Disclaimer: The main characters are not mine, this is an amateur effort written purely for the fun of it, and no money has exchanged hands, and it is not intended to breach the copyright of Paramount and Pet Fly for the Sentinel or Marvel comics for Logan (Wolverine) or Gambit.
With thanks to Mary for the beta read. I have added additions to the story, and any spelling or grammatical errors are mine. A corrected version will appear after Christmas.
For Gail who suggested a cross over with Logan, and for Eileen.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
Sentinel AU crossed with X Men Cross AU.
Werewolves of Cascade
In a universe where evolution has brought forward the next stage of development, those that possess the gifts these mutations bring are feared, and hated. But for others they are gifts of opportunity. There is good and bad in all people.
2002 New Orleans
Naomi Sandburg held the hand of her lover, Dr. Marcus Rider, and swung their joined arms as they walked, the place was alive with the buzz of music and excitement. They were lost in the moment.
The young man pushed himself away from the wall, his cigarette dropping to the floor, the long brown trench coat he was wearing flapped slightly as he walked, he kept to the darker parts of the street, as he closed in on his target, the woman was so busy looking round, her handbag was forgotten.
The streets where crowded, and no one paid him any attention which was just the way he liked it. Naomi would never have felt the young man lift her wallet from the bag, if she hadn't felt the brush of his mind, as his thoughts jumped to her, like static electric. Her thoughts completed the circuit and Marcus, acted. He caught the young man's sleeve, pulling him round hard so that he was off balance and went flying into the alleyway. The thief, bounced off the wall his hand hitting it to dissipate the impact, he went down onto this knees, then straightened up, as agile as a cat.
Marcus saw the wallet, and tried to hem the kid in, and for the first time got a good look at him, he was in his late teens, only around five nine tall, his long hair was scraped back but some bangs hung down framing his face. But it was his eyes that held Marcus, in the struggle the dark glasses had come off and he could now see them, red irises on black, he was a mutant, without realizing it, Marcus stepped back. He saw the look on the kids face, and it was not pleasant.
When Naomi tired to come round him pulled her back behind him. Keeping his voice level he knew he was facing a mutant and you never knew with them how they would react, the kid was on edge. "You know kid there is now way out of this alleyway so why don't you just give me the wallet, and then we call it a day.
Naomi rested her hand on her lovers arm, "Marcus you're scaring him".
"Right" the one word was edged with sarcasm. Marcus saw the playing card drop into the kid's hand, and it began to glow as it was charged with bio-kinetic energy. The kid was a class A or Alpha class mutant. Which meant he was extremely dangerous, the one plus was the kid seemed to have his gifts under control, which meant if he blew them up it was because he wanted it not because it was an accident.
They had been so focused on the kid that they failed to see the police arrive on the scene, one glance told the all they needed to know a mutant incident, while his partner went back to call it in the first police officer pulled the stun gun out.
The whoosh of the gun was like a cork being forced from a bottle; the white light hit the kid in the chest throwing him back 10 feet colliding with the rubbish bins, knocking them over like tenpins. He rolled with the impact and came back to his knees, the playing card in his hand was charged, and with a flick of his hand it flew towards them, the explosion knocked Marcus backwards stumbling into Naomi. The next flurry of cards blew the police officer off his feet sending him flying six foot backward into the side of the police car. The kid took the opportunity to make a run for it, Marcus lunged for him, he might have put on a little weight since his football days, but he was still fast on his feet, and he brought the smaller, younger man crashing to the ground. Suddenly he had his hands full of struggling fury, as the kid fought to free himself from the weight pinning him down. The older man elbowed him hard in the stomach, but it didn't slow the kid down.
The kids mouth working as fast as his body, as he twisted and turned he switched from English to French or rather Cajun. His hand clawing at Marcus face, as he tried to press the glowing card to his face.
A kick to the wrist numbed the kid's hand, and the charged card went flying, leaving a burned mark on the wall. Then Marcus was pushed off and the kid was dragged up, by some of the passersby, several drink and they where ready to inflict pain on a mutant. His trench coat was pulled open, and the black body armor he wore showed that the kid belonged to the Thieves Guild. All that did was anger the crowd more, and a fist plowed into the kid's stomach, as he doubled over, a knee caught him in the face. Then he was dropped on the ground, and feet began to thud into his body.
The man at the back of the crowd melted into the background, he had been stalking his prey for the better part of a week, trying to get close enough to dart him, and he was on the verge of taking him when the police officer had gotten in the way, and now it looked like a lynch mob. Once the kid was handed over to the police and already he could heard the second car on its way, it would be child's play to take him from them once they got to the station, show enough gold braid and the police would lean over backwards to help them. The situation was still salvageable.
The police re-enforcements managed to drag the crowd away from the now motionless body on the ground.
With a cry Naomi pushed past to kneel down, rolling the unconscious young man onto his side, her fingers feeling for a pulse, blood was already seeping down the side of his face, she pulled her handkerchief out of her pocket and pressed it again the wound.
The attempted theft and the police all but forgotten in the need to help the younger man.
The paramedics had seen to the police officer first and he was now seated in the patrol car, a hand holding a square of lint against the wound to his head.
Marcus caught the paramedic's arm, when he was about to return to his vehicle, "The police officer is not the only one hurt here". The man looked down and just shrugged, "Leave him, it's better that way".
Naomi looked at him in disbelief. "You can't be serious. He's hurt!"
"He is from the Thieves Guild. They're like rats round here. There are so many of them it's legal extermination."
Marcus caught his shoulder and frog marched the man back. "Do your job."
"It doesn't matter, do it?" Marcus slammed his fist into his open hand and made sure that the man got the message. Only when the paramedic started to work, did he slip his arm round Naomi to comfort her. "He will be all right, don't worry."
"He looks so young."
Marcus exchanged a look with his lover, and gave a heart felt sigh. The maternal instinct is always hard to understand, and it was now fixing itself on the young man laid on the ground at their feet.
"Well, what's his name?" the paramedic asked.
For a moment Naomi hesitated then remembered the name that she had plucked from the young man's head. "Blair."
Marcus pulled his cell phone out and rang his lawyer, he got a feeling that the kid was going to need one, and one look at his lover told him that she wasn't going to let this drop.
Blair was in restraints pinned to the table, the doctors in their sterile coats had explained in detail what they were hoping to achieve, as if that would make him help them. Or it would justify the way he had been tortured to bring his empathy fully on line. He had screamed until his voice was raw.
They wanted him to bond with a Sentinel, an ancient type of mutant, a one time tribal guardian with five enhanced senses, but instead of guardian they wanted to create the ultimate assassin, and they wanted him to help, linking his empathy with the Sentinel to help him in his work. He might be a member of the Thieves Guild but he wasn't an assassin, he had taken life, in the Guild wars, but only to protect those he loved or those he had sworn allegiance too. If they thought they could use him they were mistaken.
But now with the drugs running through his system, he was loosing what control he had on his powers, his empathy was off the scale, his ability to charm people to do what he wanted was running out of control. Unable to restrain it he had been assaulted by the orderlies. Regardless of their sexual preference the pull of the charm was too strong and they had acted on it. His neck was collared with a damper to stop him using his bio-kinetic powers to free himself. The collar was set to explode if he tried to remove it. He tried to struggle when they undid the restraints, but his co-ordination was shot to hell, and he was dragged and then thrown into the cell with the sentinel.
The other man had been reduced to the most primal, basic level of his humanity by the way he had been treated, adamantium has been bonded to his bones, they had explained it was the most expensive and strongest metal know to man. Clamps on his hands kept three twelve-inch metal claws projecting from each hand. His mind wiped to make him a programmed weapon. Now he was acting purely on instinct. The man turned fast, his lips pulled back over his teeth, snarling like a wild animal, his shoulders dropped, and he stalked towards Blair.
There was no escape.
Primal Sentinel stopped his head tipping to one side as he scented the air. The growling snarl got louder, Blair tried to get to his feet, only to be caught in a leap that closed the distance between them before he could react, and he was gathered up, and thrown against the wall.
Blair found himself nose to nose with the primal, looking into yellow eyes that burned with a feral lightly. The primal sentinel was breathing in harshly, one hand now wrapped into his long hair.
Taking a risk, Blair reached his hand up, to touch the sentinel trying to make contact with him, his fingers only brushing the man's face, he tried to link as instinct cut in, but his mind reeled back, he could not do it. There was nothing there, this wasn't a sentinel, this was something out, the mind was dark and fractured, and all he saw in it was violence and death. It was like hitting a brick wall; he made a choking sound as he was pulled down into the dark void. Just before he blacked out he saw a door open and men rushing in, he was dropped to the floor. The non-sentinel turned and attacked before they could use the cattle prods on him, claws ripped into flesh, and blood flew in a fine spray, a dead body falling to the floor, a bloody gash were a throat had once been. The last thing Blair saw was the non-sentinel looking down at him.
When Blair came round he was lying by the side of the road. He managed to lift his head at the sound of a truck pulling to a halt a pair of boots moved into view. The man knelt down, "Your okay now kid", the voice was kind, a rough blanket was put round him, and he was lifted up and carried back to the truck. The next time Blair woke a woman was sat by the side of his bed, in a stark white room, she was small, and slim almost elfin, with her short bobbed hair, she smiled, and when her hand rested on his, he felt a sense of peace. At her command his eyes closed and he drifted off into a healing sleep.
2009 The Present Day.
The rain was falling hard, hitting the roof of the warehouse. Inside, Blair Sandburg was tossing and turning on the futon. The living area was marked out by packing cases and small space heaters that barely kept the area round the bed warm. Blair's face was slick with sweat, his long curly hair stuck to his face; he was lost in a nightmare.
Blair was struggling against the restraints that held him in place. The doctor, one of many, leaned over him. The needles went into his arm and then the world began to fly apart. People's emotions became colors, he could feel them crashing around him. He was screaming, choking on his own blood as he bit his lip to try and hold back the screams. Then he let go, screaming until his throat was raw and he could no longer speak, and still the pain continued.
The scene shifted; he was thrown into a room, and then the other person, barely human, was coming at him, and all he had known was pain, and then the world had turned red.
Blair woke screaming out loud as his abused voice could. He began to cough and reached for the bottle of whiskey by bedside and took a hard pull on the bottle before putting it down. He settled back and shivered; his sheets were soaked with sweat. Kicking them off, he pulled on his clothes and dark glasses and began to walk the streets; streets empty at 3:00 o'clock in the morning. Walking where he could try and distance himself from the nightmares. As always, he ended up in the 24-hour diner, hands cupping a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
The waitress pushed the grilled cheese sandwich in front of him and patted his shoulder. She was a grandmother and had taken to the young man from the start. There was something about him that called out to her.
She had only seen him once without the dark glasses, and she had seen the look on his face. He had expected her to run away, or yell mutant. She hadn't. She had treated him as an ordinary human being; nothing more, nothing less.
His eyes were black, nothing new, but the pupils were red, hence the dark glasses to hide them. Other than that the young man looked normal. She patted his shoulder, and went back to her paper.
It was 5:00 am when he left. He lifted his hand and waved and went back out into the coming dawn and the newly awaking city of Cascade.
Mountains of Cascade.
Two men were running, crashing through the woods, heading deep into the mountain forests, and away from human contact.
One was tall, around six one, broad shoulders, hair receding back from his forehead. He moved fast and with the ease of a born predator; his long legs eating up the yards that put him away from the now burning complex. Even as he moved the burns on his body began to heal, he gave them no thought.
The second man was a smaller, five-eleven, wiry build, his hair swept back into wings that framed his face. He had more body hair than the first, but moved with the same feral grace. Although naked, both men ignored the lack of clothing. Now free, no one would ever re-capture them.
The town was in an uproar and the argument was splitting the town in two. W.E. Enterprises had bought the old lumber mill, invested in new machinery, and was due to start operations, only to be closed down when the local tree huggers brought in their lawyers.
No. It was like a war zone. The locals needed the money the employment would bring, but the Tree Huggers could only see it as the rape of Mother Earth.
Already casualties had been inflicted on both sides and it certainly was not an area for a stranger to blunder into if they wanted to keep breathing.
Media coverage was now nothing new and no one paid any attention to the KVC Cascade van as it pulled up to take its place, or to the three men that got out of it. They had more than a new story on their mind.
Then into that mix the first reports started to filter down... about the Werewolves of Cascade.
Animals were found gutted; their throats torn apart, and no human hand or animal teeth had caused those wounds. Coupled with the mysterious sightings the legend of the Werewolves began to grow.
Marie Parker had been looking out the kitchen window when she saw a movement in the tree line. It had drawn her eyes back to the same spot again and again. A flash of something and her eyes grew wide as she had seen the two possible human like shapes slashing at the body of a deer.
She had never been so happy to hear the sound of her father's pickup truck pulling up to the front of the cabin; the human shapes had melted back into the woods.
To begin with, she dismissed it as her imagination and filed it away as watching too many horror films. She had to get a grip, she reprimanded herself. There were more important things going on in their community than looking out for non-existent werewolves.
It was after that she began to get the feeling that she was not alone. She would find herself looking into the tree line, and sometimes she would see movement from the corner of her eye.
Marie would then scold herself for being a child. There was no such thing as a werewolf. What she was seeing was a small bear or some creature, and at 21, on the verge of a University career, it seemed stupid to start yelling werewolf.
Her only release was the computer and Internet, and that was when she found herself talking to other users, she had only meant to drop in and listen in to the supernatural chat room, known as 'ghost and ghouls', and instead had jumped into the talk. She had signed off when no one believed her sightings of werewolves.
The next time she logged on she noticed BJS had joined them again; he or she seemed very interested in the sightings. Finally introducing himself as an anthropologist, and said that he would like to investigate the sighting and the cultural implications. Remembering the rules she never gave her address, but sent all her eyewitness accounts to BJS, never expecting it to go further.
Blair Sandburg smiled cynically at his reflection in the shiny surface of his reading lamp with the dark circles under his eyes and the smoldering cigarette in his hand. He pushed the light away, picked up his glass, tossed into his mouth the two pills he took, and chased them down with a whiskey.
Sleep was only a distant memory for him, Blair picked up his Burton and began to read; anything to move the clock round faster.
Burton was the first great researcher into Sentinels. Now, his work was pushed to one side and on the whole forgotten, but for Blair it was the keystone of his PhD dissertation. He paused only long enough to pour himself another drink, looking at the half empty bottle. It would see him through the night and he would get a fresh bottle tomorrow. He began to read as he felt the first stirring of the sleeping pill coursing through his veins.
Marie's parents had gone into town for a meeting on the new lumber mill, and she had started on her chores, which involved feeding the goats. She was just turning when she froze; she had seen a movement from the corner of her eye, and that movement had become a shadow crossing the side of the barn. She pulled back, hiding in one of the horse's stalls, and peered through the slit, her hand pressed to her mouth.
Two men, the one in the lead were smaller five, nine or five eleven, with thick hair and bushy sideburns, his head moving back and forward as if tracking something. The man behind him was taller, six to six one, similar build, but his hair was cropped shorter. They moved more like predators than humans. As one, their heads tilting and scanning the area. Their naked bodies were thick with mud, matting the hair and giving them a feral look.
Marie pressed tighter against the wall of the stable and prayed they would keep moving. These were the so-called werewolves, and to get to the house she would have to run right past them.
She pulled back with a scream as three metal claws came through the side of the stable where she was leaning; a second pair went in the other side of her.
Grabbing the pitchfork, she bolted for the door, only to find it blocked by one of the werewolves, the smaller one. He was hunched over, metal claws coming from both hands, his face feral, lips pulled back from his teeth as he came towards her slowly. His eyes never leaving her face, his head tilting slightly to take in scent, and he was growling, low and deep.
Marie backed up, and then jabbed the pitchfork out towards the man, or thing, that was coming towards her. She didn't want to hurt anyone; she just wanted it to back off, to go away.
A crash behind her made her head snap round. The other one had slashed its way through the wood of the barn and now she had to twist so that she could cover both of them. Her eyes were flickering from one to the other; Hell! There was no contest. Both of them looked lethal.
She swung the pitchfork between the two of them, and they halted. She swore they halted because they wanted to, not because she was threatening them. The smaller one radiated aggression; the taller of the two went down on his haunches and just looked at her, as if seeing her every sin.
The metal claws retracted back into his hands with a snitk, and the hands were whole again. The smaller man was still growling, a rumbling noise, his claws were out and pointed towards her.
Taking a chance, since she had nowhere to run and sure as hell could not fight her way clear, Marie knelt down, keeping the pitchfork balanced on her knees. Okay. Trust for trust.
She pulled it back up when the smaller man came nearer; he moved fast and fluidly and had covered the short distance quicker than she registered it.
The larger werewolf roared and the smaller one halted in mid stride.
If she had ever seen a war of wills, it was at that time. The smaller man seemed to have to fight to regain control; his head went back and he roared, and then his face relaxed. When he looked back at her, he was different... there was a shift in the eyes. It was the same face, but the beast was gone. The claws retracted and he copied the other werewolf's posture. He seemed content for him to take the lead.
"Hi." Marie winced, it sounded so lame to her, and she stuttered to a halt. Both men were looking at her and she was beginning to feel nervous. They looked as if they were sizing her up for dinner.
They exchanged a look between themselves and the smaller one was on his feet again, and drifting to one side, as if trying to outflank her. She grabbed for the pitchfork as she realized he was heading for the pet goats.
"You get away from them," she was on her feet, waving the pitchfork in his face, she heard the snitk and the claws come out of one hand. His hand slashed out and the pitchfork was cut in two with a single blow.
Another roar from the other werewolf, and the smaller man snarled at her then backed away, his eyes never leaving her face. She could feel the heat fusing her face; these were two very prime examples of alpha males. Very much male animals, and dangerous.
She knelt down again, trying to project a feeling of peace and harmony, but the smaller man was on his feet again, wandering round the barn. Marie shifted slightly to try and keep him in her line of sight; she got the feeling that of the two, he was the most dangerous.
"Are you werewolves?" She put the question, and then pulled back as she heard the growl, rough and gruff and realized it was a laugh, as if they had not laughed in a long time.
She felt herself going hot in the face as the smaller man tilted his head and took a deep breath, nose flaring. He was scenting her and then growling low and deep throated.
As one, their heads whipped round and they powered to their feet. It was only then she heard her father's truck coming towards the barn. She looked towards the sound of the truck and when she turned back the barn was empty. The werewolves were gone.
But the broken pitchfork and the hole in the stable bore testament that they had been real, very real.
Part of Marie wanted to tell her father what she had seen, but she pulled back from doing so. Somehow, she knew it could only end violently. She could almost feel the pain in those two men. Something bad had happened to them, and her heart went out to them.
Instead, she went to her bedroom and logged on, leaving a message at the address that BJS had left her. Marie's fingers flew over the keyboard as she hurriedly told him what had happened.
It was later that evening that she checked her email account and saw the message.
BJS wanted to come to investigate firsthand what she had seen.
Marie bit her lip and then took a chance, inviting him to Cedar Falls. He would be down in three days.
She signed off and then moved to her window and pulled back quickly, the werewolves were close by. Marie sank down on her bed, picking up her journal.
She sketched the claws that had appeared from the back of their hands. Each claw was around 12 inches long, slightly curved, and looked razor sharp. She shuddered as she remembered how they had carved through the wood. Marie picked up her comforters and wrapped around her tightly.
The next morning when she came out on her way to town, she almost tripped over the carcass on the front step. A small deer had been killed and left there. It was when she turned back to the door she saw the three scratch marks on the door. Marie turned quickly as she sensed someone and saw the smaller of the two werewolves melting into the forest. He had, she knew, deliberately allowed her to see him. She got the feeling that if he had wanted to she would never have known he was there.
Bending, Marie picked small deer up and carried it into the kitchen. She could not leave it on the doorstep, and since it was a gift, heaven knows how the werewolves would react to her rejection of it.
The smaller man's lips turned up in a shadow of a smile. The female had accepted his gift of food, an indication that she was accepting him as her provider, her protector, and her mate.
Blair was driving out to Cedar Fall, he just knew it was going to be one of those days when the car began to shudder and splutter, then the oil pressure went, and the dashboard was a mass of red warning lights. The breakdown was terminal, and on his TA pay, AAA had been a luxury that he could not afford. He was 20 miles out of Cascade and still had another 25 to Cedar Falls. So all he could do was walk and hope that he could hitch a ride. Blair pulled his backpack a little higher on his shoulder and began to walk toward Cedar Falls, one hand held out to flag down any passing cars. Nothing he had not done before.
The rain had gone from a drizzle to a full out storm, and his mood had darkened with the cold rain that had begun to work its way down the back of his neck, his long hair clinging to his face like rat's tails.
He heard the car but kept on walking; so far all he had gotten was soaked from where they had hit him with the spray from the road. But this time the car began to slow down.
"Hey, girl, want a lift?"
Blair took a mental deep breath and turned round. Just what he need, three men in a pickup truck, young, and by the look of the dead cans on the dashboard, they had been drinking. It looked like his luck was turning sour.
He pulled his empathic barriers round him like a warm coat, but not before he knew what they had planned, the excitement, raw and all consuming he clamped a hard hold on his charming gift, that was the last thing he needed now.
Blair kept walking, making sure that he had distance between them, inching slowly towards the tree line near the side of the road. He could hear them heckling the speaker, and the man's face was growing darker by the second.
The words "fag lover" were spat out. The man in a red shirt swore and the door was flung open as he all but fell out of the car in his haste to get to the source of his ridicule.
Blair fingered the playing cards in his pocket ready to use them if needed, as soon as he heard them yelling and whooping, he took to his heels towards the tree line, the car roared behind him and he threw himself to one side, rolling over his left shoulder, coming up on his knees, he threw half of the deck of cards at the car, the explosion blew the car onto its side. Blair took saw them start to climb out and began to run, just as the first bullet clipped the ground where he had been standing. The next creased the shoulder of his coat, and then he was in the trees.
The hunt was one.
The taller of the werewolves was bent over the water, scooping it into his mouth, when his head snapped up, at the loud explosion, his nose flaring as he sniffed the air. Then he got to his feet, while all the time sniffing.
The second man looked up from where he was slicing up a deer with his claws; he followed the first man, and growled. He could smell an alien scent on the wind; someone or something was entering their territory. He got slowly to his feet. His voice was a low, guttural growl. "EL L I S ONN."
A look passed between them and they began to track the newcomer.
The taller werewolf, Ellison, acknowledged the name as his, gradually, like fragments of a larger picture; the growls and snarls they exchanged began to be spattered with the odd word.
Ellison began to move quickly. The scent that called him was being swamped by more rank scents, and that precious scent was souring with fear. Even as he ran his claws came out, all he wanted to do was slice and slash at the source of the fear.
At his side ran the other alpha male. Without looking, Ellison knew that the being that he now called Logan would attack with him. As always, they hunted as a pair.
Blair hit the ground hard and rolled. The men were closing on him. He managed to get to his feet only to stumble again, falling face down, and found himself looking at a pair of bare feet, heavily crusted with mud and leaves. He slowly lifted his head as he pushed himself to his knees, and his eyes tracked up the shins and then thighs and then further up the man in front of him. He swallowed hard as he eyes went up the muscular body and finally to the man's face, unshaved for weeks, his hair roughly cut. He found himself nailed by the coldest blue eyes he had ever seen. Then he saw the claws, cold and deadly, only inches from his face. A hand grabbed his collar and he was pulled around, still on his knees, so that he was against the man's leg. The hand moved to fist Blair's hair, pushing his face against the man's thigh. As the man roared, Blair was held pinned, as the men chasing him caught up.
It was then Blair saw the second man drop from the trees behind them, stalking them, his body crouched over, hands hanging down, lips pulled back over his teeth. The first thing the stunned men had seen was the man holding him. Then the other had slashed out; red shirt screamed as claws slashed across his back. He spun round, and they started to back away. As the other had closed on them, keen to do more damage, the men had run, red shirt's back a bloody mess.
Blair was forgotten.
The grip in his hair tightened, and he was dragged to his feet, held close, his body brushing against that of the man that held him. Blair shuddered as the man pushed his head to one side; the claws in that hand only a scant inch from his face, as he leaned forward and took a deep breath, burying his face against Blair's neck.
The young man got his hands between them, and pushed hard, at the same time twisting and knocking the bigger man's legs from under him, or at least attempting to. He got all of three feet when a football tackle brought him crashing face down, and the man was all over him, pinning him to the ground, as the other man watched.
Blair brought his head back, catching the big man in the face. He heard the nose crack; the roar in his ears was painful, and he was cuffed hard across the back of his head. Then Blair knew nothing.
Ellison leaned back off his prize, and then looked at Logan. The man shrugged. The now unconscious man would be taken to their camp. But one thing that Logan knew was the Ellison had found what he needed. But he could not shake off the feeling that he knew that scent. He slashed at one of the trees in frustration as the memory was out of reach.
Marie had taken the beaten up old car into Cedar Falls. Her first port of call had been the butcher. She had made her choice, thick, 12 oz. steaks, two of them, rushing out before Mr. Brown could catch her, about the latest news on the lumber mill.
Pushing the meat in her shopping bag, she called into the clothing store. This was more difficult; both men were taller than her father, but she bought jeans, shirts, and then blushing, threw a packet of boxers into the mix. She just hoped that they fit.
Marie pulled out of the parking space she was nearly side swiped by a pickup truck. She had never seen men with such a look of terror on their faces. For moments she hesitated but decided to go home instead; whatever it was could wait. She needed to be there in case the werewolves came back. Perhaps she could encourage them to stay in the barn until BJS arrived; it would be warmer. She made a mental note to take the goats out; she could not trust the smaller of the two not to kill them.
Blair came round slowly; the pain in his face was a dull ache. He didn't move his head, just his eyes to try and find out where he was. He was laid on his side and was in a cave. Blocking the entrance was the older of the two werewolves, the one that had hit him.
The man had then turned to look at him. "How the hell did you know I was awake?"
The man, or werewolf, made a sound like a throaty chuckle and tapped his nose, then tugged his ear.
"You smelled and heard me?" Blair sat up his hand going to his head. "You're a Sentinel; you have to be. Oh, my god! HOLY GRAIL TIME!"
The older werewolf lunged forward, his hand forcing Blair back on the furs, landing top of him. Blue eyes looked up into red. Blair tried to get his hands up to push the other man off, but the werewolf growled aggressively, leaned down and inhaled at Blair's throat, then rubbed his face again the soft skin. When Blair pushed up against the bigger frame, he gave a yelp of pain as the teeth cut into his throat, and then the hurt was taken away.
"Oh shit." Blair breathed, "that is not good right, that kind of suggests that yo u're marking me, foods out so that leaves..." He paused, "Sorry, long hair doesn't mean that I swing that way, okay?"
The result was a nasty laugh from the cave opening, and a loud growl in his ear that put every sense on alert. The werewolf was pissed off and Blair clearly heard the snitk sound from earlier, and eyes widened as he saw the claws right in front of his face.
"Look, you didn't save me to slice and dice me, did you?" The werewolf turned its head as if considering it. His voice was a harsh whisper and for a moment Blair just stared at him; one word, "Guide" but one he knew had just changed his life forever.
Blair swallowed hard. "Okay, big guy, I am not going to run, so get off me."
For a minute the werewolf just looked at him, and then eased his weight off.
Slowly, Blair pulled himself up into a sitting position and looked from one to the other.
Reaching out he took the older werewolf's wrist in his and pulled it to him, keeping the back of the hand pointed away, he asked, "Can you pop the claws for me? I just want to have a look at them?"
The snitk was a sharp, clear sound, and a trio of foot long claws shot out of the back of the werewolf's hand. When Blair reached for them, the second werewolf, the smaller man, caught the young man's hand. He had not seen or heard him move and it was a shock to suddenly be caught and held.
The man growled at him, a warning, then a second set were popped in front of him, belonging to the smaller man.
The men both had them. The style of the claws was identical were and looked razor sharp, no natural mutation, they were cold and clinically designed for one thing and one thing only... killing. And whoever had paid for the claws would want them... Blair corrected himself; they would want these men back. They must have escaped from somewhere.
These men were flesh and blood, not myth. Blair tightened his grip on the older man's wrist and it was then he felt the brush across his mind; it was feather light, but like a warm caress. He jerked his hand back fast, or would have, if the other man had not held his hand immobilized, and in doing so would have lost his fingers to the claws.
"My name's Blair Sandburg, I am a student at Rainier. You know, in Cascade."
"Logan," the smaller man said, "Ellison." They identified themselves. He could see that the names were important to them. Even if they had trouble forming the words.
"Okay, Logan," he paused, "and Ellison, right, I've got that." Blair paused taping men on the chest as he said their names, "As much as I like the forest, and you know, hug a tree, I need to get to Cedar Falls." Blair was all too aware that the way he was being held, he could not move. "So perhaps you guys could let me go."
He placed his free hand against Ellison's chest, "please let me go." Blair's breath caught in his chest, as a jolt of energy pulsed through his hand and up into his head. It was like mainlining lightening. For a split second the whole of the forest was white. Then Blair's world came crashing down his head swimming. Only to find himself held with a strong arm round his waist. He patted Logan's hand where it clutched him. "I am alright. Please let me go, I won't tell anyone about you."
He was surprised when the werewolves, with a look between them, let him go.
Blair had no idea why, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The grad student moved slowly, to him painfully slowly, not wanting to upset them, as he reached for his backpack and realized that the contents were on the ground. Bending he scooped the clothing and books back in, all the time keeping his eyes on them. And then he inched out of the cave.
The werewolves exchanged a look and then as one began to follow him, the stalk had started. The Guide could not be forced to stay; a frightened Guide was of no use to them. But still, they could not allow him to be hurt. The forest had many perils and protecting the Guide was hardwired into Ellison's mind.
It soon became clear that Blair Sandburg had no talent for direction; the younger man was walking in circles. But all the time his shadows tracked him, allowing him to tire himself out.
Ellison was patient, he knew what he had, but he could not force the other man; a Sentinel needed his Guide, and he had found his. The words began to make sense as the doors in his mind, closed by the treatment in the facility, began to open. He was a Sentinel, and he needed a Guide. They had promised him one, but all he got was pain, and a blank mind. He looked at the Canadian that stalked Sandburg with him. Yes, Logan was Canadian, and he, Ellison, was American.
Gradually, Ellison began to remember.
General Purdy, had said that what was happening was for the greater good. That if Canada had developed an elite soldier, America must have one as well. And that he was wasted as a cop. His loss would be his country's gain.
He closed his eyes and caught the side of the tree as he almost fell with the force of the memories. James Joseph Ellison was back; the Guide had brought him back. The raw power was now coursing through him; it felt like static electricity playing across his fingers.
"Logan," Jim Ellison concentrated on the name. The Canadian stopped and looked back at him. He reached out a hand and then hooked it round the other man's neck and pulled him close, looking down into his face. He moved his other hand so that he held his face tightly.
Closing his eyes, he channeled the power that he had felt arch between him and his Guide. It ripped through the Canadian's mind, blowing away the new blocks, but the older blocks held in place. Hazel eyes, flecked with old gold, for the first time opened with more than animal intelligence. Logan was back.
The power ran between the two men, as the present and the past collided. Jim's legs gave way and he pulled Logan down next to him. When his hands fell away from the Canadian he was breathing hard, almost graying out. Logan dragged Jim Ellison to his feet; the Guide had to be found now. He was as much at threat from the people that no doubt were hunting them, as they were.
Jim looked down at himself, "clothes first then..."
"No, beer first, then clothes, cold beer, and a good cigar." Logan pushed ahead of Jim Ellison, "that's if the kid has not got himself killed." It was said with the shake of a head and a roll of the eyes that said volumes. The kid's death might delay acquiring the beer and cigars.
Jim opened up his senses, both men scanning the area and then finding what they sought, the scent of his Guide.
Blair was lost, and he knew it. He was hopelessly lost. He had been walking for the road, sure that he would intersect it very quickly, then a 10 mile walk to Cedar Falls and the bed he had booked. A hot meal and then bed, no just bed would do.
Without realizing it he was heading toward a ravine, he heard a noise and clutching his backpack began to run again, blindly.
Logan dropped down from a tree in front of him. Startled, Blair backed up and collided straight with Jim Ellison.
"Easy, Chief." The words were from a voice not used to talking, but even the young grad student recognized the speaker as he spun round, his backpack swinging as a weapon, only to be batted away easily.
Snitk and the claws retracted. Logan had no intention of using them, only to stop the kid from going any further and backing him into his Sentinel.
In Blair's memory he suddenly saw the face of the man in the cell from long ago, and he breathed the words, it was loud enough for the two werewolves to hear him. "My god! It's you, the Sentinel Primal."
Logan had heard the same term applied to himself and had all but laughed in their faces. They had thought that he needed a Guide to ground him, a keeper he was no Sentinel. The last one had died on the end of his claws, an emotional leech trying to make contact with him; the Wolverine didn't need a Guide, his senses were different to Ellison's in their origin, but worked the same. He sank down on his haunches and watched. His head tilting slightly. There was something about the scent of the Guide that bothered him. He would place him eventually.
Blair recognized the smaller man as the one from the room, he had nearly died on his claws, and now Ellison wanted to take him. He knew then he was going to die in this forest.
Blair was pushed into the nearest tree on his toes, his shirt bunched up round his throat, as cold fingers moved across his stomach, then a stroke up his side. He tried to struggle to escape, but was held too tightly.
One claw was popped and his shirt was slashed exposing his chest and shoulder. Ellison's growl became a roar of anger as he retracted his claw and with the tips of fingers brushed the scar that showed where a bullet had punctured his soon to be guide's shoulder.
The scent of Blair Sandburg was on his hands, but he could not avoid a growl as he realized the scent was edged with fear. He didn't want to frighten his Guide but this had to be done if Blair was to be claimed as his one true Guide.
The young man felt the hand turn into a fist as the knuckles were placed against his shoulder, and Blair began to panic, struggling against the hands holding him, but he was held too tightly. He screamed in pain as the first claw was released; it went through flesh and into tree. The third claw snikted out, the pain jerked him back from the becoming embrace of unconsciousness. This left only the second claw, the one that would kill him.
Blair could only stare into Ellison's face. He tried to speak, to plead with the man, and tell him not to kill him, that he could help him. But there was no anger in the Sentinel's face, no joy of the kill.
Then Blair screamed as the second claw went into his chest. The blood bubbled from his mouth, ran down his chin, and soaked into his shirt. Pain like he had never believed went through his body, but at the same time, there was a blaze of agony in his head. His mouth opened and he screamed and kept screaming; his abused vocal cords making a sound that was like fingernails down a blackboard. But even as he cried out his voice was merging with that of the Sentinel, whose head was thrown back in a full-blooded roar.
When Blair woke, he was being held in the arms of Jim Ellison. Weakly, he tried to pull free only to be caught and held.
"You tried to kill me." There was a look on wonder on Blair's face as his voice, for the first time, was strong, without the usual strained croak of his abused vocal cords.
"No, Chief, just bring you to your calling. The moment we bonded, you absorbed my ability to heal; the nature of our bond is fixed. Only my true Guide could do that."
"You knew I was." Blair could not believe what he was hearing. He had read such in the old Burton books but it had been forgotten or dismissed as myth. The Sentinel gives unto the Guide his strength and power; Ellison was a living embodiment of that idea. Then the thought hit him like an express train. "What if you had been wrong?"
"You'd be dead," Logan put in as a matter of fact, sifting through Blair's backpack, muttering under his breath, as it looked as if the kid didn't smoke. Now that his mind, or the unstable fractured thoughts and memories that qualified as his mind, was back, he would kill for a cigar and a cold beer. Raising his head he scented the cigarettes in the kid's coat. The smile that crossed his face was one of sheer bliss.
With the tips of his fingers Blair searched for the chest wound, he could feel the dried blood but nothing else, he was whole, his skin unmarked. Then his shirt was being ripped off, as his Sentinel, and Blair recognized him as that, stripped it off him. Ellison was in a heightened state of distress at the blood. Letting instinct guide him, the grad student reached out and wrapped his arms round the larger man, pushing his face against the broad chest, and just held on.
If his Burton was correct, and it had been on the claiming of the Guide, then the Sentinel had gone through the torment of the damned before he did it. His need to make his Guide meant that he nearly killed him, to transform him into what he was, his partner.
For a moment Blair was scared not of the Sentinel, he knew now that the man, even with the 12 inch claws, would never hurt him, but that he might let Ellison down. Guides and Sentinels worked together for months before the claiming, which nowadays was done chemically, rather than the barbaric way that Ellison had taken him. Also Sentinels had their bone claws removed surgically at birth. Ellison's, it seemed, had been replaced with metal. Blair shuddered as he remembered the feel of them entering his chest, which resulted in him being held even closer and petted harder.
Slowly the grad student turned his head to look at Logan. He could not repress a shiver when his eyes met those of the smaller man. The animal was nearer the surface with this one. But Logan made no claim on him.
His mind began to review the evidence he had read in his Burton. The idea of different levels of Sentinels had always been known, and usually they were graded as per the amount of enhanced senses they had. But he had always maintained that Burton had meant more than that. Now he was seeing that played out in front of him.
Logan was more basic, more animalistic, if he was a sentinel it would be a real primal one, he could not shake the feeling that he was looking at something different, very different. But the anthropologist in him, and the man of compassion that was Blair Sandburg, called out to help Logan. He could curb the animal in his Sentinel, through their connection, but Logan needed something else. And he would help the man find what he needed.
He eased himself round in the solid arms of his Sentinel, and put a hand out towards Logan. Ellison growled, not wanting to share his Guide.
Blair ran a hand in a soft caress down one muscular arm.
"I am your Guide, but we need to connect."
Blair was all too aware how unusual it would be for two Alpha's to be together. There was a link between the two men and he was not going to be the one to break it.
The phone rang, causing Marie to jump. There was a lot of static but the voice was clear.
"Marie, this is Blair Sandburg, BJS. Look, there's been a problem. Can you meet me on the main road? I am walking, and I have some friends of yours."
Her breath caught, "Okay. You're on the Cascade road?"
"Yeah, and bring some food, clothes or blankets, and er..." There was a rumbled growl and he added, "beer, if you have it." The signal was lost.
Puzzled, she just stared at the phone and with a shrug began to collect things from the cupboards.
Blair stood under the cover of the trees on the side of the road. His Sentinel had almost refused to allow himself to be parted from his Guide; needing to constantly touch him. The connection was still too raw.
To be honest Blair was still smarting. He had dug out of his pocket a battered cigarette pack only to have it speared by a claw belonging to his now irate Sentinel. Between the growls and snarls he had been told in no uncertain terms that although the healing factor now ran through his body, Blair would not be allowed to poison himself. Logan had just nodded sagely as Jim Ellison had spoken and then claimed the cigarettes for himself. He was currently smoking the last one in the pack. When he heard the car, he felt the first curl of fear coming up from his stomach, and the hot sour taste of bile in his mouth. What if the men returned.
"Then, little one, they die." The words echoed through his head followed by a low-throated chuckle. "How else do you think a Sentinel keeps track of his Guide, Chief?"
It was only when the car came into view did Blair feel the tension leave his body. The driver was a young woman; even so he approached the car slowly, ready to run.
"BJS?" She asked.
"Marie, you're never going to guess what happened." Blair's voice trailed off as he saw her reaction as she saw the two shadows distancing them from the forest line. Her mouth dropped. Her werewolves; he had actually made contact.
Seeing his look, her face flushed red and she switched her gaze to Blair's face. "er, the clothes are here,, I brought them," she trailed off.
"Thanks," Blair handed them out while he talked to her. Marie's hands clasped the steering wheel tightly, "Mum and Dad are away, so we can take them to the house, er, get them cleaned up." She started as the passenger door was pulled open and Logan dropped into the seat, his eyes seemed to burn into her as he settled in.
Blair patted her hand. He was pretty sure, okay, more than sure, that Logan didn't mean any harm to her, but it would unnerve the hell out of anyone to be looked at that way. Case in point, Blair looked up and caught Jim Ellison's look, and felt as if he was about to burst into flames from the heat of it. Sheer power, of possession, of ownership.
Logan took the final pull of the cigarette, pinched out the flame and then tossed it out the window before easing down in the seat, and allowing himself the luxury of studying the young woman sitting near him.
There was a shadow of a smile as he saw the way that she colored. He could hear her heartbeat, fast, like a bird in a cage; detect the change in her scent. There was an edge of fear in it, which he didn't like, but also there was something else, interest.
Marie put the car in gear and pulled away, looking into the mirror to check on BJS. It was then she realized that she was alone in a car with three strange men, and you could not get stranger than this.
She jumped when a hand touched her shoulder. Logan was fast, and pulled the steering wheel back over and managed to get the car straight.
"Sorry," Blair muttered softly. "Didn't want to make you jump, but you sure you want to put us up? If you feel safer, drop us, er, somewhere else." He knew that he had to give her the option; town was out with these two, they would overload on the noise and smell, but a quiet motel or camping site...
"NO," she snapped, and then calmed. "No, that's okay." She glanced down at Logan's hand wrapped over hers. "You can let go now."
When his hand moved it was more of a caress.
//What the hell have I left myself in for//?
The telephone was ringing when she entered the house, the men following behind her. "Hi." She paused, "Hi Mum, nothing's wrong. I just got in, and no, I have not gone out with Steve. Mum, please it was an accident." She turned her back trying to cover the phone. "It was an accident. He never meant to hit me and he's under a lot of pressure." She trailed off. "I am okay, promise, love you." She put the phone down, and stopped dead. Logan had her boxed in against the wall, one arm blocking her way, and he slowly put a hand towards her face.
Blair was caught by a grip to his shoulder, "Keep out of this, Chief,"
She reached behind her, and her hand got a firm grip on the telephone, but his fingers just brushed her face, all the time his hazel eyes met hers. The growl started low in the chest and rumbled out, as his enhanced touch detected the damage that a fist had done; she had been lucky.
"No one touches you again, if they do," his hand moved fast, and the snitk was barely registered as the three claws hit the wall, slicing through them like a hot knife through butter. They retracted just as quickly. The hand blocking her dropped away and Marie walked to the kitchen. She wanted to run, but deep down a voice whispered that animals, especially predators, chased running prey, and at that moment, all she knew was the smaller of the two men was a predator, right at the top of the food chain.
In the kitchen Marie leaned against the counter, her knees were wobbly, but it was not fear, it was something else. When he had growled she had felt something snap inside of her. She had had to stop herself from growling back! Stupid! She pushed the water jug under the tap. "Civilized people don't growl."
"Oh, I don't know about that." Marie spun round Blair was leaned against the doorjamb. "Don't worry, they're upstairs. I found the bathroom. I thought they could do with a wash."
"This is ridiculous! What where they doing out there? They're not werewolves, they're men."
"Men with 12 inch retractable claws. Now if it was bone, I would say we have a couple of throwback Sentinels. But metal... someone put it there, and that must have cost money. We are talking about mutant experimentation here."
"It's against the law."
"Tell that to the government." Blair shivered; and he wrapped his arms round himself; the memories of the facility were still very fresh
He shivered again, and then flinched as his Sentinel wrapped an arm round him and pulled him close. Without conscious thought he leaned into the man.
"We have not been introduced. James Ellison."
Marie just stared at him. This was not what she had expected; one day he was a bare werewolf, she blushed and corrected herself, barely able to talk, the next he sounded well educated.
"Marie Parker," she peered round him a little nervously, "The other one. Where is he?"
"Logan? Outside. Gone hunting."
"But I have food," she pulled the door to the refrigerator open, "I brought it for you."
"Logan prefers his food rare, as in still warm, still having a pulse."
Ellison saw the shocked look on her face and added, "He won't hurt you; you have nothing to fear from us."
"I never have feared you." She ducked her head, "Okay. That first time in the barn, but not since then." Marie waved them out of the kitchen; she had food to cook.
The media van door was pulled closed and Sergeant Jeff Brown sat monitoring the area as his Captain reviewed the film they had. Both men had been brought in to recapture Panther and Wolverine. The carnage they had inflicted on the facility had been horrific, but at the same time, had shown the potential they both had. Now, it looked as if everything was going to go public. Their job was to locate them and then organize their collection.
Jeb Rawlin's face filled the screen as he told his story of being attacked by the Cascade Werewolves, showing his cut back as proof. Luckily, they had all been drinking and had a reputation for tall tales that would have the incident written off as a crank, to be placed in the files with the Crop Circles of Windermere. But for the soldiers, it was solid proof that Panther and Wolverine were in the area. As long as they were regarded as a myth for the local tourist trade, there was no problem. Their job was to make sure that no one made contact with the escapees. if they had, then they would become expendable. Too much money had been invested to see it blown.
00000 Marie brought the coffee into the living room, and handed it out, but she could not keep her eyes off Jim Ellison.
"Sorry." She looked down and bit her lip; the last thing she had wanted to do was upset the man. "I recognize you from the newspaper." She stooped down and tugged it out of the recycling cupboard. Smoothing it out, she pointed to the front page, "this was about eight months ago."
CASCADE OFFICER OF THE YEAR, MISSING. HUNT FOR SERIAL KILLER INCREASES. DETECTIVE JAMES ELLISON, TWICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR FOR 2010 AND 2011, CAR FOUND ABANDONDED NEAR INTERSTATE 1023, THE CAR HAD BEEN BURNED OUT, NO TRACE OF DETECTIVE ELLISON FOUND. WITNESS STATES THAT THE CAR HAD BEEN...
Jim took the newspaper to one side and read through it before returning to root through the rest of them, until he had them laid out in date order.
His Captain, Simon Banks, and the FBI had started a manhunt to locate him. The press had then begun to speculate that since the kills had ended when he had gone missing that he might be the killer. There were pictures of his father, and statements of his innocence. But more and more the press believed that he had done it. Silently he walked away. He had wondered why Simon had never tried to find him; now he had his answer. They were looking for all the wrong reasons.
Suddenly, he caught the side of the door as his mind began to spin down. He remembered being taken, the pain of the overload of his senses. He spiraled down into the void of the zone out and then he heard a voice; it called to him and then the touch of a hand on skin. Peace came with that voice and he reached for it, blindly pulling that source close.
Blair didn't fight the strong arms that closed round him, as he used voice and touch to bring the older man back.
Marie had gone down into the basement to collect some vegetables from the store when she heard a noise. Hefting a pan like a weapon she moved more fully into the room, looked round her, and saw Logan. He was huddled into the corner, knees pulled up, hands clasped over his ears; he was in overload.
He had tried not to make a noise when she had come down, not wanting her to see him like this. The story of hunting had been just that, an excuse to get away from a house that stank of artificial scents of all kinds, but had found that he needed to be near her.
But now she came towards him.
"Keep away," he managed to grate the words out.
That brought his head up and his hazel eyes fixed on her.
"Get away." He brought his hand up and with a snikt the claws came out but she didn't even stop coming towards him. Her breath had hitched, he had heard it, but she kept walking towards him, as if she had a death wish.
Kneeling down, she pressed the palm of her hand against his so that the long claws towered over her fingers. His claws retracted and she slid her fingers through his, and she intertwined them. Then, all the time keeping eye contact with him, she placed her hand against the side of his face.
"You don't know what you're doing."
Logan was inhaling her scent and it was pushing away the false scents that had overwhelmed him in the house.
"Quit telling me what I can and can't do."
"You're too young."
"Well, you're not exactly pushing a pension yourself."
Logan turned his head slightly so his lips and nose brushed across her palm and he inhaled her scent deeply. Then he growled.
Deep inside of her, Marie felt the change. It was as if something had broken loose, and all she wanted to do at that moment was push Logan down, and mark him. It was then she realized that she wasn't scared of him. This very gesture was more intimate that she had ever experienced. She had had boyfriends, but next to Logan, the sheer animal presence of the man, they were nothing.
Both found what they needed.
End of Part one