It was a safe house in a very spiritual sense, Abel could feel the wards and the guardian spirits giving him dirty looks across the veil. Of course, there were weapons and such. And it was in a basement. But still.
Abel had gotten Charles to help him lay, Cecil, wherever it was safe, the Monk stripped of his outer clothing before even leaving the car so as not to drag in the glass. Having already changed at the Versi safe house.
Over the days, the doctor seemed to refuse to rest, beyond what was absolutely necessary, despite looking beyond exhausted Pacing or fidgeting with his rosary when he wasn't checking on Cecil.
Given Cecil's near-comatose state, Abel requested fluids to administer to Cecil via IV, and.. if he couldn't get the Monk to stir enough to use the bathroom; a catheter.
Currently, Abel paced; feeling the unseen looks of disapproval. Checking Cecil's pulse again as he listened to Charles. Even Charles(So far) wouldn't have been successful in getting Abel to talk.
The dulcet tones of Robot Unicorn Attack played as the Lycaon sat in one plush chair playing the game on his phone.
"So, how do you explain it? Kid gets poisoned, gets grilled an' he just up an' kills two foes" he asked Abel.
"Adrenaline.. shock." Abel uttered. "Even in humans, it can lead to some incredible feats."
"Yeah, but look at 'im," Charles said, pointing at the monk in the bed.
"Still...this stuff is dangerous...Don't much like wars" he admitted.
"You need to rest, Abel. He won't be the -only- victim, you know" he noted.
"I know it's dangerous." He said a little sharply, "I'm sorry." He apologised awful quickly. Adjusting the clean, new rubber gloves around his wrist. He was still unsure about skin contamination, or rather contamination from sweat, blood or urine by those affected; and he didn't want to risk it. Though Charles seemed to be doing just fine.
Abel realised he was likely lying to himself, the gloves were a habit, a safe 'ward' to keep the panic out of his mind and give him a sense of control.
He swallowed as Charles spoke, then sighed. "I know I do." He said tiredly, "And I know he won't be." He finally left Cecil's side and approached Charles. He wanted to pluck the phone out of Charles' hands and plop down into his lap, curl up with him; and cry.
But he was on 'duty' and his pride wouldn't allow him that.
He had to give himself credit though.. all this stress; he hadn't turned to silver or any of the various available drugs.. even the morphine.
Charles closed the phone, going to the bed and looking the monk over.
"should strap him just in case," he said, starting to tie the leather strap around Cecil's arms.
Before he could do that, though, something started to crack and crick under Cecil's skin. Skin starting to bleed excessively as something PUSHED Cecil to sit up and vomit.
"Shit," Charles said, grabbing hold of Abel.
"That's not a-' Abel was cut off, as Cecil did exactly what most people did after coming out of a near-comatose state. If he'd been strapped down that could've gone a lot worse.
He lurched forward to help Cecil sit upright, but Charles held him back. Despite the weaker doctor pulling against Charles.
Cecil gasped and heaved, eyes entirely glassy as his skin started to sweat and tear. And then, fur sprouted unevenly as his face became a distorted and maddening snout.
Scabs flew off as the creature looked onward, drooling, hungry. Fur sprouted after the skin has sweat.
It noticed Abel, and sniffed the air, before gasping as its transformation went to its lower body. IV needle got locked inside his skin, but as Cecil's parts changed, the catheter popped off from the anatomy differences.
Charles watched this, feeling his own form fluffen.
Cecil lunged forward as his legs and tail appeared, fur forming over sweat soaked skin.
The were fell off the bed to the floor, shaking.
Abel's attempts to pull free of Charles ceased as Cecil began to shift, not knowing whether he would be calm, enraged, or unfathomably hungry. The nutrient and fluid IV's should've kept him at least baseline nourished but the wolf would still hunger for meat, no doubt.
Once Cecil was on the floor and shaking... Abel yanked himself free. Side-stepping the vomit to approach the wolf carefully. "Cecil." He said clearly, "You're safe, it's okay."
Cecil gagged and spat, whimpering from pain. It was not even a remotely a human sound, it was a hurt animal howling.
The were began to lick its wounds desperately, whale eyes and panting.
"Well....damn," Charles said, taking his shirt off to take his own were form. wearing a long kilt to cover his bits.
Abel could feel his back tensing, almost wanting to join the other two in fur, but he needed his hands.
He knelt by Cecil. "It's okay, Cecil." He knew Cecil wasn't quite in his right mind, and he knew Cecil -had- to be in pain between the newly opened wounds, the stuck IV and ripping out a catheter... he hoped to ease the pain from the IV at least if he could.
He reached out slowly, bringing himself into Cecil's line of sight a little more directly rather than touch him yet.
Cecil panted, looking at Abel, trying to get his brain in order. Pant pant, HURK.
Charles offered Abel a towel, placing his front paw on Cecil's back. The white wolf going flat on the ground near the older wolf, submitting.
/Hurt, hurt,hut..Where?/ he whined.
Abel leant back as he was vomited on.
'Thanks." Abel said as he was handed a towel. He was grateful for it, though he didn't take his eyes off Cecil.
Watching as Charles helped bring him to the floor.
He reached out and decided now or never, placing both hands on Cecil's arm, pulling the surgical tape free from the fur with trained hands; before easily and almost painlessly; removing the relatively small IV. Applying some pressure to keep Cecil from bleeding as he pinched the IV lock into place then tossed the end away from them back toward the bed to get it out of their way.
Cecil cried out at re removal of the IV, enough that Charles actually made a sad whine of worry.
Panting, the white wolf laid down and looked around him, burning wounds looking rather weird with the flesh starting to knit itself.
Charles looked at Abel.
"/The fridge, there is a bucket, give it to him/ he said, starting to pet Cecil.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry.." Abel apologised for the pain, both the IV and forcibly shift-removed catheter, between the soft rubber bubble that -was- in Cecil's bladder to keep the catheter in place, and tape, that couldn't have been any more comfortable than Cecil's sudden skin-splitting shift.
When Charles told him where a bucket was he got to his feet and immediately left to fetch it.
Cecil did seem very reluctant to lie on his junk at the moment, there were parts of his anatomy that were VERY disagreeable with the rubble bubble.
The bucket was a big metal one, full of frozen mincemeat and a lot of vitamin pills thrown in.
/Give it to him/ Charles said, watching Cecil look very uncomfortable.
Abel removed his dirty glove, then reached a hand in to help break up the frozen meat so Cecil could get at least a couple chunks before needing to break up more himself. Plus it'd help it smell stronger.
He then set the bucket down near enough to Cecil to smell and easily reach. Making sure his hands were out of the way.
He removed and discarded his other glove as well, fetching a fresh pair, before approaching Cecil again. He could tell Cecil was in pain, but it didn't seem intolerable. Still, he kept an eye on the white wolf's wounds as a whole. Feeling he could explain after Cecil ate and stabilised.
The fact Cecil had not only woken up but also shifted; was a huge relief.
Cecil sniffed the air, and like an alligator attorney, he stuck his head into the bucket to eat the raw meat.
Cecil's wounds did something very strange, they leaked serum as his body started to continue its normal function. Like the human healing was being kicked out of the house.
/You wanna video this? Could be great material for doctors to see?/ Charles asked Abel.
Abel was unsure for a moment, his face turning serious as he watched the serum leech from Cecil's wounds.
"Could you, please; that would be -phenomenal-" He uttered, getting to his feet. He fetched towels to place under and around Cecil first.
Then he looked around for any small phials, or empty bottles that he could use to collect some in hopes of studying the substance.
All the while he kept murmuring to Cecil that it was okay and glancing him over to keep pace with his wounds.
Charles started filming the process, feeling a bit weird doing it in were form. But still, poor Cecil was being filmed.
Cecil wasn't even noticing the leakage or the towels, just digging his snout deeper into the bucket. His wounds weren't healing off, per se, but instead, the human healing system was being altered before Abel's eyes.
As far as he knew, only other therianthropes would see the film, he hoped. Though he knew he was also being filmed.
At first, he worked in utter silence but then he began to speak. Rattling off in a clear tone as he'd seen the adults do in the facility. Except instead of tape recorders, now it was Charles' cell phone.
He talked aloud about what exactly Cecil's wounds looked like, the differences he saw between the blood and the serum, and just how Cecil was healing.. noting the differences; having seen Cecil heal before.
All the while, he used a couple found bottles(Smaller than his palm) to gather some of the serum for his own study while inspecting Cecil's wounds with his gloved hands.
Well then. Charles thought as he watched the whole thing, keeping a steady paw as he watched Abel speak.
Cecil was still snout in the bucket, but soon Abel would find that getting closer was considered growl worthy.
He set the last corked phial aside on the towel, he'd need to wash the glass before handling them later.
He looked over Cecil's wounds again, there was a fine line to Abel between letting the serum bleed out, and going too far and letting Cecil bleed out.
Abel gathered one of the cleaner towels near him and began to clean the serum and blood out of Cecil's fur near the wounds. Glancing to the white wolf as he growled.
"It's okay, Cecil."
Cecil lifted his head up, looking utterly unamused by the other wolf. When Abel began to clean his fur, Cecil snapped his teeth, hugging the barrel tight.
Charles had kept quiet in filming, but now he felt it was enough.
/I'm cutting it/ he said.
"Good idea." Maybe having footage of him being mauled by his patient wasn't the best thing.
After a last glance over to make -sure- Cecil was healing, at least somewhat.. and that nothing needed his immediate attention. He backed off.
"Alright, Cecil. I'm done for now." He spoke clearly, gathering the bottles and the small towel he'd used to wipe them down.
He looked at the bottles for a moment, then set them aside somewhere they wouldn't get knocked over or lost. It was an impure version, digested and filtered; but it was something.
He quietly began to set himself to cleaning the bed and area around it of the vomit Cecil had spewed. He clamped the Catheter tube and left it near the bag to be disposed of, noting the blood. Abel internally cringed at the thought.
He then coiled up the IV line and needle, putting it up by the fluids bag. Stealing glances to Cecil still. Still keeping an eye on him.
Charles cut the feed, saving the file.
/That was some horror movie stuff/ he admitted, eyes wide.
Cecil finished the barrel, panting now from the effort. His fur had fully formed now, aside from his wounds. The white wolf laid on the floor again, his body now starting to use all the material it was given.
/Uhh, where am I?/ he whined after a while, staring at the floor.
Abel wasn't being as thorough right now as he'd have liked but he wanted any possibly contaminated fluids out of the way. He glanced to Charles as he spoke, nodding in agreement.
It was, and it wasn't over yet.
Abel was nearly done by the time Cecil laid down. His chest rising and falling with each breath, he could feel the vomit sinking into his jeans and shirt.
Seeing Cecil kind of come to his senses, Abel went and knelt before him. Resisting the urge to reach out and pet him.
"You're at a Lycaon safe house. You're safe, don't push yourself." Something easy to say when the Doctor himself had been doing nothing but pushing himself.
Cecil groaned, taking deep breaths. His lungs had luckily not been injured badly but he still coughed up.
/Why? Don't we have the meeting soon?/ he asked, rubbing his head.
/...My chest hurts.../
Abel reached out, putting a hand on Cecil's neck. "Take it easy, don't move so much."
"The meeting at the BBB happened almost four days ago. You've been unconscious." He hesitated a little, "The drinks at the bar were tainted with the serum, you and some others were affected."
"We were attacked, and the bar was set fire too but as far as I know, everyone got out safely."
Cecil squinted, rubbing his head.
/I keep seeing fire, and a white lion. Like...I kill it like a sacrificial lamb and I look into the fire/ he hurred, looking at his arms.
/.....What happened there, Abel?/ he asked, ears moving.
/Who did I kill?/
Abel nodded, keeping his hand where it was, hoping to comfort Cecil.
He debated giving Cecil the short, or long answer.
"You killed Hepburn."
Abel decided the long of it could wait. Abel had seen someone else in the lot on their way out and speculated that Cecil had killed him as well but didn't know for certain.
Cecil looked up, staring at Abel.
/I killed the White Lion?/ he asked, eyes wide, and then he coughed like only canines can.
/Yeah, an' as a human too, go kid!/ Charles quipped, taking his human form then. Cecil stared at him with squinted eyes.
/I'm not some Naruto character, I can't freaking kill a berserk lion/ he noted.
"You did," Abel confirmed.
He looked over his shoulder, giving Charles a bit of a glare but he was so tired he couldn't hold it.
"He wasn't a berserker yet. He'd only just shifted to fur." Abel noted. "You threw one of your knives into his eye before he even made it inside, and slit his throat while he was down." Abel kept his tone warm, and comforting.
/Abel, he is an enforcer. I cannot kill him in my were form let alone in human/ Cecil noted, hugging his back legs then. Luckily he was a bendy wolf.
/Did I get into the fire? My throat tastes awful?/ he asked, rubbing it. For his pride, his mane was still intact.
That information, Abel wasn't quite aware of yet.
"But you did. I wouldn't lie to you, Cecil." He pulled away as Cecil hugged his legs then placed his hand on the white wolf's shoulder.
"We all did. -They- blew the doors in with some kind of magic. You, me and Delphine were caught behind the bar when it happened."
"I put your robes out before you recovered from the shock. This.. was before you attacked Hepburn."
Cecil blinked, cocking his head and then giving out an awful laugh, spitting out blood clots afterwards.
/I did a freaking Rock Lee?!" he asked as he laughed/coughed.
/...So, what now? Has the clan disowned you yet?/ he asked.
"Yeah, you did." He smiled.
His own memories of the night crossing his mind and briefly clouding his eyes. The ill, the fire... Callahan.
It took him a moment to realise that Cecil had spoken to him.
"I don't know. I haven't returned home to find out and I don't intend to." His own fears began to crawl up his spine. "I'm safe here, in Lycaon territory as far as I know."
"I spoke to Delphine as well, about Cain. He's safe also." He hesitated, "Speaking of, I called Amanda to tell them where you are, but I recommend calling them in the morning to let them know you're okay."
/...Fuckh/ Cecil muttered, rolling to his back, exposing his burns, and blood on his sheath from the catheter.
/Thank you, Abel. I owe you one/ he said, groaning a bit.
/I'm not going to be shifting from this anytime soon, too tired/ he admitted.
"It's probably better you don't shift for now." He suggested, giving Cecil a reason other than tiredness. "Is it alright for me to tend your wounds?" Now that Cecil was coherent, it was better to ask.
"Also.. you don't owe me anything, Cecil. I'm just doing what I do."
/Sure/ Cecil said, resisting the urge to lick his fur.
/...Confession is going to be fun next Sunday/ Cecil mused, letting Abel poke at his wounds.
Abel got up and returned to the medical supply, returning with the right stuff he needed to take care of Cecil's burns.
He chuckled a little at Confession, he'd given up on that a while ago.
"You ripped out your catheter, rather violently. How badly are you hurt?" He said, fingers focused on cleaning the burns of any soot or glass.
Cecil looked at the blood on his sheath, covering his eyes with his hands.
/Uh...yeah. But it heals fast, right?/ he asked.
/I REALLY don't want to get it out/
Abel chuckled, "I won't make you; Cecil." Regardless, that was his job, unfortunately.
"It's fine as it is, I'm quite confident it'll heal if you're not in unbearable pain." He paused, "But if you can't urinate within the next few hours; then I'll have to worry." He really didn't think it'd be an issue.
He glanced over Cecil again and leant away. Putting the used gauze aside to discard. He sighed. Exhausted, too tired to even think of the serum.
"It's a huge relief to see you wake up -and- shift, though."
/Y-yeah.... I don't remember anything from that day/ Cecil mumbled, rubbing his forehead with his paw pads.
"So, you gonna give him the cone of shame?" Charles asked from his chair. Cecil's tail poofed up.
"You passed out after the explosion, regained consciousness, then fainted again after killing Hepburn," Abel noted as if that might explain the blanks in Cecil's memory a bit.
"Without your wolf, it's possible you may just have amnesia, the memories might come back in pieces. It happens sometimes with the more.. temporary.. serums." He looked down.
Abel didn't respond to Charles.
Cecil groaned again, rubbing his chest area.
/...Do you think my fur will grow back?/ he asked.
"Oh, I think your chest looks nice" snarked the Lycaon.
"Charles." Abel chided, tiredly.
"Yes, Cecil; I'm sure your fur will grow back. It doesn't seem deep enough to affect the follicle roots, though if it scars you might experience fur thinning or a change in colour."
/Well...I don't actually have any bodyhair there in human form/ Cecil admitted, gagging a bit still from the attack.
/...what the heck colour could it take?/ he asked.
Charles sat next to Abel, wrapping an arm around him.
"Okay sweetie, now to bed," he said, lifting Abel to his arms.
"Sometimes scar tissue can alter the melanin distribution and darken the fur. Even in leucistic. There's a chance it could come back a faint or darker grey." It was unlikely, but it was possible. If the fur ever grew back in his arms he wondered how it'd look.
"Hey! No!" Abel snapped, pushing against Charles. "Put me down." He commanded fiercely, though he lacked the energy to squirm much. The Lycaon's warm skin was calming though.
Ah.. fuck it. He decided, giving up.
Cecil watched as Charles lifted Abel and took him away. What the eff?
Charles sat on the soft chair, putting Abel on his lap.
"You need to rest," he said, hugging the doctor.
Abel flushed as he was carried.. doing this in private was one thing... but they weren't in private. Cecil was here.
But after today, he just couldn't muster the fuck to give.
He wanted the comfort and reassurances he'd been giving and giving. To Delphine, to Zeke, to Cain and Amanda over the phone, to Cecil... Cecil wasn't in a life-threatening state anymore, he could relax.. right?
Sure he wanted to check out that serum that had leeched from Cecil's wounds, but he lacked the energy to go to his car to get the paperwork to cross-check stuff... surely it could wait an hour, or two.. or four.
When Charles sat down, Abel pushed himself up; somewhat out of Charles' hug. "Okay.. okay. Fine.. I'll rest. " He said, but he was getting up. "Just... let me get these clothes off." He didn't want to sleep in puke damp, and bloody clothes. He started to strip right where he was, standing by Charles, red-faced. He stripped to his boxers; then glanced across the room. He had some of his clothes in here but the thought of getting them out of his tightly packed suitcase felt like too much to bother with.
He sighed. fuck it. and turned back to Charles, crawling back into his kilted lap and nestling down. His head on Charles' shoulder as he hugged around his middle. It seemed hollow at first, too embarrassed to enjoy it, but once he felt the warmth, he hugged Charles tighter. Then even tighter, burying his face against Charles' shoulder to hide from Cecil. God damnit. All at once, the fears, anxieties and physical toll of the past few days washed over Abel.
Charles chuckled as Abel sat on his lap with just his boxers on.
"Come on, you have done your due," he said and patted Abel's hair.
"I was thinkin', if ya would start getting into more alchemical shite, you could join the Lycaon" he suggested.
"These Benanas are unknown, an' you aren't a Versi or Ulf type" he added.
Cecil rolled back to his side, trying to curl up into a ball. He managed a weird looking sprawl.
Abel sighed but didn't let up on hugging Charles so tightly. His dues were never done, but.. for now. They could be.
After a moment he laid his head to the side, eyes closed; listening.
"I.. was already planning on it.. joining the Lycaon if your clan would have me." He chuckled.
"I know I've no place with the Versi or Ulf..' He paused, Benanas.. bananas? He paused, debating whether or not Charles was trying to insult the Cinocephali before he recalled something Cecil had said earlier... "Benendanti? Cecil.. mentioned them earlier." He glanced to the white wolf, then back up to Charles. "Who are they?" He didn't know.
"You need to get your head to it first, Gardener" Charles joked and ruffled Abel's hair.
"Some kind of...secret group, I think?" he mused, looking at Cecil.
"Easy enough, the cross is a great guise fer change. Priests have power, and people like to corrupt 'em a lot" he added.
Cecil stared, ice blue eyes unblinking.
"Yeah." He sighed, they could talk more about that later, the longer he sat with Charles the more he could feel himself relaxing,
He stayed quiet as Charles spoke of this new group, then he glanced over his shoulder to Cecil. He wasn't sure what to think of the Benandanti.. but for Cecil's sake; and others. He prayed they were nothing like the Cinocephali.
It was clear in his eyes that he didn't quite believe what Charles was saying, as he watched Cecil, but he was also too sceptical to even think of giving them a chance. He wanted away from 'this' entirely, a new start, in a new clan.
"Are they good to you, Cecil?" He already knew Cecil seemed to trust them.
Charles snorted as Abel asked Cecil for an opinion.
Cecil looked up, groaning a bit as his ribs repaired slowly.
/They are, they just want this bloodshed to stop. And to help/ he said.
"So far, kid. So far.." Charles noted.
"Charles." Abel chided, his voice softer; he lacked the energy to really put an edge into it. /Let the boy have hope./
After this mess, he was sure Cecil had the sense to be cautious.
His fingers pressed against Charles' back, arms between the Lycaon and his chair. Some part of Abel felt stupid, seeking such shameless comfort.. but he needed it. He needed to hear it would be okay.
Everyone needed some kind of hope right now.
Charles let Abel get comfy, petting his skin gently. Red eyes drooping a bit.
Cecil grumbled, climbing back onto the bed, looking rather silly as a ball of white fur.
Abel wasn't sure what to think.. or say.
"Cecil.. if you need help with anything, don't be afraid to wake me; alright?" He said, then yawned. Eyes closing as he was lulled by Charles' petting. Sighing as he sank against Charles.
"Kid, let him rest," Charles said, holding Abel tighter. No matter how much he knew the doctor was an arsehole and at best a former mad scientist, he still wanted to keep him afloat.
Cecil watched the two, ears perked. His body hurt as it healed, but that was to be expected. The bond between those two? It was clearly strong and they cared for one another. The Benan sighed deep, remembering how things with Cain had gone.
Abel's brows gathered, but he couldn't muster the energy to protest, already half-asleep. He could still hear them, though distantly; he couldn't pull himself back to alertness enough to say anything.
Days of tending to Cecil's unconscious body around the clock, replacing IV's, emptying his catheter bag and making sure he didn't succumb to fever, worrying about Delphine, and the others... waiting by his phone for a call that thankfully didn't come; while worrying over and churning over Callahan's departing words.. it was all exhausting.
The Lycaon watched Abel mull over things.
"Hey, kid? Just sayin', anyone who wears a sheep's coat is suspect. The Cino are monsters because they decided they knew best. These Benan? Just the same shite" he told Cecil.
The white wolf flopped to his side, grimacing.
/We are not sheep, we are the sheepdogs/ he rumbled, causing Charles to chuckle.
Charles would feel Abel's fingers curl, his breath catching a little as if he was going to speak, but he didn't. Sighing instead.
Sheepdogs.. reminded him of his Mother's beliefs.
"Hm?" Charles said to Abel, petting the blond's hair.
"Gonna call your mother," he said, placing Abel softly onto the chair and gave him a blanket.
The Lycaon strode to the makeshift shrine for Lia, looking at the sheep head.
"Ma'am, I need to speak to you," he asked it.
Abel seemed to cling to Charles, just a little as he was moved. But seemed to limp again the moment he was settled into the chair. Completely out like a light, his face unguarded and not tensed; he looked a lot more like Cain.
At first the shrine there was no initial movement, no response.. until slowly, and very quietly. Cecil's knife moved. Making a bit of noise on the shrine-table.
Charles looked at where the knife was pointing, sniffing the air.
The air felt cold around Charles, a sharp contrast to the warm room; and a striking difference from Lia's usual comforting warmth. The knife moved again, the tip of the blade subtly shifting closer and closer to the rosary, which had been tied around the candle.
Charles took the rosary, frowning at the cold. He looked it over, trying to figure its message.
The cold around Charles would start to spread as Lia tested the spiritual waters of this new location.
Anyone sensitive might begin to see a faint fog/smoke; or a white aura standing near Charles.
Cecil was lying flat, tongue lolling out. The strong smell of smoke made his ears perk up. grrr.
Charles let the cold spread, focusing instead on the rosary.
"Hmm," he muttered.
The word came to them both, clear as day as if Lia were in the room with them; the tone lilting but sharp.
Charles might feel cold fingers on his shoulder.
The Lycaon gripped the rosary, nodding at Lia. Charles placed his hands on Lia's ghostly fingers.
"Trust them, huh?" he asked.
Cecil, for his part, resembled a porcupine.
There was a long pause, and eventually... no reply.
But the misty cold lingered. Lia was frigid and tense, her energy bristling and defensive.
Charles might feel her drawing energy from him, just a little.
'Beliefs.' Came a quieter whisper.
"Oh?" Charles said, looking at Cecil. The Lycaon gave the porcupine wolf the rosary.
"He's here, talk to him," he said, placing the rosary around one of Cecil's ears.
/whuuhh?/ Cecil whined.
Lia seemed to be searching for an energy source, something to draw from without draining the already tired wolves in the room with her; but she was awful weak.
She began to draw from the knife, and Cecil's spilt blood.
"Both of you." The voice seemed to resonate in their heads.
"You summoned me." It was directed at Charles, but they could both hear her. Her voice growing stronger, though both their bodies could feel the chill in the air.
/Whah?/ Cecil asked, looking around. Then he focused on the voice.
/Oh, hello. Uh...No...problem?/ he said, ears going low.
Charles bowed at Lia.
"We need thoughts on the direction to take," he said.
There was a bell-like laugh as Cecil suddenly looked around. It sounded a lot like Cain's, or more correctly; Cain's laugh sounded like hers.
Though she stood between them, she didn't manifest, there was no point in using that energy that way.
"In which ways?" She asked a little mischievously. As far as she was concerned, for the time being; they were going the right way. But she'd seen what her son had been thinking, and remembering...
"Trust, I guess. Should we trust the Benanas? And for dealing with the Cino threat" Charles explained.
Cecil just...sat there, eyes wide.
There was a long silence.
"The Benandanti are a mystery even to me, though we share similar beliefs. I have met some... but like all clans.. they should be approached with caution. Clans do not make the individuals."
"As for the Cinocephali threat... you're going the right way. I can't advise you do anything different... things will get a lot harder than this." She sounded sadder, and the room grew colder.
"Charles. I appreciate you taking care of my son in this trying time. I've been watching his thoughts, and his dreams.. his heart is in the right place but the things he's been thinking aren't good. I hope you can keep him on the right path."
Charles nodded, smiling at Lia.
"I'll try, but I think he needs his darker urges now. When we are fighting against the poison, his knowledge might help us in the long run" he spoke, stopping then.
"And, we Lycaon are a bit looser in our morals" he added with a chuckle.
"You're right, he does; and his knowledge -will- help." Her voice grew firm. A soft inhale could be heard, a phantom echo of life.
Abel moved in his sleep, covering his face with the blanket.
'He's been thinking of his Fa.. of David, a lot; and his final serum. The one David wouldn't let the Cinocephali have. Cures, again." She fell quiet, she decided not to go into detail the thoughts she didn't want Abel to pursue.
"There's a briefcase under the driver's seat of Abel's car. Go get it. His car keys are in his jeans." Charles would feel a small finger pointing into his chest. Commanding.
Charles got up, fetching the key and went to get the briefcase.
Cecil watched him go, ears lowering.
/...He can't be that dumb/ he muttered, tail swishing a bit as the benan thought about things.
/Also, uh...Cain is doing great/ he added.
As Charles moved around the room, the temperature shifted, warmth mixing with the chilling frost as the air moved.
"He isn't stupid.. but his heart goes out to those who don't wish to be what we are." Her quiet voice dampened without Charles presence.
"Cain.. it was you, was it not? Who dug out and made the spike-trap? And you who saved Cain from it?"
The briefcase was large and Charles would've seen it before, but not allowed to read what was inside; not since packing up. Notebooks, printed sheets.. phials, gloves and still-sealed needle-syringes were all inside, behind the two combination locks on the cases' latches.
/Yes, it was not on purpose. But it helped/ he said with a doggy smile.
/He is free/ he added tail wagging.
Charles looked over the briefcase, before closing it again.
He loped back inside, 'presenting' Lia the briefcase.
"Finally, free." She smiled, not that Cecil could see her.
Their werewolf ears could hear the locks turning on their own; the tumblers falling into place before the latches unclicked.
"Read what's inside, Charles. I think you deserve to know, so you can help him." She didn't know how much Charles would understand but there were more than a few journal entries written among the formulas and notes.
Charles nodded, starting to read the paper.
Cecil, the sneaky shit that he is, also looked.
There were four notebooks, each a different colour but none of them labelled. Each well-loved, and just about full. The words done in pen, elegant scrawl.
On the first page, was what Abel had written when he'd returned from the safe house.
Description and symptoms of the poison currently being used.
Silencing the wolf, eclipsing.. exploding hearts.. everything he'd been told and had observed himself.
Below that was a table, names across the side, symptoms across the top; and there were... a lot, of names. A cross-comparison chart.
(A-Z: 1-9) With the new serum at the bottom labelled ???. More than a few shared the consistency and similar symptoms. And far, far too many of those serums had 'fatal' checked.
On the next few pages were ingredient comparisons of the most similar serums but Abel's chicken scratch by the end of the page proved his frustration.
There were just pages, and pages; and pages of formulas and scratchy illustrations in each notebook, and ingredients; symptoms and reactions; recalling studies. Weights, dosages; methods of dosing for multiple serums; all trying to put it together what could be in this mystery poison.
Some of the studies listed werewolves whose heights and weights could only be pups. Some babies, even fetal studies.
One aspect was missing though. Magic.
Woven between the medical mumbo jumbo, were short paragraphs, hastily written as if he had to get it down before he could continue. Little prayers for guidance, apologies to his family, apologies to strangers.. written cursing about his health and mind.
Pleas to his Father, questioning why he 'left' them if Mother was still here, why not him?
There were paragraphs on Cain, Cecil and even Ayla. Little ones, things he should've done differently. Times he should've listened.
And paragraphs about Charles. Conflicted feelings he couldn't say out loud.. all scribbled in 'blank' spaces and margins.
Charles looked at the sleeping Abel after reading the mess. Putting the notebooks back to the case and closing it, Charles approached Abel.
"...We ain't human. That's what you are not getting, Gardener. We're magic" he murmured.
While Charles read, Lia faded. The frigid cold fading with her.
Little glass phials were tucked safely inside the case, strapped down with the unused needles. They were unlabeled but the lids were different colours. The clear fluids inside splashing a little as the notebooks were returned, making a noise before the closing case silenced it.
Abel was sound asleep, snoring softly beneath the blanket. Oblivious.
Magic had crossed his mind a few times, but he didn't know where to start.. he had no idea what elements might come from what, it was too much of a wild card to wrap his mind around just yet.
The Lycaon sat next to Abel, watching him sleep. Sad but hoping this could one day be solved.
Cecil was curled into a ball, praying.