For mortals, the Blood Moon is the end of days. A belief they have held in their hearts that when the Blood Moon arrives, Hell Fire will swallow the world. Of course, for many mortals this is mostly superstition.
For non mortals however, the Blood Moon is an event not to be missed.
A sign of strength for vampires and werewolves since the dawn of time, many fight to prepare for the coming Moon. For the rest of time they fight among each other, gaining hierarchy and trying to wipe each other out.
Survival for the Blood Moon is key, but sometimes just living another day for non-mortals is strength in itself.
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[#ff6622 “Stop it Lexi. I know what you’re doing. You’re admitting to all of this to make me angry… to make me hate you. You want me to punish you, to push you away, kick you out of my life… I used to do the exact same thing to you Lexi. But the moment that happens, the moment your alone, you’ll realize how crippling it is, you’ll be devastated, not sure how you’ll even keep going… at least, that’s how I always felt when you left.”] Dustin closed his eyes, trying to even out his laboured breathing and push away those dark thoughts his sister was planting in his mind – [i it only took a day to break her. Just one day to convince her to kill her own brother. Deep down she much have wanted him gone.] – He couldn’t give in to those thoughts. He had been in her shoes before; been the twin responsible for destroying the other’s chance at happiness. He knew where that dark road led and he wouldn’t let Lexi walk it alone.
His resolve faltered as the truth emerged. Lexi was partially responsible for Talon’s death. She helped kill his Alpha, along with Mitch and Trey. His sister and his mentor, two people he trusted most had betrayed him so deeply Dustin wasn’t sure he could ever trust again!
[#ff6622 “I’m not sending you away Lexi, I just need this favour. If I sent any of my Pack, they’ll be killed on sight. Don’t worry, you won’t be in danger. You’re the heir of the Council, Trey won’t risk hurting you. In fact, it’s probably safer with the Resistance than with Sirhan… if you don’t come back, I’ll know you’ve made your choice.”] Dustin stated, his voice far less emotional than it should be suggesting that his sister might betray him, but Dustin couldn’t allow himself to hope she was loyal. He couldn’t take the disappointment if he was wrong.
As Lexi talked about family and pleaded for Dustin to give his father a second chance, the young Alpha simply shook his head. He couldn’t let himself get distracted by a family that didn’t want him. He had responsibilities now, he had a pack to protect. Dustin had never lived up to his father’s expectations or his sister’s love, and now he was finally accepting the fact that he never would. It would be better for everyone this way. His father and sister could live their life unburdened by his failures, and he could belong to his Pack, the ones who accepted him for who he was.
[#ff6622 “Talon was more of a father to me than Eli ever was. I think it’s time I start to appreciate the family that’s had my back from the start.”] Dustin said and though his words were cold and harsh, his tone was void of malice. He wasn’t saying these things to hurt her or Eli, he actually thought it was the truth. As much as Eli wanted to argue with his son, he knew words wouldn’t do any good. So for once, he held his tongue, stopping another argument before it even started. Words weren’t enough, he’d have to show his son though actions. He swore to himself, he would show Dustin how much this family loved him, no matter what it took.
Amber watched the scene with mixed emotion. She had been at Helena’s when Dustin was captured, and admired the boy’s courage and resistance for the weeks it took to break him. She thought she’d return to see the boy recovered and strong willed, even despite his last trauma, but she could tell Dustin was still just as broken as the day he left Helena’s. He was so afraid of more pain – both emotional and physical – that he refused to let himself lean on his family for the comfort he so clearly needed. She wished she could help, but he wouldn’t trust her either – especially once he learned she was part of the Resistance. Amber was surprised Lexi even trusted her, and yet here she was, asking Amber for help to aid her brother. The whole situation twisted Amber’s conscience and made her feel sick. She was plotting to betray Sirhan and Lexi was treating her like an old, trusted friend!
[#005500 “You haven’t lost him Lexi. He just needs time. He knows as well as I do that you weren’t in control of your actions. It was Helena that shot Talon, not you. Dustin knows this, he just… needs to work through his grief. It might be hard for a vampire to understand, but Wolves share a special bond with their Alpha’s. Losing someone you trust so absolutely… especially in those circumstances… Dustin needs time to process it all. But he loves you Lexi; he wouldn’t have let you stay here if he didn’t.”] Amber told her, offering some small reassurance. She hoped whatever Trey had planned for Sirhan, that he’d leave the twins out of it. It was one thing to want to take out the Pack that would no doubt be hunting for vengeance, but to harm these poor kids who have lost almost everything in life… No, Trey wouldn’t do that. Amber may not have agreed with his decisions lately, but he was still a good person. He was still the kind-hearted leader she respected. He’d protect the twins, she was sure of it.
[#005500 “You were kind to me Lexi, so I’ll help you. I’ll take you to Trey.”] Amber agreed, just as she heard Anton arrive and call our for his partner. The name, Raven, made Amber anxious. It was one thing to trick her way into Sirhan, but to look into the eyes of Talon’s sister and set her up for another heartbreaking betrayal? Amber wasn’t sure she was ready for that. Besides, Trey had told her that if she couldn’t take Sirhan down, then she should at least rescue Dustin and bring him back to the Resistance. If she helped Lexi set the meeting, Dustin would be walking right into Trey’s hands without anyone to stop him.
[#005500 “We should go now. Your brother is stable and he’ll be safe with your Pack. We’ll need to hurry if you brother wants the meeting set for dawn.”] Amber explained, but the call of Lexi’s name from across the room made her pause. Was that a human? What the hell were Sirhan doing recruiting humans? It seemed like a desperate move to Amber… unless there was more to these humans than meets the eye? Amber had to warn Trey about this. She didn’t like the idea of Sirhan strengthening their numbers with wildcards like these humans. Maybe Trey was right after all? Maybe the Sirhan were too dangerous to keep around?
Raven kept her head down, letting the shadow of the ragged hood cover her face. The torn, dirty, bulky fabric covered her small, toned build, helping her blend in with the crowd and effectively hid the wet blood that stuck to her leather jacket. For one brief moment she thought her plan had failed – feeling the hand of the hunter on her shoulder, but Raven was discarded just like the others, shoved aside in his frantic search for the black wolf. With a sigh of relief, Raven faded into the crowd until she had a chance to slip away. Raven took the long way home, making sure she wasn’t followed before heading back to the Den. As soon as she was inside, she ripped the dirty hoodie off and tossed it into the fire. The smell stung her sensitive nose and she was glad to finally be rid of that disgusting disguise. Raven unzipped her jacket and took a look at the damage to her side. It was just a simple graze – it would bleed and sting like hell, but in the end it didn’t cause much damage. Raven grabbed a clean pad of gauze and medical tape, hastily strapping it over the wound on her way up to the medic ward to check on the others. She could already hear Anton’s voice from upstairs.
When Raven arrived, she hesitated for a moment, seeing that Anton and Dustin were talking. The boy looked devastated and his expression alone reminded Raven of why she had just been out there chasing that rush. Talon was dead and it looked like Dustin was taking the news as badly as she had.
When Anton first walked in, Dustin glanced up at him with those broken eyes. There was a time, not so long ago, that Dustin would run to Anton when he was feeling depressed like this, and the dealer would give him some magic pill or shot to take the pain away. If only he were still a junkie and the fix was that easy. Now, he doubted there was anything Anton could give him to ease the pain.
[#ff6622 “I can’t believe he’s gone… I shouldn’t have left his side, I should have fought with him. Maybe then I could have…”] Dustin hastily scrubbed his hand across his eyes to wipe away any traces of tears that threatened to fall. He cursed himself under his breath. He was an Alpha now, he had to toughen up! He couldn’t sit here wallowing in his grief when he pack needed him! He had to make Talon proud! Forcing himself to focus, Dustin caught a glimpse of the new recruits and turned a questioning look to Anton.
[#ff6622 “You brought a cook and a junkie into Sirhan? I guess it’s not the first time Sirhan has adopted a couple lowlifes. If you and I could end up loyal to this pack, maybe it’s worth giving them a shot.”] Dustin muttered, flashing Anton a half-hearted smirk.
[b “If nothing else, those lowlife junkies are hard to kill. It’s good to see you up, Kid. I thought we were actually going to lose you this time.”] Raven teased as she entered the room, though her own expression was as feeble as Dustin’s, not quite up for mocking banter when the death of her brother still loomed overhead.
[#ff6622 “I’m glad you’re both back. I think we need to talk somewhere private.”] Dustin agreed, reluctantly letting Raven help him up so he didn’t rip his stiches even worse. Raven’s room was the closest to the infirmary, so she led Anton and Dustin there, easing the injured boy onto her mattress before taking her place leaning against the wall.
[#ff6622 “I know I’m asking a lot of you, but I’m not sure I’m ready for this… certainly not alone. Talon taught me as much as he could, but these last few weeks when I thought Lexi was dead, I closed myself off. I wasn’t a good initiate and a terrible Alpha in Training… but I want to make Talon proud. And to do that, I’m going to need your support… both of you. Anton, Raven… I want to make you both my Betas. If anything happens to me, you’re both in charge of Sirhan.”] Dustin announced, not missing the way Raven shifted nervously at the thought. She had been Beta of Sirhan until the day she became a Hybrid. Now to be offered the position again in the wake of her brother’s death was hard to process.
[#ff6622 “I need you both at my side, to give me advise, to watch my back, to keep me in check… you’re the only ones I still trust. Please tell me you accept?”] Dustin asked, looking between the hybrids with pleading eyes. He needed their support in this. Raven glanced towards Anton, waiting for his answer first. As painful as it would be to take up her former position, Raven would do it for Dustin’s sake, but it would be a hell of a lot easier to handle with Anton at her side.
[#ff6622 “And I need one more favour… I’m going to meet with Trey.”]
[b “No. Not a chance! That traitor tried to kill Talon, I won’t let him another Alpha from Sirhan!”] Raven growled, starting to regret her decision to let Trey live on that battlefield. She didn’t want to let that bastard anywhere near Dustin! What if he took the opportunity to strike while Dustin was injured? It wouldn’t be the first time he tossed away his honour for an easy kill!
[#ff6622 “I’m meeting with him, Raven, and I’m going alone. I have to do this. But while I’m gone, I need to know Sirhan is protected. I need you here, keeping an eye on our new recruits, watching out for Lexi and my dad, and keeping the pack safe. The Resistance isn’t the only pack that wants Sirhan dead. I need to know you’ll keep everyone safe until I get back.”]
Nico snarled as Raven acted like the dog she pretended to be. He wasn’t fooled. She was a monster - the worst kind. It was the type of monster that made little children fear going to bed at night. It was the monster that made humans randomly go missing. It was the monster that haunted nightmares and tricked the mind. You looked twice and shook away your thoughts, not wanting to believe what you saw was real. Nico wasn’t like the rest of them. He knew the difference. The scars on his face was his own tale.
[+red “You can fool the camera but you can’t fool me. You’re the black furred wolf that keeps stealing from the Blood Banks. Where is the white wolf? Was that him? We’ve found your fur at a few scenes… you’re the only fools that dare step so far into the city! I can’t wait to drag you back and prove it to them all.”] Nico revealed, showing some of the secrets he had learned about their hidden lives and activity. As he tossed the net, she was too quick for his actions! This wolf was far too smart compared to the others. Watching as his fellow hunters tried to find their way around the net, Nico hiss beneath his breath and sprinted after the wolf in full chase. He had no time to wait any longer. This was the kill he had been waiting for and he wouldn’t miss his opportunity!
As he sprinted after her, watching her break into the crowds of junkies and homeless, Nico pulled out his gun again and repeatedly fired into the crowd. He didn’t care about the consequence for life. If he had learned anything it was that his own species was foolish! He could easily avoid the law and no one would care for a few wasteful lives anyway. The bullets cleared his path but any who dared to keep running where quickly hit and fell to the ground, screaming as they writhed in their own blood. Nico didn’t stop as he continued the pursuit, even stepping on top of bodies just keep up the chase!
[+red “I know you’re alive and I won’t stop hunting you! There’s more of us. Many more of us! You think we’re all fools but you’re biggest mistake is you underestimate us all! I’ll keep hunting you down. I’ll hunt you down till the next Blood Moon if I have to!”] He called and as he reached the centre of the crowd he was shoving people out the way. Little did he know but his own hand touched Raven’s shoulder, shoving her past just like she was one of the other junkies in the crowd. He was so lost in his desperation, he didn’t even realise that the very creature he was hunting he had just pushed out the way!
[+red “No! You all made me lose it! That creature! Where did it go!?”] Nico screamed, grabbing a random girl from the crowd by the neck and shoving her against the wall.
[i “I have no idea, man! You’re crazy! I thought I was high but you must be seeing some real bad stuff!”]
Throwing her to the floor, Nico screamed in frustration before he started to leave the scene. He was gone for now, but from his remarks he wouldn’t be giving up the hunt anytime soon. He’d return… one day.
[+orange “He has every right to speak to me like that. We almost lost him because of me. It was all because of me. I have been angry at him so many times for nothing compared to this…”] Lexi was foolish to even begin to think this family could be fixed after everything she had done. The only thing holding her together while Dustin was fighting for survival was the idealism that somehow everything would be ok. Dustin would wake up, understand, hold her close, and tell her everything would be alright. Only instead the reality of it all was actually the punishment Lexi had been secretly hoping for. Without knowing it - she wanted her brother to be mad. She wanted someone to not see her as this perfect little girl who could do no wrong. With all his anger and uncertainty towards whether he could even trust her, she was only feeling the tip of the iceberg of what she made her brother feel. Her father was trying to fix the impossible and the daunting realisation was becoming clearer with every second her brother glared at her. It came with every untrusting word and uneasy shift of his body at her presence. She had never thought she would be broken from her twin - yet that bond was destroyed the moment she sank her fangs into his neck because she
While Dustin acknowledged his fathers response, Lexi looked distant and empty of any attempt of connection. He was right. In that moment she really did want him gone. Helena got so deep into head head that she was ready to drain the last bit of life out of her brother. She had killed wolves just like him for preparation for her final confrontation with her twin. She still had that twitch in her body. Her fingers clenched into fists, her fangs grating against one another behind pursed lips. Helena’s voice. It would never leave.
[+orange “I wasn’t strong enough to fight against her. I broke in a day. She told me you lasted weeks… I couldn’t even last a day. Not even with the thought I was going to hurt you.”]
She knew she shouldn’t confess so much. It would only dig holes deeper than what she could climb out of. Only she couldn’t be part of the tangle of lies that crossed within her family name. If there was one spec of honour she could claw from all of this - it was the honest she could find within herself. Even if it led to further destruction.
That very thing happened the moment she confessed about her actions. The murder of Talon. What was tears turned into fear as she watched her brothers blood stain his own bandages. It all happened so fast. The small clash between Dustin and Eli, her fathers blood being spilt…. Lexi took a fearful step back, almost expecting her brothers anger to turn onto her. Instead came the questions… the begging for details.
As each member of Sirhan spoke, Lexi was forced to remember that moment more clearly that she ever thought she could. The moment was a blur but for the first time she could feel the cold steel as she rested her index finger on the trigger. She could remember focusing her sharp eyes on Talon, the wind brushing across her hair as she stood tall on the high building with the advantage point to kill. Most chillingly was the witches hand wrapped around hers, her long hair draping over Lexi’s shoulders and her breath whispering those orders…
[+orange “You don’t need to keep me here and Trey… if you meet him he could…”] Kill you. Lexi didn’t finish those two final words. This wasn’t the time to challenge her brothers orders. She had risked too much.
[+orange “Whatever you need. You don’t have to forgive me Dustin.I don’t want you to. Dad however… he’s just trying to change. I tried to kill you. He’s just learning about family again… don’t waste it Dustin. He cares about you more than you think. I’m so, so sorry….”]
Stepping back there was only one person Lexi knew who to turn to to get help. Approaching Amber’s bed, Lexi took a seat by her side. She didn’t even look up towards the wolf. Lexi had such an empty look in her eyes - it was as if everything that mattered to her had been ripped away.
[+orange “You need to take me to Trey. They’ll let you do it. You won’t have to get close to him…I just need to know where he is. This isn’t a request. I almost killed my brother and now I’ve lost him all together. I’m doing this because he needs closure but I also need to be sure Trey won’t kill him. I’ve almost lost him once. I won’t lose him again.”]
With the room divided, there was an eerie silence from the clash with the family. The silence swallowed the den, until the front door burst open. The familiar Hybrid came in, holding the back of Candy’s shirt and his other hand holding tightly onto Baxter’s wrist.
[b “Has Raven made it back yet?”]
[i “Anton what are you doing bringing two humans back to Sirhan territory! Are you trying to get us exposed? This is not the time to be putting us at further risk!”]
[+green “Shut up you stupid mutt!”]
[+blue “Sis are you trying to get us killed already!?”]
[b “Quiet! Fuck… just be quiet for 5 minutes! Raven said we needed recruits so say hello to our new recruits. Is she back yet? Damn it, has anyone seen Raven!?”] Anton called again into the den, only to have the silence that filled the room consume his words. Narrowing his eyes on Dustin and seeing him awake, he could see the look in his eyes. Dustin knew. He had been told.
[b “You two wait here…”] Ordering the two humans to remain put, Anton stepped towards Dustin. Anton had never been good with this sort of thing. His plan to support Raven was to distract her - to let her run away from the news that crippled her for awhile. Now he had no choice. He didn’t have to ask Dustin how he found out. He could see Eli and Lexi, each looking solemn. Nothing could compare to the look in Dustin’s eyes. He looked broken.
[b “Kid…”] Anton started but where did he even start?
[b “Look er, I’m just waiting for Raven to come back. I’m sorry we weren’t here… Raven was there. She watched him go.”]
Letting out a deep sign Anton looked up at Lexi to see her staring at Baxter and the boy staring at her in return. So that’s the Palmer he said he knew… he could see Lexi was too terrified to talk after what had happened, but Baxter was hopping at his toes to open his mouth!
[+blue “Lexi! I was in your class! Come on why aren’t you speaking to me!”]
[b “I said quiet! You wait till you’re spoken to! Dustin these are two new recruits. We can keep them away until you’re ready. Do you… do you want to talk? How about we get away from this room. They can stow the new recruits away until we’re sure for now.”]
[b “Face it Anton, we won’t outrun them with Candy and Baxter, and now that they’re part of Sirhan, we can’t leave them behind. I’ll be fine. I’m faster on four legs than any human is on two, and its pitch black out tonight. If I can lead them away from the lights, they won’t even be able to see me. Just get these two back to Sirhan safely and don’t worry, I got this!”] She told him. Raven flashed a smirk at the boy, appreciating his advice. He didn’t look like mush, but Raven had a sneaking suspicion that there was much more to the frail looking teen than what he appeared.
Raven turned to face her pursuers, not surprised to hear the barking order to grab their cameras. Stupid humans were always trying to prove that monsters existed. But all they ever get is sightings of large dogs or pale humans acting strange – no concrete proof that werewolves and vampires exist. Raven would play to that. Maybe if she upped her game these brainless hunters would talk their way into a padded room!
Raven lowered her head and growled at the approaching humans the way any stray dog would do. She fixed her eyes on the leader, watching his every move, even when he sent two of his goons to rush her. It was an old pack-hunting tacking that wolves knew well – send the scouts ahead to distract the pray while the more experiences hunters hung back and waited for an opening. Raven wouldn’t be fooled. The bullets and the goons were nothing more than distractions for the more dangerous threat – the net. Raven dodged one bullet, but felt the second graze her flank. It wasn’t too deep, but it was a painful reminder not to get too cocky. Raven kept her eyes on the leader. She didn’t spare a glance at the approaching men, but relied on her heightened hearing and sense of smell to know where they were. As soon as the net was thrown, Raven leaped to the side, just narrowly escaping the heavy material. She grabbed the thick net in her strong jaws and tugged it, testing the weight. When the two men approached, she tugged the net in between them and herself, placing it right in their path. If they were stupid enough to step on the webbing, she’d simply tug the net right out from under their feet, sending them both to the ground. If they were smart enough to go around, it would buy Raven a few precious seconds to escape.
As soon as the two were delayed, Raven darted away from the warehouse, directly into a mass of twitching addicts. The tweekers were easy to find and perfect for a distraction. Already hyperactive, the terrifying sight of a full grown wolf, side covered in blood, snarling and snapping and she ran through the crowd sent the addicts screaming and scrambling over one another to escape. Raven didn’t doubt the hunters were ruthless enough to fire into a crowd, so she knew she wasn’t safe until she fully escaped. When she was hidden amongst the crowd, Raven shifted back into a human, swiping a ratted hoodie from the ground and throwing it over her leather jacket so she wasn’t instantly recognizable. Soon she blended in, becoming just another scrambling tweeker running to escape the big, bad, wolf!
Any relief Eli felt when Dustin woke from his coma was washed away by the cold words of contempt coming from his son’s mouth. Eli could admit that Dustin had a point – he had suffered enough in the last few hours, he didn’t need more guilt and blame on top of it, but Eli couldn’t stand to see the twins at odds with one another. Lexi had suffered the agonies of torture as well, and Eli knew that a week under Helena’s control would have broken Lexi in ways he could hardly imagine. He couldn’t bear to see her suffer even more at the words of her own twin brother!
[+green “That’s enough! You can be angry at me all you want, Dustin, but don’t you dare talk to your sister like that! She saved your life Dustin! She brought our family back together! We almost…!”] Eli trailed off, suddenly aware of how quickly this conversation was getting out of hand. It was mere hours ago when he made his promise to Lexi that he would try to be a better father to Dustin and here he was yelling at his son mere moments after he woke up from his deathbed! Eli took a staggering breath to calm himself, even more ashamed at the accusing glare in his son’s tired eyes. Dustin was waiting expectantly for another insult or complaint, knowing just as well as Eli did that all of their conversations inevitably ended in a fight. Eli couldn’t believe he’d let things get this bad between him and his son. Maybe Anton was right – he was a terrible father to the boy, maybe Dustin really was better off with his own pack. So far, that dead Alpha in the other room had shown more fatherly affection towards Dustin than Eli had!
[+green “We almost lost you Dustin.”] Eli finished his earlier thought in a much calmer, more concerned tone that took the young pup by surprise.
[+green “You know how devastating it was when we thought we lost your sister. Lexi and I just went through that same terrifying fear when we thought we were going to lose you. I know you’re upset, son, and you’ve got every right to be. But can’t we just appreciate the fact that the three of us are alive and together?”]
Dustin was a little shocked to hear his father change his tone so abruptly. Eli never backed down from a shouting match with Dustin before, which showed just how shaken the father still was about nearly losing his children. In a rare show of cooperation, Dustin nodded and let his own angry retorts die.
[#ff6622 “I know it wasn’t your fault Lexi. I know what it’s like to be powerless against Helena. It’s just… you tried so hard to kill me, I thought… on some level maybe… maybe you really did want me gone.”] Dustin put his palm to his forehead, trying to fend off the pounding headache, but every move send another shock of pain through his aching muscles. He could really use more sleep and several more hours in the moonlight, but there was this nagging pull in the back of his mind, urging him to check on his pack. He needed to talk to Talon. He needed his Alpha to tell him what was going on.
On some level Dustin knew – the strong urge to defend his pack, the extra weight of responsibility, the strange mistrust he had for his father and Lexi – but Dustin wasn’t willing to even entertain the thought until Lexi said it out loud: [i “He’s dead.”]
The truth hit Dustin so hard, he felt like he couldn’t breathe. Talon was dead. His Alpha was dead! The man that took Dustin in, gave him a family, helped him get clean, taught him to fight, protected him, mentored him, believed in him… was dead. He died hours ago; he died because Lexi shot him! She killed Talon! She killed his Alpha! Dustin shot up so fast his stiches tore from his chest, tearing open the bloody stab to his lung and the grizzly bite on his neck. The sudden motion was far too much on his barely healing punctured lung, and Dustin felt himself gasping for air in his panic.
[+green “Dustin, take it easy…”] Eli cautioned, placing a restrictive hand on his son’s shoulder, but the boy lashed out, even clawing bloody gashes into his father’s forearm and shoving him away.
[#ff6622 “Don’t… touch… me!”] Dustin growled fiercely between every wheezing breath. He pushed himself off the cot, stumbling roughly into the wall as his body refused to cooperate with him. The pain of every step was immense, but he had to go – had to find Talon, to see his fallen Alpha for himself, to witness the truth with his own eyes! Dustin stumbled again, but this time one of the medics appeared at his side, helping to keep the frail Alpha on his feet.
[i “Alpha please, you’re in no condition to…”]
[#ff6622 “What happened? Tell me!”] Dustin demanded, silently begging the wolf to give a different explanation; one that wouldn’t make his twin sister the monster that murdered his Alpha. The rest of the pack seemed unaware that Lexi was the one that fired the shot, and while they did have another explanation for Talon’s death, it didn’t entirely absolve Lexi.
[i “Some coward with a gun made the first shot. Talon took a bullet to his shoulder, making him more vulnerable. We tried to stay close, but we were outnumbered. Mitch took advantage of Talon’s injury and tore into Talon, killing him slowly.”] The medic explained with a troubled expression.
[#ff6622 “Even injured, Talon wouldn’t have… he couldn’t have just let Mitch beat him! And why was he alone? What about our allies in the Resistance? Where the hell was Trey?!”] Dustin demanded, fighting through his own gasping breaths to get his answers. At the very mention of the traitor’s name, every Sirhan wolf in the room growled in anger, some even shooting dangerous glares towards Amber in the corner, blaming her for the actions of her Alpha.
[i “Trey held Talon down while Mitch attacked. He betrayed Talon. He betrayed us all.”] With that, Dustin’s sense of trust was shattered. He looked up to Trey! He idolized him! And that bastard helped kill Talon! Talon had answered his mercy call, he’d given the Resistance shelter, fought by their side! Sure, Trey and Talon didn’t always see eye to eye, but to convince Talon that they’d be allies in the Blood Moon then turn around and kill him… Dustin couldn’t believe it.
[i “Please Alpha, you need to rest. Talon entrusted the Sirhan Pack to you, but you can’t lead us if you don’t let yourself recover.”] The medic insisted, guiding Dustin back to his cot. The pup was stubborn and tried to fight it, but his condition was still too poor to put up much resistance and soon Dustin founding himself collapsing back onto his cot, almost wishing for the burn of the vampire venom to distract him from the pain of loss and betrayal that consumed him.
[#ff6622 “Find Anton and Raven… I need to speak with them. Make sure the wounded are taken care of, and tighten the security around the Den.”] Dustin ordered his medic before turned his gaze to his sister. Dustin looked terrible – exhausted, defeated, in pain, absolutely devastated by the news, but he couldn’t afford the luxury of shedding those emotions right now – he was Alpha now, and his Pack was counting on him.
[#ff6622 “Lexi, I won’t tell the Pack what you did. I don’t hate you, but… but I can’t trust you. I can’t trust anybody… I’ll let you stay here, you and dad, but you two need to do something for me first. Something to prove you’re loyal to Sirhan… loyal to me. I need you to find Trey and convince him to meet with me, one on one, at dawn. He betrayed Talon… I need to know why.”]
Baxter may have been fragile, thin to the bone, exhausted, and feeling that all too familiar itch for his next fix; but he wasn’t all that he appeared. When Raven challenged his sister, and pointed out how the pack wasn’t to hand over anything easily, his eyes narrowed. What did she think they were? Beggars? He may have looked like one but they would never resort to needing anyone else. His sister had put him through hell and back and he didn’t trust the lack of concern on either of their faces. They were judging and he could see that. It was rich coming from Anton but to see it from the other girl made his lip curl. The boy was loyal to his lifestyle. It was filled with risks and danger, ones which he was sure even a freak couldn’t imagine. Things had changed since Anton’s transformation and he had left the mortal world. Just because these monsters had their own battles, didn’t mean they knew anything about what was left for humans to deal with.
[+blue “I’ve always done my part freak.”]
[+green “Bax, watch your mouth.”]
[+blue “No Charlotte. These freaks think we need handouts! Even if it’s messed up, we earn what we want. Don’t think we’re losers like the rest of them in here...”]
[+green “Great speech, now you ever call me by my name again, you’ll have earned another beating...”] Candy warned, glaring at her brother as a final warning to shut his mouth. She had the foot in the door to get them a new sense of power. There allies were running short here, it was time to escape.
When Raven asked her next question, Baxter’s hostility turned inquisitive. Palmer. How could he forget that name? Only it wasn’t the Palmer Raven had brought up. As he opened his mouth to answer her question, he was cut short by a sharp tug on his hair. Fortunately Baxter had experienced far too many beatings in his time from people much stronger than Nico. So it didn’t take much for the kid to already have plotted an escape route. Before he knew it another set of hands were on him, pushing him to the safety of the door.
Nico however was not screaming in pain like you would expect from a human; instead his laugh travelled through the warehouse as he stood back up straight just in time for Raven’s blade to slice across his hand. His grip tightened on his gun and as her third knife hit the light fittings, Nico was one step ahead. Throwing his long trench coat from his shoulders, he quickly caped the top of his head in time to stop the shower of glass from piercing his skin. His other hunters weren’t so lucky, but that is what made a difference between the veterans and the rookies. Nico wasn’t new to this - the scars on his face was a sign of his past mistakes. He wouldn’t let these creatures beat him again. Throwing his coat down to the ground, a smirk grew on his face.
[+red “I love playing cat and mouse. I’ll keep hunting you down! I’ve got your scent!”] Nico called after them, signalling for those who weren’t too injured by the shattered glass to follow him.
[+red “Get your cameras out. We want the rest of the world to see this monster. It’s time to expose them. They try to stay hidden and the rest of society think we’re the crazy ones! It’s time to show the world the real monsters that hide in the shadows...”]
Anton, Baxter, Candy, and Raven wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get much of a head start! With the junkie who grabbed Baxter’s ankle, he was sure he was done for! He was sneaky enough to avoid Nico, but he wasn’t strong enough to rip himself away! Just when he thought he would be abandoned to his fate, he was surprised when Raven came to his side and kicked him free! The shock was clear in his face. Unlike the two Hybrids, humans weren’t nearly as good as hiding their emotions!
[b “Raven we’ve had enough heroics for one Blood Moon. You really want to stay and test it with a gang of mindless thugs with guns?”]
[+blue “Nico isn’t just a thug. He’s spent his whole life hunting people down... you really don’t want to mess with him just because he’s human...”] Baxter chipped in. Raven saved him, the least he could do was say thank you by giving a little bit of a warning.
Anton however could see a different look in Raven’s eyes. There was a hunger for danger, crossed with a need to fulfil her duty and protect those around her. With that familiar smirk and wink, Anton nodded and grinned in return. While he was cautious, he had to trust his partner. Every time they split up in the past it had always lead to danger... he hoped it was different this time.
[b “The show best be worth it Raven. Fuck it up and you owe me when you get back!”] Anton warned, before grabbing Baxter’s wrist and nodding at Candy to follow. This wasn’t the time to stay and argue. Nico was hot in their tails and if Anton didn’t leave when he did with the others, it would have been too late.
Moments later the hunter appeared. His gun was hitched on his hip, the barrel pointed forward, with his eyes sharp searching for its target, Behind him stood his remaining men, each holding up their cell phones and torches, trying to get the best shot of the beast in question.
[+red “No point in hiding! Show yourself! Show the world what they are scared to see!”] Nico beckoned and as if on queue, he caught a glimpse of her black fur reflecting in the light. The other creature would have to weight. He had his transformation. Now he just had to spill its blood.
[+red “You keep running but soon you’ll have the world hunting you down. You want to know what I’ve done with creatures like you in the past? I’ve mounted their skulls on my wall and used their fur as a rug! Maybe you can be the next in my collection? Or you can just show yourself to the world!”] Nico called and without hesitation from his words, he fired two shots towards Raven. There was hardly another beat before he pulled out a weighted net, with the intention of capturing her and holding her down. With the shot of the bullets, two of his men ran directly towards her to try and distract as Nico tossed the net in her direction.
[+red “I’m no fool. I’ve done my research on monsters like you. A real monster fights. You’re nothing but a coward.”]
Lexi had always been the one to argue against her brother. She was always the one to put him in his place or even tell him when he crossed the line. There was very little opportunity in the past for her twin to challenge her. Often because she was the one who was always fixing things! Now the only thing she was trying to fix was her own mistakes before it was too late - judging by her brothers words, time might already be against her.
She opened her mouth in protest but instead her bottom lip trembled with everything she had done. Lexi was always cutting her brother down and he was right, if he wasn’t perfect then she ran away! Now she was the liar, failure, let down... this time it was her fault. Now the pressure of her actions were weighing down on her, she needed her brother more than ever. Was this how Dustin felt all along? All those mistakes and he must have needed the comfort of his sister - only he was pushed away.
Before Lexi could finally stumble the words out of her mouth, her father was cutting in. What he said even made Lexi’s jaw drop at the severity. She knew how much those words would have cut into Dustin and their hope of being reunited as a family was quickly shredding away. For once she had no way of fixing this. She hadn’t even began to tell her twin everything that had happened. He didn’t even know the truth! All Lexi could do was watch her brothers body language as everything shifted. He changed from panic and pain, to cold and collective. It was chilling... it was the same authority Talon carried. The same authority that made her cower when he looked at her, and forced Lexi to respect his orders before she became rebellious. The moment Dustin looked at her, her head instantly fell down with her chin touching the top of her chest.
[+orange “I-I don’t want to run away...I-I was just....I was trying to think of you and I’m sorry I’ll... you don’t understand what I did. What I’ve done. You’ve been through so much and I can’t change any of it! I just want to tell you what happened but I wanted to wait till you recovered first and...and....Dustin please stop. I didn’t blame...I...she has...”] Lexi looked towards her dad, begging for him to intervene and then her eyes switched to Amber almost looking for encouragement. Her brother had been through it himself, but would he forgive Lexi for everything she had done? Once he started to discover what Helena forced her to do, would he even look at her the same? Right now he was judging every word she said! She hadn’t even left and he was already weighing on that guilt.
[+orange “She made me think a lot of things I didn’t want to think...she made me do a lot of things I didn’t want to do...”] It was all Lexi could say. She did blame her brother. She blamed him for a lot of things. Now those moments would haunt her. She was even starting to doubt if she would even have a bond with her brother again... What she couldn’t prepare for was his next request. Talon... he wanted to speak to Talon. She thought she would have more time to formulate her answer. It was too soon! The moment he mentioned Talon’s name, the tears were starting to build in Lexi’s eyes and before she knew it, they were falling down her cheeks! She pulled the trigger... she weakened him...he couldn’t fight and now...
[+orange “He’s dead.”]
The words came out cold. Her eyes glistened with her tears, but her face was numb of emotion. Her whole body sank down with the weight of her own self-hated and guilt.
[+orange “He died a few hours ago. I shot him. He gave everything he had left to his pack. To you.”] Lexi continued, the words heavy, but coming out far too easy as she continued. She deserved her brothers hatred. Just like Dustin had washed away his signs, it was Lexi’s time to burden hers.
[+orange “She made me do it. I can’t lie to you. I’m so sorry... he’s gone.”]
The sight of the young teen was unnerving to Raven in more ways than one. First, there was the sheer disgust that someone – especially the boy’s sister – could allow him to fall so far into this deep pit of despair that he looked like a living corpse! Second, that he looked to be a far more extreme version of what Dustin looked like the first night Talon brought him home. Was this the fate that had awaited her new Alpha had he not found the pack? Thank goodness Dustin was saved from this, but could this boy be saved too? Or was it already too late for this poor soul?
Raven didn’t let any concern or empathy show on her face. This was no different than recruiting lone wolves to the pack – sympathy only opened the door for others to take advantage of you. You needed to be strong, tough, and indifferent when recruiting, as hard as that might be.
[b “The Pack doesn’t give handouts, Candy. We’re not in this for charity. If your brother wants to be part of this Pack, he’ll pull his weight just like you will. Everyone contributes to the pack, no exceptions. Of course, if he does his part, he’ll get the same treatment as anyone else: protection, respect, food to eat, a warm place to sleep, and a good chance to leave this life behind.”] Raven offered, making her expectations clear, but open to giving the boy a chance. She turned her eyes to the young frame, watching his shifting stance and jittery behaviour. Dustin was the same for weeks after they brought him in to Sirhan.
[b “Kid, do you know Dustin Palmer? Blonde kid, about your age, used to deal with Anton? He took us up on an offer like this. We helped him get clean, we made him one of us, he has a better life now because of it. We may be freaks, Kid, but we look out for one another. The choice is yours. Join us and live for the Pack, or stay here and waste away.”] Raven told him firmly. Unfortunately, Baxter didn’t get much of an opportunity to consider her offer. Soon a new player entered the game, and Raven could tell in an instant that it was time to go.
These humans reeked of blood and arrogance. The scars along his face were familiar, and Raven felt her own fist curl at her side, knowing she’d left identical marks on some of her own victims. Raven had encountered hunters before and knew better than to underestimate them. These weren’t just vengeful, trigger-happy humans, these men had honed their skills for the soul purpose of ridding the city of the beasts that had scarred them. Raven bit back a growl, keeping her expression composed to carry on the rouse. But when that hand snatched out and curled in the boy’s hair, Raven shifted to face the hunters with daggers in her eyes. Every instinct was screaming at her to attack these bastards and it was only as Raven caught a glimpse of Anton in her peripheral vision that she forced herself to take a breath and stay composed. As a wolf, her instincts lead her to fight – but her partnership with the vampire had taught her that certain situations called for a little more planning.
[b “I can guarantee you’ve never hunted anything like us before.”] Raven retorted as the hunter raised his gun directly at her. He may have slaughtered wolves in his past, but Hybrids were a whole different beast! Raven braced herself, ready to lunge the instant she saw his finger reach for the trigger.
Surprisingly, the newest member of the Sirhan pack was already earning his stripes! Baxter shifted the gun enough to save Raven the bullet, and the hybrid capitalized on the brief distraction. Raven grabbed her three remaining blades from her belt, sending one into a hunter’s hand, another into one of the goon’s eyes, and gripped the third tightly as she retreated, making sure Anton had pushed Candy and Baxter out first. To cover their exit, Raven whipped her last knife at the overhead light, shattering it instantly and sending showers of glass and sparks down upon the hunters.
Raven tuned on her heels and darted out behind the others. Frowning at how slow these humans were in comparison to her pack. The boy was frail and the woman wouldn’t dare leave him behind. They’d never outrun a pack of hunters on their trail. As if to prove the point, one of the half-conscious junkies lying on the dirt reached out a bony hand and latched on to Baxter’s ankle. Repaying the boy for saving her life earlier, Raven kicked the offending hand away and ushered the boy closer to his sister and Anton.
[b “Anton, you know how to disappear when you want to. You should take Baxter and Candy, slip into the shadows. Once the coast is clear, take them back to Sirhan territory, just be sure you’re not followed. I’ll lead the hunters off, then circle back to find you. Don’t worry – I won’t fight. These bastards want to see a freak? I’ll show them a freak.”] Raven smirked, giving Anton a wink as she fell behind the group. She waited until the hunters followed them outside and were in plain view before she transformed into a wolf. Her black fur already blending with the darkness of the alley. She was fast enough in this form, there’d be no way they could catch her, but if she stayed close enough to taunt them, she could probably lead them away while Anton got the others to safety.
Lexi tried to defend herself, but her words only seemed to make Dustin more upset. The young Alpha squeezed his eyes closed and curled his fists in his hair, the sudden movements tugged on his stitches, staining his crisp white bandages with red, but whatever physical pain the boy was feeling didn’t seem to cross his mind. He shook his head and muttered to himself trying to make sense of his sisters words along with the images that flashed through his mind. He knew there were pieces missing, but he couldn’t seem to remember clearly. What stunned him the most was this underlying threat in his gut telling him that his sister and father were dangerous. If they hurt their own flesh and blood, what could they due to his pack?! …[i Talon’s Pack]… they were Talon’s pack… why did he feel so possessive over them? All of this was so confusing!
[#ff6622 “leave… so you do hate me? That’s what you do when I screw up, you hurt me then you leave! You tell me I’m a liar, a failure, that I let your down, then you leave. You did it the first time I got high, the first time I stole from mom’s purse, when I told you mom’s death was my fault, when I saved Anton and Raven instead of going with you to see Dad, now you’re leaving again and I…”]
[+green “Dustin, stop this!”] Eli’s firm tone cut through his son’s frantic rambling, his hands fell heavy on Dustin’s shoulders to try to ground him. Eli didn’t want to shatter Dustin’s clearly fragile mental state at the moment, but he couldn’t have Dustin and Lexi fighting like this! Lexi was already feeling guilty and Dustin’s rants would only add to that! If he had to be tough and mean to snap some sense into his son, then he’d do whatever it took.
[+green “Your sister just saved your life! Damn it Dustin, you of all people should know what it’s like to do something unforgivable when you weren’t in your right mind!”] Eli hadn’t really meant to be THAT harsh, but the words were out before he could stop them and Dustin froze. His eyes widened, reflecting in them the memories of his parents fighting about his addiction, the night he came home to find them bleeding out on the floor, the lies he told to his sister, the time he’d attacked his own alpha, left Lexi to die, sold Anton out to Talon, attacked his loved ones while under Helena’s spell, offered himself to Lexi’s fangs on that roof… all the horrible things he’d done over the years due to drugs, or threats, his own damn fears, or that witch’s orders. Every time he thought he moved past all that bloody history, someone throws it back in his face. He was never truly forgiven, he was never cleansed of his sins. But after what he just went through? That unbearable pain, the fear, the endless torture, the blame, the hatred in their eyes, the longing for death only to be forced to ensure more and more suffering, and now this? Another guilt trip from his father and his sister threatening to leave again? For the first time Dustin felt like he’d paid his debt. He’d suffered enough. He didn’t owe them anything more and they could either accept that or walk away. Dustin was finally done making up for his mistakes.
The boy’s fists uncurled from his hair and dropped into his lap. His expression turned cold and firm – more confident and sure of his decision than Dustin had ever looked before. It was if he were already channelling that inner Alpha strength before he was even told he was an Alpha!
[#ff6622 “How much blood does it take to wash away the ‘unforgivable’ dad? Because I think I’ve shed enough. My slate is clean starting today, if you can’t accept that, then you can leave. And Lexi, if you abandon me again you’ll only be punishing me more, so you need to think about this too. Is what I went through payment enough? Did I suffer enough for you to forgive me? I know how Helena works, Lexi. I know she starts with whatever resentment you’re already feeling and builds on it, which means somewhere, deep down, you blamed me for leaving you there.”] Dustin stated coldly, calling her on the dark truth of Helena’s torment. Dustin had seen the witch’s process first hand. She tortured and terrified, twisted her victim’s minds and emotions, but she always, ALWAYS, started with the darkness already inside them. For Dustin it was his blame towards Anton for making him an addict, his anger at Talon for not giving up on him when Dustin tried everything to turn him away, and his disappointment at Lexi for not forgiving him when he needed her the most. All those thoughts were the fuel Helena needed to spark her fire of hatred and loathing. She did the same with all her victims, praying off their guilt and fear, their hate and blame, their sadness and disappointment. She would have done the same with Lexi, which means on some level, Lexi still had issues with her brother, or Helena never would have been able to convince her to attack him!
Dustin closed his eyes and took in a couple steady breaths to push down the pain in his muscles. His entire body hurt, but with the eyes of his pack all around, he felt strangely like he needed to be strong for them, to not show the weakness he was feeling. The more he concentrated on that feeling, the stronger it got. He could feel this heavy weight on his shoulders – concerned about his pack’s safety, their well being, their faith in him. He could sense they were scared and uncertain, and he wanted to reassure them. He also felt nervous, knowing the Blood Moon was over and that his pack was in danger. These feelings had always been there in the back of his mind just for belonging to the Pack, but now they were overwhelming! Dustin could hardly concentrate on his own recovery or his father and sister because the fear for his pack was so strong! He needed help making sense of this. He needed to consult his Alpha.
[#ff6622 “I can’t… I can’t talk about this now. I need to talk to Talon. Where’s Talon?”] Dustin asked. Eli gave a concerned look at Lexi before giving his son’s shoulder a little squeeze.
[+green “Dustin, I think we should wait until your friends Raven and Anton are back. They shouldn’t be much longer now. You just relax and get some rest…”]
[#ff6622 “Dammit Dad, this is more important than me and my injuries! Where the hell is my Alpha?!”] He demanded, and when Eli fell silent yet again, Dustin turned his eyes on his twin sister.
[#ff6622 “Lexi, where is Talon?”]
Anton really thought he brought a challenge that was too much for Raven. She held her core values, ones he could only admire to reach. Her connection to honour and valour, the respect of the pack, it was beyond this hellish place. Everyone and everything in it survived by doing the complete opposite. Anton’s own survival only lasted as long from betrayal and hurt. Even now as he wore Talon’s necklace, Raven’s words highlighted that his past still crept up within Sirhan. From the day they met, up to now, Raven consistently proved she knew how to handle every situation. Those that came to challenge the Pack, and those that pushed her outside her comfort zone. Matching that victorious grin, Anton playfully grinned back, rolling his eyes to mockingly say “You got lucky”. Of course he knew it was more than luck, but he wasn’t going to let Raven feel so victorious easily. He was standing beside one of his old rivals, so he needed someone to lighten the mood. When Raven turned around, he did the same, crossing his arms tightly around his chest and staring at Candy with the same furious look that she was reflecting back.
[+green “You want me to give him respect? He has never done anything to earn respect!”]
[b “And neither have you. I’d watch your tongue. Trust me, you really don’t want to test Raven’s word. Unlike me, she sticks to what she means.”] Anton added to Raven’s warning, which seemed to put Candy further into her place.
Without wanting to admit it she needed this chance. Candy’s small empire had been falling apart. Demand had been decreasing since Anton left the scene and the new dealers she was working for, blamed her product rather than their customers. Time’s were getting tougher and she was sure a few more weeks and she’d be dead. The greed in her eyes reflected how desperately the chance of immortality meant to her. She’d be powerful… perhaps a naive human thought, but it was enough to get her buying into what Anton and Raven wanted.
[+green “I’ll play civil sweetheart, but if he says anything against me in return then that’s it. You say it’s all mutual, then he can prove it as well!”] Candy offered, smirking as she watched Anton clench his fangs together. It seemed to be just as much of a tough deal for him as it was for her.
[b “Yeah… we’ll see if she’s actually tough enough to survive till the end. Come on, let’s get going.”]
[+green “I don’t think so. Not yet Anton. Raven had another question. All the junkies here are low lives. They won’t give you any use and will probably be more of a hinderance. However I’m not coming unless I can bring my little brother. Baxter!”] Candy shouted into the shadows, wondering were the little brat had gotten too. In the far corner of the room, hidden behind a pillar, a small and fragile boy around Lexi and Dustin’s age appeared. His clothes hung loosely on his body and his own arms were covered in track marks. There were dark circles under his eyes from weeks of endless work.
[+blue “I’m not going with those freaks.”]
[b “Candy you’re fucking sick. He’s only a kid and you’ve got him addicted?”]
[+green “Correct Anton! You got him addicted, along with that other brat! You made me a deal and you owe me. He comes or you lose both of us.”]
[+blue “Sis, whatever you want to do we better move. The others… they usually come by now….”] Baxter pointed out, pulling nervously on his sleeve to hide his arms as the others talked about him, but also while he nervously scanned the room.
[+blue “If they see the freaks they’ll…”]
[+red “They’ll be ready for a hunt! Candy, Baxter - you know the drill! This is our space at this time of night! Look’s like the Blood Moon brought a collection of dead wolves into the outer city. News is saying its a ‘natural phenomenon’, I’m saying it’s more than that! We have a hunt to plan and… well, well look here, you have friends Candy. Who are they?”]
The man who stepped into the room was human, just like Candy and Baxter, only he looked far more menacing. His face had four deep scars cutting from the top of his forehead, all the way down past his chin and to the base of his neck. Those injuries would have been familiar to Anton and Raven. They were clear claw marks which could only be created by a wolf. His long hair hid the rest of his injuries, but it was clear he had faced a dangerous attack. In his hand he held a large gun, swinging it around as it it was nothing more than a playful toy in his hand.
[+green “Just…just doing a deal Nico. We’re going now. Come on Bax.”] Candy called, quickly giving Raven and Anton a warning look to get moving. Baxter made a dash towards his sister, but as he got close Nico’s hand wrapped tightly into the boys hair and he pointed his gun up towards the three of them.
[+red “Not so fast. I want to hear from your friends! Strange coloured eyes they have… go on, give me a smile, the both of you. Don’t think I don’t know what you are. You’re exactly what I’ve been hunting down. I was right all along… they called me a liar. They called me crazy but I knew there was creatures like you attacking our city! I was one of them! Hey! Guys! We’ve got some freaks to kill!”] Nico called as more of his gang appeared. Lifting his gun up directly towards Raven, he cocked the hammer back, ready to pull the trigger.
[+red “Wait till I hand your corpse in and they finally believe me…They’ll…AH! You brat!”]
Baxter acted quick. With his fragile frame he managed to twist himself enough just to send a sharp kick into Nico’s shin. It was just enough for his gun to move inches away from were he was aiming, sending a bullet into the wall instead of Raven! However the action was enough to force the others into action. Each had their own gun, which they pointed directly towards the four of them, and they already opened fire!
[b “Raven run!”] Anton hissed, grabbing Baxter’s wrist and pulling him to the door and pushing Candy to follow him. This wasn’t the time to stay and fight! If they wanted to have anymore numbers to keep Sirhan alive, they had to get out and quick!
Lexi hated secrets yet the more she heard her families past, the more that hatred was growing. So much could have been different if they had just known from the beginning. However her father as right. They couldn’t stay angry at each other. It was the anger and fear that created those lies. She knew if her mother was alive, Lexi would have a million-in-one questions to ask. What she also knew was that she had to do everything she could to make things different. She would need a lot to make that happen - her brothers forgiveness and his understanding. The hope that he would understand she wasn’t in control and that they could somehow move in. Lexi also needed to be fuelled strength and tenacity if she was to beat the Council. They all needed to stay bonded together and fight through their difficulties, rather than be beat by them. If they achieved all that and Lexi somehow won her brother back, then maybe their mother could look down and be proud. Somehow this family could actually succeed.
[+orange “Dad, I can’t make promises anymore. I don’t want any of us to suffer anymore. I really don’t want anymore pain. We need to be realistic though…it’s dangerous and there’s going to be risks. I don’t think we have much choice with our lives anymore. I wish we did, but there’s so much danger… I want to promise, I just can’t…”] Lexi said matter-of-factly, though her eyes were showing she wished she could say otherwise. The last thing she wanted was any reason for her father to fear for them anymore. He had been scared for so long, it had broken their relationships. He also hadn’t been around to see everything they had suffered. Danger followed the twins around and there was no escape.
When her attention shifted to Amber, Lexi didn’t find her behaviour any reason to give caution. Amber had been under Helena’s command. She was demonstrating the exact same characteristics that Lexi was showing! Tense, timid, constantly checking her surroundings, and terrified of what would happen next. All it took was for Helena to appear again and Lexi and Amber would have no guarantee that they would be able to escape her control! The least Lexi could do was make sure that Amber knew she had someone who understood what she had been through and that she was safe for now. Lexi just had to convince her brother…
[+orange “Talon has always been there for my brother. More than I have recently… “] Lexi found it hard to swallow her words, her eyes falling with her confession.
What she did find strange was how quickly Amber jumped to Trey’s defence. He abandoned her! She needed him most and he turned his back. He wasn’t as good as he appeared. The Resistance wasn’t the cause they came across to be. Still, who was Lexi to judge? She almost murdered her own brother, so how could she judge an Alpha for abandoning a member of his own Pack?
Lexi tried to split her time between Amber and Dustin, but as she watched her brother to begin to wake up her reaction wasn’t what one might think. She instantly froze with fear. The shell-shock took over, her thoughts racing in her mind. She didn’t have time to think! He wasn’t going to forgive her. He was going to banish her, just like Trey banished Amber. Would he understand? Would he know deep down that Lexi would never hurt him if she was in control? Maybe she should run now and leave him to rest without the worry of his sister being around. No. She should have been running to his side. Did she tell him about Talon now? Did she just comfort him? The questions piled up and while she stood frozen, the tears were already building up in her eyes. However, it was Dustin’s words that made the tears fall freely down her cheeks. He thought she still wanted to kill him. He still saw her as a monster…
[+orange “Dusty… I…I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. It wasn’t me. I-I… I wanted to…”] Taking a tentative step forward, she only approached as little as she dared. She still didn’t know if her twin brother wanted her to be by his side. If she approached too quickly, it could build up his fear and make his condition worse!
[+orange “I never want to kill you Dusty. You’re my brother! Helena had me in control. I was never dead Dusty. She had me as a prisoner and she got into my head! I don’t want you to forgive me, I don’t deserve it, but please believe me that I’d never want to hurt you. You’re brave and strong and more than I’ll ever be. I’ll…I’ll leave if you want. I won’t stay. I’m so sorry…just please stay alive for me. Keep fighting.”] Lexi choked out, giving a look to her father not to demand anything of Dustin. It was his decision. If he wanted Lexi by his side she would stay. If he wanted her gone, he had every right to hate her.
[+orange “You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing at all Dustin.”]
Raven made her offer then moved to leave. She may not have had much experience with dealers before, but she had seen her fair share of Supernatural deadbeats to know how they think. Raven had been very young when she assumed her role as Beta of Sirhan, and because of that a lot of wolves disrespected her, underestimated her, and mocked her. She learned very quickly how to establish dominance and one of the best methods was to give the illusion their time was running out. Raven had one foot out the door by the time Candy’s bargain chimed in. With her back to the cook so she wouldn’t be able to see, Raven gave Anton a victorious smirk and a wink, composing her features back into an expression of disinterest when she turned to face Candy.
[b “Proving yourself may be harder than you think Candy. As I said, I’m not interested in your services or your drugs. I want your loyalty. You need to earn my respect and my trust, because without that, you’re no use to me.”] Raven told her, wanting to make sure Candy knew what she was getting in to.
[b “The first step to proving yourself is to learn your place. Being a part of a pack means respect and honour is mutual. So if you snap at Anton again, you can kiss that work station goodbye. That being said, we want you to work with this pack, not for us. Show me you can be a part of this team and we’ll get you whatever you need.”] Raven agreed, wanting to set some ground rules, but also wanting to make it clear that Candy wasn’t being used as a minion. In Raven’s experience, the first thing to drive people to betray you is a lack of respect and fairness.
[b “As for the immorality, consider that your prize at the end of this war. Show us you deserve to be one of us. That’s fair, don’t you think Anton?”] Raven said, turning to her partner. She wasn’t sure what the history was between them, but it must have been something big enough to cause a rift. Anton looked like he wasn’t willing to trust her and Candy didn’t want to hear anything he had to say! That would have to change fast. Dustin tended to trust Anton’s judgements – likely from his past trusting Anton his with supply – and if he got the impression he Hybrid didn’t like this woman, there was no way he would allow her to stay in the pack. Then again, maybe Candy didn’t deserve the invitation? Only time would tell.
[b “Alright Candy, if you want to make this deal then we need to test how cooperative you can be. Tell me honestly, can you think of anyone else in this hellish place that deserves a chance like this? Anyone we should bring over to our side along with you?”] Raven asked as a test to see if Candy would tell the truth, but also an opportunity. If there were others who would be useful and may eventually be loyal, Raven and Anton would be smart to recruit as many as possible!
[+green “Your mother…”] Eli sighed. The last thing he ever wanted was for his twins to resent their mother for harbouring secrets, but if he wasn’t honest with them now, he could be in just as much danger of losing them.
[+green “She was still mostly human. She couldn’t turn like your brother can, no enhanced senses, no extra strength or speed, but she always found peace in the moonlight. She was fiercely loyal, even to someone like me. She was a good person Lexi, she just couldn’t forgive the Wolves for tearing her family apart. She was afraid, with how adventurous you kids were, that you might go looking for these creatures if you knew they existed. Please don’t be angry with her Lexi. Your mother loved you so much; she just wanted you to be safe.”] Eli admitted. He winced as Lexi told the story of how Dustin found the pack. The story was so similar to the one his wife told about her own mother – how she found a new family, a place where she was accepted and loved, a pack she was so loyal to that she left her own family behind. Yet as Lexi continued, explaining how cold and detached the Vampires were, Eli couldn’t deny it. He gazed around the room, watching the Sirhan Wolves watching over his son protectively, each one of them wiling to lay their life down for one another. Eli had never felt that kind of bond among the Vampires. Not even his own father offered to protect him when he stood against the Council.
[+green “Lexi, you know I’ll help you in any way I can. But I won’t let you be careless just because you feel like you have something to atone for. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to live for a cause than to die for one, but if there’s a way for you to get through this safely, that has to be a priority too. If you won’t promise me that, then promise me this: You won’t take any risk that you wouldn’t support your brother taking. If it isn’t worth his life, it isn’t worth yours, because like it or not Lexi, he can’t survive without you.”]
Eli watched the prisoner with cautious eyes. Lexi seemed to trust her, but the father wasn’t so sure. It didn’t make sense that she would come to Sirhan when her Alpha helped take Talon down. But Eli was coming to realize that most of his problems came from not trusting his twins. If Lexi wanted to give this wolf a chance, maybe there was something in her worth saving? Amber looked tense and on edge. Despite her openly pleading to Lexi, as the young girl approached, Amber flinched as if expecting pain. She could feel that fight or flight instinct creeping up and the temptation to bolt out of this territory or to tear that threatening hand to shreds was hard to supress. Still, Amber had a mission to complete. She promised Trey she would succeed or die trying, so no matter how fearful she was, she fought to keep her instincts in check.
[#005500 “Talon helped keep your brother alive?”] The statement came as a bit of a shock. The way Trey spoke about the rival Alpha, it was as if Talon was a cruel, cold, and heartless wolf who had no tolerance for Hybrids and Vampires. Why would he save a kid that split his loyalties between a pack and his fang family? Despite the contradiction, Amber couldn’t help coming to her Alpha’s defense when questioned.
[#005500 “He didn’t turn on me, he just… he’s protecting his Pack. He doesn’t know if I can be trusted. It’s the same reason Shayd is locked away, isn’t it? Trey is a good person. He’s doing what he thinks is best. I just wish he could trust me like he used to.”] Amber admitted, not wanting to say anything bad about her Alpha. She may not agree with Trey’s plan to take the Sirhan out – especially since they were apparently willing to take her in going on nothing but the word of a Vampire – But Amber would never turn her back on her Pack, not matter what was at stake.
[#005500 “Thank you Lexi… for everything.”] Amber said sincerely. The Sirhan allowed her to have one of the cots in the corner of the room – far enough from Dustin to keep the Alpha protected, but still among the rest of the pack. Within moments of her conversation with Lexi, one of the medics came offer to clean and treat any of Ambers wounds that had reopened in the scuffle. She was given fresh organs to help her heal and was left in peace so she could rest. Amber wasn’t sure how to react to this show of kindness at Lexi’s request. In all honestly, Amber might have preferred if they were cruel, it would have made following Trey’s orders easier. Now, she’d be forced to kidnap the young Alpha and attack Sirhan from the inside. She’d live with that guilt for the rest of her life.
Amber was just settling in when she heard someone stir from across the room, and looked up intently at the sound. Dustin’s face contorted in a painful grimace, but it wasn’t anything like the agony written on his features mere hours before. His fingers clawed at the sheets and his aching muscles tensed as the young boy was brought closer and closer to consciousness. Dustin was nowhere close to being fully healed, but the moonlight had mended most of his punctured lung, and given him enough energy to push through the haze.
Dustin didn’t understand – the fire in his veins was gone! He was still in pain… but the ache that ran throughout his body was at least bearable. Now that there was no blinding torture to distract him, Dustin’s disoriented mind grasped at the flashes of memory from the roof. He remembered Anton was there and so was Draven. Helena showed up too… oh god, did she take him again? Was that why he was in pain? No… no there was something else… someone else. Lexi? Was she alive? Was she alright? As he grew more and more certain that he remembered seeing his sister, that memory led to other flashes as well. The anger in her eyes, the searing pain in his neck, the claws in his side, and that deadly knife as it left her hand… His sister tried to kill him!
Dustin forced his eyes open, catching a blurry glimpse of the very person that plagued his thoughts! She tried to kill him! She wanted him dead! Too confused to recognize his surroundings and far too disoriented to remember anything since the rooftop, Dustin was struck by a sudden fear. What is she was here to finish he job? He struggled to move away, but his aching limps were uncooperative. Dustin felt a strong, firm hand on his shoulder, pressing him back against the table, but the blurry shape that entered his vision did little to reassure him. It was his father! His Dad was here too! Did he also want him dead?!
[+green “Dustin? Dustin, take it easy son! Relax! Dustin? Dustin!”] Eli had started gentle, but he was terrified by the state his son was in. Finally, he just snapped Dustin’s name as sharply and firmly as he did years before when getting the boy in trouble. Oddly enough that seemed to trigger some familiarity in the boy’s mind, before Dustin stopped struggling and just stared back at his father as if that harsh tone was all the confirmation he needed that this really was his dad. Eli mentally cursed at the thought that his relationship with Dustin was so poor only harsh tones and angry words would get through to him, but right now all his focus was on those fearful tears that started welling in the young Alpha’s eyes.
[#ff6622 “D-Dad?”] Dustin choked out, his voice so scratchy and hoarse that Eli almost couldn’t make it out. Dustin’s frightened eyes moved back to his twin sister, and a few of those tears broke the surface and rolled down his cheek.
[#ff6622 “Lex? Y-you want… k-kill m-me? m s’rry…”] [i Sorry I survived, sorry I made you hate me so much, sorry I couldn’t save you, sorry I believed you were dead… sorry I let you down again.] There were so many ways to finish that sentence that Dustin just left it open. He didn’t know how to fix things this time if Lexi was to the point she wanted him dead.
[b “She’s right.”]
Anton may have got defensive over a lot of his actions, but his act of betrayals was something he couldn’t get hurt by. It was a world of survival and while he did hurt Raven in the past, that look in her eyes that he was forgiven, was more than he received from anyone else. He may have become softer as a person, but he wouldn’t forget his historical actions. Things had changed - he had changed. Though as reoccurring as it was, Anton was still surprised when Raven spoke up in his defence. She had every opportunity to point out his flaws and to prove Candy right, yet his partner was still finding the truth in their pairing. They worked well together and got through the darkest of situations. A smug grin spread across his face as she cut Candy down to size. Raven continued to surprise him! While her words held a surprise, it was her actions against the human that really caught his attention. It seemed Raven could handle this better than he thought.
Candy had no intention on wasting another second with the pair of them. The woman was deluded and Anton was this as arrogant as ever. She had learned her mistakes and if someone else wanted to drown in Anton’s lies, then she’d leave them to it. She had bigger fish to fry. Feeling a sharp wind cut beside her, she turned to see the blade only inches from her skin. If she had taken even a step to the side at the wrong time, that knife would have pierced through the back of her skull. Her hand which was rested against the door to push it, slipped down and curled into a fist. It took a few seconds, with a deep breath to compose herself, before she turned back around to face the two freaks.
[+green “I think I understand you quite clearly. You’re desperate. You came all the way here, looking for dealers and even worse in your eyes - a human. I make a living from smelling desperation sweetheart, so don’t play dumb with me! I take risks but this seems stupid, even for me. I’m a human. You either kill me now or what? Kill me when the rest of your pack wonders why you have brought me back. Also if you don’t trust me now, how do I know you’ll ever trust me? What about the rest of them? At least here I know how to survive. You want me to join your fight against the rest of the freaks out there?”] Candy countered, getting more frustrated that Raven was wasting her time! She had to go out and find new enforcers. She had to get back to cook before the bigger players in the city came hunting her down! It was a vicious circle, yet she was trapped.
Raven’s next offer brought a glimmer of greed to her eyes. She had played with a few of those ingredients before. When she worked with Anton, she’d sometimes have the rare opportunity to mix different blood groups from the supernatural to see what would happen. Unfortunately her partnership with Anton broke before she had the chance to see their full potential. With those ingredients she really could make herself more powerful. This life was starting to catch up with her and after her own enforcers abandoned her, she was alone again. There was no protection, no one to protect her station of work… she might as well live with the junkies downstairs and live her days not even knowing that the seconds were passing by.
[+green “And why would you offer me all of that when you have no other reason to trust me?”]
[b “You really haven’t listened have you? Raven told you I changed. It’s not just about this life Candy. It can be different. Whatever. Come on Raven, I knew I wasted my time with her before we came. If she wants to live her fucking pathetic life then so be it. You miss your opportunities Candy. Always have, always will.”] Anton nodded to Raven in return, playing along with the urgency as they turned to the door. Before he could get any further, he felt a hand grab his shoulder to freeze him in his place.
[+green “I want a full station to work with. I don’t want any of you interfering with my work or what I do. I also want guarantee that I’ll get full protection and if I prove myself, I’ll get that mortality.”]
[b “What? So you can get high without consequence? That doesn’t mean you deserve to live forever.”]
[+green “I wasn’t talking to you Anton. You lost my respect a long time ago. This deal is between me and your little sweetie here. So, is it too late? Or are you really so desperate you’ll be happy to take me?”]
[+orange “He’s far from selfish. He’s changed a lot dad, you just need to give him the time to see it. He’ll do anything to protect me and make sure I’m safe. If anything I’d say he’s become more reckless from how unselfish he is. He’s stupidly protective, stubborn, caring, loving… as much as he could he has been there for me…”] Lexi spoke up with pride in her brothers defence, the tears building up in her eyes but she finally had a small hint of a smile growing on her lips. Her eyes beamed with pride and she squeezed her brothers hand, wishing he could hear her words right now. She never recognised him enough. She always missed her opportunity because she was so cautious about his own safety, she didn’t take the time to realise he was constantly looking out for her.
[+orange “Wait? You’re saying my mum wasn’t completely unaware? She was… she was a half-blood?”] She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Lexi always presumed that her mother had no connection to the world of Vampire’s and Werewolves. She often wondered if she even knew that Eli was a Vampire himself! All Lexi wanted to know was why they didn’t tell them the truth when they could. Why was it so important to keep it a big secret?
[+orange “When our home was first attacked and we escaped, Dustin chose Sirhan. Well…they chose him. They accepted him and during his initiation, I was alone. I was jealous. I got so angry that he left me and he had all this love and support. I can see why mum got mad, but I look back and I can’t help but hate myself for feeling like that. Sounds like my grandmother really did find a place to belong, just like Dustin. We don’t make it easy for ourselves dad. Us Vampire’s are isolated. The Council only accept those who want to follow their dictatorship. If anything, I wish we were more like a wolf.”]
With his promise to be more civil, Lexi relaxed a little knowing that she wasn’t going to lose her father because of his mouth. It seemed she was like her father. There was a point with Talon where she challenged him so often, her safety with the pack wasn’t guaranteed! She pushed him to the edge yet he never gave up on her. Maybe he should have. Maybe if he did he would still be alive. Yet there wasn’t time to dwell on that right now. Her guilt was already taken over by numbness. All the pain had succumb inside and she felt empty. Eli’s words were her hope. She now had a mission she had to complete and it helped her make her decision.
[+orange “Then I can’t leave. If there’s a chance I can do something right, especially after tonight, then I have to take it. For Talon. For Dustin. For all the wolves under Helena’s capture and every one I’ve killed. I can’t let the Council get away with this for the rest of their days. They destroyed our family. If Dustin survives this, he’ll be making a difference as an Alpha. I need to make sure his Pack grows up in a city where they can survive and not be hunted. As soon as we’re strong enough, I need you to help me plan. I need to fix my mistakes and…I…well…um, I can’t promise you that. I can’t play it safe anymore. It leaves me too weak and vulnerable.”]
There wasn’t anymore room to talk about their plans. Her focus completely shifted from her brother and father, to Amber. If she could start anywhere it would be to make sure that someone who understood the suffering she went through was safe. If they treated Amber like a prisoner, it could end up being more dangerous! Anything could trigger her back to that dangerous weapon that Helena would have trained her to be.
[+orange “It’s ok! Amber, I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. I promise. You… “] Lexi started but with the mention of the wolves she killed, and how Amber was the one to deliver them, it took everything in her power not to let her emotions take over. She couldn’t even keep count of the amount she was forced to murder. Taking their own life, just to sustain her own.
[+orange “…You and I went through so much. I wasn’t even in there half the amount of time you were captive. I know Shayd broke free of her spell but they’ve kept him downstairs. He’s still too dangerous. I’m scared too. I’m terrified. She made us do things we’ll never forget and I saw what she managed to do to my twin as well. If he escaped her spell once, but she was able to control him again, then if she finds us…”] She didn’t have to finish her sentence. Lexi knew that Amber already had the answer. For both of them there was no guarantee that Helena still wouldn’t have full control if she returned. They were conditioned to believe and follow everything that the Witch ordered.
[+orange “Dustin is still in a bad place because of me. I hurt him. Talon gave the last of his strength to keep him alive and he would have had a lot more if I didn’t shoot him… and Trey… I mean, you said he turned you away? I don’t understand. I know I was tricked by Helena but Trey was acting from his own mind. He’s always been about fighting for everyone. Why did he suddenly turn on us? Why is he turning on you? Dustin really looked up to the Resistance but if he hears what Trey has done to Talon and to you, he’ll never trust them again. He’ll keep you safe though. I promise. My brother really does care about people and I hope he pulls through. He’ll have so much bad news to bare but I hope it’ll give him the strength to make a difference. I hope he also lets me stay to see it… that’s if he doesn’t hate me.”] Lexi rambled away, her eyes staring back at her twin until she realised how much she had let her emotions drive her conversation.
[+orange “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to go on about me. You must be exhausted. I know what you went through and you’re not alone Amber. I don’t think you have any reason to trust me either but I’m here if you need to talk. I’ll get my brother to keep you safe too”]
[b “Oh, I don’t know Candy, I think I know him pretty well. I think you’re the one who doesn’t have a clue. Anton’s already betrayed me. He’s turned his back, walked away when I needed him, drugged me and left me defenseless, handed me over to be tortured and very nearly killed, and the bastard even tried dying just to get out of paying me back, isn’t that right Anton?”] Raven glanced over her shoulder at her fellow hybrid, but the gleam in her eyes and the subtle upturn of her lip would show she wasn’t being bitter. She and Anton had suffered through a lot together and she had put him through just as much hell as he did to her. If they could survive all of that and still be partners, Raven wasn’t going to fall for Candy’s warnings so easily.
[b “The thing is, I’m a stubborn bitch when I want to be. I wouldn’t let him die and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let him turn his back on me. Turns out, I was right to trust him. Anton saved my life time and time again and that made me loyal. So watch your tongue when you speak about my partner, [i Sugar], or I’ll tear it out of your thick skull.”] Raven threatened. Her tone was steady and certain, not bearing a hint of doubt. She spoke about Anton the way she’d speak about any other member of her pack, refusing to fall for Candy’s attempt at causing chaos.
As Candy and Anton bickered back and forth, Raven stayed silent. She was sizing this woman up, looking for strengths and weaknesses, weighing the pros and cons of having someone like this in their Pack. Candy was certainly not up to Talon’s standards for new recruits, but she couldn’t deny the appeal of having someone with Candy’s particular talents at their disposal.
Raven didn’t say a word until Candy barged past her, knocking her shoulder and drawing a deep growl from the former Beta. She waited until Candy reached for the door before drawing a blade from her belt and sending it flying with a flick of her wrist. The wavering twang of the blade echoed through the room as it pierced the door less than an inch from Candy’s head.
[b “We’re not finished with you yet. Take another step and the next blade goes through your eye. You don’t need both of them to cook, right? I’ve seen the crowd around here, I’m sure you’ll fit right in.”] Raven threatened, pulling a second blade from her belt and twisting it in her fingers as she spoke to add validity to her warnings.
[b “I think you misunderstand us, Candy. We’re not here to buy your products or your services, we’re here to buy your loyalty. The Sirhan Pack is looking to recruit and Anton seems to think you have something to offer us. In return, you’d get protection – an entire pack of ruthless killing machines, willing to tear into anyone who dares to look at you the wrong way. I’m guessing you’ve made a few enemies? With us, you’d be untouchable.”] Raven offered, taking a step closer as she outlined the benefits of working with the Pack.
[b “You’d have unlimited access to the rarest of ingredients: vampire venom, Wolf’s blood, even Hybrid toxin. You’d never have to live in this filth again, you’d never have to fend off thieves or competitors, and you sure as hell won’t have your enforcers walk out on you like those assholes did. Once you make a commitment to us, we make a commitment to you. And if you ever wanted your own chance at immortality, we can offer that as well.”] Raven explained. Maybe even the fact that Anton had come from the same position and was now a full-fledged member of the strongest Pack in the city might be enough to intrigue Candy. After all, she seemed to doubt the former dealer could be loyal to anyone and yet Raven had placed her life in his hands dozens of times and was never disappointed.
[b “Listen Candy, you may be the best but you’re certainly not our only option. You have our offer, take it or leave it. But you better make up your mind fast. Once we leave this room, we’ll take our offer to your competitors. I’m sure my partner’s got other connections we can seek out, don’t you Anton?”] Raven asked her fellow Hybrid. To add a sense of urgency to Candy’s decision, she stepped over to the woman and pulled the blade from the doorframe beside her head, retuning the blade to her belt before motioning to Anton that they should get going. Candy better make up her mind quick.
[+green “I was so angry with Dustin when I heard he joined a Wolf Pack… Wolves are loyal creatures, but it’s not unconditional. I’ve seen what they do to Wolves that don’t contribute to the Pack and with how selfish Dustin was growing up, I thought… but the way you talk about him now, the way Anton and Raven spoke about him… has he really changed that much?”] Eli asked his daughter as the guilt dripped from every word. What had he done? Eli gave up on his son – believed Dustin would never be a part of something great and didn’t even give him a chance to explain himself. Maybe he was a better person now that he was with the Pack.
[+green “I don’t resent all Wolves, Lexi, I just… It’s complicated. Your mother was a half-blood. She was human, so was her father, but her mother was a wolf. When your mom was just a little girl, your grandmother left them to return to her Pack, Your mom never forgave her… she’s the reason I can’t trust wolves. But she’s also the reason I couldn’t side with the Council’s plan to slaughter them all. Your grandmother chose her pack over her family; I just didn’t want to see Dustin make the same choice.”] Eli explained. His daughter said she wanted honesty, so he’d give it to her. All cards on the table, all secrets on display. What he said added a lot of context to the situation the twins found themselves in. Lexi – the Vampire – took after her father with a mission to save the wolves from the Council, while Dustin – the Wolf – took after his mother, fighting for a balance between his family and his pack. Maybe destiny had a hand in this after all.
[+green “Listen Lexi, I have my own issues with these Wolves, but that doesn’t erase the fact that without them, my son would be dead. I owe them for saving your brother. I’ll try to be more civil.”] Eli promised. As his daughter continued, Eli realized his attempts to protect his children would be for nothing. Lexi didn’t want to run and hide like he did, she wanted to make a difference! He was so tempted to lie to her, to tell her that it was useless, that staying here was foolish, but he could see her searching his expression for any traces of a lie and he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t disappoint his children again. Eli let out a deep sigh, wincing at what he was about to say and dreading the consequences. But at this point he knew – there were two ways to lose his children. Either he let them fight and stood by their side in hopes he could protect them, or he lie and watch the twins grow more distant each day. To spare any hope of a relationship with his daughter, Eli decided to tell her the truth.
[+green “It’s almost impossible Lexi… [i almost]. But there are still Vampires on the Council that could be swayed. Norah McKay and Eleanor Leek always had a soft spot for other Supernatural creatures, and Russell Hagger always hated Draven. He could switch sides just to spite the dead bastard. The hardest part will be convincing them the Wolves aren’t a threat. Many of them want to eradicate the wolves because they’re afraid of what might happen if the packs ever joined forces.”] Eli admitted, turning his desperate eyes to his daughter. He didn’t want her to go through with this. Eli wanted nothing more than to take Lexi away from this dangerous life and put the Council behind him, but he could see the determination in her eyes. If she succeeded, this city would be safer for both wolves and vampires, he just wouldn’t be able to bare it if she died trying.
[+green “I understand why you want this Lexi, and I’ll help you as much as I can. But promise me you won’t be reckless. Your brother and I… we can’t do this without you.”]
Eli turned his attention to the approaching wolves, still not trusting the pack or their prisoner around his children. He waited and watched, surprised to hear his daughter coming to the captive’s defense. For how strongly Lexi spoke about the Sirhan Pack, he didn’t expect her to side with a possible spy – especially one whose Alpha contributed to Talon’s death. What was even more surprising was that the Pack actually appeared to listen to Lexi! Talon had taken the young girl under his wing and of course they knew how close Lexi and their new Alpha were. That was just enough to make them pause to give the girls a chance to speak.
[#005500 “I was there! I was the red wolf, the third cage on the left! Do you remember me? Helena used to whip my back with barbed wire if I whimpered during your torture. Then she’d send me out to hunt… oh god, how many of those sandy-coated wolves did I bring you...”] Amber admitted, looking horrified at herself as she remembered dragging in defenseless initiates and offering them up for the slaughter. She didn’t have a choice but to obey! Lexi would understand that… wouldn’t she?
[#005500 “Please Lexi, I can’t go back to another cage! I can’t! I’ll go mad! Please!”] Amber begged. She was willing to risk beatings, torture, or death to fulfill her mission, but the thought of being chained up and confined again like she was at Helena’s lab… just the thought of it made her breathing hitch and her heart pound against her chest. What if they locked her away and didn’t let her out? What if Trey and the Resistance didn’t come to rescue her? The whole time she was with Helena, she feared she would die like a rat in a cage and now it could happen all over again!
[+green “Lexi, are you sure about this? If she really is a spy for that other pack, we could be putting Sirhan and Dustin in danger by letting her in here.”] Eli cautioned, sharing some of the same concerns as the Pack. The young girl seemed undeterred by her father’s warnings, so in the end he simply nodded and placed a reaffirming hand on her shoulder, clearly siding with her. The Sirhan guards shared an uncertain look before finally letting their Alpha’s sister make the call.
[i “Fine, we’ll release her. But she stays away from the Alpha until he’s healed. If she is a spy, we can’t let her attack the Alpha while he’s injured the way Trey did to Talon. For now, she’ll be your responsibility Lexi. If she does anything to break your trust, call us. Until then… she can rest in one of the medical cots. I’ll have food, water, and bandages brought in.”] The guard reluctantly agreed, leading Amber to one of the cots a little distance away from where Dustin was recovering. The redhead didn’t know what to think! She thought she was going to be a prisoner again, but Lexi somehow convinced them to let her stay free? Not only that, but they were treating her wounds, giving her food, and allowing her a safe place to sleep without chains or cages. Amber was waiting for some kind of twist, for all of this to turn bad like Trey said it would, but so far it seemed like she was safe.
[#005500 “Lexi, thank you! I couldn’t bare being shoved in another cage! I’m so sorry for everything I did back at that Witch’s place. I wasn’t in control, I… I guess you can relate, can’t you?”] Amber admitted, having seen what Lexi went through. The poor Vampire girl suffered the same tortures as Helena’s pets and worse! At least the wolves could be shoved back in their too-small cages and left along for a couple hours when Helena got board, but Lexi suffered a week of constant torture, trying to twist her mind into a puppet for the Council. The last thing Amber heard from the Witch was that she was going to have Lexi shoot Talon and kill Dustin. Amber winced at the thick bandages over the young Alpha’s neck, wondering if Helena got her wish after all.
[#005500 “I didn’t think escape was possible either… I was there for 6 months, some of the others were there for years… but this was the first time we were allowed out during the Blood Moon. The red moon made us stronger – our minds were clearer. I was still too afraid to disobey the Witch’s orders until Shayd broke her spell. He’d been Helena’s pet for over 10 years… if he could do it, I knew I could too. So we pushed back, we broke through… at least, for now. I’m afraid of what will happen if she finds me again.”] Amber admitted. She was ashamed to think of falling for Helena’s spells a second time, but after her experience Amber knew it was possible. She wasn’t sure she’d be strong enough to resist the cruel witch and Helena wouldn’t be stupid enough to let them out during a Blood Moon after this. If Amber and the others were caught again, they would be lost forever!
[#005500 “Your brother… do you think he’s going to be ok?”] Amber asked, partially out of genuine concern for the young Alpha, but partially for the sake of her mission. Trey ordered her to bring the boy back to the Resistance, but right now he didn’t look like he’d even survive the trip!
With her cold, unforgiving eyes, Candy stared Raven up and down. It was a challenging glance; one that threatened that if Raven pushed her luck too far, she wouldn’t live to see daylight. What made her expression chilling was all the while she carried a snarl on her lip - a giggle with little warmth filling the room.
[+green “Luckily I don’t get scared by little monsters. I’ve faced scarier humans than you.”] She retorted, her giggle only growing louder as the woman in front of her brought up jealousy.
[+green “You really don’t have a clue about him, do you sugar?”]
Candy had witnessed a lot of naivety in her lifetime, but for someone to believe that Anton was actually a good guy? She almost wanted to prove to Raven that her ‘partner’ wasn’t the person he had made her believe he was. Candy had witnessed it time and time again; she herself was one of his victims. He’d play the game for as long as that person was useful and when that use was over, he’d have no hesitation in ditching them. That was if they were lucky. Anton had enough bloodshed on his hands. Perhaps he told Raven it was the drugs that made him do that to people in the past. Maybe he even told her that he saw her differently. Either way, Candy knew she could have fun with this. Perhaps not now, but she’d definitely keep it in her arsenal if these two continued to piss her off.
[+green “Power and skill? Did you even come here with any knowledge of what you were looking for? This is a addicts paradise. It’s a five star resort, rooms with every high available, and every way to die. Oh dear… if you really expected anything exceptional, you really are more stupid than I thought you were.”] Candy sneered but before she could continue, Anton slammed his hand on the concrete next to him so hard that the force could be heard down the corridors! What started as a simple game of finding their next Sirhan, had become something more personal. It was only a small act but that sharp gesture certainly held some level of control, as Candy instantly fell silent, with her sharp eyes glaring at her former partner.
[b “We’re not here to play Charlotte! Now fucking tell her what you do, or I’ll have my partner rip your tongue out.”]
[+green “Don’t say my name.”]
[b “Or what? You and your army will kill me? You’re alone. You have nobody and we’re opening the doors for you. Stop destroying your pathetic excuse of a life and fucking sell yourself to us, or you can die like I should have done months ago! It catches up with you Candy. Now stop and take this seriously.”] Anton hissed, pushing himself away from the wall and taking a threatening step towards Candy. With her escape route blocked behind them, she wasn’t given much of a choice. If Anton was as manipulative as he was in the past and power hungry, then no doubt Raven was the same.
[+green “Fine. I’m a cook. I mess with chemicals and make what the dealers want. It’s not just drugs though… it’s why I know about Vampire’s. Maybe you want to tell her how you had to come back to a human when you were turned?”] Candy told them with no enthusiasm. She crossed her arms tightly around her chest, rolling her eyes as she threw the ball back in their court.
[b “She’s not just a cook. She’s the best cook in the city. She’s called Candy because her product was just like taking a kid to a candy store. Anyway… when I was turned and I couldn’t sell the traditional product anymore, I had her messing with the blood I stole from the banks. She could genetically modify them so you’d be stronger, faster…anything really. Could come in useful? The Pack isn’t a one species pack anymore.”]
[+green “So you want me to work with a bunch of freaks? Listen, what makes you think I should give you my services anymore? You fucked me over Anton and now you have this arrogant bitch to play with.”]
[b “Because if you don’t agree, we’ll kill you.”]
[+green “Good luck then. You’ll end up killing every junkie in this block. You’ll have to make a better deal. You’ve certainly slipped since you’ve found Raven. You used to be good at making deals. Now she’s just made you a weak little follower. Until you come up with something better, I’m done sweetheart.”] And with that Candy kicked away from her spot and shoulder barged Raven on the way out. She was heading straight for the door and if they really wanted her as an asset, they’d either have to think of a deal quickly, or take more forceful action…
Lexi didn’t realise how much she needed someone to lean on until the moments she was separated from them. When she didn’t have Dustin, she fell to Nana, and when Nana died all she had left was her twin. Talon started to try and be there for her, but it was nothing compared to his relationship with Dustin. She relied on her twin brother, but their relationship was constantly tested. She was starting to wonder if everyone who started to care for her was destined to die. Nana was murdered, she murdered Talon and her brother could be following a similar fate. Now she was leaning on her father - after losing him for so long, what if she lost him all over again?
[+orange “I just want to get to a stage where we don’t have to forgive each other anymore. Every time we forgive each other, we’re a step closer to losing one another as well.”]
[+orange “Dad, we’re not looking for miracles. We just want a family that works. At least let’s try and get that right. I want mum to be looking down on us and to be proud of the family we are and I don’t think she would be. We’re only ever close to each other when we’re scared we’ll lose each other for good. You in that prison. Me when you thought I was dead. Now Dustin.”] Lexi had to take a deep and shaky breath. Her father was trying and she kept flipping from trying to be strong, to letting all her dark thoughts pour out and rain on his attempts. It was tiring and she could feel the mental exhaustion start to take over. Feeling her fathers hands against her shoulders, she tried to embrace the comfort. She was already burdened down with the guilt of her actions and the weight of her potential future… she was glad her father could take some of that away.
[+orange “I never would have joined the Council. I never wanted to. I’ve just seen Dusty and he’s so proud of this pack. He really cares about them dad… I don’t want a racial war. If he becomes Alpha I know he’ll run this pack with pride. He always looks up to me but I don’t think he see’s how strong he actually is. If we leave I won’t have that chance to change everything. I know you resent these wolves. I know you don’t really trust them. I can see the look in your eyes but they’ve protected us since everything went wrong. If I can get to the Council, maybe things can change. Dustin can be Alpha and wouldn’t have to worry about fighting against another enemy. You don’t believe peace can happen though do you? It’s why you ran away and never joined and tried to live a normal life. Are you trying to tell me it’s impossible? Have we really been fighting all this time for nothing?”] Lexi asked, meeting his own gaze with a determined stare for an answer. If what she was thinking was right, then maybe there wasn’t any point staying. Maybe her father was right. There was a much better life to be had than the bloodshed they were facing.
[+orange “If it’s not impossible, then I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to be a coward anymore. I let Helena win once. You ran away but you could help me. You have the knowledge of the Council that I’ll never know without you. But if it’s impossible… then maybe we should just have a normal life. The only reason I’ll resent you, is if you lie to me dad. If you think it’s impossible and I can’t do it, then yeah… we’ll go.”] Though throughout her speech she didn’t shift her gaze. It was the most focused Lexi had been on her father since they were sat together but she was looking for any signs that he could be lying. She knew how desperate he was to take them away. He had his track record of hiding the truth. She needed a real answer - not an excuse to take them away.
As the hours ticked by, Lexi’s body was overcome by exhaustion. Her one hand was rested on her brothers, while she leant against her father to catch the little rest she could. It didn’t last long as the commotion broke out in the building, revealing the Sirhan’s latest captive. Jumping up to her feet, Lexi’s body automatically started to shiver. Her experience with Helena made her untrusting of the unknown and if it was a spy like the wolves were saying, what if Helena had sent them to come and capture her again? What if the prisoner escaped and tried to attack! It wasn’t until the prisoner spoke out, that Lexi’s attention was brought back from fear to reality. At first she was silent, listening to the wolf’s words, until everything clicked into place.
[+orange “You…you saw everything. I…I think I… let her go! Please let her go! She’s telling the truth. She was with me and she watched everything I did! She was one of Helena’s captives and she’s scared. She won’t hurt any of you. The more fear you put her in, the more it will trigger her. Please let her go!”] Lexi pleaded, suddenly making that instant connection. Amber had been a prisoner long enough. Lexi was only a captive for a short amount of time, so she couldn’t imagine what must have been going through this woman’s mind. She couldn’t change what she had done in that room, but Lexi was determined to protect anyone who suffered in Helena’s grasp - even if it was to challenge her brothers pack!
[+orange “My brother is the Alpha and he trusts me. Don’t lock her up. I’ll keep my eye on her and make sure nothing happens. I know the warning signs if she’s going to cause any danger but she doesn’t deserve this. Dad! Please trust me! I suffered enough, we can’t let someone else go through the same for any longer.”] Stepping forward, Lexi gently reached out her hand and rested it gently on Amber’s shoulders. It was an odd feeling… in that moment Lexi felt like she had made an instant connection. She was with someone who understood what she had been through. Amber had seen everything and vice versa!
[+orange “How did you escape? I didn’t think it was possible… I don’t understand what’s happening with Trey? He attacked Sirhan and now he’s abandoned you? I’ll look after you. I…I know you don’t have any reason to trust me. You watched me hurt so many wolves but I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. I know my brother would want you safe too. For the final time let her go! She doesn’t deserve this! She needs food and rest. Please…if I’m wrong and Dustin changes his mind then I won’t argue but for now, just listen to her. There’s more of us than her. If she tries anything, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Not in her condition.”]
Raven knew it would be bad, but she was painfully unprepared for what she was about to see. The Beta had seen her fair share of gore and violence, but even she had to curl her lip at the putrid scene. She stayed close to Anton, letting him navigate the dark side of the city. The thought of stepping over bodies while the stench of rotting corpses filled the air was enough to make Raven nauseous, but she managed to keep her composure while they made their way through the warehouse.
If keeping her focus on the way in was a challenge, it was nothing compared to what awaited Raven through those doors. The slowly dying druggies and hell-beaten lowlifes were easy to ignore, but having some blood-thirty human bitch take a jab at her partner? A low growl slipped through Raven’s lips the moment [i Candy] pulled a blade on Anton. Raven was about to lunge at the woman and rip that blade from her hand – fingers and all! – until Anton motioned for her to wait. It was a true testament to her trust in Anton that the woman was still breathing. If he hadn’t told her to stop, Raven would have had the bitch’s blood staining the floor by now.
[b “Oh, I’m something much scarier than a Vampire, [i Sweetie].”] Raven retorted, spitting out Candy’s own nicknames in smug tone. Anton won’t have seen this side of Raven for a while, but he’d recognize the confident tone and fearless posture from the first time he met the Beta in that pub.
[b “You sound jealous Candy? Don’t worry, I can guarantee Anton’s not using me the same way he used you.”] Raven stated, letting Candy draw whatever conclusions she wanted. Raven had no clue how to deal with this type of crowd, but it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d found herself outnumbered in a hostile situation – normally she was staring down a rival pack, and her instincts told her to act the same way: a little arrogant, a little reckless, just enough so they would underestimate you, and when you had the chance to show your strength you take it. Never show fear or vulnerability, and never let them know a threat is getting to you. If it worked for a Wolf pack, maybe it would work for a dealer?
[b “I don’t know Anton, so far I’m not impressed. All I see is a manipulative human bitch who thinks she can turn us against each other with a few throw backs and accusations. We came here looking for power and skill. What could you possibly offer us?”] Raven asked, trying to turn the tables. She didn’t want Candy thinking that she was the one in charge of this little conversation. Raven wanted to flip this negotiation around, so Candy was the one who had something to prove. Either way, Raven was watching the woman very carefully. If she made any move to attack her or Anton, Raven would take her down so fast her head would spin!
Eli put his arm around his daughter’s shoulders when she spoke about her brother learning the painful truth. He didn’t know much about his son’s relationship with the Sirhan Alpha, but based on Lexi’s reaction, the two appeared closer than Eli originally thought. He was starting to question whether it was wise to tell Dustin about the circumstances of Talon’s death, but he wouldn’t contradict his daughter. One thing had always been certain when it came to the twins: no one knew Dustin as well as his sister and vice versa. If Lexi felt it was best to be honest, the Eli would follow her lead.
[+green “I’ve been gone for far too long Lexi, and both you and your brother have suffered far too much on your own. If you need me, I’ll be there. We’ll make sure your brother lives through this. He’s going to forgive you Lexi, I know he will.”] Eli promised with as much certainty as he could muster. What he really wanted was to take his twins and get as far from this city as possible, but until he was sure Dustin would survive, he couldn’t risk moving the recovering boy. Instead, Eli busied himself with his plans: he had another safe house in a neighbouring city, about a 3 hour drive from here. The house was purchased under his wife’s maiden name, with no other connections to Eli or his past. They should be safe from the Packs and the Coven there, at least until Dustin was back to full strength. Then, Eli planned to take the kids out of the country – somewhere they didn’t have to fear being hunted down by their pasts. It seemed like a good plan until Lexi asked her next question, casting doubt on everything Eli had thought through.
[+green “My greatest regret is that I didn’t take you kids and your mother away from here before all of this happened. I can’t make that mistake again Lexi. The last time, it cost me your mother and very nearly cost me the two of you as well. I won’t have my family torn away from me again.”] Eli explained, finding his own words unexpectedly hard to swallow. Lexi was torn, he could tell; and Dustin had already made it perfectly clear that he wanted to stay close to his Pack. It hurt to think he’d be going against both of their wishes, but the alternative – to risk losing their young lives so soon after getting them back – was enough to make up Eli’s mind.
[+green “Your mother… yes, she knew about the Council. She knew about my past and everything I was running from. She understood. Your mother was a remarkable woman, Lexi, but she was running from some secrets of her own. We knew our pasts would catch us one day… we just didn’t realize how much danger we were putting you and your brother in.”] Eli explained, although his tactics shifted as soon as Lexi questioned her future in the Council. Eli pulled away from his daughter and places both hands on her shoulders, meeting her gaze with a firm, yet reassuring look.
[+green “You, Lexi, are not weak. You have more strength than I ever could… you get that from your mother. She was the brave one. She was the one that stood her ground, determined to make the world a better place for us all. I was the coward. When my father asked me to turn and join the Council, I ran. I didn’t want the responsibility of deciding the fate of the City, and I was not prepared to side with the Council in their plot to eradicate the Wolves! I ran away, hid myself among the humans, and buried my past.”] Eli admitted, letting the shame show on his face. He thought he could have a better life – married with a family of his own, living the life of a human. He should have known he couldn’t escape his fate. His daughter was stronger than that. Instead of running or hiding like Eli, she actually thought she could make a difference! She was considering joining the Council, putting herself directly into the belly or the beast for the chance of changing their minds.
[+green “If anyone could change the Council’s mind, it would be you Lexi. But I would never want to put you in that situation if I could help it. If it were up to me, I’d take you both away from this place so you’d never have to worry about the battles of Fangs and Furs. But you need to be honest with me Lexi… would you be happy if we left? Or would you resent me for taking you away?”]
Eli sat with his son and daughter as the hours past, forcing himself to relax in the company of the Sirhan Wolves. He didn’t entirely trust the group of Werewolves, but for the sake of the twins, he did his best to stay civil. It was close to 1:00am when a sudden commotion had him back on his feet. Eli placed a protective hand on Lexi’s shoulder while his other arm reached over Dustin’s unconscious body, symbolically shielding him from any danger. The door to the den opened to reveal two of Sirhan’s guards restraining the arms of an unfamiliar wolf. The girl was roughly Talon’s age, with red hair and freckles dotting her pale skin. If the too-thin frame and faded bruising weren’t enough to prove she had a violent past, then the way she flinched at every sudden move would have been a strong indicator. Her eyes were wild and alert, almost feral the way Dustin’s were after his escape from Helena, and she seemed to be incredibly anxious in the presence of the Sirhan.
[+green “Who the hell is that?”] Eli demanded, not letting his guard down when his children might be in danger.
[i “Her name is Amber Reece. She’s a member of the Resistance, probably here as a spy…”]
[#005500 “I’m here as a refugee! I escaped Helena during the Blood Moon and the Resistance doesn’t trust me anymore. I don’t have anywhere else to go!”] Amber argued in her own defense, but the guards at either side of her made no move to let her go.
[+green “Why the hell did you bring her here? She could be dangerous!”] Eli hissed, only to receive a sceptical look from one of the guards in response.
[i “We can either banish her, kill her, or give her sanctuary – that’s the Alpha’s call. Until Dustin wakes up or passes, making someone else the Alpha, we keep her alive and under surveillance.”]
[+green “The Resistance? Isn’t that the Pack that killed your former Alpha? Why show mercy on her when they didn’t show any for you?”] Eli growled, not necessarily wanting to watch them kill this poor, frightened wolf, but not liking the potential threat so close to his children. He’d much rather they tossed her out of the territory, but it seemed like these Wolves wouldn’t listen to the likes of him.
[i “Talon never killed without reason. We follow Talon’s values until our new Alpha tells us otherwise. If Dustin wants this Wolf to die as payment for the Resistance spilling Talon’s blood, then so be it. But until he’s awake to make that call, we’ll keep her locked away in the cells.”] The guard insisted, leading their new prisoner away, until Amber’s wild eyes found a familiar face.
[#005500 “Lexi? Wait! I know her! Lexi! I was in Helena’s cages when she tortured you! I was just as much a victim as you were! Please Lexi, help me! I escaped, I went straight back to my pack, my family! But Trey doesn’t trust me anymore! He doesn’t understand what it’s like… but you do. You believe me, don’t you?”] Amber pleaded, thinking Lexi might be her only chance at working her way in to the Pack. If she couldn’t find someone to vouch for her, Amber might very well be killed before her mission even starts! Meanwhile, the radio she had hidden in her pocket was on the whole time, allowing the Resistance to hear every word. It was time to find out whether the Sirhan were really the monsters Trey claimed they were.
Anton was taken back by Raven’s words for a few reasons. Firstly, just as surprising to him as it was to her, was his err on the side of caution. Perhaps it was he knew the dangers of a lack of strategy. Playing the game was part of his ethos and if he could manipulate circumstances for survival - he would. Running in on the heat of emotion and grievance wouldn’t only cause more destruction than anything, however - it wasn’t that which stood alone in his words and actions towards Raven. She was, without doubt, his friend. He’d never confess to it openly and if he had done in the past, he’d be sure to be more careful with his own emotions. With how much Anton was changing, the longer he was cleaner from his own addiction, the more he was valuing human connection. He didn’t have to rely on anyone before. Instead he was able to manipulate and abuse those he wanted to force to his advantage - and that was the difference. He used force to make his plans happen. With Raven he didn’t need that.
[b “I wouldn’t bank on me keeping you in line for long. Not where we are going.”] Anton smirked, brushing off the comment for Raven’s sake. There was no reason to allow her to focus on what she could lose - only what she could gain. He could understand the apprehension about meeting these criminals. If he was from a civilised background, or one with the shred of honour that Raven grew up with, he’d avoid these people at all costs. Only Anton could see it from a different light. They were incredible masterminds. They could plot any plan with the gain of themselves and those working around them. They were influencers and while they used it wrongly, if steered in the right direction the impact they could have would be huge. If they had a goal they would do everything in their power to seek out the final solution. While sin stained everything action beneath them, if Anton could change, surely there was hope for these people too. If not, well, it was going to create one hell of a ride.
[b “Stop being so fucking modest. Damn it Raven, look at me! We’re partners! How do you think this works without influencing each other? Yeah you can go on about me saving myself and whatever else but when we’ve broke into Blood Banks and fought for our lives - who did you have to influence? Vice versa. I know how to work with them but don’t forget… I technically abandoned these guys. They’ll have debts to me and I’ll have debts for them. It’s a vicious circle and if anyone tries to escape that circle and return… well, usually you don’t end up leaving those doors a second time.”] Anton pointed out and when he saw that familiar smirk spread across his own face, an excited yet dark laugh escaped his own lips. Some challenges just couldn’t be resisted and he knew this one would be too tempting for Raven. Beside’s as Raven pointed out - they were survivors. If they could survive a Blood Moon, the Council and everything else that had happened; then this should be a piece of cake!
Then came the danger of Raven’s ignorance. If she really thought slicing these guys throats would teach them a lesson, she’d quickly learn. Anton would leave her to that one. When a drug-fuelled addict came rushing over in a frenzy, he swore that they had more than one life embedded into them. He had seen addicts so fuelled up that even being shot multiple times in the chest didn’t stop them. It was only as they had their final drops of blood that their body finlally shut down. Then came when they worked in groups. If they convinced one another, or a dealer shot an order, they would risk life and limb to prove themselves. Still, he wouldn’t ruin the fun. Perhaps Raven would show how much she could keep these guys in control.
[b “Big guns it Is then. Prepare yourself - it’s not pretty in here.”]
Guiding Raven into the supposedly abandoned warehouse, Anton revealed the depths of his previous living. As soon as they walked through the doors the stench of burning chemicals, human fluids, even rotting flesh would have scoured their senses. The ground floor wasn’t a sight to convince anyone to stay for too long. It only took someone to take a few steps in and the sound of cracking glass syringes beneath the soles of their shoes echoed around. The room was poorly lit - the electricity source forced to power equipment for their addiction. There were people around, but none of them recognised the new arrivals. They were tucked away in broken sleeping bags and makeshift tents. Some walked around, their eyes glazed - some even frozen in one spot; all far away from reality. Anton wasted no time advancing forward, pushing past these people with little care or change in expression. At the bottom of the stairs there was a man collapsed at against the steps - his face broken and bloodied, his own vomit dripping from his mouth and down his chest. Anyone else outside this environment would have ran to his aid and called an ambulance; instead Anton stepped over the guy, with little emotion or consideration for his wellbeing.
[b “Come on, the people you want will be up here.”]
Through the doors of the upstairs section of the warehouse, everything had changed. They entered to the sound of screaming voices and smashing glass. In the far corner of the room, two dealers held the legs of an addict who now dangled outside the window. Standing in front of the scene was a woman, holding a bloodied knife in her hands.
[+green “You’re really starting to piss me off, sugar. Where is my money?”]
[i “I don’t have it! I-I…”]
[+green “Oh baby come on, stop lying! I have given you three weeks already. How else have you stayed so high? Looks like you’ll just have to hit a new low…”]
[i “No! No please! Candy, I don’t have it! One more week! One more…”]
[+green “Drop him.”]
Without hesitation, her bodyguards did as they were asked. Letting go of their victims legs, there was a solid scream that echoed through the room, before the sound of breaking bones could be heard in the distance.
[+green “Jesus… can you guys not do your job?”]
[+grey “Screw you Candy. We’re done. Find someone else who can do your dirty work. You can’t even get the scraps from a junkie. We’re done.”] The guard spoke up, storming out of the room and leaving ‘Candy’ left in the distance.
[+green “You’ll be back! I swear you’ll fucking… well, as I live and breathe… Anton?”] Candy called, her eyes fixating on the figure in the room and making that instant connection. A playful smirk spread across her face as she skipped over.
[+green “I thought you died?”]
[b “And I did…I’m surprised you’re still alive.”] Anton retorted, only to be silenced by feeling the tip of Candy’s blade press against his Adam’s apple. Raising his hand quickly, he glared at Raven to keep her cool. He knew how Candy worked. If they reacted too harshly, they’d lose one of their key players.
[+green “Well honey, you left us all in the shit! Every rat who worked for you came after us when they weren’t getting their hit or their money any more! We’ve been struggling for power. Now you come waltzing here for your little slut of a friend. How long have you been using her for? How long till you are planning to screw her over like you have done to the rest of us?”] Candy asked fiercely, her voice as fiery as her spirit - at least for as long as it lasted. In a sudden switch, she giggled, pulling her blade away and turning her attention to Raven.
[+green “So… who are you? You’re one of those creepy Vampire thingies aren’t you? Yeah, don’t act surprised that a human knows. No one believes us because we take a lot of candy…hence the name, if you didn’t catch on sweetie. But you picked this little guy didn’t you? You know he used to obsess over me, and my product… did Anton ever tell you that? Hm? He had a little girlfriend and when she had no more use for him, he turned his back. He’ll do it to you. I promise.”]
[b “Fuck off Candy. We’re here for business, now do you want to talk or not?”] Anton snapped, though it was clear it was more complicated than the frustrations with this girls attitude. Tucking his hands sheepishly in his pockets, Anton grit his fangs together. Out of all the dealers they could come across, why did it have to be her!?
[b “Forget about what we used to get up to and let’s actually talk about making a deal.”]
[+green “Aw, you used to be so much more fun. Your girlfriend here seems to have you whipped and in control, don’t you sugar? No. I’m not talking until I know more about your new playmate, considering you left me behind so long ago. I want to know what this little bitch is like, so when you leave her as well I can have a partner to hunt you down and slit your throat. Or just to laugh in her face at her poor partner choices.”]
For the first time, Lexi didn’t protest when her father continued to talk about her strength. She knew he was trying, but she was too exhausted emotionally to continue trying to prove him otherwise. She had learned today that her father had a perception of her that would never change. She almost killed her brother! She even shot the Alpha of the very pack that was protecting them. Yet he couldn’t see any wrong in her. For once she just wanted something from her dad. Some anger or frustration - she wanted to be the same as her twin! Only how could she? Her brother was the one who was fighting for her life, while she was being comforted by her father. Their worlds would always be parallel. There was no way she could change it.
Still - she didn’t want to fight anymore. While she wanted some kind of reaction, she could only accept her fathers comfort without conflict. There had been so much that had went wrong, if this was the most perfect moment they could have, she couldn’t destroy it. She had ruined so much. Here they were as a family and if this was her brothers last few moments, she wanted it to at least hold some peace…
[+orange “You can’t keep pushing it away dad. I am part of Talon’s death. At least if I was strong enough not to pull the trigger, then Dustin might be alive. He’s going to blame me. I’m ready for that. I don’t deserve to get away with this so lightly… but if these guys find out - if Raven knows, I don’t think they’ll let me stay. I’ll be surprised if…”]
Lexi wanted to say that she’d be surprised if they even let her live, but her father was burdened with enough worries and concerns to have anything else added.
[+orange “Will you help me tell him? I want to make sure he’s strong first. I’m not giving him another reason to give up. I need to make sure he pulls through this and I’m not leaving his side until he does.”]
It was with instinct that she couldn’t hold back any longer. She reached forward, finally resting the tip of her fingers gently on top of his hand. The simple gesture was bringing tears to the edge of her eyes. This image would always haunt her more than the images of her brother coming home intoxicated with drugs. This was her fault.
[+orange “You don’t want us to stay here, do you?”] Lexi asked her father, though there was little hope in her voice or expectation that her dad would give a different answer.
[+orange “Did mum know about the Council? Would she have ever wanted me to stay and take the place I was meant to take? Do you think I can do it? Or do you see me as too weak to do it? I always thought I could make a difference if I somehow got to where you once were but… maybe we are better to leave. We shouldn’t be living this life should we? I miss our home. I miss how things were but we aren’t going to get that back, are we? So if we leave, what will happen dad? We can’t have what we once had, so what will we be running too?”]
Hearing Anton’s reassurance and reason, Raven forced herself to calm. She unclenched her fist and sighed out her frustration, trusting her partner to keep her in line. Anton was right – Dustin would need all the support he could get in order to pull through this. She had watched the pup fall into a dark spiral just at the thought of losing his sister, so if she or Eli weren’t there at his side when he woke up, there was no chance he’d fight to survive this. Still, Raven wasn’t willing to let Eli leave the Den without a fight. Hopefully Eli – or at least Lexi – would be able to recognize that this was the safest place for Dustin to recover. Even with the Sirhan being one of the most targeted packs in the city right now, they would stand together to protect their new Alpha. It was better than being out in the city alone with the Council hunting them down.
Once she had calmed a little, Raven turned her eyes to Anton, surprised that he was the one taking the calm, mature approach to the situation. She knew Anton wasn’t exactly the king of self-control, but she was glad he was there to serve as the voice of reason. Otherwise she would have torn into Eli’s throat by now and then run off to hunt down that traitor, Trey!
[b “I never thought you’d be the one keeping me in line, but I’ll glad you’re here. I just… I can’t lose anyone else right now Anton.”] She admitted, getting as close to those buried emotions as she dared.
Glad for the distracted, but unsure about the direction Anton was headed, Raven listened with doubt and apprehension in her eyes. Her brother had always prided himself on bringing in Wolves that would one day be as loyal and protective of Sirhan as he was. That was one of the reasons Sirhan was so powerful! Each and every member felt they owed their lives to the pack and was willing to take down anyone who dared threaten their new family. To open the doors to criminals and deadbeats meant risking the standards of the pack and allowing the potential for some underhanded, self-centered members that would sooner cut a Sirhan’s throat than go without a fix! Not to mention how the rest of the Pack would feel about this. Talon’s last year in charge was filled with the constant pressure and fear of losing the faith of his followers. What if allowing these thugs into the Pack leads to a revolt? Then again, if they didn’t fill their numbers soon, there wouldn’t be any Sirhan left to fight!
[b “I don’t know if I’ll be any good at influencing these people. The only way I got you to listen to me was by playing your game: making deals and setting challenges. I doubt that’ll work on everyone. That being said, this is somewhat of an untapped resource. No other packs will dare send their recruiters into the slums of the city. And if it’s drugs these guys are after… well, you’ve seen for yourself, there’s no greater high than being spiked with Wolf blood or Vampire venom. The humans might join us just for the power alone. The others… I guess we’ll see when we get there.”] She agreed. For the first time since the start of the Blood Moon, a challenging smirk crossed her lips. Anton warned her about the enforcers and heavy hitters to prepare her for what was ahead, but instead of being frightened or humbled by the alert, she seemed to revel in the challenge.
[b “Yeah, well, they better not piss [i me] off or they’ll meet the same fate. I should have killed Trey when I had the chance… I let that traitor live and that honourless son of a bitch could bring his entire Pack down here to slaughter us all because I didn’t kill the bastard when I had the chance. I won’t make that mistake again. We’re not making anymore enemies in this. Either they join us or they walk away, but if any of them dare threaten you, me, or the Sirhan, they’ll be staining the walls with their blood.”] Raven growled under her breath. She was sick of being the victim. She was done losing people. Whoever crossed the line with her tonight better be prepared to surrender or die, because she wasn’t giving them a third option.
Nearing the warehouse, Raven’s confidence shifted slightly as Anton began to tell his story. She glanced at the spot he mentioned with wide eyes, realizing how empty her life would have been if Draven hadn’t found Anton that night. That Bloodsucking Councilman was a cruel bastard, but she had to thank him for one thing: Without Draven, she wouldn’t be standing with her partner right now.
[b “Draven made you who you are, just like Mitch made me who I am. They ruined our lives, caused us pain, and made us stronger for it. Now they’re both dead and we’re the ones who came out on top. You’re a survivor, Anton, you always have been.”] She told him before the scream cut her words short. It was time to focus on the dangers ahead and the tasks at hand. They couldn’t afford to come back empty handed.
[b “Targeting the bottom rung will take too long to build our numbers, and they won’t be as eager to fight. I think we need to aim higher: go after the dealers and the enforcers – people who aren’t afraid of violence, who will stand their ground against the rival packs, and can bring others to join us. Is there anyone you used to work with? Someone you have an in with, that would meet us face to face? No offense, but by the look of your old hang out, I’m guessing half these people would shoot strangers like us on sight before we can even explain why we’re here.”]
Eli watched the realization play across his daughter’s eyes as the pieces fell into place. He expected this truth would explain a lot in Lexi’s life – everything from her own struggle to keep up with her brother physically to the reasons why he and her mother had always kept very different expectations for the two. Eli was incredibly protective over Lexi and far too hard on Dustin – now Lexi knew why.
[+green “Lexi, I’ve make a lot of mistakes in my life. I’ve been wrong about many things, but I’m not wrong about this. You are strong. Much stronger than you think. You don’t need to prove anything to me, you just need to prove it to yourself.”] Eli told her. He patiently listened when she spoke about joining the Council, and as much as he wanted to object and tell her to stay as far away as she could from those despicable Vampires, he knew her intentions were good and his own objections were only born out of his need to protect his little girl. Eli’s fatherly instincts grew stronger as she confessed her experience with Helena. That witch had taken his precious little girl and tortured her mentally, physically, and emotionally. Eli’s thought turned dark and he was grateful to have Lexi so close to remind him to keep his composure, otherwise the father would have pushed several holes in the wall by now before heading out to hunt Helena down and tear her shrivelled heart out of her chest!
Fortunately, the weight of her daughter’s head against his chest kept him grounded. Eli brushed a hand through Lexi’s long hair in a soothing gesture, reminding her that he was here, she was safe, and she could tell him anything. But even through the pained recollection, Eli wasn’t prepared to hear her final confession. She shot Talon – She wounded the Sirhan Alpha, the one who had just died to give Dustin a fighting chance!
[+green “Talon is dead because he chose Dustin’s life over his own. He’s dead because he made too many enemies and put his trust in the wrong people. Talon is dead because Helena wanted him out of the way. He’s not dead because of you. If you had refused to pull that trigger, Helena would have done it herself, and you might not have survived that rooftop. You can’t blame yourself for this Lexi, and Dustin shouldn’t blame you either.”] Eli told her honestly, but the thought brought his eyes back to the restless expression of his unconscious son. Under normal circumstances, Dustin would take his sister’s side over anyone else. He’d never blame Lexi for this, especially since he knew what be Helena’s puppet was like. But Eli knew how close Dustin was with his pack and he knew news like this would shatter the boy no matter what condition he was in.
[+green “Lexi, I won’t ask you to lie to your brother – I know firsthand how much damage a secret can cause – But please be careful how and when you tell him. Dustin’s been through a lot... you both have.”]
“I shot him. Injured him enough to become an easy target. He’s dead because I gave everyone else the invitation to finish him off. I didn’t even try to find him to save him. I didn’t even approach him to say thank you for saving my brothers life… when Dustin finds out I killed him… it can’t be another family secret… secrets have destroyed us too many times but I’ve destroyed everything anyway.”
Amber’s head pounded with the internal struggle: it was in her nature to argue back, to ensure her Alpha saw the full consequences of his actions, to ensure he thought things through before he committed some act he would live to regret, but these past few months also taught her the consequences of speaking her mind. Even a soft whimper or yelp out of place would sentence Helena’s pets to a harsh beating, drowning, electric shock, or worse. Finally, there was the part of Amber’s mind that screamed out for her Alpha’s approval. If she kept her head down, listened to his orders, and did as she was told, would he accept her again? But if he did, was he really accepting [i Amber], or just the empty shell she had become?
[#005500 “I didn’t say they were heroes. Maybe they are as cruel and soulless as you say. But even you have to admit that we haven’t exactly been heroes ourselves lately, Trey. I’m just speaking my mind, like I always have. It’s just words, Alpha. You know if it came down to it, I would follow my orders. I am loyal to the Resistance. You [i know] that… don’t you?”] Amber was starting to have her doubts. Just hours before Trey had asked her to help him plan their next move and now he was treating her as if her words and objections were nothing but treacherous ramblings! She could hear the tension in his voice and new she was treading on his last nerve. Still, she couldn’t help herself. He was calling her loyalties into question and there was nothing more personally insulting than to have her Alpha questioning her alliance!
[#005500 “Do not get attached? Are you kidding me?! Months ago, I gave my life to buy this Pack time to retreat. I sacrificed EVERYTHING! My safety, my freedom, my own damn free-will so you, Tink, and the Resistance could go on with your mission. You have NO idea what Helena did to us in there! The things I saw, the things I was forced to do… but as soon as I was free, the first thing I did was run back to you! And you ask me to remember my alliance?”] Amber growled, the shock and hurt plainly visible in her eyes.
[#005500 “You gave me an order Alpha. You commanded me to rescue the boy and find a way to bring down the Sirhan from the inside. There will be no retreat. I’ll succeed or I’ll die trying! Maybe then [i you] will remember [i my] alliance!”] Amber retorted. She should have known she was pushing Trey too far. Normally Tink would have stepped in by this point and calmed the two of them down so they could resolve this more civilly. But without Tink to mediate, Amber crossed a line and Trey snapped back fiercely!
The loud slam of the Alpha’s hand echoed through the room and Amber’s reaction was instantaneous. It wasn’t a growl or a sarcastic jeer that one would expect from the young Wolf. Instead, she threw herself back into the corner, raising her arms in front of her face and turning her back to the Alpha, cowering in the corner. It was so unexpected that any of the others in the room felt deadly silent at the reaction. It wasn’t a show of submission… it was fear.
By the time Trey left the room, Amber was only too eager to leave herself. She was embarrassed to show such weakness in front of her own pack, but the trauma she suffered under Helena had taken over! No wonder Trey questioned her loyalties. If she was such a coward in front of her own Alpha, how could he expect her to stand her ground amidst a rival pack? Amber had to prove herself. She had to complete her mission and follow her orders. What she said before was the truth: Amber would succeed, or she would die trying.
[b “Dustin chose Sirhan over his father when he wasn’t fighting for his life. Now his father and his sister are his lifeline. That sacrifice from Talon will mean nothing if we take away his only reason for fighting. He’ll die if he doesn’t have those support networks.”] Anton insisted, watching the look in Raven’s eyes with caution. He had seen it only when her emotions were on the edge - that dangerous line which he often slipped upon. It was only destined to cause chaos and destruction, but who was he to given guidance on that? Most of his decisions evolved around those very themes. He would be there for her, when everything fell apart… it was a ticking time bomb.
[b “Raven…I want to rip that bastards neck open as much as you do. I can’t stand him. Eli’s ego is… it’s taken a lot of control from me and Lexi… well… that’s a different story. I’ve seen the kid push his body to the limits and while this is the most fucked up I’ve seen him, we just have to let things happen. Let’s deal with what we can control right now, alright? Raven: we’re a team. We made our deal to one another and it extended beyond that. We’ll figure it out.”] He stated a little more sincerely, following her eyes until he forced contact. He wished he had the ability to comfort her more but the best he could do was continue with her line of distraction.
Anton’s past meant he had a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Since he joined the Sirhan pack, he wasn’t able to pull out his deck-of-cards. That deck wasn’t the prettiest collection. It was a random selection of the most desperate criminals he had laid his eyes on. It was those he had manipulated to do his bidding in the past. Vampire’s who begged on their knees for the filthiest blood he had managed to scavenge - even if every cell was laced with disease. It was the scum he aligned with to kidnap foolish teenage into their ranks; young kids who wanted their first taste of momentary bliss, to crash down and plead for more. They’d be forced to complete tasks - just like Dustin was made to do - to get their fair share. It was the drug fuelled humans, lost Vampire’s, the desperate… they all had their own agenda and Anton kept them in line with his power. He hadn’t been on the streets since he met Raven, having changed his Blood Dealing from the desperate to the powerful ranks of Sirhan. Whether he could still sway these people was another story.
Again it was immediate to witness Raven’s resentment of the idea, only Anton was already itching to go back to his glory days. Perhaps it was selfish but he was missing that adrenaline of power. Maybe Sirhan needed to be more realistic with the world. It wasn’t filled with glory-hunters. Around every corner was a rat waiting to plague their next victim, only to sustain their own survival. He knew those rats and he was the piper. Sure he lost his tune, but maybe Raven could bring something different. She had said she had her own adrenaline for danger - maybe this was the distraction she needed.
[b “Raven, if I was still drugged up you would have lost your patience with me a long time ago. It was only as I took the steps to get clean, and injected myself not out of selfish greed but to try and get us out of those cells that you saw me differently. These people you are going to recruit, if you agree, won’t just change their lives because it is under Sirhan law. They won’t try and please you. We’re not just going after addicts here… we’re going after the people who control these addicts! These are big time fucking criminals. However, you hit the right mark, you’ll have people you can look too.”] Anton admitted, placing another layer of detail into the task ahead. It wasn’t going to be easy but these people they were seeking could change the whole shape of the Sirhan Pack. Raven had to be ready for that.
[b “I know these people. I know their triggers…I know when they’ll turn and stab you in the back. Raven, you’re the Beta. I’ll come with you, I’ll show you were they are… but you need to influence. I can act on Talon’s behalf but your voice is just as important in this. I was powerful when I was dealing… I haven’t fed them their habit for awhile. I haven’t been around to stop the dealers from taking my place. My influence won’t be enough but it’s a challenge. Trust me, these are really big fucking animals.”]
Seeing her hesitation unchanging other than her words, Anton put a hand on her shoulder started to guide her out of the building. This wasn’t the environment she needed to be in right now. She needed to be away from the trauma and face that adrenaline. It was the only natural biological drug to keep them sane.
[b “Have you seen the warehouse on the west side of the city? The one blocked off with abandoned police tape, cut iron fences? Anyone who calls themselves anyone in the criminal world goes there. This time of night it’ll be filled with humans, too high to believe a Vamp is sat next to them. We can recruit humans and Vamps…sometimes theres wolves but they stay in the moonlight on the rooftop where the roof itself is broken. You’ll also have all the big names in there making their interrogations and enforces attack those who haven’t paid or just looking to enforce their name. It’s not just going to be talking Raven…you piss off the wrong person at the wrong time, we won’t get out alive.”]
Not letting Raven walk at a slow pace, it wasn’t long before they reached the old dock area of the city. It was worn down with little investment. The police didn’t bother giving the are attention and the general public had given up hope on this part of the city. When Anton was a mortal, it was where he spent most of his days. Reaching the border he stopped and he stared, a distant look coming across his eyes as a fury of memories came crashing into his mind.
[b “Over there, in that alleyway next to the warehouse we’re going in, was were I should have died. My last mortal breath… then Draven turned up. You know my body would still probably be there if Draven didn’t come that night. Can’t believe the bastard is actually dead…”] His voice was low as he reflected, the realisation that the person who gave him his second chance and hunted him down for so long was finally gone…
It was only as Anton heard a painful scream from the warehouse they were about to enter, that he snapped out of it. This wasn’t the time for distractions.
[b “You sure you want to do this? Who are we looking for? Easy to pick drug fuelled humans who will be too high to know anything? We can turn them when we drag them back to Sirhan territory and force them in our ranks? Or we can go for the big players… the ones in control…bit more sense, power; but will be harder to reason with. Your call Raven. You know what Sirhan needs. I’m just here to teach you the ways with these people.”]
Sorry… it was a word Lexi had heard time and again. From her brother, her father, even herself. She was starting to lose the meaning of the word. An apology didn’t change anything and that was proven. Every time they apologised to each other, it wasn’t long before they had another reason to be sorry. It was just an excuse. A reason to make the anger for each other pass and pretend everything was going to be alright. Lexi was done with pretending. They had to start accepting that it was never going to be the same. They were never going to be ok again.
What she didn’t expect was to start hearing an explanation behind that apology. At first Lexi only expected another sob story. Another excuse from her father. Only as she heard the story she didn’t even realised that her entire body language had changed. She had gone from the trembling little girl, to one who was genuinely interested in the story that her father was sharing. She leaned forward and while her eyes never left her brother, it was clear her attention was also on the words being spoke. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing initially. She was always the weaker twin… she wasn’t as strong as her brother. Lexi always had a hatred that she could never be as physically strong. She had ambitions of joining the athletics team in her school and finding some way to prove her body could cope under pressure, only she failed every time. When she spoke to her mother at the time, she would always laugh and tell Lexi she was the brains of the family. Now it all made sense. It was a sacrifice she was frustrated with when she didn’t understand but now… how could she be angry? It seemed even before she could make sense of the world, she was giving everything to help her brother survive. She didn’t want that to change.
It was strange how that one missing detail brought a flood of memories. She could remember when her brother used to play tick with her, and she’d always be the one who would lose. She’d be out of breath, call it quits, and Dustin would laugh at how much of a loser she was that she couldn’t run for long. Eli was always there to tell him off for that. Lexi always thought he was strict, that her twin was just being teasing, but it was starting to make sense. Her dad had many secrets…it just made her think what else she didn’t know about her own past.
[+orange “I’m not strong dad… I thought I could make a difference and I always think I’m doing the right thing. Seems to be a family trait. We think we’re doing right but we’re always doing wrong. I’m really not strong. Every time I have a chance to prove myself, I ruin it. I couldn’t even save you properly without getting myself in danger! Then I almost killed my brother and now he… I want to give you a real reason to be proud of me. You haven’t been around enough to see a real reason to be proud.”] Lexi choked, her eyes falling to the ground and her fang grazed against her broken lips. There was nowhere else to bite. She had consistently bitten her lip so much in panic, they were dry and chapped from how much she had nervous chewed against them. She couldn’t even prove now that she was strong. She give up her physical strength for her brother and she couldn’t even look at maintaining her mental strength.
[+orange “I was scared of being the next in line for The Council…only at one point I thought I could make a difference. I really thought if I got in, I would be the one who makes the changes happen. How am I meant to do that dad? I can’t live up to your reputation. How can I make a difference when I can’t even control myself?”] Lexi asked and for the first time, when he invited her to come close she didn’t stop herself. She needed that connection she could trust and with her fathers honesty, it was that connection she craved. Pulling her chair close, she rested her head against his chest, with her eyes focusing back on Dustin.
With the invitation to speak, she didn’t even know where to begin. How honest could she be without tipping the balance of harmony she had found in her father? Only he was right… she couldn’t keep it bottled up and while Anton was gone, at least he was someone she could tell without risk. At least she hoped.
[+orange “She… she made me feed from wolves that looked like Dustin. Every day. I killed them. I’ve killed so many innocent people… I had nightmares at first. Each of them was me slicing my brothers throat and laughing. I can still hear my own laugh as I watched it… then those nightmares became…they… I wanted to do it. I really wanted to kill him… I feel her sign she burnt on my shoulder and I’m scared I’m trapped with her forever. She arrived and Dustin did everything she asked. So did I. She’s going to control us forever dad and I’m not strong enough to beat her.”] Lexi confessed though instead of her usual tears, there was a numb expression. Her eyes carried that same dead glare as when she was that Witches puppet.
[+orange “I…I shot Talon.”] Her voice was barely audible. It would have just been loud enough for her father to hear. It was empty. Cold. Chilling. Void of any humanity.
[+orange “I shot him. Injured him enough to become an easy target. He’s dead because I gave everyone else the invitation to finish him off. I didn’t even try to find him to save him. I didn’t even approach him to say thank you for saving my brothers life… when Dustin finds out I killed him… it can’t be another family secret… secrets have destroyed us too many times but I’ve destroyed everything anyway.”]
It took all the self-control Trey had not the bark back in defence of his actions. He had to remember this wasn’t just any wolf in his Pack. Amber was different. She was the challenging voice who created that conflict with reason. She was also still recovering from her own torture… she wouldn’t understand now but her mission would give her reason. It would come with time.
[+purple “The meaning behind The Resistance has always been the same. We will have racial harmony but we will destroy anyone who dares challenges that. Sirhan aren’t heroes. You’ll learn. That’s why I want you to go to them. I want you to see what I’ve seen and know why I feel the way I do. I know you won’t understand right now… you will.”] It would have been clear in Trey’s voice that he was struggling to keep his composure, but that was never rare in the group. It was always Tink who brought harmony between the two when things got heated and now she was gone, Trey was trying to focus on that extra level of control.
[+purple “If we approach them and ask for forgiveness it’ll be impossible. I’m part of the reason their Alpha is dead. He trusted me. If we wait too long they’ll gain strength and seek their revenge. There isn’t much of an option here Amber, despite what you think. Find out what you can, get the boy, if you can’t then retreat. Do not get too attached. Remember your alliance.”] Trey cautioned, also wary that Amber could lose her way. He trusted her to the bones of the Earth but the way she was speaking wasn’t building any confidence in his decision.
Her final words were the last straw. Slamming his fist down with such force, it echoed across the room and the wood beneath him cracked with the force.
[+purple “The Resistance hasn’t changed! Don’t you dare disrespect what I bring to this Pack! I created the meaning of The Resistance with Tink! I…”] Gritting his teeth, he slammed his hand down again and before Amber made her leave, he stormed away. The Resistance was his life, his blood, his soul. For anyone to challenge its meaning was just a step too far for the Alpha.
Raven considered what Anton had to say about the Kanes, and the very thought made her blood boil. She lost her brother so that boy could live and now some Fang had the audacity to take him away from his Pack?! Talon would never have stood for that. He would have fought to the death to keep the Initiate safe with the Sirhan Wolves, giving him a much better life than to be running away from the Council for the rest of his days! Raven’s fists clenched at her side and her teeth ground together in protective rage.
[b “That Bloodsucker isn’t taking Dustin anywhere. You told me what happened when Eli thought Lexi was dead. Dustin chose Sirhan over his father. He wanted to be with his Pack, so until the Pup is strong enough to say otherwise, I will fight to keep him here. That’s what Talon would have done.”] Raven stated firmly, starting what would become a dangerous new trend of trying to be like the brother she lost. Raven wouldn’t allow the boy to be moved, not until Dustin agreed to it with his own words. Yet she couldn’t deny Anton’s concerns. If the Pup was going to pull through his, he needed his family: both Sirhan, Lexi, [i and] Eli.
[b “We’ve got time until this becomes an issue. It will take several nights of moonlight to heal the boy completely, and until then he’ll be too frail to move. Eli will have to stay here with Lexi until Dustin’s condition improves. Hopefully we’ll have a plan to keep them here by then.”] Raven stalled, not liking her options. If she took a stand against Eli, things could get violent. But she couldn’t just stand by and let that Fang take the twins out into the city, leaving them vulnerable to the Rival Packs, the Council, and all the other threats that targeted them!
Still, the Kane family was not their only problem. The thought of protecting the twins only emphasized their desperate need to strengthen their ranks and there was no easy way to do so. When Talon went recruiting, he‘d spend months at a time roaming the streets looking for lost souls – the homeless, the abandoned, the injured – and offered them a second chance. Each was grateful to the Alpha and repaid their acceptance with loyalty. What Anton proposed was far more dangerous. Welcoming criminals, druggies, and thugs into their ranks? Those with no morals, no honour, no character! Sirhan may be desperate, but to lower their standards to the scum of the city? Raven opened her mouth to argue in her Pack’s good name, but bit back her retort when Anton beat her to it.
Raven hated the idea of welcoming common criminals into what was once the strongest, most feared Pack in the city, and the more Anton explained how he was going to barter and trade their allegiance, the more offended Raven became. But his last few words, coupled by the metallic glint of the dogtags around his neck had the Hybrid frozen in place.
Raven was stunned. She knew Talon was starting to warm up to the former Blood Dealer, but to formally make him one of the Pack, to pass along those tag as a symbol to all that Anton was hand-picked by the Alpha to join their ranks… She was speechless! Raven felt her lip quiver and her eyes begin to sting as the emotions surrounding her brother’s death tread dangerously close to the surface, but the former Beta pushed them back, not daring to let that pain break through just yet.
[b “I had nothing to do with it Anton. You made your own decisions. You chose to be a better man. All I did was offer you a chance, you’re the one who decided to live up to it.”] Raven stated, denying any of the credit for Anton’s transition. She had doubted him too much along the way to think any of this was because of her. Anton was the one who kept proving her wrong – kept rising above her expectations until finally she let herself trust him. And that’s what this would eventually boil down to: did she trust him? Would she take this risk on Anton’s word alone?
[b “You know these people better than anyone. If you think some of them are redeemable… if you think they’ll fight with us, that they’ll earn their place here, then I trust you. Until our new Alpha is back on his feet, Talon wanted you and I to act on his behalf. So if you think this will work to boost our numbers, then I’ll do it.”]
Eli sat by his son’s side, just as hesitant as Lexi was to make any physical contact, although for a very different reason. Eli was afraid. The last time he saw his son, he had shoved Dustin so violently, the boy crashed through the furniture! He had hurt his own child, yelled at him, blamed him for something that was out of his control, and showed such anger and resentment that a fucking drug dealer stepped in to rescue Dustin from his own father! It took Eli hours to calm down and days to admit the truth to himself, but now he could see it plain as day: Eli was not the father Dustin deserved. He had always been hard on his son; always seeming to turn innocent, harmless conversations into screaming matches wherever Dustin was concerned, but he had never lashed out at the boy physically until that day he thought Lexi had died. That was the last memory Dustin had of his father… would he even want Eli at his side when he woke up? Clearly, this pack was more of a family to Dustin than they were – Talon was far more of a father than he ever was. That ragged beast even gave his life for Dustin’s, and Eli was embarrassed to admit he had almost refused to come back for a little bit of blood!
When he finally managed to build up enough courage, Eli reached a gentle hand to his son’s face and delicately brushed the back of his fingers against his feverish cheek. Dustin – whether he knew it was his father or not – seemed to expect nothing but more pain, and he flinched away even in his unconscious state, causing Eli to pull back his hand with a heartbroken expression. He couldn’t even provide some small comfort to his son without the boy expecting more violence. What kind of father was he?
While Eli had always failed Dustin, he had much better luck with Lexi through the years. Feeling helpless with one twin, Eli turned his attention to the other, frowning at the guilt and uncertainty that trembled beneath Lexi’s expression. He opened his mouth to offer words of comfort, but was struck silent by the accusation: [i “…If this was the other way around, you’d be screaming at him. Why do you never get angry at me?”]
The question felt like a punch to his gut – calling him out on the fact he was the most ashamed of. He did treat the twins differently, he had always had more patience for Lexi and was always more strict with Dustin. The father had his reasons… they weren’t good reasons, but they were there none-the-less. Maybe it was time he gave Lexi an explanation? Especially considering Dustin may not live long enough to hear it for himself.
[+green “I’m so sorry Lexi. You’re right. It’s just… I still remember when it was you lying on this table.”] Eli admitted, flashing back to a time when the twins were merely infants.
[+green “You were too young to remember and your mother saw no reason to tell you. When you were born there were… complications. It was a rare defect, your brother was missing a part of his lung. He would have died within hours of being born unless we agreed to a transplant. You were his twin: a perfect biological match. The doctors could take a portion of your lung and give it to your brother, making him strong enough to survive but leaving you fragile for the rest of your life.”] Eli spoke as if the ordeal still gave him nightmares. He remembered the pain of that decision like it was yesterday: let Dustin die and give Lexi her best chance at life, or risk losing them both for a mere chance at sparing his son… come to think of it, Eli had made that exact same decision hours ago when he chose to risk Lexi’s safety and return. It seems history was doomed to repeat itself. He had chosen the same option as he did years before: risk losing Lexi for a chance at saving her brother.
[+green “The surgery was a success, but you had a hard time recovering. You had three respiratory attacked when you were little, all of them ended with you in the hospital for weeks at a time, hooked up to machines and IVs while your brother lived his life completely unaffected.”] Eli explained. He looked up at his daughter and rested his hand against her cheek, still haunted by the images of his baby girl breathing through a machine, or that terrifying wheeze of her tiny lungs fighting for air.
[+green “You got stronger. The Doctors were amazed, but I knew my little girl would beat the odds! You never had any other problems after that, but I still couldn’t shake the thought of you lying on that hospital bed. And your brother… what did he do with his second chance at life? He threw it away with reckless antics, fights, and drugs! You almost died giving Dustin his best chance at life, and I couldn’t bear to watch him waste that gift so thoughtlessly!”] Eli exclaimed, giving reason to why he had treated the twins the way he did. Lexi was his little angel, the one who gave everything to her brother, who stood by his side, who nursed him back to health, who protected him, and cared for him since she was a baby! Dustin was the rebel, the thankless deviant who took everything from his sister, wasting his precious life with stupid risks, never giving anything back to Lexi in return. As a father, Eli couldn’t help but give Lexi his extra patience and love since he had already taken so much from her. In return, he treated Dustin harshly, always wishing his son would make the most of his salvaged life, yet was always disappointed by what Dustin became.
[+green “The Hybrid said that Dustin was a different person now. That he was loyal and determined, selfless, brave… Everything I always hoped he would be. And you, Lexi, you’ve changed too. You’re so much stronger than you were, so much more confident. I know you don’t feel it now, but I caught a glimpse of that fire in your eyes and I knew there was a power inside of you that I’d never seen before. You kept your brother alive Lexi. No matter what else happened, I can’t help but be proud of you for that.”] Eli told her with such confidence in his voice that it was hard to doubt the father’s words. With a sad smile, he turned his eyes back to his unconscious son and reached once again for his feverish cheek. This time, Dustin didn’t flinch away, so Eli gently brushed the boy’s hair out of his eyes with a loving gesture.
[+green “I’m proud of your brother too. Fighting through all of that pain and fear… He’s stronger than I ever gave him credit for. I promise I’ll tell him that if he wakes up. No more yelling, no more fighting… I’ll be a better father to both of you Lexi. I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’ll be ok once this is over. And that starts right now.”] Eli reached out his other hand, gesturing for his daughter to sit with him so he could hold both his twins close.
[+green “I know Helena’s tricks. I know she must have tortured your mind as well as your body, and no doubt had you convinced that everyone you loved was against you. Why don’t you tell me about it Lexi? Maybe you and I can work through some of this together? At least while we’re waiting for Dustin to wake up.”]
Amber was offended by the question. How loyal was she to the Resistance? She gave her life for this Pack! She had proven her loyalties time and time again, even selling herself to the Council to buy her Pack some time to escape. How could Trey still question her loyalties? But as he grabbed her arm and began to explain his plan, the young wolf understood. What he was suggested fell far outside her comfort zone. He wanted her to infiltrate another Pack, to lie and cheat her way into their ranks and take them down from the inside. He wanted her to take advantage of the Sirhan’s mercy, learn their weaknesses, and capture their Alpha while he was weak and injured. He wanted her to betray the Sirhan pack, to sacrifice her own honour and morals and eliminate this Pack when they had already lost so much. Now Amber knew why he questioned her - he knew she’d never agree to this unless it was to prove her loyalty.
[#005500 “I’ll be honest, Alpha. I’m starting to wonder if the meaning behind this band has changed since I’ve been gone. It was never the Resistance’ mission to be as deceitful and manipulative as the Council.”] Amber admitted before she could stop herself. As if realizing her mistake, Amber dropped her eyes to the floor and winced at her own words. It wasn’t her place to argue or disobey. No matter how she felt about the mission, Amber’s role was only to follow the orders of her Alpha. She was more loyal to her Pack than she was to her own values, and despite her strong opposition, she’d do what she was told.
[#005500 “I don’t like this, Alpha, but it’s not my place to argue. If this is what the Resistance demands of me, then so be it. I’ll go to Sirhan, I’ll join their ranks, I’ll gain their trust… and I’ll call in the attack as soon as the others drop their guard.”] Amber agreed. Her mind was racing with questions and debates, wondering if the boy would ever forgive them for stealing him away from his Pack, or if the Resistance would ever look back on this and regret the needless violence. But Amber forced those thoughts away, burying them in the back of her mind along with the personal hurt of being sent away so soon after she had made it home. Trey had his reasons, he knew what was best. She just had to put her trust in her Alpha and believe he had the Resistance’s best interests at heart.
[#005500 “I meant ever word, Alpha. I’ll follow your orders. I am loyal to the Resistance… I just wish it was the same Resistance I remembered.”] Amber said, muttering the last but as if afraid her words would earn her the same harsh, bloody punishments she’d suffered with Helena.
As much as Amber hated the thought of leaving her Pack so soon – and it was hard not to feel as though Trey was just simply shipping her out until she proved herself – Amber gave an affirming nod to her Alpha and headed out of the den. The Sirhan Pack will be preparing for a battle. If she wanted to trick them into taking in a stray, she’d have to get there before the first attack, otherwise, they’d never let her in!
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