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29 November 2017 @ 05:06 am
_Stone_ part 21  

Chapter partners

Bacon and eggs for breakfast.

And Mike leaning on the trunk of my car, scowling. "You actually want help?"

I looked him up and down. "How many beers did you have last night? You didn't seem drunk enough to have a hangover today."

"None of us drank anything except Wally's never ending supply of Pepsi with Real Sugar. I'm . . . having trouble with the concept of a traitor werewolf. I regret to say I've met your relatives that we've got in custody."

"Oh, from that Phoenix mess? Or did that just add to your ongoing prison of the weird population?"

I unlocked the car and dangled the keys.

Mike's scowl deepened. "Let's take my car."

I locked back up and followed him to his brand new Toyota SUV. A rather boring tan, but that beat him having the clichéd Federal Agent Black SUV. I kicked back in the front passenger seat.

He drummed his fingernails on the steering wheel. "We've never had an actual specimen of an . . . unusual . . . phenomena until we got those four bodies from New Mexico. And now eighteen live werewolves! Christ! We grabbed one of those private prisons that had gone belly up, and a defunct hotel next door."

He shot me a wild glance. "And now I'm assigned to clandestinely observe a werewolf hunting for his family so he can betray them?"

"Huh. Well for starters, I was orphaned and raised by some excellent foster parents—the state considered them too old to adopt, blithering idiots—and unfortunately I decided to see if I could track down some hazy memories . . . and found the Hunters, who immediately tried to kill me." I looked over at him. Shook my head. "So what's this about betraying them? They are strangers, who attacked friends of mine in Phoenix. I'm here at the request of—and financed by—a Mr. Wright. Friend of yours?"

"Umm . . . my boss. Why don't you feel any loyalty to them?"

"If I had been, say, an orphaned German boy raised by normal Americans, would you expect me to feel akin to a Neo Nazi gang known to have killed at least a hundred women snatched off the street?"

"But . . . you're not human. They're your kind."

"They are demon worshipping murderers. They are very much not my kind."

I pulled out my map. "I checked this area yesterday. Now we need to start here and drive strips about four miles apart while I use my ESP to find them."

"ESP." He gave me a dubious look.

"It's less weird than werewolves."

"True." He started the car and backed out. "So you can talk to them from two miles away?"

"Not talk . . . well I haven't tried talking. I can see them, or feel them or whatever you call it, about three miles away. So this gives me solid coverage."

"I see."

I suspected he didn't—I'd grown up expecting to close my eyes and still see the glowing spots of Mom and Dad getting ready for bed. Hide-n-seek had baffled me, and school had tended to give me a headache the first couple of years. Then I outgrew seeing both the physical and mental? Or was it spiritual? Energy? The sides of people that I eventually realized no one else saw. By about third grade I only saw the glow when I tried to. Maybe I'd built up mental callouses or shields or something.

But whatever it was, I closed my eyes and opened myself to my inner sight.

Mike was a glowing white with nervous spikes. Poor guy!

I ignored him and reached further out. No nasty/sickly/greenish-yellowish nastiness.

It went much quicker without having to stop. We covered the other half of the north side of LA proper be fore we stopped for lunch. Then we cruised back and forth, working our way down.

It wasn't right.

I sat up. "It feels like I'm getting further away, instead of closer. Let's go home. I need to think about this, and perhaps you could call Mr. Wright and ask him where the dancing ground is . . . and if there's more than one that's been found, locations and dates."

"It 'feels' huh?"

"Yeah, like it getting boring, where before lunch it was a real hunt. I mean, maybe it's just getting tired and bored. I'm still trying to work out what I can do . . . umm, well, magic-wise. So . . . maybe I'm subtly recognizing that we're getting further away form what I'm looking for. Tomorrow we could . . . wait, tomorrow's Thursday, right? Okay, I told Wally I'd go to this Movie thing. A Cattle Call. So I can check all over there, and then Friday we can try maybe Glendale?"

"Umm. Sure."

"Oh, and stop at the grocery store. I forgot hamburger buns yesterday."

"Leo . . . you are a very weird . . . creature."

At least I didn't have to teach them how to cook hamburgers. But I did feed them, and Mrs. Armstrong grabbed my oil and Wally's big bag of frozen french fries and showed him how to do it right.

And the Dodgers won, so two of us were happy.

Chapter Cattle Call

The casting call was so boring that Wally and I wound up in a bubble gum blowing contest.

Which attracted attention.

We got sent off for an actual job. A One dayer.

Tight black t-shirts to show our muscles . . .

Then we were sat down at a chess board with dramatic lighting to glare at each other over the game, and blow and pop bubbles to distract each other.

"Check and Mate!" Wally got the speaking part.

I threw myself back in the chair, head back, arms limp in defeat as he blew his best bubble yet, popped it, and picked up a pack of gum.

"Cinnaburst always wins!"

"Cut!" The director stepped up and glared. "Let's do that last close up of your hand again, and this time let's get the label right side up!"

I stayed out of the way, and tried to imagine what sort of background music they'd use. The Good the Bad and the Ugly would be cool. Or some part of the Star Wars sound track . . . nah. Not for a silly bubble gum commercial.

We cruised home grinning.

"It wasn't the movie offer of my dreams, but it is a useful addition to my credits." Wally grinned.

Mike produced steaks, and challenged us to fix them "just right."

Mrs. Armstrong sniffed. "Impossible without a charcoal grill, which these silly air quality laws have outlawed."

"I've got a gas grill." Wally was nearly drooling.

I bit my lip. "It's kind of late for baked potatoes . . ."

"If you've got them, we'll nuke 'em." Wally assured me.

"At this rate, I'm going to get fat." I sighed. "I need to start running every morning. Maybe lift weights."

"Take acting lessons, you ham." Wally grinned and told them all about our chewing gum advertisement.

Mike looked horrified.

"Yeah, I know. If my hideous relatives recognize me, they'll try to track down their movie star relative to leech on." I grinned at Mike's thoughtful expression, and went to fetch potatoes.

I could get to liking this lifestyle. Pity it won't last past my finding the Hunters.

Chapter First Whiff

Glendale was a bust, so we swung back to I5 and on into Burbank and zig-zagged around what-ever-valley-that-is. Lunch in Van Nuys. Give up and head home . . .

I sat up and pointed. "There! There's one there. He's headed straight for us, get off the freeway and turn around!"

I craned my neck looking, but we will still too far away to tell which car he was in before Mike drove off an exit ramp . . . into traffic. I made note of the time.

"So, he's in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, traveling north on I 5 . . ." If we can't catch up with him . . . we'll find him here Monday afternoon. I hope."

We headed north, but he was beyond my reach and there was no way to catch up in this traffic.

"Well, there's our first indication." I sat back and eyed Mike. "Did you talk to Mr. Wright?"

"Well . . . Yeah. Not that it did any good."

He sounded grumpy. I felt grumpy too.

"In Phoenix I located their next dancing ground without knowing anything about the old ones, so it may not matter here, either. I just thought it might cut down the sheer area I have to search." I scowled out the windshield as the traffic thinned and our speed picked up. We drove for an hour without picking up any traces of them, and finally turned for home.

"I need to get a phone. And internet. I wonder if the FBI Agent I worked with in Phoenix has locations for the finds here." I subdued a growl—no point in frightening Mike—and closed my eyes. Maybe I'd get lucky again.

Saturday the cable guy came. "No problem, Dude! I get time and a half for weekends." He sounded so much like Wally I had trouble not laughing. Weedy, undersized, scrawny, balding, old white guy . . . on looks you couldn't get much more opposite. He was also quick and experienced.

"I haz internet!"

He laughed, picked up his tools and departed.

And . . . did I dare? It was pretty guaranteed that the NSA would be watching me. Contacting Rachel would be massively stupid. Really. I mean . . . they knew I knew her . . . checking that she was all right was no big deal . . . the Hunters didn't know anything about me. Didn't even know my name. They'd just called me "Stranger" and tried to kill me. I poked at the memory a bit, like one of them had poked me. "Why's he look like a man, Pa? I thought all the boys were dogs?" "Who cares? Just kill him." "No! We caught him, we ought to do it right! We can have a dance!"

"Grr, enough of that memory . . . but why were they surprised I was in human-form?

Right, so social media . . . I had several accounts, but I went with "Leo Stone" and hunted for Rachel Ball . . . there were hundreds of them.

Fortunately my Rachel was less than a quarter of the way through the list with a smiling picture.

Her posts were all about whether she wanted to go back to college or just keep working. And one about being sad that a friend had left the area, even though she knew it was "a good career move" for him.

Yeah, no kidding. There was no point in kidding myself. Once I'd helped them get rid of the werewolf problem . . . they most likely wouldn't be inclined to leave me alone.

ekuah on November 29th, 2017 02:39 pm (UTC)
Not his kind
"But . . . you're not human. They're your kind."

"They are demon worshipping murderers. They are very much not my kind."

Sounds pretty much like denial to me. He is a shapeshifter.

I don't know how much Leo knows about his genetics, but 46 of his chromosomes are human.

My answer would be more like:
"46/48 of me are human. And they are demon worshipping murderers. So they are as much of my kind as Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot are your kind."
mbarkermbarker on November 30th, 2017 02:23 am (UTC)
Re: Not his kind
Hey, I like Leo's answer! Nurture, not nature! Get those dratted genetic lessons and whatnot out of the way. I was raised by... so who cares what my genes are like!

Huh. Maybe they can have a rousing argument about nature versus nurture at some point? I mean, you got Wally kicking around, plenty of phenotypes to play with here... although maybe we shouldn't drag that argument into a fun werewolf tale?