Blood in Siberia
Chapter 16: Friend of the Pack
I thought that after a night like the one I had, Wufei would treat me like the most precious thing that ever existed. I expected to be constantly covered in kisses, fed by hand, bathed in scented, bubbly water, and waited on hand and foot. I nearly smiled at the visual of me in a Russian spa, surrounded by gorgeous, muscled men, getting manicured, pedicured, and massaged, while being told how brave and beautiful I was. Did I get that? No. Did I get anything close to that? Hell no!
Otto carried me back to the guest wing, handling me as gently as a newborn. You would’ve never thought that those huge hands, which handled me so carefully, had ripped a man’s--well, shape-shifter’s--heart out of his chest. But they did. Worse yet, I felt no fear. Despite his threats before, despite what I knew he was capable of, I felt as safe with Otto as I did with Heero. When aftermaths of pain swept through my body and I cried out (to my dismay), it was Otto who crooned to me to make it better. Sometimes he rubbed his nose along my hair like one would do an infant. Other times he adjusted his grip, or slowed his stride. Whatever he did, it made my suffering easier to bear.
The best part though, was how he ignored my tears. He couldn’t give me any greater kindness than that.
We were probably halfway there when Otto suddenly stopped. After a few seconds of waiting for him to move, I looked up at him and gave him my patented ‘what the fuck?’ expression. He smirked at me and nodded forward. Turning in that direction, I waited until I saw the faint outlines of heads and shoulders. Those outlines soon formed themselves into my mate, his Alphagues, his Betagué, and his Special.
When Wufei first caught sight of me, I threw my hands up in front of me in a feeble attempt to protect Otto. There was a look of such fury on his face, that if someone had been responsible for my injuries, their deaths would’ve made the hobo’s look like a walk in the park. I opened my mouth to say something--hell, anything!--when Wufei abruptly broke eye contact with me, dismissed Otto, spun on his heel, and walked away. Even after he was long gone, the rest of us remained where we were, mouths open and faces vacant like a bunch of stupid shits.
The silence was finally broken by Otto’s, “Umm… yeah.”
Now, out of all of the actions I expected him to take, this wasn’t one of them. Wufei was the jealous, possessive type. He had a weird habit of plotting (and carrying out) the deaths of those that hurt me. For him to walk away when I was bruised and bleeding was just… un-Wufei. It also didn’t help that deep down inside, I knew that this was somehow, someway, in a bizarre twist of logic, my fault.
It was Trowa who spoke next. “I’ll take him.”
I was passed over with minimal fuss, as the Alphagues gave each other respectful nods goodnight. Parting ways from Otto, we made the rest of our way back in silence. All of us were lost in our own thoughts, but I was reeling from mine. So much had happened tonight that I couldn’t put it in order. Some of the events kept popping up, demanding more attention than others. I didn’t even know where to begin to figure it out. So I closed my eyes, and waited for my head to explode from the pressure.
It wasn’t too long before we made it to the rooms proper. After being given a look from Trowa, Sally went her way, and Catherine went to his and Quatre’s room. With a final look at us, she closed the door quietly behind her. Taking a deep breath, he nodded to Heero, who opened the door to my room and stood to the side. Trowa entered, holding me tightly to his chest. I gripped his shirt, unsure of what was happening and feeling nervous because of it.
It was in vain. The torches were still lit, brightening the room in an almost cheerful way. The smell of sex was still strong in the air, and from the way the blankets were thrown open, it looked as if I had only gotten up to go to the bathroom. None of the agony I was in showed anywhere. If I didn’t feel like hammered shit, I would’ve thought I dreamt it.
“He’s not here,” Heero said in surprise, entering behind us and closing the door.
“No, he’s not,” Trowa said, surprise in his voice also.
“That’s not good,” I said to myself. If Trowa and Heero didn’t know where he went (and I was sure they knew every time he took a breath), then he must’ve really deviated from script.
They didn’t comment. Instead, Heero went to the bathroom and started the bathwater. (Yeah, I freaked about that too. A working bathroom in a mountain?!) Trowa carefully settled me on the floor, loosening the pelts around me as he looked me over.
“Duo, what happened to you?”
I swallowed as I heard the heartbreak in his voice. “In all honesty Tro, I don’t know.” Heero came back in and plopped down next to me, eyes following Trowa’s hands as he revealed scrape after bruise after cut. “I woke up in excruciating pain, but I didn’t know why or how…” It didn’t take me long to tell my story. When I did, Heero and Trowa stared at me as if they couldn’t believe what they heard.
“This is getting worse and worse,” Heero said at last, throwing his head back.
“Yes, and I’m sure it’s going to continue in the same vain,” Trowa threw in, massaging his forehead. “The Prince is acting weird, Noin is a missing Untouchable, Quatre’s been hurt,” he growled, “you’ve been hurt, and now the gnomes are involved.” He sighed. “I’ll talk to Wufei. I’m firmly of the belief that we agree to whatever use the Prince has of us so that we can get the hell out of here.” He turned to Heero. “What say you?”
“I agree.” He nodded. “Tracker, spy, whatever he wants.”
“Then it’s settled. I’ll just need to convince Wufei.”
“Yeah,” I started, Heero’s words triggering something the Prince said. “Zechs said Wufei wouldn’t lend him some trackers. How come?”
I could practically hear Heero and Trowa stiffen, as the room plummeted in temperature. Shit. What did I do now?! “What?!”
They were quiet for a moment. Then Heero shook his head, whispered ‘shit!’ angrily under his breath, and rose to his feet. He stomped silently to the bathroom, where I heard the water being turned off. Entranced, I allowed myself to be momentarily sidetracked. I had never seen a six-foot-four, two hundred and something pound being, stomp without making a sound. It was one hell of a feat to witness.
“Duo.” My attention was grabbed back by Trowa’s urgency. “Did the Prince tell you to call him that?”
Feeling like I was stepping into a minefield blind, I squeaked out a helpless, “Umm… yeah?”
Head tilted back, the Alphagué took a few deep breaths. As he did so, Heero plopped back down on the floor, pouting. I started to laugh at the sight, but when I saw that he wasn’t only pouting, but looking really, really upset, I became worried. “Um, guys? Why do I get the feeling that the name thing is actually bad business?”
“Because it is,” Trowa answered, facing me again. “You are now what is called a ‘Friend of the Pack.’ ”
I’ve heard the phrase reading werewolf stories. I had no idea what it meant. “What does that mean?”
Trowa’s eyes darted along the floor as he thought of a way to explain. “If you were to meet the President of the United States, would you address him as Mr. President, or by his first name?”
“As Mr. President,” I answered, appalled. As a Texan, it was offensive to address anyone by their given name unless told to do so. That was driven into me while Hilde and I were still in the womb.
“Why not by his first name?”
“Well, because we’re not cool like that.” I shrugged. “I am no one to him to be addressing him by his first name.”
“Exactly.” Trowa nodded. “Same with the Prince. You are human, which makes you beneath him and his kind.” I made a face, but he didn’t bother to acknowledge it. “You belong to another Pack, which also makes you his subject. You are the lover of his strongest rival and enemy. There’s no reason for you to be on such terms. Not even Wufei is.” He leaned towards me. “But you are, and he will use that to divide us.”
“Ch’. Right. Divide us.” I snorted. “Get real.”
“He already has,” Trowa said sadly, looking at the strips of fabric that was once a cloak of Wufei’s.
I wasn’t going to go there. At least, not yet. “Well, what does being a ‘Friend’ entail?”
Heero picked up the thread. “Being a ‘Friend’ is being an ally of sorts. He has obligations to you, such as protecting you and helping you if need be. But also, the reverse is true. You are to help and protect him if it is within your power to do so.”
Ohhh boy. “Um, well, what a coincidence,” I said with a nervous chuckle, “since I kinda sorta… offered to help him already.”
This was met with silence.
“Duo, tell us what happened again,” Trowa commanded. “But this time, tell us what was said, and by whom.”
When I finished, both had their heads thrown back, groaning at the ceiling.
“This is getting worse and worse,” Heero repeated.
“I have to find Wufei and report this to him,” Trowa said, standing. A new sense of urgency seemed to be pushing him.
“No.” Heero stood. “I’ll go. You’ve hardly been with Quatre today.” His voice lowered. “I know it’s killing you.”
Trowa gave him a sad smile, but shook his head. “As much as I would love to, I can’t. It’s my duty, but thank you for the offer. Look after Duo.” He turned to me. “Don’t leave this room.” Without another word, he left. Heero and I were quiet for a while, staring at the recently vacated space. I didn’t know why, but when Trowa left the room, he seemed to have left a feeling of doom behind.
“He should’ve accepted your offer,” I said, feeling slighted on Quatre’s behalf. “He shouldn’t have chosen his ‘duty’ over Quatre.”
Heero gave me a long, hard look. “Remember when you ran out on Wufei, right before Darlian was arrested?”
I took a deep breath. That day was one I didn’t like thinking about. “Yeah?”
He stepped closer. “Remember when I told you that there would be periods where you would be put on the back burner?”
I frowned. “Yeah?”
He bent down until we were nearly face to face. “You weren’t the only one who had to accept that.”
I turned away, feeling like an absolute ass. I should’ve known better. Of course. Trowa was Wufei’s right hand man. If there was a scheme to be hatched, those two would be smack in the middle of it, leaving Quatre with me out in the cold.
Speaking of which… “Heero, where were you guys?”
He sighed, and squatted down. “I can’t tell you that.”
I felt righteous anger burn through me. “And why not? Because I’m human? Because I’m not worth mentioning anything to?!”
“No,” he said softly. “So that if the Prince ever asks, or has you tortured, you will be innocent to any knowledge of our doings.”
That shut me up. “Oh.”
“Duo.” I met his eyes. “Listen to me, and heed this.” I nodded. “I think that because you were truly ignorant of Noin, and of what could have happened to her, that the Prince may believe your word at face value. It is not something granted to many, even in his own Pack. That also may be the only thing that keeps you safe.” Heero sighed again, and this time it seemed to have come from the bottom of his soul. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
He helped me to stand, and kept his grip tight around my waist as I wobbled my way into the bathroom. I smiled when I noticed Heero looking intensely at the ceiling as I dropped the pelts. He really was too sweet. And perfect at running bath water. I couldn’t help my moan as I stepped into the tub. It was heavenly.
Once I was settled, Heero collected the pelts and left to toss them. I rested for a moment to catch my breath, then began gently scrubbing the dirt out of my cuts and scraps. After that, I started the hellish task of washing my hair. It was a god awful bird’s nest. When that was taken care of, I laid back against the rim, and just let myself float. I closed my eyes, and did my best to ignore the thundering in my ears. Too much information, too soon, always left me feeling like that. God, my brain was going to explooode…
I opened my eyes, and damn near had a coronary when I saw Wufei standing over me. I sat up sharply, which caused me to splash water in my face, especially in my mouth. That started me coughing something fierce, and for a moment, I thought that this would be the end. I was going to die naked in a bathtub, hidden inside of a Siberian mountain fortress, from choking on ass-enriched bathwater.
Then I took a breath that allowed oxygen in, and the world righted itself. A couple of deep breaths later, and I was strong enough to give Wufei a glare that should’ve set his hair on fire.
“Jesus Christ!” I rose up to plant my elbows on the tub’s rim. “Scare me why don’t you!”
He completely ignored my outburst. “I don’t recall Primus’ ever ruling in the Packmaster’s stead in his absence. I thought that could only be done by permission for an Alphagué, or his Special.”
Ohhh! Interesting! I didn’t know that! But I had to put that bit of info away. Right now I had an argument to win. “I was not ruling in your stead.”
“Oh, really?” He had a nasty smirk on his face that I totally wanted to smack off. “What did you think you were doing when you volunteered our help to the Prince?”
Ah. Trowa must’ve delivered his report then. “I thought I was volunteering our help to the Prince,” I said as snottily as I could. “Look, I’m sorry if I was stepping on your paws, okay? I didn’t mean to, and I have no intention of doing such. But Wufei, we need to get the fuck outta here.” I punctuated every word with a pound of my fist. “There’s more going on than we know.”
“Yes, there is,” he agreed. “And I want to know it all.”
I thought about that. Would I want to know everything about a problem I was solving? Yes, as long as it related to the problem. I didn’t think that that was how Wufei meant it though. “Is that why you’re refusing to help?”
“Partly,” he said calmly enough, settling himself on the toilet and crossing his legs. Ah. Guess we were going to have a civilized conversation after all.
“What’s the other part?”
Ohhh, tough one. What the hell did you get someone who had everything? It was like shopping for Howard. I could relate too well. “Well, what did you ask for? Not his kingdom?” I said jokingly. Wufei didn’t say anything. As the silence continued, I smacked myself in the forehead. Greedy cuss… And against my will, I started to chuckle. “Well, the tactic is to ask for more than you expect to receive…”
“It wasn’t a tactic. That was my price. But now, he’s found a clever way to go around that.”
I raised an eyebrow. I didn’t like the sound of that. “And how’d he do that?”
This time his smirk was full of anger. “He’s made you Friend of the Pack.”
“Yeah, but that obligates me to help him, not you.”
“Yes, but you’re my Untouchable. I am to protect and defend you at all costs.” He frowned. “Whatever supplies or personnel you need, I must provide.”
Ahhhh… god damnit!
Closing my eyes, I allowed myself to slip under the water. I was there for nearly half a minute, when fingers gripped the top of my head, and pulled upward. I squinted tightly until most of the water had run down my face, then cracked one eye open. Wufei was watching me with a confused look on his face. “What are you doing?”
“Well, I was drowning myself, until you interrupted me.”
This got a snort outta him, and a tiny smile. That made me smile. “Duo.” The smile went away. So did mine. “What happened to you?”
I leaned against the rim again, and he let go of my hair. “Trowa didn’t tell you?”
“He did, but…”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s never happened to me before.”
We were silent. I wanted to ask where the hell he was tonight, but if Heero didn’t tell me, odds were Wufei wouldn’t tell me either. So I asked the next one. “Why did you run away like that?”
“I didn’t run away!” he said heatedly. I didn’t believe him, but I wouldn’t call him on it.
“Fine. Why did you leave like that?”
He frowned, but didn’t challenge my wording. “I… I smelled him all over you.” He turned his head away.
“You stupid, beautiful idiot,” I said affectionately, earning a glare that made me chuckle. “It was the pelts.” He shrugged, and turned away again. I didn’t know about him, but I was done in, and I wanted to sleep the rest of my pain off. “I want to go to bed,” I said, in an unintentional, semi-seductive voice.
Surprisingly, Wufei used his cloak to wrap me in instead of a towel. I bet it was the ‘smell’ thing again, but I didn’t care. Truth be told, I didn’t want Zechs… er… the Prince’s smell on me either. I didn’t know why, but it felt like he was staking a flag on Wufei’s territory, using me as the territory. I didn’t like it, and the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like it.
Once I was dry, I was in bed with my werewolf, wrapped snugly against him. Even though I wasn’t waited on hand and foot, in my Russian spa surrounded by eye-candy, I was getting my kisses, and I was being told how brave and beautiful I was.