The Artist's Wolf Ch. 11bybrightlyiburn©
Notice: All those who feel the need to send death threats, only include an e-mail address so I can respond in kind.
Chapter Eleven: Struck
Gabriel chuckled softly, watching as Aislinn squeaked in surprised and tumbled backwards off her stool. He had to admit, the make-up Tifo was wearing was convincing. They were spending the day with some friends of Tifo’s that made their own independent films and currently they were demonstrating an array of special effects. He was actually really impressed with what they could do with so little. Aislinn was certainly enjoying herself, too. Gabriel reached out, helping her back onto her stool.
“Don’t do that,” Aislinn whimpered, half-laughing. “You look hideous.”
“Gee, thanks,” Tifo huffed indignantly. “Gabe, man, your girlfriend is rude.”
Gabriel smothered a laugh beneath his hand. He really had to agree with Aislinn on this one. The make-up on his face made his cheeks look hollow, his eyes look sunken, and his skin look somewhat eaten by decay. Aislinn slid off her stool and perched on his lap, then, and he wrapped his arms around her. At first Gabriel had been uneasy with her displays of affection while they were around Tifo and the guys, but he had adjusted quickly. The constant jealous looks he got certainly helped.
“Personally, I think he looks better that way,” Forrester, who was in charge of lighting, chimed in.
Tifo scowled. “If I was a real zombie, I’d totally have eaten your brains by now.”
“It wouldn’t be a very filling meal,” Forrester responded brightly, grinning from ear to ear.
Of all of the crew they’d been introduce to, Gabriel liked Forrester best. He was the youngest, amazingly no more than fifteen, and something of a cheerful punk. His golden blonde hair was on the longer side of chic, somewhat shaggy, and he was always grinning, revealing dimples, perfectly white teeth, and blue eyes that sparkled. He’s a good kid, though, Gabriel thought, I wonder how he got mixed up with this lot. Since, as with Gabriel, most of Tifo’s friends had been in jail at some point.
“Braaaaaains….” Forrester groaned, ambling off suddenly.
Aislinn giggled. “These guys are quite some characters, Tifo.”
Aside from Forrester there was Marx, who was in charge of sound effects, which seemed odd in a way, as he spent so much time with his headphones blaring that he should have been deaf by now. Pixel, the only female, a small, mousy thing who wore glasses with lenses so thick they magnified her eyes, and was a genius on the computer. Oli (for short) did the make up, most often something gruesome, scary, or both. Rags and Banshee put together costumes (they were identical twins). Props did…well…props. Quill, the last of them, both wrote the scripts and was something of the group leader.
“Don’t any of you go by your real names?” Aislinn asked.
“Only Forrester,” Props replied, plopping down on her vacated stool. “He’s the only one of us without a mile long record.”
Aislinn raised her eyebrows. “Even Pixel? She doesn’t look it…”
“Pixel’s never stolen anything, never done drugs, none of that stuff,” Props told her. “But she used to hack into government files for fun. They don’t like that much.”
Forrester came back then, still ambling lazily like a zombie. He must have caught the tail end of their conversation, because he nodded sagely. Leaning on Props’ shoulder, he flashed his boyish grin at Gabriel and Aislinn.
“The local psych ward also has like, a whole filing cabinent on her,” Forrester added.
“Piss off, Forrester,” Pixel growled from where she sat behind her laptop.
“She hates me,” Forrester sighed, pouting.
“Forrester has a thing for her,” Props explained. “But Pixel doesn’t go for younger guys. In fact, I don’t think she goes for guys at all.”
Pixel lifted her gaze long enough to shoot Props an icy glare. He tumbled off the stool and scrambled away, his face fixed in an expression of mock terror. Gabriel chuckled softly and shook his head. I think ‘characters’ is too tame a word, he thought, they’re completely loony. Rags and Banshee were currently busily engaged in a duel, of sorts, using two giant rubber fish from Props’ collection. Forrester decided to join in a moment later…with a Nerf gun.
“Hey, you monkeys!” Pixel shouted suddenly, lifting her head.
“Pix?” Rags questioned, pausing. His sudden stop resulted in him getting smack in the face with the giant rubber fish that Banshee was wielding.
Pixel rolled her eyes and tucked a strand of stubbornly out-of-place red hair behind her ear. “I got the program for the snow machine running. Hook ‘er up, Props.”
“Whoo!” Props cheered, bouncing down from a stack of crates he’d been sitting on.
Props caught the end of the cord Pixel tossed him and hooked it into the make-shift snow machine. Aislinn was watching so intently that Gabriel had to laugh at her expression. Props switched the machine on; it made an odd, sickly grinding sound and for long moments it didn’t look as if anything would happen. Suddenly, with a loud popping noise, a cloud of white fluff exploded into the air. Even as it began to drift slowly down, another pop signified a second cloud. Impressive, Gabriel thought. The effect was such that it soon looked as though a pleasant, mid-day snow shower was happening in the room.
“Good work, Pix,” Quill praised. “That’s absolutely perfect.”
Pixel didn’t respond, but he noticed she seemed rather pleased with herself. Rags and Banshee had gone back to their duel, this time beneath the falling ‘snow’. Forrester plopped himself in the largest pile he could find and attempt to make a snow angel. Gabriel felt Aislinn shift restlessly on his lap. He had the feeling she was dying to go play in the fake snow. She loved the snow, but hated the cold, and was always at something of a disadvantage.
“Come on,” Gabriel said, nudging her out of his lap so he could stand up.
He caught her hand and pulled her beneath the spray of fluffy white ‘snow’. Aislinn laughed; the fake snow settled in her hair rapidly, turning it dusky dark brown. She wriggled out of his grip to help Rags, Banshee, and Forrester, who had dragged Tifo into the ‘snow’ and were trying to bury him in it. Gabriel only watched, smiling to himself. Good to see her open up around people, he thought, even if they are people who are completely nuts.
He wasn’t paying attention, so of course he didn’t notice when Props and Oli snuck up behind him. Gabriel was so wrapped up in watching Aislinn that he didn’t notice their presence until they had push him face first into the ‘snow’. As he sat up, dusting snow from his hair and clothes, he heard laughter. Glancing over, he saw Aislinn exchange high fives with Props and Oli.
“You think you’re clever, huh?” Gabriel asked, glaring at her.
“Well, I uh…eep!” Aislinn squeaked, backpedaling quickly as Gabriel came toward her.
She turned, slipping and sliding in the snow, and tried to scramble away. Gabriel caught her around the waist and hefted her up. Aislinn squealed in surprise and kicked her feet wildly, breaking into laughter as they both tumbled backwards into a rapidly deepening snow drift. As they scuffled, he eventually managed to capture both of her wrists and drag them up over her head. Aislinn flailed as she was pulled to her feet.
“You should have known you’d never get away with it,” Gabriel admonished teasingly.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Aislinn whimpered, half caught up in breathless laughter. “Lemme go, oh, lemme go! Lemme go, lemme go, lemme go!”
Despite her best efforts she could not break his grip. Closing an arm around her waist, Gabriel began to tickle her. Puffs of snow flew up in the air as Aislinn dropped to the ground, dragging him with her. He continued to tickle her until both of them were breathless and could no longer move. Gabriel stretched out in the snow with Aislinn strewn atop of him, both of them gasping for air.
“Hey!” Tifo called. “You two wanna join us for some burgers, or what?”
“Nah,” Gabriel answered, lifting himself onto his elbows to look over at him. Aislinn squeaked as she slid down into his lap.
“All right,” Tifo said. “If you two leave before we come back, make sure you lock up.”
Gabriel nodded. “You got it, man.”
Rags and Banshee had to be pulled apart before they could leave (they’d dropped the rubber fish and had resorted to wrestling). Pixel was the last one out the door; she set her laptop so the snow machine would keep running even when the screen saver came up. When they had all left, Aislinn sat up, brushing snow from her hair and off her clothes.
“It’s awfully nice of Tifo to let them use this place,” She commented.
“Yeah,” Gabriel agreed. “I guess they couldn’t find a good place to test the snow machine, so he let them use the garage. It reeks of grease, but it’s better than nothing.”
“Mmhmm,” Aislinn murmured. She glanced sidelong at him. “I think it’s time to get back at you for tickling me.”
Gabriel raised his eyebrows curiously. “What could you possibly do to get back at me?”
A grin spread slowly from one corner of her mouth to the other. She pounced so suddenly that he was unprepared, and he tumbled back down into the snow. Gabriel took hold of her hips as she leaned down and pressed her mouth gently to his. She teased his lips with gentle nibbles, and when he tried to take a firmer hold on her, she grabbed his wrists, pulling his hands away from her body.
“Keep ‘em like that,” Aislinn commanded as she forced his hands above his head. “Or else.”
“Or else what?” Gabriel asked, grinning lasciviously. A moment later her yelped as Aislinn pinched him sharply.
“That answer your question?” She inquired, raising her eyebrows.
“Yes, ma’am,” Gabriel said meekly.
He lay still, almost quivering as she traced a path down the side of his neck with her mouth. Her hands slid beneath his shirt, pushing it up over his ribs. Soft fingertips glided lightly over his skin; there was not even one small callous on her small hands. At her insistent tugging, Gabriel shifted, allowing her to pull his shirt off. He groaned as Aislinn slowly trailed her mouth down his chest and over his stomach. The occasional touch of her tongue made him shiver.
He watched her from beneath his eyelashes as she unfastened his jeans and tugged them down. He felt his cheeks heat slightly; her teasing her made him painfully hard. Gabriel chewed on his lower lip as Aislinn curled her fingers around his stiff member. He lifted his hands to stop her, but she looked at him sternly, and he let his hands fall back into the pile of snow. Her hair tickled his stomach as she bent her head, and at the first touch of her mouth he expelled the breath he was holding loudly.
Gabriel sank his fingers into the soft strands of her hair as she suckled gently, slowly moving her mouth up and down along his length. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, quivering with the sweet pleasure of her warm mouth.
For a long while the only sounds in the garage was his moans and the soft whirring of the snow machine as it began to shut itself down. Gabriel’s fingers wound tighter in Aislinn’s hair. His pulse roared loudly through his veins. His other hand, still resting in the snow above his head, curled into a fist, his blunt fingernails digging into his palm.
“A-Aislinn…” He stammered breathlessly, trying to catch her attention.
Gabriel couldn’t get the words out of his mouth quickly enough. Aislinn leapt back suddenly, squeaking in surprise. He would have laughed if he could have thought beyond the shaking intensity of his climax. When he caught his breath and opened his eyes, he saw Aislinn sitting on her knees next to him, looking distinctly disgruntled. Gabriel chuckled and grabbed her arm, pulling her close to him.
“Sorry, baby,” He said. “I tried to warn you.”
“Blech,” Aislinn muttered, wiping her mouth. “I wasn’t expecting it to…you know…it just all sorta…came out at once…”
At that he began to laugh so hard that his ribs ached and tears came to his eyes. Aislinn pulled away from him and scowled, but she couldn’t hold it for long. Sinking down next to him again, she laughed as well, clinging to him as her body shook with giggles.
“Now would be a horrible time for them to come back,” Gabriel panted.
“Could be…worse,” Aislinn said, gasping for breath.
“How?” Gabriel asked, finally catching his breath some.
“We could be…you know…” Aislinn replied.
Gabriel grinned. “You’re right. We could be.”
Aislinn squeaked in surprise as he rolled on top of her suddenly. She laughed, wriggling beneath him, as Gabriel trailed light, tickling kisses along her neck. He slid his hands over her legs, beneath the short, floaty skirt she was wearing. As he hooked his fingers in the waistband of her panties, she lifted her hips, allowing him to pull them off. Her cheeks were red, but she didn’t push him away when he slid his hand between her thighs. Aislinn moaned softly as he teased her soft, wet flesh with his fingertips.
“Hmm, I think someone likes the thrill in the risk of being caught,” Gabriel observed, chuckling softly.
Aislinn blushed hotly. “Don’t tease me!”
Gabriel caught her hips again, lifting them up from soft drift of snow beneath them. Aislinn shivered as he slid inside her and closed her arms around his neck. He dropped his mouth to hers, kissing her enthusiastically as he moved inside her. Her fingers tunneled through his hair, and he heard her soft, contented sigh. Gabriel gently coaxed her mouth open by teasing the corners of her mouth and the inside of her lips with the tip of his tongue. He felt her own tongue brush shyly against his.
Running his hands up her arms, he found her hands and entwined his fingers with hers. Bringing their joined hands down into the soft bed of snow, Gabriel lifted his upper body off of her, shifting his leverage to thrust deeper inside her. Aislinn moaned, tilting her head back, her eyelids drifting shut. Her hips met his, keeping pace with his movement.
They seemed so in tune with each other. When he dropped his head to kiss her, she met him with slightly parted lips. When Gabriel released one of her hands to run his fingers gently along her breasts, she responded in kind, trailing her fingertips up over his collarbone. And when he pressed his face into her hair to stifle his moans as he came, her felt her press her face against his shoulder, and felt her body clenching and shuddering.
For awhile they simply lay together. Aislinn’s fingers stroked soothingly through his hair. Gabriel couldn’t have moved if he tried, anyway. He was in heaven, having her hold him so close like this. If this movement never ends, I could be perfectly happy with that, he thought. Aislinn must have been thinking along the same lines, because she made no move to push him away.
Finally they did untangle from each other, although rather reluctantly. Both of them pulled on their discarded items of clothing and smoothed their tangled hair. Gabriel helped Aislinn to her feet, then retrieved her coat for her and held it while she slipped it on. She tilted her head back and peered at him curiously.
“What’s with the gentleman act?” Aislinn asked.
“Act? That isn’t nice,” Gabriel responded indignantly. “Really, don’t you know I’ll take any excuse to touch you?”
Aislinn laughed and caught his hand, curling her fingers around his. They walked out together into the night. Winter was not fully gone yet, but it wasn’t as cold as it had been. Gabriel enjoyed the silence between them; it was the pleasant sort, the kind of silence that meant they were so relaxed in each other’s company that they didn’t need to force conversation.
It was in the silence that he heard it, a sound horrifyingly familiar to him. It seemed to echo in his ears, although he knew Aislinn hadn’t heard it. The sound of the safety on a gun being taken off. Gabriel turned his head toward the sound. Despite the dark, he recognized the figure hidden in the shadows, recognized the way Eddie Montard held himself when he stood. And despite the dark, he realized that the gun was aimed, not at him, but at Aislinn.
Oddly, the next moments seemed to stretch to eternity. Gabriel turned, barreling into Aislinn and closing his arms around her. He heard the gunshot as loudly as if it was next to his ear. White hot pain blossomed somewhere in the middle of his back as he and Aislinn tumbled to the ground. Darkness swam behind Gabriel’s eyes and he held still, listening. Footsteps; the coward was running off. And the sound of a heartbeat, frantic, loud, Aislinn’s. Relieved that she was safe, he let the darkness overwhelm him.
For awhile Aislinn was too stunned to move or speak. She wasn’t quite certain what had happened. Gabriel had grabbed her, there’d been a loud bang, then they had both fallen. He was on top of her, lying very still, and something warm and wet was spreading between them. Panic began to rise in her throat as she struggled out from beneath him and carefully rolled him onto his back. Aislinn nearly fainted when she saw the blood staining Gabriel’s shirt.
“Gabriel…Gabriel!” Aislinn called in a high, panicked voice. “Gabriel, wake up! Please, wake up!”
Slowly, very slowly, his eyes flickered open. A slight smile curved his lips, and he reached up, cradling her cheek in his hand. She saw that that one little motion took all of Gabriel’s strength. Aislinn covered his hand with her own, holding it against her cheek, as tears poured steadily from beneath her lashes.
“Just hold on, Gabriel,” she murmured, choking on a sob.
“Yeah…” Gabriel responded weakly. “I…know. I…”
“Shh!” Aislinn exclaimed. “Just be still, Gabriel. Save your strength.”
Gabriel’s fingers twitched slightly against her cheek. She could feel him trembling, and his skin was cold.
“No…” Gabriel struggled to speak. “Wanted to…tell you…I…love you…”
His hand slid from beneath hers, his strength spent. Aislinn’s sobs grew into shrieks as he closed his eyes, a smile still curving his lips. Consumed with panic, she shook him, but he didn’t respond.
She started screaming as Quill’s van pulled into the parking lot of the garage. The whole group of them came sprinting over to her as soon as they heard her. Pixel grabbed Aislinn’s shoulders and pulled her back. Forrester had to lend a hand, grabbing Aislinn’s wrist, because she was trying to claw at Pixel and break away. Rags dashed into the garage, followed closely by Banshee and Props, to call 9-1-1. Both Tifo and Quill knelt next to Gabriel, and Tifo pressed his fingers to Gabriel’s neck, looking for a pulse.
“Can’t you quiet her down?” Quill hissed, looking greatly distressed.
“Snap out of it, Aislinn!” Tifo shouted. “He’s still breathing! Quiet down!”
“Don’t yell at her!” Pixel snarled.
Aislinn had stopped screaming, but she was still sobbing loudly. Pixel held onto her, glaring at Tifo. Within moments they heard sirens and the ambulance pulled into the parking lot. Two EMTs eased Gabriel onto a stretcher, while another helped Aislinn to her feet, murmuring soothingly to her. She was too riled up to take in the ambulance with Gabriel, so, despite her furious protests, it was Tifo who went with them.
Without waiting for her to calm down, Quill and Pixel shoved Aislinn into the van. Forrester held onto her while they waited for Banshee, Rags, Props, Marx, and Oli to get in the van. Then they were off, racing along behind the ambulance in it’s mad dash to the hospital.
The hospital was chaotic enough, and Aislinn’s hysterics didn’t help. She fought against Pixel and Forrester, who held her away from the doctors and nurses who were shifting Gabriel onto another stretcher.
“Damn, she’s strong!” Pixel growled through gritted teeth.
“No kidd-Ow!” Forrester yelped. “She bit me!”