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What I Left Behind

Pages 127 through 211 inclusive. Total pages: 85

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Chap6 cover

Cover art for Chapter 6

Light from the waning moon illuminates Malaya's bedroom, spilling onto the bed and across her head on the pillow. Something disturbs her sleep, and she grudgingly rises to sit on the edge of the mattress. She notices that the house is strangely quiet, like there's something's wrong. Going to the window, she leans on the ledge and looks out over the front yard. Seeing that Vincent's car isn't in the driveway, she becomes concerned that he's not home yet[1]. She checks her cell phone for messages and sees there are none from her brother. She debates with herself whether she really has anything to be worried about; thoughts of Vincent "hooking up" leave her slightly disturbed. She wonders if she's weird because she's talking to herself, then she tells herself something just feels wrong[2]. Finally giving in, she changes into her jogging outfit and decides to take a jog into town. She figures that if she finds him, it's all cool, and if not, then she gets to run a faster pace than normal because there won't be anyone awake to see her at that hour and freak out. She kneels down to give a final tug to her jogging shoes[3].

Stretching out before her run and the end of the driveway, she considers how strange it is that following the full moon she can smell everything. She notices that if she concentrates she can pick out specific scents, such as her parents, her brother, and even Elias. She decides she needs the practice and sets off to follow Vincent's scent, running full out until she reaches the center of town[4]. She slows down to a jog, then a slow walk, then finally coming to a stop, marveling that she's not even out of breath. She murmurs to herself that she's never been to this part of town on her own, only when she was being taken to somewhere else in a car. She starts walking down the middle of the street, thinking of how the quiet is calming, and of how she doesn't feel anxious. She starts running again, feeling powerful, when a car's headlights come up behind her, and the driver sounds the horn, startling Malaya out of her reverie. She dodges off the road and takes cover behind a utility pole, wondering about people who leave the house at four a.m., and about catching a werewolf off guard. She calms down, telling herself she's in control, then she focuses on her two goals: find Vincent and go home[5]. Running down the road, she continues to focus on her brother's scent. She comes skidding to a halt in front of the university when his trail shows her he was there. Following Vincent's scent to his car where it's parked in the student parking lot, she finds his keys and his broken cell phone on the ground by the driver's-side door. Sniffing the air again, she realizes that Vincent's trail goes on, but his scent is different, like he was stressed out[6]. Malaya takes off after his scent, running hard and fast, slowing when the scent grew faint. Vincent's trail leads her out of town and into the surrounding woods. She follows his scent until she finds that it leads to the creepy old house[7] that she had found with Elias and Marisa's help[8]. When she realizes that it's the werewolves who live in the house that have taken him, she begins to lose control and starts transforming. Standing just out of sight in the woods across the street, Malaya scrutinizes the house. She admits to herself that she doesn't know what to do. She wants to rush in, but she doesn't want to get Vincent or herself killed. But she's afraid if she waits, they may hurt him. Looking grim, she decides she needs help[9].

Back at home, Malaya sits at the kitchen table staring at her phone, while her parents debate what they need to do. Her mother timorously states that it feels like they should be calling the police, but her father reminds her that Mal's friend (Marisa) had told them the house was so warded with magic the police would never find it. Maria comments that at least the kidnappers can't force her to join their pack. Elliot offers his opinion that they can't hurt Vincent or they'll lose their leverage. Mal lets her phone drop to the table with a thunk and stretches her arms out in front of her. She tries to take the blame for their situation, saying that if she hadn't been bitten and turned, Vince would be safe and they'd be normal[10]. Her dad gives her a back hug and tells her that's not how it works. They don't blame her for being what she is. Putting her arms around them both, her mom finishes by saying they love her, occasional fur and all. Looking across the kitchen table to where Elias is standing in the living room, Maria points out that he's getting in touch with his mother, the alpha of Ross Pack. She tells Mal she believes Eli will find a way to help[11].

Eli's stance and expression are stiff and defensive as he pleads with his mother for help from the Ross pack. On her end of the conversation, Sara tells him one of the responsibilities of an alpha is diplomacy. She says she'll take up the issue with the Werewolf Council of Michigan and work out how to get Vincent back through proper channels. She chides him, saying she can't just unleash the pack on a small, random and unregistered pack without looking like lawless bullies out to cause trouble[12]. Elias tries to impress on his mother the urgency of rescuing Vincent before he is harmed, saying they could try to turn him and fail, but she continues to claim that as an alpha, she needs to follow procedure and use the proper channels. She informs him that werewolves can't afford to turn their backs on the established order that keeps them from straight up destroying each other. She tells him the penalty for breaking those laws would be the disbanding of the pack. She says over fifty werewolves, their partners and all of their children would be thrown into chaos. Sara's dog jumps up on the couch, seeming to want to join the cell phone conversation. Elias continues to plead, asking if the council would make an exception for a pack that was killing humans and kidnapping people[13]. Sara tells him that those accusations haven't been proven yet. She continues claiming that her duties as an alpha and her responsibilities to the council prevent her from taking precipitous action. She points out that she's a landscaper, not a cop or a judge, and that is why the council makes decisions as a group. As Elias's hopes of getting pack help fade, he tells his mother that Mal's family is scared. He tells her he needs her help, and not just as his alpha. Becoming petulant, he accuses her of always putting the council first before him, then he goes on to say she does the same with his siblings. Disavowing any responsibility for the way he feels, she says she's sorry he feels that way, and that it's a bigger conversation that she didn't have time for right now. He comes up with the hopeful idea that he and Marin could go with Malaya to get her brother back, but then Sara tells him she would have to publicly disavow his actions because it would make her look bad in the eyes of the council[14]. He asks her what that will mean, and she tells him he and Marin would be out of the pack pending an investigation. Eli slumps down and sits on the arm of the chair behind him, finally losing hope and admitting defeat. Sara continues, claiming her hands are tied, and he'll just have to stay calm and wait until the council acts.

Marin and Marisa come back into the Walters' home as he's signing off; they can see that the conversation he'd been having has left him feeling dejected[15]. He stares at his phone with disappointment written on his face. Noticing the couple, he calls out a morose greeting to the pair. When Marin asks if he's okay, he answers with an offhand reply and then asks what they have learned. Holding up her book of protection magic, Marisa answers that she's put up protection wards all around the Walters' house and property. Marin tells of her fruitless search for signs of incursion, saying she doesn't believe the rogue pack had been there lately. Malaya walks into the room, and when asked how she's holding up, she answers not too well. Right then, someone knocks on the door[16]. Mal opens the door and finds Charlene waiting there. After exchanging greetings, Mal asks if Charlene has found anything. She answers that magic is out. She had conjured a small spell (that looked like a herd of pink deer) to test the barriers around the captors' house, but once the spell was inside the treeline, it dissipated like the spell energy got sucked away and wasn't returned to her. She said it felt really weird[17]. Malaya's parents join the group that has gathered in the living room, just in time to hear Marisa ask Elias what his mom had said. Trying to keep the answer as painless as possible, Elias is obviously distressed and embarrassed by having to say that she kind of can't help … yet. Looking confused, all Malaya can angrily ask is "What?"[18] Elias explains that the werewolf council has to be notified so they can decide how Sara should respond, then he tells them that she doesn't know how long that will take. Marin suggests that she, Eli and Mal could take on the kidnappers themselves, but Eli tells her they would be expelled from the pack, possibly forever. Marin's disappointment is palpable as Eli tells her that he can't ask her to defy their alpha. Mal's parents leave the room looking scared, with her mother holding her folded arms at her waist like she's in pain. Maria tells them she needs to lie down and asks to be notified if they hear anything. Malaya watches them leave with a look of fear and helplessness on her face[19].

Looking around the room, Malaya spots Elias standing by a window, looking lost and alone; looking further, she sees Marin being comforted by Marisa as she protests that she feels useless; and she catches Charlene watching her with deep concern on her face. Anger at feeling helpless suddenly blazes up and Malaya explodes. Roaring out an obscenity, she declares that she's getting her brother back, and she'll take on as many freaking werewolves as she has to[20]. Marisa worries about her going alone, while Marin assures her the council will come after her. Malaya tells her she doesn't know what the council is, but they should stay out of her business if they're not going to help her. Elias tries to tell her she's not ready to go out on her own, giving her his opinion that she'll be torn apart. She tells him that she's not waiting on a group of strangers to keep her brother from getting hurt. Elias impulsively offers to go, saying he can sneak in, sniff out Vincent and get him back out, claiming he was always good at stealth. He goes on, saying he feels responsible since it was his following her on the full moon that led to this. While Marisa and Marin look on dumbfounded, Charlene stoically pronounces that she thinks it's a dumb ass plan[21]. Saying he's not going to argue that it's not a shitty plan, he asks the group what's the alternative. There follows a moment of silence as they contemplate what he's said. Charlene speaks up first, offering to cast a spell to hide him, noting that it may stop working when he gets closer to the house. Marin offers to track him using her cell phone, chiding him send a text if he needs help. Malaya stands confused and maybe a little put out as the planning unfolds around her. Elias is hopeful that the plan will work; he assures them that he can do this[22].

Elias stares up at a diffused light, looking confused as a slight breeze blows the hair around his face. Aubrey's familiar silhouette eclipses the light in a doorway that faces down a flight of stairs. Elias, bound hand and foot, bounces down these unfinished steps, occasionally impacting a tread with a grunt, until he reaches the bottom, landing with a resounding THUD that ends his trek with him upside down, back against a wall and grumbling a pained "ow." Vincent watches Elias's grand entrance from his place deeper in the cluttered room[23]. He calls out to Elias, who answers with a chipper greeting and saying he'd found him, acting like this was the way he'd planned it. Vincent skeptically agrees it was a good job. While Eli performs an athletic maneuver, Vincent asks if he's okay. When he lands on his feet he answers that he will be, after he rests a bit. As he hops over to where Vincent is sitting, he gives a quick rundown on the fight, claiming he hurt them more then they hurt him. It was Tim's lucky kick to the head that finally led to his capture[24]. Watching as Elias sits carelessly beside him, Vincent tersely asks "aconite?" while staring at the flowers wrapped up in the chains around Elias's wrists. Elias acknowledges that it's wolfsbane and that he can't change when he's this close to it. He also says that the silver chains will "burn the shit out of him" if he tries to get werewolfy. Vincent asks if that's clear tape he sees, and Eli laughingly answers that he can see them upstairs at a table trying to figure out how to put the bracelets together. Uncharacteristically, Vincent humorously completes the image by saying it was "like a bondage-themed werewolf craft party from hell[25]." Frowning ferociously at Elias's demented expression, he tells him to stop making that face. Elias finally breaks out in hysterical laughter, struggling to say werewolf craft party. Vincent tells him it wasn't that funny, but Eli tells him it was and accuses him of having a sense of humor: Vincent simply denies everything. Elias suddenly hunches over with a cry, throwing his head back. Eyeing Elias dubiously, Vincent watches as Eli shivers in pain and asks him again if he's sure he's okay[26]. Elias tells him he just needs time to heal a bit more, that a little internal bleeding never hurt anyone. Vincent gently points out that it totally has, so Eli suggests they probably weren't werewolves.

Returning to an earlier conversation, Eli asks how he'd recognized the wolfsbane. He tells Elias that he's a Biology major with a focus on Botany and Agriculture, and in answer to the next question, he admits he likes plants. He relates the story of how his family had a vegetable garden that they all tended together, and then how he took over that garden as he grew older. He'd even grown a really big cabbage once[27]. Tugging gently at a cluster of aconite blossoms, Elias wishes he'd done the whole college thing, and when asked, he tells Vincent that his mother had saved enough for her youngest two children to go to a school in state, but his sister had her heart set on studying Marine Biology in Florida. So, he offered to pass for now so she could go; Vincent says that was good of him. Elias goes on to say how his mother has been grooming him to take over as pack alpha, so he wouldn't have had time for school anyway. He tells of doing all he could to get his mother's approval, while his siblings made plans, had hobbies and had kids. He just focused on what she needed and being a good werewolf. Taking a darker tone, he reckons his mom had put all her eggs in the wrong basket, venturing he could barely lead himself without getting into trouble. With a bleak frown, Vincent asks if those other werewolves had damaged his self-esteem before throwing him down the stairs[28]. The blossom cluster he tugged loose falls in shredded pieces from his hands, a victim of his nervous energy as the conversation touches on personal matters. Elias affirms it was nothing their captors did, admitting only that it was caused by ongoing pack drama. Making an assumption, Vincent wonders about their captors using something they said against them. Elias tells him that they can't be heard, nor can they hear their captors. Standard for werewolf homes, the interior of the home is covered by a soundproofing spell. Feeling surprised, Vincent asks if they could just … leave. Eli admits that they could, just as soon as he heals enough to protect them, but they might still be seen. Vincent thinks they'll have time to get the chains off[29]. Vincent worries that they may be oversimplifying. Elias points out they aren't in a movie with laser tripwires or snipers on roofs or last minute saves… Belying his claims of having no leadership skills, Elias begins to organize and plan out their escape. Vincent notes the first order of business should be to remove the chains. Elias concurs, and then he points out a small barred window they could leave through, noting that once the chains are off he can break the bars. They agree the last thing is to run like hell[30]. Trying to reassure Vincent, Elias asserts an advantage for having beat the other wolves so badly. He knows they'll be seen either way, so he'll keep the others away from Vincent. After what he went through, Vincent is feeling some angst about facing them again; Eli offers understanding for his situation. He tries to take the blame for their present circumstances, saying he shouldn't have rushed in, but rather he should have let his mother resolve things. When Vincent finds out how long that resolution might have taken, he thanks Eli for not waiting and leaving him alone in the basement. Elias claims it's still his fault, all the things that have happened to the Walters family, but Vincent is not Malaya. Not giving him time to finish, Vincent angrily intercedes[31]. He tells Elias he can beat himself up all he wants, but he can't take the blame any of this. He explains how Malaya has been terrified of hurting someone since he was born. Malaya's life isn't normal. She goes to work, then she goes home, the only two places she feels okay. She can't drive or go to school. He tells Elias she's his big sister, and he's proud of the way she's handled the werewolf issues on her own. He goes on, saying it was after she met Eli that she went somewhere not work or home. He allows that he could be kidnapped a thousand times for that. Surprised, Eli asks if he really would, and Vincent answers he doesn't prefer it, but sure[32]. The next little while they are both quiet, keeping their thoughts to themselves. While Vincent seems to be just contemplative, Elias seems to be mulling something over. Finally, he cuts his eyes over to Vincent and says thank you. Knowing what his erstwhile rescuer must be thinking, he answers no problem[33].

Upstairs in the creepy house, four of Connie's Wolves hang out in Ginger's room: all of them have visible bandages except Aubrey. Marcus is sitting in a transitional chair upholstered in worn-out burgundy velvet, bandaging his arm and complaining about stealing a dude, griping he hadn't signed up for that. Harvey, sprawled out on Ginger's unmade four-poster bed as she takes time out from bandaging her wounds, concurs with Marcus, adding she didn't agree to live in the dilapidated nightmare house either. Wearing torn nylons and bandages, Ginger sits relaxed at her desk with her legs stretched out in front of her. She asks why they have gathered in her room, then she asks if they'd had a choice to not steal the guy. As an aside, she asks what "dilapidated" means. Harvey answers Ginger's questions as asked. They're in her room because it's bigger and because it's farthest from Connie's rooms. She says dilapidated means they live in a terrifying shithole. Finally, Harvey tells her that, as for choices, she has to ask Aubrey that. Angrily, Aubrey grinds out that They. Had. No. Choice. Standing in the middle of the room, she growls that it wasn't her plan. She was just following orders[34]. Marcus argues that they do have a choice: they could just leave. Aubrey explains that's not an option. She says that if they get too far away, the pack bond will weaken and Connie won't have the power to stay alive. Harvey very angrily tells
Guard dog Tim

Tim guarding the basement

her to just let her die. She rants that Connie has been emotionally torturing them for two decades. Harvey wants to know why Connie gets to suck them dry for her own sake. A much subdued Aubrey answers that Connie will drag them down with her. If they try to leave, she will fight to destroy them before they reach the city limits[35]. Laying out Connie's requirements, Aubrey tells the group that they have to bring that werewolf to the house, and they have to convince her to join the pack by any means possible. Her brother, and her weird friend, are their best options. Marcus complains that they are so screwed, because it took the five of them to beat the one werewolf, and that was down to Tim being there. Ginger states that's why they left Tim on guard duty. Tim is sound asleep in front of the basement door, his leg twitching as he sleeps. Aubrey dolefully announces that if they don't pull this off, she doesn't really know what they're going to do[36].

Malaya stands at the window simply staring out into the night. She walks past Marisa sleeping in a chair in the living room, her book of magic hugged to her chest. Walking barefoot to the kitchen, she pulls her hair back into a high ponytail. In the kitchen, Elliot is worried for his wife. He rests a hand on her shoulder as he offers her a sandwich, coaxing her to eat something. Malaya appears to be quietly worrying, and may be coming to a decision[37]. Quietly slipping out to the front porch, Malaya eases the door shut behind her. Turning round, she sees Marin standing at the porch railing, looking out into the night. Calling out to her, Marin answers, saying she was just … waiting for them. Malaya seems to have made a decision as she looks up at Marin. She tells Marin that she thinks she's going to go help them. Without checking who "they" are, Marin asks if she's sure[38]. Malaya talks with Marin about her decision, worried about her inexperience. She also worries that maybe there's nothing she can do. But she can't just sit around anymore. Marin says she understands that. Hearing the longing in her voice, Malaya gently asks if she will come with, but Marin is forced to turn her down. She tells Malaya that she owes her alpha, Sara, more than her life, more than her everything… Malaya tells her there are no hard feelings. She doesn't understand all the werewolf stuff but she's not going to hold it against her. Marin conveys her admiration, telling Malaya that if she ever decides to lead a pack, they will follow her to the ends of the Earth. Malaya smiles happily, feeling pride in herself for the unsolicited compliment[39].

Elias decides it's time to escape and lets Vincent in on what he's thinking. He says he's healed enough to break the chains if Vincent can pull the wolfsbane out of the links. Vincent tells him that aconite is too poisonous for humans to handle safely. Elias considers picking the locks, but neither of them have ever done it. With a sideways tilt of his head, Vincent recalls something that he saw on the internet a while ago, but he's not sure it will work[40]. Finding a hammer amongst the clutter, Elias places the lock on the floor and strikes the lock body with the hammer, causing the hasp to spring open. Both are amazed that it worked at all, and Vincent declares he needs to replace his bike locks. Once the locks are off, Eli handles the rest of the chains easily. Unfettered, the two look at the window that leads to their freedom, then they decide it's time to move[41].

Malaya runs barefoot through fields and woods, stepping over roots and rocks, splashing through shallow rills, finally coming out at the fence that surrounds the property where the guys are being held captive. The waning moon lights up the fields and casts shadows around the house and among the trees[42]. Staring at the house from the wooded boundary, Malaya steels her will and prepares her mind, serenely telling herself to focus … and then she tells herself to focus again, bearing down with her will[43]. Bearing down even harder, she tries ordering herself to focus. Then, with a sigh, she concedes defeat, unable to change by sheer force of will, not even her claws. Squatting on the forest floor, she wraps her arms around her head and drops an f-bomb. She despairs of being able to help and cries out at the difficulty involved. Suddenly, her subconscious throws out a memory of her fully transformed wolf, frightening her once again[44]. With her hands over her face, she pleads with herself to calm down and stop bringing up frightful memories of her wolf, but the memories continue, getting more intense with time. Even more frightened and anxious, she puts her hands over her ears and tries to suppress her memories, telling herself these thoughts aren't helping[45]. She finally gets her thoughts disciplined, so she stands up, and with a determined look on her face, she tells herself to do it. Standing there quietly, she discovers that it's her body that hasn't relaxed now, and her heart is racing. Pacing back and forth, Malaya tries to talk her body into calming down[46]. Finally, she stops pacing and takes a deep breath in, then slowly exhales. She thinks to herself that she's spent her whole life avoiding this, like being a werewolf can just be willed away, but … if she stopped holding back? She might hurt someone again. She doesn't think she has a choice[47]. She can't help them if she's afraid. She can't help them in her human body. Even though she might hurt someone, even though transforming feels like all her bones are breaking simultaneously, there's a terrifying beast inside her somewhere, and she needs to find it. Even as that last thought passes through her mind, her eyes begin to glow[48].

The hammer lies on the floor amongst the shattered remains of the window the guys plan to escape through. Elias grabs hold of the metal bars and cracks them free of the wall, scattered bricks tumbling to the ground. He cries out, pressing his arm into his gut, pain apparent on his face. Vincent asks if he's okay, getting Eli's grunted answer that it's the wolfsbane and it doesn't matter. They need to run[49]. They climb out of the opening Elias has created and make a run for it. Eli stops Vincent with an outstretched hand, keeping his new friend behind him, when they are suddenly confronted by their captors; Tim is nowhere in sight. The sides face off, neither willing to give ground[50]. Aubrey yells, telling the guys they're not leaving. Elias tells them to think,warning them they don't know what they're getting themselves into. Harvey snarls they don't have a choice. Elias rebuts, saying they do, and if they let them leave, the werewolf council will probably let it blow over. Marcus tells him it's not about politics, it's about survival, and they need his other werewolf friend to do that[51]. Vincent steps in, demanding to know why, saying his sister has nothing to do with them or their problems. Aubrey stands her ground, saying that she's already connected to their pack, that she is one of them. Aubrey claims this mess all could've been avoided if she'd agreed to help them sooner … but she hasn't, so the guys stay with them until she joins them. With an insouciant look, Elias calmly tells them he doesn't think so. And with eyes glowing and claws growing, he announces that they're leaving[52]. With his eyes shining brightly, he tells the pack he doesn't want to hurt them. Harvey glares at Elias, and Ginger timidly keeps an eye on her. Marcus and Aubrey seem to know what's coming. Aubrey speaks up, pointing out that they're outnumbered. Aubrey and Elias stare each other down as Aubrey's eyes also begin to shine. Elias suddenly pulls back from his change and grabs Vincent up by the waist, ignoring his protest. The four pack members watch in stunned amazement as Elias runs off with Vincent on his shoulder[53]. It's then that Tim puts in an appearance, snarling fiercely and cutting off their planned avenue of escape. Elias puts Vincent down again and prepares to ward off Tim. Sensing something behind him, he turns about in time to intercept Aubrey's attack. While Aubrey wrestles with Elias, Harvey comes in low and tackles him around the waist[54]. Elias demonstrates the difference between an experienced werewolf and beginner werewolves. Using Harvey's momentum and Aubrey's arms, Elias flings Aubrey away, and she crash lands on Marcus, knocking him to the ground. Next, Eli performs a back flip, carrying Harvey along with him until he's doing a handstand. With supernatural speed, Elias brings his legs forward and kicks Harvey in the breadbasket, sending her careening into the side of the house just over where Vincent is crouched[55]. The partially transformed Elias warns Vincent to stay behind him, saying he's not as fast as he should be. Tim takes that moment to chomp on Elias's arm causing him to yell out in pain. Using the abused arm like a flail, he flings Tim off into the distance. Injured now, he warns Vince that he's about to go nonverbal[56]. Eyes already aglow, the fur starts sprouting at the hands and wrist and spreads up the arms. As his clothes stretch, already torn by a prior shift, his tail flows like a river of fur from the end of his spine. His legs stretch up and his ankles and heels lift from the ground so he's walking on his toes, claws sprouting dangerously from his newly formed paws[57]. Fur surrounds his no longer human face as his nose and mouth stretch forward into an elongated snout packed with glistening fangs and teeth. Aubrey, Harvey and Marcus gape nonplussed at the show of raw power in front of them, while Ginger, as she has throughout this fight, lingers behind and off to the side of the others. Vincent stands there wide-eyed with a gaping mouth, stunned by what he's seeing, a million thoughts all racing through his mind.[58]. Huffing from the transformation, Elias finally stands in all his furry werewolf glory. He turns his head to look at his captors: Marcus is looking worried but determined; Aubrey looks like she's having second thoughts and perhaps remembering another werewolf she'd seen; Ginger is looking for a way out; and the bravest of them all, Harvey has put on her game face, and she dashes into the fray[59]. Using the claws at the end of her foot, Harvey swipes across Elias's left forearm, drawing blood. For Marcus, the balance has finally tipped. He jumps in, clawing at Eli's torso furiously. Seeing the others fighting, Aubrey bucks up her courage and jumps in, kicking his feet out from under him. Ginger stays on the sidelines and out of everyone's way. Elias uses the momentum from Aubrey's kick and performs another back flip, allowing him to withdraw and regroup, landing in front of Vincent and startling him[60]. Elias returns to the offensive, slashing and scratching Aubrey and Marcus across the torsos, and kicking Harvey hard in the breadbasket. Tim returns to the fight again, jumps head-down onto Eli's back and bites him ferociously over the kidney, causing Eli to howl in anguish[61].

Bending over her wounds, Aubrey's not healing as fast as she should. Gritting her teeth, Aubrey sees Connie at the window in the house. Watching the fight from her office window, Connie complains that they're using too much energy to heal. Pulling back, we see that Connie is on her knees leaning against the window pane. Sliding down to sit on the floor, she gripes they are the weakest werewolves on the planet. She heaves a vase into the corner where a dark werewolf is watching from the shadows, yelling accusingly that it's the werewolf's fault. Coming back to the window, the battle-weary Connie focuses on Ginger and calls out her name[62].

Back at the fight, Elias nonchalantly reaches around and peels Tim off like a pesky tick, and he flings Tim at the house. Vincent watches Tim's flight. In time with the crash of Tim's landing, the pack tries another tactic, this time mugging Elias all at once, eliciting a worried obscenity from Vincent. Vincent is so distracted by the impact of the werewolves hitting the ground, he doesn't notice Tim approaching with his eyes focused on him[63].

Body relaxed, thoughts calmed, Malaya tries reviewing the discussions she's had with Elias about how to be a werewolf. He told her you don't learn to control the change, you give in to it. You get in touch with the wolf and it all just flows. There's no thought to it. Just give in begins to echo in her mind … Give in … and the change begins[64]. The mantra Just give in continues as her transformation flows over her body. Her snout begins to lengthen and her teeth grow into fangs[65].

Tim continues his single-minded dash toward his selected victim. At the last moment, something prompts Vincent to turn to see what has caught his attention. Too late to put up any kind of defense, Tim chomps on Vincent's right lower ribs and hangs on. Vincent cries out as he falls, and he pushes unsuccessfully at Tim's head[66]. Furious at getting bitten, Vincent resorts to kicking at Tim's legs. After three kicks he finally breaks free of Tim's grasp. Holding his side, Vincent tries to elude Tim who is galloping in pursuit. Hot on the trail, Tim is denied his quarry by a large black-furred clawed hand reaching down and stopping his attack[67]. Vincent dubiously recognizes Malaya in her wolf form just as she casually flips Tim across the yard into a tree trunk, knocking him unconcious. Speaking in Tagalog, Vincent tells her he'll be okay, and she needs to help Elias so they can get out of there[68]. He waves to her as she reluctantly leaves his side. He also sees that the werewolf named Ginger is not only off to the side, she's across the road, staying out of it all. As Malaya helps turn the tide and gets Elias out of the scrum, Vincent notes that this has been the weirdest fucking day of his life. The shock starts to wear off and Vincent begins to feel the pain of his wounds, causing him to fall to his knees. Shaking with pain and trying to put pressure on his wounds, Vincent tells Tim that he's a dick[69]. Over on the sidelines, shaken by the violence, Ginger calls for a truce … but the others aren't having it. Tim awakens with a shake of his head and immediately spots his latest now injured victim. An unknown force grabs Ginger and lifts her in the air; Marcus calls out to her in fear for her well-being[70]. Ginger appears to lose consciousness when she falls back to the ground. At the same moment, the others all lose their energy and collapse; all but Tim. He squats down, readying to surge at Vincent. Malaya sees what Tim is up to[71]. Standing in front of the prone human, Malaya stomps her left foot forward while keeping her eyes on Tim. She bends her left knee while bringing her whole body forward, assuming an aggressive stance, while Tim approaches with his signature four-limbed gallop. She concentrates her stare on Tim and enthralls him. He suddenly falls asleep in mid-gallop and tumbles gracelessly to the ground[72]. Having already returned to his human form, Elias grabs Vincent, then he tells Malaya to hurry, saying all the energy is being sucked out the place. They have to leave now or they're next. As they hurry off the property, a large tree falls, nearly hitting them[73]. Elias offers an obscene comment as more trees fall across the property, none coming close to the defeated pack. He tells Malaya they have no time to worry about the pack, as he hops onto the fallen tree trunk. He reminds her they need to get Vincent back to her house. Elias, Malaya and Vincent move off in the distance, leaving the pack scattered about the battlefield[74].

Inside the house, in Connie's office, Connie is laid out in front of the window, hanging on to a tattered curtain. The potted plants that aren't dead are dying, and there are dead leaves all over the floor. She keeps repeating, "It's not enough." Groveling to the wolf hiding in the shadows, she begs to be saved, just one more time, claiming she could be great again. The wolf snarls from its corner, but then it approaches curiously when Connie tells it that it should have left her to die…[75]

Vincent's parents watch anxiously as Marisa first prepares then performs a healing spell on their son, the bands of glowing circles fairly exploding out from the patient, while the rest of the group watches anxiously nearby[76]. When the spell is complete, Marisa stands up and dusts imaginary dust off her hands. Vincent complains that he feels like he was hit by a bus, a bus that likes to bite people. Standing with the others, with Malaya towering over them all, his mother asks if he's going to be a werewolf now, too. Marisa startles Vincent with her exuberance and enthusiasm by poking at his scars, telling them all that this was actually the coolest part. The scratches had protected him. Malaya is saddened as she is reminded once again of her attack on her younger brother[77]. Elias continues with the explanation, saying that a scratch like that can actually inoculate humans against being turned. He goes on to say that it was a drastic measure that had once been used when werewolves were more warlike, as a way to protect a pack's humans. Creating a ribbon of illusion with a wolf's head at the fore, Marisa adds to the explanation, saying that transforming requires magic. Tim could've infected him, but without the magic, Vincent wouldn't change, and he could have died of an infection. Vincent snidely remarks that's awesome. Sensing her anxiety, Charlene makes sure Malaya knows that she had saved her brother's life all those years ago, as her much relieved parents look on proudly[78]. Mollified by Charlene's assertion, Malaya clasps her hands together, and she allows the change to sweep over her, transforming back to human. Holding her stretched-out clothing up at the waist, the now much shorter Malaya steps up to her brother and tells him how glad she is that he's okay. She was going to hug him, but he's not wearing a shirt and she says he smells bad. Vince thanks her for the rescue and tells her she doesn't smell good either[79]. Growling stomachs announce that the two werewolves who had changed earlier need refueling now. Malaya asks her mami if there are enough leftovers to feed them, or if perhaps there is a pizza place that delivers at five a.m. Her mother says she'll come up with something. Marin announces that she and Marisa are going home, and she suggest to Elias he stay, just in case the kidnappers decide to stir up trouble. Maria thinks that's a good idea and tells Vincent to get Eli some pajamas. Eli follows with an uncertain look on his face. Malaya says she needs to change clothes, too[80]. On her way to the front door, Charlene says she needs to open the shop soon, so she's going to get going. Elliot offers to open the store, claiming he'll never sleep now, but he does ask her to come in for the lunch rush. She gratefully accepts his offer. Out on the porch, Elliot tries to casually ask if she's really a witch. When she says yes, he replies that so many things aren't … not real, (well put) like witches and werewolves. (yep!) Charlene asks again if he's sure he doesn't need sleep, and he tells her he'll be fine until he passes out at noon. As she takes the steps off the porch, she tells him to have fun[81]. Going up the stairs toward the bedrooms, Malaya thanks Elias for all that he did. His modest reply is he was happy to do it; she tells him thanks all the same. She asks him if he's still going to teach her everything he knows, and he says only everything she hasn't figured out yet. From the door to her room, she praises him for being the best damn teacher a werewolf could ask for; he says he'll try his best[82]. Stepping into Vincent's room, Elias is disappointed to find that Vincent has already put a shirt on. Vincent throws some clothes at Eli, telling him they should fit since he's taller. Holding up the shirt, Elias notices the baseball team name printed on it, and he asks Vincent if he likes baseball. Vincent's typically terse response is that he plays baseball. Elias tells a story of playing high school ball, seeing as it was the only sport where his mother wasn't afraid he might break the other children by accident. With his body language fairly screaming bashful, Vincent haltingly lets Elias know that the season opens in the spring. He suggests that Eli could come watch a game, if he wants, or whatever. Elias readily responds that he would like that[83]. Elias comments that Vincent seems to be taking the night's events pretty well. Vincent admits that he'll probably have weird dreams as it takes him a while to process things. He's never been kidnapped or bitten before. Elias offers an understanding ear, and then an apology for not doing a better job of protecting everyone throughout all that happened. Vincent says it's fine, then he thanks Elias for saving him and keeping him company in the basement. With a nervous smile and scratching fitfully at his unruly muttonchops, Elias tells Vincent no problem … that's what he's there for[84]. Using the Walters' bathroom to change in, Elias talks to himself. He muses that he's not used to getting thanked so much, especially for something he'd kind of screwed up repeatedly. He goes off on another tack, commenting on the Star Trek pajama bottoms he's been loaned, then listing some of the things he's learned about his host.He decides Vince is an interesting guy. Throwing his dirty clothes to the side, he notes he can pretend rushing in to save Vincent won't have consequences, but he doesn't have that luxury for much longer. He knows he has to call his mother and update her. Standing at the sink and looking at himself in the mirror, he pulls at his sideburns and notes that he also needs to shave[85]. Pointing at his reflection, he tells himself it's going to suck, that the consequences are going to be awful, but he feels he did the right thing and he'll get through it. But the longer he stares at his reflection, the more uncertain he becomes. He finally decides food comes first, difficult conversations later. With his torn clothes draped over his arm, he heads for the bathroom door. Turning off the lights and has a last thought: He is so screwed[86].

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References

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