Moonsilver Transfusion Chapter 3+4
Chapter 3: News Flash
“This is KATU news and this morning we have a strange story for you.
Many residents of the Mill Park neighborhood were woken by the sound of a woman screaming early this morning. Investigation found a white-haired woman, in the grip of what residents and CERF responders initially believed to be a psychotic episode. As you can see in the video, she’s gripping a large pile of garbage while rocking back and forth. However, people quickly realized they were dealing with a supernatural event when that pile animated as they approached. You can see it shift there. One man was injured being flung back after attempting to touch the woman. Witnesses reported he was flicked by a huge finger. Neighbors insist the mound wasn’t there yesterday and the house was undamaged.
A call to the 911 operations office confirmed that the address was the site of an attack by an unknown entity on a family of four. One person was injured and is reported to be in stable condition. A code W for weird. Paramedics had just left the scene when the wailing began. CERF cordoned off the area. The woman, identified as Abigale Night, stopped screaming at the top of her lungs at approximately five-thirty AM and collapsed. She recovered quickly and issued her first statement to the reporter on site that was unwilling to leave her alone.”
“I’ve done what I can. It will be quiet for the next twenty-four hours. You all now have to decide what do before then.”
“Decide what? Who? What is it?”
“It's… something that woke up during… the fey attack on Kelly Butte. It’s sorta under Mill Park. Uuuh, I’m sorry, but I’m very tired. You can leave or you can make it happy.”
“Make it happy?”
“I just showed you how. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get home.”
Abigale Night, helped by CERF agents, left the scene, leaving residents very confused.
To make sense of this event, let's talk with Slade Higgins, KATU’s new supernatural expert. Slade, what do you make of this?
“Kathy, let's not beat around the bush here. Abigale Night is the white wolf of Portland. While she has helped residents in the past, her motives are unknown and we have to remember that nearly twenty people have gone missing in the Powell Hurst Neighborhood since she appeared.”
“Allegedly, Slade. The majority of them disappeared after making social media posts declaring they were going to hunt the werewolf. How is this relevant to what’s happening in Mill Park?”
“Just giving our viewers context. Mill Park is directly north of Powell Hurst. Perhaps she's looking to expand her territory and summoned this demon to drive people out of the area.”
“That’s an… interesting theory, Slade, but she has yet to drive anyone out of Powell Hurst.”
“Yet! She’s a monster and you can’t tru-”
“I think that’s enough idle speculation for now, Slade. Thank you. Viewers, stay tuned to KATU news and we will update you on this story as more becomes available.”
My throat felt like it’d been roto-rooted by a plumber’s snake. I just wanted to sleep, but every time my eyes slipped closed, memories of heavy machinery strip-mining my body jolted me awake. A few CERF guys gave me a ride home, mostly to pump me for information, I think, but I was only partially coherent.
At least I understood now. By screaming for the spirit, it let the pain out, let it go. Drained away the hurt. There were good things in that neighborhood. When I filled my lungs I smelled snatches of warmth and love buried beneath the pain. But first the pain had to be drained. There was so much of it. Far more than a single set of lungs could express. Surely there had to be a better way.
That would be a problem for future Abby. I struggled to drag myself up the porch stairs to the front door of Cindy’s house.
“Abby’s back!” Secret’s delighted squeal as I came through the door gave me enough energy to jettison my plan of simply lying down on the foyer floor to sleep. The way Victoria’s dusky scent danced in my nose gave me more.
I stooped to give Secret a hug. “Did you take good care of Vicky while I was gone?”
One black ear rotated to the side as she frowned uncertainly. “Cats aren’t the best nurses.”
“She did fine!” Victoria called, “Kept me full of food and fluids. Didn’t quite make it to the bathroom a couple of times, but she cleaned it up.”
With only a little bit of Luna’s magic available, Victoria’s body shifted her metabolism into overdrive, everything running through her in minutes instead of hours. Messy and inconvenient, but I couldn’t argue with the results. Beneath a sheen of fever sweat, her limbs had grown taut with muscle, the hollows of her cheeks had filled, and her tired eyes shined. Her torso remained gaunt, ribs exposed; that would fill out next but, she’d remain worryingly thin like some nineties supermodel. She clasped my hand and pulled me down to her. Our lips met to quench a sudden thirst for each other. We broke for breath and I laid my head on her shoulder.
“Did you take care of it?” she whispered, fingers stroking my hair. It made wolf me stir. I wanted nothing more than to curl up beside her and let her nails comb through my fur. I’d been human for nearly the entirety of the new moon, far too long, but shifting now, with the sun risen, would be an exercise in agony. I’d had enough pain for one day. Wolf me would wait until evening to press her claim so long as human me handled the sleeping.
“Yeah,” I answered her after a long pause. “For now, at least. Nobody died. Yet.”
“Super wolf to the rescue.” She chuckled, “My Super Queen.”
“Don’t you start that again.” I mumbled, trying to collect the energy to get up. She still needed to be taken care of.
“I never stopped, my wolf Queen. You’re-” She cut off with a grunt, guts gurgling as she scrunched up around her stomach. “Crap, time for another trip.”
“Come on, then,” I said and with a heroic effort, hauled myself up onto my feet and offered her my hand.
“I can manage on my own; between Secret and my IV pole I’ve been getting there,” she huffed, then made a show of getting up unassisted. She made it a few steps before wobbling and nearly doubling over as if she’d taken a sucker punch to the stomach.
Without saying a word I stepped up to her side to steady her.
“Course it's easier done when my intestines aren't trying to strangle my kidneys. Maybe it was too early for the chicken,” she griped as I helped her the rest of the way. After toilet time, I got her settled with a protein shake and a coffee for me. Secret, relieved of her duties, entwined around my knees for a quick pet before curling up on the top of the couch.
Caffeine carried me through the morning, and when the noon day’s sun beat on the blinds, Victoria led me up to our bedroom unassisted. We fell onto the luxurious fresh sheets among the scent of our home.
I found myself as the little spoon, her arm around my chest, a hand squeezing a breast. Her lips kissed my neck and I leaned into the affection.
“You are the light that pulls me from the dark, whether you haul me out with your fangs, or your scent gives me the strength to rip through the fabric of the Twilight. I adore you,” she whispered and squeezed me tightly.
“I love you,” I murmured, too tired to be clever or call out her dramatic flair. Finally, safe in her arms, breathing the vibrance of her renewed scent, I let my exhaustion sweep me into slumber.
I dreamed of running with her under a narrow blade of moonlight in the evening. Surely the world would give us that before I had to face the complexities of our life again.
Unfortunately, the world simply isn’t that kind. While Luna might have my back, her sister Gaia, who we lived on, might have it in for me.
My cell phone shrieked in my ear, a call that had bypassed my do-not-disturb features. Which unfortunately included a lot of people at the moment. The Mayor, Cindy, and most of the Gifford clan. Growling I fumbled, reached for the glass rectangle and blinked until the too-bright blur resolved into legible text. Taya, the middle Gifford sibling, was calling, not texting.
With a muttered curse, I thumbed the answer button, held the phone to my ear and managed a groggy hello.
“Abby, Cliff’s come to! He’s asking for you.” Taya’s voice brimmed with relief.
“Oh thank Luna,” I sighed, even as anxiety clenched at my heart. Cliff’s vitals had recovered by the time he’d reached the hospital, but yesterday morning he hadn’t woken up. It hadn’t been a coma either, he’d moaned and mumbled, eyes flicking back and forth beneath his eyelids. Locked in a dream. I’d stayed as long as I could, but bullying the Mayor into honoring the deal I’d struck with Joy had required some face time. Mainly taking him down to Kelly Butte Park and impressing on him the consequences of not honoring the deal I’d struck with Joy. Leaving Cliff’s bedside had not earned me points in Gloria’s eyes as a future spouse. As much as I wanted to stay with Cliff, he had other family to welcome him back. Victoria only had Secret and I.
“Can you put him on?” I asked, sitting up. Victoria stirred beside me and Secret picked up her head from her own bed closer to the window.
“Sure.” Her voice became distant. “Hey bro, Abby’s on the line.”
“Abby?” Cliff’s voice sounded ground down with fatigue.
“Yes, it's me. How you feeling?”
He answered with a low, rolling chuckle that ended in a low groan. “I dunno, how you supposed to feel after you’ve been dragged up to the moon and thrown back.”
My mouth went dry. “You saw her? Luna, I mean.”
“Well, we all have, right? She’s kinda hard to miss if you look up at night,” he said and I could practically see his bright but tired smile.
“Cliff!” I growled, “What do you mean?”
“I’m not… sure. It's hard to grasp. She was… surprised. You know she’s blind? Blind during… this phase?” He trailed off hesitantly.
“Blind during the new moon, Cliff?” I asked, Death had mentioned such a thing when Victoria had agreed to serve him during the new moon.
“That must be it. Sorry. It's like a picture that gets blurrier the longer I look at it. Damn it. I was supposed to do something.”
“Relax, it's okay. I’m on my way over.” I threw off the sheets and swung my feet over the side of the bed. I felt the pads of my paws pressing against the balls of my feet. Wolf me filled every square inch of my body, not quite stretching things but she only needed to make the smallest push. Even with her cooperation, I had an hour, maybe two, tops, before wolf me took the wheel. “I might not be a great conversationalist when I get there, but I’ll be there soon.” I laughed nervously.
“Yeah. I’d like that. Any way you are.”
Victoria looked at me with raised eyebrows and a question in the angle of her face.
I covered the phone, “Can you drive? I’m a bad joke away from canine town.”
She flexed her hands and looked at her palms, peering at the power of the wolf within. “I should be good for a while, unless you try to go hunting without me. Since we’re going to the hospital should I grab the leash and collar?” She winked, “Just in case.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. She’d heard every word, of course.
“Can we go see Nadia?” Secret asked, jumping off her bed.
“He’s at Legacy, not OSHU. Maybe tomorrow night while I’m working,” I said with a smile.
“Okaaay,” she drawled, her ears wilting in disappointment. I hoped she wanted to visit the coroner because she wanted educational content and not another heart. It’d been literally two days since her last one.
Cliff had handed the phone back to Taya and I told her we were on our way. It was only about three so we should make it before the end of visiting hours. He might even get discharged before we got there.
I tossed on clothing and whined at Victoria to hurry it up as she applied her makeup. She laughed me off.
“Not everyone can roll out of bed like you and look good. I gotta do something to make up for the fact I’m missing a part of my face,” she said as she traced her eye with a dark-tipped pencil.
“With your eyes, nobody notices the missing nose,” I told her, being serious.
“You’re tainted with both guilt and bias.” She blinked in her mirror, nodded, then put on a wooden nose. She secured it to her head with a thin strand of fishing line. A red cloth medical mask finished the look. “Close enough for a hospital.”
“Perfect.” I agreed, the carved nose would fool most at a distance. The tone of the exposed wood didn’t match her flesh tone, but if I waited for her to blend it better, I’d be on all fours by the time we reached the hospital.
She rolled her golden eyes, snatched her keys from the dresser and we all piled into her beloved hearse. Together we rolled off toward the hospital. I used the time to fill Victoria in on the spirit that she’d sent me after.
“As if we didn’t have enough to worry about between the dead and the fey. How many more neighborhoods are going to wake up pissed off and go on murder sprees?” She sighed.
“Hopefully this one is simply a particularly grumpy one. I guess we should swing by tonight and check on things. Maybe call the Mayor and make sure someone’s making decisions about it,” I said, waking up my phone. I already had messages from Mayor Pat and somebody from CERF. Figuring I’d better respond while I had thumbs, I started typing.
“So how much did you see from the Twilight about Cliff?” I asked Victoria once I fired off a few messages.
“Not much. I heard your howl, bargained with Charon for passage; we owe him two solid gold coins by the way. Then I shoved Cliff’s soul back into his body before Death caught up to me. Couldn’t hang around to see the aftermath. Death ran me absolutely ragged after that.” The skin around her eyes tightened.
I growled; both parts of me, wolf and human were in total agreement. If Death hurt her, there’d be more than hell to pay.
“Stay out of it. I can handle it. They teach me more than they think they do.” She laughed softly. “Besides, it's not like Death’s a malicious force, just a tad petty. There’s way worse things in the Twilight.”
“The Old King?” I asked.
She looked at me sharply, “Where did you hear that name?”
“The shades who had worked for Andrew Millar and spread the Rot declared themselves Riders of the Old King’s. It didn’t fit with that wannabe Pharaoh.”
“So long as it wasn’t from a human. A human cult dedicated to the Old King is the last thing we need.”
“What is it?” I asked.
Secret’s furry hand reached out from behind my seat to grip my shoulder.
“We’re being followed,” She whispered.
“Let’s just say the old king is bad news,” Victoria said as she peered into her side mirror. “Speaking of bad news, don’t say that’s a news truck behind us.”
“Okay. I won’t say it then,” Secret said with a little giggle.
I groaned and turned in my seat. Sure enough, two cars back loomed a white van emblazoned with a KATU news logo and a satellite dish mounted on its roof. A low growl rose up out of my throat. I'd been too tired to fend off a reporter this morning and now they apparently smelled blood in the water.
“Down, girl,” Victoria chided me with her own laugh. “Maybe they’re just going to the hospital like us.”
“Nuh huh.” Secret shook her head. “They were parked near the house, they started moving after they saw us.”
Run? Fight? Wolf me asked, curling up in my head as if to pounce. She only hesitated because shifting now would be an all-or-nothing affair. Hybrid forms were very tough this close to the new moon and I’d been human for too long. Once I shifted, I’d be stuck until tomorrow evening.
Wait, please. I begged her. We need to talk to Cliff. They are annoying flies, nothing more.
Wolf me settled, but remained tense. Ready to push through my skin.
“Could you lose them?” I looked at Victoria hopefully.
“Maybe in your car.” Victoria huffed. “This old girl’s got speed, but cornering’s not her friend.” Her eyes flicked up to peer at the clear blue sky. “If it were dark, I’d have a few tricks, but not while the bloody sun is shining like that. We’ll park and hustle inside before they can get set up. I’ll do the talking on the way out.”
“They’re not supposed to know about you,” I snapped, irritation foaming up in my skull. Parts of the city were still trying to pin the blame for the Dead Night on her. If it became public knowledge that the Jackal wolf was Victoria Quintine, the necromancer of Portland, then the city’s opinion of its two werewolves would take a serious hit.
“Then we shouldn’t have attended the Gala together,” she said, her tone neutral, concealing hurt. “I know Cliff will be a much more appropriate mate for the cameras.” She took the next turn far sharper than she had to.
“That’s not…” I trailed off, what a bad way to segue into the thing I needed to talk about before we arrived at the hospital. “You know that’s not the way I feel about you.” I paused, looked down, and realized I’d been playing with my silver ring. The first silver bullet I’d mastered. Sucking a breath, I gathered myself and held it until we had come to a stop light before speaking the question. “How do you feel about… getting married?”
Victoria went stone still, not responding to the light’s switch from red to green until the car behind us laid on their horn. With a blink, Victoria stepped on the gas. I could tell she was shocked, but the mask made it difficult to tell if it was a happy shock or just a stunned shock.
“If you’re proposing…” her voice fluttered, a flush creeping above the edges of her mask. “Then yes. I just hadn’t thought about it. We had that night with Luna, and I assumed that would be enough. Neither of us have much family and it might make pack expansion a little awkward.”
“I can’t say it was really on my agenda, but it’s on Gloria’s. So-”
“Wait! You proposed to Cliff?” Victoria interrupted.
“No!” I barked back. “That’s the awkward bit. I mean one of the awkward bits. He needed blood, he’s a big guy, so I used mine, hers, Sophie’s and Taya’s for the transfusion. So it’s assumed he’s joining us. Gloria demanded that when he does, there will be a wedding.”
Victoria spoke with an icy chill. “Who cares what that hag wants? Luna cursed her for a reason.”
“Normally I’d have no trouble telling her to jump in a lake, but thanks to Joy, I need to get married,” I said, twisting my hands together.
“You didn’t kill her?”
“How was I supposed to do that? It was still the New Moon.” I hunched my shoulders, “It was a negotiated surrender and part of that was…” I took a deep breath before smiling at her. “She gets invited to my wedding.”
“Seriously?! Are you insane, Abby?” She abruptly pulled the car to the curb and swung around to face me. Her eyes glowed with anger, her wolf creeping into her features as her growl filled the car.
“I’m sorry. It was the easiest way to get her to let go of most of the people she snatched,” I said, trying and failing to hold her gaze.
“You were gone, but I was here! Do you have any idea what it was like watching that bitch get her hooks into Cliff and the city? A little more each day and not being able to do a damn thing about it? It ripped me to fucking pieces, Abby. Waiting, praying for some sign that I was finally allowed to tear out her throat. Then you didn’t come back until the last hour before the new moon.” She performed a slow motion pounce as she spoke, reaching towards me, grabbing my shoulders and pushing until I felt the warm glass through my hair.
I lifted my chin, exposing my throat in apology but I swallowed down the urge to whine. I’d known she’d be upset when I’d made the deal. I’d made it anyway. It spared the city a day or two of Joy’s depredations. It saved lives. “She’ll be bound by the rules of hospitality. If she doesn’t behave, we’ll be sure to hold it on a full moon. If she lingers at all…”
“But I’ll still have to look at her smug face on our wedding day.” She seethed, hot breath tickling my throat.
The soft pop of a car door came from the rear of the hearse. Both our eyes flicked in the direction and found the grill of the news van directly behind us. A portly man levered himself out of the passenger door.
“Fuck.” Victoria shoved herself back into the driver’s seat, threw the car into gear and stomped on the gas. The hearse roared as we peeled out of the parking spot, tires squealing.
We drove in silence for several minutes, me fingering my throat while she white-knuckled the black leather steering wheel. After several stop lights of silence, she let out a deep sigh, peeled one hand from the steering wheel and laid it on my thigh.
I immediately covered her hand with my own.
“I’ll pick out your dress,” she said, gently squeezing, “It’s going to be red or silver. You don’t get to wear white. If Cliff finally gets over his cold feet, he marries us both as equals. I know I might be… beta or something once he’s in but if we’re publicly declaring rank, I was here first.”
“You’re not going to be beta,” I protested.
“Queen’s consort, then.” She gave a snort of a laugh before glancing my way with a hint of a growl. “Those are my terms.”
“By Luna’s name, I agree.” I touched my heart, relieved, “Thank you.”
“You’re lucky my wolf is a total pushover for you, Abby.” She chuckled. “If it were just human me I wouldn’t be so easy to forgive.”
“Would a dozen black roses and one of those bone puppy plushies help?” I asked with a smirk.
She didn’t answer, but the flush on her cheeks did it for her. Luckily she didn’t have a tail at the moment, or it would be wagging.
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