from inside, a little less upset when she realized that there at least was a fan to circulate air, and a heater so it wasn't freezing inside.
Chance, bored, sniffed the air, catching the smell of game slunk across the snowy ground, and disappeared in the trees.
A little while later, Tyler emerged to find the wolf gone. "Damn it, Chance." She glared at the woods, wrapping her arms around herself to hold in some warmth. Grumbling, she left, heading around towards the main cabin.
There was the trumpeting of a Buck and a yelp and something black streaked out of the tree line fifty feet away, followed shortly by a large Buck.
From the door of the cabin, Tyler watched with amusement, shaking her head at the antics. "I'll be here whenever you decide to stop playing!" the doctor yelled then shut the door behind her.
The wolf made it to the door and scrabbled at it with its front paws. As the angry deer got closer, Chance forced herself to change so she could turn the knob with five human fingers.
The naked woman, with now a hoof print and blood dripping down her face, entered the cabin.
Her guest looked up from the couch she was sprawled out in watching the newly made fire then looked back to the fireplace. "You’re bleeding," she stated, rather unnecessarily.
There was a horrible racket as the buck slammed into the door and Chance stumbled forward. "Do we still have those rabbits from yesterday, or did they burn to a crisp while I was having anger management issues?”
"The things that were on the stove?" Tyler raised an eyebrow at the door, waiting to see if it would cave in. When it didn't, she relaxed. "I found your little cold holding area and put them out there."
"Thanks." The door shook again. She reached up, wiping blood off her upper lip.
"That's one upset deer," Tyler remarked, idly tossing another piece of wood on the fire.
She was trying to remember if she had a gun somewhere. "Bedroom, I think your rifle's in the closet."
"Hmmm?" Tyler blinked. "You're going to resort to shooting the deer that you just went off and infuriated?" She wanted to be clear on this, "As a wolf?"
"I wasn't going after the buck. He was on my blind side, and if he busts this door then we'll need to use it."
"Uh huh… So, you’re a werewolf who just got beat up by a deer. That's what happened, right?" Tyler was having a hard time not laughing at that, and a little snicker escaped.
"Hush," Chance said, and started to roll her eyes but winced at the pain.
The bashing of the door subsided and Tyler got up from the couch. "Let me see that." She peered at the hoof-shaped cut on Chance's head. "Good thing you heal fast or you'd be a good candidate for a great concussion."
Chance whined as Tyler touched her face, but didn't move away.
"I guess that's why wolves don't do so well alone. They need a pack." Tenderly, she brushed dark strands of hair out of the other woman's face.
"Yeah, a pack…" Something she didn't have. She could hear the Buck retreating, going back into the woods and his three does. "Is it broken?"
"Your head?" Tyler raised an eyebrow.
Chance made a face. "I suppose you could take that any numbers of ways. I should go put some clothes on."
"Only if you want to…" She retreated back towards the couch. "You know, I'm not going anywhere until we actually talk."
Chance found the clothes she’d shed last night and put them back on then sat down on the couch next to Tyler.
They stared at the fire for a bit, Chance knowing they should talk. Instead, she grabbed a blanket off the back and gently pulled Tyler down on top of her while stretching out length-wise on the couch, and covered them with the blanket.
"When I was eight years old a Were killed my parents," Tyler said quietly, watching the flames, her cheek on Chance's chest, sheltered from the world. "I wanted to tell you so that you knew why I helped Bob at first."
Chance could have puked at the irony. "I'm sorry that happened to you." She reached up and gently stroked Tyler's hair.
She shrugged, fiddling with the blanket with one hand. "He promised me that I'd be helping find a cure, a way to suppress the change. I thought if I could...then somehow it would stop other families from getting killed." She snorted at how naïve that sounded. "Stupid."
"It’s not just Weres, people kill too. You need a cure for the urge to murder," she said quietly, remembering how hunters murdered her parents.
"Yeah, I know. I said stupid already." Tyler shook her head against the other woman's chest. "I thought I could fix it. I thought I could make something in the lab and cure something that's not curable."
"That's why you hid here. The Reservation would be the last place Bob would look for you. But why me, if you hated Weres?"
"Because you were really hot," she laughed. "Well, I really didn't like you at first, but it was fun to annoy you."
Chance snorted and rolled her eyes. "Whatever. You were hitting on me in the hospital while Miller was sewing me up
"I wasn't hitting on you! I was trying to keep an eye on what Miller was doing to you. I was only there to find out what Miller was up to."
"Uh, huh," Chance said teasingly.
"I was," Tyler pouted just a little bit. "And I went through your medical file."
"Anything interesting?" she asked as one of her hands unconsciously rubbed Tyler's back.
"Well, she was using you as a test subject. Other than that you mean?"
"So, is this growing back due to something she injected me with?" she asked, pointing at her blinded eye.
Tyler shrugged. "What? You think I'm some sort of scientist who knows something?" She shoved herself up a bit so that she could see Chance's face. "I'm a broke drifter, remember?" She smiled saying it, though.
"Uh huh… You might know a thing or two." She smiled, enjoying learning all the things Tyler never told her during their brief fling.
"Well, I did pick up a PhD and an MD." She leaned her head back down on the Were’s chest. "Think they'd be interested in hiring a washed up doctor down at the hospital?"
"I think there’s a good chance. Now that Miller's gone, they're kind of desperate."
"Oh good, job security…" She picked at Chance's shirt. "We're just avoiding talking about it, aren't we?"
Chance frowned. "Probably, but I was enjoying learning all those little things I should have learned when we started sleeping together the first time."
"Oh." She was silent for a moment. "What's your favorite color?" she asked, suddenly.
"Uh...green," Chance responded, puzzled.
"See, little things I didn't know either." She traced a pattern on Chance's stomach, finding gaps in the shirt to touch skin. "Do you still want me to be around?"
"Yes." She didn't have to think about it. "I missed you so much. He shot you. There was nothing I could do to save you. I should have heard him. I should have saved you somehow." Tears were pooling in her eyes.
"Chance, he was behind me, inside the truck, there was no way you could have seen or heard him over the fighting outside. Don't be ridiculous!" She levered herself up enough to see the other woman. "You're serious. You blame yourself for that? I knew the risks when I went in there."
"I was a federal agent, my job was to save people, but I couldn't save the thing most precious to me." She chuckled bitterly. "I know it doesn't make sense."
"You did save me." Tyler reached over to press a kiss to Chance's forehead. "You saved me from myself. I would have died out in that little trailer if you hadn't come along."
Chance wiped her cheeks. "So, what's your favorite color?" she asked to lighten the mood slightly.
"I'm pretty fond of black right now." She twirled a finger through long strands of black hair then wiped an errant tear away. "So what happened to my trailer?"
"The government had been there and tossed it. I scrounged what I could. I needed to get away, I felt like I was coming apart. Kimberly let me build the cabin, and Zoya paid whomever to make it happen. But Zoya just kept saying the wrong thing. She didn't get it. Kimberly was better. She understood where I was at."
She blew out a breath. "So I brought your stuff here with me, and just sort of made a den, I guess."
"So I guess I'm already moved in." Tyler discreetly crossed the fingers on her other hand.
Chance laughed. "Yeah, I guess you are." She leaned forward, resting her forehead against Tyler's. "I'm glad you're back, don't doubt that. And you owe me a story on how you raised yourself from the dead."
"Later," she mumbled, indulging herself in something she'd been dreaming about for months now, and kissed Chance.
Chance was taken off guard for a second then attacked Tyler's lips, pressing her backwards into the couch. Tyler was here, alive, and real.
This was more along the lines of what Tyler had thought their reunion would be like. It was certainly much more enjoyable than slogging up a mountain in the cold while Were cats shadowed her movements. She moaned her approval, sliding fingers under the taller woman's shirt and up a well-muscled back.
Chance sighed as hands slid across her skin. "Missed you," she murmured over and over again, punctuating the words with kisses, over any piece of Tyler's flesh she could get to.
It was hard, but Tyler slowed the kisses until they were just barely brushing lips together. She pulled back with a pleased sigh. "There. That was what I was dreaming about all the time I was trying to get back to see you."
"Sounds like a nice dream."
"Even better in reality…"
They were both quiet for a while, enjoying the moment and the fire. "What happened with your partner?" Tyler suddenly asked.
“Gibbons…he's fine. Everyone in the office was, last I heard. Worried that Halstead had disappeared. Nobody's seen or heard from him."
Tyler grimaced. "That's probably because Miller had him killed when I couldn't give her the super-soldier formula."
"Which reminds me, any sign of that psychopathic bitch?"
"Got me…I've been playing hermit in the middle of nowhere. You'd have to ask Zoya," she murmured.
"I don't think I want to talk to Zoya right now. Besides, hopefully she died screaming." Tyler grinned, her fingers moving higher up Chance's chest.
"Uh huh," she muttered, enjoying Tyler's attention. It had been too long, and for a while she couldn't even imagine this, it had hurt.
The doctor’s fingers dexterously started to undo buttons as they moved down the shirt, her breathing changing as she exposed bare flesh to her sight. "We still have to talk about other things." She'd been so very good about avoiding tackling her so far. But she was, after all, only human.
Well, only mostly human now.
"What things?" That didn't sound good. She opened her eyes and looked at Tyler.
Tyler sighed, resting her fingers where they were. She'd meant to do the talking later on, after they'd reacquainted themselves with each other, "About me being back here with you and you hiding out here going wild."
Chance sat up and buttoned a few buttons on her shirt. "What do you want to know about me, um...hiding out here?"
The other woman whimpered in frustration as she watched her re-button the shirt. "Do you have to get dressed?" The look she got was enough to cause her to sit up. "Fine… What are you doing out here? I know what Zoya thinks you're doing out here, but what are you really doing here?"
"What does Zoya think I'm doing out here?" Chance asked, puzzled. "I just wanted to be away from everybody. Gibbons kept asking uncomfortable questions, like why you suddenly weren't a terrorist but a dead scientist in a botched lab experiment. Zoya just thought I'd meld into her pack and do things the way she wanted. That doesn't work real well, because I'm an Alpha too. And I was so heartsick most days ‘cause you were gone it was nearly impossible to get out of bed."
She reached out and took Chance's hand in hers. "I'm not dead." She waited until Chance looked at her. "I wasn't scared, you know. When I realized what had happened, that I'd been shot. But I was terrified when I came here and you didn't realize who I was when you were in your wolf form."
"Some part of me knew. I had to, or I would have attacked you." Her ears turned slightly red. "You're my mate," she mumbled out.
"Really?" Tyler looked perked up, smiling widely. "That's good to know. I wasn't sure if I was just something to pass the time or a fun diversion while you were suspended."
Chance rubbed her face. "I didn't understand what I was doing when I did it. My subconscious brain knew what I wanted." The redness had spread from her ears to her cheeks. "But it’s not something wolves take lightly, and both people in the relationship understand what they're going to do. I just sort of took you and made you mine."
"I didn't mind." Tyler tugged her back over to the couch and down to sit. "Come here, you. You do realize I won't let you keep slinking around as a wolf, hiding out here?"
"Yeah… Well, Zoya didn't get it, she just expected me to get over it and move on. Kimberly did. We shot and killed her mate. Yeah, he was being phyco, and we had no other choice, but she had to move on, though it took her awhile. I was doing my own sort of coping and grieving."
Chance slowly moved over into Tyler's embrace.
"I'm kind of glad you didn't get over me." She bit her lip, hesitating for a second. "I was scared you wouldn't want to see me at all when I came back."
"Tyler, I may love you, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about the whole Kephri thing. Sometimes I wondered if you had just been using me."
"I wasn't! You have to believe me! I didn't use you. I wanted to at first. I thought it would be perfect, let me see if the FBI was searching for Tyler Miller, but I didn't." She decided to lay her cards on the table. "I got access to your FBI personnel file."
"You did?" Chance blinked, again feeling like Tyler knew far more about her than she did about Tyler, and that annoyed her. "Was there anything particular you were looking for?"
"I was trying to find out why Miller was so interested in you. Your file said you were completely human, but I doubted that." She looked up at her. "I'm sorry."
"I-I-um, where the hell does Kehpri come from?" she asked, diverting her attention to something that had been driving her nuts. "It’s not like it’s a common name like Sarah."
She laughed. "I know. I always liked Egyptian mythology. Kehpri's a bastardization of the Egyptian goddess of secrets. Cute, right?" She made a face at her own little play on words.
Chance grinned a little. "That’s terribly ironic." She reached out and pulled Tyler into her lap, facing her.
"I hate how you know more about me than I even know about myself. I hate that I sometimes feel like I hardly know anything about you at all." She kissed her neck, pulling down the shirt a little.
"I wish this was a fairy tale and we could live happily ever after, but it’s not. Tyler, I want you in my life. I want forever with you. I was miserable when I thought you were dead. But I want to try to be a couple. Is that what you want?"
Tyler slowly nodded, seriously. "I want to stay here, with you, whatever it takes. I'm not leaving." She laughed. "There's nowhere else I want to go. This is the closest to a home I have now."
"I don't want it to be closest, I want it to be home...with maybe more insulation and running water," Chance said, kissing just under Tyler's ear.
"With one condition…" Tyler tilted her head, exposing more skin for the kiss. When Chance paused to listen, she smiled. "No disappearing as a wolf? Go run as much as you want, but warn me?" She grinned. "An indoor bathroom would be nice too."
"I'll see what I can do about indoor plumbing in the spring. I'll try not to hide inside the wolf," Chance agreed.
"Really?" Tyler's eyes brightened. She'd thought this was going to end, with her leaving to find somewhere else to go. She wrapped her arms around Chance, hugging her hard. "Yes!"
"Um, sex now?" Chance mumbled against Tyler's neck.
"That," the brunette pulled back waggling eyebrows, "is the best idea you've had all day." Laughing, she jumped off, undoing her clothes as she headed for the bedroom. "Race you!"
Chance got off the couch with a grin; she could smell Tyler's excitement. Excitement for her, she was wanted with all her flaws and quirks.
A shirt sailed out of the bedroom, followed by a bra. "You're losing!"
There was loud knock at the door. Chance's head sprung up where it had been resting against Tyler's naked back. "Humphf," she mumbled, wiping drool off her chin.
The front door opened and Zoya's blonde head peeked in. "Hello, anybody home?" She stepped inside, knocking snow off her boots. "Well, no blood splatter, that's a good sign." She shivered and picked up some wood out of the wood box. Opening up the stove, she tossed them inside.
A vaguely Tyler-shaped lump under the covers shifted a little bit, and groaned. "Make her go away," she mumbled, trying to curl into a smaller ball to get away from the light and retain more heat.
"She's like a venereal disease on a hooker, she just keeps coming back," Chance mumbled, rubbing gunk out of her eyes.
Tyler groaned, "What does she want?" She tried burrowing into Chance's side, enjoying the warmth.
With about as much grace as a drunken goose, she got out of the bed and staggered out of the small room. She yawned. "Zoya, what do you want, need, desire at this awful inconvenient time?"
"Go away," Tyler shouted her voice hoarse from the activities of the night before, and very little sleep.
Zoya's eyebrow reached into her hairline as she took in Chance's naked body. "Have a fun night?" A little louder, she said, "I'm hurt, Tyler, I came all this way to make sure you were okay."
"I'm fine." She didn't sound particularly fine or happy, more annoyed and losing her voice.
"Fun morning, afternoon, and night, we're fine. But I'm really grumpy, so why don't you come back in…ah...a day or four."
With a chuckle, Zoya sat down on the couch. "Why don't you go get some more sleep, I'll be here when you wake up, and friendlier."
Chance sighed and went back to the bedroom. Rubbing her hands through her hair, she muttered, "And I can't attack her as a wolf?" She let Tyler pull her into the bed.
"Later, after sleep," she threw a leg over Chance's thighs and held on possessively, yawning, "much later."
"Okay," Chance agreed.
Chance woke up later. She wasn't sure of the time, but she smelled food. "Mmmm, hash browns," she mumbled.
The woman draped over her lifted her head, glaring at the world in general and letting out a little noise as she yawned and stretched a bit. "That must be Zoya's doing, right?" She slid a naked leg between Chance's.
Chance squirmed at the sensation of flesh sliding against her own flesh. "Yeah," her voice came out in a high squeak. She cleared her throat. "Yeah, I think Zoya is still here."
"Too bad," Tyler purred, kissing her way along the naked flesh of the other woman's neck and points south.
"Oh." Eyelids covering blue eyes shot open. "Oh yes, Zoya can just wait."
Some time later, Chance came stumbling out of the bedroom, her t-shirt on backwards. Zoya looked less than amused, and a cold and miserable looking Bones sat as close to the stove as she could get without crawling inside.
"Well, look who designed to come out and see her sister," Zoya grumbled, folding her arms over her chest and glaring at her entirely too content looking sister.
"I smell hash browns," was Chance's witty response.
"Yeah, she called me and made me come up here with food," Bones grumped. "And God you two are loud. I'm surprised there wasn't an avalanche."
"Yes, hash browns that I made for you, over an hour ago on your stupid ancient fireplace. Could you at least get a decent stove up here?" Zoya growled, reaching around Bones for the cast iron pan of hash browns that had been kept warm near the fire.
"And cheese." Chance made a happy face and grabbed a fork out of some nook. She grabbed the pan from Zoya and sat down, eating out of the pan.
"Hey, save some for me," Tyler called from the other room, where she was rummaging around to try and figure out what she could wear.
"Chance, if you’re going to lurk out here in the middle of Cat country, could you at least get a working stove?" Zoya repeated herself, not really accustomed to having to repeat herself.
"You should have clothes. Chance only made us drag everything that smelled of you up here. Look in that tiny thing she calls a closet," Bones called out.
"In the spring, I'll redo everything," Chance mumbled out, answering Zoya.
A delighted sound came from the bedroom, "My favorite jeans!"
"So, did she tell you how she came back from the dead? That’s pretty cool. She's the super-soldier. Better watch your ass, Chance," Bones said, smirking.
Chance stopped chewing. "No, we hadn't gotten to that yet."
"You hadn't gotten to that yet!" Zoya threw up her hands. "You've been up here almost a full day with her. It's kind of important, don't you think? What if the army is on the way back here to get her again?"
"Two days. I'm fairly certain it’s been two days. One day I spent pissed off. The second day she convinced me to have sex and work at having a future, which involved more sex."
"Two days, even worse!" Zoya dragged out a chair and flung herself into it, grumbling. "I'm all happy for you having your mate back and everything, but you have to think about the pack also."
"Zoya, I can be your sister, but I can't be part of your pack. We're both too dominant. I can't bow down to you, and that just makes you look bad. But..." She held up a finger, stopping Zoya's tirade before it could start. "I will be the local sheriff for you. I'm good at law enforcement and I still have connections with the FBI. So it should really be helpful dealing with issues on the Reservation." She scooted over on the couch when she saw Tyler come out of the bedroom.
Tyler paused when she spotted Bones by the fireplace. That one still kind of scared her, to be honest. She gave a wave to everyone, dropped down onto the couch and grabbed a spoonful of the hash browns. "Mmmmm, is good," she mumbled, grabbing another.
Zoya narrowed her eyes, staring at her sister contemplatively. "You'll actually uphold the laws of the Reservation? You'll have to do better than the useless wastes of space we have now."
"They're your wastes of space. The government can't force you to put your current law enforcement officers into those jobs. They only control the FBI agents who get placed here. But yeah, I think I can do the job, but can you handle it if I do something you don't like?"
"Bah," Zoya waved a hand. "You'll always be doing things I won't like." She didn't quite look over at Tyler. "Better you be doing something useful at the same time." The white-haired Were grinned suddenly. "I can't wait to throw out the sheriff and his deputies."
Chance snorted and took another forkful of cheesy, gooey hash brown goodness.
Finishing a good quarter of the hash browns, Tyler slowed enough to raise an eyebrow at Chance, "Sheriff, huh? When were you going to tell me about that?"
"Well..." She paused and swallowed. "It came to me when you were lecturing me on how I couldn't hide in the wolf. But my two main issues spiraling me into madness was losing you and losing my job. They'd find out I was a Were eventually, and I'd rather not be thrown into prison for it. So, it came to me that Zoya had offered me a job as the sheriff. Then you distracted me by being all hot and sitting in my lap so..." Her ears turned red.
"Oh yeah…" Tyler licked her lips, remembering where that had gone. "I think that's great." She turned, to find Zoya staring at her in a way that made her decidedly uneasy. "What?"
Zoya jerked her head at Chance. "You need to find out what happened, Chance."
"What?" She looked back at Tyler. "What do I need to know?" Her gut clenched in worry.
"Why she likes pizza…what the hell do you think you need to know?!" Zoya demanded, exasperated. "Why she's not dead!"
"Yeah, why aren't you dead? You promised to tell me, before the sex-a-thon. Bones said something about super-soldier?"
The not quite human sighed and finished her mouthful of hash browns. She'd been hoping to have this discussion with Chance alone, but judging by Zoya's intent stare, that wasn't going to happen. "When I was in the clinic, after Miller killed Halstead, I swiped one of the syringes full of a serum that was derived from your blood." She smiled a little bitterly. "I always thought it had to be genetic material from a full Were, but the recessive traits were..."
She paused, noting the glazed over look on Zoya's face. "Never mind… I injected myself with it after Bob shot me." Lifting up her shirt, she showed off the bullet wound scar. "I still have the scar. Neat, huh?"
"So what does this mean, exactly?" Chance reached up and gently touched the scar with her fingertips. A slight shudder went through her shoulders as she remembered all that blood as Tyler laid cold and dead on the ground. She looked at Zoya and Bones. "What does this mean?"
"It means I’m not really human anymore." Tyler caught her fingers and laced their hands together. "I don't know what else it means, but anybody who would want to come after me is dead or on the run. The army isn't going to show up searching for me."
Chance nodded, feeling the knot untie in her gut as relief flooded her system. "No weird side-affects. Do you get furry on the full moon? You would have gone through two or three of them by now."
"Nope…" Tyler grinned crookedly. "Just think, if I sold this stuff, I'd be rich, probably get a Nobel Prize, too." She laughed at the alarmed, horrified look on Zoya's face. "Don't worry. I have no intention of doing anything other than going back to medical work. I think I’m done with research for a while. I hear there are openings at the hospital."
Chance raised there intertwined fingers to her lips and kissed them. "Thank you for living. I'm sorry this happened. Not what you had in mind for the rest of your life, I'm sure."
Tyler smiled. "Don't worry. As long as I'm with you, the rest doesn't matter too much. Besides, now I can keep up with you," she leered.
"Oh God," Zoya said. "Just stop it."
"I think it’s cute," Bones said, her face had a look of concentration that she lost the moment Zoya got up.
"Bye, Zoya." Tyler's grin was full of mischief.
Bones gave a long-suffering sigh as she stepped out into the snow and the cold.
Chance smiled and stretched out on the couch, setting the pan on the floor. "Care to share my den for the winter? I promise to see what I can do about plumbing and electricity once the spring thaw comes.”
"How can I say no to such a wonderful offer?" Tyler gave a look at the cabin. It wasn't much better than her trailer, but it was just fine as long as Chance was there. "As long as we find a way to get to work…" She jumped up, holding out her hand. "For now, though, want to find a way to keep ourselves warm?"
"Warm? But Bones has the old stove practically glowing she put so much wood...” She paused at the look Tyler was giving her. “Oh...oh... uh, yeah, warm." She got up, pulling Tyler to the bedroom.