Lexi did not look well when I next saw her again two days later. She looked pale and nervous; tremors would often ripple through her body.
She looked sick, though I was quite certain that that was not entirely accurate.
Deeply concerned for the young werewolf, I automatically stepped forwards to press my hand to her forehead. I felt her flinch back as my hand touched her forehead – and with good reason. The ill werewolf was practically scalding under my hand. "Lexi," I gasped. That kind of fever couldn't possibly be anything good!
The lycan shook her head, trying to avoid my gaze. "That's part of it," she mumbled. I could barely hear her. "The fever-thing."
"That doesn't hurt?" I couldn't imagine that a fever that high could be even slightly comfortable.
Lexi lifted her head to give me an irked glare. Our eyes met. My mouth went dry. Pheromones, my fuzzy-but-rational mind tried to remind me. It didn't appear to matter much. I still felt that tug at my body to do... something, to her. "Snap out of it," the younger woman ordered, raising her voice a little. It did help, though.
"S-sorry," I managed, feeling my cheeks heat up. I hated reacting in such ways without being able to do... well, anything about it. It was humiliating.
I could only imagine how much worse it had to be for Lexi.
"But, ah," I cleared my throat, coughing into my hand, "the fever. It's not hurting you any, is it?"
"No." Her voice was flat, annoyed. Huskier than I recalled. I chanced at meeting her eyes again, wondering. Was she...? The werewolf looked down at her feet to avoid my gaze. "It's part of the whole deal. Being 'in heat' is a literal thing. I'm used to it."
My eyes turned to the ceiling, attempting to keep my thoughts clear. "To make you sweat," I considered absently. "It would expose more pheromones to the air to attract more mates." I glanced back down at her without meaning to. Luckily she didn't look up.
"I guess," Lexi muttered, giving a shy half shrug. The motion was surprisingly cute. (I blamed that thought on her being in heat.) "I need you to do me a favor."
I made a curious noise. "What would that be?"
"You need to lock me in here. From the outside."
That startled me more than a little. "Lock you in here? Why?"
The young werewolf folded her arms tightly, hugging herself. She looked off to the side and I saw a blush painting her cheeks. "I don't want to do anything I'll regret in a few days," she replied, voice barely above a whisper.
There was a long pause. I merely looked at her. Lexi refused to look anywhere but down and to the side. Was it really a good idea to lock the girl in her room by herself? Particularly when she was going through such a hard time as this? But what else was I supposed to do with a lycan in heat? I finally sighed, giving up on my thoughts. They were getting me nowhere.
"Alright." My hand reached out to cup her face. I felt the burning heat beneath her skin as I tilted her head up to look at me. "You'll be alright?" I stepped forward without realizing it.
Another half shrug. "Maybe. I've never... had to go without," she reminded me. I barely heard her, caught in her unintentional trap again. I didn't notice that I was closing in on the young woman until she inhaled sharply, golden eyes wide, and I suddenly found myself at arms' length away from her, strong hands pushing my shoulders away. I felt sick. Had I tried to do something to her? Again?
"You... you need to go," Lexi whispered, voice trembling.
I locked her door behind me.
For a long few minutes, I paced in my small lab, not sure what to do with myself. It would probably be wise to monitor Lexi's behavior, really. I had never seen a lycanthrope in heat before – never even heard that they went into heat – and it would undoubtedly be an excellent topic for a new research publication. But I couldn't justify it well enough to myself to make it okay to watch the girl suffering from, well... a painful craving to, ah. Mate.
I finally determined that I might as well try to finish up my current work instead of just hanging out in the laboratory and wearing a trench in the tile floor. I strode past the lounge and the holding rooms (pausing briefly in front of Lexi's room) and trotted up the stairs to the living levels. I automatically locked and bolted the steel door behind me.
"That you, Julia?" Dean called from the living room.
"Yeah." I scooped up a thick sheaf of handwritten notes and my laptop and went to join him in there. He was lounging in a heavy leather chair, his sketchbook in hand and a few reference photos of Lexi strewn about the floor.
"How's the werewolf?"
I dropped down onto the couch, arranging my laptop and notes in a more comfortable way. "Lexi?" I didn't like how he referred to her as 'the werewolf' or 'the wolf.' "I don't know. Okay, I guess. Maybe."
I opened my laptop and clicked on my word processor. I tried to begin compiling my notes for my research essay, but my brain was having none of it. After several failed attempts at writing the introductory paragraph, I huffed and slapped my laptop closed.
"Writer's block?" Dean asked sympathetically, glancing up from his sketchpad.
"Something like that," I muttered, rubbing my temples.
"You're not still thinking about the werewolf are you?" His tone was disapproving. "She'll be fine; stop worrying about her."
"How can I not? I have no idea what's going to happen here!" I huffed, throwing up my hands in frustration. I stood and began to pace. "I have no idea what to do with a werewolf in heat! Hell, I didn't even know werewolves went into heat! I don't know what happens to a werewolf in heat if they don't mate and I sure as hell don't know what happens when that werewolf also suffers from faint silver poisoning!" I wanted to scream; I kicked the couch instead.
"You need to stop getting so emotionally attached to these things," Dean ordered, putting his pad down. "They're not human, Julia, they're animals. Homolupus lycana lupus. You keep forgetting that."
I growled. We had this argument at least once every time I had a new specimen in the place. "They are not just animals, Dean! They think! They feel! They have emotions!" I jabbed my finger in the general direction of Lexi's cell. "And that one in there is suffering, and I can't do a damn thing about it!"
Dean rolled his eyes and returned to working in his sketchpad. "Calm it down, Julia. You're taking this way too hard." And then, in a voice so low I almost didn't catch it, "I'd ask if you were on your period, but I can tell you're not." I was set to strangle the man when the rhythmic buzzing of his cell phone on the desk cut us both off. The vampire checked it and grinned humorlessly at me. "See, here's something to take your mind off the kid. We've got a Mongrel ripping around on Mill that we need to go pick up."
"A Mongrel?" He nodded. I was all set to agree with him - chasing down a Mongrel was sure to get my mind off of Lexi. Those things were fierce.
Then I paused.
"Wait, no," I moaned, dropping down onto the couch. "We can't take it."
"What the hell? Why not?"
I pressed my fingers hard against my closed eyes. "Lexi's in heat. I don't know how that would affect a Mongrel. We can't risk anything."
Dean was incredulous. "Do you really think that that would affect a Mongrel?"
"They're half-werewolf, Dean!" I snapped, dropping my hand to give him a proper glare. "There's no reason to think that it wouldn't affect one!"
"So, what, you're just going to let a Mongrel run around the city?"
"...No..." I groaned and let my head fall back against the back of the couch. "Give me your phone."
"I'm gonna call Lewis and see if can take it."
The vampire hissed in disgust; for the first time that night, I sympathized with him. "Please tell me you're kidding." He placed his phone in my outstretched hand anyways. "I hate that guy!"
"Believe it or not, we all do," I muttered sourly. I punched the number in and held it to my ear, already scowling. I could think of about a billion things I would rather do than talk to that man. Like getting teeth pulled.
"Lewis," I spoke through gritted teeth. "It's Julia."
"Julia!" His voice went into that pseudo-smooth, oil-slick tone he loved to use with me. "It's been ages! How are you?"
Or having nails hammered through my temples.
"I don't have the time to discuss it, Lewis," I returned shortly.
"Oh, don't be like that, Julia."
"I'm not being 'like that,' Lewis, I really don't have time to discuss everything. To put it shortly, there's a Mongrel running around that needs taking care of, and I can't keep it at my base."
I chewed the inside of my cheek briefly, contemplating not telling him about Lexi, but finally gave in. "No, I have space, but I can't keep a Mongrel here. I have a female werewolf in my custody."
"A female in heat."
"You have a breeding female in your custody?" He sounded more gleeful about that than I thought was alright. A scowl tugged at my lips. "If that's the issue, then I could easily just take the she-wolf off your base and -"
"Absolutely not!" My sharp, sudden snarl must have shocked him deeply, because Lewis actually shut up for once in his life.
Having twist-ties tied around my intestines. I would prefer that to talking to him, too.
"I do have room for a Mongrel," he finally spoke again, voice thoughtful. I didn't like it. "But I don't have time to go out and catch one, Julia, dear."
Large and small intestines.
"I wasn't planning on making you go get it, Lewis," I growled through my teeth. "I am perfectly capable of capturing a Mongrel on my own -"
"Of course, of course, I never meant to imply otherwise." Yeah-fuckin'-right. "Certainly, Julia. I'll have a holding cell prepared for you to bring it by later."
"Good," I nearly spat the word out.
"And if you're not busy later -"
"I will be. Good bye, Lewis." The phone snapped shut with a satisfying clack. I handed back Dean's phone, scowling deeply. "I am going to kill that man one day," I informed the vampire, getting up to leave. "I am just going to shoot him through the head about ten times and walk away. I'd even do it with silver bullets." Silver bullets were expensive as all hell, and they weren't even silver all the way through.
Dean merely rolled his eyes. "I think you'll have to wait in line." He got to his feet anyways. "So is Lewis taking the Mongrel or not?"
"He 'doesn't have time' to go hunting a Mongrel," I snorted. I sincerely doubted he was all that busy; he had a huge base with actual licensed employees, unlike my cramped home and single vampiric companion. "So we're going to go pick it up and take it to Lewis' base."
"Got it. I'll go get the van." And Dean vanished.
As I hurried out to the garage, I worried briefly about leaving Lexi here on her own. I quickly decided that it wouldn't be a problem, though; I doubted that she would even know we were gone. That didn't stop me from casting the bolted door downstairs a quick look.
It took me only two minutes to get ready. I had honed the skill down to an art. A pair of custom steel-toed, track-spiked boots went on first, followed by my trusty set of silver-lined gloves. Belt, holster, handgun. Quick check to make sure it was loaded. Safety, on. Thick leather jacket with custom pockets. Quick check - wolfsbane, mountain ash stakes, spare silver bullets, rosary, mustard seeds, holy water, tranquilizer darts. Good. I threw my hair into a ponytail and was done.
I was just leading my motorcycle out into the driveway when Dean swung around in the black holding van. "Where is it now?" I shot at him. My voice was crisp, professional. It was all business now. Lexi was the farthest thing from my mind.
"It's over on Mulberry now," he told me, revving the engine, preparing to tear out of there.
I nodded and slid my helmet on. "Let's get this done." I mounted the motorcycle and we were out in a flurry.
Dean, in the holding van, was stuck to the streets, but being on a bike had its perks. I cut through alleys when I could, and blasted through the streets when I had to. My mental map of the town and its shortcuts was near perfect, fortunately, and I made it down to Mulberry in minutes.
"Oh, hell," I whispered at the sight of the beast. I pulled to a stop.
It was an ugly creature, but then, most Mongrels were. I couldn't tell right off what the exact breed of dog had assisted in whelping the thing, but it appeared to be some kind of Spaniel. Unlike the thick, coarse fur of a werewolf, this one had a long, silky-looking coat and drooping ears. Blood dripped from its short muzzle.
What was probably a human at some point but was now too bloodied and mangled to tell rested at the Mongrel's heavy paws.
I drew a thick, sharp stake from my jacket, catching the Mongrel's attention. The creature's head whipped around to face me and it snarled, showing off its blood-slick fangs. It didn't even pause before it charged me. Great. It would be a feral one.
A/N: ...So I heard you guys wanted an update? -takes cover behind riot shield-