Midnight, June 14th, 2008
Shayd tapped her chin as she considered the contents of her wardrobe. Reaching in, she removed one robe and then a long, blousy shirt. She dropped them over one arm and left her bedroom to see the two naked men sitting on her thread-bare couch. “Sorry guys. I don’t have much of a wardrobe for men. But I have this for now.”
She held up a pink robe. It would be long on her, but it only just came down to Odin’s thighs. “Here. You’ll freeze if you don’t wear something.” She offered the shirt to Blood Fang. “I don’t have any jeans that will come close to fitting you and this is the longest shirt I have.” The sleeves had billowy cuffs and it seemed a little sheer to him.
Fang cocked one eyebrow as the amusement spread across his face. “Can you drive a bike?” he asked.
“No,” she said. But she had an idea where this was going. “But I know how to take the bus really well.”
“Actually.” he said as he stood and stretched. “I could make it there and back pretty fast myself.”
Shayd nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure this isn’t the first time you guys had to deal with this stuff.” She paused and considered him. She had the strong impression earlier — really strong — that he liked her more than just someone they could press-gang into a pack and she considered. The moment she chose to help them take down that ghost-wolf stalker she realized she had chosen to run with them, so to speak. The least she could do was give treat them fairly.
“Well, maybe I could go with you guys to your place. Or maybe we could meet some place?” She looked around her apartment. It sucked. It had stained carpet (and lord knew what those stains were), beat-up wood panel walls, mangled woodwork on the window sills, peeling linoleum in the kitchen, and a TV that refused to show any color but green. The one thing it had going for it was that it was quiet. She didn’t have any neighbors, not on her whole floor. She’d seen to that, though no one would ever be able to prove anything.
“Our place?” He laughed. “Sounds like a cozy couple. Nope not us.” He smiled and tried not to embarrass himself in his naked state. “I usually live out of hotel rooms, but I have extra clothes on my bike, and I want my jacket back. So if you want to go with me, I am more than happy to have that.”
Well, he is kind of cute, in a scruffy way, Shayd thought. She smiled but looked toward his friend. “Odin? Do you have something to wear conveniently tucked away someplace, too? We might as well make a trip of it if you aren’t happy with my robe.”
Odin looked at the robe, which he wasn’t to comfortable wearing, preferring just to stay nude. But seeing that this wasn’t his place, and he didn’t want to drive Shayd away, he kept the robe on.
“I do have something in my jeep,” Odin said, “which is back at the club you work at. And if you guys want to meet someplace else to talk more, you are both welcome at my place.”
“Do you have a stocked bar? If so count me in.” Fang smiled widely.
“Yeah,” Shayd said with a slightly quirky smile. “Whatever you guys want.” She’d been a lone wolf for almost a year and while she’d gotten used to getting by on her own, she found herself desiring a little company with men who she at least had something in common with.
After a side trip to retrieve clothes for the men, they found themselves at Odin’s place.
Odin lived on the very west edge of Denver, in the suburb of Arvada. His how was a split level ranch with an attached garage. And as they approached the house, Fang and Shayd could see another building larger then a shed behind his house.
Once parked in the garage, Odin let them inside, first entering a small hallway which had stairs going up on the left, and a TV room to the right with a bar. He invited them to come sit in the TV room, which had a 60″ flat screen plasma on the wall in front of a love seat and two recliners. There was a small bar behind the seating, along the wall next to a window looking out in the backyard.
“Great space O- Man.” Fang commented with a smile. “What’cha got behind the counter.” He said as he leaned across the polished wood top. Making sure to show how nicely his jeans framed his ass to Shayde.
Shayd hopped up on the bar as if it was made for her to sit on and put one foot up on its smooth, polished surface while exposing a curvy thigh and more flesh than etiquette allowed. “Nice pad,” she said, drawing out the first word. “I’ll take a Captain Morgan, if you got it,” she said.
“Do you want that straight up, or on the rocks?” Odin asked as he stepped behind the bar. Then looking at Fang, he said, “It’s not fully stocked, but I have most of anything you might need to mix something up, or I do have a couple of different beers, if you want one of those.”
His eyes locked on the creamy softness of her thigh. Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. “If you feel the need for some captain in you, by all means call me captain.”
“Rocks,” Shayd said to Odin. She leaned forward and played with Fang’s collar. “My my,” she said in a husky voice, “aren’t we bold.”
As Odin was about to reach for a glass, he flicked Fang’s ear, saying, “You know better, stop looking for something you can’t have.”
Then he continued to get Shayd her drink.
Fang laughed as he rubbed his ear. Fighting back a low growl. “There are many ways to enjoy beauty.” He said. His gaze returning to Shayd. “Many ways.”
Shayd looked intrigued. “A good fight, a late night drink… I can only think of one way to really top off an evening.” Looking in Blood Fang’s eyes, she knew his feelings on the matter. “Right Odin?”
“Yes, well I would love to top off the evening like that. There are some things that we need to discuss before you go too far with those thoughts,” Odin said. “First off, the fight was good, but it also shows you why being in a pack is a good thing.
“As you realize from the fight, your stalker was another Uratha. And he had the intention of taking you, not asking you to join his pack. Now I know we started out on the wrong foot, but us being a pack means that we watch out for each other, and protect that which is ours.”
Fang let his head slip to the bar. “There went that moment.” He continued in a muffled voice. “besides i love the foot she started out on. In fact I prefer the foot she was on before you started preaching. And yes, I KNOW.”
He took his beer and slumped onto the couch.
“Damn,” she muttered, bewildered at the turn of events. “Okay,” Shayd said. She swung her leg off the top of the bar and sat on the edge. “I admit some things are easier in a pack. Fine. It’s just… I haven’t had much luck in that area. I had one for about a month. Up the mountain, near Boulder. Then they died. All killed. Okay? I ran and I kept running until I made it back into town. I’m bad luck, boys. And I’m a coward for leaving them all even after they took me in. You’d be better off without me,” she said bitterly.
“Tough luck.” Fang said clearly. “It sounds more like tough luck to me than you being bad luck. Personally you are stuck with us now. After all, you invited the big bad wolves in to play.” He winked at her.
She couldn’t help chuckling. He seemed to have a way of making her anger disappear. “Yeah, I guess so. Hey, how did you know I was Uratha anyway?”
“I told you I liked what I smelled.” He grinned. “I meant it. Think of it as a talent of mine. Though how Odin was planning on spotting you I have no Idea. Honestly, who could have missed you.”
“Heh,” she grumped. “Good nose, then.” She gave him a lopsided grin. “Tell you boys what. I’ll give this thing a try. If it works, good then. If not, I’ll walk away, find a new territory and no hard feelings. Deal?”
“Well then,” said Fang as he nursed his bottle,” guess I had better make sure it works. I am starting to like this town and it would be a shame to leave it. By the way you can call me Fang, Blood Fang is the name.” He got up from the couch and extended is hand to her.
Shayd smiled. “Glad to meet you.” She knew he already had her name, but she confirmed it as her deed name. “I go by my stage name. Or rather, I took my stage name from the name I took after my first change.”
She took his proffered hand and shook it. Blood Fang could tell that despite her very feminine features, Shayd was stronger than she looked. Her hand was both strong and firm.
He held her hand for longer than proper. His eyes betrayed the thoughts and comments that he forced back. “I left my other name behind long ago, too.” Releasing her hand he returned to the couch and tried to stiffle the thoughts with beer.
Shayd wasn’t sure what was going on. She caught the signals he was very obviously sending but didn’t understand the restraint he was forcing himself to have. Maybe he’s just trying to be polite in front of his more proper friend, she wondered to herself.
“So if we’re gonna be a pack,” she said, “we gotta have territory. Where is it?”
He saw the look on Odin’s face. He could feel the big guy wanted dominance, and had no interest in it himself. Too much responsibility anyway, he thought. But hey, why make it easy for him. Fang flashed a toothy grin at Odin. The kind to tell him he was up to no good.
“As much as I hate doing this, and believe me I am gonna regret this for life, I need to clarify something. You and I, what I want and what I can have.” He sighed and drained the bottle. “Okay, being as you have been on your own for a while you may not know the number one taboo for our kind.”
He looked at Odin. “I am gonna need another one of these, maybe three.”
Returning his attention to Shayde he continued, “We can’t mate, we can’t have sex, it could kill us.” He sank to the couch. “As I said there are many ways to enjoy ourselves, but to be at my crudest, I do not think of being polite when I look at you. No offense, my mind is in the gutter along with other parts of me.”
Shayd appeared puzzled. “Why?” Then a teasing expression crept over her face. “Can’t ya control yourself around a hot date?”
“I have amazing control,” he smiled back at her. “But as for why, Luna will punish us. If two Uratha mate a Ghost Child comes into existence. Not a physical child but one born of spirit and vengence. One who will hunt down those who created it and continue hunting others after it has killed it’s parents. Pretty warped shit actually.” He opened the other beer. “But there are other things tha can be explored.”
Shayd was about to laugh thinking he was fooling with her, but she read his face and realized he meant it. In fact, she was pretty sure that he, at least, believed what he was saying. “Well, but…”
She thought that such a stupid curse would keep any werewolves from ever reproducing but then remembered that neither of her own parents were werewolves as far as she knew. So however it happened it didn’t depend on a mother and father both being werewolves to make another werewolf. “Okay. So… but contraceptives still work don’t they? I mean, I’ve had sex since I first got somehow turned into a werewolf and they seemed to work fine.”
Shayd was actually amazed they were already have this open of a conversation about a topic that was rather taboo in most crowds. Then again, they knew she sold sex for a living and they had, after all, gone to the very strip club she worked at. And she’d already seen both of them stark naked. It wasn’t as if they had anything to hide from each other. She found she just might dig this pack thing, even with the weird talk of Ghost child creatures.
He frowned. “I really wish they did. Like I said it is not a physical pregnancy, if there even is a pregnancy. For all I have been told it just manifests full grown and starts the killing.”
“By the way it is hereditary, the whole wolf thing. What do you say Odin?”
Odin was thoughtful for a moment before he answered. First looking to Fang, “Becoming a werewolf is hereditary, but it will skip generations at times. So not every wolf blood will become Uratha, and some will.”
Odin then looked to Shayd, “Fang is right, contraceptives will not work, due to it being more like a spiritual mating, than merely physical. Though there are times we were not gifted with that curse.” Odin said that last with a sly smile.
Shayd was again surprised. “There are? When are those times?”
“You make it sound like we can plan around it but we can’t. It just doesn’t happen all the time. Like Russian Roulet sometimes you get the bullet.” He laughed. “You make me want to play the odd Shayd you really do.”
Shayd’s eyes widened in comprehension and her cheeks colored in embarrassment. “Oh! Duh, I get it. You mean to say that contraceptives can be used but that they aren’t fool-proof against this Ghost Child thing any more than they are really fool-proof against pregnancy. Except a person can deal with a pregnancy, whereas dealing with a Ghost Child — not so much. Got it.”
She really wasn’t sure where the boundaries were going to be now that they were a pack. She’d only been in one for about a month and she barely had time to figure out what she was, much less what the rules were. And there had already been a lot to absorb.
“So where do we go from here?” Shayd asked.
“Food I’m starving.” He said as he shook off the thougths of crawilng into her bed. “Though I really wish is was elswhere. I promise to try, though be it not hard, to behave as much as possible around you. Though feel free to give me as many lap dances as you like.”
“Behave? Why? Nobody else around me does.” Shayd laughed, enjoying the banter. “You like lap dances, huh?” She knew most men did, of course. “Well if we are going to be hanging out so much, maybe I can try out some new moves on you. You know, to see how they might go over at work.” She grinned. Fang was scruffy, crude, and rude but cute enough in his way she didn’t mind at all.
“Let’s see. Dinner. Well, I don’t know any all-night diners in this part of town, but there’s a couple of good ones down on east Colfax if you don’t mind the clientele,” she offered. “Hey, if you guys are still awake enough, maybe we could scope out a territory? I mean, I don’t know what it’s like around here, but I know that aside from the guy we beat the shit out of tonight, there hasn’t been any other wolves around.”
And that, it was obvious to the men, was why she was living there. The down side? Her immediate area wasn’t exactly up to Odin’s standard of living. Blood Fang probably could and would be happy just about anywhere, given that he mostly lived off the pack he had on his motorcycle. Still, Odin might guess that better places to live might not be all that far from her beat on Colfax. In fact, the large Denver City Park, which contained the Denver City Zoo was only two long blocks north of east Colfax Avenue. The tone of the city seemed to change very rapidly in that area, seeming slummy in one place, but with newly rebuilt sections almost next to the rougher areas. Also part of the large, venerable City Park was an entire golf course, and the Denver Museum of Natural History.
“Well after a good fight, I know I get really hungry for steaks. So lets go check out these diners you visit. And looking for a territory, that we can claim for ourselves is what I was thinking would be next on our agenda,” Odin said.
“Oh no doubt you were thinking that and not how nice an ass she has.” Fang said.
Shayd laughed. She of course had decided to take that as a compliment. “Then off we go! Odin’s buying!”
The diner was a small place but they had fast service, were open all night, and catered to beat cops, locals, and even some rougher elements whose background were undoubtedly shady. After some food, the small group decided it would be easier to catch a nap for a couple hours at Shayd’s place since it was close, then begin scouting for territory around 2:30 or 3 in the am. This would be after all alcohol-serving establishments were closed and the bulk of the Friday night activity came to a close and they could scout in relative peace.
After a little exploring they did find some things in the local area they liked. Shayd may have lived in a slum and worked at a strip club, but you go a couple blocks north of that and the neighborhood improved considerably. And better, a couple blocks west took the team to the huge City Park which contained not only the park itself but the large Denver City Zoo and the massive Denver Museum of Natural History. The place contained two entire lakes and dozens of trails.
By dawn the three were excitedly talking about the possibilities. While the entire City Park would be a bit much for them to try to control, access to it as well as the zoo and museum could prove extremely handy. Also the variety of environment types packed closely together provided a lot of potential opportunities for a new pack.
They were able to establish that there were in fact a couple other packs in the area. However, the closest seemed to have staked out an area north and east of the Denver City Park. It was marked out partly by scent but mostly in graffiti taking the form of some kind of leaping fish. The other pack they detected had placed similar marks, resembling a rising sun, on buildings south of Colfax Avenue and west of their area.
This left them with a huge swath of territory to pick from. It was unlikely they’d be able to hold onto a territory that was too large, though, so the first idea was, marking on a gas-station city map, to take a backwards L-shaped territory that wrapped partly around the eastern and southern end of City Park. This would give them access to the zoo and the museum and as much of the park itself as they could manage to hold onto. These features of the city would be so tempting to Uratha, they’d be snapped up in a moment if only there were more Uratha packs around. But luckily for the new pack, the city’s Uratha were still recovering and new packs were still likely in the process of moving to the city. That meant they needed to get themselves well-entrenched in their preferred territory fast!