Blood in Siberia
Chapter 8: Are You Experienced?
I never thought that time could move both quickly and slowly. The activity around me went on at a heightened speed, having the appearance of a movie that was being fast forwarded while still in play. But the clock showed the moment to be the same, its hands going forward and backward as if running on a dying battery. This was all I knew as I sat in the middle of the living room floor, as useful as a hammer in a glass house.
All I could see in my peripheral vision were blobs of blue that were the police, and the sporadic flashes of light from their cameras. Their questions to my uncle were nothing but buzzing in my ears that only came into focus when I heard my name being said. Everything else bounced off of the bubble I had enveloped myself in, in an attempt to hide from reality.
I didn't want to face the fact that what was happening to my uncle was my fault. I didn't want to face Hilde's angry and distrustful glares. I didn't want to face Meizer's hurt, but loving eyes. I didn't even want to face Wufei! I didn't want to see his cocky smirk, knowing that in that smirk was the promised death of the guilty one. And all of it, ALL of it, would be my fault.
That was the biggest problem I was facing: responsibility for my actions. Last time around I was dealing with the unknown, so my mistakes were understandable. Expected even. That was my excuse. I couldn't be held accountable for Darlian's actions, or anyone else's. But I didn't have that excuse anymore. This time around, I walked in with eyes open and knowing. Anyone hurt, or worse, would have me to blame. And they would be right to blame me.
"Oh really?" Quatre's slightly strained voice broke through my thoughts. He was speaking with an officer that wore too much cologne. I snorted to myself. If *I* found it offensive, Quatre was probably suffocating. And when I noticed that he was breathing out of his mouth, I was sure of it.
It wasn't too long after the police arrived that the shape-shifter did. I didn't have a clue how he knew to get his ass here, but I was sure glad he came. He stood against the wall across from me, perfectly playing the role of a concerned friend. His eyes were big and watery as he asked the police 'innocent' questions, poking and prodding for any information that they would give, and asking how he could be of assistance. Howard and Hilde, despite their dislike of the supernatural community, graciously accepted any help he could provide. The police had also taken to him, leaving him contact numbers and addresses. Neither one of those things were good. It seemed as if *I* was the only one able to see the calculation--and intent--in Quatre's eyes. They had no idea that they had just invited a fox into their henhouse.
"Thank you again, Officer," Quatre said, smiling in a believing way as he pocketed the cop's card. I thought he was holding his breath as he spoke. "You keep up the great job you're doing. And if I find that banana bread recipe, I'll let you know."
The man said something in parting, then left. Quatre waited another moment before he dropped his act, and when he did, I almost wished for the 'concerned friend' to come back. Anger boiled in his eyes, and his fangs thickened. His stride disappeared as he stalked towards me, and I felt that my friendship with him was the only reason he didn't tear my throat out. Grabbing me by the collar of my shirt, he yanked me up until I was slightly above his head. I felt nothing but the air beneath my feet. I hoped to hell nobody saw this.
"Do you have any idea of what you've done?!" he hissed in my face. "I can't believe you! If there was an international competition for screwing up, you'd be the winner for the next ten years!"
"What the hell are you talking about?!" I hissed back, trying to keep my voice low. I could hear feet and hushed voices coming from the next room, and the last thing I needed was for someone to come in, and see Quatre holding me with one hand in midair.
"The police were called," he whispered, abruptly releasing me. I stumbled, but remained standing. Go me. "They should not have been."
"What were we supposed to do?" I spat, gratefully rubbing my neck. "We couldn't just walk away from this!"
"That was exactly what you should've done," he whispered harshly. "You knew right away that that Were did this! You're lucky this wasn't a trap! Of course, he doesn't need to set a trap for you, now that he has your god damn picture!"
"Uh, Quatre, your eye is twitching."
"Ugh!" he huffed, throwing his hands in the air. Then he started to pace in a small circle as he rubbed his chin. I watched him curiously, wondering what a two thousand year-old shape-shifter was pondering so hard.
"I know you know our top priority is to keep our existence a secret," he began, swiveling suddenly to face me. "That would not be possible if every time one of our kind committed a crime, we called the police. Situations like this need to be handled internally, and anyone else outside of our... group, will have to be dealt with."
A cold knot of fear landed in my stomach. My breathing became shallow and fast. "Quatre." I licked my lips. They were suddenly dry. "What do you mean by 'dealt with?' "
He didn't answer me, but at the same time, he didn't need to.
"Oh no. No no no no no. Quatre." I stepped up to him, and grabbed the collar of his shirt. I was desperate for him to see my point of view. "We can't! These people--the police--I've known them my entire life! They're good, hardworking people!" My mind instantly flashed Meizer. I couldn't help but remember my earlier thoughts, of how I would be to blame if others were hurt. Or worse. "You can't kill them because of this!"
"Then you'll have to start thinking like you're one of us!" he told me, gently touching my face. "You are dealing with the supernatural now, Duo. You can't call the police. You can't call the fire department, or EMS, or a hospital. You call your Packmaster, or whoever he left in charge, then you do as you are told so that you can be protected."
"I am not a little boy," I returned, poking myself in the chest. "I am an adult. I don't need people telling me what to do, and I don't need your protection."
"The hell you don't!" Quatre snapped back. "Things wouldn't have gotten this far out of control, if you had just listened and stayed where you were. Instead, you went to Yantis!" The fire then left Quatre's eyes, and his voice softened. "Duo, the bobcat barely touched you." At my confusion, he continued. "I know those bruises are from someone using you as a punching bag... among other things." He gestured to my neck. My hands flew to cover the barely-there bruises from Tsubarov's hands. "Why didn't you say something?"
Only Quatre could be pissed off at me one second, then worried sick about me the next. "Because, I--"
"Shhh. Meizer's coming."
Quatre, smooth as always, simply leaned against the wall as if he had been doing that the entire time. I, on the other hand, didn't know what to do. I stumbled around and did a few half-turns, unable to decide whether or not I should imitate Quatre's position. I decided not to at the last second. Right when Meizer walked in, I tried to dart across the room (don't ask me why, I don't know), but I tripped on something that might have been a chair. I stuck my hands out in front of me to catch myself, and I turned my fall into a pushup.
"Sometimes you just get the urge, you know?" I said, when the seconds ticked by in silence. When I didn't get a response, I looked over my shoulder. Meizer wore a concerned expression, while Quatre looked at me as though I was the world's biggest moron.
"Um... yeah," Meizer said, clearly missing the beat but still trying anyway. "Sometimes, I get the urge too."
It was an obvious lie, but I'll give him an 'A' for effort.
"Duo, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute."
The look on his face and the tone of his voice said that if I didn't, I'd better make the time. "Yeah yeah, sure. I've got a minute," I agreed. But when a third party remained, I started to lose my patience. "Hey, Quatre."
He looked at me innocently. "Yes?"
I gestured to Meizer. "Do you mind?"
He gave me a confused look. "Do I mind what?"
Dear god... "He wants to talk to me."
Quatre turned to Meizer. "Then talk."
I brought both of my hands to my face, and sighed. I was on the verge of either laughing my ass off, or ripping all of my hair out in frustration. "Quatre," I tried again, folding my hands together in hope. "Don't you want to check out the area, or something?"
He gave me a look one would give to someone who was talking to oneself. "Why the hell would I want to do that? It's hot out there!"
Damn, he certainly did have his blond moments. "Quatre..."
Just then his cellphone rang. He answered it swiftly. "Yes, my lover." I rolled my eyes. It had to be Trowa on the other end. But then Quatre's eyes narrowed, and his nostrils flared. "When did this happen?" he asked in a dangerous way. I glanced at Meizer. He was watching Quatre with unconcealed interest. "No. I'm the closest, I'll go." He hung up. "I'm leaving," he announced, and turned to me. "When you're done here, go to Wufei's. I'll tell your family to do the same." Without another word, he walked out.
Riiiiiiight. And this wasn't strange, how?
"What was that about?"
I turned to Meizer, and shrugged. "Hell if I know."
With Quatre gone, the atmosphere changed from professional, to personal. The seconds ticked by in silence as we stared at each other, rebuilding that bond we've always had. Quatre and his behavior were becoming forgotten memories as we basked in each other's presences.
Wow, he looked good! It was a warm day, so he had rolled the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows. His shirt was blacker than his pants, with shiny black shoes to finish. The whole look was polished off with a white tie.
"Duo," Meizer said, breaking the silence. This time, his tone was not of authority, but of longing.
"Cob," I answered, unable to keep my pleasure out of my voice. "It's so good to see you."
He came to stand close to me, but was careful not to touch. That was close enough though, for me to smell him. Unlike that other cop, his cologne was masculine and soothing to the senses. Hmm... Old Spice, the smell of champions. Ahhhh...
"How have you been?"
His question got me to focus. Somewhat. "Good. I've been good." Of course, the last twenty four hours totally sucked ass, but I wasn't going to mention that. "How have you been? I've heard nothing but great things going for you since your last case." Which were the Pike Creek Murders.
"Great. Everything's been great." He gave me a complacent smile. I knew then that something was up. "Duo, are you okay?"
The question caught me off guard, though it shouldn't have. I thought he was going to ask me about my uncle's house getting robbed. Instead, I was going to get a personal Spanish Inquisition. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why?" I started twisting and rubbing my wrists. They were sore from my spontaneous 'pushups.'
"It's just that I haven't seen you around lately," he told me with a shrug. "We use to run into each other all the time. But you haven't been going to work, and when I stop by your uncle's bar, or your house... you're never there."
Ohhh boy. Talk about uncomfortable. "Yeah well, I spend a lot of time with Wufei."
"I see," he said. I could see that he was going to ask me something else, but he was trying to find the right way to say it. "Is he... is he treating you well?"
I smiled fondly. Wufei may royally piss me off, but even at my maddest, he treated me like a god. "Yeah, he's treating me well. More than what I deserve."
"You deserve the universe Duo, and all of the stars in it," he said, and gently took my wrists to rest against his chest. He started massaging them, and like magic, the soreness melted away. Tension I didn't even know I had, left me. I closed my eyes, and released a slow breath, feeling my shoulders sag in relief. When *I* was trying to soothe my wrists, I didn't relax like this! Why was it, when someone else touched you, it felt a thousand times better?
"I think you missed your calling becoming a cop," I teased, as he started working on my hands. He chuckled, but didn't stop. When he was done with that, he ran his hands up my arms, to my shoulders. Without needing any provocation, I stepped into his personal space and accepted the hug. God, it felt like ages since I last held someone.
"Don't keep things from me, Duo," Meizer whispered into my hair. "You're moving stiffly, and I see light bruising around your neck. Please, tell me what happened."
And I did. I told him that Wufei left town, so while I was out, I had my run in--literally--with Alex and Mueller. Then I told him about Tsubarov. Of course, I deleted the bit about nearly being shagged to death, seeing Darlian and my trip to Yantis, but I didn't leave a detail out about the human aspect.
"That explains Alex's appearance and Mueller's cast," he said, after I finished my story. "Duo, you should've called me immediately. Why didn't you?"
Awww shit. I couldn't tell him about visiting Darlian! Shit, shit, shit! "Because, I--"
"Detective Meizer! Are you in here?!"
"In here," Meizer called out, as we stepped away from each other. "We will continue this later," he told me, in a nearly threatening way. Not wanting to force the issue, I simply nodded.
"Ah. There you are." It was the cop with too much cologne. "We need to get back. There's been more sightings of that man."
"Okay," he sighed. "Let's pack up and go."
"Wait!" I said. That man? I hoped they didn't mean the Were! "What man? Sightings of who? What does he look like?"
"I'll be out in a minute," Meizer told the other cop. He gave us a swift nod, then left. "Duo, calm down. What's this all about?"
"That could be the guy that wrecked, I mean, robbed my uncle's house!" It could be him! Hell, at the very least, it could be the last shape-shifter!
Meizer gave me a considering look. It was so suspicious, I was almost inclined to think *I* wrecked my uncle's house. "I'm going to look into that being the case, but it may not be. So far, this guy has only been stealing seeds and bread from the store, and feeding off of rodents." He made a disgusted face. I was sure I did too. Yuck.
"Well, what does he look like?"
He dug into his pocket and flipped out a notepad. "The man is short. Possibly five foot five. Stringy, strawberry blond hair, wears jeans and a white shirt. Dirty looking."
I committed the details to memory. "Got it."
He put his notepad away, but was still giving me that look. "Duo, what's going on in that head of yours?"
I wanted to tell him. God, I wanted to tell him! There were times when I had the urge to stand on my roof, with an international news crew with me, and shout 'werewolves are real!' to the world. But I couldn't. I wouldn't be able to, ever. Worst yet, I was never going to be able to tell my best friend. "Don't be out after dark," I blurted out instead, feeling the need to protect him.
"Don't be out after dark! And if something... unexplainable happens, go to Wufei's." With that said, I ran from the room, through the house, to the backyard. There, my uncle's shed still remained. Just like when I was a kid, I crawled underneath it. It was a tighter fit than what I remembered, but I was still able to squeeze under there.
I watched as the back porch door opened, and Meizer's feet came out. They froze for a second, before walking purposely in my direction. I held still as he came closer and closer, quiet in the thick grass, until they stopped inches in front of my face. I was ready to smack myself in the head. Whenever I used to hide here, Meizer was always right beside me.
"Duo, I don't understand what you're trying to tell me, but I'll do it." I sighed, and smiled in relief at his shoes. "Just... if there's something you need, or if you're... in something you can't get away from, let me know. I'll do whatever it takes to protect you. I promise." With that said, he turned and left, leaving squashed grass in his wake. I remained where I was, and sighed sadly when his unmarked car drove away. Depressed, I let my head drop to the grass, and closed my eyes. Unintentionally, I fell asleep.
Another big mistake.
I woke up because I felt eyes on me. At first, I only opened my eyes and held still. There wasn't as much light out as before, so I was able to guess that quite a few hours had passed. But that view was safe. Next, I lifted my head up to look around, and came practically eyeball to eyeball with a man I've never seen before. He had soft brown eyes, a heart-shaped face with smooth skin, stringy hair that smelled of sweat and cigarettes, and the manliest five o'clock shadow I had ever seen. He also had an aura about him that screamed 'I'm not human!'
At first, neither of us moved. It was almost like that staring game, where whoever blinked first was the loser. Well, I was discovering bit by bit that if I was ever going to win against the supernatural, I was either going to have to strike first, cheat, or both.
I decided to strike first.
Using every ounce of strength I had, I punched him in the eye. Startled, he jumped in surprise, and butted his head against the underside of the shed. I tried to haul ass out of there, but unfortunately, I didn't have a ten year-old body anymore. I got stuck, and despite how much I tried to worm my way free, it wasn't going to happen.
"Fooled me once," the man said, and the sound of his voice shocked me into being still. His voice was very gentle, but he sounded like someone who was tired to their bones.
In my distraction, he grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, and started to pull me from under the shed. Since I wanted out too, I helped him by digging my feet into the ground and pushing. But once I was out, I went wild. I punched him square in the jaw, and smiled in perverted satisfaction when his head snapped back. I followed that up with a punch to his stomach, and I kicked him in the balls. When he doubled over, I turned and took off running. Unfortunately, I only made it five feet away before I felt my hair being pulled. I grabbed my braid just in time to be whipped backward. I flew through the air and slammed into the shed, breaking a window. I landed in a heap on the ground, too disoriented to cover my head as glass rained down on me. Shaking my head to clear my vision, I saw that the man before me was wearing dirty jeans and a white shirt, with stringy strawberry blond hair, and was no taller than me.
Damn. I wasn't going to get a break, was I?
"I see why you're the Untouchable," the man said, smiling kindly at me. "The Packmaster made a wise decision in choosing you."
Well... shit. What could I possibly say to that? I didn't want to be friendly. After all, this asshole was going to give me to the Alphagué. But that was a hell of a compliment coming from an enemy. In the end, I decided on, "thank you."
"You're welcome," he said. Then to my utter amazement--utter!--he closed his eyes and in one, two, three seconds, turned into a Thunderbird.  A fuckin' Thunderbird! His wing span was easily fifteen feet, with talons large enough to pick up cars. His feathers were pitch black, his beak curved enough to cut diamonds, and his eyes were as sharp as razors.
"Oh my god..." It wasn't going to do me a bit of good, but I couldn't help myself. I rolled to my feet and tried to run. But when the bird flapped his wings to lift into the air, it knocked me off my feet. I landed hard on my back, and the air was knocked out of me. I rolled to my stomach in an attempt to get up and run again, when I felt several hard things wrap themselves around my torso. I looked down to see that it was the claws of the Thunderbird, and just when I was about to raise hell, we took off. I grabbed on tightly to his legs, and watched in horror as the ground became further and further away from me.
"Oh my god oh my god OH MY GOD!"
I tried my best to hide behind his legs as we rose above the trees. Both leaves and branches were scrapping against us, and one of them yanked off my hair tie. I cringed and cried out when I felt my loose hair snagging in things, and felt strands being ripped out.
When we cleared the trees, I fought to catch my breath because one; the air was thinner, two; the shape-shifter had a tight hold on me, and three; because I was screaming like a damn banshee. The shape-shifter wasn't flying as high as he could, to avoid being seen, but that was still high enough to scare the shit outta me. So I did my usual thing, which was hollering, screaming and cussing, but none of that seemed to bother him. It wasn't until I took a breath between swear words that I realized what I was doing.
I was flying.
It was a totally different view in the air than on the ground. The sun was setting, so it glowed pink and purple, but the colors had texture. The air had a taste that I couldn't describe, and a smell that I didn't know existed. The air was weightless, but it was full of strength as it pushed us up, down, and to the side. It spoke to me as we sailed by, telling me secrets and wonders.
"Wow," I breathed, and bit by bit my grip loosened. When I was comfortable with that, I held one arm out to the side as the other held on. Once I was comfortable with that, I stuck my other hand out, closed my eyes, and pretended that it was me who had wings.
A shadow fell over me. I opened my eyes, and I saw that the Thunderbird had bent his head down to see what I was doing. I saw him waggle his... erm... eyebrows at me, purposely, before he took a sudden nosedive. Reflexively, I grabbed on to him, but I realized right away what he was doing.
We dipped and dived, we somersaulted, we flew upside down... we did it all. It was amazing, seeing the earth in so many different degrees and angles. Man, I wished we were born with wings! This experience was nothing like I have ever felt before.
The sun was just about to set when we got back on course. I was exhausted from all of the excitement, so I folded my arms and laid my head down. The shape-shifter changed his grip so that he supported my legs, and it felt as close to lying in a bed as could be. I patted a talon in thanks.
Until I fell asleep, I watched the landscape rush underneath us, and memorized the feel of air running over my scalp. I didn't worry about what was to come. There was nothing I could do about my present situation, so I only tried to rest, and thought about how much I enjoyed the past hour. Then I thought about my family, my friends, the werewolves, and Wufei. I was sure I was going to meet the Alphagué tonight, and I knew that my human strength was no match for him. So I tried to get into a frame of mind that would allow me to die with dignity.
I smiled to myself. Considering that I have flown where no human has flown before, I could safely say that this experience alone was worth dying for.
 Thunderbirds are from Native American legends. Supposedly, these birds were large enough to carry away cows and small children. It's said they were the descendants of the flying dinosaur, the pterodactyl. Many claims of sightings are from the time of Europeans coming over, (not sure if it was pre or post Columbus), but I read of some sightings in the 1970s. (Which, I don't believe). To learn more, go to google.com, and type in 'Indian Thunderbird.' There's so much info it's not funny.