Catching the Thief Ch. 02bykitten101©
She caught a glimpse at a blinking black box on her bench at the same time two more men came through the front door, and her only means of escape 01:08. Max dropped low to the ground and flew at the first, arcing her extended claws around the man's calf 01:07. She then jumped past him to the second man He managed to thump her hard in the ribs before she tore out his throat and he collapsed to the ground 01:05.
Max circled around creeping behind the couch as the first man recovered his balance, and began to circle the room watching for her. She waited until his attention was back at the kitchen before launching herself at him, reaching around and slashing at his throat 01:00.
Max then raced from her apartment, using her claws to give her extra grip against the polished floors. She Changed briefly to hit a fire alarm in the hall, and then back in cat form raced for the stairwell 00:51. The stairwell seemed to stretch for an eternity before she was finally in view of the exit 00:02. Max streaked from the main doors, and paused once to see her windows explode in a ball of fire and smoke before running into the night.
She headed towards an abandoned warehouse she had hidden at on past occasions. Her heart sunk as the thought of her wallet and clothes still in the burning apartment. She had no idea what her next step would be, she really had no one to go to for help. As much as it chaffed her to admit it, she would have gone to Gabriel in a second had she known she would be welcome and where to find him.
Hours later that afternoon she slunk into the alleyway behind her now smouldering building. Most of the residents had moved on to friends and families houses, and the firemen were dampening down the last of the hotspots.
Concealing herself under a few sheets of aluminium surrounded by boxes and rubbish, she dropped her head onto her paws and closed her eyes. Being closer to her apartment gave her a small amount of comfort, finally allowing her to doze.
Max woke in the evening to the sounds of familiar voices. Her ears pricked as Gabriel, Grey and Michael came into view wanting to bound up to them like an excited puppy. Something unfamiliar and cold in the pit of her stomach kept her frozen to the spot.
Michael and Grey were tired and worried. Their leader had had them awake since word had reached him of the explosion at Max's apartment. He had been unusually snappy and extremely short of temper, something neither of the cats were used to. Grey stuck close to Michael touching him frequently for comfort as Gabriel had strode up and down the city blocks trying to catch Max's scent. The smoke and crowds of people were causing him difficulty.
Gabriel was aware of the affects of his panic on his team, but couldn't seem to calm down enough to master himself. He was confident that she had escaped the fire, but earlier he had overheard one of the fire crew mention the bodies on her floor. If he had hurt Max he would not forgive himself.
Max watched from her shelter as a pretty blonde woman stalked around the corner. Her eyes were cold and grey, and she wore a black jacket trimmed with grey rabbit fur. Her Skin was porcelain white, and her nails gleamed metallic silver. Max was willing to bet the woman was a Snow Leopard when changed.
Her hackles rose as the woman went to Gabriel and lay her hand on his arm. "Gabe, there's no sign of her. I've looked all over, and I think you may have to consider she did not make it. She may not have woken up in time, the men they sent might have overpowered her." She looked up at his face with doe eyes, stroking the skin under her hand seductively.
Gabriel turned looking at her for the first time and growled. "Its your damn fault this happened, so this is your mess Christina. Go back and look again." Christina spun on her heel and stormed back in the direction she came from, curling her lip in distaste as soon as her back was turned.
Michael and Grey tensed as Gabriel turned back to them "You two separate, Michael head East, and Grey check Mercer Street again." Gabriel waited until both had left the alley before closing his eyes and concentrating on his nose again.
Max stayed silent, breathing shallowly and watching Gabriel. She still couldn't convince herself to move. It felt like her muscles had locked themselves into place. Gabriel turned heading towards the alley exit. Some of the tension left her body, then he spun, locking his eyes on her hiding place.
Moving quickly he strode back to her, lifting the scrap metal away from her. "Max, thank God." She panicked backing up against the wall and tensing her shoulders ready to pounce. "Easy kitten, I've come to help" Gabriel soothed, noticing for the first time her ears pinned back against her head.
At the sound of the familiar words, and his familiar voice she dropped her head to her paws. Everything ached, and she just wanted to curl up someplace warm and safe to sleep. Gabriel reached down scooping up the big cat by the scruff of her neck with an arm under her torso, lifting her out of the debris.
He crouched over her, letting her bury her face in his open soft leather jacket as he called Christina, Michael and Grey. "I'm glad we found you, you gave me one hell of a fright kitten. We're going back to my place." Max didn't respond. "You're welcome to stay there as long as needed, most of my other employees live with me. It doubles as the office." Max sighed and nodded her head awkwardly in her cat body. It wasn't like she had many other options at the moment. When the van arrived Gabriel wrapped Max in a blanket, and lifted her into the back seat putting Michael and Grey on either side of her.
Christina left, presumably for her own car after giving Max a cold glance and a low growl. Max Changed, wrapping the blanket around herself for warmth and coverage as she was still naked from the previous nights events. "She's just pissed off because she was meant to be watching you, and she fucked up." Grey said. Max didn't ask why Christina was supposed to be watching her; she had a feeling she wanted to be wide awake for that conversation. Instead she leaned against Michael's offered shoulder and dozed for the hour long drive from the city.