The rest of the day passed in a blur. Unlike medical practices in the bigger cities that cycled patients in and out in under 10 minutes our practice had no such expectations with however long being required to help the patient properly being spent with them. Patients knew this and were happy to wait if it was required.
By the time I was done for the day it was 7pm and the pastries from Josephine’s this morning were a distant memory. We had decided to skip going out for lunch as Vianne had gone home to help Charlotte and the girls as they were all quite shaken. I had insisted Armand leave at 4pm to get home to his family. None of his patients had a problem with waiting a little longer as by lunchtime everyone in the small town knew that twins had gotten sick (Armand and I had split Vianne’s patients and as you’d expect in any small-town word got around quickly).
Flipping the lights off, I locked up and turn to walk down the stairs. “Good evening Skye, how can I help you?” I asked without breaking my stride as I walked over to where I had stashed my bike in the bike rack. I had felt her presence there since about 5pm which would have been our normal closing time. My guess was she was planning on following me home and sniffing around for clues as to what I was. Keeping the ironic chuckle at the sniffing joke on the inside, I looked across at her as I wheeled my bike along the footpath towards the town centre.
Peeling herself away the side of the building where she had been concealed to human eyes in the shadows. “What the fuck are you?” she demanded, getting straight to the point. Raising an eyebrow at her ,“a doctor” I responded curtly. “You know exactly what the fuck I mean” she responded in an attempt at being menacing. Laughing softly as I hopped on my bike “none of your fucking business”. I don’t tolerate bullies or bitches for that matter.
Stepping in front of my bike she grabbed the handlebar blocking me she growled at me, ripples of fur starting to appear on her arms. She didn’t appear strong enough to partially shift so I wasn’t particular worried about that, however like all supernaturals we do prefer humans not to know about us and she was a few moments away from causing a scene. Leaning back on my seat I responded in a neutral tone “again, that’s none of your business. Your alpha is the only one entitled to that information, and you certainly aren’t he. Now. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. Way” I minced out the last part. I was hungry and my patience was tapped out.
Her ladylike response was to lash out and try and slap me. Catching her wrist I didn’t hesitate, I squeezed, breaking every bone in her wrist, shattering them into pieces. The sight of her eyes bulging out of her head would have been comical if I was in any mood to be amused. As I watched her I smelt it then, her hatred, and warped death magic. I had no doubt in my mind that she was involved in the hex bomb that had hurt the twins and Charlotte. Had she worked alone or with others? Either way, I’d find out, and I would kill them all. I didn’t care that I had come here looking for peace. There is no reason to ever hurt a child.
I felt it then, the kernel of rage ignite. It had been simmering all day but I had been focused on what I could do for the humans coming in and out of the practice and had tried to not think too much about how close the girls and Sophie had come to dying this morning.
Witches were hated by most other species of supernatural. They feared witches, they didn’t think they deserved the power we were born with.
Nike is a goddess but she is also a witch, or technically sorceress It was her and her family and coven who took me in as a child. It was witches that accepted every new manifestation of my weirdness, my clear lack of pure breeding. Sure of the young ones teased me and some hated me, but it wasn’t because I was different but because of the usual teenage girl angst and drama. The usual dislike and distrust of someone stronger. I had never felt hate because I wasn’t a purebred witch. Witches were notoriously accepting of human and witch intermingling, whereas other supernatural races often outcast anyone who dared to find love outside of their race.
Looking at her I allowed part of my magical signature to peek through my shields, not enough for her to sense what I was, but enough for her to understand a fraction of my strength. Enough for her eyes to widen in fear and then narrow again in undisguised hate. Dropping her wrist, I manoeuvred my bike around her and peddled off, leaving her simmering with hatred. I didn’t think she was stupid enough to attack me from behind but I solidified an air shield around myself and my bike just in case she was, in fact, that dumb.
Within a few moments I was in the centre of town, I headed to Frankie’s Smokehouse. An South African style BBQ joint. Leaning my bike outside the entrance, I ventured into the smokey interior, my mouth watering at the smell. Frankie was a wizard and part of the same coven as Armand and Vianne. Placing my takeaway order at the counter, 2kg of brisket, 2 kgs of beef ribs and 6 baked potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives.
As I moved to the bar to wait, I noticed they had a 30 year old Tullibardine single malt, so I ordered a double. It takes a lot for a supernatural to feel the effects of alcohol, but I do genuinely enjoy the taste of whisky. Different species can add different herbs to increase the impact but after a lot of experimenting as a teen I had found none of the additives that would have worked on a pureblood of any of the blends I had manifested so far worked so I was content to just enjoy the taste.
The bar was also, conveniently, the furthest away from a group of wolves I had sensed on the way in. From their strength signatures I’d say they were upper-level Protectors. The strongest in the packs were always responsible for the safety and security of the pack as a whole. And wolves always needing to protect their lands from incursions from other packs as humans grew more in number and wild lands to roam and live in the most natural way a shifter of any species required, needed a lot of land! So there were often “issues” between packs along borders.
I smelt her before I saw her. To the day I die, I’ll never forget that smell of death and plain wrongness that Skye had eluded, and I was betting if anyone else had been involved in the hex bomb, they’d smell similar. I remained seated at the bar as she made her way through the crowd clutching her wrist. For her not to have already healed she must be exceptional weak as a wolf, or (possibly as well as) her wolf had started abandoning her as she dabbled more and more in black magic. She was the picture of a damsel in distress, tears gathered on her eye lashes framing her brown eyes. She even threw in a whimper here and there. I stayed seated at the bar keeping an eye on them in the reflection in the bottles at the back of the bar.
I could hear them clearly over the noise, a benefit of both the wolf and dragon blood. I saw the moment she noticed me at the bar, rolling my eyes as she dramatically gasped and pointed, she even threw in a convincing trembling lip, as she “whisper-shouted” “She did it!” The entire group of Protectors turning to look at me almost as one, as the aggression in the room spiked, then just as quickly dissipated as many frowned looking at me trying to understand how someone “like me” would have had the strength to do that level of damage. They would have been able to smell she wasn’t lying about the fact I caused it, but the how would definitely have been confusing them. Fun fact, lies have a distinct smell, the stronger you are the more able you are to smell it. Many weaker supes weren’t convinced it was “real” as they either weren’t able to notice it or barely noticed it and weren’t convinced it was a “lie”.
I inwardly groaned as I saw one peel away from the rest and approach me. I turned before he could tap me on the shoulder and watched the surprise flair briefly in his eyes before he schooled his features. I said nothing waiting for him to speak. I would put good money on him being related to Skye, the same colouring and similar features. “My sister says you attacked her so you will need to come in with me so my alpha can judge the punishment for this attack,” he said in what he clearly thought was an authoritative tone. Raising an eyebrow (siblings, figures) “I didn’t attack her”, I responded as 2 more Protectors flanked him. They all frowned, probably even more confused, as they were clearly able to not smell a lie. I didn’t bother pointing out that they didn’t have the authority to take me in. The only ones who were would have had the authority to detain someone of a different species would have been the Pack Commanders, the highest ranked Protectors. From their strength signatures this morning both Nora, Kat, Edvard, Thieg, and Jose would be in that group, Dorian as the next Alpha would have been as well.
Speaking of the devil, I had sensed his approach a few moments ago and as I finished my response he entered Frankie’s. His eyes trained on me, he started towards where I was still seated surrounded by 3 of his pack. His progress was halted as Skye flung herself at him, whimpering about how I had hurt her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and shifted her aside. “Step away from the doctor Leaf,” he said quietly. “But she attacked my sister, Sir” Leaf responded, trying and failing to meet his eyes. “Did she ‘attack’ your sister” Dorian asked in a neutral tone, “Yes Sir, Skye’s wrist is hurt”. “But was it an “attack” from the doctor?” Dorian asked again. Meeting his gaze I tilted my head as I assessed what he was getting at. “Ask her yourself,” came back an embarrassingly petulant response from the brother. Skye had followed Dorian over and was leaning against him. He stepped to the side causing her to stumble as he turned to her and asked “Did she attack you Skye?” “She hurt my wrist!” she whined out. “But was it an attack?” he asked again, you could almost see him mentally sighing. Skye burst into tears “Of course she attacked me” she sobbed out. The smell of her lie causing everyone standing around her to wrinkle their nose and take a step back. Leaf whipped his head to look at her, red suffusing his face.
Raising an eyebrow at Dorian, I cantered my head to study him better. Huh, who’d have thought the lug had it in him to ask a question that pointed, forcing her to tell an outright lie that stronger members of the pack could smell but she wouldn’t have. Noticing that everyone had taken a step back, even her brother, she doubled down and burst into tears. “She’s a freak, I was trying to figure out what she, you said yourself this morning you couldn’t tell what she was , and you seemed worried about a threat to our pack and so I was just trying to help”, her voice warbled on that last phrase.
It was physically painful to watch, both because damn girl have some self-respect, but also because my nails were dogging into the palm of my hand as I tried to stop myself from laughing out loud and making the situation worse. Dorian raised one-brow, the universal sign for “I call bullshit”. “Is that your place?” he asked quietly. Fuck, even I got nervous at that tone and I was fairly certain our strengths were evenly matched. Skye turned her big brown eyes on him, “As the future..” she began and trailed off.
“Doc your order’s ready!” yelled Frankie from the kitchen where he had been keeping an eye on the unfolding drama and had set up a few spell bombs under the counter in case things went south. I had felt him charging them up. It was sweet that he was willing to jump in and help if I needed it given, I was a new member of the coven. Taking the opportunity to extricate myself from the increasingly awkward situation I walked over to the counter to grab the boxed-up order and left the awkward wolves to deal with their own.
I got back to my bike and pulled out the straps to secure my delicious load. I was just tightening the final strap when I felt the baby alpha approaching. Oh for fuck sake, I just wanted to eat and hop in my pool. Keeping my expression neutral I turned to face Dorian as he came to a halt a few feet away. I gave him a solid 30secs to talk before turning and giving him my back, I hopped on my bike and had just pushed off when he huffed out a half-laugh. “I apologise for my packs’ behaviour, they should have waited for myself or one of their commanders to decide what to do” he said in a tired voice. Turning back I looked at him, studying his features. Taking in the dark circles under his eyes that hadn’t been there this morning. “One of our cubs has been stuck in a net of what smells like dark magic, I heard what happened to the Elec twins this morning, and that you helped..” he paused, “would you consider help us?” I was off by bike and had unstrapped the box before he even finished the sentence. Fuck anyone who hurt children, any nationality or species, just straight fuck them.
“Where is the kid, take me now” I said, not bothering with being polite. Nodding as if he figured that’d be my response, he gestured to the jeep behind him, he is at the pack’s medical clinic. Whilst supes healed quickly, there were occasions when additional help was required. I was already at the car’s door, not bothering to hide my speed. I could deal with any fall out later, I just wanted to get to the kid. The car beeped and I opened the door and hopped into the passenger side, securing my seatbelt, before tearing open the box and beginning to eat. Pulling the hex off the twins this morning had drained a lot from me, I had never pulled a hex off a shifter before, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t pass out halfway through.
Dorian started the truck and reversed, glancing at the food. “Family dinner?” he asked as he gunned it down the narrow streets, expertly dodging the various potholes scattered throughout the cobblestone. “Nope,” I replied grinning with way too many teeth, my abnormally sharp canines peeking out. The rage that had ignited earlier racking up a notch.
I tore into the meat, vaguely noting how delectable it was as gears in my head started turning. “Where was the cub when he/she was caught in the hex? Who found them? I demanded between bites. I noticed a muscle twitch in his neck (poor boy probably wasn’t used to anyone talking to him like that). Shrugging it off like a champ, he replied “Him, Connor, he’s 5, just learnt to turn but was in human form when he got caught in what looks like a pulsating black net. I used my ability as alpha in my Father’s absence to force him to shift which has slowed down the drain the net seems to be having on him”. “He was just on the edge of the furtherest field’s playing with other kids his age as the teachers took them out to learn to navigate in their wolf forms. I felt his panic and then terror through the bond,” he continued, notably shivering at the memory.
“I got there within two minutes having just been returning from town this afternoon, it’s been less than an hour” he continued. “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me as soon as you walked into Frankie’s instead of dealing with that stupidity?” I demanded as I licked sauce from my fingers. Frowning I looked down and realised I had eaten everything, just as the front gates appeared as we crested a hill, he pushed his foot on the accelerator as he entered pack land, the outside world reduced to a blur as he speed through the gates and up a long driveway, skidding to a stop outside a brilliantly lit large cottage, around where a lot of the pack had gathered, some in wolf form.
You didn’t have to be pack to feel the anxiety and uncertainty tinting the air. “I needed to know what kind of person you were before letting you near a vulnerable member of my pack”. I nodded indicating I understood as I jumped out the car, the box discarded on the floor of the truck, forgotten as I sprinted into the building. Some of the wolves tried to block me but with a command from Dorian they stepped aside, their aggression turning to hope. Swallowing down my fer that I’d let them down, I raced towards the darkness I could feel, skidding to a stop in front of a closed door that what must have been the pack healer and from the looks of pure panic on their faces, were Connor’s parents.
They were frantically trying to open the door which I could see black tendrils of the hex beginning to seep out of whilst holding the door closed preventing anyone from approaching Connor. I slammed my hand on the door pushing back on the hex whilst Dorian used the opportunity to rip the door off it’s hinges, moving together as a pair into the room I continued to push against the hex, Dorian prowling behind me, allowing his alpha presence to rise up and bath his pack members in waves of steadying calm.
Raising the hair on my arms as I felt the reach of his power as it swept out towards the pack members outside and then further, beyond the mark of their territory. An idea hit, “Touch my skin somewhere, anywhere” I managed to grind out to Dorian, as pushing the hex back whilst simultaneously trying to locate where the hex ended and Connor began under the seething darkness.
“Now is hardly the time”, came the smart-arse reply, but he placed both hands on my shoulders, at the base of my neck. Instantly I felt the break where Connor was, as the hex pulsed off his skin. I latched down on the connection between Dorian and I, sensing it like a thin golden thread. I needed more but my own shields were so tightly woven they were blocking me from accessing the full strength the pack connection Connor and Dorian held that I needed.
Fuck it, I dropped my shields, pulled Dorian inside of them and slammed them back up again. Yes he’d be able to read the hodge-podge of my signature and would realise I am “unique”, and would possibly freak the fuck out but that was a price I was willing to pay. I was distantly aware of these thoughts, but my primary focus was needed to disentangle the hex from Connor’s essence. I felt the moment the shield snapped back up with Dorian the same side as myself as my powerbase exploded, more than doubling my own. Wolf boy actually had slightly more power in him than I did, huh, who’d have thought. Pulling the hex out went from feeling like I was wading through quicksand whilst dragging a 2-tonne boulder. I managed to draw out all of the curse, as the last tendril of the hex was pulled out of the small wolf’s body, he snapped back into human form, awake and started screaming for his Mom. I slumped back, it felt like I had been sprint full-tilt for hours but barely 15 minutes had passed. My body was warm and vibrating, the fuck?
I jumped, realising I had leant back against Dorian and he had wrapped his arms around me and the vibration was our heartbeats which had synced and felt deafeningly loud. Well my body tried to jump, Wolf Mountain’s arms were so heavy and I was so drained I didn’t move an iota. The flow of energy I had opened when I had been drawing on his strength had settled into a thick golden flow between the 2 of us.
I was tired but I needed to get him out my inner shields. Opening them back out I pushed at him. Nothing. I threw the last vestiges of my strength at him and he remained on the inside. With the last of my consciousness, I slammed the shields closed again and proceeded to pass out.