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"You bastards. You fucking sick sons of bitches," Stiles fought against the hold on his arms. But it was a losing battle and they manhandled him down the passage away from Scott, who was sprawled on the stone floor, a gaping wound in his chest. He couldn't think, his thoughts scattering like so much confetti in a strong wind. Images kept flashing through his head. Scott's wide-eyed shock as the bullet ripped into him. The snarling, crazed face of the beast in the cage as it went wild at the scent of so much blood. His blood. Scott's blood. The smile on the face of the bitch that had cut him. Who was striding ahead of him now, night robe flapping in the weak, incandescent light of the passage.
"Calm down," Jan looked over her shoulder at him. "He's a wolf. And an alpha. He'll heal."
"He goddamned well better," Stiles growled. He'd seen Scott recover from some pretty terrible things - - but a bullet in the chest? Hell, the one in his shoulder had pretty much floored him. But then that one had been lodged in the bone. If this one had just gone into soft tissue and muscle - -like the lung or heart -- no biggie, right? And how screwed up was it that that was his best-case scenario? Pretty fucking screwed up.
He felt sick. Lightheaded and nauseous. But maybe that was as much from blood loss as watching his best friend get shot point blank in the chest.
They hauled him after her into the darkened kitchen. She flipped the lights and waved a hand towards a chair at the small wooden table.
"What? You want to have a cup of coffee? A chat?" He inquired with venomous sarcasm. The guys behind him didn't take that well. He got a slap against the side of the head that made his ears ring and his vision go wavery, before he was slammed ignominiously down into the aforementioned chair.
"No," Jan turned from the cabinet she'd opened with a med kit in her hands. "I was planning on treating your wound before you bleed out."
He let out an incredulous breath. "Oh my God. You're the one that cut me!"
"I can let you just bleed, if you prefer."
He stared down at his sleeve, which was soaked to the elbow with blood, despite his death grip over the slice. His fingers were wet from it. The odds of him dying here were sort of on a steep incline, the way things were going, but he'd really rather prolong it as long as possible.
He set his jaw and extended the arm, prying his fingers away from the slash, daring a look at it, that made his stomach flip flop dangerously.
She pulled a wad of gauze and surgical stapler from the kit and his stomach gave up the acrobatics and just lurched directly up and lodged in his throat.
"Oh - - damn. You're gonna use that on me? Without anesthesia? Painkillers? Novocain? Booze?"
She didn't offer up any of those things. Just a gauze pad soaked in alcohol, which stung like a bitch when she pressed it over the gash in his arm to clean away the blood.
He couldn't watch. If he watched, one of two things was going to happen. He was going to pass out or puke. Possibly both. And it did hurt, but not as much as he imagined it would in his head. She was quick and concise with the stapler though and when he could make himself open his eyes and look again, there were six little surgical staples holding the edges of the wound together.
The fluttering in his gut subsided marginally. "It would be a lot of trouble to go to, stitching me up and all - -If you were just gonna - - oh, I dunno - -kill me later on. Right?"
She lifted a silent brow and smeared a little Neosporin on the still seeping wound, before wrapping a clean white bandage around his arm.
The silent treatment made him sort of crazy. Not knowing what the hell sort of crazy shit they'd wandered into made him want to start pulling out his hair. These people kept supernatural monsters in their basement. They knew about werewolves. They were hunters, Dupont had said as much. But were they hunters like Allison's family, or something else? "That thing down there - -the thing you guys killed out in the woods. Are you guys hunters - -like the Argents?"
He had to sort of assume that there couldn't be that many hunters of supernatural game out there. They were bound to travel in the same circles. It made sense.
Jan lifted a surprised brow and laughed. "The Argents? My, my, you are full of surprises, aren't you? No, not like the Argents. They're ideologues for the most part, on a crusade to protect the cowering, ignorant masses from the shadow things that prey upon them. My brother hunts for the sport of it. For the satisfaction of taking down the most dangerous of big game. I do it for the profit."
She sat back, staring at him critically. "Do you know how much we were paid to allow a pair of Wall Street tycoons the opportunity to hunt down and kill an endangered species most of the world doesn't even realize exists?"
"A lot, I'm guessing."
"Yes. Quite a lot."
He swallowed. "So in other words, you're sort of like assassins. People pay you money and you help them murder things they wouldn't have a chance of taking down on their own."
She lifted a brow in what might have been amusement. It was hard to tell. "Murder is what you do to human beings. Beasts, you just put down."
"Yeah? What are you planning to do with us then?" His hands were shaking. It hurt a little to clench the fist of the injured arm, but he did it anyway to stop the trembling.
She canted her head. "You present a bit of dilemma, Stiles. I don't like killing teenage boys, even suicidally curious ones. Scott's less of a problem. He lost his right to humanity the moment he was infected. He was bitten, I assume and not born to it?"
Stiles stared at her, appalled. "That's bullshit and I've heard it before from batshit crazy assholes trying to justify murder - - just like you."
The big guy behind him apparently didn't like the tone of disrespect and clamped a hand down on his shoulder, fingers digging in painfully.
Jan tsked and waved a finger and the pressure let up. Stiles drew in a shaky breath, rubbing at the spot.
"Don't worry, my brother's a sportsman. He'll give him a fighting chance."
God. He stared at her, realization sinking in. "He's going to hunt him?"
She rose, and her men hauled Stiles up to his feet. She grabbed a 12 ounce plastic bottle of orange juice from the refrigerator and tossed it at him. He fumbled to catch it reflexively. "You've lost a lot of blood. Drink that."
"Oh my God, answer me. Is he going to try and hunt Scott?" The hold on his arms tightened when he tried to lunge towards her.
She didn't seem concerned with his horrified anger. "He's not going to try, my dear, he's going to succeed. He always does."
Scott came awake with a flicker of ghost pain in his chest, his mind insisting that there'd been a hole in his body that damn well ought to hurt, even though his body had gotten over the issue and efficiently repaired the damage. A year of miraculous, supernatural healing ability did not trump sixteen years of dealing with injury and pain the old fashioned way and sometimes it took his head a while to catch up with his body.
He was cold. There was no enhanced aspect of his werewolf metabolism that kept him from feeling the acute sting of cold. He shivered, feeling for a hole that wasn't there in the middle of his chest, fingers loosening flakes of dried blood, which meant it had been a while since he'd been shot.
He'd been shot. That terrifying fact bounced around inside his head for a moment, chasing away the last vestiges of fogginess clouding his awareness. He pushed himself up off the cold grate of a floor and banged the back of his head against unforgiving metal. He went back down to elbows and knees, seeing momentary stars in the darkness. He took a breath and let his vision adjust to the shadows.
It was a cage. A stark, rectangular cage maybe six feet long and four feet high, a little less than that wide, constructed of sturdy iron bars that looked like they might withstand something very strong adamantly trying to escape. He sat there, extending his senses, searching out familiar scents, familiar sounds - - any sounds that might give him a clue what to expect. He couldn't scent Stiles. He couldn't track the thud of his heart or the rush of his blood and that sent him into a little rolling slide of panic, until he talked himself down off it, reasoning that if he were underground still, and Stiles wasn't, with layers of earth and rock between them, even keen werewolf hearing couldn't pierce that veil.
And the earth smell, the sense of heaviness overhead, the overwhelming sense of sound being muffled by insulating earth suggested that he was most certainly still underground. But not the place he had been. Not the chamber with the rock hewn enclosures where the vanago had been.
He eased forward, grasping the bars at the front of the cage, quietly testing their strength. The latch didn't give with a casual application of force, so he clenched his jaw and put more effort into it. Metal strained, but refused to break. He blew out a frustrated breath, pushing back the panic that wanted to swell up and take charge, drew back and slammed a shoulder against the door. Metal grated this time, giving just a little. He drew back again and the world exploded in a screeching jolt of agony.
Current flooded the cage, electrifying the bars, the grate upon which he crouched. Muscles contracted, violent protest against the surge of current surging through him and flung him backwards. The electricity seared through his nervous system with pulses of pure unrelenting pain. He screamed, arching backwards, helpless to escape it, even though every primal instinct he had roared in affront.
It stopped and he lay there, shuddering, panting, claws digging weakly at the grate he lay on, sight surging from white spots around the edges to that red tinged tunnel vision that came upon him when the beast inside came closer to the surface than was safe for him or anyone around him.
He heard the footsteps. Smelled the scent of cloying cigar smoke and gunpowder, the distinct odor of burned flesh. His own maybe, from the intensity of the current that had ravaged him.
"I know a thing or two about wolves," Dupont stood outside the cage, staring down. "How to draw them out. How to contain them."
Another shudder ran through him, an after effect of the shock. Scott curled his fingers around the grate, pushing himself up, back against the bars. The electricity had brought out the wolf in him, he willed it away, refusing to play the animal in the cage for the bastard.
Dupont crouched, to look him in the eye. "You'd be better served to worry about yourself."
"I will tear you apart if you hurt him." He growled the threat, low and furious.
"Is that the wolf talking?"
"No. It's the friend."
Dupont did smile then, but it was cold and apathetic. He fingered a small remote control and Scott eyed it warily.
"It's been close to a decade since I hunted a wolf," he commented, like he was remarking on the weather. "I prefer rarer game. But there's always a challenge stalking something with human intelligence."
Scott widened his eyes, appalled at that casual bloodthirsty, declaration. "You mean murdering someone?"
Dupont lifted a brow and rose, circling the cage. Scott shifted, not wanting his back to the man.
"Murder is such a regrettable word. I prefer to think of it as ridding the world of one more predator. And don't claim you've never had blood on your hands. I've seen the color of your eyes."
Scott curled a hand around the bars at his side, not willing to argue that point. Doubting it would matter even if he did. "What about Stiles? He's human."
"Yes. Now that will be murder. Unfortunate."
He lowered his lashes, hiding the surge of color that burned behind his eyes, the surge of adrenalin that came with fury. If he could break the door of the cage before the electricity debilitated him - -
He made the move, throwing his shoulder against the cage door. Current rippled through the metal, tearing into him like a thousand little bullets. The cage door gave, but it was too late, the broken lock not hindering the electricity that had him writhing on the grate at the bottom of the cage.
The voltage amped up, shorting out synapses and frying nerve endings and the world went from blinding white to black.
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