AN: rianna34, these stories wouldn't have been the same without you! I hope this story is a satisfactory follow-up to Temper.
This story follows my stories: Monster, Wolf Moon, Malédiction du Loupgarou, Cursed, and Temper.
Norm(s) – Short for normal. Eliot's term for regular people who have no idea that the supernatural really exists.
Please review, it makes my day!
***WARNING*** descriptions of gore in several chapters
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.
All the lights were off in the brew pub. Hardison had switched things over to backup generators and so far that system was holding. The emergency systems included the motion activated security cameras, so when the very large black man stepped out of his Jag and walked up the front steps to the pub, Hardison had plenty of notice.
The alert chimed on Hardison's closest tablet. 'Motion Alert, Motion Alert' Hardison dropped the bloody rag he'd been holding and scooped up his tablet. "What fresh hell do we have now?" He asked the question quietly, as it was a question only for himself. Hardison watched the man ascend the few steps to the front porch and stop at the door. He was wearing a suit as if he had just come from a formal function. "What part of the lights are off and we're closed don't you get. man?" Hardison muttered to himself and adjusted the zoom on the closest camera.
Parker leaned over Hardison's shoulder to get a look at the newest threat. "Do we know him?" Parker frowned at the screen. "Wait, I think…" She tapped the screen and left a bloody fingerprint behind. The camera feed changed, and from the new camera angle she could see his profile. "Dr. Terry?"
"What would your knee surgeon be doin' here?"
As if in answer to Hardison's question, Dr. Terry turned to face the camera. He loosened his tie and pulled something out of the collar of his shirt. Even in the dim lighting, Hardison recognized the small bag on the cord around the man's neck. It was a dead ringer for the gris gris bag hanging in Eliot's room. "Well, I'll be damned."
Parker and Sophie went downstairs to see what the doctor wanted. Sophie took up a guard position in the hallway between the pub's dining area and the semiprivate offices. Parker went to the door keeping her hand on Nate's revolver tucked into the back of her waistband. "What do you want?" Parker hollered through the locked door.
"It's Dr. Terry. Can I come in?"
There was a pause that showed he hadn't been expecting Parker's answer. "I was told to tell you that Ms. Teo sent me."
Parker exchanged a glance with Sophie before she unlocked the door and opened it a crack. "How do you know Ms. Teo and how can I know she sent you?"
In the dim light his very white smile stood out for just a second. "Parker, don't you remember me?"
"I know who you are, but I don't know what you're doing here. And I really don't have time for this." Parker frowned at him but didn't open the door.
"Ms. Teo is my mama, and she told me I needed to come here to help one of her boys. A wolf by the name of Eliot Spencer. She told me to bring this gris gris bag so that you would know she sent me." He hooked the bag with a thumb and pushed it forward.
Parker, still frowning, opened the door and let him in. "What do you know about Eliot?"
Dr. Terry stepped past Parker who hurriedly locked the door behind him. He took in Parker's bloody clothes and mussed hair and her grip on the revolver she was now holding at her side. "I know that if my mama thinks he needs my help, your friend is in serious trouble."
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2 days before:
It was late afternoon when they got back to Portland from New York. The flight had provided a momentary bubble of peace. They'd finished their job in the big apple and there was trouble of an unknown but wolfish variety waiting for them at home, but for the few hours of their flight there was nothing they could do about it.
Now the humid chilly air of springtime in Portland enveloped them as they left the airport and headed for Lucille.
"Eliot you should drive. I think we should go to the safe house in Gresham until we know what's happening." Parker yawned and leaned against Hardison as they walked through the parking lot.
"So far, there's been nothing new on the cameras and none of the other security measures have been tripped." Hardison skimmed through several things on his phone.
"I need the bags from the freezer at the pub. You want me to drop you guys in Gresham first?" Eliot had asked Robert to bag the remains of the dead animals that had been left as a message, and put them in the freezer before the employees closed down the pub.
"Nah. There's a few things I'd like to pick up at the pub too." Hardison shoved his phone in his pocket and tossed his bag into Lucille 7 before following Parker into the van.
"Since you're sure it's a wolfy that tricked Hardison's cameras, it means that the dead animals are a message from the freaky side of life. What do you think it means?" Parker settled into the passenger seat.
Eliot rolled his eyes but didn't answer right away as he pulled out of the parking spot.
"Babe, it seems pretty obvious don't you think. 'I'll get you my pretties! And your little dog too!'" Hardison did his best wicked witch voice and nudged the back of Eliot's seat on the word dog.
"Dammit Hardison. I'm not a dog." Eliot grumped as he pulled into the line for the toll booth for long term parking.
Parker snickered at their bickering. "No, I get the threat,…mostly. What I mean is, are they threatening us for a particular reason? Like for example: they want our packs territory, or word has gotten out that we're not all wolves, or they know what kind of work we do and they don't like it, or do they just want us dead?" She counted off her examples on her fingers.
"First we need to find out who they are." Eliot scowled at the traffic. "That's why I want those bags. I'm hoping they left their scent and that it will be a pack I know so that we might be able to eliminate some of your 'what-ifs'."
"And if it isn't somebody you sniffed before, then what?" Hardison leaned between the front seats.
"Then I go hunting." Eliot said with a little growl.
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Eliot parked Lucille near a park four blocks from the pub. "Okay I'm going to walk from here. I want you two to stay in the van until I give the 'all clear.' Don't get impatient, this will take a while."
"It's only a few blocks from here. What's gonna take so long?" Hardison asked while he dug through a bag.
"I'm hoping these guys were sloppy a left an obvious scent trail around the pub. If I was doing this. I wouldn't leave a scent trail to follow but, you never know. However, farther away from the pub, they are more likely to have left a scent by accident. Besides, knowing what direction they usually approach from and where they usually park might be helpful later." Eliot pulled his hair back into a tail so that it wouldn't hang in his face while he was trying pick up a scent.
"Are you sure there's any scent left? It rains all the time here. Wouldn't the scent trail, or whatever, been washed away by now?" Hardison was setting up his tablet so that he would be ready if Eliot needed anything.
"Even with a heavy rain there's usually something left, and it hasn't been that long since they were here." Eliot looked at Hardison and Parker before sliding the door shut. "Stay put." He called back to them as he walked away.
He walked slowly down the street and went a couple blocks past the pub until he was almost under the highway bridge for I-405. The gate for the parking lot was a little farther down the block and already Eliot could tell he was in the right place. On the corner near the trees, he picked up the scents of dozens of people. An old woman with a small dog, a teenager that favored a truly awful cologne, a man that had eaten a ham sandwich and dropped the wrapper, and a werewolf that had smoked several cigarettes. "Hardison can you get any kind of video for the northeast corner of 15th and Overton?"
"Maybe. What will I be looking for if I find a camera pointed in that direction?"
"A man smoking cigarettes. Weighs 220 or a little more, about 6 feet tall. Wearing work-boots."
"Seriously man?" Hardison was already scanning for a camera in that area.
"How do you know what he looks like? Was he there? Did he drive away?" Parker didn't pause between questions.
"The cigarettes were smoked by a werewolf and the guy crushed out one of the butts with his shoe. The shoe prints where he was standing tell you about how tall he is and how much he weighs."
"Want us to come and get you?" Parker was already in the driver's seat.
"Nope. Not done yet." Eliot walked past the ticket machine and started making his way up and down the rows of cars. He found cigarettes in two different places and the scent of werewolf in three more places. "They're definitely using this lot. Hardison have you found a camera yet?"
"I know that I am truly amazing, but I haven't actually installed cameras to cover every inch of the city yet. Gimme a minute." Hardison's fingers flew over the keyboard. "Okay, there is an immigration services office across the street…" The whole team was used to the long pauses in Hardison's explanations or directions when he was in the middle of looking up the information. "Got it! The camera barely catches the edge of that corner and none of the lot. Any idea when I ought to be looking for this chain-smoking-werewolf you're after? Right now, I've got the live feed but, it will take me a while to get the old footage, and that's if they keep it on a server."
"He's been here maybe four times in the last three weeks, but it's been three to five days since he was here last." Eliot concentrated on what he'd seen and smelled to try and get a rough timeline for Hardison.
"How on earth can you know that? Wait, nope, forget I asked. Every time I think I got a handle on this wolf thing something else comes up." The last part was muttered to no one in particular.
"Alright, I'm going to see if I can track them from the lot to the pub." Eliot crossed the street and went back to 14th. On the corner he stopped and took a deep breath. The subtle scent of werewolf was still there but the rain that was such a part of Portland had dispersed the trail and made it harder to follow. Eliot looked at the intersection and decided just to head for the middle and try again. There weren't any cars coming and checking for a scent wasn't something that would attract attention. He paused in the middle of the intersection and inhaled again. The scent was slightly stronger and he continued across to the brick building.
The trees on this side of the street had done a better job of sheltering and preserving the scent trail, and Eliot was certain that there were at least three wolves that had been this way more than once. About halfway down the block there was a door set into the building that was well sheltered by trees and a slight overhang in the building's architecture. This was where the trail stopped. Eliot walked ten more feet, but the trail didn't resume. He went back to just before the doorway and found a very distinct scent trail. Moving forward, the trail disappeared. He went back and tried to see if it turned toward the street, but there was nothing near the curb or out in the street either. He went back to the doorway. There was no scent on the doorknob or the brick around the doorway. Eliot noticed a fine powder that had been caught in the brick's texture. The powder and the lack of scent finally registered, and he realized that this was where the wolves had applied aconite powder to hide their scents.
"Parker, where are you?" Eliot had felt a little thrill of excitement through the pack bonds, and he was certain it was coming from Parker.
"Hardison, access the elevator and lobby cameras for the Urgent Care building catty-corner from the pub." Parker's breathing picked up as she sprinted across the lawn on the roof of the Urgent Care building. Over the earbuds they could hear the clang as she leapt onto the fire escape. "Look for a guy in a white hoody, tall, over 200 pounds, blue jeans, and tan work boots."
Eliot started to run down the street trying to get to Parker. "What the hell Parker! I told you to stay in the van!"
"You said they'd been here for weeks. That's even before we left on that last job. I knew the Urgent care would be the best place to surveil our pub from so I thought I'd check it out." Parker grunted as she dropped from the fire escape to the ground.
Hardison wasn't sure when she had slipped out the side window of the van and he felt a little guilty for not noticing, but for now, all he could do was try to access the cameras in and around that building. "Okay, I got your guy, I think. Black t-shirt, no hoodie, work boots maybe, right build. Headed for the apartment building across the street from the pub."
"Parker, don't go anywhere near that guy you spotted. If he's a wolf he could be very dangerous." Eliot wanted to sprint, but there were just too many cars and too many pedestrians, so he had to keep moving at a human possible speed.
"Babe, Eliot's right. Stop chasing him and we'll figure something out together."
Parker had rounded the corner from the back of the building and was sprinting up 13th toward their pub and the last known location of their possible bad guy. Parker was nearing the intersection at Marshall when she spotted the man in the black t-shirt almost a block away. She poured on more speed and looked to her left for traffic right before she slammed into a nearly immovable object.
Eliot caught her by the arms before she fell all the way to the pavement. "What the hell Parker!? You tryin' to get yourself killed!?" Eliot didn't often get truly angry with Parker except on occasions like this when she scared him.
"Hey, you let him get away!" Parker tugged away from Eliot's grip and he let her go.
"Damn right! What did you think was gonna happen!?" Eliot crossed his arms and scowled at her. "What were you going to do in broad daylight on a busy street? Huh?!" Eliot noticed the curious and appalled looks he was receiving from people nearby. Eliot wasn't tall, but his intimidation factor came from body language and attitude, and right now he knew he came off looking like the bad guy yelling the petite blonde in front of him.
"Is this any of your business? I don't think so!" Parker addressed the crowd of busybodies before shoving past Eliot and marching across the street to their pub.
"Um, guys? You want me to bring the van around?" Hardison's voice came over the earbuds.
"Might as well." Eliot growled and followed after Parker.
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Eliot held the front door open for Hardison and locked it behind him when he came in. He'd told Hardison to park in front of the pub since the back entrance they usually used wasn't a great option from a defensive/tactical point of view. Out front they had more maneuverability, more escape options, and a crowd of norms to prevent anything too outrageous from happening.
"Where's Parker?" Hardison asked as he headed across the room.
"In the kitchen putting ice on her chin and left arm." Eliot grumbled.
"What? Did she get hurt?" Hardison looked over his shoulder at Eliot and noticed Eliot's guilty look.
"She says she hurt her chin when she ran into me and that I hurt her arm when I grabbed her." Eliot scowled as he followed Hardison into the kitchen.
Parker was lying on one of the prep counters with two of Eliot's ice packs. She didn't look when they walked in but held her hand out for Hardison.
"Alright mama, what's going on here?" Hardison held her hand and brushed her bangs away from her face.
Parker raised an eyebrow at him but didn't say anything.
"Are you actually hurt or are you just guilt tripping E?" Hardison quirked an eyebrow back at her.
She moved up into a seated position and let the ice packs drop. "He stepped in front of me and knocked me over." She flashed a glare at Eliot who was waiting near the door.
"Yah, and I'm glad he did. I don't even want to think about what could've happened to you if you'd caught that guy you were chasing." Hardison tugged on her fingertips to make her smile.
"What was the plan Parker?" Eliot asked from the end of the counter she was sitting on.
"I want to know why they're doing this. I thought if we could catch that guy, maybe we could find out." She took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. "I kinda got caught up in the chase and I didn't really think it through."
"So. are you actually hurt?" Eliot stepped closer and pulled up her sleeve. There were several small bruises that he was sure came from his fingertips when he'd grabbed her to keep her from falling. "Gimme a minute and I'll get a bandage to hold that ice pack on for you."
"That's okay Sparky, I don't need it." She slid off the counter and left the kitchen.
Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. "Seriously, twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag."
"Don't I know it." Hardison smiled and followed Parker.