Timeline: February 1, 2009
Rey sat at the desk in the back room of the Blood & Brew, going over the inventory lists, to get an idea of what rate they were going through things. Tomorrow was order day, and she wanted to have everything ready to go. She was also waiting for Gillian to arrive. The new Lupa wanted to talk to her about a few things.
Gillian appeared, walking through the back door. “Hi,” she said. “You wanted to see me?” It was snowing again, a heavy wet sort of precipitation that clung to the used and worn coat she had and she brushed at it a bit before looking around. She saw Lyla’s coat stand nearby, though it had Rey’s coat hanging from it now. She pulled off her coat and hung hers up on a tine opposite Rey’s, then went to stand in front of the desk. She looked at Rey, doing Lyla’s work and sitting at the former lupa’s desk, realizing that Rey must have taken the Blood and Brew from the ex-lupa.
Rey nodded, and put the paperwork down and closed the folder so she wouldn’t be distracted. “Yup, I do. Want a seat?” she asked, gesturing politely to the vacant chair on the other side of the desk. Gillian sat down. “I was wondering if you liked working here. You’re not in trouble or anything,” Rey explained. “I just wanted to ask.”
Gillian nodded. “I could use more hours, though.” Rey recalled that Gillian was rarely scheduled to work when Lyla ran the bar. The truth was that Rey had always received the most hours and the largest income from the business, supplemented of course by tips. From the books, Rey noted from the books, however, Lyla didn’t give herself any kind of salary or wage, though she reported tips (which were rather respectable as far as tips went). She often had left Rose in charge when Rey wasn’t available, so Rose had the next biggest chunk of hours. Selene and Gillian, however, had the fewest hours, and those they did work were strictly waitressing. They hadn’t been trained to tend bar, though it really wouldn’t be necessary to train the entire staff to tend bar. Usually, whoever was managing that night was by default the bartender while everyone else waited on patrons and brought drinks around.
In truth, the bar had far more employees than it needed. Because of costs to keep far more employees than needed, the bar should have been operating in the red. It actually was kept afloat from cash infusions that didn’t appear on the books in anything other than “catering fees”. Rey knew the bar never catered anything. This was probably how Lyla had written up the extra money she was supplying in order to keep the pack employed and with enough money to live on.
Of course, the money had to have come from Lyla’s criminal empire or other activities. Which ones, where, or how she might get access to it was a problem, however. The knew lupa didn’t know where it came from or how to access it. That could prove a problem unless she scaled back the hours the other members of the pack were given, or unless she found another source of funding.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Rey said with a nod. “Is there anything else you need?”
Gillian shook her head. She was puzzled. It didn’t seem like this was really reason enough to call her in like this, and she wondered what was on the Lupa’s mind.
“Is there anything that you want?” Rey’s attitude and posture was relaxed, but she watched Gillian carefully. She was hoping Gillian would takes this opportunity to bring up the subject of mates and Michael.
“There are a couple things I wanted but that Lyla wouldn’t give me. I don’t expect you to overturn her decisions…” But Gillian wasn’t sure. Rey had taken over running the bar practically before the manager’s seat had grown cold. “And I’m not sure how you could help. I asked for a few things from Lyla, but she was insulted I even asked and beat me badly for it a few weeks ago. I would not like to ask,” she said with a small smile, “if I might be shot for it.”
“I do have a temper,” Rey replied with a slight nod, “but I don’t have an itchy trigger finger. I won’t hurt you just for asking a question. Now, if I say no and you go ahead and do it anyway, then that’s different.” She deliberately didn’t bring the pistol out or otherwise indicate she had it; the scent of the gun oil would have given it away. Rey didn’t like carrying it, but did it from necessity – a reminder to the others that she was Lupa and how it happened. It was her teeth and claws. “Nor would I be too thrilled if you went behind my back and did something you should have gotten permission from me for.”
Gillian looked wonderingly at Rey. What could she have possibly done wrong? Rey was making strong hints and either something was going on, or she was deliberately trying to make Gillian uncomfortable. If that was the case, then Rey had succeeded. She tried to reassure Rey. “I have never done anything without the Lupa’s permission,” she said.
“That’s good to know.” Rey smiled. “Did you have a good time on your date with Michael?”
She nodded and smiled, “Yes, thank you. He is very direct. I like that.”
“Was this going to be a one time thing, or are you planning on a relationship with him?”
“A relationship, I hope,” Gillian replied. “The old lupa said I could. I think you were there when she said it.”
“Yes, I was there, and I saw everything, including your list of things you wanted to talk to Lyla about.” Rey shifted, making herself more comfortable in her chair. “Why do you want Michael as a mate?”
“Even though he is human, he is very powerful and he is strong, like Ramiel, or like you,” Gillian answered. “I think that being with him will mean good things for me. He’s dated a werewolf before so I think he knows what he’s doing. But, I think that he could still use my help. I thought at first that dating him would make me stronger, like Lyla is so strong because she is with Ramiel. But now I think that we would both be stronger if we decide to be together.”
“Lyla isn’t strong because she’s with Ramiel,” Rey said. “She got that way all on her own, through her own ambition and drive. You should never rely on a male, or anyone else, to make you stronger.
“And Michael did more than just date Selene. He swore he’d be her mate, and that he’d always be there. Then what did he do? He created a child with her, and then abandoned her, choosing instead to go running off with Ramiel rather than being there when she needed him.” Rey remembered hearing Selene talking about it, and how angry and hurt she was at what he’d done. The new Lupa swore she’d make sure that she’d do her best to prevent that kind of thing from happening again. “Are you sure you want to be with a male like that?”
Gillian thought about it, then nodded. “I like having sex. I know that’s not what I’m supposed to say. I’m not interested in having a child right now, but I haven’t really been with a man since my first change.” Although she wasn’t going to argue with Rey about Lyla being strong without Ramiel, she didn’t believe that, and so she had to fall back on some other defense for her interest in Michael. “And I think he enjoyed having sex with me. That works for me for now.”
“There’s nothing wrong with liking sex or having a lover,” Rey said with a chuckle. “And while it’s not the best reason, it’s fine. I have no problem with the two of you being together.” She paused for a moment. “You think Lyla is strong because of Ramiel, and you’ll be stronger if you’re with Michael. Is Grey stronger because he is with me?” she asked curiously.
“You both are,” Gillian stated.
Rey simply nodded. “I understand you’re not part of a tribe yet. Do you still wish to become part of one?”
“I can’t be a part of the tribe I wanted.”
“Why did you want to be a part of it?”
Gillian looked down and sighed. “I wanted to be a part of something that Lyla was a part of. It’s least I can do, even though I know she hates me.”
“You’re part of the Young Father Bear pack. Isn’t that enough?”
“I am a ghost wolf and without a tribe. I’m the only one who has not been judged worthy to join a tribe. No, it is not enough.”
“Then you must consider other tribes. I have watched you fight, and I think you have the potential to be a great Blood Talon.”
Gillian gave Rey a look. There were no Blood Talons in the pack and therefore no one to sponsor her. “How does this help my aim of being a part of something Lyla was? How would being a Blood Talon ever help to repay what happened?”
“I’m afraid that it may be a long time before Lyla is willing to accept any kind of repayment for what happened. What you need to do in the meantime is earn her respect. To do that, you need to be strong. The first step towards that is to find a tribe that will accept you.”
Gillian waited for Rey to elaborate.
Rey looked at Gillian in silence for a moment. Hamilton, can you see if Gillian bears any marks of Renown?
Hmm, the cat mused from his place on a shelf. She does have some renown as marked in her spirit brands. But, she is the least renown in the pack, at my guess. About the equivalent of a werewolf having undergone nothing more than her First Change.
“Right now, you’re a Ghost Wolf. You’re, well, nothing,” Rey said. Her tone wasn’t insulting, just stating a fact. “Lyla holds you in contempt because of that. I don’t think she cares why, and she doesn’t trust your memories as to your life before you first encountered her and the others. Until you join a tribe, you’ll always be an outsider, even if you are part of a pack.
“What do you know about the Tribes?”
“Now you are understanding better,” Gillian stated. “I know that the tribes each have certain things they value above all other things. Why do you ask?”
“Do you know the benefits of being part of a tribe?”
“If you were free to choose any tribe to join, your choice not influenced by wanting to repay Lyla, which would it be?”
“Lyla said I’d fit the Blood Talons best, so probably that tribe.”
“No thoughts about the other tribes?”
“Not really. All I really am is just extra muscle in a fight, and I’m apparently not worth very much at that,” Gillian replied matter-of-factly.
“What makes you say that?”
“The plain fact that I’ve lost every fight I’ve ever been in, no matter how hard I tried.”
“I think you’ve been very close to winning at least one fight,” Rey said, but did not elaborate further. “The others have a distinct advantage over you. They can negotiate with spirits to learn new Gifts. Joining a tribe will get you some, granted by the tribe’s totem. And you can learn more, but there’s something you have to do first.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“Learn First Tongue.”
“Who will you get to teach me?”
“I’ll teach you,” Rey said. “And I will get others to help when I can’t.”
Gillian nodded. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can help you with? Things you want to learn?”
“I don’t think so.”