Lauren tried to be quiet as she crept down the hall getting closer to the Ash’s office with every step. She half hoped that someone would walk around the corner and give her a valid excuse to give to Bo for why she had to turn back before she made it, only with the Ash out of the office the area seemed to be all but deserted. The Fae were still in the building, and even still doing their jobs, but without someone to report to they were all elsewhere, at least for now.
It had sounded simple when Bo first proposed the idea, walk into the office and take a peek around to see if she could spot a way to get in touch with Kenzi or Dyson. They had both reasoned that Lachlan had to have a way to keep in contact with at least one of them, he seemed to be invested in Kenzi and being the control freak he was he would want a way to keep abreast of things. Now that she was close enough to the office to reach out and touch the handle her palms were beginning to sweat.
She tried to tell herself that she didn’t have any reason to be nervous, they had talked about this again and again and she knew what to say if anyone found her here. She just needed to claim that she was there to talk to Lachlan and act completely in the dark about him being absent, she was loaned out to Vex so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume that she was out of the loop enough to not have heard the news. In fact she was so out of the loop in the clutches of the dark that nearly the whole day had passed before she heard even a whisper about Lachlan being out of his office for the day. Fae on both sides were frustrated and venting in every direction about how he had just up and left without consulting anyone first.
Opening the door she slid inside trying to make as little noise as she could, but once she made it inside she was at a loss. Where exactly was she supposed to look for this supposed information? She had been so sure she would never make it this far she hadn’t thought ahead to what she would do once she was actually in the office.
The place was a cross between a throne room and an executive’s office. He had a large oak desk not unlike you would see in any upscale law firm, but his was positioned on a raised dais and there were no visitor chairs in front of it. Lachlan hated to waste his time and encouraged all parties from both sides to be brief and to the point when they were forced to see him.
The stained glass windows cast hues of every color across everything but at the same time it was dimmer than it should have been with the windows being as large as they were. In fact the longer she looked the more it seemed like the colors and shapes were moving in a way that was unnatural and nearly menacing. When her eyes began to lose focus as she stared at them she started to panic, she had seen enough Fae in her life to know that when something felt this off it was a good idea to run first and ask questions later. Twirling around her hand was already out to reach for the door before she’d completed her turn but it wasn’t enough, her outstretched hand collided with a body instead of the door handle.
It was Ruby, the head of security for Lachlan standing in front of her with a dangerous smirk on her face.
“Going somewhere Doctor Lewis?”
Bo was furious, she’d waited for Lauren to come to her and after hours of silence she went searching hoping she simply hadn’t had time to act yet. When she got to the compound the entire place was buzzing like a pissed off hive, the rumour mill said that Lauren had overstepped and was now locked up in the lower cells to wait for Lachlan’s judgment. They said she tripped a security system that went into effect when the acting Ash wasn’t in his office, a failsafe to protect the information inside and stop any would be assassins from lying in wait. She knew better though, it had been Hale. He’d tried to scare them off and when that didn’t work he’d set Lauren up to get caught instead.
Storming into the police station she saw him sitting at his desk like nothing was wrong and it made her anger rise even higher. Lauren was rotting in a cell like an animal and he was just going about his day like everything was normal. Striding up to his desk she saw him open his mouth like he was going to explain away his actions or something, like there was an explanation worth listening to. Before he could get a word out she raised her hand and slapped him across the face as hard as she could. It wasn’t enough to send him across the room since her hand was open but it was enough to knock him out of his seat and to the floor, it was satisfying to watch.
“Bo!” As he stood he held out his hands to stop the cops from coming for her, all the while giving her a look like he was doing her a favor, like he didn’t deserve worse. “It’s alright fellas, just a little misunderstanding.” He grabbed her arm to drag her out of the crowd and to one of the secluded offices to talk, if she didn’t need the privacy to really lay into him for his highhanded bullshit she would have shrugged him off.
“What the hell was that?”
“Like you don’t know.” Jerking away from his grip she turned to face him.
“I don’t know Bo, unlike some my life doesn’t revolve around your moods so you’re gonna have to use your words here if you want me to keep up.”
“You didn’t want Lauren and I to find Dyson and Kenzi and today when she went to get the information she got mysteriously caught. Coincidence I think not. So who did you go running to Hale? The usual power players you suck up to aren’t around, did you fall back on family ties?” He took a step back from her like he was shocked, she didn’t know why everyone knew she would defend her people from every threat. He should have expected this. After a second he narrowed his eyes and glared at her, she would not be intimidated so she glared right back.
“Wow, that’s a ballsy accusation coming from you. How often do you go running to Trick, your grandfather, to save your ass from the big bad world. Pot meet kettle.”
“It’s not the same thing. I go to Trick for information not scheming.” Besides when she had first met Trick she had no idea they even shared a connection, it wasn’t the same at all and how dare he imply that it was. She stood on her own two feet!
“You go for both, something I don’t judge you for because the two of you are family and every family has its own ins and outs. But we’re getting off topic here, what exactly makes you think I did anything to Lauren.”
“Who else could have, no one but you knew we were planning something.” Plus he was the only one who would even try to stop them.
“Oh yeah, just me, you, Lauren, and of course Vex who told me, and anyone else within earshot while you two were planning. Discrete you are not. While I did have a plan to stop the two of you from doing something bullheaded that would come back on all of us it wasn’t whatever happened today. I didn’t even know you two were trying today, I thought I had at least another week before you pulled whatever stunt you were working on.”
“So you didn’t warn them about Lauren going into Lachlan’s office?” She wasn’t sure if she believed him but he was indignant enough that she was willing to hear him out. The Fae were good actors but she had learned they were more likely to brag when a plan went their way, so for him to deny it there was a chance he really hadn’t gone running to the Light.
“Why would she be in Lachlan’s office, he’s not there.” Now he just looked confused like he really didn’t know why they would want to go there. If he didn’t know what their actual plan was, what did he think they were planning to do?
“Exactly, Lauren went in while he’s out to try and get whatever contact information he had for Dyson and Kenzi.” Halfway through her explanation he just started shaking his head like he was listening to a stubborn child who didn’t know better. It infuriated her that he could make her feel that way.
“Okay first of all, whenever the Ash isn’t in his office the security system automatically comes online. The only ones allowed inside alone are his head of security and anyone who bears his personal mark, not the mark of the Ash, but Lachlan’s personal sigil. If Lauren went into his office without permission then security would have known before she got through the door.”
“Lauren’s never mentioned some security system and she’s been with the Light for years.” That couldn’t be right could it? Why didn’t they know about that if it was true?
“Lauren only ever goes to see the Ash when he calls for her, there was never a reason for her to know about his office security, of which the alert is only the beginning. That office is heavily fortified just like the official office of the Morrigan. None of that matters though because even if Lauren hadn’t been caught you still would have failed.”
“Yeah, Lachlan doesn’t write down any of the contact information for his allies, hell I don’t even think he writes it down for his acquaintances either, he just memorises them. More secure that way, at least in his opinion. If anyone wants to know the whereabouts of someone the Ash is in contact with they have to ask him directly and state their case. He rarely ever tells anyone anything, but occasionally he’ll part with a phone number or an address.” Hale sounded like he’d tried to state his case before and failed.
“Who does that?” That was just too strange to think about. How could anyone keep that much information in their head, especially information that seemed to change every other week. The Fae were a paranoid bunch and they tended to shuffle around a lot.
“A naga. Naga’s are very territorial and once their loyalty is given they will defend whoever has it to the death, that’s why in Buddhism they are mostly depicted as door guardians. Lachlan’s allies give him a way for him to contact them, so he makes sure that information never goes beyond him without a damn good reason.” It all sounded too complicated, how was she supposed to get that information now? Lachlan would never willingly hand it over to her, he had made it perfectly clear lately just what he thought of her and her touch didn’t affect him at all.
“I’m still waiting.” Looking over to Hale she found him standing in front of the door with his arms crossed over his chest. He looked impatient and annoyed, like she had forgotten something important.
“For my apology, you just slapped me in front of the whole precinct for no good reason.” Oh, she had plenty of reason, and he knew it.
“Even if you didn’t do this, you were still going to try and stop me, the slap stands.” Pushing past him she stomped out of the room trying to get her thoughts back on track. Lauren had been caught breaking the rules again and there had to be something she could do to help her. Maybe she could appeal to someone else while Lachlan was out, but she didn’t really know many high ranking Light Fae beyond Trick and Hale and neither of them would help her with this. She needed a plan and she needed it fast.
“Now that’s just cold.” Hale’s last words drifted behind her and sent a shiver down her spine, he sounded angry now and she couldn’t think of a time when the Siren had been angry with her before. He was a fairly easy going guy, but powerful enough to be a bad enemy to have.
Shaking it off she promised herself she would deal with it later, she had bigger problems at the moment.
Dyson waited in the cabin, he wanted to draw them in as deep as he could and the cabin was where his scent mingled with Kenzi’s the most. The sound of his heartbeat and the smell of his fresh blood would throw them off, none of them would ever think he would willingly give over protection of an Omega to another. Let alone two men who weren’t wolves themselves, right now his ability to go against his instincts was the best leverage they had in this fight.
Hearing the heartbeats converge he waited for one to break away and come to him. The leader would want to come for Kenzi personally, to try and trigger her own instinct for a proper protector in a violent situation. As the door pushed open he straightened up as best he could, his leg was still raw from the knife wound and he was having trouble putting much weight on it.
The wolf that stalked in was a ruddy brown with spots of gray peppered across its coat. Its great maw was pulled back in a silent snarl but it was too busy looking around the small room for Kenzi to pay him much attention which was his opening. Leaping towards him he called on his shift before he hit the ground and clamped his jaws down on the other’s right front leg. The howl of pain that came when his teeth met flesh made his inner man grin, it amazed him that they thought he would make it easy for them just because of a knife to the leg.
He didn’t have long to celebrate before the fight was on. Their large bodies rolled across the floor each trying to get a better hold on the other. Every time they broke apart they would snarl and snap at each other from a distance before coming together again. Dyson could feel the tears and rips against his skin but he ignored them in favor of tasting more of his enemies blood, he might be getting hurt but so was the other wolf. He knew he couldn’t keep going for much longer, he had been wounded before they even started and every lunge of the other one was aimed towards his back legs, the fight would be over soon but he had to give the others as much time as possible.
When he did finally slump onto his side, his whole body shaking with the effort to breathe, he allowed his wolf to fade and his human skin to reform around him. It had been a good fight, one he would have won if it had been done fairly, but it was over now. Watching the other pull himself back to his own human form he took him in and smiled. He was covered in his own blood and each breath he took was a wheeze of effort, he was barely standing and each step he took to search the cabin swayed as he tried to keep his feet under him.
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know. Did you check under the bed?” The man stared at him for a moment, his eyes darting from him to the bed like he was trying to tell if he was serious. If he did check he would find nothing, but the sight of him trying to bend down that far in the state he was in would be worth a laugh or two.
“You sent her away.” It was a statement, not a question. A revelation. He had no answer for him, he just closed his eyes and waited.
“Alone?” The one word was spat at him, like he was crazy for even thinking to do that. In the view of a pack wolf he probably was. No pack wolf would ever allow an Omega to leave their side, and most lone wolves wouldn’t either, to them it would have been too risky. To Dyson it was the most natural thing in the world. He hadn’t let an Omega leave, he’d given Kenzi her best chance, that was all there was to it.
Listening to the wolves snarl as they realised what he’d done he felt the darkness coming up to greet him. He needed to sleep.
He trusted Trick and Lachlan to keep her safe. Besides, if anyone got past the two of them he trusted Kenzi to keep herself safe. That girl had been taking care of herself long before the Fae ever came into her life, she was a fighter they wouldn’t expect.
Trick kept his hand wrapped around his seatbelt in a bid to keep from screaming. Lachlan was driving like a bat out of hell, trying to put as much distance between them and the cabin as possible in the limited head start Dyson was able to give them. The only danger was that these back roads were winding and long, while no one would be able to catch up to them on foot following behind them if they cut across the wild terrain they could. Kenzi was in the back seat completely silent, continually looking out the back window with regret in her eyes. He wanted to comfort her but didn’t know what to say, leaving Dyson had been practical but that didn’t make it easier.
“He’ll be okay right?”
“Yes. Dyson has survived for over a thousand years, it will take more than this to truly harm him.” At his words she closed her eyes and fell back against the seat, he couldn’t tell if she was comforted by his efforts or not. He was just coming up with what to say next when the car lurched to the side violently slamming them all hard against their restraints. Looking up he could just make out a line of wolves in the road, they had rushed the car from the side and forced them into the ditch.
Normally that wouldn’t have worked, Lachlan could have simply swerved around them and kept going or knowing him gone through them laughing all the way, but this car was not built for that kind of collision. They had been forced to take the car that Dyson had driven Kenzi to the cabin in, it was an older jeep that was good for traversing back roads but not as safe to crash in. When the wolves had rushed them Lachlan had tried to swerve but the wolves themselves had been reckless and hadn’t backed down driving them across the entire expanse of the road and into the ditch they were in now.
They couldn’t stay in the jeep; it would give the pack the advantage so he started untangling himself to step out while Lachlan did the same. Kenzi was looking at the two of them, not wanting to ask but unsure if her getting out would help or hurt their stance here.
“Kenzi wait here.” If things started to turn against them the extra distance might just help her.
Stepping out to the center of the road a bit in front of the jeep he waited, stand offs like this one had a formula to them, a tradition and after knowing Dyson for so long he knew the steps by heart.
“We just want the Omega, it is clear you cannot keep her safe. She will be better off with us.” It was custom to give the other side a chance to lay down arms and surrender, it was their code of honor to allow for peace.
“She does not wish to join your pack and under your own laws you can not force her. She has a protector already and is in no need or another.” Technically even though Dyson was a lone wolf this pack should have gone to a higher authority to plead their case and take custody of Kenzi that way. Looking at them though he could see that they were young and most likely only formed as a pack in the past century or two, they knew they wouldn’t have won so they were trying to circumvent tradition.
“A lone wolf is no protection.” They would have to agree to disagree on that one, having seen Dyson in action for many years he knew she could have no better protector.
“He is more than enough for her.”
“So be it.” Rather than an acceptance of fact these words were a signal that he could not be reasoned with. It was a call to violence.
Trick was a man who prided himself on being able to hold his own in nearly any fight but the wolves gave him no chance to prove himself. They sped around him and converged on Lachlan, seeing him as the bigger threat. The Naga ripped into body after body, his teeth dripping wolf blood as he tried to defend himself against their greater numbers, he at least had the advantage of having his back to a large oak keeping any of them from ambushing him from behind.
Grabbing a nearby downed tree branch he jumped into the fray to help, his swipes weren’t numerous since he had to continually dance back out of range before going in for another hit, but he did his best. To be honest it didn’t seem like Lachlan really needed his help, he was very much in his element being able to let his primordial side reign. Blood and fur was coating every nearby surface making all movement slippery and treacherous.
Hearing a commotion behind him he turned to see the pack leader trying to drag Kenzi from her seat. She was putting up a good resistance kicking at his face and hands trying to break free, but she didn’t have the room to move enough to really struggle. He had taken a single step towards them intent on coming to the rescue when her roar rang out, she was furious and ready to attack.
He rushed forward just as he saw skin begin to give way to fur, she was shifting and her wolf was just as angry and ready to defend. The pack leader stayed in his human form not wanting to frighten Kenzi and that was his fatal mistake. White fur blurred as she lunged forward and went for his throat, he let his belief in the docile nature of all Omega wolves lull him into thinking she wouldn’t kill him. He was wrong. As she shook her head back and forth her teeth embedded in his neck he could hear the pop and squish of his throat being torn out. It was a visceral and unforgettable reminder of just what a wolf truly was, a predator.
Looking back at Lachlan he found the man crouched down against the tree surrounded by dead wolves trying to catch his breath. The entire pack had perished in this one foolish quest for something that was never theirs to take.
The fight was over. They had won.
Kenzi broke off from her entourage to go wait for Dyson in his apartment. She figured that was the best place for the two of them to meet back up again, she thought about just hanging at the Dal, but she was bone tired and Dyson had a very comfy bed at his place. Trick had tried to argue with her about it but Lachlan backed her saying that even if there were more wolves Dyson’s scent at his apartment would be the best thing to hide her from them.
Walking in she let her eyes drift over everything and her mind drifted back to the last time she was here. The day that changed everything. She had become something else, something she had never dreamed possible, and she’d done it all in Dyson’s arms.
She loved Dyson.
She had finally told him, he had finally told her, they had told each other. Facing the idea of leaving him behind at the cabin had opened her eyes, she didn’t want to live with the regret of not saying it. She really thought they could be something. She knew that Bo was half in love with him too, and the good friend thing would be to just let it go, but she was all the way in love with him and she wanted to give them a shot.
Hearing the door open behind her she tensed, every instinct telling her to turn and fight, but then his scent hit her nose and she crumbled. She felt his arms come around her before she hit the floor, but she couldn’t stop crying. She hadn’t realised until that moment just how scared she was that he wouldn’t be coming back, that he’d been wrong and the wolves would tear him apart.
Now he was here.
Turning into his embrace she let herself fall apart, knowing he would always catch her.
When she finally managed to regain some control she pulled back and started searching him for injuries, getting really invasive about it, and basked in his laughter. If he could laugh then he couldn’t be all that hurt, though she could still smell some fresh blood on him it wasn’t enough for her to really worry.
“I’m fine Kenzi.”
“Yeah, I know you are. I still want to make sure though.” She couldn’t stop her hands from roaming over his chest and abdomen feeling for anything that shouldn’t be there.
“I can see that. I can feel it too. Come on Kenzi, let’s go sit down, you look as exhausted as I feel.”
“Yeah.” Instead of heading towards one of the chairs she went to the bed and laid down instead, stretching out and inhaling his scent that still lingered on the pillows. Before she drifted off she felt him stretch out beside her, the heat from his body making her want to snuggle in deeper.
“This works too.” Yeah, it did, it worked for them just fine.