Blood Bonds Pt. 04

byphoenixphair©

Back outside under the sultry Italian moon, he hopped into the big SUV beside the Lycan, buckling himself in as they pulled away across the ancient cobbles.

"We're not going to the House airstrip?" Kevin asked as they headed east out of the bustling nighttime metropolis.

"Nope. We're going low profile tonight. My jet. My airstrip."

"What's happened to her?" the boy asked, sudden alarm coursing through him.

The big man sighed, pursing his lips, whisker-shadowed cheeks hollowing.

"Some of your old buddies attacked her last night. Her and the tall looker—"

"Sarah!" Kevin gasped. "Are they alright? Who hit them?"

"Tall, ugly bible-totin' bastard, goes by—"

"Johnson, that asshole," the former Hunter growled, eliciting a half-smile from the werewolf. "Are the girls ok?"

"They're fine," Pershing said, nodding slightly, eyes flashing in the oncoming headlights, though traffic was thinning as he steered them down increasingly deserted roads. "They hit Talera pretty bad, but Andrenin was there to patch her up. Girl saw her take out the whole team. Talera didn't have a choice."

"Oh, shit. How did Sarah take that?"

"As well as can be expected. She didn't run screaming, anyway. Last I saw them, she was following Talera onto her jet with a drink in her hand."

"That's a good sign. She's a strong girl."

Pershing just nodded, so Kevin ventured a question.

"Has Talera—"

He never got to complete the thought as a piercing metallic shriek cut into the silence inside the H3, followed a moment later by a jarring thud and a loud curse from his driver, and Kevin found himself shoved into the seat by the airbags as they deployed all around him.

The world, confined to sensations, since his vision was impaired, spun several times, the seatbelt cutting into his chest painfully as the car apparently flipped several times before coming to a groaning stop in a field.

Coughing violently, Kevin struggled to disentangle himself from the wreckage, looking around him for Pershing. The distinctive click of a modified semi-automatic assault rifle made him freeze just as he rolled out onto the fresh-cut wheat.

"Get up, traitor. Slowly!" a familiar voce barked.

Kevin complied, fighting to focus on the figures that had appeared around him, dressed in dark camouflage, his eyes still stubbornly refusing to cooperate. As he stood with utmost care, the adrenalin of the explosion ebbing slightly, he realized something wasn't right with his body. Lifting an unsteady hand, he touched it to his left temple, seeing blood when he lowered it to his wavering gaze. A sharp, throbbing pain in his chest made him look down, sighing when he saw the long strip of jagged metal protruding from his ribcage on the right,

-Probably punctured a lung,- he thought grimly. -Great. No wonder I can't focus.-

"Cover it!!" a woman shrieked from somewhere off to his left, the retort of several shots punching into his ears, followed by a low growl. "It's not dead! Hit it again!"

A pain-drunk chuckle wrenched itself from Kevin's chest as he figured the Hunters had discovered Pershing. He turned his gaze onto the leader of the bunch, who still had his rifle aimed at Kevin's head. Joel Ferman looked the same as always, straw-colored hair still long even though he had long since lost the top third, pulled back into a low ponytail. His pinched features, which reminded Kevin of a child who had just bitten into a particularly sour dill pickle, carried the same expression they always did when dealing with anything out of his ordinary.

"Hiya, Joel. Haven't seen you in aaaaages. How's tricks?" he mumbled, his tongue like an old sock in his dry mouth, tasting the blood that bubbled up with the words.

-Yep, definitely lost that lung,- he thought, the image irrationally hilarious.

Pershing was hurled down beside him, the impact of the giant's body shaking the ground enough to send Kevin to his knees. Several more guns were added to the circle around them, the monotone symphony of chambering rounds echoing in the moonlit darkness.

"You ok, kid?" the Lycan asked, rolling slowly onto his side to prop himself up with one elbow, voice like crushed granite, shirt bloodied and torn in several places.

"Nope," Kevin responded with a goofy grin, proudly displaying his wounded chest.

"Shut up, both of you!" the leader of the band of Hunters shouted, shoving his rifle into Pershing's chest.

"Kid's gonna bleed to death," Pershing growled. "You want that on your heads when she comes after you?"

"Silence, dog!" the man shouted again, pulling the trigger, sending a shot straight through the werewolf's body to lodge in the soft earth with sickening thud.

Pershing didn't even honor the wound with a shout, just gritted his teeth, baring his fangs at the crowd around him. Several licked their lips nervously, fingers fidgeting around hair-triggers anxiously.

"What brings you lot to sunny Rome?" Kevin managed, trying to force his mind back on track, realizing he must have a concussion of the highest quality. "Surely not the sights."

"Traitor! You will speak when spoken to," a flame-haired woman in black fatigues barked at him.

"Hoy, Stella," the boy mustered. "Lookin' good there."

"We have our orders," the leader said, smiling at his crew in victory. "God smiles on our battle. Soon, with our allies' assistance we will—"

The words strangled in his throat as the sound of ripping cloth silenced the songs of nearby insects. Kevin turned his head in time to see the last of Pershing's lightning-fast transformation into his full werewolf form. Black fur rippled over the Lycan's body as his height increased to what must have been around seven feet, bones finishing their transition into the half-man, half-beast of so many horror movie plots. Feral light lit his red eyes as he released an ear-shattering roar, sending half the Hunters screaming into the rippling moonlit pasture. The other half opened fire, and Kevin was thrown to the ground as bullets zipped past him with a lovely whistling sound.

He realized he was beginning to lose consciousness, stopped fighting to keep his eyes open as Pershing attacked, ripping into the leader first, blood spattering on the ground with Pollock-like zeal. Screams of pain and terror echoed over the countryside, but Kevin could only feel the cool night breeze as he rolled onto the soft dirt, smiling up at the twinkling stars, winking back at them when he managed to open his eyes briefly.

After what seemed like mere moments, the crickets resumed their serenade, the blades whispering around him once more, breeze tickling his nose, cooling the sticky mess of blood over his temple.

"Kid. Kevin. Look at me," Pershing's voice floated in on the wind.

Struggling to think straight, Kevin forced his eyes open, finding the Lycan kneeling over him, chest streaked with blood, black hair wild, eyes still glowing red. His shirt was lost to the transformation, but his pants remained in a few strategically-placed tatters, making Kevin smile to himself.

"Please focus. You don't..." the werewolf trailed off, sighing.

"Give it to me straight, doc," the boy croaked, cracking a grin.

"You've got... minutes, if that. I only have one way to help you, and I need you to understand me now. Got it?"

"Roger-roger."

"Kid..."

Kevin took as deep a breath as he could muster, fighting with all his waning willpower to regain some of his faculties. He closed his eyes for a moment, then reopened them, feeling the giddiness reside, the pain rushing in to take its place.

"I'm with you," he said quietly.

"Do you want to die?"

"Not really, no."

"You're worthy of it, but it's going to be hard on you. The Pack hasn't even met you."

"You're the Alpha,"

"That's true, but it only gets you so far."

"I can handle myself."

"I don't doubt that. Just warnin' you."

"I understand."

Kevin took a deep breath, realizing his hands had gone numb when he tried to clench them. The pain was even beginning to wane, an overwhelming cold starting to creep into his extremities.

"Ready?" the Lycan asked, taking a deep breath himself.

"You ever done this before?"

"Nope."

"Thanks. It's an honor."

"Yeah. Hold onto your ass. This is gonna hurt."

Kevin took a burning breath, held it. He watched as Pershing took his arm, raising his wrist to his lips, dimly felt the warmth of the man's breath on his numbed skin. Kevin's training had focused almost solely on Talera and the Vampyr, so he knew little of the process of the Change when it came to Lycans. It involved a blood exchange, he knew, but relatively little.

He gasped, gritting his teeth hard when Pershing bit into his wrist, catching the crimson burst when it spilled out of the broken skin. A deep growl, more felt than heard, rumbled in the depths of the werewolf's chest, the red fire raging in his eyes.

Releasing Kevin's arm, he brought up both of his own hands, holding out one and with the other, used one extended claw to gash open his palm. Bending lower, he shoved one arm under the boy, hoisting his prone body off the ground, holding him upright. Pressing the streaming wound to Kevin's mouth, Pershing roared when he felt the shock of transfer rush up is arm, shaking his own body to the core.

Kevin lapped at the bloodied palm, moaning out loud when he felt something change in his body, something beyond himself invade his mind, starting to race around his being. Arching his back, he rocked to a sitting position on his own, shoving the Alpha out of the way. The dark man fell back onto the grass, just watching calmly through those glowing eyes, propping himself up on his elbows.

Rolling onto his stomach, Kevin pushed himself up on his hands. Straining to breathe, he gripped the jagged piece of metal in his hand and with a howl of agony, yanked it free of his body in one sharp tug. He sagged to the ground, ripping handfuls of earth and wheat as the wound knit itself, feeling as if someone was stitching it by hand using molten lava. An ache began somewhere deep in his body, separate from the pain of healing, a steady throb that radiated in every bone, every muscle.

Kevin whimpered as he felt his entire form begin to expand, bones lengthening, muscles gaining bulk and density, teeth growing, claws extending from his fingertips. Something primal was tearing at the back of his consciousness, something feral demanding release.

"Let it out," Pershing said quietly. "You can't hold back the wolf, and trying will only kill you,"

Kevin sighed and relaxed his mind, allowing his body to do as it needed. He must have passed out momentarily, the shock of white pain knocking him out. When he awakened, he was lying on his side, the world completely changed. The breeze ruffled his thick fur, carrying with it the scent of fear. His ears pricked at the sounds of the night, which were suddenly crystal clear, the rush of cars miles distant, voices in them, completely understandable.

He struggled to his feet, realizing with a shock that he now stood on four legs. Four powerful legs that supported a body of solid muscle covered, as far as he could tell without a mirror, in heavy golden fur streaked with white.

Sniffing the air again, he found he could pinpoint exactly where a few stragglers, escapees of Pershing's first attack, cowered in a stand of trees a thousand yards to his right.

"Five of them. I left you a few. Go." his Alpha said, casting a dark smile over his sharp features,

With a sharp snarl, Kevin shot into the night, amazed at his new speed, lips curling into a lupine smile as he stalked his first prey.

****

Sighing, Kevin dropped his head into his hands, rubbing his face, pushing back his hair when he returned Sarah's silent, wide-eyed gaze.

"I don't really remember anything past that. Just... impressions. Pershing says I may never have any true sense of what happened. That the first time is pure animal fury, no human influence."

The girl just stared at him, no expression other than shock on her dark features. He could sense no fear, caught no scent of panic or terror, but she was apparently frozen.

"Stand up," she whispered, rousing herself after a few long minutes, her expression going completely blank as he rose. He was at least four inches taller than he'd been, putting him near six and a half feet. His hair was longer and thicker, build much heavier, face leaner though proportionally slightly larger. Like the others in Pershing's Pack, he had gained a rather wild, rugged look, though he'd never been exactly bookish, more like the quarterback homecoming king. She could picture him climbing some remote forested mountain, vanishing into the deepest Northern woods, at home in the unknown wilderness.

Sarah took a deep breath, let it out with glacial speed. She just stared at him as he started to approach her, stopping within arm's length, face still shadowed.

Taking the last step forward, she tentatively reached out, touching his face, first with the backs of her fingers, then laying her palm flat on his cheek tenderly. With a sob, she collapsed into his arms, holding him tightly, crying into his chest. "You're safe. That's all that matters."

She felt his arms surround her protectively, felt his lips on her forehead, felt his body relax against her. He'd been afraid to tell her, she realized.

"You should have known I'd be cool with it, Kev," she sighed, pressing her lips to his chest, chiding him with a huff. "I'm very familiar with Lycans nowadays, thank you very much."

"You never know," he whispered, breathing a chuckle, kissing her on the top of the head again, smoothing her soft curls. "Talera was less than thrilled..."

"Oh, I bet," Sarah said, looking up at him, biting a her lip. "How did she take it?"

"Well... August practically tackled her the moment I stepped off the plane. It was only because he and Andrenin held her down that she didn't take off on some bloody quest to kill every last Hunter. "

"Are the bad guys gonna leave you alone now?"

"They're not all bad..." he said, looking out the window, eyes distant.

"You say that like you know..."

He smiled down at her.

"You don't miss much, do you?"

She smiled back, shaking her head.

"You know too much to be just casually interested."

"I uh, I worked for one of the better organizations. I was supposed to get close to her and report. Not to kill. Just gather information."

"What happened?"

"Couldn't do it. Despite all I knew about her coming into the assignment. Despite the years of training I'd had, I just... when I met her, I knew I wouldn't be able to betray her."

"Does she know?"

"Of course. We never discussed it until last night, but I think she knew the entire time. As long as I wasn't still connected, she had no problem with it. It helped me, really. She doesn't have to explain anything to me. I already know."

"Did you know she could..."

"Kill like she does?" he guessed, watching her as she looked down at her toes, then brought her dark eyes back up to meet his. He nodded.

"Is that the only reason they want to kill her. As scary as that is, it doesn't seem like she'd be the only person in the world with that power..."

"It's part of it," he sighed. "There's more to it than that. I don't think I can really explain it... you know how she can hide her wings and the like? Well they don't... go away. She pushes them back into a plane parallel to ours that we can't see. The fear is that she'll lose it someday and reverse the process, bring that plane into ours."

"Is that likely to happen?"

"You'd have to ask her that. She's not afraid to let it out if it suits her purpose. I know there are moments when she's not...she has a temper that's beyond nasty. You saw her perturbed the other night. She's gotten outright enraged before."

"What happened?"

"People disappeared and no one knows what happened to them."

Sarah just let out a sharp breath, then shook her head quickly.

"I don't think she'll lose it. Not until she's ready. She's too controlling to let that happen."

He shrugged, eyes glittering faintly with an inner red glow.

"The four of us are safe at any ra— Omigod! Ana! Nel!" she gasped, eyes flying towards the door.

He shook his head. "Ana just got here. No one bothered her."

"Nel?"

"Talera is hunting her right now."

"Hunting?"

"Telepathically."

"Just making sure. What about you?"

He huffed a growling laugh. "It hasn't hit me yet. It's different..."

The big Lycan lowered his head, rubbing his temples with the heels of his hands for a long moment.

"What color wolf are you? It tends to go with your hair color right?" Sarah asked, cocking an eyebrow,

"Usually. I can only see part of my body in that form, but gold with white streaks, I think. I didn't ask Pershing."

"Can I see?"

"Not at the moment," he said, glancing at the door. "Listen, we'll talk later, okay? Ana is here, and she's a little worried."

Sarah nodded, and followed him out onto the sand outside the door of her hut. They made their way through the dappled light beneath the palms down to the beach, the sound of the gently crashing surf growing louder.

Ana met them at the edge of the trees. Her eyes roved over Kevin for a long moment, noting he was changed, but shaking her head, she obviously decided it could wait. With an anxious look on her face, she nodded in the direction of the water.

"Is that...?" she whispered, unsure of how to finish the question, biting her lip. "I've never seen her like that...that's how she really looks?"

Silhouetted against the giant tropical sun as it was sinking toward the waves, Talera floated a few inches off the ground, fully in her natural form. She wore a simple pair of flowing pants in the purest white and a matching string bikini top, her long black and red hair lifting in the ocean breeze, tail snaking from the top of the low-slung pants, still for once. She faced the waves, head down, arms relaxed at her sides, wings half extended behind her, taut folds of leather billowing slightly in the breeze.

Kevin trotted out onto the sand, standing silently, peering up at her patiently. When she didn't move, he motioned the two girls over. Taking the spellbound Ana's hand, Sarah pulled her closer, stopping at the new Lycan's side.

"She's gone," he said in a normal voice. "Can't hear us."

"What do you mean?" Ana asked, starting to reach out to touch the demon's arm, biting her lip again when Kevin caught her hand, stopping her.

"I wouldn't do that. She's looking for Penelope. Give her a minute, because she's not even on our plane."

Sarah watched Ana study Talera, her expression softening from one of fear, to acceptance, then to something deeper. Fascination. Hunger. Shaking her head slightly, Ana took one last long look over their silent demon then turned to inspect Kevin intently.

"So, what's your deal?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Steroids? I didn't think they worked that quickly."

He huffed a laugh. "Not exactly."

"Damn, why does everyone get to be some... superhero when I'm still here, just plain old me? What are you now?"

"Uh, werewolf."

"Crap," she sighed, shaking her head, black hair swishing heavily, "Well, congratulations. When did you decide this?"

"It was a spur of the moment thing. I had no choice. We were attacked when I was on the way here with the leader of one of the Lycan clans. He did it rather than let me die."

"He's a smart...man," Ana noted with a wry smile. "If you'd died she would've done him some serious harm. Good god, look at those claws. Are those her nails? I always wondered how she kept that black polish so flawless."

"It's always the claws they notice. You'd think it would be the wings."

Talera's deep, slightly raspy voice startled them all. She drew a long breath, scrolls at her temples writhing for a moment. She muttered something in Vampyr, then opened her eyes, stretching her wings to their fullest before settling to the sand.

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