The year is 2057, and it has been twelve years since the Inheritable Trait Act outlawed the artificial inclusion of non-human genes in the human genome. In most known cases of human/non-human gene editing, the fetus was not viable. There was however one known case of a live human child with edited genes. This was a quandary for the law, as these genes were technically inheritable and thus if the child was allowed to procreate, those genes would be inherited, protected, and a permanent edition to the human genome-- the exact consequence the law had been trying to prevent. The pup had the clear colorless eyes and sharp pointed canines of his non-biological brethren, the wolves. Skoll, his parents had named him. Wherever he is now, he is almost certainly no longer among the living.
The public thought Skoll’s disappearance and probable death closed the issue, but he was not the only wolf boy. Fenris had made him, but Fenris had then made the pack. And Fenris knew the pack would be eternal, their genes ascendant, their genome unique, their existence forever hidden.
Somewhere, Fenris was building more than a pack. He was building an army.
2068 Washington, D.C.
Sirius looked up from the book. “Well, what do you think? What do you suppose happened to Skoll?”
James, Sirius’s best friend and partner-in-crime, tilted his head. “I’m sure he must be dead. When was he born?”
“He was discovered in 2047, and he was six years old then.”
“That would make him 21?”
“Yeah,” James sighed, “that’s plenty of time to have written a book or something. We’d know about it if he was still alive.”
Sirius was unconvinced. “People might want him dead. Why write a book?”
James shrugged. “You’re not going to find him.”
“Why not? I’m a good hacker.”
“I’m sure better have tried,” James suggested. “Besides, I don’t think hacking would help. If the government had him, he’s dead, and you don’t know where to even look for evidence of him except the government servers.”
“Well, it’s a start,” Sirius said, refusing to be talked out of his plan.
“And how does this help the Anonymous Order?” James asked.
There it was. They were finally to the crux of it. “Does everything we do have to help the Order?”
“We’re sworn swords,” James reminded Sirius. “Everything we do must be towards their ends. We only have access to their proxy servers because we work for them.”
Sirius sighed in frustration. “I’m sure Minerva would like to know where Skoll is.” Their ‘Head of House’ was almost certainly not named Minerva, of course, but Anonymous was not called that for nothing. The organization kept each part separate from the whole, with four houses each governed by a head. Everyone used code-names, and they did not know who anyone was aside from each other. Their communication with Minerva was text-only, and only Minerva communicated with Albus, the head of the Order. James’s code-name was Prongs, and he only went by Prongs on-line. But Sirius was Sirius. His real name was Alfard. Anyone named Alfard would rather go by Sirius. Truth be told, part of why he had joined the Order was to get a new, badass name. Since his first day, he had been Sirius to everyone.
The Order made their operatives work in pairs and had paired James and Sirius based on nothing more than geographical convenience, but they had clicked from the moment they met. They were different in many ways, but both were adrenaline junkies with a keen sense of right and wrong and a good sense of humor.
Remus saw the red light above his computer monitor flash on. It meant the camera was on.
Remus was not his code name, but his given birth name. They’d all been given wolf names. There had once been more than a thousand of them and they had been an army. He remembers his childhood of drilling rain or shine on a hot stretch of jungle tarmac, of learning how to use his teeth and claws as the weapons they were meant to be, of learning how to track with his ears and eyes in the dark jungle.
Then there had been a raid, and an evacuation. A thousand had become five hundred. They moved again and again, and each time their numbers shrank as others were killed or left behind. By the time Remus was twenty-one, the last twelve lived in a hole in society they affectionately named The Wolf Hotel. They were not allowed outside, but Remus had a sliver of a window, and he could see palm trees and ocean.
The Wolf Hotel had held 60 when they had first claimed it. Now they were twelve. Once, Remus had confronted Wormtail about where the rest had gone, and Wormtail answered that the government had killed them, but he didn’t look at Remus when he said it and Remus knew it was not true.
Remus quite suspected that the other forty-eight wolves had not earned their keep. They likely had refused to dance when the light turned red. He wished he could refuse. His life was barely worth living, but it was still a life, and he couldn’t quite convince himself to throw it away.
His face turned to stone as he stood before the blank screen, before the red light eye that always watched him when he did this. He stripped his clothes off of himself slowly, as seductively as he knew how, and took himself in hand. He spoke, the things Wormtail always told him to say when it was Wormtail here and not a blinking red light. When he spilled his seed, the light blinked off. He smiled bitterly. There went another happy customer of the Wolf Hotel.
As per requirements, Remus wiped his come-covered hand into a small sample cup kept in a drawer. He put the lid on and dropped it into a slot in the room’s door to go into a drop box in the hallway. Why they wanted it, he didn’t know, but they always did. He washed his hands and hopped it might be a while before the light turned red again.
Lieutenant Evans of the FBI felt terror trying to climb up her spine, but she refused it. She had been handed a top case, and she knew the price of failure would be monstrous. She had failed before, but that did not mean she was not afraid of doing it again. She was aware that there were human lives depending on her. She kept reminding herself that her boss, Captain Shacklebolt, believed in her. He wouldn’t have given her this assignment if he didn’t believe in her, and somehow she was more worried about letting him down than about letting down those human lives. She took a deep breath, overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of her, and started small.
Her task was to investigate a tip about gene-transcripted young men who making sexually explicit vids on the internet. Captain Moody had overseen all gene transcription cases for years, going all the way back to the creation and assassination of Skoll, and she could not understand how anyone would consider her-- a new graduate-- as up to the level of the newly-retired Moody. If Moody could not discover the location of the remaining gene transcription children, what chance did she have?
She stopped her spinning thoughts. She was getting ahead of herself. She did not have to break the case, she merely had to work the case. Anything she might find could be added to the tip they had received in order to form a real case file. Kingsley simply said he wanted another pair of eyes on it before he dismissed it outright.
Still, she knew that breaking this case would make her career. She wanted that. She needed it. It terrified her that such an opportunity could land in her lap and she might not be up to the challenge. Mediocrity terrified her in all its varied forms.
But even the best had to start somewhere. Lily opened a browser that was specifically designed by the government to disguise the identity and location of the operator. Unfortunately, many years had passed since the browser had fallen into public domain, which meant that anyone, anywhere in the world, could disguise their identity and location. There was vast (and mostly innocuous) underground network of unindexed web pages known as the Deep Web, a place where the anonymous could gather and share information.
Her destination lied under even this. She was headed to the Dark Web. It was like a secret virtual country. The currency of the realm was Bitcoin, which was as anonymous as the citizenry. Here, you could buy hitmen, callgirls, or weapons. You could post videos of rape or murder. You were untouchable and unknowable. Mostly.
But not entirely. The Order of Anonymous had arisen from within the Dark Web. They were Dark Web ‘citizens’ who could not abide some of the depravity they witnessed there. Any who wanted could swear an oath to the Order of Anonymous to become Sworn Swords. They were sent top-of-the-line computing equipment with untraceable software, and were charged with carrying out any missions asked of them by the Order. And since the aims of the Order and of the FBI were often the same, it paid to have a contact within the Order.
Lily’s contact was not just a member of the Order, it was one of the Heads of a House, Minerva. She had met Minerva in person during a case years ago. The internet vigilante mastermind was an old woman named Maggie. She had been born before the first web browser was even invented, in an era when computers were considered a boy’s hobby. She had a long career in the improbable field of physics. Now, she had transfigured herself into a Head of House for the Order of Anonymous. Maggie had defied every expectations set for her at every turn, and Lily had loved her immediately.
In the time since their first meeting, Minerva had proven to be Lily’s Ace in the hole, her secret key to success. Minerva could skirt the letter of the law at will to get the information Lily needed. Skirting the law didn’t bother Lily when she was after what was best for everyone, and Minerva felt the same. What they did was for the greater good.
Lily began the letter in an anonymous messaging client: Minerva, I caught a big fish and I may need your help to reel him in. ~ Doe
“New assignment,” James exclaimed to Sirius. Sirius was deep in concentration. Her was on his fifth day of trying to hack into the FBI with no improved success.
“Hey,” James slapped Sirius on the back of the head. “New assignment!”
It was three in the afternoon and they were holed up in their small, dark, cold apartment as usual. They didn’t have jobs as such. Or rather, they considered the betterment of society through the Order of Anonymous to be their jobs. Their existence was paid for by a large sum of money Sirius’s uncle Alfard had left his wayward namesake after Sirius had ditched his crime-boss family roots.
Sirius grumbled and blinked up at James.
“I think you will like this one,” James said through his shit-eating grin. “I think you must be psychic. We are searching for some gene-transcripted young men of the canine variety.”
“Huh?” Sirius blinked again and scratched three days worth of stubble.
“Your wolf boys. That’s our assignment now.”
“Fantastic,” Sirius said without emotion, “that means you can leave me alone and let me get back to it.” He swiveled his chair around to once more face his screen.
“You don’t have to hack into the FBI,” James said. “They are coming to us.”
That got Sirius’s attention. “What?”
“We’re to head to a chat room in one hour to speak to an FBI contact of Minerva’s.”
A smile finally spread across Sirius’s face. “Excellent.”
Doe enters room.
Prongs: Hey there. You must have big eyes. You know, like doe eyes?
Doe: This is supposed to be a private room. How did you get in here?
Prongs: That’s what she said.
Doe: *Serious eyebrow raise* What is this, 2000?
Prongs: What kind of person types out “serious eyebrow raise” in a chat room?
Sirius: One with serious eyebrows I presume. It’s the only kind she can do.
Doe: What makes you think I’m a woman?
Sirius: It’s in your name isn’t it? Like, we may be idiots but we’re not stupid.
Doe: Alright. Well, I must have got the wrong room.
Prongs: No you didn’t. I’m supposed to tell you Minerva sent us.
Doe: You have got to be kidding me.
Sirius: No I’m Sirius, but I’ll answer to Kidding Me if you like.
Doe: *sigh* Alright boys, here’s the deal.
Prongs: How do you know we’re boys?
Doe: From what I can tell, you are fifth grade boys.
Sirius: Hey, we happen to be master hackers.
Doe: Sure. Why would I trust a couple idiots like you with sensitive information?
Prongs: Hey, we may not be upstanding federal agents, but we’re not bad with computers. Minerva trusts us. If you really need help, we’re it.
Doe: Point. Alright, here’s the info...
“I like her,” James said, smiling into nothingness. “She so… competent.”
“Wow, great come on. You should tell her how competent she is. In bed.” Sirius was distracted by his new idea, which was to find out where these sexually explicit videos of wolf fuck boys were. “Hey, you want to leave the room for a bit?”
“Not particularly, why?”
Sirius cleared his throat. “I, uh, found the site.”
“Oh? Oh! Gross!”
“So if you don’t want to be around for it, leave the fucking room.”
Remus was stretched out on his bed, a book pressed into the stained bedspread in front of him. He had read this book-- An Analysis of Modern Art-- six times, but they didn’t get new ones often in the Wolf Hotel, so it had to do. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his monitor light flash red. He sighed. He wished he could ignore it, but he knew it wouldn’t do, or else he might be the next mysteriously missing resident.
He folded down the page of his book, all too aware that his customer could see him. From somewhere deep inside, an anger roared into him. He had done this a hundred times or more and by now he thought he was past the anger, but it lived on. His choice to keep doing this to live was no choice at all, a false choice, and his shame at having made it did not belong to him. But this also didn’t have to be his future.
Quickly, lest he lose his nerve, he dove towards the computer screen. He had no way of knowing who was on the other side nor if they had an ounce of compassion within them. But he still believed in the goodness of people. He had never considered his customers complicit in his rape because they had no way of knowing he was a prisoner. Time to remedy that.
“Help. I’m here against my will,” he said into the camera, talking quickly, knowing that Wormtail would already be on his way. “I can see ocean and palm trees. It’s hot but not too hot. The air smells like flowers. I can hear horns, they sound like--”
The door to his room (cell) burst open and Wormtail, red and sweaty from his urgency, knocked a flabby fist directly into Remus’s jaw. Remus might have been able to fight back as he kept himself in good shape, but he hadn’t even known Wormtail could throw a punch. Before he was recovered, Wormtail was yanking back his short hair and shoving down his pants. Wormtail had done this before, though always with a facade of passion or patronage. Now, his meaty hands were rough as he put fingers into Remus. Remus cried out in pain and tried to kick back, but Wormtail slammed his head into the wall. Remus’s head swam dizzily and he thought he might throw up. Wormtail used the distraction to shove Remus down on the bed and add another finger and another until his whole hand was trying to breach Remus. Without lube, it wasn’t going to happen, but Wormtail was relentless and Remus was curled into a huddled into himself in pain, dizziness, and nausea. Finally, Wormtail withdrew his hand and Remus had a moment to see it-- red with blood-- before it landed again on his cheek in a punch. Then Wormtail’s cock was entering him. It slid in easily, lubricated by blood. Three or four thrusts later (Remus did not count, but it was mercifully not many), Wormtail spent himself. He threw Remus to the floor in disgust and peed on him as a parting gift. “You’ll get worse next time,” Wormtail warned. Then pulled up his pants and left the room.
Remus, hurting all over and soaked in urine, rolled to his back. He tried to stand, though it took a couple tries. He noticed now that he was crying. Reflex, he thought, from being punched near the eye. Or maybe not reflex, who knew, and who cared? No one was here to judge.
From within this waking nightmare, Remus saw that the camera light still glowed red, and he stumbled to the bathroom to vomit.
When James returned to the room, Sirius was hard at work. His eyes didn’t blink as his fingers flew across the keyboard.
“Get off?” James asked jovially.
“Christ, not now James,” Sirius answered without pausing.
“What?” When James did not receive an answer, he came to look over Sirius’s shoulder. He was there just in time to watch a naked figure almost fall out of the frame. “What happened?”
“There are four firewalls routed through three countries, but it’s pretty basic stuff. The hard part is his computer settings. They’ve bypassed the monitor entirely so he can’t use it or the keyboard. The keyboard is functional but since he can’t see the monitor, he has no way of knowing that. The monitor has to be on though because of the camera. And there’s a control room where they can watch the videos so I have to bypass that somehow--”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s sex slavery,” Sirius replied, still without pausing in his frantic typing. “I’ve managed to lock the camera on, but I’ll be honest, it’s tied to our account so it’s costing.”
“Yeah, but I swear to God, they might kill him if I turn it off. I’m not turning it off, James.”
“Slow down a moment,” James said, pulling up a chair. “Can you take it from the top?”
“Not now, no time. Damn computer.” He opened a new command prompt and editor and frantically typed. James could see that it was a modification of Sirius’s favorite virus, and as Sirius edited the code, he could see the plan behind it. It would open all of the computer’s controls to Sirius. From there, he could bring the monitor on-line.
“And… there.” The code was complete. Sirius began the compile. “Come on come on come on,” he chanted, and he swore when an error came up. It was a small one, a mistyped character, and Sirius had fixed it in a moment, but Sirius kept up a continual stream of curses now. Until…
“Yes,” Sirius hissed. “Sent.”
They both waited, staring at the empty room. It would take a few minutes for the computer to come under Sirius’s control. When it did, Sirius had the monitor up and running immediately, his own concerned face plastered on the vid cam window. But the person in the other room still had not returned.
“Please come back,” Sirius whined to himself, before realizing he could turn on the sound as well. “Please, come back,” he spoke directly into the microphone.
Remus had slipped into the bathtub, turning the shower fully hot, though lukewarm was as warm as anything ever got around here. He sat in the tub, his knees hugged to his chest, his whole body vibrating. He hated himself for saying anything into the camera now. And he hated himself for hating himself. There was no right answer, no moral rectitude in the gutter.
“Please, come back.”
The voice broke through Remus’s thoughts and he wondered if he was hearing things, but it continued several more times. The voice belonged to a man.
No, he thought, the voice belongs to the computer speakers.
The realization that the sound was coming from his computer gripped his attention. Patrons couldn’t speak to him. Or at least, they never had before. His monitor had always remained resolutely blank. Stumbling out of the tub and wrapping a worn, white towel around himself, he lurched towards the computer, and was shocked to see concerned grey eyes staring out at him.
“Who are you?” Remus asked breathlessly.
“I’m… I was… Sorry, I was-- Well, I wanted to help you. I was watching when that man…”
Remus glanced away, feeling shame, and understanding. This was his patron, this tousle-haired, fair-eyed, high-cheekboned man had paid for his time. Somehow, it made it worse, having to look into the eyes of someone who had watched you. How many times had he done his little dance for this man?
“How are you able to talk to me?” Remus asked.
The man grinned. “You picked the right person to save you. I’m just about one of the best hackers on the planet.”
Behind the man in the screen, another person added, “You wish.”
“Is someone there with you?” Remus asked.
Another person leaned into the camera view. “Hey,” he said, “I didn’t see anything,” he added, clearly self-conscious. “I’m Ja--Prongs. You can call me Prongs. And this,” he gestured to the first man, “is Sirius.”
“And we’re here to rescue you,” Sirius added.
As James went to his station to contact Minerva and Doe, Sirius committed himself to the task of discovering Remus’s whereabouts so they could mount a physical rescue. First, though, he had to bypass the monitoring system so that the fucker who had pissed on Remus wouldn’t think anything was going on. He had Remus act normal for a bit, and looped that footage through the monitoring system.
After a couple hours of this, Remus brought up the fact that he was expected to work for his living and the man he called Wormtail was just as likely to come back if he didn’t have patrons. Sirius agreed to leave the room in order to record some sexually explicit footage he could loop through to Wormtail’s computer. Sirius had been entirely prepared to watch Remus jerk himself off when he’d been a paying customer, but already it felt wrong and intrusive.
Other than these short breaks, Sirius stayed on the camera, paying for each and every minute, while he wrote down every tidbit of information on leafs of printer paper. His pile of notes slowly grew, and he fought to hide his fear of failure. He wrote notes on every sound coming in the window, every scent in the air, and the times the Sun appeared to rise and when it appeared to set. And when he wasn’t taking notes, he spoke with Remus. He asked, “When emergency vehicles go by, what do they sound like?” “What kind of birds do you hear?” “When is traffic the greatest?” But Sirius got nowhere in his quest to locate Remus. James, and through him Minerva and Doe, kept on Sirius, asking him if he knew the location yet. But truthfully, how was he supposed to turn this random assortment of information into a location? He had determined a basic time zone idea from the rising and setting of the Sun. From that plus the palm trees he could tell it must be Southeast Asia. Every time Remus saw or heard a bird, Sirius’s fingers would fly over the keyboard, struggling to identify its sound.
Sirius groaned. It would almost be easier to follow the proxy settings to Remus’s location but his browser was well-designed, or his network was. Sirius was securely inside in one sense, but in another he was totally unable to track the proxy reflections down.
“Have you got the location yet?” James asked.
“I don’t see you doing anything!” Sirius snapped.
“Hey hey hey,” James held his hands up. “Give me something to do and I’ll do it.”
“Your girlfriend might be able to do this better. She has more resources.”
“Doe is not my girlfriend--”
“You’re on the computer every waking moment talking to her.”
“About this case. She’s lining up transportation and units for when you track him down.”
Sirius had nothing to say to this, as he admitted he had not thought as far as the actual physical raid or how it would be accomplished.
“Besides, you’re doing the same with Remus!”
“I’m trying to save his life.”
“So am I. Look, why don’t you get a nap and I’ll work on the proxy end a bit.”
Sirius finally agreed, knowing his brain was fried.
James sat down at the computer and said hello to the wan-looking young man on the other side of the screen. Remus had witnessed the entire interaction with mild amusement.
James had not really had time to talk to Remus before now, and he found himself a bit nervous. Remus didn’t look quite human. Any one of his wolfish features, if taken in isolation, could have been a quirk of the appearance. Surely someone somewhere had white-green pale eyes, or pointed ears, or sharp eye teeth. But Remus had all three, and it was an eerie combination. Something primal in James recognized something predatory about Remus, though he wasn’t in any way a predator himself. “How do you plan to live, on the outside? You’d be a freak at best, illegal at worst.”
If Remus was taken aback by the honesty of this stranger, it didn’t show. “I don’t know,” he answered. “Right now, I don’t care. One step at a time.”
Remus said it as though he was often thinking it, and James wished he had an idea of where to start on the next step.
Remus ate his evening meal every day with the small group of wolf-men that remained. They sat in an abandoned suite, not allowed to talk to each other. They were given a small bag each as their snacks or meals for the next day, convening again only for their one hot meal in the evenings. When Remus returned from dinner, he was almost surprised to find Sirius’s face still gracing his monitor, waiting for his return.
“Do anything interesting while I was gone?” Remus asked.
“I made nachos in the microwave. Is that interesting?”
“Only if you call it art, I think.”
“Yeah, it could be art. It was like a Pollock. Though I don’t think Pollock counts as real art.”
“How do you Pollock. Do you know art history?”
“I had to go to college, didn’t I?”
“Don’t tell me you majored in art history.”
“Nah. Computer science, though I dropped out after the first year. College is dumb.”
Remus frowned. “What I wouldn’t give to be able to go to a proper school. All I’ve got is a couple books.” Remus picked up and waved the art history book that, ironically, he had been reading when he had first connected with Sirius just yesterday. Right before Wormtail… Remus cleared his throat. “Painting like Pollock is probably not as easy as it looks,” Remus said.
“But it’s not a picture of anything.”
“That’s not the point,” Remus argued. “It’s more about… if you really want to put paint on a canvas, then don’t worry about form and aesthetics, just do it because you want to.”
“Yeah, you belong at college. You know, you make it sound like punk music,” Sirius said. “Like, traditionally, punk music doesn’t have to be in tune or polished or anything because it’s people just making music ‘cause they want to. Authenticity.”
“But they still had to write lyrics about something.”
Remus sighed. It was beginning to seem clear he was not going to win this argument on the aesthetics of Pollock. “I need to go to sleep,” he said.
“Yeah,” Sirius sighed. “I would let you but here’s the deal. What if something happens during the night that gives away your location? Or what if we get disconnected and I can’t get connected again? I really don’t want to let this connection go.”
“Can you just block out your camera then?”
“Sure, but I’ll leave the sound on so if you need anything just ask.”
“Are you not going to sleep?”
“It’s not even lunchtime yet here, but Prongs said he’d take the next shift when I need to sleep. We’re going to get you Remus. Prongs even has a contact in the FBI who’s working your case. I’m telling you, just hang on a little while longer and I won’t let the connection go down. You sure that fucker who-- the one who was in here before…”
“He won’t care as long as the money keeps coming in and he can see what he likes to see on the video monitor.”
“Well, luckily we have a little bit of money. But we’ll be there soon. Just as soon as we figure out where ‘there’ is.”
Prongs: They’ve hidden their location pretty well.
Doe: I can’t hold a team in stasis forever. At some point I’ll have to let my men know to stand down.
Prongs: What can I do? Sirius and I both tried, and so did Minerva.
Doe: Is Sirius still on the line with him?
Prongs: Yeah, he isn’t even sleeping properly. Poor dude.
Doe: We’ll get him. We just need a clue. Then we’ll get him.
Prongs: He’s not alone, you know.
Doe: Minerva told me. She said there were eleven others?
Prongs: At last count. Down from over fifty originally.
Doe: We’ll get them.
Prongs: And then what? They don’t look human. They don’t have schooling or job skills.
Doe: Let’s get them out of mortal danger first, then figure out the rest. Anyway, I’ve got work to do. See you around. You hang in there too. I’ll be back here in two hours. If anything happens before then, contact Minerva and she’ll know how to contact me.
Doe exits room.
Prongs: Also I think I’m falling in love with you.
Two days, twenty-two hours, and 54 minutes. That was how long Sirius stayed on the line with Remus. His eyes and back burned with pain, but he barely slept, sure he would miss the clue that he needed. And it did finally come just after 10pm on a rainy Wednesday night. Remus was reading from his art book aloud: “What is the explanation of the seemingly insane drive of man to be painter and poet if it is not an act of defiance against man's fall and an assertion that he return to the Garden of Eden? For the artists are the first men.”
“I can see why you like this book,” Sirius grimaced. “I appreciate the sentiment, but fighting against death misses the point. We’re bags of meat. There is no God. We are are not fallen-- we have yet to rise up.”
“Who said that?” Remus asked.
“Huh? No one. Me.”
“Sirius, don’t become profound on me. You’re my light-hearted secret keeper.”
Sirius was taken aback by Remus’s words. “What secrets?”
“We pretend you did not, but you watched me be beaten and raped. What secrets can I possibly have from you?” There was a weird little glint of amusement in Remus’s eyes even as he spoke about such dark events.
“I didn’t… I didn’t want to remind you of that.”
“Did you think I had forgotten so soon?” Remus wasn’t laughing any more.
“I didn’t want to remind you that I stood by and did nothing.”
Now Remus’s face went hard as stone. “You have not left my side for days. You pay for every minute you are on this line. How can you believe you’ve done nothing?”
“I haven’t done anything. Not yet. But I will. But that’s not all. That night… I really just signed in to jerk off.”
“I knew that already, Sirius. No one signs into a porn site hoping to save a life.”
“I’m just… ashamed, I guess. If you hadn’t said your location, I would have just jerked off and wiped off and gone back to my job. Which was, ironically, to find you, but still…”
“You shouldn’t--” Remus’s voice was cut off by a loud wail outside.
Sirius sat up straighter. “What’s that?”
“Warning siren,” Remus answered. “They always test them on the first of the month.”
But Sirius’s hands were already flying over the keyboard. How many places in the tropics of Southeast Asia tested sirens on the first of the month? “Singapore,” he said breathlessly. It gave him a lot more information, and he was able to pin down which of the constantly-changing proxies might be the real one, or at least nearby. From there, he was able to get the local IP. He pulled up a map. Remus was silent, while Sirius spoke aloud to himself. Finally, he picked up his phone and tapped Prongs:
Sirius: Songapore. SInpga Singapore Jesus.
Prongs: Roger. Lily’s leaving right now.
Sirius: Who? Wtf?
Prongs: Doe. That’s her real name.
Sirius: Where the fuck are you?
Prongs: Her place. We met, and, well, slept together.
Sirius: You what?
Prongs: It wasn’t the plan. We were just meeting to talk over stuff for Remus after he was rescued and stuff but, well. She’s a hot smart red-head. I didn’t stand a chance.
Sirius: So she’s local?
Prongs: Yeah. Or she was. Singapore is a long ass flight.
Sirius would need that long ass flight time to get a better location for the team. James was home before too long-- in the same clothes he’d worn yesterday-- and they got to work. They had figured out exactly which city Remus’s signal was coming from by using the IP, but that didn’t tell them where to find the hotel. From there, they looked at regions of the city. Remus could see ocean, so that narrowed a lot out. There were palm trees and occasional airplane sounds. Sirius and James searched the street view laboriously. Finally, James stood up quickly, knocking his chair over. He grabbed Sirius’s shoulder and pointed to his monitor.
Sirius saw it. It looked a less posh than most of Singapore he had seen, with half-abandoned construction and apartment balconies draped in drying laundry. On the corner was a small, squat building-- it had once been a motel-- but the windows had all been mostly bricked-over, leaving only slivers-- slivers facing a strip of park dense with palm trees and birds. Beyond it lay the ocean. James was already on his phone texting Doe.
Sirius, running on adrenaline alone for days, curled up on the floor and wept.
When Sirius awoke it was the dead of night, but he got up anyway to take a shower. He hadn’t taken one since this mess started and he smelled like a rat had died in someone’s gym locker. James wasn’t home. He’d been heading to the airport to meet Remus and Doe on their trip back from Asia, assuming of course they both ended up here alive.
Sirius checked his messages, hoping for good news. There was nothing, and he felt a lurch in his stomach. If Remus or Doe had died in the raid, what would have happened? Would James be told, or would he just be left waiting, wondering why they never got off the plane? If the operation didn’t go well, would the government even say anything or would it pretend the operation had never existed in the first place?
Still staring at the blank screen in front of him, Sirius heard the door open. He turned to see James entering with a thin redheaded woman and a tall, lanky man wearing a hat and sunglasses. Sirius sprang to his feet.
James cleared his throat. “Lily, Remus, this is Sirius--”
But Sirius was already launching himself across the room. He hit Remus with enough force to knock the glasses off. Sirius found himself gripping Remus’s neck, stroking his cheeks with his thumbs, standing forehead to forehead and whispering, “You’re safe, you’re safe, you’re safe.”
Lily raised an eyebrow at James and said, “Well, I can see he wasn’t worried.”
It was enough to bring Sirius back to himself and he stepped back self-consciously. “Sorry, I--”
But Remus reached out, pushed some of Sirius’s hair out of his face, and leaned in for a soft, chaste kiss. “I’m safe, thanks to you.”
The blush raced past Sirius’s cheeks and he felt his whole body flush with something like love.
Sirius and James were both dressed in their finest suits, standing in the hallway of the Federal Courthouse, waiting for the meeting to end. Finally, the door swung open, and Sirius perked up like a child at the mention of Santa Claus. “What’s going to happen?” he asked.
“Well,” Lily said, frowning, “they can’t charge people with the crime of existing, and they won’t try to subject the remaining hybrids to tests against their will. They might have, honestly, if we had used military transport back from Singapore as they originally wanted. Corporal Carver and I just wanted the fastest possible egress but it seems we were lucky in choosing civilian transportation.”
“So, what? They’re just free to go?”
“Sort of. Not really. There are a lot of conditions to that, and some of them are bullshit. Like they ‘have’ to submit to ‘voluntary’ medical tests to retain their social security numbers, which is why I know the military would do almost anything to get their hands on the medical information. But it could have gone much worse. They are also suggesting that all the hybrids should attempt to blend in. To file their teeth, use contact lenses… But it’s just a suggestion. They can’t legally enforce anything.”
Remus, who had volunteered as a spokesperson for all of the wolf hybrids, came out of the room with a couple of the government's attorneys. There didn’t appear to be any ill will between them, so Sirius thought it must have gone better than Lily’s wary report implied.
Remus’s eyes caught Sirius’s. “It’s alright,” he said in a calming tone. “Everyone’s getting what they want. The government wanted our medical information, and we want to catch Wormtail-- and whoever made us. A fair trade.” Wormtail had gotten away in the raid, but not without a trace. In fact, Sirius was aware that there were agents on the ground tracking him right now, hoping he’d lead them to bigger fish.
“I know who made you,” Sirius said. “His name was Dr. Fenris. He was a friend of my father’s, once. My father’s dead now, and I have no idea where Fenris is. But I’ll do anything I can to help you find him.”
“That’s-- Wormtail will hopefully lead us right to him.”
“Fenris must have a financial backer, though. My father might have been that once, I’m not sure.”
“It sounds like the FBI could use your help on this one.”
Sirius’s eyes caught Lily’s before erupting into a grin. “I bet I could crack it on my own”
Lily grimaced, clearly not happy to be indebted to Sirius. “Who would risk their necks, though, while you sit at home eating pizza and watching TV?”
“Alright, I’ll keep you around,” Sirius said.
“Luckily,” James smiled, “we seem to make an okay team.”