Trusting the Wolf Ch. 01bykitten101©
Faith Harrison swept into her apartment, barely holding her shit together.
Today had sucked beyond belief - it had sucked so much that she hadn't bothered to holster her two handguns yet. Instead she clung to them loosely, not quite believing she was home and safe.
She was beginning to feel like she would never be safe again. It had been a very bad day.
Her silver tinted blonde hair was in disarray around her face, escaping from the single braid hanging down her back. Her full lips were dry and cracked from the wind she'd been exposed to and her almond shaped eyes were red and puffy.
One arm, and a knee were scraped raw in places, bruised and bleeding in a way that she knew should be causing her a great amount of pain.
Thank god for adrenaline.
She slammed the door shut, sliding the deadbolt locks home, attaching the chain, and kicking the floor lock into place. With that she turned and slid her back down the wall, tucking her legs in tight to her chest, loosely hanging her wrists and the gleaming guns over her knees.
Sitting there on the floor she finally bowed her head and gave in to the pressure to cry. She didn't indulge in the huge heaving sobs that she wanted to. Instead she closed her eyes and silently let the tears come, running down her face and dropping on to her tee-shirt unchecked.
She didn't notice the dark form crouched on her balcony, peering in through the window at her.
Taking a shuddering breath Faith picked herself up off the ground, moving like a 900 year old woman. All of her bones hurt.
She holstered one gun at her hip and placed the other on her dining room table, undoing the straps on her shoulder holster and casting a dispassionate gaze around her empty home. It looked like a show-home, devoid of a single personal touch to prove that a person lived there. She liked it that way.
Her eyes narrowed at the bar of dim light coming from under her bedroom door. She hadn't left the light on in her room.
Placing her holster on the table she picked up her gun, folding herself against the wall like a shadow, ignoring the blood that smeared from her arm onto the paintwork. She would have to clean those grazes. She did a quick sweep of the apartment as she approached the bedroom, the kitchen, bathroom, and main living areas were all clear.
Faith dropped into a low crouch at her door nudging it open with the nose of her gun. The room was empty, but her nose picked up a familiar scent. She felt a brush of too cool air against the back of her neck, and whirled to face the open room.
With a gasp she found herself face to face with the Death Walker she wanted to see least in the world right then. He stayed her gun with a quick palm as she brought it around to fire, still in attack mode. With an annoyed exhalation she lowered the gun and stepped around the tall man.
"Christ Aaron, what the hell do you think you are playing at. I told you what I'd do to you if you snuck into my apartment again." Faith snapped.
She stalked to the table and placed the gun onto it, then set about removing her hip holster and gun with angry movements.
"Pup..." He said in greeting, taking in her disheveled appearance.
"I decided that your threat was physically impossible for a woman to carry through on, so I disregarded it. Anyway, what happened to hello? Nice to see you Aaron. What brings you to my apartment in the middle of the night, Aaron?" He asked watching her carefully.
"Screw that. We have a problem." Faith snapped, perching herself on one of her sofa's arms.
Aaron slid into an arm chair, his inky black hair shimmering insubstantial sliver with the movement, as if a gust of wind had disturbed it. The moment he was still his hair settled back against the nape of his neck, solid once-more.
Neither of them had bothered to turn a light on and his eyes gleamed a reflective silver at her across the dark room. She paid it no notice - her eyes were probably gleaming amber from the streetlights below them.
Faith was a shapeshifter. She could shift her human form into her wolf form at a moments notice. Without thinking she had adopted the wolf's eyes for better sight in the dark, along with it's more sensitive nose, and advanced hearing.
Aaron on the other hand was something entirely different. He was a Death Walker, a rare and dying race. They lived for hundreds of years, and had an uncanny ability to kill. The name came about because it was said that they were the living embodiment of Death, walking amongst human, shifter, and other.
Faith didn't know much about Aaron's history, but she did know he'd once been the property of the political elite - the Changers Council and the Royal Family were the sole reason Death Walkers were so rare. They caught them at a young age, binding them to a handler, and using them to enact punishment on shifters who didn't follow orders.
When a Death Walker was bound to another they were limited to a certain number of kills, once the individual had reached that quota he or she would become insubstantial, slowly fading away to nothingness.
Aaron was over two hundred years old now (which is why he still felt comfortable calling a twenty four year old woman 'Pup'), and he had escaped his 'service' some time ago - although she didn't know the details she did know that it was near impossible to do.
Aaron lifted an eyebrow indicating that he was listening, and waiting for an explanation.
"Simon is dead. The seer... Ruby, she's dead too."
Faith and Simon had been undercover for the past year, protecting a seer and relaying information from her to Aaron.
Aaron closed his eyes for the moment. They had been so close. He had been working for a very long time on trying to assemble a new mixed race council. The old corrupted council had taken far too many liberties with it's power. It condoned slavery, killed freely, terrorized whomever it felt like in order to amass power and wealth, ignored the suffering of humans at the hands of Shifter and other, and treated it's people with casual disregard.
It was time for a new age of joint, representative, council, integrated with the people, selected from all the races, and designed to enforce the rules that had kept them all safe and hidden from human persecution for so long.
It was a tricky business tracking down the right people for this job - more difficult than destroying the current Council would be. The seers Aaron had been working with were almost there, they just needed to track down Alexia Devon, the most important piece of Aaron's puzzle.
Unfortunately with Ruby and Simon gone they were further away than before. He knew his attitude towards death seemed cold and mechanical, but he didn't have the luxury of time and emotion to waste on the dead - he had learnt a long time ago to focus on the living.
"Did she manage to pass on anything? She was close. I know she was." He said, frustrated.
Faith rubbed her forehead across her arm, leaving a streak of blood that they both ignored.
"She tried. She really did. She held on as long as she could - I had to get through a few guys to get to her, before she... Passed. She was gone by the time I got there but she wrote something - it was either Ferr or Fern or maybe it was longer. She got almost four letters before..." Faith let the thought trail off. She didn't really want to remember the horrific scene.
The grazes were beginning to sting now, but she ignored them. The mission was too important.
"It could be anything, a person, a place..." He sighed, knowing he had a lot of work ahead of him.
"We could work with another seer. Put me on protection detail again, give me a new partner."
"How did they get through? How did they find her?" Aaron asked wondering what had gone wrong - Faith and Simon were good at what they did.
Faith paused before answering. She really didn't want to reveal what had happened. She knew she had been in the wrong - the deaths weighed heavily on her conscience.
"Faith? What happened? And don't bother lying. I can smell a lie a mile away" Aaron reminded her.
"Simon... Ruby and Simon got too close. They were having a relationship... I'm sorry. I should have made him break it off. I should have told you - he wasn't objective anymore."
Aaron closed his eyes. He had suspected as much.
"Love happens Faith. It's not fair to put it off for anything - not even this. Life's too short."
His expression cleared as if he was realizing something of his own.
"Well this love got them killed. Simon was distracted. He ordered me to give them some time alone, so I went for a walk. I was just outside, but they got in, past me. I couldn't get back inside the house in time. By the time I did they were dead." She explained.
"Their deaths are on the Council's head, not your own. I know you did your best to save them." Aaron said softly.
"I still feel awful. Put me on protection, or tracking or something. I can work on any leads that come up from Ruby's clue. I won't fail this time. We need to know where she is." Faith pleaded.
"I'm not putting you back on protection. You're needed elsewhere..." Aaron paused thinking for a moment before continuing.
"In light of Simon's death you're going to need a new partner. Nathaniel, come in please."
Faith stared at Aaron as if he'd grown another head. The door to her balcony opened and the biggest, most dangerous Shifter she'd ever met stepped through the gap.
His eyes were clear blue, and his hair closely shaved, just like always. He had a little more stubble, and another scar over his right eyebrow, but aside from that, he looked the same as he had last time she'd seen him four years ago.
Of course this time he was wearing clothes, which was a big plus.
Not that his body was unfortunate looking. He was hard all over, heavily muscled, and big everywhere. Faith swallowed audibly.
Nathaniel. The man that had trained her. The man who had made her the 'other woman'. The wolf who had taken her virginity, hurting her, and scaring her so badly that she had never wanted to go through the experience again.
Faith's jaw dropped in shock, before she rounded on Aaron in anger.
"Tell me you're joking." She demanded, horrified. She couldn't work with that monster.
"I don't see anything funny about the situation Faith. I need you to work with him. Simon's death should be more than enough proof that we can't have agents out there alone. The Council is too good. The Joint Council, and finding Alexia is too important." Aaron said calmly.
"Faith. We can work together. We've done it before, and it's too important now not to." Nathaniel said, his voice low and persuasive.
His voice was the only part of him that wasn't rough. A shiver of fear went down her spine, but she covered it well, launching herself off the sofa, closer to Aaron, and further from Nathaniel.
Nathaniel watched her appraisingly. He could tell that she was in pain, and tired, and if he wasn't mistaken, she was more than a little scared of him.
He had hoped that she would be over that by now. He'd acted like a jerk and apparently Faith had a very long memory.
His mind flashed back to earlier in the evening. He'd only seen her cry twice in the time he'd known her, and he'd hated seeing it both times. Knowing he wasn't the cause of the tears this time didn't make him feel any better about it.
"I can't. I can't work with him." Faith said.
"Well in that case you won't be working. That's your choice. Partner with him, or wait in the wings. I can't have any lone wolves out there. We can't afford it right now."
She stared at the Death Walker in shock. She couldn't sit back and not help him in his quest. It was too important. Her head ached and she brought her fingers to her forehead wincing as the movement pulled at the grazes on her arm. They were beginning to close over on their own now - a bad thing considering she hadn't had a chance to wash the dirt out of them.
The pain brought her mind back to the current situation. She couldn't even look at Nathaniel without her stomach dropping in fear. She couldn't work with him. He'd hurt her again. She had promised herself she'd never go through that again.
"I can't do it." Faith said
"I can't have you out there on your own. You don't make a move unless it's with Nathaniel. It's up to you. Nathaniel, you're working on tracking Alexia. I'll have a think on Ruby's clue and send you what I've found later on tonight, or early tomorrow. It's going to be a long list of possibilities, unfortunately." Aaron said turning to leave.
Aaron knew Faith would come to her senses and relent on working with Nathaniel. She was too invested in finding Alexia, and far too involved in rebuilding the Council to leave now. He knew a kindred spirit when he saw one.
Nathaniel spoke up stopping him from leaving. "Wait, Aaron, she's hurting, can you help?"
Aaron turned rolling his eyes. "Sorry, I meant to fix that earlier, I got distracted."
Faith shot Nathaniel a slightly confused look from under her lashes, and shook her head at Aaron. "It's fine. It doesn't hurt that much. Don't waste your energy on it."
Aaron raised an eyebrow. "Pup, it's substantially easier to heal than it is to kill. It's no energy at all. Besides with all the dirt you managed to get in those it'll be a miracle if they don't get infected."
Healing was one of a Death Walker's lesser known powers. People were always more interested in the destructive ones.
He pressed his hand to her grazed arm, drawing the cuts, scrapes, and bruises away from her skin, and into his own. There was a flash of pain before he healed, leaving Faith unmarked.
With a wink he left her apartment, leaving her and Nathaniel alone. Faith shifted her weight, moving further away from the imposing wolf standing in her apartment. Nervously she ran her thumb nail under one of her fingernails, dislodging some of the dirt from earlier.
"So, long time, no see." Nathaniel said breaking the silence.
She nodded, avoiding eye contact. It was amazing how those four years of growth could desert her so quickly, leaving her feeling like the stupid 20 year old she'd been when she last saw him.
"Faith why can't you work with me? I know I did, and said some stupid things last time I saw you, and I'm sorry. I'm not the same person I was. You're not the same person you were. This mission, it's bigger than both of us. We need to find Alexia. I'd like your help if you'll give it to me."
His voice was rich and low and persuasive. Just like always. She squeezed her eyes shut.
"Stop it." She whimpered. "Just get out of my house!"
When she opened her eyes again he was gone, and she was alone in her apartment.
After such a rough day and night all she wanted to do was sleep. She curled up in bed, placing a gun under her pillow, and a large brown bear within close reach.
"The fact that I need you here tonight means that I pretty much fail at being an adult." She told the bear, before slipping into a restless sleep.