A Walk in the Park

Sleep didn’t come. Coffe helped that. I was on my second pot by the time I gathered my things up and was heading out the door for a long day of drawing while I waited for Hunter.

I didn’t live far from Central Park. But where Hunter lived was on the other side of the massive park in the center of the City. I walked around for a while. I was looking for a specific spot. Though my feet carried me straight there like I had been to that playground multiple times. It held a fondness I don’t remember but that wasn’t from the dream last night either. It’s was my own memory.

It hadn’t changed much from the dream vision. I set up my easle and chairs and just started drawing. I didn’t have anything in mind, I just drew. Whatever my mind wanted I let it out. And I didn’t critique it. 

People would stop and watch before moving on to do their own thing. It was only first light when I started, but the morning rush was over when I heard the familiar patter of little feet running my direction. A small pair of arms wrapped around me and I put a single arm around him and continued drawing. We said nothing just held each other. 

“Does anyone know you are here?” I asked.

Hunter shook his head against me. 

“I should tell Alex, you got here safe.”

Hunter pulled away and looked up at me. 

I smirked, “He knew.”

A small smile played on his face. “Da will pretend to be mad.” He reached into his pocket and held up a charm bracelet. “Da had it fixed.”

“What is it?” I mean I knew what it was, that wasn’t really the question I was asking.

Hunter shrugged, “It’s yours.” He flipped over the medical symbol and there was an inscription

Nox Sétanta – allergies: shellfish – phobia: needles

Hunter giggled, “It’s never said your name before.”

I put the pencil down and plucked the bracelet from his tiny hands while pulling him into my lap. “Is it magic?” 

Hunter shook his head, “No. I don’t think so.” His fingers brushed a bluish stone with a strange symbol carved into it, “This is though, it’s a rune stone. No one knows what it means.”

I brushed my fingers across the smooth surface and everything about my world changed. I couldn’t explain it. I folded the bracelet in my hand and closed my eyes. I felt everything. The pain inside was suffocating, I let it go. Let the power free and I felt again for the first time. I felt the little boy in my arms turn and wrap his arms around me, “Daddy!” He pressed his tear soaked face into the crook of my neck and I cried with him. How the fuck could I forget him!

I remembered the blond girl coming to me. Sitting next to me. I remembered her hand on my leg and then nothing. I woke to nothing. This girl had saved Alex. She made me forget. No – she made the world forget.

Why?

Hunter cried in my arms and I stood up, gathered my things and I walked him home – to my home. Once there I called Ant. I pulled hard through our bonds. But he never came. He didn’t remember.

Hunter had finally stopped crying when we got to my apartment. “Daddy, don’t go.” But I had to set him down and put things away. My reason for the clean apartment didn’t escape me. Someone did this to me and now I had to figure out how to undo it. But it had only worked because I had closed in on myself. 

I walked away from Hunter and he sat down on my bed. Ten feet away from he spoke up, “Mr. Nox, when can I go home?”

I turned and blinked at him. “What did you call me?”

Hunter looked down, beaten ashamed. 

“It’s not a bad thing, you aren’t in trouble.” I rushed over to him and his smile perked up.

“Daddy!”

“What the fuck! Hunts baby, you remember me?”

“Of course I do.” He blinked and then looked me straight in the eye, “But a minute…”

“It has a range.” That’s good to know.

“Okay baby, let’s go find Alex.”

“Da’s at Happy Trails.”

“What now?” I grinned all to knowingly. Alex was definitely not thinking cleanly when he named the club. 

“Da’s at work.”

“How’s he doing – really?” I asked pulling Hunter into my lap on the bed. I missed my family. I pressed my nose into the back of Hunter’s neck and breathed deeply of pack and home.

“Da’s okay. He’s better now that he thinks you are his lost love.”

“And I am, but you can’t tell Alex that I know okay? Someone did this to us. We have to figure it out.”

“Daddy?”

“Hmmm?” 

“You have to keep hiding.” He traced a symbol on my arm and I felt the power hide. But with no actual lines it vanished as quickly.

I sighed. “That’s dangerous.”

Hunter nodded, “But you are bleeding everywhere, they’ll figure it out.”

“You’ve seen it?”

Hunter shook his head, “No. I feel it. When I didn’t know you were my Daddy, I felt you.” He pointed where I had been standing. “But it wasn’t strong.”

I growled and picked up my son and carried him over to the bathroom. I set him down next to me on the counter and I grabbed an eye liner pencil. “This will have to do.” 

“Draw it again.” I said to Hunter handing him.

He drew the rune I had once drawn on his arm on me. My sight was gone, my power vanished into myself.

“You can’t get upset Dad!” He chided me.

I nodded. “I remembered the last time I’d done this, let the magic of the rune take away my sight.”

“I need to modify this.”

“You could use my bracelet.”

“You need it.” I said.

Hunter smiled, “I haven’t worn it in months.”

“Why not?”

“It blocks you from my dreams.”

“You’ve been having nightmares just so you could see me?”

He smiled weakly at me, “Hunter!”

“I missed you.” 

I sighed, “I missed you too baby boy.” I hugged him tightly to me. “Where is the bracelet?”

“In my sock drawer where Cassy won’t get it. She thinks boys underwear is gross.”

“That’s good.” That wouldn’t last long I was certain but for now that was good.

“Let’s go get it then. Can you call Ant?”

“Call Vin.” Hunter suggested. 

“Vin can’t walk…” But then Vin did. And Vin… The whole thing in the AU building. “You set me up.”

Hunter grinned, “It was for your own good. Vin is your’s Daddy. Ant is Da’s. Their bond is stronger now. Vin is yours.”

I think I understood. Alex was Chevalier, what connection Ant and I had once shared had been overrode by Alex taking on Chevalier. I was still Ant’s master, but Alex called to him more. I let our bond weaken. Maybe I knew? I was a little jealous. But I closed my eyes and I called Vin. 

There was a grunt in the bathroom shower were the darkness was deepest. “Fuck!”

“Hunter’s here.” I said.

Vin stepped out of the shower growling to himself. “Fuck! You need a better place. What did you do?”

“I just called you.”

“How…” Vin took a step closer. 3 feet away and his eyes drew wide and then those remaining feet were closed as he wrapped his arms around me. “Holy fucking hell. Sorry Hunts.”

He pointed to the shower and then back at me and he began to unravel the mystery. “What do you need boss?”

I smiled, “I need a ride home, but as soon as you are away from me – three feet it looks – you will forget you know me.”

Vin frowned, “Okay, I don’t like this but what about Alex?”

“I’ll tell Alex at dinner tonight – won’t be able to get around it. Seems I can’t turn off the recognition. So I’ll have to be careful while I figure out a way to undo this.”

Vin sighed, “This fucking sucks. I remember not remembering you.”

“I know. I remember not remembering too.”

Vin sighed, “Little man, you are so in for it when I remember all this again.”

Hunter grinned, and Vin hugged him, “Thank you.”

“My pleasure. Take care of my Dad.”

“Without a doubt.”

“Vin you should stick around. We’ll have to give you a reason that is plausible.”

Vin nodded, “Let’s get you home.”

He offered his hand, and I took it. I carried Hunter into the shadows and we walked to the new apartment I had never really called home.

Hunter’s Dream

“That’s why you wouldn’t let me leave.” I said with a nod. I agreed easily to Alex and even more so to Hunter. 

Alex took my hand and we were in nothingness. Well not nothingness there were lots of orbs of various colors. “Where are we?”

“Erebus.” Alex said calmly, “It’s the place between dreams.” Alex pointed to the bubble we stood next to. “This is me.” He ran his hand over the top of the light blue bubble and smiled, “Usually it’s not quite so shimmery.”

“Why is it shimmery?” I asked. “Can I touch it?”

Alex shrugged, “I guess. I’ve never brought anyone here before. It’s shimmery because you are here.” 

We blinked next to another bubble. It was tiny and hard and looked like it was a prison. “This is you.” Alex said. “I shouldn’t be able to enter your dreams with a shield like this. But I do all the time.”

“I’m not doing that.”

“You are. But you still leak like crazy.”

“What are all these lines?” I asked.

“Connections to people. Most dream walkers don’t see them. But your’s all get lost in a fog.”

“How come we didn’t see any around yours?” I asked.

“I can’t see my own.”

“I guess that’s fair. You’d know a lot more about the people who you’d meet.”

Alex smirked, “It does, but it would be nice to find the people I lose.”

I looked down, “So if you think I’m him, why don’t you follow the lines?”

“The fog…” Alex grinned. He tapped my head and took my hand. “Hunter is waiting.”

We blinked to another bubble, this one was poly-chromatic and shimmering as well. It flickered with images and Alex smiled, “He’s dreaming, which means he’s asleep.”

“Did you think he wouldn’t be?” I asked.

Alex shook his head, “No, but he has nightmares and he doesn’t always fall asleep quickly.” Alex smiled, “He takes after his Dad like that. His nightmares were a piec e of work.”

“Let me guess, darkness torture?”

Alex looked at me, “I guess you remember them?”

I shook my head. “No. But I have those dreams on occasion now.”

“Someone hurts you?” Alex grabbed my arm and turned me towards him.

“No. It’s just a dream. Not like you.”

Alex smiled. “You ready to see what Hunter wants to show you?”

“Is it scary?” I asked.

Alex smirked, “No, well to some it might be.”

But Alex didn’t give me much of a chance to say yes or no. We were inside the bright colorful dream. It was like a movie. “Where are we?” I asked.

“Central Park. Looks like Hunter’s favorite playground.”

We stood in the middle of the pathway and people flowed around us like we weren’t even there. “We aren’t.” Alex added out loud.

“That’s creepy you know?” I asked him.

He smirked without looking at me, his eyes drawn to the group of playing kids on the playground. I watched the same group and saw myself as the bottom of a pile of kids. Kids I didn’t even know.

Hunter and Cass and Drake, I was pretty sure that was his name – Alex’s kids – were all there. And several others I didn’t know.

“Most of them are pack.” Alex said, “Except Liam, he’s a friend of the family.”

Alex laughed, but the sound of his voice came from in front of us and I saw him walking up. “You think the big bad King of New York would be able to fend of little children.” He reached his hand into the middle of the puppy pile and pulled me out and into a soft kiss that the kids all said EWWW to at the same time.

“I remember that day, but I don’t remember you in it. I remember you offering to take the kids out of class for some much needed outside time. It was a day after we nearly lost them all when the Night Life building was attacked. I remember it all.”

I shook my head, “I don’t.”

Alex nodded, “I know. But this isn’t the future – it’s a memory.”

A small voice spoke below me, “I like memories Da.” He said, but he clung to my leg. “I like happy ones, these are so much better than my usual ones.”

I knelt down and smiled at Hunter, “What do you usually dream?”

He smiled but it was sad. His eyes lost that bright shine I loved about him. The world around us grew black and he pointed off in the direction we had been. We looked out on the city and it was dark. There was an orange glow on the horizon, and smoke drifted around the world. 

I looked around us and everything was black except for one building, it stood strong and powerful in the middle of the city – the lights shining brightly but they flickered on and off. Hunter frowned and wrapped his entire body around me. He cried.

“If you don’t remember, this won’t even happen.” 

The image flickered and it was daylight. The city was devastated. Ruins of twisted metal and concrete spotted the rubble. Not a soul alive. And then it was all gone. I was lying in my bed alone. Tears fell. I don’t know why I cried, but I did. Something about it all said something strong to me but I didn’t know what it was.

I couldn’t sleep after that. I flung my feet over the edge as my phone beeped an incoming message. I nearly jumped out of my skin, but I was quickly back to my senses. I grabbed my phone and headed up stairs for coffee. 

I’m sorry about the dream, and sorry it’s a load on your plate, but Hunter’s dreams always come true. And if he knows some meaning – there is nothing we can do to change it.

Alex’s text made me sad. The world was going to come to an end in our lifetime – but what was worse was that I didn’t even know what I needed to remember.

Not My Dream

I wanted to go to bed immediately. But Alex had to get home first, and he probably wasn’t going to sleep right away either. For some reason I was pretty sure Alex wanted to keep me waiting. Leave me on the hook for a little longer, so that I wanted him more and more.

I’d say he didn’t know how much I wanted him, but he did. He could read my thoughts. I wondered how many telepaths there were in the world. It was scary thinking some where out there someone else knew what I was thinking. It didn’t bother me that Alex did. I actually sorta liked it. But he tended to see all the crazy that went on too. And that was bad.

I sighed as I climbed in the shower and took a long hot shower. I thought about Alex and all the things I wanted to be doing with him. How I had wanted him to come inside and I wanted to break my vow of only talking. He was coming over for dinner tomorrow. I’d cook for him, and I knew it would be terribly hard to keep my hands off of him. 

I was gone, too far gone to be able to control my body’s reaction to him, and in the shower I didn’t hide the fact, or the pleasure derived from those thoughts. I’d have kept myself wanting – needing Alex – but I wanted to behave, wanted to follow through, let Alex fall in love with me. Not the idea that I was what he was missing in his life.

He thought he was giving me time. But I was giving him time. Time to see me instead of his ex lover super hero.

I climbed into bed in only a pair of boxers and a tank top and sank into a restful sleep.

I woke in my dreams finding Alex lounging against a tree. “Hey.” I said.

Alex smiled but his eyes never opened as he patted the ground next to me, “You took your time.”

I laughed. “I took a shower.”

“A long shower.”

“Honestly, it could have been longer if my thoughts of you didn’t bring me over the edge when it did.” I said as I sat down next to him.

His smirk grew wider, into an almost smile. “You touched yourself while thinking about me?”

“Among other things.” I said.

Alex hummed deep in his throat and my body reacted to the guttural sound. “And you are so eager to go again.”

“It’s a dream I can have whatever stamina you need.”

Alex laughed and stood up. “Come with me.” He held out his hand and I sighed.

“I just sat down.”

Alex grinned, “I’m sorry. I want to show you something.”

I took his hand and in the next moment we weren’t where we were. Instead I was standing next to Alex – the real Alex on the sea shore. In the sand and my heart raced. “It’s okay Pretty Boy.” He whispered. “I’m here. It’s not real.”

I knew that, but it was sand… and I didn’t know why I was freaking out but I was.

Alex wrapped his arms around me and pressed his forehead into the back of my neck. He murmured soothing words and I felt his presence in my mind. “This is where I come to think.” He said softly.

“I can be me here. This is my dream.”

He pointed to a cabana house on the beach – one of many. “We can go sit on the porch.”

I nodded, and in the blink of an eye we were standing on the patio where no sand crept into the crevices of my mind. But Alex didn’t stop holding me as he turned me in his arms. “You okay?”

I nodded, “I’m with you.” I could feel those same thoughts from before trickling in my head. Thoughts of being in love, of wanting Alex, needing him.

He gave me a sad smile, “I don’t know if I can live up to all that.” He pulled away.

“Why do you have to be in my head?”

Alex shook his head, “It’s hard not to be. You are like an open book, I can’t help myself, and closing the book is something you’d have to do.”

“So tell me how?”

Alex sighed, “Thing is. Quinn and Cass both have a hard time reading you. The get a sense of it, but they can’t read you like someone else. But I don’t have that problem. It’s like there is a direct line into your head. The same reason why I’m drawn to you.”

“Soul mates.” I said and turned to face the water and look out on to the ocean floor. Leaning on the railing took me out of Alex’s reach and he didn’t seem to react. I was cold with the October ocean breeze. It wasn’t hot and sunny like I expected it to be. Why would you dream of an October beach?

I turned and looked back and Alex was gone. He’d left me alone in his dream? I willed myself to wake up but I couldn’t. It wasn’t my dream, was I even in my own body anymore? How did this work. Alex was a telepath, and a dream walker. The two seemed so far fetched that I wasn’t sure what was real and what was a dream. But I knew this was a dream.

I could feel my body under the blankets in my apartment. I could sense I was deeply asleep, but Alex had left me trapped in his dream.

“Not forever.” He whispered from behind me. “Someone woke me.” 

“Take me back to my dream so I can wake up.”

Alex shook his head. “Not yet. It wasnt’ an emergency. Hunter had a nightmare, he was crawling into bed with me. He locked the door when I told him I was dreaming with you. He wants to show you something if you’ll let him.”

The Long Way

I could have hopped a train. I could have started running. I could have done a lot of things, but I started walking home. The air was crisp – almost too cold without a jacket. I expect the vampire to follow me but when I looked behind me there was nothing but the empty street. Well not empty – regular people. People who knew nothing of the world around them. And I wished I was like them. Like I didn’t know vampires and werewolves existed. Or that I was some freak of nature and no one knew what I was. But what bothered me most of all was that I didn’t know who or what I was. Eleven weeks of hunting for myself, only to find there was a whole world hidden from me that seemed to be my life. 

I could feel it. I could feel the pull and the draw and I knew this life I was living right now was not mine. Alex posed the idea that I was his missing half. Maybe he wasn’t far from wrong. As much as I didn’t want to admit it.

I felt a distinct pull of my eye in front of me. A man standing against the building his arms crossed. If it were daylight I would know who it was by the glower in his ice blue eyes. But in the dark he just looked like an angry shadow.

I almost crossed the street before I got to him, but I figured Alex would just follow me anyway. But I didn’t stop and kept on walking past him. He growled under his breath and turned to follow me, matching pace easily.

“Why didn’t you just let Ant take you home? Now I have to walk you home.”

“You don’t have to do anything, Alex. I’m a big boy I can take care of myself.”

Alex growled again but he didn’t counter my comment with anything smart or demeaning as I expected him too. He knew I was right.

“I didn’t know you were going to fight in the ring.”

“I didn’t tell you.”

“Why?” Alex asked.

“It’s none of your business what I do in my free time.” I stated.

Alex stopped and even though I wanted to keep moving I stopped and turned to look at him. He ran his fingers through his hair. A frustrated move I knew. And my heart ached to see him like that. “So we are nothing?”

“I don’t know what we are.” I said. “You keep giving me weird signals.”

“Me?” Alex growled, “What the fuck about you!”

“I’m sorry.” I sighed and turned to keep walking

Alex caught up to me and grabbed my hand. He wasn’t trying to stop me as he entwined his fingers in mine and pulled me closer to him. He whispered, “I’m not walking you home because you can’t protect yourself.”

I smiled, “I know.”

Despite the words earlier we walked back in relative silence until we were a few blocks from Safe Harbor. Alex smiled, “Would you let Doc take a look at you? I don’t know if we can figure out what you are. Or anything, but maybe.”

“I’m just me. What does it matter what I am?” I sighed. “I don’t need to know what I am. If I’m meant to know it will work itself out.”

“Like it always does.” Alex said. “I still think…”

“I know what you think Alex. But let’s not go there. We obviously have feelings for each other.” I squeezed his fingers between mine. “Let’s just go with it.”

“You aren’t even remotely curious?” Alex asked as he walked me down the steps to my apartment.

“No. Well yes, but I don’t need to go poking the dragons and have them flambe me.” 

Alex chuckled. “Human dragon’s can spew fire.”

I blinked. I somehow knew that. “I don’t know if I want to be part of your world.”

Alex nodded, “Neither did I. But here I am.”

Alex took my keys from my hand and unlocked my door. He pushed it open and stood at the threshold. “Hunter plans on running away tomorrow to see you again. It would be best if he found you in the park instead of here. He’ll do it early.”

“You are going to let him?”

Alex smirked, “Only because he’s not doing it to be mean. He’s doing it because he thinks you are alone and you need a friend. And I agree.”

“But isn’t that setting a bad precedence?”

Alex laughed. “No because Izzy and Ant will punish him when he is found. Hunter never disobeys the rules. Cass usually has to make him do things she wants. He’s taken by you, now that he has found you. He knows things, things he won’t tell me. Things that he says would damage everything if I knew.”

I smiled, “I’ll be in the park in the morning then.” I stepped inside and turned to Alex who didn’t follow me, “Do you want to come in?”

Alex smirked, “I do, Pretty Boy, but that’s why I’m not going to. You need time. I don’t want you to think this is all about great sex.” He grabbed my t-shirt and pressed a long deep kiss to my lips. It turned hungry and passionate and when I took a step back to drag him inside he broke the kiss. “Time, Pretty Boy, give it some time. I’ll see you in your dreams.” 

He pressed his hand to my chest and made me back up as he grabbed the door knob and closed the door in front of me. Fuck! He had me all sorts of twisted up.

Five of Ten

The fight started and I fell into what felt like an old habit. Like I’d been in a ring before, but yet I didn’t remember doing so. But it felt comfortable. 

The big man with claws for fingers came at me and I easily dodged away from him, and as he passed behind me I brought a leg down on his back and he collapsed to the ground only to spring up with his nose bloodied from smashing his face into the concrete floor.

The bell rang and he sneered at me. First blood was the rule, and apparently smashing your face into the concrete counted.

The second guy choose himself – so much for my choice. But it didn’t matter as we danced around. I managed to dodge a few blows before I fell backwards and knocked my head against the floor. I saw stars but no blood – we kept going – dancing around each other and trying to fell the other. 

I dodged another blow and as he flew past me I grabbed the back of his shirt and flung him into the beam. He came away with a bloodied lip and I was no worse for wear. 

The third and fourth guy went pretty much the same, dance around each other, trade a few blows before I sent them into one object or another and they come away with blood. But me I was free of all injury – save for the bruises and knocks to the head I was taking.

By the fifth guy I was breathing hard, and the man howled at the ceiling with the throat of a man, but he sounded very much like the wolf he was. His teeth dripped saliva and I knew this time would be different.

He didn’t try to hit me, he tried to bite me – he went straight for the throat. My life felt in dire straights and in a moment of inspiration I pushed as hard as I could at the man’s chest on top of me while I lay on the ground. He flew up and away and I was able to roll away. Where there had been yelling and growling and rooting for the other man, now there was silence. He landed on his feet but everyone including that man stared at me. 

The bell rang and Dom waved his hand with a hidden command and the room empty save for me and the men around him. “What are you?” He asked.

I stood there staring at him with a shake of my head. “What did I do?”

“It looked like something grabbed him and flung him off of you.” Another voice from the shadows said. I turned to look and saw Mr. Tall dark and handsome step out of them. “I’ve only ever seen Venatori do that.”

“Or a dragon.” Dom said, “Though they tend towards fireworks instead of air But they are capable I’m told.”

“Magnus have dragon blood.” Ant said. Alex had sent him. I was sure of it. 

I growled, “Alex sent you to watch over me?”

Ant frowned, “He did. He doesn’t want you to die.”

Dom laughed, “He’s two of out three. If you want to count each battle here he’s only lost twice.” Dom held up a finger, “Pushed him down the stairs and he cracked his head wide open.” He held up the second finger, “And here he was taken off guard by an idiot of mine. Though I doubt he would have lost given his self preservation.”

Ant nodded, “Still Alex doesn’t want to lose him. Even if he insists on putting himself in danger.”

“So what, you are to be my body guard?” I growled again.

Ant shook his head, “No. I was only to intervene if you got hurt. You have not. But Alex won’t like any of this either way.”

“You follow him around like a dog on a leash. What happened to Del Figlio.” Dom retorted.

“I am still the son of the Hound, and I do not follow Alex lightly. We are a team. The three of us.”

Dom sighed, “It was one thing knowing your mother took more than one human as servant. But you take two powerful creatures.”

Ant laughed, “I’m sure Ryan would love to know he’s a powerful creature.”

I was lost. Completely and utterly lost. I had no idea what they were talking about. What was a Venatori? And how did that relate to what I had done. Ant grabbed my shoulder and steered me towards the shadows. I pulled out of his grasp. “I don’t think so.” I said and walked towards the exit. “Dom, I paid my debt?”

He nodded, “Abby and Will will not be troubled by my wolves. And if they are, you may call Liam and I will put a stop to it. Lest I sick you on them.” He beamed. “I don’t think anyone will bother them with that threat above them.”

I nodded and walked down the long empty hall. The metal door was unguarded and I pushed it open. I knew I had a shadow long before I got to the end of the block. “Why are you following me?” I asked.

“You aren’t even a little curious?”

“About what?”

Ant laughed, “Any of it.”

I shook my head. “No. It all feels familiar. None of it’s unnerving but none of it I know.” I sighed, “It’s like I lived another life.”

“You have lived many lives over.” Ant said, “We all have. Ryan could tell you all about the Umbra and the energy and the souls.”

“And soul mates.” I countered.

Ant nodded, “Yes.”

I shook my head, “I want to go to bed.”

“I could…”

I interrupted, “I’ll be fine. The long walk home will be good.”

“It’s a two hour walk.”

“Then I better get started.” I said and kept on walking.

The Brawler

The address that Dom texted me was in Lower Manhattan specifically Tribecca. It was almost as far from my home as I could get. And it was a several hour walk, so I decided to take the train instead. It was dark by the time I stepped off the train and into the night air. There was a faint scent of forest on the air, and the moon was no where to be seen even though the clouds stayed away. The air was cold and I wished for a warm jacket, but I’d forgotten to take one with me when I left the house that morning.

I could swear I heard the howling of wolves in the distance and wondered if it was a trick of my mind or actually the wolves howling into the night. Did werewolves howl? But the people around me didn’t seem to notice so I figured it was a trick of the mind. No howling wolves in the middle of New York City.

The place I went to looked run down, and it looked like one of those things you’d see in the movies with the metal door with a sliding peep hole. I knocked. The metal window slid open in the door and the pair of golden eyes that looked out were more wolf than not. He looked me over and then slide the window closed. 

I heard movement on the other side of the door and it opened seconds later. “Dom was wondering if you were going to flake again.”

“I had a rough night last night – sorry.” I said. It was the truth, I didn’t think I needed to mention the fact that I had forgotten too. It was Saturday night and I was in the middle of a pack of werewolves. I could smell the forest with in, but the only thing I saw was concrete and metal. Even the sheetrock was gone. Only the metal and concrete remained. 

High beams rose from the floor. Some of them bent at awkward angles only to be supported by another beam screwed and welded into place. There was a loud crowd farther in. Their howling and growling reverberated in my bones. I swore I felt the power of something humming through my veins.

I followed the empty corridor to the ring. It wasn’t really a ring, just a crowd of people who circled a pair fighting in the middle. They were both bloodied, one man had claws for hands, and the other’s snout was that of a wolf disfiguring his features but still oddly human.

The crowd parted as I worked my way to the front. No one looked at me, or said anything they just moved – parted like the red sea. A quick glance behind me and the sea had fallen closed as I passed through. I had a clear shot to the man sitting in a chair – the only man sitting in a chair I noticed. Their leader. I stood next to him. “I promised I’d make it this time.”

He didn’t look up. “I expected no less.” The fight continued on, and I watched in near horror as they bit and clawed at each other until one of them fell. A man came out raising the paw of the winner and the other man’s friends helped him off the floor. And still another cleaned up the blood. Dom looked at me, “Still up for a fight?”

I shrugged, “I guess. But I don’t fancy dying.”

“You won’t. We have strict rules.”

“He’s going to be alright?” I asked.

“He’s a werewolf. He’ll heal.” He looked up at me. “You aren’t, so we’ll make it to first blood.”

I only sorta nodded and wondered why I had ever agreed to this. I wasn’t a fighter. And yet I knew that was a lie. I took a deep breathe and put one foot in front of the other and made my way to the ring. Dom stood up when I took the first step. “Tonight, we have a treat. A man who bested three of our own. But he’s not one of us, to first blood. Who will challenge him?”

There was about ten wolves who stepped out of the shadows. All of them bigger than the next, and all three times my size. I looked back at Dom and he smirked. I was so fucked.

“One at a time, let him choose.”

I laughed, “You want me to choose the guy I want to kick the shit out of me?”

Dom smiled, “It’s fair. They all want a shot at you since you hurt their friends.”

“They pushed me down fucking stairs,” I growled.

“And here you are all better.” Dom laughed, “They just want their revenge. You must too.”

I sighed and shook my head and pointed at the biggest of the men. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no bell, no indication at all that the match had started – only the blur of motion of the werewolf before he was on top of me. His fingers extended into claws and he had me pinned to the ground. 

There was a bell and three men were pulling him off of me. “Jared that is no way to treat our guest. Play right or you’ll find yourself at the end come this full moon.”

I had no idea what that meant as I stood up. No one bothered to help me. “We play by civilized rules, even in an uncivilized manner. But still I didn’t say go.” Dom said looking mostly at me.

That was good to know.

I took up stance and I waited for the word to move. The big man stared back at me, his tan skin made the snarl on his face look meaner. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth and I knew I was dead. It may be to first blood, but I knew it would go farther than that.