Blood in Siberia
Chapter 4: Visit To A Jail Bird
"You wanna explain what the hell this is all about?" Howard snapped as we raced down the highway. We were in his truck. He drove, I rode shotgun, and Hilde was comfortably squeezed in the back, leaning on our seats to hear the conversation.
"Hang on," I told him, checking his glove compartment. Yep, he had the .44 Magnum, thank god. We may need it.
"Duo please, you're scaring me."
"I'm sorry Hil. I didn't mean to scare ya." I relaxed when I saw that we had everything we would immediately need. With one less thing on my mind, I grabbed the dishtowel Howard always kept under his seat, and cleaned my face as best as I could. Then I checked myself in the mirror. The improvement wasn't much. Damn. "Okay. The reason I'm having a shit-fest is because there was a message left for me."
"What message?" Hilde asked.
"All it said was 'come see me but don't come alone,' " Howard repeated. "It was left on the answering machine. I could hardly hear it. He was speaking too softly."
"Yeah, he was," I put in. The message was spoken very softly. It was no wonder I didn't hear it while I was in the shower yesterday. "And it's already a day old. Whoever he was trying to protect me from could already be doing damage."
"Protect you?!" Hilde shrieked. "Protect you from whom?"
"And who left that message?" Howard asked.
I sighed. They were going to get pissy about this, I was certain. "Darlian left the message--"
"Darlian!" they shouted.
"--and I don't know who he's trying to protect me from."
"What the hell is he, of all people, doing with your number?!"
"And what makes him think he can call you?!"
"God damnit Duo." Howard's voice was hard and spiteful. "You're going to get into some more werewolf shit, aren't you?! You had no business getting involved with Wufei--"
"Enough!" I shouted. That was all I was going to take from them. "We have been over this shit time and time again. We're not going over it now. I've made my decision!" They were quiet, but they were giving me looks that should've set my balls on fire. I continued to clean myself off. "Now look! This may have nothing to do with Wufei, okay? It's very obvious Darlian didn't call him, otherwise I would've been put into some underground bunker by now."
"Maybe he couldn't call Wufei," Howard added, voice trembling with anger. "When he left the message, he didn't leave any names. Not his, nor yours." He glanced at me briefly. "He trusted you would recognize his voice and know that the message was for you. Nothing showed up on the caller ID, so if you didn't recognize his voice, you would've been shit outta luck." Howard shook his head. "And he spoke as if he didn't want to be overheard or understood. With a cryptic message like that, it's possible that whoever is after you has ears near him."
Shit, shit and shit. Howard brought up points that didn't even occur to me. "Oh hell."
" 'This may have nothing to do with Wufei' my ass," Howard snapped. "You need to get your head out of the sand, boy."
I sighed. "Darlian and I reached an understanding. I told you about it, remember? Right before Meizer arrested him, in Wufei's antechamber."
"Sure sure," Howard said, not impressed. "Why you would come to an understanding with the... 'thing' that tried to kill you, not once, but twice, is beyond me. I don't know who's the bigger fool: him or you."
I didn't say anything, because I knew that Howard would snap back, and then I would've been tempted to punch him in the face. When they said that silence was a virtue, they had no idea how right they were.
The rest of the ride was in complete silence, as Howard and I were pissed at each other, and Hilde didn't want to say anything to spark the situation. So when we pulled into the parking lot of the jail, I pulled the bullets outta my pocket and dumped them on the floor. Ignoring Howard's question, (which was 'what the hell?!') I opened the door and got out without a word. I was all by my lonesome as I trotted up the stairs, to the glass doors, and through the metal detectors. There was no way Howard and Hilde would accompany me; they feared Darlian in the way someone struck by lightening would always fear a storm.
I went to the front desk a little bit self-conscious. Everyone was looking at me. I knew I looked as if I had my ass kicked (we won't go there), but I felt I was somewhat presentable. I had wiped the worst of the dirt away, and fingercombed my hair into place. So I glanced over my clothes. Despite all of the action I had, they were still relatively clean. Just dirt smudges here and there. Then I thought about the poop incident, and hoped that I didn't smell like deer shit.
I was pleased that Darlian had the foresight to put me on his visitor's list, so getting a visitor's ticket was a snap. Once I had my ticket, I went to the third floor where I was told he was incarcerated. Checking in at that desk, I was told that because he was held in maximum security, I would have a forty-five minute wait before I would be able to see him. Pissed, but helpless to do anything about it, I sat down on one of the uncomfortable wooden benches to wait.
God, my ass was killing me.
I jumped awake at the sound of my name. "Yeah?" I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.
The guard, an attractive man with a permanently creased uniform, tilted his head in the direction of a locked door. "In there."
"Thanks," I mumbled, and damn near cried when I stood up. My butt was already sore, but now it was getting to the point of becoming unbearable. That did it. I was going to have to buy one of those ring-cushion thingies to sit on.
Another guard led me to a cubicle, where a thick block of glass had a round metal screen you could talk through, like at the DMV or the police department. The walls were thin plaster and were connected to other cubicles, which allowed for easy eavesdropping. I paced in the small area, allowing my ears and 'eye' to listen to what was being said (and not said) around me. A couple to my right were making plans to get married when he got out of jail (she has been cheating on him for two years now, and the baby wasn't his), and the man to my left was arguing with his mom about sending him money (she was tired of supporting his drug habits). Someone further down had his girlfriend press her breasts against the window as he licked the glass. The guard wouldn't break it up because he was supposed to be on his lunch break.
Then a door opened that was out of my line of sight, and the light dimmed as the figure walked through. He sat down on the opposite side of the glass, and I thought it was the wrong person until I looked into his eyes.
Darlian looked like hell. Of course, jail wasn't a fun place to be, but I didn't think two months would do this to him. He had dark circles under his eyes, and although his hair hadn't grown out much, it was very shaggy and disheveled. So were his beard and mustache. He seemed gaunt, and his skin had an unhealthy tinge to it. "Darlian?"
"I was worried," he answered. "I expected you first thing this morning."
"Sorry," I said, bending over to rest my elbows on the miniature counter. I arched my back to make my spine pop. "Today's been a bad day, man."
"So I see." He glanced me over, but didn't ask. "Are you alone?"
"No. My folks are waiting outside."
"Good." He gave me a curt nod. "You can sit down, you know." He looked pointedly at me, then at the metal stool. So as not to be rude, I eased myself down, trying to be as gentle as possible.
Oh god... my ass...
"Thanks," I said in a strangled voice. There was no way I was going to try the macho bit now.
He gave me a weird look, but dismissed it.
"Now," I said when I got myself under some sort of control. "What's this all about?"
"The birds here are careless about their gossip," he began, confusing the hell outta me. "They don't pay attention to whom may be listening. Pigeons." He snorted in disgust.
I did that 'move along' gesture. "And?"
He gave me a concerned look. "They say a stranger passed through San Antonio two days ago. He was blatantly nonhuman." My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. That was unexpected. "He's a werewolf. He had others with him, but the pigeons didn't know what they were, except that they were local. My guess? Shape-shifters. Anyway, it is rumored that he is looking for a subject of the Shenlong Packmaster." He leaned towards me. "He's trying to find the Untouchable."
My eyes widened. "Is that right?" I chewed on the inside of my cheek, thinking.
"Yes," he said, sitting back and allowing me time to absorb this new information.
This was not good news. There was no way me, Howard and Hilde could handle a werewolf and a bunch of shifters. Especially if they were anything like Quatre. "How'd he find out about me?"
"I don't think he knows," he said, voice full of thoughtfulness. "It appears he has been looking for you for a month. I believe the pigeons say that all supernatural beings in the southern states know that there is an Untouchable that belongs to the Shenlong Packmaster, but not who he is or where he lives."
Trollé. Those were the orders Wufei gave her before we left that night. "Well, what am I supposed to do?"
"Leave," he told me fiercely. "I don't care where you go, just don't stay here. You should leave Texas, just to be on the safe side." He leaned forward again. "Duo, this werewolf is very powerful, and will slaughter anything in his path to find you." He shook his head to himself. "He has slaughtered many already."
I held my hands up, as if that would stop his words. "Hold on a sec. I'm an Untouchable! Why should I fear this guy?" I threw my hands in the air. Hell, I made sense to me!
He sighed deeply. "Duo, this werewolf came to America, on his own, and demanded a band of shape-shifters to follow his orders. The fact that he came by himself shows that he is as powerful as Trowa, Catherine, and Heero."
I shook my head. "I don't follow."
He gave me an irritated look, but he wasn't irritated at me. He was upset at the situation. "At the very least, this werewolf is a Betagué. At the most, an Alphagué. My guess is he is an Alphagué sent to do his Packmaster's bidding, and he won't stop until he achieves his goal."
"What makes you think he's an Alphagué?" I started fiddling with my braid in nervousness.
"Because it's typically an Alphagué that can tolerate being alone, Duo." He paused, and waited a few beats to make sure he had my full attention. "Solitude, is a werewolf's worst enemy." He paused again to let that statement sink in. "The fact that he...appeared here, alone, and has been without his Pack-mates for a month, shows a fierce strength of will. He has been able to not only continue his mission, but he has avoided being overcome by others. I believe Trowa should explain the significance of that to you."
"There's more," Darlian said, reading the expression on my face. "I also believe that he is an Alphagué, because those Weres are the strongest under their Packmaster. They are undefeatable by anyone else except their Packmaster, or possibly another Alphagué."
I ran that information through my head. It still didn't compute. "Yes, I understand that, but that doesn't explain why I should be afraid of this guy if I'm an Untouchable. That's what I'm not getting."
"That's because I wasn't explaining that to you," he said, shaking his head in self-depreciation. "You should fear him because he is high up in the hierarchy of his Pack, and that makes him indispensable."
I shrugged. That meant jack-shit to me.
"Let me explain it this way," Darlian began. His eyes rolled up to the ceiling as he thought of another route. "How does Trowa, Heero, and the Privileged treat you?"
I gave a little half-shrug. "Trowa's pretty cool. He's just quiet. Heero is, like, the brother I never had. He's awesome. Quatre and the rest treat me like I'm one of their own, you know?"
Darlian nodded. "Now, how does everyone else in the Pack treat you? The Maguanacs for instance?"
I frowned as I thought about it. "They treat me like I belong on a pedestal," I said at last. "They cater to me, but they don't get personal. I feel like a king or something."
He nodded. "The Privileged treat you the way they do because they are, essentially, the Packmaster's family. They will treat the Primus the way a spouse should be treated by in-laws. The rest of the Pack, however, are there to serve you. That's why you feel like a king. Adding in that you're also his Untouchable, that makes you almost priceless."
My chest puffed out an inch or five. God, I was such hot shit!
"Unfortunately, that also makes you everyone's target."
My 'hot shit' song was abruptly cut off. "Wait--what?"
"Being an Untouchable is the most dangerous position to have in the Pack."
"Wars have been fought, and species of creatures have been wiped out of existence because of the harm, or death, of an Untouchable."
"And that is why you should fear this werewolf," he said, getting back to the point. "Even though you are slightly elevated over the Privileged because you're Primus and the Untouchable, you are not almighty. This Were is of similar value to our Privileged, and you." He gave me a stern look. "If Trowa and the others face no repercussions for associating personally with you, do you think this Alphagué, who is most likely one of the Privileged in his Pack, will not have the same support and protection from his Packmaster?"
I swallowed. Hard. "So, if he's here to kill me, and succeeds--"
"--then his Packmaster will go to great lengths to ensure his safety from our Packmaster. He will not be sacrificed for the good of the Pack, like a lesser creature would. That's the point." He frowned gravely. "You may be the Untouchable, but that doesn't mean you won't be harmed."
"But that will cause a war, won't it?! Jeez, doesn't this guy know that?!" Hell, Wufei was willing to kill one of his own for leaving a decapitated head on my car! I was sure that my death would really piss him off.
Darlian was silent, then; "There will be a war because this Were is on Shenlong territory without our Packmaster's consent, and he is doing us unnecessary damage. As soon as it is learned how many of the Pack's subjects were killed, there will be retribution." He sighed. "It is possible that this Were may only want to use you as leverage, in order to leave our territory unharmed." He gave me a concerned look. "However, I don't believe that is the case. Usually, a move of this caliber is done because that party was harmed first, where this action is the retribution."
I thought long and hard about that. "As far as I know, Wufei hasn't harmed anyone. He's only gone to work and come home. Hell, he barely has time to spend with me, let alone harm another Pack!"
Darlian laughed, but it was entirely humorless. "Humans!" He continued to chuckle to himself. "How your kind rules the world is beyond me." His eyes, when he looked back at me, were on the task at hand. I decided not to tell him how many different ways he could go screw himself for his 'humans' comment. I needed this info. "There are many ways the Packmaster can harm someone without being present, just as you can read the thoughts of someone who's not in the same room as you." He ran his hand through his hair in a gesture that I've never seen him do before. "It doesn't matter whether or not the Packmaster did anything. It only matters that the werewolf Pack this Were is representing feels slighted by our actions, and will harm us by harming you."
I leaned back, ignored the pain this caused, and massaged the back of my neck. This was giving me a tension headache. "I can't believe this shit."
"Believe it," he told me kindly, "and pay attention to what is going on around you. The Were may not want to harm you, but that doesn't mean he won't harm your uncle or sister. Remember that your family has an extension of protection because of their affiliation to you. If it is a choice between keeping them alive or you... they will not make it. That Were will cut his losses."
Christ. As if I didn't have enough to worry about.
"The Pack is ready and willing to die for our Packmaster, Duo." I gasped. His eyes were so full of emotion that he made me lose my breath. "However, the Packmaster has only one weakness, and it is you." His eyes softened. "He has never cared about anyone like he cares about you. He may not be able to handle the grief. And my mate," his voice was barely audible, "did not give her life so that you could fall into the hands of an enemy." I watched as he slowly raised his hand to the glass. He was tracing my face using his index finger. I was so shocked by his change in demeanor that I only sat there, stupefied.
"Ebgué Afesgué grr Onsgué," he whispered, and I was shocked shitless as I watched a tear roll down his cheek.
That did it. I was, officially, in the Twilight Zone.
The spell was broken when a guard appeared noisily behind the werewolf. "Darlian!" he shouted, damn near giving me a heart attack.
Darlian played it so cool though. He slowly turned his head to look over his shoulder. The guard took a step back, and I mentally cheered. I could tell that the werewolf raised a lot of hell here.
"Yes, Officer Jenkins?" he asked with false sweetness.
"Time's up," the guard said shortly, jerking his head in my direction.
"I see." He turned back around. "Be careful." Withdrawing his hand from the glass, he stood and allowed the guard to readjust the manacles on his arms. Darlian was such a big guy that they had about six guards standing by, ready to pounce on his ass if he tried anything. But the werewolf handled it with the dignity of a king. I mentally cheered again.
I stood (painfully) and watched with sad eyes as they started to take him away.
"Thank you," I whispered, confident that he heard me.
He stopped, and turned his head so that I could only see his profile. With a slight inclination of his head, he acknowledged my gratitude. Then, with proud shoulders, he walked through the metal door to return to his cell.
I hobbled out of there as fast as I could.
I was tired, depressed, and sorer by the time I made it downstairs. My head was stuffed to capacity with information that I didn't have a clue what to do with. And, as if to make matters even worse, Darlian went all puppy-eyed on me, said something I had no hope of repeating or understanding, and left me with a shit-load of questions, complete with a heap of shaking-in-my-boots fear. Thanks Darlian. Thanks a whole damn bunch.
Stepping outside, I spotted Howard's truck at the end of the parking lot. I sighed, and started trudging my way there. About halfway though, Howard spotted me and pulled out to pick me up. Thank god for that. But as I walked, I saw a pigeon sitting on top of a car, watching me with more awareness than I would've ever thought a bird could have. It was kind of spooky. His beady eyes trailed me as I walked past him, and he didn't even fly away. He seemed even more attentive when I opened the truck door and jumped in.
As Howard waited for a woman and two kids to cross in front of us, I watched as the pigeon looked the truck over. (Was he checking out the license plate?!) He then leapt into the air, circled twice, then flew off into the setting sun.