Fog. Everything was blurry. Fucking dead man’s blood. Slowly cloying up his blood vessels, clinging like thick sludge - pink sludge, who ya gonna call, his mind hysterically supplied - to his insides. His limbs felt like lead and he just. Couldn’t. Think.
There were people gripping his arms, dragging him. His feet were sliding over rough ground. It was dark. He thought. People talking. Their voices were harsh, but happy.
“You got him?”
“How much DMB did you give him?”
“He took out Andrews and Michaels before we finally got him. We’re not taking any more chances.”
“Alright, but that’s enough. We don’t want him dead.”
Jensen heard the words, but they didn’t hold any meaning. He sailed through the air and then landed hard in a small space. There was a metallic thump and then nothing but darkness. He was too out of it to distinguish all the different shades of black.
He was bound, lying on his hands and the rope - he twisted his hands, pain shooting through his almost numb limbs. Drenched in hawthorn. Fuckers.
Hunters. And they knew what they were doing, too. Jensen needed to think about this, figure out why he was still alive, but his head was so heavy. Everything was heavy. The pain pressed against him, inside out, and he couldn’t think.
He didn’t have a heartbeat, but the dead man’s blood crawled inexorably through his body. He’d always wondered how that worked.
‘It is our power’, his maker used to say. ‘Magic’, said others. ‘Hell in your veins’, the hunters snarled.
Jensen didn’t know. Not that it mattered. There was nothing but pain and this insurmountable weight pressing him down.
The world went darker.
Jensen came to when he was being dragged again. He could feel the pressure receding, the pain dulling. He could wiggle his toes.
He tried to raise his head. It was dark, night dark, the world tinted in stark contrasts of blues and greys, pale moonlight filtering through the clouds covering the sky.
There was a house. Old. It smelled old. Jensen tried to turn his head and a fist hit him in the face.
“Hurry up,” somebody grumbled. “I think he’s waking up.”
He really wasn’t. His head was still so fuzzy, and it felt like gravity had multiplied tenfold. His wrists burned like they were lit on fire. Jensen wondered why he wasn’t dead yet. Hunters didn’t like to take prisoners unless they wanted information.
Jensen flexed his toes, tried moving his legs. He needed to get out of here.
They entered the building, dragging him down a narrow flight of stairs. He managed to move his feet a bit, but they still thumped painfully against the steps.
He heard the metallic creaking of a cell door being opened, old moldy basement smell pushing up his nose and then he was thrown again. His back and head hit something hard and he slumped down on the ground. Somebody laughed and then the metal screeched and the door fell closed.
“Make yourself comfortable, fang. It’s gonna be a while.”
A groan pushed its way out of Jensen's throat. Well, that was progress. He went back to moving his legs. He needed to get the fuck out of his bindings and then out of this fucking torture dungeon. Because he had absolutely no doubt that that was what it was.
He took a deep breath and was assaulted by the scents of old mold, wet earth, dried blood, piss, fear, and pain. He could smell more, the sharp scent of silver, the unyielding and suffocating one of iron. The iron pressed against his head, and he had trouble breathing. Yeah, Jensen really needed to get out of here.
When the hunters came back, Jensen’s body had worked most of the dead blood out of his system. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it must have been hours. He could see the first changes in the night sky from pitch black to a dark blue through the cell’s tiny window. Without food it was hard to counteract the poison and his stomach was growling. He hadn’t managed to loosen his bonds, but he was sitting upright on the cot and he could finally think clearly. He wished he couldn’t, because he was in deep shit.
The walls of his prison were lined with silver, the door made out of solid iron. Jensen wasn’t bothered by the silver, but it showed that the hunters had planned for all eventualities. The iron though, that was another matter. There was no way he was going to get out.
The hunters who approached his cell were rough looking men, dressed in khakis and heavy boots, mean smiles on their faces.
“Well, you look like you recovered,” the guy on the left said.
He had a ragged beard and a pony tail. Hairy.
“Still looks hungry, though,” the other one said, squinting at Jensen. Squint.
“Are you offering?” Jensen asked, trying to ignore how much his throat hurt. His insides were dried out, the walls of his esophagus rubbing together like sandpaper.
Squint made a face. “Fucking fangs,” he mumbled.
Hairy just laughed. “Well, if you put up a good fight, we might let you have some.”
Jensen raised his eyebrows in disbelief. He seriously doubted that.
“Heard fangs are picky though. Don’t like mutt,” Squint said and Jensen wondered what the hell the guy was talking about.
Hairy nodded. “Well, he won’t have much of a choice,” he said with a laugh that made Jensen wince. There was nothing worse than a guy thinking he could pull off the evil villain when he was really just a pathetic piece of shit.
“So what are we doing here, boys?” Jensen drawled, leaning casually back on his hands and ignoring the hawthorn ropes digging deeper into his skin. “Did you just come by to admire my pretty face?”
Squint scowled and Hairy shook his head.
“Nah. We’re just here to make sure you behave while we bring in your new roommate.”
That didn’t sound good.
“I’m fine on my own, really.”
Hairy’s grin was downright gleeful. “If you don’t like him, kill him.”
“Yeah, we ain’t gonna stop you,” Squint added and cackled like a hyena.
“You are completely insane, you’re aware of that, right?” Jensen asked, keeping his voice even.
Squint was just about to go for an angry reply when there was a commotion on the other side of the basement, way back where Jensen couldn’t see. It was spacious, but full of nooks and corners and the stairs ran right down the middle of it. There were workbenches and closets standing around in little work stations, littered with weapons - to kill and to torture, Jensen noted with disdain - and a surprising amount of technology for an old school torture dungeon.
Hairy took a gun from the wall and pointed it at Jensen. “Unless you want another shot of dead man’s blood, you’re gonna step back against the wall. And trust me, this is not a good time to get high.”
Jensen was just about to go for a scathing reply when a door in the back opened and the unidentifiable noise from before turned into shouts and snarls. Jensen took three steps back and hit the wall.
Frantically, he extended his fingernails and started clawing at the ropes. There was only one creature that made sounds like that. Hairy was right, Jensen would need all his faculties to come out of this alive.
The moon was full, and it had only just set. The lunar pull was still strong and that werewolf back there sounded downright rabid. Wolves were almost uncontrollable during the night of the full moon. If they weren’t with their pack or their alpha, they turned into mindless beasts - not that they were particularly sophisticated beings the rest of the month - and with all the silver around them there really would be no way to reason with that creature.
Jensen spared a quick look out of the window where the dark blue of waning night was slowly giving way to the lighter blue of dawn. Under normal circumstances he had no trouble handling a little doggy, but it was a full moon and the hawthorn had soaked into his wrists so deep, his hands would be useless for a while.
The wolf would still be close to the peak of his strength and was probably half out of his mind. Wolves had serious issues when they were cooped up during the moon. Really, their lack of control and erratic behaviour was the reason why the hunters were after anything non-human so hard in the first place.
Jensen inhaled deeply, smelled fury and confusion coming off the wolf and an overly sweet scent he couldn’t place at first. He was briefly distracted from the smell when he saw that another group of hunters was pushing a giant metal crate towards his cell. The crate was sitting on a creeper dolly, but the wolf inside was making such a ruckus, they had trouble pushing it.
The scent was stronger now and finally made sense to Jensen. The bittersweet note of wolfsbane filled his nose. The fucking mutts actually used it on themselves to get high, but in larger quantities it could drive them crazy.
Jensen listened more carefully to the wolf’s heartbeat and it wasn’t only fast, it was irregular, jumping all over the place. Great. The wolf was probably more animal than human right now.
The rope around his hands gave way the moment Jensen realized there was a little flap - a doggy door, what a pun - in his cell door. The hunters hooked the crate to the cell, opened the flap of the crate and the little door in the iron bars. Jensen had a millisecond to crouch down in a fighting stance before the wolf burst into his cell. He’d almost expected it to be a velociraptor.
Instead it was just a normal wolf, a little bit bigger than usual maybe, and teeth bared in a hungry snarl, eyes glowing yellow with animalistic fury. The wolf didn’t even stop, just barreled straight into Jensen.
They crashed into the back wall, tiny pieces of stone and dust raining down on them, while Jensen tried to grip the were by the neck and keep his canines away from his face. Jensen’s hands weren’t cooperating fully, pain shooting up from his wrists and Jensen cursed, trying to block the wolf with his elbows.
The stink of wolf and poison was almost overwhelming, droplets of spit flying from the wolf’s muzzle hit Jensen in the face, and then the fucker’s canines grazed Jensen’s shoulder, sending burning pain through his body. Werewolf teeth hurt almost as much as iron.
In desperation, Jensen pressed a hand against the wolf’s muzzle, feeling the skin on his palm tear, but managing to give himself enough room to get his leg up and kick the mutt away from him. The wolf crashed into the bars with a yelp and Jensen had a small moment of satisfaction before the fucker got up, slower this time, not because he was hurt, but because he was calculating. Something unsettlingly cunning was shining out of these yellow eyes and Jensen had a bad feeling about this.
The wolf was big and strong, stronger than most weres Jensen had ever encountered. Despite the stench of the poison, the pull of the moon and the adrenaline, his heartbeat was still fast but steady now. Intelligent eyes were watching Jensen carefully, tracking the movements of his chest and shoulders, the places where the first muscle twitches would reveal his next move. This wolf was a good fighter, skills so ingrained into him that even in his most animalistic state he remembered human techniques.
Jensen bared his teeth, showing his own fangs, long and razor-sharp from decades of blood running past them. It almost looked like the wolf smiled in anticipation, before he jumped. This time Jensen was prepared, evading at the last second. His arm was grazed again because he’d underestimated the wolf’s speed and while he used the cot as a jumping point, he noticed the hunters out of the corner of his eye watching their fight in anticipation. Why they wanted them to kill each other was beyond him, but something about it was wrong. This was more than just entertainment to them.
There was no time to think about that, because Jensen had to stay sharp. The wolf almost managed to trap him in a corner and it took entirely too long for Jensen to get his teeth into the mutt for the first time.
When his fangs finally tore through the wolf’s side, scratching along the ribs and ripping a long stretch of skin open, his mouth was flooded with were blood. It was hot and rejuvenating, even though the taste made Jensen want to spit it out again.
Unlike like the sweet, addicting taste of human, always a note too soft, leaving a craving for more, were blood was dark and heavy, overwhelmingly rich, blocking everything out and leaving behind the taste of night and forest and earth. It was like being buried alive and choking on the earth of one’s prison.
For a moment, Jensen was overwhelmed and he received a gaping wound in his thigh for his wandering thoughts. He hit the wolf straight in the eye, feeling the delicate bone of the eye socket shatter under his fist and the mutt drew back.
Jensen could hear the bone healing immediately, and much quicker than he’d thought possible while he felt his own flesh knit itself together again.
He grinned wryly, the dried blood around his mouth cracking. “We’re going to be doing this the whole night, aren’t we?”
To his surprise there was recognition in the wolf’s eyes. Jensen had thought he might still be too far gone, but he could see the glimmer of humor next to the bloodlust in there. The wolf actually made a move with his head that could almost be interpreted as a nod.
Jensen barked out a laugh, never taking his eyes of the wolf. “Two immortals locked in an epic battle until Judgment Day and trumpets sound?”
This time the wolf actually drew up short, and Jensen used that moment to throw himself at the were. The wolf managed to meet him halfway, raising up on his hind legs and together they hit the floor hard, claws and fangs digging into flesh. There was pain and blood, and this suffocating presence of living creature.
The wolf’s heartbeat was hammering loudly in the absence of Jensen’s own, his breath exploding out of him in damp huffs and loud snarls, ripping through Jensen’s silence. Jensen’s clothes were torn more than they were whole and there was a sizeable chunk of his ass missing.
“It figures a dog like you would be an ass guy,” Jensen pressed out while he buried his claws in the were’s chest as deep as possible.
The wolf howled, a sound so absolute it resonated through Jensen’s whole body. Then the were ripped himself back, blood dripping from his body and coating the floor of the cell in dark red, but he was still healing as quickly as before. He wasn’t tiring.
All the blood Jensen had absorbed during the fight was enough to get his own body up and running again. He inhaled, and while the stink of wolf was still cloying up his nose, he noted the scent of the poison was almost gone. Huh, maybe the mutt had bled it out.
“This is taking longer than I thought it would,” Jensen heard Hairy mumble from outside the cell.
The wolf’s ears twitched; he was listening too. Apparently he was more or less in charge of his faculties again. In an almost truce, Jensen and the were didn’t move, staring at each other while listening to the hunters.
“More fun for us,” Squint said.
Hairy snorted. “Don’t let the boss hear that. This ain’t fun, it’s necessary, and he hates it when things drag on.”
“Well, what do you wanna do about it, then?” Squint asked.
“No idea,” Hairy said. “Let’s just hope one of them actually kills the other, otherwise we’re gonna have ourselves a problem.”
Stilling for too long would draw attention, so Jensen started circling in the small cell. The wolf was smart enough to follow his lead.
“We could just kill ‘em now,” Squint said. “They’ve torn each other up well enough.”
Jensen couldn’t see it, his back to the cell door, but he heard the unmistakable sound of somebody getting hit upside the head.
“You fucking idiot, they’re healing right now. We’ve seen that you can’t fake a dog or fang kill, how often do I need to tell you that?”
Jensen had no idea why these hunters wanted them to kill each other, but he saw realization flicker through the wolf’s eyes and their feverish yellow glow dimmed to a light amber. Jensen cocked his head. He wasn’t a fan of the mutts, but he also didn’t like to kill for the sake of killing. It was a slope too slippery.
The hunters seemed to be playing a longer game here and Jensen was rather averse to giving them whatever it was they wanted. The wolf suddenly lunged and Jensen jumped up on the cot, snarling.
“Stop it.” It was too quiet for the hunters to pick up, but across from him the wolf froze.
“They want us to kill each other. I have no idea what sick game is going on here, but now that you’re not a crazy animal anymore, maybe we can stop with the fighting.”
The wolf snarled - they really didn’t like to be compared to animals - but stayed where he was.
Jensen was still glaring, but he relaxed his fighting stance into something a little more comfortable. “Think we could talk?”
That was the moment a door upstairs opened and a deep voice yelled, “Bowman, Dewey, get your asses up here.”
The hunters shot them an irritated glare.
“One of the fuckers better be dead when we get back down here,” Hairy muttered and then they left.
Jensen looked at the wolf expectantly. The were huffed before he shifted. His body kind of rippled and even with his excellent eyesight, Jensen had trouble cataloging exactly what happened. He’d never seen a wolf shift this close up, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to adequately describe it later.
The man he turned into was younger than Jensen had expected. He looked like he was in his mid-twenties, but looks were deceiving. Wolves aged much slower than humans once bitten.
He was tall and muscular, fitting with his animal appearance and his brown hair was shaggily falling into his face. His body was covered in blood and dirt, but the wounds had almost all healed. Jensen couldn’t help from looking up and down his entire body, because he was an impressive specimen. All over.
“Wondering if the rumors are true?” The wolf asked amused and Jensen looked up from his crotch with a glare.
“There’s nothing about you that’s even remotely of interest,” Jensen bit out, ignoring his morbid curiosity when it came to werewolf dicks. Instead he walked over to the bars, rattling the lock.
“Even remotely of interest?” the were repeated incredulously, but came to stand next to him, helping him push against the door. “Let me guess, you were bitten in 17-I’m-forever-stuck-in-my-moldy-century.”
“Better than being an uncultivated animal, who’s never read anything but the Steak House menu.”
“At least I don’t run around quoting Pirates of the Caribbean,” the wolf shot back.
“Says the guy who recognized it.”
“Fangs and pop culture. Somehow I always thought you’d only read Oscar Wilde and listen to Jazz.”
Jensen gave him a disgusted look and gave up trying to move the door. “Just how stupid exactly are you?”
For a moment they stared at each other, and the cell was full with their animosity. Then the werewolf grinned, popping an actual dimple in his left cheek. How ridiculous.
“Whatever, dude. Now that we’ve established we hate each other, and the fucking door is too strong for the two of us, what do we do?”
The were had sat down against the wall, legs stretched out and putting his naked body shamelessly on display. Granted it was an attractive body, Jensen was secure enough in his superiority to objectively admit that, but it was just so… vulgar.
“How about your name and what you know about this clusterfuck?”
The wolf eyed him with calculated interest. “Jared,” he said. “And what do you mean, what I know?”
Jensen snorted. “I saw you reacting when the hunters talked. They specifically want us to kill each other. Why?”
Jared drew his legs up, resting his arms on his knees. Not better.
“For such a proper speaking dude, your manners kind of suck.”
It took Jensen a moment to understand what Jared meant. “Jensen.”
Jared pulled a grimace. “From what century is that name?”
“It’s nordic.” Jensen rolled his eyes. “So,” he prompted to get them back on track.
“You from around here or traveling through?” Jared asked.
“That’s none of your business.”
Jared rolled his eyes. “I just wanna know how familiar you are with the local demographics.”
“Look at you, using big words,” Jensen said in mock approval. “And obviously I’m not from around here or the hunters would’ve never managed to catch me.”
Jared’s eyes narrowed at the implied insult. “If you don’t know squat, maybe you should wait with your judgemental shit until you have all the facts.”
Jensen waved his hands in a go-on motion. “Don’t let me stop you.”
“Whatever,” Jared said and for a moment Jensen felt like he’d been dumped in one of those supernatural teen dramas on TV.
“My pack lives north from here, the Morgan pack. You might have heard of it.”
Jensen had and he refused to be impressed by this in any way. Despite territorial disputes and the strengthening of the hunting community in the wake of new weapons technologies, the Morgan pack had prevailed for centuries. Jensen had met their Alpha, Jeff Morgan, once at the last big truce negotiations during the Second World War. He was an impressive man, for a werewolf, and Jensen knew that his pack was still powerful.
“Now, this is no man’s land,” Jared continued. “But two weres have disappeared from around here and there was one other attempt, where the were got away. He told his alpha the hunters weren’t going for the kill, just tried to take him, so my alpha sent me down here to investigate. And while I was scouring the woods, I found a dead vamp.”
Jensen looked at him sharply. “Who?”
“How the fuck should I know?” Jared asked irritatedly. “It was a vamp. It wasn’t like he was carrying an ID.”
Jensen ground his teeth together so he wouldn’t snap them at this insolent little shit. His kind tended to be rather solitary in nature, but Jensen had been around long enough to have forged connections all over the country.
“What did he look like?” he asked carefully.
Jared dismissively shrugged his shoulders. “Blond hair. Tall. Pale. I wasn’t really paying attention to his looks.”
“What did you pay attention to then?” Jensen asked icily.
“How he died. It was weird, man.”
“Weird? What do you mean, weird?”
Jared scrunched up his nose. “He was torn up alright, claw marks all over and head chewed off. But it was… off. The claw marks were too many, most of them hadn’t even started to heal.”
“Post mortem?” Jensen asked, thinking back how the hunters said you couldn’t fake a death by wolf or vampire.
Slowly, Jared nodded. “Yeah. And the scent was off. The scent of the wolf I mean, it smelled dead.” He looked at Jensen expectantly.
Jensen ran through the scenario in his mind. “So you think the hunters captured one of my kind and a mutt, killed them both, and then used the wolf claws and teeth to make it look like he’d killed the vampire.”
Jared gave him a condescending smile. “See, I knew you were more than just a pretty face.”
“Why, though?” Jensen asked, ignoring the backhanded compliment that was really just a straight up insult. “There’s a truce, and as far as I know there isn’t a powerful coven around here who could take insult. Too many mutts in the area.”
“Do you still get your news by carrier pigeon?” Jared asked incredulously. “Four months ago, up in Connecticut, the local coven almost annihilated one of the packs until the rest stepped in. A month ago, it got so bad in San Francisco, the FBI thought they had a ritualistic serial killer on their hands. We thought that is was just single vamps and weres getting in fights and the covens and packs retaliating, but this is a pattern. Especially since the hunters were always conveniently there during the fighting, ready to start hunting the packs the moment they were weakened. And we’re close enough to Austin to piss off the coven there if enough vamps turn up dead.”
That made sense to a worrying degree. One of the ways vampires and wolves had faced the new hunter threats had been a general truce, focusing their strength towards taking out the hunters instead of each other. It was smart for the hunters to pit them against each other.
Of course, vampires and wolves alike were cautious, and it was hard to fake a real murder.
“Were the other murders staged or real?” Jensen asked.
“All staged,” Jared said. “That was the only reason why the fighting stopped. They thought they’d made a mistake, but it obviously was on purpose.”
Jensen nodded. “So now these hunters want to make sure it’s real and they don’t really care who kills who.”
“Yep.” Jared popped the ‘P’ like an annoying teenager.
“Well, thankfully you got your shit together. They can’t exactly force us.”
Jared tilted his head. “What if they give you the choice: kill me or they kill you?”
“I won’t do it.”
The wolf was so surprised, he let his too-cool-for-everything-facade slide. “You wouldn’t?”
Now Jensen had to roll his eyes. “No, of course not. They would never let me live either way and I’d prefer to die without doing a hunter’s dirty work first. Trust me, if I’d think it would get me out of here alive, I would tear you apart without hesitation.”
The wolf actually laughed. “I should’ve seen that one coming. In case you’re worried, I wouldn’t kill you either.”
Jensen raised an eyebrow in a way he hoped conveyed how unrealistic he found that scenario. Judging by Jared’s glare, he thought he succeeded.
“The important thing is,” Jared continued, eyes glowing yellow in anger, “what do we do now?”
“We get out of here.”
“No, really?” Jared asked, opening his eyes comically wide. “That’s such an awesome idea, never would’ve thought of that myself.”
The fangs in his jaw were itching to descend, so Jensen took a deep breath to calm himself. The assault of wolf and blood didn’t really help with how he was feeling, but it distracted him from wanting to kill Jared. It had been a long time since someone had riled him up like that. Jensen blamed the circumstances.
“Okay, smartass, how about instead of asking stupid questions, you make a useful suggestion?”
Jared leaned forward with an arrogant grin on his face when the door to the basement opened. They both froze, straining to hear. Several people came down the stairs.
“Five heartbeats,” Jensen whispered to Jared who gave him a disgusted look.
“No,” Jensen said coldly. “They are hearts waiting to be ripped out of their chest.”
Jared muttered something that sounded like dramatic and only the cape is missing, but Jensen was back on focusing on the people.
He recognized Hairy’s and Squint’s heartbeats, but the other three were new. One of them was quicker. Excited. Not good.
Then Jared growled, canines lengthening. Fuck. Fucking mutts.
Stuart. Jared would recognize that scent anywhere. It was seared into his brain and it flung him back in time immediately. He was ten years old and standing in a smoldering heap of ashes.
Looks like we missed one.
We have a code.
Behave kid, or we’ll find you again.
Jensen spoke, but Jared couldn’t hear the words. All his senses were focused on Stuart.
He had aged, of course he had. He was still fit, put together, an adult now. Lines that didn’t come from laughing were etched deep into his face. Jared wouldn’t have recognized him without the scent. Except for that smug expression, that was still the same his teenage self had worn. He was decked out in full hunter dress, khakis and a Henley, gun belt and a crossbow in hand.
Showoff. Jared thought it was a testament to how far he’d come he was still able to think snark, even though everything inside him wanted to jump, rip the guy open and spread his intestines across the floor. But he was in a cell, there was no getting out. Jared wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of jumping heedlessly against the bars like an animal.
“What’s going on here?” Stuart asked in his light cultivated voice, like he was inquiring about the state of a flower bed. “Why are they both still alive?”
The two goons from earlier looked everywhere but Stuart and the woman and the man who had come with him looked disdainfully at the cell, like it was containing two cockroaches instead of Jared and Jensen.
“I understand your puzzlement,” Jensen said mildly and it was kind of satisfying hearing that infuriating tone directed at someone else. Someone he hated.
“I was quite sure there would be no reasoning with a mutt, but apparently miracles do happen.” Jensen’s full lips were quirked in a surprised-but-what-can-you-do-smile.
Stuart smiled back just as mildly. “So you couldn’t handle him and talked him out of killing you. You must possess much of your kind’s charm.”
Jensen scoffed so condescendingly that the goons actually flinched and Stuart’s entourage bristled. The vamp had quite the talent of pissing people off; Jared was glad it was not just him.
“You’re not very good at what you do, are you?” Jensen asked, referring to the fact that a vamp’s glamour didn’t work on wolves.
Stuart looked around in surprise. “You’re in the cell, are you not?”
“Not what I would call it,” the woman said, while the dark-haired man started to speak.
“For now. If you want to stay that way, I suggest you kill the mutt. Or we kill you.”
Since Jensen didn’t have a heartbeat, Jared had no way of telling if the vamp was actually as calm as he looked.
“No, you won’t,” Jensen said dismissively.
There was still too much anger in Jared’s system, his canines long and sharp in his mouth, so he was glad Jensen had taken over the conversation. And he had to admit, the vamp was doing a good job. Jared was wolf enough to admit that.
Stuart had raised his crossbow and nodded at the arrow cocked in it. “Laced with dead man’s blood.”
Jensen just raised his eyebrows.
The arrow hit Jensen in his leg, which had been casually outstretched from where he was sitting on the cot. Jared saw the flinch, but he wasn’t sure the humans could pick it up with their eyes. Calmly and slowly, Jensen gripped the arrow and pulled it out of his leg.
“Cute,” was all he said. He was cold as ice, and Jared was impressed against his better judgement. Of course he was cold, he was a fucking vamp. It wasn’t like the bloodsuckers were actually able to feel any kind of emotion besides those that came from inflicting pain and power.
“The next one is gonna hit your heart,” Stuart said, already reaching for another arrow.
Jesen actually laughed, short and harsh. “My heart is dead and black. You do your worst, hunter, but unless you come in here and chop my head off, you can’t kill me.”
Looking slightly surprised, Stuart turned to Jared. “What about you, dog? You want to get a silver bullet to the heart or kill this fang?”
Jared bared his teeth in a feral grin. “What the vamp said.”
The woman cocked her head to the side. “Maybe they have some Romeo-and-Juliet kind of thing going on?”
“Bet the fang’s Juliet. Prissy enough,” the goon with the ponytail said.
Jensen’s snort collided with the woman casually walking over to Ponytail and clocking him in the face. “Why don’t you keep your trap shut, you misogynistic piece of shit? You’ve screwed up enough already. If you hadn’t taken so fucking long getting them in there during the last full moon, we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place.”
Ponytail stumbled back, looking outraged at Stuart. Stuart only shook his head. “Alaina, was that really necessary?”
Alaina’s eyebrow-raise rivaled Jensen’s and Stuart put up his hands placatingly. “Fine. Can we focus on matters at hand now? Anybody willing to tell me why you two won’t kill each other or shall we just start shooting until one of you makes the first move?”
“Well, first off,” Jensen started, an evil glint in his eyes that made Jared think nothing good was coming, “Why do I get shot in warning and he doesn’t?”
Jared wasn’t sure if Jensen wanted to test his promise or piss him off, but he didn’t have time to think about it before Stuart raised his hand and a bullet hit Jared straight in the chest. It was pure silver, agonizingly painful, but it wouldn’t kill him. Jared toppled over, trying to breathe through the pain and concentrating all his focus on his chest, trying to make himself heal fast, push the damn bullet out of his body.
“Satisfied?” he heart Stuart ask.
“Very,” came Jensen’s smug answer.
“Fucking fang,” Jared bit out. He extended his claws and dug them into the bullet hole. For a few seconds the pain was worse, burning through his chest, but then he got ahold of the bullet and pulled it out. It fell to the floor with a metallic clang and Jared could breathe again.
When he looked up, the goons stared at him in wonder and Alaina and the other guy were eyeing him sharply. Stuart, it appeared, had turned his attention back to Jensen, but Jared knew the asshole missed nothing.
“Now, about this silly not-killing business,” Stuart continued in a businesslike manner.
Jensen nodded with a regretful expression, mocking Stuart’s pretend sincerity. “Yes, well, I honestly don’t care what you threaten me with, but the day I bow down to a hunter’s will will never come. So kill me if you must. Pump me full with dead man’s blood if that gets you off. But I swear to you, there is nothing you can do to me that will make me become your servant.”
“You say that now,” the dark haired man said with a hard smile.
Jensen smiled pityingly. “I know that it’s quite hard for your human brain to understand the concept of inner strength and backbone, so blinded are you by pain and mortality, but trust me. I’ve seen it all. I’ve felt it all. What you think you can do is of complete insignificance.”
“You fucking bloodsucker,” the hunter shot back, expression furious. “Think you’re so smart, so much better than us, because you’re older? Because you lost everything that makes you human and you’re just a cold walking corpse? Let me tell you somethin, you fucking-”
Stuart raised his hand. “Benito. That’s enough.”
Jared still marveled at Jensen’s speech. “You were a school teacher in the eighteen hundreds, right?”
The look Jensen gave Jared did nothing to dispel his guess. He couldn’t help but laugh, and the hunters looked at him like he was going crazy. Maybe he was. Jared wasn’t sure. This whole situation was like a giant fucking trip, like the Christmas Chad had gotten him drunk on wolfsbane for the first time and they hadn’t known how much they could handle. Obviously they had overestimated themselves.
The crossbow was raised again, this time at Jared.
“Silver arrow, laced with wolfsbane. You sure you don’t want to kill that arrogant piece of dead meat?”
If there had ever been the tiniest chance of Jared actually considering killing Jensen, it had disappeared with Stuart showing up.
“I will never do a single thing for you, asshole. But I’ll tell you what I will do. I’ll find a way out of here and I will paint the walls with your insides.”
Stuart raised his eyebrows again. “My, young puppies are always so emotional.”
“Dog jokes. How original,” Jensen commented dryly.
Not like he hadn’t used them himself, but Jared wouldn’t mention that now.
“Well,” Alaina said, raising her shotgun. “These two are entirely useless. Let’s just shoot them until they’re out and then chop them into tiny pieces.”
She fired three shots and this time, Jensen did topple over. The stench of death filled the room. The cartridges were probably filled with buckshot and dead man’s blood. Jared leaned back and watched the show. It was more than a little satisfying to see that smug vamp writhe in pain.
Jared wasn’t worried about him dying; he’d fought Jensen and the guy healed fast and was very strong. He was either ancient or had an incredibly powerful maker. Whatever it was, Jensen had been right. The only way to really kill a vamp that strong was taking the head off.
The hunters clearly didn’t know that because they shot a few more arrows into Jensen until he lay motionless on the cot.
“Kill him,” Alaina said. “Even a puppy like you can take him out now. You do that, and we let you live.”
Jared let out an incredulous laugh. She joined him.
“Fine, we’ll kill you either way. But I promise I’ll make it quick if you kill Dracula over there.”
Jared gave her his most charming smile, the one he knew made his dimples pop. “You can threaten me all you want, but I won’t kill him. Because I know what you want, and you’re not getting it.”
“And what’s that, baby?” she asked.
Jared spread his arms. “You want us to kill each other, so you can force a war between the packs and the vamps. You tried staging kills already, all over the country. But it doesn’t seem to work too well, does it? We always figure out it’s you. Because you can’t fake a werewolf kill. And you can’t fake a vampire kill. So now you want the real deal.” He watched in satisfaction as her face turned from incredulous to furious. He leaned forwards, grinning at her, “Forget it. I won’t do it.”
“I’ll tear your jaw off and rip your claws out an then I’ll shred that vamp over there.”
“It’s still gonna smell wrong. Dead. And before you think of poisoning us and doing it then, well that’s also something we can smell. And lady, by now everybody is on high alert. You tried up north and in San Francisco and you failed. Another attempt here and everybody will just automatically assume you are the killers, even when you’re not.” Jared grinned. “Cause that’s what happens if you cry wolf one too many times.”
He thought he could hear a pained laugh from the cot, but it was too quiet to be sure Jensen was conscious enough to be amused.
Alaina fired her gun and it hurt like a bitch, but Stuart ordered her back.
“Unfortunately, you’re right. But it doesn’t matter. You see, these walls are laced with silver and iron. It will start to affect you soon.”
Jared shrugged his shoulders. “It’ll bother us sure, but we can handle it,” he said honestly.
“And if we shoot you up with wolfsbane? When the full moon comes? You won’t be able to control yourself and you’ll have the strength to kill him.” Stuart smiled pleasantly. “Usually I’m not a patient man, but this will be well worth the wait.”
Jared stared at him, horror spreading through him. Stuart was right. This far away from his pack, enough wolfsbane during the full moon and even he wouldn’t be able to control himself.
Stuart’s grin sharpened, then he turned to the goons. “Make sure our guests are well fed. Well, the dog. The fang will just have to make due with what’s there. I want to see a good match by the next full moon.” With that he turned around and left.
Benito followed him, but Alaina remained behind, addressing the goons. “Get them into the other cell. I don’t want them stinking up the place.”
Jared was as confused as the goons looked.
“The cell for long-term prisoners, you idiots,” she said.
“But how do we get them there?” Squint asked.
Alaina rolled her eyes. “It’s not like the fang can move right now.”
“But the dog…”
“Oh my god, how incompetent are you?” She raised her gun and a bullet hit Jared straight in the head. He could feel the bite of the silver, then another bullet hit him and the world went dark.
When Jared came to, he was lying on hard concrete. Huh, that was new. He slowly looked around and realized they had indeed been upgraded.
“This is a nice change,” he rasped out.
There was a hoarse laugh from behind him. “Yeah, it’s almost like the Hilton.”
Jared rolled his eyes and sat up with a groan. His head hurt like a bitch, but the bullets were out. Head wounds were always nasty in the aftermath, giving him a raging headache.
Their new lodgings were just a little bigger, but in the back there was a metal toilet with a drain right next to it. Looking up, Jared found the showerhead. There was a wash basin, a piece of soap and two tooth brushes, no tooth paste. Awesome.
“Thank fuck we can’t get cavities.”
Jensen just grumbled, still lying motionless on the cot. It looked so unnatural, it took Jared a moment to realize the vamp wasn’t even breathing. He knew that technically fangs didn’t need to breathe, but all the ones he’d ever met did it nonetheless.
That got a reaction. Jensen turned his face, even paler than before, towards Jared. His eyes were bloodshot, dark lines weaving through the white.
“You care?” he asked.
Jared snorted. What an ass. “I’d like to know if I’m going to be sharing my cell with a corpse soon. Or, well, with a dead corpse.”
“Dead jokes. Aren’t you just a riot?”
Jared didn’t answer, stubbornly waiting for Jensen to answer the question.
The vamp finally sighed. “There was a lot of dead blood on the arrows. I haven’t eaten in a while, so it takes me longer to get it out of my system.”
The mention of Jensen’s diet brought Jared up short. “Shit.”
“What now?” Jensen asked, voice even more annoyed than before.
“They’re gonna feed me,” Jared said slowly. “But they’ll expect me to feed you.”
“I know.” Jensen’s voice was full of disgust. “Maybe there’ll be rats here,” he added, suddenly sounding a bit more hopeful. “That’d be better.”
Jared sat up, looking at Jensen incredulously. “You’d prefer a rat over me?” He wasn’t exactly sure why he was offended, it wasn’t like he wanted the vamp to drink from him, but seriously, a rat?
“To use words you’d understand,” Jensen said haughtily, before he turned his head back and closed his eyes. “Werewolf tastes like ass. Now let me rest.”
The douchebaggery truly knew no bounds. Jared wasn’t sure why he was still surprised that there was a whole new level of rude. Jensen had descended into his unnatural stillness again, so Jared got up to take a shower. He was still caked with dirt and blood and felt just overall gross.
The water was cold - of course - and the soap smelled weird. Kind of old. He still scrubbed until his skin turned pink for a moment and then realized that of course there weren’t any towels. No towels, no clothes, and Jensen was lying on the one cot in the cell. Great.
Jared shifted into wolf form, shook his damp fur and then curled up in the corner where the draft wouldn’t be coming in through the cracks in the wall. He didn’t get cold easy, but he was coming down from an adrenaline-fueled healing rush. He was about to crash hard.
The next hours weren’t fun. Jared shivered for a while and when that receded he became aware of the gnawing hunger in his belly. The vamp still hadn’t moved.
Jared was cold, he was hungry, and he was this close to freaking out. He was trapped in a cell with no visible way out and some crazy-ass hunters wanting to turn him into vampire chow. Not to mention that the vampire in question was a giant asshole. A giant, stuck-up asshole. It couldn’t be worse. The density of silver in the cell walls was so high, Jared couldn’t feel any of the pack bonds, not even the one to his alpha that was always there, no matter how many miles separated them. Jared was truly alone. With a fucking bloodsucker. He hadn’t felt this desperate since his family’s death.
The first cell had at least had a tiny window, this one didn’t. The only light was the dusky light from the basement. He wouldn’t even be able to see the moon. In his desperation, he began pacing the cell, up and down, along the bars, around the toilet, past the cot and back again. While he was focusing on the movement, he didn’t have to think how hopeless his situation seemed.
“Is it so hard to sit still?”
Jensen’s voice was startling in the silence.
Jared shifted to answer. “You don’t sound like you’re getting better,” he said instead of replying to Jensen’s comment.
The vamp was quiet for so long, Jared thought he wouldn’t speak again.
“I know.” Jensen opened his eyes again and raised a hand in front of his face. One of the arrows had hit him in the hand and there were still dark streaks of dead blood visible under his skin.
“Why?” Jared asked. He was just curious. Really.
Jensen let his hand fall to the cot again. “Too hungry.”
Okay, Jared did not want to do this. At all. He himself was starving. And he didn’t care how Jensen felt. Except… it was really creepy to share is cell with a corpse that behaved like a corpse. Not to mention boring.
Slowly Jared got up. It wouldn’t hurt too bad and he’d heal, but it was the principle of the thing. Giving his blood to a fang. Jared shuddered. Fucking leeches, living off other beings. Besides, Jensen was a grade A asshole.
There didn’t seem to be another way though, and if Jared wanted Jensen’s help getting out of here, he’d have to feed him sooner or later. Best get it over with.
“Okay, open wide.”
Jensen’s eyes snapped open, staring at Jared. “What?”
“You’ve got to eat. At some point. So how about we get it over with? I mean, either I let you starve and I’m on my own, or I give you my blood and you help me get out of here. So.”
Jensen looked like he was about to bite into a lemon.
“Dude, do you think I want you sucking on my arm?” Jared asked, getting fed up with Jensen’s attitude. He was trying to help him, dammit.
“Yeah, I’m not putting my mouth on your skin,” Jensen said, lips curling in disdain.
Then he reached up, putting his cold, dead hands on Jared’s arm and extended one delicate looking nail into something that was probably supposed to be a claw and slit Jared’s wrist open.
“Don’t be such a baby.”
Slowly, the blood started dripping out of the wound and Jensen brought Jared’s arm down until it was only an inch from his mouth and opened it.
“It’s not gonna work like that, I’ll heal and-”
Jensen didn’t respond but he didn’t need to. Jared was not healing.
“What the fuck?”
He yanked his arm back, inspecting the wound.
The little blood he’d ingested had apparently given Jensen enough strength to roll his eyes.
“Have you never been in a fight before, puppy?”
“Not you too with the dog jokes. And yes, I have, but it was never like this.”
Jensen shrugged his shoulders almost imperceptibly. “The stronger we are, the longer it takes others to heal from our wounds.”
The cut was slowly closing. Okay, that was okay. Jared would heal slower, but he would heal. Reluctantly, he stretched his arm out again.
“Okay. Let’s get this shit over with.”
Jensen took his arm without arguing.
Jared wasn’t squeamish about blood, but he didn’t need to watch Jensen drinking his. When he started getting light-headed, he tried to hold out, because Jensen had been comatose for hours, but when spots started dancing in front of his eyes, it was enough.
“Dude, that’s enough.” He tried to pull his arm back and for a second Jensen’s hands tightened to an iron grip, before he let him go.
Jared stumbled back, landing on his ass. Jensen laughed hoarsely. Fucker.
“How about saying thanks?”
Jensen scoffed. “The only reason you’re doing this is to survive. Besides, you taste disgusting. Even for a mutt.”
Jared was so pissed, it took a while for him to realize the implications of the words, but then he was up in a crouch and baring his teeth at Jensen.
“And how many of us have you tasted, exactly?”
The vamp didn’t even flinch. He sat on the cot, back to the wall and legs crossed in front of him. His skin color looked better now and the black lines had disappeared from his body and his eyes.
“Too many,” he said coldly. “I avoid your kind whenever I can. Not the company I prefer to keep.”
“Not the company I prefer to keep,” Jared parroted affectedly. “Ponytail was right, you have such a stick up your ass.”
Jensen scowled. “His name is Bowman.”
“Do you honestly think I care what the fucker’s name is?”
“No, of course you don’t,” Jensen said, like he was resigned to the worst possible thing that could happen, ever. “You are young and stupid, and so emotional, of course you don’t think it is necessary to learn as much about our captors as possible. Because you probably think we’ll just get the magical chance to fight our way out of here.”
In all honesty, Jared hadn’t thought about logistics yet, but he wasn’t going to admit that to Jensen.
So instead he said, “Could you be any more of a cliché?”
And there it was again, Jensen’s eyebrow of appalled disapproval. “What?” he bit out angrily.
“You just bared your teeth at me because I insulted you,” Jensen said and the corners of his mouth turned up into a disgustingly smug smile. “You don’t have a leg to stand on.”
“And so eloquent.”
Jared threw his hands up in exasperation. “Oh my god, can you just shut your stupid mouth for one minute?”
Jensen’s eyebrow raised another millimeter before his face settled into a stony mask of bored indifference. And really, Jared needed to stop thinking about Jensen’s facial expressions in such a detailed manner. It was just a surprisingly expressive face for a dead guy.
He closed his eyes and tried to find a comfortable position, but the ground was hard and grainy, and while he wasn’t bothered being naked around someone, it was a little cold. So Jared shifted back into his wolf form. Jensen mumbled something that sounded like pouty teenager, but Jared decided to take the high road and nap instead of ripping the fang’s throat out.
While Jared slept and snored - really, the only thing missing was the farts, and Jensen was sure he’d be graced with them sooner or later - he tried to think.
This was without a doubt the worst situation he’d ever been in and if they didn’t find a way out, he’d die down here - in a tiny cell with a mutt as his only company.
Their new cell was definitely designed to keep someone semi-comfortable for a while. He was really glad for that, because sharing his cell with an unwashed dog - he’d probably end up killing Jared just to get rid of the stink. Now that he was freshly showered, it was almost bearable.
The toilet was out in the open which was unfortunate. Jensen’s body absorbed the blood he consumed, but Jared would eat real food. Yeah, he wasn’t looking forward to that at all.
They only had one cot, but dogs didn’t belong on furniture anyway.
His eyes flitted back to Jared. He was the most infuriating person Jensen had met in a long time and that was saying something. The mouth and mind of a high school student and his emotions all over the place. That would not be helpful if they tried to escape. And they would need to get out within the next twenty-eight days, before the next full moon came.
When he’d asked the hunter to shoot Jared, he’d wanted to see how much he could really take. Judging from Jared’s reaction, he almost certainly had to be a born werewolf. They were rare nowadays. In the initial hunter rush that followed the invention of the semiautomatic weapon, a lot of the old families, too arrogant to prepare for the new threat, had perished.
Morgan’s was one of those left, and there were others, but their numbers were few. Jared being a born wolf would be an advantage and a curse at the same time. It made him stronger, and more enduring, making him a bigger asset for getting them out of here. But it also meant that if they didn’t make it, he’d pose a greater danger to Jensen during the full moon. Jensen honestly wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep a born wolf jacked up on wolfsbane and the full moon off of him without killing him.
If they didn’t find a way out or someone came to get them out, the hunters would get their wish.
The sun started to set. Almost a day now since Jensen was taken. It felt like an eternity. Dewey, formerly known as Squint, came to bring them food.
“Any chance you could get him some clothes?” Jensen said, jerking a thumb towards Jared, thankfully still in his wolf coat. “I don’t need to see that the whole day.”
Dewey just laughed, stayed safely out of reach and threw a McDonald’s bag in front of the bars before he left again.
“Okay, first of all,” Jared said, after he’d shifted back. “My body looks awesome. And don’t even pretend you didn’t check me out, because you totally did.”
Jared got up and actually shook his ass at Jensen. And yes, it was a nice ass. But that was beside the point.
“Well, your stupidity and immaturity frankly make it impossible to appreciate your form in any way.”
“Frankly? Who even says shit like that?”
“People with a bigger vocabulary than the latest episode of Jersey Shore.”
Jared just gave him a blinding smile. “Methinks the fang doth protest too much.”
After bastardizing Shakespeare, Jared reached out through the bar to get the food and sat down, again doing nothing to cover up his junk, and proceeded to wolf down the fast food. Bad pun intended. Because that was what Jensen’s life had come to.
“You eat like an animal.”
Jared grinned at him, sauce covering the tip of his nose and a smattering of salt in the corner of his mouth. “Hey, you already made up your mind about me. Why try to change that?” Then he let out an ear-shattering belch and continued eating.
Jensen looked up to the ceiling and thought he really didn’t deserve this. He might not be a saint, but he refrained from killing the innocent. If Jared continued like this, Jensen would have to break pattern.
Suddenly, Jared looked up from his burger. “Wait, you watch Jersey Shore?”
Jensen banged his head against the wall.
“So. What now?”
Jared had finished his meal, burped again and then washed his hands, before sitting down on the floor across from Jensen, legs casually falling open. Jensen hadn’t been exposed to this much naked dick since the seventies.
“You can ask, you know,” Jared said, evil glint in his eyes.
Jensen looked up at his face, forcing his expression into bored neutrality. “There are more pressing matters at hand than your obsession with your junk, don’t you think?”
“First off,” Jared said, continuing to grin, “It’s your obsession with my junk, and secondly, we have a lot of time here. But you’re right. Hence my question. And see, I can use fancy conjunctions too.”
Jensen shook his head. “Of all the people to get locked up with… Well, we have twenty-nine days until the next full moon. Is there any way you’ll be able to control yourself?”
There was no hesitation before Jared shook his head. He’d obviously thought about this. Well, thank fuck, he wasn’t entirely useless.
“Normally it wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t need to be around a pack member to keep calm and the silver down here won’t bother me too much. But if they pump me full of wolfsbane, I’ll attack.”
“I thought as much. What about your alpha? Do you think someone will come looking for you?”
Jared nodded. “I’m sure they’re looking. But we’re hours away from where they captured me, and considering how professional they are, they might not have left a trace. The silver is cutting into our connection, so he won’t be able to feel me. So, there’s hope, definitely, but we can’t bet on it. He might even think I’m dead.” After a pause, he added, “I assume no one’s gonna come looking for you?”
It shouldn’t sting. Jensen was very - well, not happy, but content with his life. It was just the way Jared said it, like he was someone to be pitied.
“I didn’t make any plans to meet anyone in the near future.”
“Don’t you have a coven?” Jared asked, slightly confused.
Jensen clenched his jaw and tried not to remember. “No, I don’t.”
“Ah, you’re one of the wanderers.”
Jensen shot Jared a glare. “Don’t call me that.”
“Touchy,” Jared said, then scrunched up his forehead, clearly trying to think of something.
“Don’t strain yourself,” Jensen advised him.
Jared looked confused, then he stuck his tongue out. Unbelievable. “Fuck you. I was just trying to remember if your maker can sense if you’re in trouble, but I guess he probably doesn’t care all that much about such a prickly thorn like you.”
Usually Jensen didn’t think too often of Timothy. Fuck the mutt for bringing him up. “My maker is dead,” he said, keeping his voice even.
For a moment, Jared was startled. “Sorry,” he said, almost sounding regretful. “So we’re on our own then,” he added, letting out a low whistle.
“Seems like it.”
“Well,” Jared said after a pause, “there’s always the hope they dose me wrong. Too much and I’ll get drowsy enough so you can take me, not enough and I’ll be able to stay away. I don’t think their window is too big, so we might get lucky.”
Jensen snorted. “Yeah, I’d like to have a plan that doesn’t include us getting lucky. And who knows if they’ll wait for another full moon or just give up and kill us. We’re sitting ducks in here.”
“So how do we get out?”
Jensen looked outside their cell, scanning the basement. “We need more information.”