Moon, Blood, and Wolf's Bane

Alex watched, quite amused at the girl's frustration over the dryer not working. A boyish grin crossed his face as she introduced herself. "Ah. pleasure to meet you Natasha. It's a pretty...nice place you have set up here. Cool city and all that." Alex nodded, watching Natasha fiddle with the dryer some more, looking like it was going to be to no avail.

He waited patiently when she held up her finger to him and took the bat, a loud chuckle erupted him as she barely tapped the machine. I guess this is the country way of fixing things... He thought to himself as she cranked her arm back with the bat and swung, smashing the dryer and leaving a huge dent, the bat snapping and a look of pure shock on Natasha's face, or was it embarrassment that registered. Even with the machine clearly destroyed she attempted to start it up again, the sheets spilling out onto the floor like a tongue from a dog on a hot summer day.

She quickly gathered up the sheets and stepped past him, telling him to head to the Howling Hippo, a bar he had passed on his walk around town today. "Yeah, no problem betty. I'll just head on over and I'll see you later ya?" He waved absent mindedly to Natasha and stepped back out into the street and turned, heading down to the bar.

Alex unbuttoned a couple of buttons on his shirt to expose a bit more raw flesh, after all it was a bar and what do people do there? Pick up other people, at least that's how it was in Hawaii, if you wanted to meet someone you did it at the beach or at a bar. Most of the time the two were combined into one so he didn't have to go far.

He pushed the door open and sauntered inside, feeling good and looking good, at least in his own opinion. "Hey everyone, how's the surf? No ankle snappers ya?" He chuckled, figuring nobody would understand him, and the bar looked mildly empty. With a sigh he walked over to a quiet table and plopped down, waiting for the barmaid to come around and take his order.
 
Natasha watched the guy..... Alex, she thought she remembered his name.... She had waved him off and then went off to put the sheets up on a clothing line.

She was almost completely done when her boss found her pulling the sheets from the line, yelling about the dyer. "No one else had been working.... so it had to be her, why did she destroy their only dryer?" Or something like that, she was honestly barely paying attention until he suddenly grabbed her by the arm, stopping her from working.

"I know you hear me talking, it just ain't going through your head, isn't it? Listen closely, ok, darling? WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO MY DRYER?! Do you WANT me to file a report against you?! That new dryer's coming out of your check, if you're getting one at all at this point, might I add....." He continued on, and suddenly Natasha started to continue to work.

"STOP THAT, Will you listen to me?!"

"But the sheet-

"Forget about the fucking sheets. You should be worried about your job!" The man bellowed and Natasha looked up at him innocently, like a sheep. "I only did as you said to...... You said that guys should "tap" it and that, since girls are obviously lacking in upper body strength, to put our back into it...." She offered and he gave her a look that clearly expressed that he wasn't buying a word of it.

"That's not "putting your back into it" that's overkill. There is a massive dent in that machine, and I don't know whether you got a guy to do this, or if you did it yourself, but I am finding it hard to believe that..... you... can well, swing that hard.... So what happened? Why did you do it?" The boss finally asked, rubbing the back of his neck as Natasha finally pulled down the last of the sheets and proceeded to take them to the last room. Her boss followed her, expecting an answer as she silently worked at the bed. Finally she turned around and smiled.

"It wasn't working..... so.... I tapped it... but that didn't work... and I know how angry you get when I have to get you to hit it for me.... so I swung harder." Natasha explained, giving a sheepish smile. The boss sighed and then looked away.

"If you break ANYTHING else, you're fired. You're done working, get outta here. I'll see you in the morning." He muttered in an annoyed tone. Natasha nodded and then went to go get her bag and all but ran to the bar, going right to the bartender. She usually wasn't one to drink..... and there was a new scruffy looking older guy at the bar..... honestly, she looked from that guy, to the scruffy guy she already knew, Zack, and noted some resemblance. She didn't want to think about that. Or the fact that this new guy obviously wasn't human.

She just wanted to drink.

"Jason, Please, something..... I don't know how to say this..... "strong"? Right?....... I just broke my boss' only dryer and he threatened to fire me again..... I dunno what to do......" Natasha whimpered as she laid her forehead on the bar, noting the way it kinda stuck to her skin, but also the coolness of it, it relaxed her in a way.

"I broke the bat, too...... he says it's all coming out of my paycheck...." She mused quietly, sighing, oblivious to everything as she raised her head finally, eyes tiredly looking around her, spotting Alex off at a table by himself, her sis....

Oh no..... how was her sister gonna react to this? ~Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit! What if she get's ANGRY? HERE? Aw fuck.....~
 
Jason smelled a few familiar people walk into the bar, most notably Zack. One of the more violent guys in their clan who matched the one-eyed werewolf on the grounds of sheer ferocity in a fight. They had only scrapped maybe once their whole lives given the two never had many disagreements that couldn't be settled without a brawl. After Geoff's death, Jason seemed to fall off the face of the earth in the clan as far as reminding everyone of how well and hard he could really fight. Someone who had left the Alpha Wolf alone with a hunter probably didn't deserve to go around acting tough in his own remaining eye. Looking through the selection behind the counter, he decided to give the Welder something that a guy who spent all day around hot metal deserved. . . a cold stout brand.

Arrogant Bastard Ale.

It was frosty cold, poured into a slightly smaller glass and with no ice. He left the bottle by the glass since it would tell him a couple things by the end of the night. One, if it were empty that the stuff was worth ordering again. . . and two how much he could charge Zack when he'd slept off stuff that had a picture of Satan on the bottle. Seriously. Not to mention the funny story on the back label.

"We just got this in over the weekend Zack. Been waiting for a tough ass like you to walk in so I can see what happens."

He meant it as a joke and as a compliment.

And it was then that a bad smelling wind blew in.

If eye-patches had special powers to quell any ideas about patrons getting rowdy, tonight may have been the night to pray for such supernatural gifts beyond what Bain already had under his skin. The guy who had just walked into their cracktastically named Howling Hippo smelled like blood, death, fuel, and something not quite human. Looking like a human and smelling like something else only meant one thing: a rogue. But the guy had ordered a drink and if he served it quick enough the guy might go back out on the road again before dawn.

He waited for Zack to finish talking to Clay, just to see if anything would start purely from that. But when the opening came to get a word in he took it. If this Biker was animal enough, he could dangle a steak in front of him to distract him from Zack. The last thing they needed was a dominance contest with someone not even in their own damned clan.

"We've got Canadian Club for sure. If that's not to your liking I'll start looking through the other kinds."

And a few seconds later some other new scent blew in.

This one existed just about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum from Clay's as it possibly could without being a woman. Hell it was on a different track than any other person around to the point that whoever this guy was would be the easiest to track in the whole town. It was THAT guy. The one who'd showed up in town wearing some gay-ass cowboy outfit with the hat and everything. Sort of like Back to the Future Part III when Marty went back to the Old West dressed up in the 1950's cowboy get up. Ended up with just about the same reaction from the locals too. Well that would make the melting pot going on in here already a lot more interesting. If Jason started to want anything at that moment it was a drink for himself and for the local law to want one tonight too . . . just in case something happened he wouldn't be able to fix without blowing cover.

Finally a familiar face came in, one he wanted to see and yet didn't want to come here on a night like this one. Yet he didn't deny Natasha any of his attention, heading to get her something good as he waited on Clay's response. She'd really gone and done it now at her job. . . again. This time it was the Dryer and not something that could be covered up or let go easily. Pretty soon they were going to have to start a relief fund for that place to help with damage in the wake of hurricane Natasha.

"Well Natasha it kind o has to come out of your paycheck if you broke it. It's only fair. But I'll tell you what, send him over here tomorrow night and I'll give him that spare bat behind the bar. The steel one."

Jason spoke while he looked among his selection for something more suited to a real lady. Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman! Finally he came across a type of liquor that wouldn't taste anything like any type of woodland creature fluids. A name brand that could be trusted by all ages! He wanted to make her feel better. . . he always had since they were little pups in the same clan. A person as nice as her deserved someone that would stick up for her instead of put her down. That was why he always tried to have her back growing up. Even against her own little sister who was always trying to carve out her own little niche in the clan.

"And the first one's on me."

His offer to her was whispered as he roughed up her hair a little with one hand and put the glass bottle in front of her with the other.
 
“Aho!” the cry echoed across the dry, empty lot, sending a handful of crows scattering into the air. Gravel sprayed from the back tire as the bike slid to a stop, a fine cloud of dust blooming up around the bulky figure. There was no answer.

Dark eyes squinted and glanced around cautiously. “Hau! Hey!” he called out into the static silence as the crows settled once more. His gaze trailed toward the crows…Odd. He made his voice louder, just in case it was only the old woman home. “Unci!” No answer.

“…Tuwe kakeš hwo?”

He whipped his gaze to the side as a few crows separated from the group. He saw them carrying something in their beaks. A knot of dread began forming in his stomach. His chrome gilded war pony was set to rest, his leather boots creaking a bit as he stretched his stiff legs before striding forward. His entire body began to feel like a cramp, his muscles straining against what some part of him already knew. What some part of him was already expecting. “You guys,” he said out loud, “come on out.” Why was his voice cracking? “I…I just called. You said you’d be home…Toka hwo?” His eyes stung and he blinked rapidly. A few more crows separated, glistening things dangling from their beaks. He noticed that there were some assembled on the porch. Reaching down he scooped up a few rocks and tossed them at the birds to frighten them away. They croaked at him, their voices slow and rough, barbed tongues nearly hot pink against their midnight bodies. They moved lethargically, their glistening forms fat and bloated from a recent feast. They barely carried themselves into the sky. He felt bile rise in his throat.

He strode forward, a cold sweat breaking out over his dusky skin. Fine prairie dust clung to the moisture, making his skin look dull. He could almost feel the dust beginning to weigh him down, covering his skin like mud or ash.

He could barely move now, his muscles straining to carry him. Any movement was fueled by will alone. A desire to see what came next. A desire to confirm what he knew was coming next.

“Oh, God…” he croaked out, “Oh, God, no…” The crow croaked right back at him as it tore a strip of flesh away from the main mass of what was once his grandmother’s cheek. He gagged, a hand moving to his stomach just as the crow raised its head. The crow’s beak glistened with gore as the jagged tips of its beak caught the light. It continued to raise its head until it was pointing directly at the sun. And then it howled.

He clapped his hands over his ears, screaming as the howling only grew louder and louder. Soon, he was howling as well, but not with the animalistic gusto of a beast proud of its kill, but with a howl of rage and pain. He lunged forward, his hand grasping at the greasy body of the crow only to have it collapse in his hands, crumpling limply into a piece of tattered cloth.

The cloth began to drop away, rotting and disintegrating, strands of it clinging to his fingers. The strands tangled around his fingers, shifting from dry and raspy like feathers to soft and silky. He began to weep, his hand dropping away. His broad shoulders drooped as his chin dropped to his chest and he found himself gazing into the eyes of his wife, her head sitting before him.

”You were out there long enough…that the animals got to her. You’re lucky the animals didn’t get to you as well.”

He dropped to his knees, gently scooping the head up, cradling it gently, whispering sweet words to it, making promises he knew he couldn’t keep. He kept whispering, kept praying, kept clinging, even as he heard the rasping breath growing louder and louder until he felt the hot, clinging breath in his ear, the sharp teeth grinding against each other, the animal throat growling out words it shouldn’t have been able to.

”I’ll huff…and I’ll puff…"

“…and I’ll blow your fucking head off, you bitch.”

His body began to twist, the head shifting to be cradled in one arm as the other moved to raise a shotgun. Then it hit him, striking him in the side.

“What the hell did you say?”

What?

“I said,..what the fuck..did you say?”

This was wrong…the dream didn’t go like this the last…hundred-ish times he’s had it.

The pain in his side grew as he was struck again.


+++++

“Get your ass up off my couch…and go get a job.”

The cane hit him in the side again as his eyes peeled open. He raised a hand against the heavy stream of light from the open window hit him full on in the face.

“Mázaškanškan tónahca hwo?”

“It’s almost…one o’clock. I woke you. Sounded like you were having a bad dream. Didn't want you to piss on my couch. It's new. Grandson got it for me. He's a good boy."

His bleary gaze focused as the face of his grandmother came into view. His mouth pressed into a thin line. “…Since when do you know English?”
The old lady’s stern expression didn’t change as she jabbed him in the side with her cane once more before turning around to hobble back to her seat at the kitchen table.

”My grandson has been teaching me. So that…I can order. He’s a good boy.”

He pulled himself off the couch, his broad back sweaty, his shirt and the thin blanket he lay on both clinging to him. Reaching back he brushed the blanket away, stretching in the process. “Order what?” he asked, his face a mask of confusion. His head turned as he followed her raised index finger to the barely audible television across from her.

”Q..V..C.” the old woman said almost proudly, her words still stunted and paused in the wrong areas. Just as his own was, probably. Just a lot worse.
He stretched his arms above his head; hands slipping behind his head as he smoothed his long hair back, retying his dark locks into a tight ponytail.

“I’m hungry…” He grumbled as he stood up from the couch, immediately heading toward the ancient fridge like a foraging bear. The cane cut him off, tapping at his knees before he could reach it and he rolled his head back, his mouth falling open.

”Go into town. Eat there. I have food, but you need to go out. Get fresh air…talk to people.”

He knew what she was trying to say, his expression becoming placid as he sighed and rubbed the back of his head. “Sure, Granny…sure.”
He ambled toward the door, ducking his head as he moved through the low doorway. Her dry voice made him pause for a moment as the wobbly screen-door shut behind him.

”…be careful.”

“…Sure.”

He ambled down the crooked cement steps and away from the weathered government house to his faithful war pony resting beneath the shade of a tree. The last thing he needed was to burn his ass on his own leather seat. With a kick and a heavy sigh his little pony sprang to life. He cast a quick glance back at the house, jumping slightly as the dark shadow of his grandmother stood in the front doorway. Neither of them smiled as he turned back to his bike and took off down the driveway to the main road into Raymond.

He had a feeling it was going to be one Hell of a long road, too…
 
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[size=+1]Zack[/size]

Looking the bottle over, Zack grinned. "Looks like my kinda shit..." He took the glass, and smelled it a moment before he opened his mouth, and downed the entire glass in one fluid gulp, followed by the bottle going to his lips, then being drained in a few seconds. He then grabbed a match from the counter, and flicked it with his thumb igniting it, and then put it to his cigarette. After two long puffs, Zack nodded. "Yeah... that'll do. Keep em' coming bar man." He said seeming pleased with the taste, and strength. "Ol' boy here might want to try one if he's got the kidneys for it still."

Grabbing the bottle with his left hand, Zack spun the bottle a few times between his fingers with an odd grace, and then set it on it's neck balancing it on the counter in one fluid motion. They said a Welder had to have good hands, and Zack was a damn good Welder. All the while he'd been testing the new booze Jason had ordered, Zack's attention had remained on Clay in the hopes that he proved interesting... with either his fists, or his words. Zack had an idea the guy was a man with an offer, but what did a biker want with a little Podunk town?








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Marette looked up, her drink still in front of her and she had just been broken from her reverie by the sounds of men, loud and rowdy men. Possibly ready-to-fight men. Marette fought between her two instincts, the desire to leave and her reluctance to go when she was so comfortably settled in and prepared to get herself very drunk. The smell of the men, she decided, was what had broken her cloud of thought. They smelled like sweat, and animal. It was about as powerful as one could get to a heaving, sweaty beast's scent without grabbing a thrashing wolf and inhaling. Somehow this endeared them to her.

The white cotton of her shirt was starting to cling to her and she noted the temperature increase in the room with the addition of so many bodies. Marette did not like the heat but had already resigned herself to sitting in the corner of the bar and spending her extra money from yesterday on booze. Maybe she'd let the bartender choose her next drink, it didn't matter to her. The vodka needed chasers, she decided. Downing it, at last, Marette slid her way to the bar, taking care to avoid bumping any of the men.

"Another drink, if you would. Doesn't matter. Surprise me". He poured her what was left in his handle, part of a handle of whiskey. More of a burn than she had expected, but this would do. The dark inside of the bar contrasted to her overall pale white appearance and she felt as if she were in a spotlight when she moved back to her seat.
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Natasha smiled slightly up at Jason while he ruffled her hair, slightly happier that she at least had him to go to.

And then she looked at the drink and looked around, her eyes focused on the obvious outsider who smelled.... well.... of more blood and airborne fur than even Zack..... And she didn't even really want to think about that because in her thoughts, had Zack been able to, she could see him getting into a lot more trouble.... well.... to him, it would probably just be some fun fights or something -andshereallyneededtodrinkthisdamnedthingNOW!

So she set her gaze back on the glass bottle and wrapped her small hand around it, spidery fingers lifting the bottle to her lips, then tilted the bottle back.

And didn't set it back down until it was empty.

She blinked slightly, then smiled warmly, liking the taste. She then quietly asked, when maybe some of the noise and voices had died down, for another.

She then watched that "Marette" person come over, get more booze, then go back to her place. Her smell was a LOT different than the other guys here. She smelled like the giftshop she worked at. Kind of a clean, civilized smell, devoid of any semblance of sweat, or blood. It was a cleaner scent.

She hoped, with all her heart, that Sara wouldn't notice her. That she wouldn't come to the bar. That she wouldn't talk to her. ~OhgodifshefoundoutthatI-No, we are NOT thinking about THIS.~

Natasha watched Jason work, her chin coming to rest on the surface of the bar again. The physical appearance obviously showing her class. She didn't hold herself as tall as Sara, or Zack -Not even CLOSE- but she was content to be smaller, or slouch lower than anyone. She was fine with being an Omega. It was comfortable. There was no reason for her to want more.
 
Alex watched the pale girl go up for a drink and head back to her seat. He could tell that she had already had a few to drink. Alex buttoned up a few of his buttons, keeping himself mostly covered because it looked like he wouldn't be taken too well here.

Defiant to the stares he got, Alex walked up to the bar and ordered a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser. Gotta look the part I suppose, maybe I'll go sit with the girl over there. I think I saw her running the gift shop, and maybe she'll take the beer, it's gross... He thought to himself, on the outside was just a laid back grin that was usually plastered onto his face. After getting the drinks he quickly powered down the shot and took the beer, walking over and sitting down next to the girl.

"Hey betty, how's it goin? My name's Alex Chambers, just saw you were by yourself so I figured you could use some company ya? But if you want me to head off I'm crash my board elsewhere." He chuckled a large grin on his face.
 
Kyle looked at Zack and the biker guy with wide eyes. He doubted this was going to end well. There was something off about him, and Zack...well, the less said about him, in the librarian's opinion, the better. It looked like a fight was about to break out, and he watched Zack drink another beer nervously. He turned to Jason. "Uh...I really don't think this is gonna end well..." he gestured to the two. "I'm gonna get out of here..." He paid for his drinks and stood up, walking rather quickly towards the door, eyeing the police as he went. They might help, but it might just set it off... He shook his head. No longer his business. Once outside, he checked the time (not nearly time enough to go to bed) so he shrugged and decided to take a walk.
 

The next five seconds were lost from Charlie's life - erased in a snap of metal and a flood that rose against gravity. It spread like a burn from her foot to her throat, where it birthed a scream. The world spun like a wheel and she felt something press against her back.

It was the ground, and above her was the sky and the clasping canopy of the trees.

There were two weights, one in her right hand and the other on her left foot. The first was lifted, the shotgun taken from her. But the other weight... it would not move... because a part of it was inside her... she could feel it.

Her vision came back and she found the strength to lift her head. And there she saw him... above the metal rim of the beartrap. The hunter slung Charlie's shotgun over his other shoulder, next to his own hunting rifle. Then a third weapon shimmered before her. Cyrus drew the pistol slowly, his other hand methodically screwing the silencer onto it.

 

A garbled noise, caught between a scream and a whimper escaped her lips as what was quite possibly the worst pain she had ever felt enveloped her. Charlie had to clench her eyes shut to keep the tears which sprang forth from blinding her.

The trap was not a very strong one, or else she'd be short one foot right now. She had been damn lucky that it had only caught the front of her foot and not the ankle, and that she was wearing steel reinforced boots. Of course, right now she didn't feel very lucky.

Blood was slowly dripping from her injured foot, and it would take Charlie a lot of effort to get the trap off without any help. Though her main priority at the moment was to keep this lunatic from killing her, before back up arrived. . . in fifteen minutes.

That would take too long.

Charlie forced her eyes to open in time to catch sight of the man standing over her, screwing a silencer onto a pistol. Immediately, her blood filled with adrenaline, dulling the pain and sending her senses into full frenzy and her mind into fight or flight.

Her hand fisted in the cold, moist earth underneath, grabbing a handful of mud and leaves, before she flung it into the man's face, blinding him for a moment. Without missing a beat, Charlie shot up into a sitting position, and slammed her forehead into the man's crotch with as much force as she could muster.

She heard a muffled noise come from him, but did not stick around long enough to see the extent of the damage done to his manhood. There was the sound of leaves rustling as Charlie awkwardly shuffled for cover on all fours, rocks and twigs bit into her palms and tore her jeans, but this did not register to her.

Charlie did not stop until she was behind a nearby tree, her back pressed firmly to the bark. Panting, she reached into her pocket with hand, drawing her EMT knife, the other hand shot up to her radio, and pressed the red distress button. That should speed things up.

Charlie unfolded the sharp, serrated blade on one end of the knife, then let the metal window punch slide out. Immediately, Charlie forced her breathing to quiet and her senses to open further, waiting for her attacker to come around to finish her off.

Come on, you sumbitch. . .
 
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Marette's first reaction was surprise, followed by shame, and then simple curiosity mingled with shock. She was getting somewhere near drunk, certainly buzzed and a bit more than tipsy. No one should see her in such an improper way but, it was only one person. Her caring flickered out like a small candle in a storm.

"Mmm, it's been better but surely worse. I don't mind if you sit here, s'long as you promise not to start any fights. My name's Marette, and how are you this evening?" It wasn't meant to be clipped and she focused her absolute best on sounding put together. There was only the hint of a slur to her 's' sounds, will was winning over the alcohol, her determination not to look foolish. Ahh, vanity, my old friend. Nice to see you, good to know I have not indeed lost you. The man was comforting in a way. He was essentially nothing like Ben, from what she could tell, her late husband had held a quiet force to him, an aura of sorts that drew attention to him and a powerful build to complement. This man did not have that force of character, yet he reminded her of Ben and it soothed her without her noticing at first. He was a kind man, she hoped. There must be something about him. Or maybe the presence of any person socially calmed her these days? She had become so pathetic.

More memories of Ben washed over her as she thought to herself about the man next to her and her sadness threatened to spill over. Calmly, she chided herself for being dumb and focused her attention back on the man beside her.

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The tree was gouged in a spray of wood and smoke, the first bullet slamming into the trunk where Charlie was huddled. The dry crack of the hunting rifle sent birds scattering from the trees and was followed by unnerving silence, punctuated only by the racing breath of the injured girl. The bear trap was still around her foot, like some little predator that had bitten in and refused to let go. Her blood dripped, soaking up the splinters of bark.

Silence.

Charlie's eyes tried to focus, to see beyond the mist that pain and adrenaline had conjured. There was another trap nearby, deployed on the eastern trail into the clearing. She could just make it out, catching the evening light beneath a bed of ferns. How many more there were around here, she could not tell. She pictured the terror of running, of charging blindly into darkness and crashing down amidst the teeth of the hundred-fold traps.

But she could not stay here. She could not afford to wait as he did.

 
Charlie bit back a scream and resisted the nagging instinct to curl into a protective ball when the space above her head exploded in a shower of bark. Tiny smoldering pieces of wood caught in her thick hair, singeing a few of the strands, before one landed on her cheek, burning her slightly and jerking her from survival mode, and back to herself again.

That's when she saw the trap.

And now here she was: injured and alone, deep in the woods and the growing darkness, with this frightening, cold man and his never ending supply of traps.

It wouldn't do just to go tearing off deeper into the woods to be trapped and shot, her only chance of survival was to try to make it back to her jeep and get the hell out of there. The path she had taken to get to him did not have any traps along it, probably because he was still setting them when she got there (Charlie cursed her inattentiveness), so her chances would be way better if she went back the way she came. There was only one problem with that.

If she wanted to take her previous path, she would have to get past him. And with this trap still on her foot, walking was not an option. She would have to crawl her way back.

With a quick, silent prayer, Charlie crossed herself and stuck the knife's handle between her teeth.


The hunter took aim at the tree once more, right for the spot where her head was this time. Just before his finger could pull the trigger, a loud rustling sounded from behind it, before it travelled to his right, through a thick growth of furns and tiny new growths. The leaves shook as something speedilly crawled through them, and he could barely make out her form crawling toward the way she came. the hunter didn't even blink before he switched his aim toward the bushes and fired, the roar of the rifle filling the air once again.

Charlie's coat exploded in a spray of cotton and down feathers, the delicate fibers drifted lazily through the air as they burned. Though there was something not quite right about it, so the hunter made to take another shot.

A rock sailed through the air from the bushes, and crashed into the hand on his rifle with a satisfying crunch of bone.

Charlie had crouched a mere few inches away from where she had hung her coat as a decoy, after she was certain her shot was true, she sprang up again and cleared the way between her assailant and her intended path.

Now Charlie had the difficult task of crawling to her jeep whilst watching for potential traps, and not getting shot in the spine.
 

There was the slightest grunt, the sound of weight hitting the clearing floor, then a rustle. This was the noise that chased her as she crawled. And barley a second had passed when the world blanked out again. A whistle cut the air and she felt something hit her leg, the teeth of the beartrap seeming to bite duller and deeper. For a moment she thought she was crying - hot tears streaking one side of her face. But then her elbows gave out and she realised it was something else... something worse than tears.

Blood dripped from her cheek as the bullet that had hit the beartrap and richocheted across her face split the leaves in front of her. She toppled from the trail and rolled down the incline out of the clearing, further into the undergrowth.

And here Charlie laid, caked in mud, her racing breath agitating the leaves as his shadow loomed off to one side. He was on the trail, the blood from his hand bright scarlet as it gripped the rifle.


 
He was happy that she had introduced herself, and he knew that he wasn't actually trying to just be friendly but he knew that she was alone at her job and maybe he could suck up enough to get work there. Of course he'd play it off like he had no clue.

"Well, uh, here betty, this drink is tote chill but, like I'm not into the whole beer scene ya?" He placed the bottle on the table in front of the girl, letting her take it if she chose and if not, oh well. "So what do you do around here? I just got to town and I haven't really met anyone, except you and..." He paused to take a look around the bar before pointing to Natasha, "That girl over there. I gotta say, you betties totally make the most out of this fresh air! That girl took out a dryer and a bat with one swing ya know? It got me amped to meet more people." Alex nodded and placed his hand on his chin, thinking for a moment, "Man...I need a job too..." He shook his head, saying the last bit quietly but enough that she'd hopefully catch the hint.
 
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Marette took one look at the beer after having taken a long drink of her whiskey. Some part of her brain started crying hysterically that it was opposed and in the end it appeared her stomach won out when it started to feel as though it were doing a complex acrobatics routine. Marette covered her eyes, as though it would make the nausea and misery disappear. When this tactic failed, she looked back at the man.

"If you need... a job... you should come to my store... sometime. I'll see then, when I'll remember your name. S'not looking like the store will be open tomorrow..." Marette stood, her feet unsteady beneath her and her mind fully made up to go home now. She tottered and swayed and felt terribly ashamed of herself and hoped she was drawing no attention. It was most like a vain hope, but the townsfolk knew about her husband and his tragic death, many of the men had met him before their marriage when he used to pass through here to paint the wolves he saaw. There was a small amount of grace given for her loss, and she hoped that no one would think to mention this ever again.

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Alex watched the woman in front of him with a bemused expression. She hung her head like she was going to puke for a moment before she straightened back up, looking like she was fighting her words to make them not slurred but of course maybe everyone out in the country spoke that slowly.

"You'd give me a job? For real! YEAH! Thanks a lot! I'm so amped! Wait til my parents hear, they'll be stoked. I can bum around for a day before you open up shop again ya?" He smiled widely at the woman, even going so far as to take a drink of the beer that he had forgotten to give to her. This isn't half bad... He thought as he took another gulp, looking around the room at some of the judging eyes that met his. Knew that outfit was a bad idea...

He smiled brightly and asked out loud, not really caring who responded, "So what do you dudes do for fun around here?"
 
DOWNTOWN RAYMOND - TRAVIS' GUNPAWN

Grace stepped through the doors, being greeted first with the jingle of the bells and then with the weird smell. Grease, tobacco and what might have been potpourri. The confusion must have been all over her face, as the big burly man behind the main counter suddenly let out a hefty laugh.

"Like it, Gracie? The wife says my shop needs a little more charm!" he motioned towards a bowl of scented pine cones sitting on the counter. "Didn't think there was enough in here for the ladies."

"Uh huh. Might want to tell the misses that ladies don't come in here to smell pretty." she responded back with a grin. Grace stepped up to the counter, placing her hands on it as she looked behind the man at his wall of ammunition. "Did you get my orders in? I'm gonna be real busy tonight."

Travis nodded, reaching down under the counter to pull out a brown paper bag stuffed full and folded over. It had her name scribbled on the side. He then pulled up a shiny new shotgun to lay next to it. "Here ya go! Your old Pop's favorite. Don't know how good it'll be for huntin' them wolves, but should scare the shit out of just about anybody."

"I'm not hunting them, Travis." she said with a grin. "Just making sure none of them get on the property eating up my animals. Charlie was telling me the other day that there must be entire new packs moving in to the area. Nothing like new uppity wolves not knowing their boundaries. She's out there now tracking the packs."

Travis laughed as he rung up the purchase on his register. "Reckon that'll get Miss Marette's panties in a wad, won't it?"

"Ugh. Don't get me started on her. She thinks the damned things are all about snugs and cuddles. I'd like the throw her in the middle of a pack and let them rip her to pieces." Grace didn't hate Marette Deltoya, but she sure didn't get along with her either. Wolves were predators not pets. After paying, Grace took the bag and the gun and wished Travis a good evening.


DOWNTOWN RAYMOND - HARRY'S HOWLING HIPPO

Grace stepped inside, bag in one hand and gun in the other. Walking around Raymond with a shotgun in your hand wasn't a big deal. Everybody knew everybody, so if you were stupid enough to get caught shooting someone, you damned well deserved it. She wasn't here for a drink or a shoot out though. Spotting who she was after, she crossed the room in a few short strides and planted a kiss on Zack Gauss' cheek.

"Hey, there. Figured you'd be here. Look." Grace held out the gun so he could take a good look at it. "It's the one Pops ordered a couple weeks ago. I'm about to head back to the Ranch and get ready for my rounds. Any wolves step their furry paws on my property I'm going to blow their damn heads off."

"You hear that, Zack. Your girlfriend is going to be shooting WOLVES." exclaimed Saraliya from behind the bar. Now that the place was active, she had been back and forth filling orders. No time to bitch. Or shove her foot up the ass of that jerkass giving her little sister booze. But this was too much to pass up. Zack's human girlfriend talking about shooting wolves.

"Yeah, shooting wolves. Or big-mouthed wenches if I'm inclined to." Grace wasn't too fond of Saraliya either, now that she was thinking about it. "Anyway, I'd stay but I'm not feeling so great today. I'm gonna catch a nap before I leave tonight."

"How many wolves are you planting to shoot, huh? We ALL want to know!" Sara chimed again, louder now. Bitch didn't know she was in a room full of them!

"God damnit, Zack, can I shoot her? How much is bail for murder?"
 
The sound of breaking glass was suddenly the only thing that anyone could hear and Natasha was standing near the bar, eyes wide, unfocused.

And in her hands, a broken bottle.

To summarize, she felt as though the woman had threatened her sister, directly with intent. Booze was really not her friend right now as it made her assume the worst. She knew that the woman was Zack's, she didn't usually even think about that relationship, that was his and the human's business. But that woman just insinuated that she wanted to shoot her sister.

"You shoot her, I'll shove this broken bottle so far down your throat that you'll have to shit it out. Jesus fuck, get the fucking shotty out of here, bitch."

The sentence wasn't slurred at all, the words cold and deliberate. There was a sense that the female Omega would clearly do as she said if conditions allowed. Sara might be a surly little brat at times, but that was HER sister. And Natasha didn't give a fuck if they wanted to fight, but with the job, stress, and low tolerance for alcohol, it was a bad time to make a comment like that.

But in a moment, after giving the woman a rabid glare, she grabbed her bag, placed the bottle on the counter, picked up the pieces and placed them next to the remainder of the bottle.

"Sorry Jason......" She murmured quietly before sitting back at the bar. She didn't usually act like this at all. The only other time she recalled loosing it was that time that Sara pushed her too far (She almost slapped the girl, but stormed out instead). This was worse. She considered leaving, then looked around and nodded on the thought, deciding to take advantage of that bitch's absence on her own farm. She could easily get a bite to eat before the woman got back.

"I apologize. I need to go.... sleep this off." She stated before walking out of the bar.