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Before the girl died, Zlata learned many things. About her wolf. About the world she found herself in.
She washed the dirt and the blood off her skin afterwards, standing in the dingy ceramic tub, wonderful hot water raining down upon her. Then she rifled through the bags and found the girl's clothes of a size for her. She took what she wanted, took the contents of the woman's bag, the currency contained within, as well as the card that the girl claimed would give her access to untold riches by its simple presentation.
The girl had been helpful. Desperately helpful, so she'd given her a quick death. She left the bodies where they lay when she went, abandoning the truck that stank of sweat, and pork and hops and taking the gleaming black car parked outside the room instead.
A hunger came upon her, a purely human hunger that made her belly ache and her mouth water when she came upon a building some miles down the road, where the smells of roasting meat permeated the air around it. She could not recall what her last meal had been, before the more primal hungers of the beast had taken her over. More than likely stale bread and the boiled mash of road rations. Times had been lean on the run from the retribution of the Bolsheviks.
She pulled the car into the lot, one among a dozen other vehicles. Simply sitting in it, outside the building, she could sense the array of human life within. The beast in her stirred, eager to rend so much tender prey. She closed her eyes, luxuriating in the rush, before she pushed it back. She wasn't here to hunt. She had to contain the instinct. If she left a field of corpses behind her, they would rise en masse against her and hunt her down, just as they had hunted and killed each and every one of her brethren. But then, none of them, even as men, had been as wily as she.
She went inside, and a few eyes turned her way. Then a few more, the appreciative eyes of men, the gauging eyes of the women. She sat at the long counter, staring up at the indecipherable scrawl overhead. There were pictures of food interspaced, and when the harried looking server came up to her, she pointed at one that looked appetizing.
A man settled into the seat next to her, motioning for the woman behind the counter to fill the empty cup he held in his hand. Not an unappealing man, with a square jaw and a hard body under his workman's clothing. He cast a smile at her, reeking of confidence. She cast a look at him, under her lashes, sizing him up. Properly cooked food was not the only thing she could hardly remember the last time she'd had.
He spoke with her, casual bragging of this thing or that he had accomplished in his life. Most of it was lies. Men always lied in their efforts to impress women. But she smiled at him, and laughed at his humor, and let him graze his knuckles across the back of her arm, which set his pulse to racing. She could hear it rushing through his veins, clear as day. He insisted on paying for her meal and she let him, walking outside with him, his hand on her back, his breath against her ear as he leaned down and promised of a place not far away. She followed him in her car, to a little house off the road, one of a line of little houses, and he was on her before they'd fully entered the room, hands roaming her body, mouth hot upon hers.
She answered him back, surprising him with her vigor, tearing at clothing, parts of her throbbing in anticipation of a man's hands and the penetration of a man's rigid flesh. The sex was hard and fast and rough. His skin was scored by her nails and her teeth, but he lay panting afterwards, not complaining of it. Her culmination had been lackluster at best, but then, she'd always found her most satisfying release when pain was involved, and blood.
"Good God, girl, you're a little hellcat, aren't you?"
She rolled over and squeezed his softening member, making him gasp, before she stroked the soft flesh of the tip with her thumb. "You like, huh?"
"I like," he panted.
"You do something for me, yes?"
"Sure, baby. Whatever you want."
"You know this place - - this Beacon Hills, well?"
"Lived here all my life," he said.
"There is a place I need to find. An address. You show me where."
She let him go, rolling off the bed and padding naked to the bag she'd dropped inside the door. She came back with the slip of paper the girl had written an address on.
He looked at it, considering, then said. "That's not in town. Down in the valley, I think. What you got friends down there? Family?"
She shrugged. "Show me where."
"You wanna finish up what you started, first?"
She ran a nail down his chest and smiled. "After. I finish after."
He drove, talking as they went, while she marked the way. Remembering.
"That's the high school. I went there," he said, as they passed. The woods dwindled away and the houses began. They came to a street lined with modest homes and he slowed, peering through the windshield for house numbers. Finally pulling to the side of the street across from one and pointing.
"That's it. That's the address you're looking for."
She could have told him that without seeing the number. She closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of the wolf. His place. His home and the air was rife with traces of him. She hadn't even needed to track him the old fashioned way. A simple slip of paper and a man eager to please and she'd found him. It had been too easy. He wasn't cunning, her wolf, or canny, not like the wolves of the old country that had hidden in shadows, as wily as their four-legged counterparts. No, he lived in a house in a street filled with prey and pretended he was something he was not.
She laughed, anticipation building at the core of her.
"You wanna go in?" The man asked her.
"Back to my place then?"
"Back to your place, yes." She smiled. The hunger had built again, roused by the scent of the wolf. By the success of this unorthodox hunt. Bloodlust mixed with simple lust.
When they returned to his little house, she used his body again, and this time, when she raked his flesh, it was not with blunt human nails. This time he screamed and he kept screaming until he stopped, and when her fulfillment came upon her it was rich and full, spurred by the taste of blood in her mouth and the feel of hot, wet flesh under her hands.
She stared at the body afterwards, at the gaping wounds and the glistening glimpses of organs beneath. Fragile. Human prey was so fragile. She could hardly play with them at all, before they became inert, lifeless sacks of flesh. She licked the blood off her lips and thought of the wolf. He would heal when she raked him with her claws and tore into his flesh with her teeth. No need for restraint with a predator that could heal as quickly as she could tear him apart. She had only ever hunted wolves for the thrill of the kill before, because that was the only use the beast had had for them. But now that she wore the cloak of humanity again, there were other games she was eager to play.
And tonight she would begin.
It was raining Friday morning, this heavy, cold, miserable downpour, so on his first day free to roam the world again, Stiles drove over to give Scott a ride to school in a vehicle with an actual roof. There were a couple of power company trucks at the end of Scott's block, setting a new power pole. He only got a bare glimpse of the old one on the ground behind the trucks, but Scott had filled him in on what had happened.
"So you went over to Allison's with Allison and Isaac, last night." Stiles commented as soon as Scott was in the jeep. "Was it like sort of a ménage a trios date thing?"
"No. And shut up." Scott ran a hand through his hair, shedding droplets of water.
Stiles smirked, putting the jeep in reverse and backing down the drive. "I'm just saying."
"Well, stop saying. She was just being nice. How's your head?" That was a defensive enough rejoinder that Stiles had to figure that no matter what Scott claimed, it had to have been a little weird for him. And if it wasn't then Stiles felt obligated to feel a little weird about it on his behalf.
"Okay." He decided pushing Scott on the subject, when he did have a lingering touch of pressure behind his eyes, would benefit neither one of them. "I've got a doctor's note and a bottle of Tylenol, so I'm set."
Scott stared at him, a little worried furrow between his brows, and with the exception of maybe Lydia stopping by with the offer of a sponge bath or something - - Stiles was so very much over people fussing over him. "Dude, stop it. I'm okay."
"Okay," Scott conceded. "So, what are you gonna say happened?"
"Oh, I was thinking of saying I got bitch slapped by a giant, supernatural bear."
Scott lifted a brow and kept staring at him.
"I dunno, I figured I'd say I was riding with you and you wrecked your bike and you miraculously escaped injury, while I got tossed around and banged up. Plausible, right?"
"My bike's not wrecked," Scott pointed out dryly.
"You'd never tell by looking at it."
"No problem. I just wanted to, you know, make you feel included."
"Yeah, thanks for that. I'll remember that next time you wreck the Jeep."
"I've wrecked my Jeep exactly once," Stiles shot back. "All those other times were not my fault. I'm even gonna go so far to say, all those other times were your fault since one way or another they all had to do with werewolf related drama."
He continued to bitch about that, in detail, lest Scott had forgotten any of the particular circumstances of Jeep-related misfortune, the rest of the way to school.
They just made first bell and scurried into English Lit, the last of the rain speckled stragglers. Lydia gave him a look when he scooted into his seat across from her. The teacher, doddering down the aisle handing back last week's thesis assignments forestalled any exchange of comments.
It wasn't until after class that Lydia sort of nonchalantly flounced up to him at his locker and remarked with a marked lack of concern. "So I assume you're feeling better?"
She lifted a brow. "Did your doctor clear you to come back to school?"
"I've got a follow up Monday, but I'm okay. My skull is like rock, a little knock only puts me down for so long."
Both brows went up at that, and her mouth twitched. He ducked his head and scratched at the sutures at the back of his skull. "The stitches itch like hell."
"Don't tear them, you idiot." She smacked his hand down, then sort of threw him entirely off his balance by leaning in and running her fingers through the hair at the back of his head, ghosting her fingertips across the handful of stitches. Her hair really, really smelled good. It felt like his heart was about to beat its way up his throat.
"I read up a little on head trauma," she said, her hand dropping down to rest against his shoulder, which went a long ways to dividing his attention from what she was actually saying. "You might expect more problems than usual with concentration, noise sensitivity, memory, irritability. And those are just the psychological symptoms. Physically, its not uncommon to experience headaches, dizziness and nausea for months after the injury."
He managed to exert some of that wavering focus back on her, feeling a little warm and fuzzy that she'd gone to the trouble to do a little reading for him.
"Yeah, I read the same thing. WebMD is scary as hell."
"Just try and stay out of trouble for a while." She smiled and patted his arm, before heading off.
"Easier said than done," he muttered, watching her go. Some sixth sense made him tear his gaze away from her and swing it across the hall, where one of the twins - - Aiden, it had to be Aiden, because Ethan couldn't have cared less who Lydia was cozying up to - - was standing there, glowering at him so hard, his inner wolf was almost shining through his eyeholes.
And though Stiles generally and admittedly lacked a certain sense of self-preservation when it came to backing down from confrontation - - provoking jealous, muscle bound werewolves seemed to be just a little too masochistic today, considering the way he felt.
It didn't stop him from returning Aiden's glare with a raised brow and a casually disdainful look of his own, before turning his back and pointedly ignoring him. Because angry wolves loved to be ignored.
Then Scott was heading towards him from his own locker and when Stiles looked back, Aiden was gone, either having followed Lydia down the hall, or not prepared to stand there and glower threateningly with Scott in attendance.
"She's like, all concerned about you." Scott gave him a grin, having missed the glowering twin across the hall altogether. "Maybe you should get hurt more often."
"You heard that?" Stiles accused.
"Sorry." Scott didn't seem that sorry.
Stiles shrugged, shouldering his backpack. "I'm thinking there's got to be a better way, but I'll take what I can get. She had her hand in my hair. Did you see she had her hand in my hair?"
Which was a really awesome way to start the day. It carried him all the way through third period, before calculus started making his head pound and dragged him down off his Lydia high. He sat through it, pinching the bridge of his nose, trying not to look at the numbers on page or board, waiting for the bell. When it rang and blessedly released him into the education-free lunch period, the first thing he did was pop a trio of Tylenol at the water fountain, before heading for the cafeteria.
Scott veered to intersect his path across the crowded cafeteria and they met at the end of the lunch line.
"Smells like Sloppy Joe's," Scott said, managing to sound hyped about the prospect of meat-flavored goop dripping off a bun. But then Scott would eat pretty much anything. Stiles gave him a disgusted look and reached for a Jell-O and a salad, not sure he was up to consuming anything with an actual smell today.
They plopped their trays down at their usual spot, and soon enough Allison and Lydia showed up, then Isaac- - their own little dysfunctional clique. At least they were twin free, Ethan and Aiden being a year behind, having infiltrated the school as sophomores and thus earning the joy of sharing the Freshman/sophomore lunch period. It made Stiles' life much more annoyance free not to have to sit through lunch watching Aiden leaning over Lydia practically drooling into her hair.
When Danny and another one of the Lacrosse team joined them, it pretty much nixed any conversational topic centering around supernatural related crap. Which was fine with Stiles, because he'd had his fill for a while and he was more than okay, the way his head was pounding, to sit there and let someone else fill the conversational void.
"You okay?" Scott leaned in to ask, taking note maybe of his uncharacteristic lack of intrusion into any given topic of discussion. Or maybe he just looked like he was sporting a tooth-grinding migraine.
"Frickin' calculus," he complained, as he systematically chopped his Jell-O into tiny cubes.
"Oh," Scott drenched a fry in Sloppy Joe juices, nodding in complete understanding. Scott and higher math were not entirely compatible.
"Mr. Swanson was especially grueling today," Allison, who shared the class with him, looked across at him sympathetically.
"It could have been worse," Lydia said to Allison. "He could have made you sit through another marathon of cheesy sci-fi."
"What?" Isaac looked up, and Allison gave Lydia a wide-eyed look of accusation for obviously spilling something she hadn't wanted spilled.
"You said you liked it." Isaac looked just a little hurt.
"It wasn't terrible," Allison cast Lydia one more narrow look, to which Lydia seemed supremely unconcerned, then looked to Scott for backup. "Right, Scott?"
Scott looked up from the remains of his lunch, caught off guard by the question. "Umm - - sure. It was sort of funny - - it was supposed to be sort of funny, right?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Headache or no, Stiles had to know.
"There was a Doctor Who marathon last night," Isaac said, looking between Allison and Scott a little sulkily.
"Yeah, I know. I was watching it, too," Stiles said, eyeing Scott with a touch of annoyance himself, because how long had he been trying to get him to watch it with him? A damned long time. Like three doctors ago long. And Scott knew. He absolutely knew what Stiles' narrow look was for, because he shrugged a little apologetically and tried to explain his way out of the betrayal.
"Uh - -yeah, they were watching it when the power went out - - and we sort of picked it up when we went over to Allison's."
"Because she said she liked it," Isaac muttered.
"Hmm. That's sweet." Lydia smiled at the turmoil she'd incited. "You can put the wolf into the boy, but it obviously doesn't devour the geek."
They all looked at her, aghast, but Danny and the other guys down the table were deep into some lacrosse-oriented conversation and either didn't hear or didn't care what the hell Lydia was going on about.
The headache got worse, compounded by frustration when he caught Coach Finstock after economics to inquire about his lacrosse status.
"You know that two weeks of no physical contact sports is more a guideline than a rule," he reminded Coach, as he followed him towards the teacher's lounge.
"Head injury is nothing to be laughed at," Coach said distractedly. Which was utter and complete bull shit coming out of Couch's mouth, because if it had been a first line, top tier player, he'd have had them out on the field if they were bleeding from the ears. "Just tell McCall to be more careful. We'd have been in real trouble if he was out of commission."
"That's what you have to say to me?" Stiles stopped and gaped indignantly at the door to the lounge. "Seriously?"
But Coach wasn't paying him any more attention, making a beeline for the coffee maker. Which put Stiles in more of a mood than he'd already been teetering on. He called Coach a few choice names under his breath as he stomped away.
And the day kept getting better.
He was heading for his locker when Aiden loomed up behind him. He leaned on the locker next to Stiles, on the verge of being all up in his personal space.
"So what is up with you and Lydia?" He had this intense sort of half smile, half scowl thing going, like he wasn't sure if he wanted to have a reasonable conversation, or if he wanted rip Stiles' arms off a beat him to death with them.
Stiles was so, so not in the mood for jealous wolves. "What business is it of yours?"
Aiden's smile got a little less smiley and a little more scowly. "She's my girlfriend, is what?"
"Really?" Stiles lifted a brow. The way the space behind his eyes was throbbing, he was more than ready to shed a little metaphorical blood. "Have you told her that? Because last I heard you were - - what was it she said? - - oh, yeah, that you were pretty much just a 'good time', but not boyfriend material. That's gotta be a blow for the ol' self-esteem, huh?"
Aiden bristled, but Stiles was pretty confident that in the middle of a hall crowded with kids between classes, he was safe from physical retaliation for a verbal assault. He slammed his locker shut. "Go talk to her, if you're feeling insecure. It's not my job to stroke your ego."
Aiden growled - - out and out wolf growled in the middle of the hall - - and shoved him. Which was unexpected and momentarily sort of liberating, in a high-as-a-kite, acid tripping sort of way, for that split second that his feet left the ground and he was airborne, before he hit the row of lockers in what felt like the same damn place he'd hit the tractor a few nights ago. Then it just hurt.
Metal clanged, locks rattled, Kids squealed and scattered, and he slid down in a sprawl of backpack and screaming muscles and red around the edges indignation. And maybe Aiden had lashed out reflexively, without thinking, the wolf in him just little more unstable than the human - - maybe that bit of impulsiveness was the extent of his violence in the middle of the hall - - because he was standing there, looking a little shocked himself - - but then they'd never know one way or another, because Scott was just there. And it wasn't impulsiveness or reflex Stiles caught a glimpse of in his eyes when he slammed into Aiden, it was blind, animal rage. Red-eyed rage.
Then students had a reason to scatter, because this wasn't your average hallway scuffle and God help them if anyone saw the glowing eyes or the claws - - fucking claws out in the middle of school - - and the only saving grace was that in Scott's hell hath no fury tackle of Aiden, they both crashed through the door of a presently empty lab classroom and took the fight out of public view.
Stiles pushed himself up with a grimace, back aching more stridently than his head for a nice change of pace and scrambled to the lab before any other gawking students. He got there in time to see Aiden hit the chalk board hard enough to crack the slate, a second before he launched himself off the wall and hit Scott taking them both over a set of lab tables, scattering test tubes and vials in their wake.
"Stop it. Goddamnit, stop it," he screamed, thinking there was never handy access to a good cattle prod when you needed to shock sense into a couple of crazed werewolves.
Then he got pushed aside, the other half of the twins rushing into that room, maybe having sensed half a school away when his brother was in the process of a knock down drag out wolf fight. He did more than scream at them to stop, wading in and risking personal injury to get a body in between them.
And maybe it was more than a twin thing, but a wolf thing in general that alerted every wolf in a quarter mile radius that shit was hitting the fan, because Isaac darted in, shoving past Stiles. And between the two of them, they managed to separate Aiden and Scott, a feat made easier by the fact that at least one of the two combatants was cooperating. Aiden backed off on his own, but Scott still had that crazed look on his face, and Isaac wasn't having an easy time, pushing him back, until Ethan, freed of having to deal with his brother gave him a hand and between the two of them they pushed Scott back, against the wall.
There was blood on Scott's hands. Blood on Aiden, blood on Isaac for his efforts. He wasn't fully wolfed out, but his claws and fangs were fully extended and his eyes were supernova red and there wasn't a whole lot of sanity in them. Which wasn't a good thing when kids were starting to venture in to see the mayhem and he could hear some teacher yelling for them to clear away outside in the hall.
"Scott! Get a fucking grip." He stalked right up, risking life and limb by leaning in past Isaac and Ethan and grasping Scott's jaw, making him focus on him. "Shut it down. Right now, or we're all in deep shit."
Scott took a shuddery breath, some fragment of focus coming back into his eyes. He stopped struggling against the grips of the other two wolves, staring at Stiles with a growing sort of dismay on his face. The color of his eyes faded from red to plain old brown around the time Coach, and Mr. Mueller came rushing in through the dispersing students.
"What the hell is going on in here?" Coach bellowed, both teachers taking in the partial destruction of the room. "Goddamned it, McCall, are you trying to make my life difficult?"
As if the brawl had taken place purely to fuck with the delicate balance of Coach's preseason lacrosse strategy, instead of Scott slipping and falling head first into a bout of PTSD related insanity.
"It's okay. Its all okay," Stiles said, patting Scott's chest as Isaac and Ethan backed off. Aiden was buttoning his shirt, covering what looked like a couple of bloody gouges in the t-shirt under it. "Just a little horseplay got out of hand. Right, guys?"
"What the hell happened to the blackboard?"
Stiles stared at the spider web of splinters on the board and fought through the ache behind his eyes for a reasonable answer. "I thought I felt a tremor? Didn't you guys feel a little tremor? Maybe it was an earthquake?"
Coach narrowed his eyes, then glanced at Mr. Mueller, who didn't have nearly the investment in keeping Scott from suspension as Coach did. "I've got this. Looks like somebody needs a little detention."
Which was just fine. Because Coach-style detention usually meant hard labor, cleaning up the locker room, scrubbing the showers or field maintenance. Anything Coach could think of to improve the state of his working conditions. And a little alone time, scrubbing mold out of the grout of the boys locker-room showers might be just what Scott needed to get his head back on straight.
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