Summary: (M/M . . . /M/M/M . . . hehe). Grab a mixing bowl and throw into two hot mechanics. Add a little bit of supernatural life-force . . . just to spice things up . . . and a young, sexy male witch with the recipe for disaster . . . Make a mechanic fall for a witch, and . . . you've got your disaster.
Bane and Barrock are werewolf mechanics. I know what you're thinking: Yeah, right. Sure, kid . . . whatever you say. But they really are. Really. Come on, how do you think I felt when I first stepped into the shop and smelled them? Who smells werewolves? How in the world do you smell a werewolf?
Actually, I'm not so sure; I just know that I did in fact smell them. They smelled mostly normal: Husky like males and covered in oil, grease, and other chemicals involved in fixing cars. Plus, there's always the metal itself, and that . . . just stinks. If you had a nose like mine, you'd probably gag. But it was what was underneath all of those smells that caught my attention; it smelled roughly canine with a mix of anger, territoriality, and hunger. Hmm. Hungry werewolves. Always a good time.
I don't even know how I managed to smell anything underneath all of that metal and chemicals. Gross. And they have noses that are either just as good or – my luck – better than mine, so I really can't say how they do it. Maybe they actually like the smells, or better yet, they put up with them to keep creatures like me – ones "destined" to hunt them – at bay.
Can I ask you, dear reader, a serious question? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD WANT TO HUNT A WEREWOLF? Honestly, who? I certainly don't. Of course, unlike most of my kind, I am not a walking death wish.
Or, at least, I wouldn't have been had I smelled the wolves before I walked into their garage . . .
C'est la vie. Such is life. My life. And my life most certainly does suck.
I'd heard rumors drift around about these two at the mandatory meetings that my kind held, but I never really paid much attention. Like I said before, I don't hunt werewolves. So why should I care?
Let me tell you why: Because, my friend, when you're kind is the sworn enemy of another kind, if you run into said other kind, they will kill you. So it would have been nice to know exactly what kind of temperament these two wolves had and what kind of powers they wielded. Werewolves can cast magic; mind you, it's not too much like ours, but it is in fact magic. And magic, in case I failed to mention it, is very dangerous.
When I walked into the door and smelled them, I instantly recognized whom they were. Group meetings, I suppose, can have a good side. At least I knew the names of the two wolves that were going to kill me . . . Yippee. If I were smart, I would have turned my cute little ass around and walked right back out of that shop. If I really wanted, I could have just left my car and maybe stolen someone else's. Or, to use even more intelligence, I could have traveled by magic.
The only downside was, I wanted that car. I don't know why, but I wasn't keen on giving it up, and trust me, if it took dealing with a couple of dangerous mechanics who might rig the thing to blow me up, well then . . . I would get blown up. It wouldn't have made a difference really, because the moment I walked in, the werewolf at the counter – his nametag read Bane – looked up. If he caught my scent and wanted me dead, it didn't matter where I went; he would find me, and he would kill me.
His eyes narrowed and I could see his nostrils flare, catching my scent. He knew what I was. What he didn't know, and what aroused his curiosity, was what a small little thing like me thought he was doing taking on two fully grown, very old, and very powerful beasts. A small smirk found his face and he motioned me forward, his eyes following my every move and his mind memorizing it like a pattern.
Gee, someone's ready for a fight, I thought. Wolves have this funny little thing of just watching you, studying how you move, and successfully predicting every damn move you make in a fight. I don't know how it works, I really don't. If I did, I'd learn it.
When I stopped at the counter, our eyes met. I guess now would be a great time to mention exactly how scary it is to look directly into a werewolf's eyes (for most people at least). From what we learn when we are little, anyone of a lower ranking than the wolf he is looking at is not allowed to look him in the eye for longer than a few seconds. I'm pretty sure it's a greeting when you look them in the eyes. Beyond that: watch out; they can be very prickly. That, and no one really wants to look them in the eye. They don't even have jinxes or that dominate thing that vampires do, so I'm not exactly sure why. People just tell me that it's too scary, so I let it go at that.
He had pretty eyes, I don't mind saying. Wolves usually do, because they're never really human and never really wolf. His were a mix of brown and blue with flecks of yellow. Inhuman and quite captivating. So, of course, I held onto his gaze for much longer than I should have allowed myself to. (It's never good to piss off a wolf.) I think almost a minute passed by before I snapped out of it with an, "Oh!"
The wolf, Bane, just raised his dark eyebrows and gave me a half smirk similar to the one I'd gotten when I first walked in the door. I crossed my arms over my chest in return, not to protect my heart, as any elder would have told me to do, but because I am a teenager, and I was being pissy because he hurt my pride. Smart, aren't I?
But he knew now that I hadn't come in here to threaten him or challenge him like some dumb little teenager. Not that I wasn't a dumb teenager, mind you. I did walk right into what was clearly a werewolf's territory. And this particular werewolf could have been an Alpha, the leader of a pack. He sure smelled like he could be one.
"Um." I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "My car broke. I don't know what happened to it or why, but it broke. And since this place was the closest, I walked here . . ."
Bane nodded his head shortly. From there, it broke into business. "What kind of car?" His attention was now on the computer that sat on his desk. He wiped his hands on a rag, grabbed the mouse, and started maneuvering it around the screen.
I named my car.
"Spoiled, aren't we?" He paused to look over at me, the computer's light making the yellow in his eyes glow. Well, at least I thought it was the light from the computer. Nevertheless, it sort of freaked me out, especially when coupled with that all too familiar smirk of his. It was like he sensed something, and I didn't know what. I didn't have a clue.
Hapless, we teenagers are. Utterly hapless.
I felt a small blush crawl over my cheeks, and tried to wipe away the stinging feeling of my face flooding with blood. The car was a present from my mentor, after she broke it to me that the coven had "been forced" to get rid of my parents in order to pursue my "best interests." I think the idiots actually thought that getting me something more human oriented like a car would make me forgive them.
By the laws of a coven, being male, I had no obligation to stay. This was my attempt at running away, which obviously had failed more than miserably. They had to have known what I was trying to do and cast a spell on the car to make it stop working. Hopefully, it was something rudimentary that could easily be fixed. I was counting on that, though in all honesty I wasn't really sure why I even wanted the car.
I shrugged my shoulders and looked up into his eyes, trying not to get lost in them for another minute of our lives. He'd probably slap me silly if I did. "It's not like that," I began rather hotly. "I don't even want the damn car. I need it."
"That's unwise." His attention went back to the computer screen. A moment later, he asked, "How far away is it?"
Maybe he was right. No, he was definitely right. Stupid witches probably had the damned thing rigged so they could follow my every move. And, of course, my smart as was using it to try and run away. What a brilliant child I am. (Well, no one ever said I was tactful, or that I had any common sense . . . Or that I wasn't spellbound to a damn car.)
"A couple of blocks," I mumbled, eyes downcast. When he didn't respond, I said, "It's on Main Street, between 6th and 7th."
He didn't respond again, so I looked up. His eyes had gone almost completely yellow, something that I'd never seen a werewolf do, no matter how angry he was, no matter what form he was in. Perhaps it was a sign of power that I'd never encountered before, or just something the coven had never wanted me to know. Why that might be, I had no idea.
What I did know was that the simple, pleasant atmosphere had done a one-eighty, and Bane's once calm temperament was not only ready for battle, he pined to kill. I was hoping very much that it wasn't me he wanted to kill. Even if I had been a bit hot with him before, that was no reason to . . . But werewolves were sensitive about respect and temper. Still, would that be enough to make him want to kill me?
I tried to use my senses to see if I could feel the aura of anyone else around. I felt Barrock, Bane's "brother" by wolf, a friend when they were humans, coming into the front, but I couldn't feel anyone behind me. Maybe he did want to kill me . . .
"Bane?" I whispered. His eyes weren't on me; I don't even think he noticed I was still there.
I tried to look behind me, turning very slowly just as I saw Barrock enter the office. My breath might have caught at any other time, but the sheer power he exerted reminded me of something I'd once heard. These two were lone wolves, and that's why they were allowed to live here. They did so in peace, and without a pack, it would be much easier to take them down if we had to.
They lived here on our suffrage. And that's why Bane would have had to fix my car even if he didn't want to, and it's also why the coven would know exactly where I was.
Lina was behind me. She was an old hag if there ever was one, even if she did use spells to make herself look young and attractive. I hated her. I hated her because she's the one who took me from my family and made sure that even if I tried to get back to them, I'd never find them. Well, not alive, at any rate.
A bolt of power from her hit me before I could even think to raise my guard any higher. A witch always has her – or in my case, his – guard raised at least a little, but because I wasn't in the mood to start any fights with wolves, I'd let mine down just a little lower than normal. I'm not the brightest crayon on in box, apparently.
A bolt of power from a witch is kind of like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer. Your head feels like it just cracked in two and your vision dances in front of you, first white, and then it starts to go black. For another witch, it's sort of like a splitting headache – we've all had to had to deal with them at one time or another during training – so, naturally I could fight against it. And I did.
The only problem with that was how strong Lina, who is a good 300 years or so, is. Obviously, I hit the ground hard, probably screaming. No one had ever used quite so much power on me before; I didn't know what to do. I don't even have any idea how I figured out what was going on, how I saw Barrock and Bane move around me.
I was shocked when Barrock stood in front of my crumpled body. The growl emanating from his throat made half of me want to curl up in a ball and beg for mercy, but the other half wanted to howl – not in pain either – like howl as in "howl at the moon." Weird, huh? That would probably be the animal in me. He's always struggling to get out.
Bane moved toward Lina and let his menace show. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded. "This is our land; you are not welcome here."
"This is our land," Lina retorted, using our old laws to try and overrule him. Mean and deadly, werewolves are, but when it comes to honor, they obey.
"Wrong you are, little witch," Bane growled. "This land and the land beyond it belong to my pack. If you really wish to challenge it, by all means, do so."
Pack? What pack? I thought they were lone wolves. Isn't that what the coven said?
Lina cracked her knuckles, probably to show she was ready for a fight; but as much as she tired to use her body language to prove herself unafraid, she backed off. "I just want the boy. He's an untrained witch and he's volatile and dangerous to anyone he meets."
Was it just me or did she sound like she was reading a script? I doubt she even knew what the word "volatile" meant. She's actually pretty stupid for being alive for 300 years, believe it or not.
"And as such, he is not allowed out of the careful watch and guard of his loving coven. Even if he is unstable," she said, not convincing anyone, "we still care very much for him. Under our guidance and protection, he's safe."
As Bane advanced on her, Barrock knelt down and picked me up. To me, it felt like one moment I was lying on the floor looking up at him, and the next, I was in his arms. Werewolves are quick, I'll give you that; I just didn't realize they were that quick. Of course, it might have had something to do with the feeling that my skull was going to split in half, but I didn't think so. And I knew he didn't use magic; I would have felt that.
You know, I'm not sure what methods werewolves use when a member of their pack is nearly incapacitated like I was, but if their methods are anything, anything like Barrock's, I don't ever want to be in the shape I was then. The wolf got this bright idea to allow his hand to change into wolf just ever so slightly, as in, so he had claws, and dug them deep into my arm.
I think I screamed. I know what you're thinking: He's a wimp. Well, let me tell you something about that. You try having a werewolf sink only semi-sharp claws that are about as thick as a grown man's fingers into your arm, and then call me a wimp.
If he was trying to divert my attention from the magic-wielded sledgehammer headache, I have to admit he did a nice job. I was so busy swearing at him and calling him a jerk that I nearly forgot about it. (My pained mind had registered him as an ally. He stood in front of me. Apparently, to me, that meant he was protecting me. I just thank God I'm not human, because if I was, I'd more than likely have been wrong. And being wrong would have meant death.)
Bane attacked Lina, trying to rip out her throat. It's a pity he didn't succeed; I wouldn't have minded watching that fat-assed cunt die. However, the moment she realized that, for whatever reason, these two were not about to hand me over, she turned tail and ran.
I suspected a lot of it had to do with the fact that because I was a male witch, I didn't technically belong to any coven. I wasn't a warlock or a wizard, mind you; just a male witch. That meant that if this really was a pack's territory, she was trespassing and had no reason to do so. So why should they hand me over, right?
Uh. Well, there's another part to the story, which I suppose now would be as good a time as any to tell. I'm mortal, mostly – being witch means I won't ever die of old age – but I'm also some other things. Changeling is one of them. No, that does not mean I'm fae, fairy, fair folk, or anything like that. It means I can go from human to animal and back again. Unlike many changelings you read about, I can change into a variety of animals, ranging from birds to – you guessed it – wolves. I can't change into any cold-blooded animals like snakes or fish, but just about any warm-blooded land dweller, I can.
I've never known a werewolf to protect or even associate with something like me – especially because the whole damned world is so concerned with being "pure bred" like a champion poodle that most supernatural folk just stick their noses up at me. I do have a few friends who are fascinated with what I am; they all delight in telling me that I'm not even a witch, just a critter with some magic. And believe it or not (though I'm sure you'll believe it at this point) I'm perfectly happy with that.
My headache had mostly waned away; I probably could have stood up on my own and everything. It's actually fairly amazing how everything comes back into focus after being hit with magic like that, I learned. But Barrock seemed perfectly content in holding me, his claws still in my arm. He flexed his own arms and frowned, and then winced.
"Ow," he hissed, turning toward Bane, who stood by the door, pacing and growling. "Now I know why the kid was screaming." He slowly started to extract his claws, his attention on the blood that poured out of my arm.
I heard Bane say, "Barrock," in a tone meant to distract or discourage him, but Barrock merely pulled my body closer to him and clamped his mouth over my arm.
What is this? I thought. I thought he was a werewolf, not a frickin' vampire.
Bane's footsteps echoed in my mind; he was walking towards us as Barrock lifted his head from my arm. The sight of my blood running down from he corner of his mouth made me want to puke, so it took me a moment to realize that the pain in my arm was gone. When I looked down; the cut wasn't there.
It seems that werewolves have a strange way of healing each other.
"Barrock." The way Bane kept saying his name was so forceful, as if he was Barrock's superior, a thought I didn't doubt. I sensed that Barrock obviously had much more raw strength, but Bane seemed as if he were the more diplomatic one. I have to admit, though, that diplomacy just doesn't work when a werewolf decides something is his.
Looking down at me, Barrock got a smile on his face that about scared the piss out of me. It was one of those looks little kids get when you get them their first puppy, yet the next thing you know, they're off trying to dissect it. I suppose I was the equivalent of Barrock's first puppy, because he sounded awfully possessive when Bane went to put a hand on his shoulder.
A growl more menacing and very territorial emanated from his throat. "Mine," was all that was said before he buried his head in between my neck and shoulder and bit.
The son of a bitch bit me!
I woke up on a bunch of blankets that smelled like me – like a teensy bit of very sexy cologne, laundry detergent, body soap, and pheromones. I must have rolled around in them quite a bit during my sleep. I was very restless – I remembered quite a few nightmares that woke me in a start, though I never did stay awake too long.
Right now, I felt groggy, like my brain was going to pound right out of my skull if I wasn't careful, so I was. I lifted my body off the small pile of blankets, stretched, and tiptoed over to the office door – I figured it was an office; it didn't seem to me that we'd left the garage.
I could smell Bane and Barrock on the other side, but the way I smelled them was very different from the way I smelled them when I first walked into the garage. That kind of smelling was more like sensing a supernatural being trying to pass for a preternatural being. This kind of smelling was just that – smelling. And this smelling seemed a bit overcharged for my tastes anyway. My poor little nose was catching so many scents all at once that it was more like there were a dozen wolves rather than just the two.
Reaching for the doorknob, I had every intention in the world of walking out of this cramped little office and demanding an explanation. My hand had barely settled on the knob when I changed my mind; they were arguing. It wasn't just any old argument, either: They were arguing about me.
"You realize there's a ninety- nine percent chance that boy will never wake up, don't you?"
The voice belonged to Bane. He sounded angry, but I couldn't really feel the anger roll off him the way I expected to. Well, of course. It wasn't as if I was family to him; I was just a kid who'd walked in earlier that day – was it still the same day? – and just so happened to get bitten by his friend.
The whole ninety- nine percent chance of never waking up didn't bode well with me. I was awake, but hearing that made my stomach churn and those little butterflies appeared. So, I kept telling myself that I was awake. Not dead. Awake.
"And even then," Bane continued. Why was it that I got the feeling whatever he was going to say next wouldn't be good news? "We don't even know how something like him will react to changing. You know how many of us don't make it through the first full moon."
Okay. That was so it; I was going to throw up if he said anything more.
I opened the door matter-of-factly and stepped out onto what felt like a raging battle. They must have magic-locked my room so that if I did wake up, I wouldn't feel the conflicting, angry emotions of . . . an entire pack. Hmm, so my nose was right; there were about a dozen or so werewolves. Not overcharged then, just overwhelmed.
It wasn't just Bane and Barrock who were arguing: A good eleven werewolves sat leisurely in the garage near a car – my car – with its hood up. It smelled of grease and malicious magic. Gee, just what I wanted to wake up to . . .
They all looked up when I came in, some with their eyes wide in shock. I heard a few comments about my age and what I smelled like, and wanted to give them a piece of my mind. It wasn't my fault I smelled the way I did. I was born this way. And it was Barrock who bit me, so my being so young was all on him.
Bane's face had paled ever so slightly, but nevertheless, he smiled at me and motioned for me to come to him. It wasn't even a smirk this time, it was a real smile. I was the one who smirked, happy though I was, because he seemed in trepidation over whether my waking up was a good thing.
I could sense that. My other abilities gave me knowledge of character and emotion like no other. Sometimes, though, I wish I had to figure things out the hard way like everyone else; and perhaps this was one of those times. I would have liked nothing more than to believe that I was welcome and not about to become a burden.
"You know," I said as I walked over. My voice carried, so I spoke very softly, trying to ignore how raptly I seemed to hold everyone's attention. "I've been taught quite a bit about werewolves and their society, and though I'm not positive, I think there's a rule that says you can get rid of me if I survive the first moon without going nuts. So, if you don't actually want me . . ."
Hmm. Tactless is the understatement of the century; I have no political or diplomatic skills when it all comes down to it. I can tell you how everyone in the room feels, and probably what they're about to do, but I can't talk my way out of a paper bag. I'm so useless sometimes . . .
That, and . . . the look on Barrock's face when I said that made me wish that witch's headache thing had killed me yesterday. Strange. He seemed more upset about me saying ' . . . you can get rid of me' than how I worded the entire statement. It was everyone else in the room who was upset about that.
I took a deep breath, let it out in a growl, and rubbed my temples. "Okay, let's get this out now before any of you jump up and try to kill me." I turned so I could get a good look at the pack, all of which were in a closely-knit circle, and took a spot standing between where Bane and Barrock sat. "I'm strong; I've got magic skills and abilities that far outstrip most creatures'. Yeah, it sounds cocky, but therein lies most of the problem. I have a mouth, and I really can't use it to my advantage. I'm always going to be the one who says something to make someone else mad. I have no diplomacy, and I can't word things eloquently to save my life."
A nearby werewolf snorted and said, "You've got that right." He was dark, dark skinned and very muscled; the kind of wolf you call in for a messy job because he's good and he has no problem with blood, guts, or gore. In fact, I could almost be certain that he enjoyed them. He was a wolf, after all.
"Is this one of those meetings where you decide whether or not to kill me? Please tell me you guys are not like the vampires. Last time I ran into them, Scotty was begging to be allowed to make me one. They said no and he about did it anyway. Thank the Lord that Auriel decided to make sure his little fledgling didn't do anything stupid. He actually likes me, which is surprising; that vamp doesn't like anyone." I paused and looked up at the ceiling, thinking. I'd somehow missed getting the point, but then again, I'd also missed all of the shocked faces that stared at me, disbelieving.
"Oh, right. The point is, you can't make a new vampire unless he's approved by a council. They have a lot of rules, vampires do. Do you guys have rules like that?" I looked around the circle; all the wolves were either white faced and staring or about to growl. "What?"
I looked to Barrock, who didn't have the slightest hint of a smile on his face. Well, I wasn't so sure that he ever really smiled, but seeing him look so disturbed made me slightly afraid.
"What?" I repeated, this time looking to Bane, who sat calmly, studying me in a whole new light. "Don't even tell me you guys are warring with the vamps or that you're all mortal enemies or something. They're good guys, a bunch of blood sucking fiends, yes, but good guys nonetheless."
The hint of a smile on Bane's face as he bowed his head and let out a laugh made me sigh in relief. When he looked back up, his eyes were warm; he was shocked, but not beyond words.
"So," he began, "you're friends with the vampires, I take it?"
I nodded, pausing to look around at the pack. "Is that bad?" They were all very still, watching Bane, their leader. I smiled in spite of myself; he was an Alpha male; I'd been right.
Bane stood up and put an arm around me, almost sadly, reminding me silently that I hadn't made it through the worst yet. "So, little one, who else are you friends with?"
I growled. I don't know what it was about what he'd said that set me off, but it felt wrong, like a trap. I pushed his arm away from me and accidentally used my magic to send him flying to his seat. Thank the warmth of darkness that I also woke up just in time to use my magic as a buffer to keep him from getting hurt.
It wasn't really that I'd needed to; Bane could take care of himself. But he wasn't taking my anger so lightly. No one was.
Barrock poked me in the leg and I whimpered. "You don't know what it's like," I whispered to no one in particular. I sighed and turned to the very angry Bane, noticing that only Barrock's pouting kept him from leaping out of his chair.
Note to self (and to all readers who may run into a werewolf): Do not try to overpower an Alpha male. Even if you don't mean to, don't do it. Just don't.
"Bane," I said. I bowed my head and stared at my sock-covered feet; it was more respectful that way, I figured. I was trying to show him that I hadn't meant to challenge him, but from what I felt, it wasn't doing much of anything. I sighed.
Not being able to keep from peering up at him, I saw that his eyes were now a blazing yellow. I don't know why, but I sat my butt down on the floor in front of him, folding my legs in a pretzel shape. It didn't seem much safer that way, but I felt that it was the right thing to do. He growled at me.
What happened next, was complete stupidity on my behalf.
"Stop snarling at me!" I growled back. "You're not Lina, and you're not the coven; I get it already! But you can't expect me to make this real smooth transition between being used for power and information to being . . ." I sighed again, chancing a glance up at him. He didn't seem moved.
Exasperated, I let myself fall back on the floor. The cool cement floor made the spot where Barrock bit me tingle, and I reached a hand up to touch the scarred surface. I heard Barrock hiss and sat up to look at him. No one had moved, but the way those two stared at each other made the whole room uneasy.
"I'm sorry, Bane. I scared myself when I realized – " I paused, stood up, and stopped only when our knees were touching. Smart idea, right?
Afterward: I really hope you guys like this; I spent some really hot summer nights watching the stars and the moon . . . and the story just sort of fell into place. With the now blood-red moon hanging low in the sky, the time for the story just felt so right. I still want to rework it and make it into my 'perfect,' but I also wanted to share it.
I wanted to share it just a little more than I wanted to rework it, apparently. Love.