Go row the boat to safer grounds
But don’t you know we’re stronger now
My heart still beats and my skin still feels
My lungs still breathe, my mind still fears
But we’re running out of time
Oh, all the echoes in my mind cry
There’s blood on your lies
The sky’s open wide
There is nowhere for you to hide
The hunter’s moon is shining
I’m running with the wolves tonight
I’m running with the wolves
Moonwood Mill Near an underground bunker used as a Werewolf meeting spot
Crouched down and hiding behind rather conveniently located piles of discarded furniture, appliances, broken cars and random junk, the two unlike men both attempted to scan the area surrounding them with eagle eyes.
“I can’t see jack shit! Dammit. I used to be able see in the dark as if it were daytime! Now everything is gray and blurry shadows and silhouettes.” Michael whispered.
“You’re not missing a thing. I can see just fine, except there is nothing TO see. Nobody here. No guards. Doesn’t feel right. Something is wrong, Michael. We should leave, reconvene and come back with a plan.” Connell whispered back.
“Not without my son! They just don’t think we’d figure it out so fast, that he’s gone and that they took him. I know where they all are. In the bunker, drinking beer and laughing about how cool and clever they think they are. I bet that’s where they have my son. We need to get in there. It only has one way in and out.”
Michael started to walk towards the entrance, when Connell grabbed him with Vampire speed pulling him right back.
Both men froze, touch was still iffy between the two, even though they were friends now, they once had been arch enemies, some of those old instincts remained, and it was hard to overcome.
“Where do you think you are going?” Connell hissed.
“Take a wild guess?! To get my son, of course!” Michael snarled back.
“You can’t go into the bunker alone and I don’t trust this. It’s too quiet. If they really got Nathan, they KNOW you would be coming for him. I am not walking into a trap with eyes wide open, and neither are you! Not on my watch!” Connell countered.
“Yeah yeah. Oh shit! What’s that over there!” Michael freaked out and pointed, Connell let him out of his iron grip and whirled around into a defensive stance to find nothing, by the time he realized he had fallen for a diversion and looked back, Michael was gone and the door to the bunker they had been staking out was falling shut.
Cursing under his breath, Connell tried to sneak closer by way of the back of the small shed that covered the bunker entrance, when he heard a strange metallic ‘click’, realizing that was a bad sign right when the net hit him and he was stuck, feeling the burning and stinging sensation of what felt like a thousand needles but really was his Vampiric skin reacting to high potency garlic oil the net was soaked in, paralyzing him, weakening him, as he screamed in pain.
Fast forward some time, by now Michael had been captured and roughly accompanied into the deep underground belly of the bunker when several pack members dragged in an unconscious Connell, tossing him to the ground next to Michael, where the Vampire remained motionless on the ground, a shocked and worried Michael instantly dropped to his knees to check his vitals, only to remember Vampires didn’t have any, when Luke Connery walked up to them.
“Well, well, well. Look what the cat – or better a bunch of wolves – dragged in. Our former pack leader and his new sidekick, the Fang. Oh, don’t worry, Mike, your fanged friend is fine. For now. Did anyone scope the surroundings? Vamps never come alone.” the latter part was aimed at the other wolves present.
“Of course, we patrolled! You think we’re some rookies and would risk a Vampire attack, in case this is just a diversion?! There’s nobody and nothing for miles except a bunch of critters. So, unless the Fangs figured out how to shapeshift themselves into squirrels, bunnies and birdies, they’re not here. Five of us ran the perimeter four times. There is nobody. This Fang is just stupid, or has a death wish, that’s all.”
“Aww, how sweet. Love really makes you blind, doesn’t it, Michael. Sorry to cut your and your new fanged bestie’s romantic evening stroll short. The Fang knew better than to come here, guess he risked his life for you. My heart melts. What a true love story. Aww …”
“We’re here for my son! Where is Nathan?!” Michael demanded, ignoring Luke’s instigating remarks.
“Safe. We’re not monsters, Michael. At least not always.” Luke told him.
“Let Nathan go. He is just a boy. Just a kid! It’s me you want, isn’t it? To finish me off, once and for all, right? It bugs the hell out of you that I made a new life elsewhere. All that BULLSHIT about how you did what you did to help me … all lies. You wanted to be Apex and I was in the way. Connell was right, you didn’t want to apologize, you were scouting the area to take Nathan when you came to my home! What has become of you?”
“Nope. Not even close, actually really sad that you would think all that of me. Cute story though. I may go with that rendition from now on, makes me sound so fierce, grim and really reckless and scary, doesn’t it. Like a true monster. Too bad nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that IS true is that you finding the cure hurt us. The Werewolf population is dwindling at sickening speeds, mostly because of HIS kind. They just eliminated an entire pack last week. 18 wolves, 4 cubs, gone. Not one left of the Fenris Pack. All gone. We lost many, even the Moonwoods lost half a dozen a few months back, that’s why Bret’s pack and mine now have an alliance, even though our core values will never align. We rather have renegades, lone wolves, the world over, living among the normies, whom we can call on to stand with us to fight in case the Fangs ever dare to attack us here. Safety in numbers, even if they live elsewhere. We didn’t take your kid, Nathan came here on his own. Like his father he seems to think we’re a bunch of drooling idiots who don’t have guards and scouts out day and night. He was caught trying to peek into the windows of my home. Said he wanted to meet his siblings. And see his mom. And he did. We all had a nice lunch together as a family. Scary, isn’t it. He’s at my home with his siblings now, safe and sound.” Luke told him.
“Okay look, Luke, Nathan didn’t do anything bad, he didn’t hurt anything or anyone. Just a nosy teen doing dumb teen shit. Connell and I are only here to find Nathan. We mean no harm, we’re not here to wage a war. So let us go. We don’t want trouble.” Michael tried.
“Well, see I can’t do that. Nathan is free to leave, of course. You will be too if you play your cards right. I have something to discuss with you. But not that one. Not the Fang. No way.” Luke said.
“Luke! NO! Let him go! I will do whatever you want, anything, I’ll beg, I’ll fight you, ANYTHING, just please, please let Connell go. He’s here to help me, as my friend, not as a Vampire. He only came here because I asked him to. It’s my fault he’s here. Please don’t do this. If you still care about me at all, if our old friendship means anything … Nico … don’t let him do this. I am begging you. Set the right example. For Nathan and for your kids.” Michael tried his best, finally turning to Nicolette, Nathan’s mother.
“Luke. It’s Michael for Christ’s sake! Have a heart!” was all she said, when she looked at her husband with one of those wife glares that need no words.
Clearly fighting an inner battle with his conscience, overwhelmed by Michael’s word and his own wife pleading for him, while not wanting to appear like a weak pushover in front of the other wolves present, Luke frowned, then sighed.
“Okay … I’ll make you a deal, Michael. You want to buy his freedom. You just have to agree to one little thing … if you do, he’s free to leave, unharmed, as are you and Nathan.” Luke decided.
Windenburg Isle Esmée, Michael and Nathan's home
Esmée found Michael on the couch, looking tormented.
“What are you doing up at this hour? Can’t sleep? Come back to bed, baby, you need rest. You must be exhausted.” she told him softly.
“Rest up from what? Failing my own son? Failing you? Failing Connell? Failing at life in general? Fuck.”
“Michael, you didn’t fail anyone. It is what it is. We’ll handle it. Somehow. Maybe we’ll just find the stuff to make the cure again. The recipe is still in the safety deposit box at the bank.”
“Ezzy, they’re not stupid. They will be guarding the plants that we need now, and they don’t grow anywhere else. There won’t be a cure for me again. That’s why I can’t stay. I have to go. I don’t know where, but I have to go and keep you and Nathan safe from me.”
“Go where? How long? You’re gonna be back in time for the wedding, right?”
“Ezzy, you don’t understand. I am cursed again. I am dangerous. There will be no wedding. It’s all over for me. I can’t even take my son. I have to leave him with you. I know you hate kids … but I have no choice.”
“MICHAEL SHAW! That is BULLSHIT! You are staying here, try to leave and so help me God, you are gonna think this entire Werewolf crap is child’s play! We don’t even know if you are turning. Maybe the bite didn’t take or something. …”
“Ezzy, I do know. I can feel it inside of me. My injuries already are nothing but a few red marks, they were deep cuts and scratches. I already healed within less than an hour. No, the bite ‘took’ as you put it, I have been fighting the turning but come the next full moon I won’t have a choice, it WILL happen then and I will be right back where I was. Well, it was beautiful while it lasted. Too bad nothing good ever does in my life. I have no choice. I must leave.”
“You are leaving me? Abandoning me? Said you wanted to marry me, you know, ‘for better or worse’, and at the first sign of adversity you are practically standing me up at the altar?” Esmée’s slid off the couch, now kneeling before Michael, staring up at him with fearful eyes practically begging him to reconsider. It killed him seeing her like this, she was a VERY strong woman, almost always in full control of her emotions, for her to seem so submissive broke his heart. She visibly was in great pain, the exact thing he was trying to avoid.
“Ezzy, don’t you get it?! You are the smartest person I know, so why can’t you get into your head what happened here! I will transform, I will be dangerous again, a literal beast, and even if I can still control it again, which I don’t know that I will, there is a Vampire here who will not stand for this. How is THAT supposed to work. You heard Connell, many times. He doesn’t allow Werewolves here. He helped me break the curse; I don’t think he’s gonna love that I am back to the wolf business.”
“You’re the dumbest person I know then! YOU don’t get it. Connell ALWAYS said he allows you and Nathan, he did back then when you both clearly were lycanthropes, and he will now. Connell is not an issue; I guarantee you that. I hate this Luke! HE did this to you! And I swear this, if he ever shows his face around here again or if you really leave me because of this, I will go straight to Moonwood Mill, find him and I will put him out of his misery! Permanently!”
“Ezzy! Come on now. This is not you! You don’t make silly threats about foolish things. You are so smart, you run a business putting up with the old boys club daily and keep a level head while doing it. This is unlike you. Don’t say stuff like this. You’re really scaring me, Ez. Luke’s beef isn’t with you, it was with me, he got what he wanted, he would never hurt you, but if you go after him, threatening his life, he definitely will. Luke can be very dangerous if provoked.”
“I don’t care, Michael, I want you here. We have been together before when you were a Werewolf. That is not a reason for you to take your toys and run. Connell wants you here and he is not worried about you. That lame duck excuse also doesn’t fly.”
“I almost got him killed today! If he doesn’t want me dead, Emmy sure will and I can’t even blame her! This was not an assignment from his grandfather, that was my bullshit plan, he was trying to help me because I begged him to. I told him I know that place like the back of my hand and that I could get us in and out safely. That was a major failure on my end. I walked right into the trap like a dumbass and dragged Connell along with me. How could he trust me again? I was reckless and put him in danger because he was loyal. And I was a Gold Star level idiot!”
“You really act like a dumbass now! Why can’t YOU listen? Connell knew the risk, I guarantee you he did, yet he chose to do it anyway. If he didn’t want to help you, he wouldn’t have, he’s not shy. He wanted to help you find Nathan, you both got caught and you sacrificed yourself to save him. You didn’t abandon him, so why would he abandon you now? My sister is not an idiot either, she knows Connell faces risks every time he goes on an assignment, she is a parent too and as angelic as she is, she’d go Terminator on anyone trying to hurt her babies. She gets it, Connell gets it and I get it. And I am NOT afraid of you. I wasn’t afraid of you back when you were a Werewolf the first time, and I am not afraid of you now. You getting reinfected with the curse is just an inconvenience we have to deal with. You act like this was your first time. You are not a newbie at this, you were the highest-ranking wolf, so you will remember how to control it. No doubt in my mind and I know nothing about Werewolves. Michael, I love you. We’re a team. I can’t lose you. The Werewolf in you won’t hurt me, I know he won’t, but this – THIS – what you are doing right now, talking about leaving me, THAT is hurting me!” Ezzy talked angrily, then her tone changed to fearful sobs.
Michael slid off the couch onto the floor next to her and wrapped his arms around her, acknowledging the pulsating burning of the bitemark, while realizing his muscle mass had already increased again. The unstoppable change was in full motion.
“No, no, no, shhh … shhh … okay … okay my little wildcat, don’t cry, please, please don’t cry. I can’t take seeing you cry. You’re right. You are always right. I’ll stay until you tell me otherwise, Ezzy. I love you, too. You are my everything. You’re right, I’ll figure this out. WE will figure this out. Together. Again. We ARE a team, a damn fine one. I’ll keep you safe!”
An infernal scream, accompanied by loud bangs of things falling over startled both.
They jumped up right as the door to Nathan’s room flew wide open and the boy stumbled out screaming, holding his head as if fighting a severe migraine, as he staggered into the living room.
“Dad … DAD …. it hurts .. so bad … dad … what is happening to me … DAAAD … Ezzy … help me …. Ezzy, dad, HELP something is wrong … I … I … ” the next words faded into a loud gargle, which turned into a blood curdling howl as if a real-life wolf was in their living room.
Right in front of them Nathan transformed into a Werewolf, Ezzy screamed, she had never once seen Michael in his Werewolf form, nor any other Werewolves except for in movies, let alone witnessed an actual transformation, the whole gruesome experience was a first for her, one not for the faint of heart, the sound of cracking bones and strange sucking and splatting sounds along with the 17-year-old’s painfilled groans, screams and moans was harrowing as his entire body started to become covered completely in dark pelt.
Then, with one last ferocious growl gone he was, out the door.
“Oh my God, NATHAN – NO! Ezzy, go into our bedroom and don’t come out. I beg you – GO! Now – NOW!” his voice changed into a deep growl as Michael, too, transformed, but unlike his son who didn’t have a choice, Michael’s transformation clearly happened at will. Ezzy stood frozen in place, incapable of taking her eyes off him, then when Michael finished transforming, growing even taller and wider than usual, now covered in deep black and slate fur, then with a howl-like sound he ran out the door to follow his son.
Some undetermined time later, it must have been several hours, the bedroom door opened, and Michael entered, in his familiar human form again, shut the door behind himself, leaning hard against the door, swallowing so hard Ezzy could almost physically feel it. She got up off the bed she had been laying on, waiting patiently for him to return and to come to her, when he did, she went to wrap her arms around the man she loved.
“He’s fine. I caught him before he could do anything bad, redirected his fury, taught him a few things and then we had a nice little hunt. Now he’s transformed back into his human form and sleeping off the shock in his bed. Poor kid, he doesn’t know what hit him. I’ll keep him home from school for a few days, cos if memory serves, he will feel this in the morning. The first few transformations hurt for days after, I could barely move, that’s how sore I was until muscle memory set in, and I got used to it. Also gives me time to teach him how to control it, so he doesn’t end up turning at school. I can’t believe they did that to him. They took away my son’s entire future like that! No matter what he does, his life won’t ever be normal. I really failed my son now. He told me Luke gave him the same speech about the Wolf population being too low before he bit him. That dumb kid didn’t tell me, didn’t want to worry me, and thought he’d already be in big trouble for sneaking out like that to go to Moonwood Mill, so he used almost an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol thinking he could neutralize and sanitize the bite, like you do to ward off an infection.”
“Michael, you can’t help what they did. You did all you could. I get why Nathan went to see his siblings. You can’t just find out you have two siblings you have never once seen and not die of curiosity at his age. Knowing me, I would have probably done the same thing in his shoes. And knowing me, I would have done exactly what you did to get Nathan back. This was just a series of very unfortunate events.”
“Two Werewolves in this house with you? That’s dangerous Ezzy. I was fighting the transformation ever since I got back home, but Nathan isn’t strong enough yet. He can’t stop it from happening, has to follow his instincts. And I had to turn right in front of you. I never wanted you to see me like that. I do know what that looks like and how mentally scarring the sounds are. I was worried about ONE wolf in this house with you, now we have two. I don’t know if I trust myself enough to train my son fast enough to avoid him hurting you or your family. I never trained a new wolf before. Don’t even know where to start here.”
“Just like parenting, you’ll figure it out as you go, and you will be great at it. And you will do it in time for a summer wedding. I am not worried about either you or Nathan. My sister dated and later married a dangerous Vampire, one that kills for a living. They’ve been together almost 20 years and not ONCE has Connell hurt her. Not once. So, are you weaker than Connell?”
“Ez, you can’t argue the facts away with comparisons. Each case is different, I am trying to keep you safe, not make excuses to leave you. Trust me, that is the very last thing I want. Nathan too. He and I are happy here. If anything happened to you, if you got hurt – or worse – at my hand, I would go insane. A Werewolf who has lost his mind running loose in Windenburg would not be good. I am only trying to protect you.”
“By hurting me more? You think leaving me like this wouldn’t hurt? Everything here, in this house, in Windenburg, everything everywhere is YOU. You and Nathan. How would that not hurt more than a scratch or a bite or whatever could happen? You wouldn’t kill me. Nor would Nathan. I know that. I am convinced that there is something inside of you that would stop you every time. Don’t abandon me when I was always there for you. You keep calling me fierce, watch me be fierce as I am running with the wolves, not away from them.”
With a relieved huff Michael pulled her into a tight embrace, kissing the top of her head, pressing her body against his. Ezzy could almost physically feel his relief, and the inner tension leave his body.
“You’re even more sexy to me now, you know that? When you were transforming to go after Nathan, I know I should have felt scared, but all I could think was how freaking hot you looked. It definitely did something to me. A long time ago I asked Emmy how she could even be with Connell, and she just went into a long monologue listing a ton of things that just grossed me out, but she just found them ‘cute’, ‘sweet’ and even ‘sexy’. I honestly thought my sweet angelic sister had some dark screwed up fetish, turns out, so do I evidently. Who knew I was into real life Furries? I sure didn’t! I am only telling you this pretty embarrassing truth to put your mind at ease about me fearing you. I don’t Honestly don’t.”
Laughing Michael, pulled away to look at Ezzy, shaking his head.
“You know what? That comment right there just changed everything for me. You’re a little freak, Ezzy. I can honestly say I have been called a lot of things in my life, but real life Furry is a new one. And literally nobody ever found me sexy as a wolf. You really are something else, girl. You’re right, if there is anyone in the whole damn world who can handle this, it’s us. You and me, as a team. Okay Wildcat, come run with the wolves then.”
2 thoughts on “Chapter 436) Running With The Wolves”
Oh nooooo! Well that was unexpected. The ‘truce’ was too good to be true. Poor Nathan. Glad Connell got out with his life. Michael sacrificed his humanity his for his son and Connell only to find out they also turned Nathan.
I’m glad Ezzy talked Michael down from leaving. Sounds like he’s going to be able to control himself. He just needs to teach Nathan, which I have no doubt he will do. And Ezzy, she was so supportive of Michael, there’s certainly true love between the two of them. She would’ve gone into that camp. She’s done it before and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if he’d left her. 😔. Glad they worked it out because it wouldn’t have ended well for her.
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You are so spot on with everything you wrote.
At the core, Werewolves are just a lot more rogue than we are used to from the Vampires in my story, and even the Spellcasters stick to moral and such values a lot more.
The wolves are a lot more feral, not really surprising, if there is something they think they want or need.
Luke felt the Werewolf population was dwindling too much, leaving them vulnerable to attacks from everywhere as a species, when he saw an opportunity to get Michael to agree to join again and took it. It is very subtle here and there between the lines, but it does seem that Luke regrets losing his friendship with Michael and is a bit jealous of Connell. Maybe he hoped Connell would hate Michael again, or at the very least distance himself now, which of course he won’t.
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