Truth and Shadows : Chapter 3

Viteri’s eyes were a little wet.  She debated offering him a tissue, but the guards had been very clear about making physical contact even if the man was firmly shackled.  The trial notes had included pictures of Tobias Grady’s beaten form.  The poor man had been barely recognizable as human.  “We didn’t hook up right then.”  Viteri swallowed.  “He was scared, and to be honest, so was I.  I wasn’t a virgin by any means, but this was the first time I really, you know…”  He shrugged.  “Wanted things to work.”  He smiled a little.  “And Tobias really didn’t have any idea what he was doing.  It’s not exactly something they cover in sex ed down in Bailey.”

“So, you took things slow.”  Diana nodded.

“At first, yeah.”  Viteri nodded.  “We kissed, then we went back to the lab…”

(more…)

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Ash : Chapter 10

He started barking as soon as he saw the man get out of the car.  He kept barking happily as the man limped up to the porch.

“Hey, Ash.”  Stephan ruffled his hair.

Ash smiled at him.  “Hello, Stephan.”

Stephan’s eyes widened, then he broke into a huge smile.  “Hey, you said it in person-talk that time.”

“And I’ve stopped chewing on Magda’s shoes.”  Ash nodded happily.  When Stephan stared at him, Ash started laughing.  “The look on your face.”

“You’re still a shit though.”  Stephan just shook his head.  “How’s things?”

“Come see what Magda got me.”  Ash grabbed his hand and pulled before dropping to all fours and rushing eagerly into the cabin.  He grabbed the stuffed ewok in his teeth before bringing it back to Stephan.

“That’s awesome.”  Stephan crouched.  “Does it —”  Ash squeaked it.  “That is cool.  So I guess you won’t be needing this.”  He reached into the bag he’d brought in with him, and pulled out something wrapped in newspaper.

“What is it?”  Ash took the ewok out of his mouth and stared fixedly at the present.

“I don’t know.”  Stephan stood up.  “It looks like you’ve got enough toys.”

“What is it what is it what is it?”  Ash bounced.

“Maybe I’ll just put this away for —”  Stephan cut off with a laugh when Ash tackled him.

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Daniel : Chapter 10

He sat, watching the sun rise.  Part of him wanted to turn, to go back to…  And he had no idea if those thoughts were his.  What parts of the past three months had been him and what had been her pushing.  If his feelings regarding either of them were real or just a result of her will.  Her control couldn’t have been complete.  Yet he didn’t know if it was subtle or if she’d just actively prevented him from noticing her modifications.  The idea that he’d lost control so completely was…

And yet he’d accepted it.  Outside of the bed, he’d let Daniel take the lead.  That part didn’t make sense either.  Why would Anna have allowed that, if her claim that she couldn’t control her brother was accurate?  Matthias sighed.  He didn’t even know how far into his head she’d gone.

The sun was high when he saw his truck pull out of the rest area.  A glance at his watch showed it was almost 2 PM.  Matthias stood slowly, working the kinks out of his back.  Part of him wanted to find a phone, to call them and…  He had no idea how great Anna’s range was, or how to tell if that was his desire or something she’d put into his head.

Matthias shrugged.  There was one person who might be able to tell him.  He walked down to the highway and stuck out a thumb.

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Daniel : Chapter 9

The wound on Matthias’s shoulder was already healed.  Danial put his hands back in his lap.  His own wounds still stung.  He sighed.  “Do you know anyone who could teach me?”

“Only witch I know that isn’t bad news is Rosa.”  Matthias shook his head.

“But what if they’d had silver or something?”  Daniel looked up at him.

“It would have to be enchanted.”

“It’s a cabal.”

“Fair point.”  Matthias nodded.  “But all silver does is make it so I can’t use the wolf to heal.  Enchanted silver affects me the way an ordinary bullet would you, unless it’s been seriously enchanted.  Witches that can do that are like unicorns.”

“So, it’s not like kyptonite.”  Daniel nodded, then shook his head.  “Kryptonite is that stuff that affects Superman —”

“Kid I know what the hell kryptonite is.  I was tuned into the radio for the first broadcast of the meteor in ‘43.”

Daniel started laughing.  “You sound like somebody’s grandpa.  Did you have to walk to school uphill both ways?”

“In the snow, with barbed wire wrapped around my feet for traction.”  Matthias nodded.

“But you’ve never heard of Harry Potter?”  Anna stuck her head out of her alcove.  “Or My Little Ponies?”

“No, cause I’m not a twelve-year-old girl.”  Matthias shook his head at her.

“Hey.”  Daniel glared.

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Daniel : Chapter 8

“You told her you don’t run with that pack anymore.”  Daniel sat down across from Matthias.

“Look around.  You see a pack?”  Matthias raised an eyebrow.

He wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing.  The last time he’d pried hadn’t exactly turned out well.  And yet, Matthias had agreed to help them in the first place.  That didn’t seem to fit with a man who had done…  “Vietnam ended about forty years ago.  I’d put Rosa about fifty.  She can’t have been that angry over something you did there, and you said her father was bad news so there had to be more to it than that.”

“Kid…”  Matthias sighed.  “You’ve got to learn to stop asking questions when you really don’t want to know the answers.”

“But I do want to know.”  Daniel shook his head.

“Why?”  Matthias narrowed his eyes as he stood up.  “We fuck a few times and you think you can fix me?  I told you, I don’t need therapy from my fuc —”

“Red light.”  Daniel said the words softly.

Matthias cut off in mid-sentence.  “What?”

“Red.”  Daniel met his eyes.  “Light.”

Matthias went quiet for a moment, then nodded.  “Alright then.”  He shrugged.  “Your sister asleep?”

“She’s watching a movie with her headphones on.”  Daniel shook his head.  Then he stood.  “If you answer me, we can go back behind the camper and I’ll ride you until you can’t see straight.”  He shrugged.  “Or you can keep being an ass, and I’ll blow you and go to bed.”

It took a moment, but Matthias started laughing.  “Well played, boss.”  He folded his arms.  “Except your end was anything I wanted.”

“You amended it.”  Daniel mirrored his stance.  “I don’t want to be scared of you, Matthias.”  Daniel met his eyes.  “Show me I don’t need to be.”

“That’s the problem, Daniel.”  Matthias shook his head.  “You really should be.”

“Alright.”  Daniel nodded.  “I’ll come back out when she’s —”

“It was a hospital.”

Daniel blinked.  “What?”

“We were hired to do a hit.”  Matthias sat back down.  “Make an example of someone.  They told me it was an old building.  I was willing enough to kill the man, but not to…”  He sighed.  “They were going to plant charges in the room two floors below his.  Idea was to take out the whole wing.  That way we wouldn’t have to worry about his guards or getting spotted, but…”  He looked down at his hands.  “It was a fucking hospital.  We’d have killed a couple hundred people whose only ‘crime’ was being sick in the same place he was.  I told them I wasn’t taking the job, then learned they’d taken it without me.”

“And…?”  Daniel’s eyes widened.

“And what, kid?”  Matthias shrugged.  “The bomb didn’t go off.  I just had to kill four people I called my brothers to ensure that.  The Alpha and one other weren’t there.  She finds me, she’ll do her damnedest to kill me.  Same goes the other way, but…”  He shrugged.  “That ain’t a fight I’m seeking.”

“So you stopped it.”  Daniel started to smile.

“I ran with that pack for sixteen years, Daniel.  That wasn’t the first time we’d…”  Matthias ran a hand through his hair.  “That one was just…”  He sighed.  “I don’t know.  There was no message.  No cause.  Just a mark who hadn’t paid his bills on time and that’s not…”  His laughter was bitter.  “That’s not war, and there was no way I could tell myself otherwise.”

“I get it.”  Daniel nodded.  “You’re a believer.”

“Oh bulls —”

“I don’t mean religion.”  Daniel quickly shook his head.  “Just faith.  You did the wrong thing because you thought you had the right reasons.  Until you didn’t, and it crashed down.”  He put his arms around his knees.  “You said you were a hundred and six, so…”  He took a deep breath.  “How long did you fight monsters before you became one?”

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Daniel : Chapter 7

“What’d you do?”  Daniel watched as Rosa and Anna looked over the tarot cards.

It was some time before Matthias answered.  “Her father was a wolf.  Part of a pack I ran with for a time.  He, uh…”  Matthias took a deep breath.  “I killed him.”

“Oh.”  Daniel swallowed.  No wonder she’d met him at the door with a shotgun.

“He was an asshole.  A murderer among other things.  But I killed him because…”  Matthias shrugged.  “Because he wrecked my car.  Not for the bad shit he did, to her among others, but because he disrespected me and I was Alpha.”  He glanced at Daniel.  “I told you, I’m no angel.”

“A monster would be selling us to the cabal.”

“I thought about it,” Matthias said softly.

“You did?”  Daniel blinked.

“Think about it every time your sister starts singing.”  Matthias glanced at him.  “That kind of money buys a lot of ear plugs.”

Daniel laughed.

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Daniel : Chapter 6

Matthias lowered the map to find Anna staring at him.  “What?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“There are so such things as angels.”  She shook her head at him.  “We need to find one.”

He folded the map, then set it down.  “I need to know what the ‘things’ were that you saw.”

“Trent didn’t rape me.”  Anna shook her head.  “He used a thingy like when they give you shots, cause I needed to be a virgin.  I didn’t get a look at the things.  It was like I couldn’t make my eyes see them all the way.”  She frowned.  “I think most people couldn’t see them at all.”

“Demons can ordinarily only be seen in mirrors.”  Matthias leaned back.  “Unless they found a witch they can ride.”

“They can make witches stronger.”  Anna shivered.  “That’s what’ll happen to Danny if they catch him.”  Anna shook her head.  “Cause he’d agree to save us.”

“He wants to protect you.”  Matthias nodded to her.

“They can’t hurt me until they have her.”  Anna touched her belly.  “So don’t let them catch you.”  She frowned.  “Did you know her name?”

“Who’s name?”  Matthias started to reach for the map again.

“The one you see sometimes when you look at me, before the blood and fire wash her away again.”

The map fell off the table.  “Stay out of my head.”  He glared at her.

“I don’t go looking.”  She glared back.  “It comes to me.  Blood and fire.  Birds.  The broken angel.”  She shivered.  “She’ll be safe if we find the broken angel.”

“She?”

Anna pointed at her belly.  “We can’t let them get her.  They’ll make her bad.”

“I…”  He stared at her.  “What are you…?”

Daniel opened the trailer door and stepped in.  He set a small bag on the counter.  “Options were pretty limited.  I hope everyone’s okay with hot dogs.”  He sighed at the bag.  “And Lucky Charms.”  He shrugged.  “What kind of town doesn’t even have a grocery store?”

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Daniel : Chapter 5

He felt the bullets hit him as he transformed into full were.  Matthias snarled, then raked his claws through the man that had attacked Daniel.  They caught on the guy’s ribcage, and he tore it free before lunging at the next.  His jaws closed on the man’s shoulder and he yanked his head back, taking a massive chunk of the man’s flesh with it.  A fourth man, who had been behind the car, ducked around the vehicles side before popping up and trying to shoot at him again.  He caught the third man’s face in one massive paw and crushed it.  Then he bent, grabbed the side of the car, and flipped the thing over on top of the shooter.

Matthias rolled his neck, letting the were form’s healing take care of the worst of the bullet wounds before shifting back to human.  “You alright, kid?”

“You’re a fucking werewolf.”  Daniel was staring at him.

“I did tell you they were real.”  He shrugged.  “Get in the truck.”

(more…)

Daniel : Chapter 4

“You believe her.”  Daniel was staring at him.

“Kid, I have seen some shit in my years.”  If she had the gift, that was reason enough alone for a cabal to be hunting them.  And if she had the gift, it was possible Daniel did too.  Anna had the gift, and had been intentionally made pregnant as part of a ritual.  Cabals had wiped out entire towns for less than Anna was carrying in her womb.  The smart thing to do would be to drop both off at a bus station somewhere and get the hell out of Dodge.  Except he’d made a deal.  Both were staring at him, wide eyed.  Dammit, he’d come up here because he’d wanted out, and now…

“Matthias?”  Daniel swallowed.

“If it’s a cabal, they are going to find you.  It’s likely the only reason they haven’t is the amount of snow we’ve been getting.  Water purifies, wipes out tracks and traces.”  Matthias took a deep breath.  “But she’s right.  They are still hunting you.  And they will find you.”

“So…”

“You and I have a contract, kid.”  Matthias shrugged.  “Which means I work for you.  You hired me to keep your sister safe.”  He met Daniel’s eyes.  “And that’s what I’m going to do.”

“You’re…”  Anna started to smile.

“So, I guess I better teach both of you how to use a gun.”

(more…)

Daniel : Chapter 2

“You don’t even know his name, do you?”

Daniel looked over to see Anna standing in the bathroom door, toweling her hair dry.  The white t-shirt reached her knees, and left her looking impossibly young.  “He said we can stay.”

Anna sighed, then shook her head and hung the towel up on the back of the door.  “Who is he?”

“I don’t…”  He sighed.  “He caught me breaking in.  Gave me food and a hundred bucks.  He’s okay.”  Scary as fuck, but not the type to hurt kids.  “You should go to bed.  He said you can have the bed.”

“Daniel…”  Anna crossed her arms and bit her lower lip.

“I told him about Trent.  He can protect us.”  Daniel gave her a reassuring smile.  “Look at him, he could break Trent in half.”

“He’s scary.”  Anna nodded.  She took a couple deep breaths and started up the stairs.  “Daniel?”

“What’s wrong?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t know.”  She shook her head.  “Something is strange about him.”  She frowned.  “He’s scarier than what’s hunting us, so what’s hunting him?”  She shook her head again continuing up the stairs.

He watched her vanish into the bedroom.  That was actually a good question.  The guy carried a gun, checked the windows, had zero difficulty getting him into a sleeper hold, and…  Daniel stood.  What had he gotten them into?  Still, they were better off today than they had been yesterday, and it had been a couple months since he could say that.  He started another kettle of hot water.

The exterior door opened, and the big guy entered carrying their bags.  Daniel immediately ran over to take one from him.  He set it down behind the couch, then grabbed the dry towel and offered it to the guy.  The guy gave him a blank look.  Daniel shifted awkwardly.  “You’re wet.  And cold.”

Another blank stare, then the guy took the towel.  He started drying his hair as Daniel went back into the kitchen.  “Do you want cocoa, mister?  I noticed some tea or…”

“I’m fine.”

“You sure?  Cause I can make —”

“I’m fine.”

“Okay, then, I’m…”  Daniel hesitated.  “I’m gonna get in the shower.”

“More towels in there.”  The guy pointed at a cupboard near the bathroom.

“Thanks, uh…”  He swallowed.  “What should I call you?”

“What?”  The guy turned toward him.

“I mean, I can’t just keep calling you mister…”  He shook his head.  “I mean, unless that’s what you’re into and then hey, yeah, whatever you want but do you have a name or —”

“Stop talking.”  The guy sighed.  “Matthias.”

“Matthias?”  Daniel shifted from foot to foot.

“Just Matthias.”  He pointed.  “Shower.”

“Right.”  He grabbed a towel and went into the room.

After a couple weeks of trying to wash in the sink, the stream of hot water felt amazing.  There wasn’t much in the way of product, just a bar of soap.  He made fairly liberal use of it, then reluctantly left the shower.  He blinked.  The only clean pair of sweatpants he had was sitting on the counter.  He hadn’t even heard Matthias open the door.  Daniel dried off, then yanked the pants up over his hips before stepping out of the room.

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Daniel : Chapter 1

Matthias set the wad of newspaper beneath the two logs on the fire, and lit struck a match.  He stayed crouched long enough to be sure the wood was going to light, then rose.  The cabin was secure enough that he hadn’t bothered to relight it earlier.  He’d have to turn on the propane tank and generator in the morning though, if he wanted hot water.  He shrugged, then sat down, letting the gun rest on his knee as he waited for the would-be thief to wake up.

It didn’t take long.  Maybe a minute.  The kid came awake with a jerk, and immediately began yanking at the handcuffs securing him to the column.  “Knock it off.”

The guy’s eyes widened when he saw Matthias, and he swallowed.  The expression on the dumbass’s face was almost comical.  “Who the fuck are you?”

“Kid…”  Matthias rubbed his forehead with his free hand.  “If I’d broken into a cabin only to get put in a sleeper hold by a guy twice my size that I never saw coming, then woke up handcuffed to a post with a gun pointed at my face, I’d like to think I’m smart enough to be a bit more polite.”  He leaned forward.  “So, the question is, who the fuck…”  He narrowed his eyes.  “Are you?”

“I didn’t know anyone was here.”  The kid started shaking his head frantically.  His blue eyes looked frantic.

“Sure, you didn’t.  Who are you?”

“Look, you can just let me go, and you’ll never see me again, I swear.”

“Let’s try this one last time.”  Matthias stood, setting his sights at right between the thief’s eyes.  “Who the fuck are you?”

He swallowed.  “Daniel.”

“And you were breaking in because…?”  Matthias raised an eyebrow.

“Needed supplies and…”  The kid swallowed again.

“Supplies are in the kitchen.  You were after something else.”  He shifted to aim at the kid’s kneecap.  “Who sent you?”

“Nobody sent me.”  The kid drew his knees up to his chest.  “I needed money.  I was looking for that or something I could sell to…”  The kid cringed.  “Please don’t kill me.  I was just trying to get enough for gas and maybe a motel and oh god.”  He was shaking now.  “Please don’t kill me.  I swear I didn’t know anyone was here.”

For the love of…  The guy looked like he was about to start crying.  “And of all the places to rob…”  He shook his head.  “You came here?”

“It was far away, nobody would see me and…”  The kid’s voice caught a little.  “I’ve never robbed anyone before and…”  He shook his head.  “It would take the cops a while to get here and not a lot of people use the cabins in the winter and I didn’t think anyone was here and…”  He shook his head.  “Please, I won’t tell anyone about this, I swear.”

Matthias started laughing.  “All the places to break into, you pick mine.  That’s…”  He shook his head, and holstered the gun.  He could smell the waves of terror coming off the guy.  “You poor stupid fuck.”  He started pacing.  Even if he did feel like killing some hapless teenager, disposing of a body in subzero temperatures with three feet of snow on the ground didn’t appeal to him.  And another storm was on its way.  Kid would have no choice to stay in town, and if he talked to the wrong person…  If they knew enough to be in town he was already screwed.  He walked behind the column and started digging the keys out of his pocket.  The kid tensed, then relaxed again when Matthias started removing the cuffs.

“I won’t say anything, mister.  I swear.”

“Good.”  Matthias leaned in close.  “Saves me the trouble of pressing charges.”  The kid flinched.  “Get up.”

The guy stood up, swayed a little, and promptly passed out onto his floor.  Matthias sighed.

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Ash : Chapter 9

He still hadn’t spoken.  Magda sighed.  She thought back to what Stephan had said.  He’d been right about the collar.  Maybe he was right about other things.  She stood.  “Ash, come.”

Ash followed her into the bedroom, then climbed up on the bed.  He curled up at the foot of it, as he did every night.  She switched off the overhead light, leaving the one on her nightstand glowing.  Then she laid down.  “Ash, come here.”  She patted the bed next to her.

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Ash : Chapter 8

Magda stopped the car, and stared up at the small house.  For the first time in decades, she was grateful she hadn’t been able to bring herself to sell the place.  Twice a year she came up, checked on things, sealed it back up tightly.  She’d missed the last check.  She sighed, then looked over at the young man watching her from the back seat.

He hadn’t spoken since they’d found him.  He’d respond to his name with curious looks or a barking sound, but trying to coax actual words out of him had just resulted in him whimpering and cowering like a beaten dog.  She’d managed to get him to wear a pair of sweat pants, though they were too short for him.  Trying to take the collar off had just made him whimper and cringe.  What the hell had those bitches done to him?

“Ash.”  He looked up at her.  “Ash.”  She gestured to house.  “We’re here.”  He made an inquisitive whining noise.  Magda opened the door and got out.  She’d only gone a couple steps before she heard Ash bark at her.  She frowned, then sighed before going back and opening the door for him.  She wasn’t sure if she felt more frustrated or sick at the fact that he started crawling after her instead of walking.  Stephan had a point.  They’d have taken Ash to the psych ward.  And with his father dead…  She wondered if he even knew.

It took her a couple tries to get the generator started.  Ash followed her though the house as she looked around, crawling after her as she checked each room.  Everything was dusty, but usable.  Better than she’d expected from a place she hadn’t set foot inside in almost year.  She turned the well on, then waited until the water ran clear.  Ash stared quizzically at the glass she offered him, and reluctantly she poured the water into a bowl and set it down.  He drank it before following her into the living room.

When she sat down on the couch, he hesitated before crawling up next to her.  To her surprise, he curled himself into a ball and laid down with his head in her lap.  When she just stared at him, he whined softly, and she could feel him start trembling.  Slowly, she brushed her fingers through his hair.  “It’s alright, Ash.”  She felt him start relaxing.  “You’re safe here.  I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

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Ash: Chapter 7

She looked over the rifle Stephan had set on the table, then raised an eyebrow.  “So, when you said elephant gun…”

“I meant my grandfather literally hunted elephants with it.  And rhino, water buffalo, etcetera.”  He shrugged.  “Classic mighty whitey.”  He poked the box of ammo.  “No silver slugs though.”

Magda nodded.  “Can you shoot it with a busted arm?”

“It’s more my shoulder going to be an issue, but yes.”  He nodded.  “I can get off a couple shots, at least, though I might need some stitches replaced afterward.”  Stephan looked up at her.  “Did you get what you need?”

“I did.”  Magda looked away before looking back at him.  No matter how this ended, her life here was over.  She’d already hidden away the things she couldn’t bear to lose.  “You know if you come with me, then even if this works…”

“I know.”  He smiled.  “You’re my partner, Mags.  I’ve got your back.”  He looked down at the gun.  “And you have saved my life twice recently, so I kind of owe you.”

“There are two of them.  Lisa will be stronger and faster.”  She took a deep breath.  “She’ll also be focused on me.  Any idea what the other one looks like?”

“Name was foreign.  Sima, I think Lisa said.  When I asked who Sima was, Lisa said she was her roommate.”  Stephan frowned.  “That’s all I have.”

“She’ll be holding Ash.  So…”

“Mags…”

“He’s just a kid, Stephan.”  She shook her head.  “A pup.”

“I know.”  He took a deep breath.  “Just hoping I’m still a decent shot with this thing.”

“Alright.  Let’s go set our trap.”

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