Somewhere, in northern Alaska, there’s a place. A place where the wind, sky, earth, and water all meet. A place where all of nature can live together. Well… that’s if they can survive. Mwa ha ha ha!
Super cool intro, right? I still can’t get over how surprised everyone looks after they see that last part. Such eloquence. Hi, I’m Lila of the northern Alaska wolf tribe. Most other tribes call us the wayward wolves. It’s not always a compliment. Our tribe consists of all of us wolves. Russet colored, gray, some of us are a bit bluish too; we all live together. Our tribe is considered odd. Only because… well, some of us are more wolf than others. Some of us are werewolves, not full wolf. Our tribe so far is the only tribe that allows werewolves to integrate into it. Most of our people can’t live with normal people once they turn. You know, since they kind of become food. So they are summoned by a messenger to join us. I don’t know how the calling works, only the tribe leader, Riff, knows. He tells no one. I’m a teen, and technically, I’m also a werewolf. I know it. Everyone does. There are no secrets, literally, not in the tribe. Our motto: “Tribe is family, We trust family, We have no secrets”. I wish I could keep secrets. Every time I slip up, like ruin a hunt by accidently turning human, somehow all the adults know. I don’t know if it’s an adult wisdom thing or not, but it’s really frustrating. Changing is not really something I’ve learned to control so I have to be really careful. There was this one time I tried to leap a river and I got a running start and everything, but somehow between the river bank and the space in the middle, I changed. I also fell in the rapids. Thank goodness mom was there. Did I mention that was a year ago? Yeah so It doesn’t happen often, big whoop. Well it is, because every time it happens I age a few months. Werewolves are supposed to stay about sixteen forever. Well thanks to the changing I get to be around sixteen and a half. No one knows that I’m aging, thank goodness, but it still is sad not being able to tell anyone. If the adults know they have said nothing. I wonder why.
“Hey! Lila!" Calisto yowls.
“Shut your muzzle, I’m coming." Even after all the times I had to tell Calisto, “Keep it down when we sneak out”, she still never listens.
“Sorry." Even a half wolf like me can tell she’s not.
“Uh huh." Is all I have to say, she knows not to try to pretend, it will just make me angry.
“Soooo, where we headed off again m’ladies." Raid snickers as he saunters in from the shadows where he had been watching us. My “inner wolf” wants to bash his head out. Great. Now the chief’s son knows we’re sneaking off.
“There’s no we." I practically spit.
“Aww come on, let him come." Calisto whines. Ugh, puppy dog eyes.
“Yeah, you know you’ll have more fun with me around.” Raid says all the while bouncing.
Raaar!!!! Why does it always have to be him?!!! What’s really bothering me? I don’t want to say, but I guess I have to if this story is to make any sense. Okay, so back when I was sixteen I had a huge crush on Raid but then he asked out Calisto, and broke her heart. So I don’t really know if I would date him if he asked but still, I couldn’t because it would be betraying my adopted sister ( I had moved into the tribe). Who still seems to be hung up on him. Complicated. Let the inner wolf head bashing commence.
“What’s wrong?”, Raid motions with his head to Calisto to go on ahead.
“Nothing." I say it stiffly, but it comes out too fast, he can tell I am lying.
“Uh huh, and when exactly did these bouts of moodiness start bothering you?”. Oh great. He was going to play the humor card. Two can play that game.
“Oh, about five hundred odd years ago."
“Uh huh, so tell me is it … that?” His eyes lock with mine, he knows what’s bothering me as usual.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He always makes me feel so childish.
“You’re still mad at me. I’m sorry I didn’t like Calisto, she asked me and I couldn’t say no.”
What? Did he see her as a little sister or something? That changes things. Or it would if she wasn’t such a hormone charged thirteen-year-old who was so desperate for someone she had to ask her best friend to date her. Who, not to mention, is seventeen thousand years old (just like me). Not a big age gap between seventeen thousand and thirteen thousand for us because we keep track in wolf years, not regular calendar years, but still. It’s a bit unheard of.
“Why didn’t you say no, if you saw her as a sister or something you should have wanted to protect her!"
“I’m sorry, I thought you would hate me." He was practically whimpering. Ugh. Begging for forgiveness, and to the wrong girl. Classic Raid.
“Raid, get up." He rises off the ground where he has been groveling.
“So are we cool?”. This catches me by surprise.
“Are we cool?” I asked shaking my head while looking at him like he was crazy. What the heck is that about? This is something that I have spent nights awake wondering about. Does he not care? To him this is getting me and my sister off his to-do list. I feel a low growl starting in my throat.
“Calm down, it’s not a bad thing to be upset but… I'd kind of like to keep my face." Eye twitch. Short moment of no control.
“Uh huh, saving it for someone, if not, you really have no use for it so why do you care." I asked with a leer.
“Yeah, I am, she’s so smart and beautiful." He says calmly. He steps forward. His casual response to my threat shakes me. I don’t like how close he is getting. I have to keep talking until I figure out what he is trying to do.
“Oh, I bet she’s real special." I say trying to act nonchalant as I back up. I thought if I backed up he would realize he was scaring me and back away. No such luck. I start looking around wildly but we are in a clearing. Pine trees still covered in snow surrounding a small rocky outcrop. Just my luck my back is up almost against the small cliff. We are so far from the camp, if he tried to fight me… or something else... No, he wouldn’t. I don’t know. Then a great idea struck. I just need to show I’m unafraid just like we learned. I stop backing up. Good thing or I would have hit my back on the outcrop. I stare him down. I am not afraid. Suddenly, not ten paces away he stops too, c***s his head, and laughs. A real loud rumble. Shaking a jiggling he stops.
“Lila, really, you are not fooling anyone. I can tell what you’re trying to do. This isn't self-defense class." He continues laughing.
“What? I’m not trying to do anything." I retort back feeling a bit indignant. He covers about half of the space with a flying leap, then slowly starts stalking towards me.
“Hey, Lila I don’t know why you’re acting scared, but you can trust me."
No I don’t think I can. He's trying so hard to sound calming. No, it's more like alluring. Why? Is it a trick? What would he be doing this for? He starts to rise. Thinking fast, I judge the distance: not even a tail’s length. Not going to happen. Quick as a flash, before I can hit him, something happens. It’s really weird, my paw even freezes in midair. Before I even know it, I have changed. I am still wearing a parka, and snow stuff. I am not naked! Hmmm, maybe now he’ll leave me alone. I am still frozen, and as I am just getting over my brief daze, I notice something: Raid is human too. I was supposed to be the only werewolf that was not older than 18 right now, but Raid, Raid is a werewolf too. He is still looking at me oddly, with a kind of glazed over look. “Raid…” I start, then I feel the sharp pain in my arm, and before I go down I see a girl jump from a tree. I finally notice the truck she has disguised as the outcrop, and the last thing ...is the glint of the gun she has used, dangling by her side.
When I awake I find that there is no chilling wind, no scent, no den. But I’m warm… and tied up. There is something stiff behind me. I’m tied to it but I don’t know what it is. Or at least I don’t until it moans. “Ah!”, I scream in surprise. I hear a bump and a rattle.
“Ow… Lila why did you have to wake me up… and why do you sound so close?" His voice urges me to look around. Raid just bumped his head on the roof of the dog cage (that we're tied together in) from the sound of it. We're both obviously human, his voice would sound huskier (like the dog… husky… ha-ha… at least my sense of humor isn’t injured), and I can see my hands. I remember what happened now. I woke during the ride because Raid was mumbling things, little pieces and snippets of things about him. Things he would never have told me. Things like how he always wanted to be normal, a human, his hopes, his dreams. I wasn't mentioned once. I’m not surprised. I listened to his mumblings for hours, it was something like one in the morning when one of the truck’s rusty sliding door screeched open. The girl stared at me with a little “Oh” of surprise. Like “Oh, you’re awake I guess I didn’t drug you enough”. She then smiled, not a friendly smile. No, the fake smile of the cobra before it strikes. I tried to leap back, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even move my face away as she advanced, confidently, needle in hand. I stared transfixed and very confused as she proceeded to look at me, blow Raid a kiss, and stick me in the leg. I’m sure she picked my leg so the drugs would set in slowly, I'm assuming so I could watch her snuggle up next to Raid, and lift his arm out of the ropes to lay it across her shoulder. All I could do was glare at her confusedly as the drugs finally kicked in.
Raid turns his head so he can look at me. “Are you ok?”
I am not. I watched another girl violate major personal space rules. How am I supposed to feel? “Raid, when you were sleeping…"
He cut me off. “I know… I was probably talking." he says embarrassed.
What is going through my mind right then is something like: nooo…. that’s kind of… but not… ugh. I have no idea what to say to him. I don’t want him to worry about possible molestation, but if I say that’s all that happened I’d be lying about his sleep talking. I could tell him all of it. Just as I think of this genius idea, it is just my luck that the mystery girl has to come dancing in. As if I didn’t want to murder her enough, she has to go and wink at me like we share some kind of secret. Which of course we do. Raid doesn’t know about the “snuggle” they had last night… which doesn’t count because he was sleeping!
“Good morning." the girl says. I really don't see what is so great about it.
“Hey, um… could you like take off the ropes… Vladia?”
He said her name like an afterthought. My only thought is: what the heck is going on around here?
“Oh… I’m sorry I didn’t hear a please." she purrs. I feel bile rise in my throat. Yuck!
“Please." Now he was growling, I like that much better. Her eyes suddenly slit.
“Why would I do that even if you say please. What are you going to do? Run away? I’m not dumb.” She sneers.
“Are you sure…" I start to add, but both of them swivel around to glare at me. After they are sure I am properly cowed they look away like I am not even there.
“Do you even realize how much a bounty hunter these days would get paid for a werewolf?”. I was like: hey… there’s two of us, and it suddenly hits me: the way these two knew each other, the snuggles, the adamant hatred towards me, the one werewolf being sold thing. It all makes sense. The only one who was leaving this truck as a pelt… was me. Thinking back on the snuggles I don’t even want to know what she’d keep him for. Since she obviously likes him, if I explained to her our relationship, or lack of one, she might let me go… or just kill me faster since she'd get no leverage from me. He doesn't like her... I think, but she might think we're in a relationship. I’m all that’s supposed to keep him from running away... or I would be if he cared. She will kill me but she wants him to see me killed, but only after she’s sure he’s fully in love with her. She wants him to prove he loves her more by killing me without him batting an eye. I can see it now. It all makes sense. She also knows if she kills me too soon and he does love me, she’ll never get what she wants. Not really. So now it’s just becoming one game of prisoner’s dilemma. I hate chance games. I have the worst luck.
“Hey Raaaiiid when do you think we can leave?” I ask looking only at Raid, trying to lay it on thick so he gets the memo. I also love messing with Vladia. I don’t know her well but I already hate her. I can practically hear her teeth grinding together as she watches us with envious eyes. She wants to be the one he looks at “lovingly". Well she misread loving for: what? Are you ok?
“Uh Lila, I don’t think we’re leaving soon.” he looks at me wonderingly. Now it’s my turn to grit my teeth. He is so clueless for someone who pretty much is infatuated with the scary lady.
“What do you mean, leave?” Vladia’s eye is twitching so bad.
“Oh I thought from the treatment, we were getting a free couple’s getaway… Is this not the right truck we ordered to knock us out and drag us of?" I know I am really ticking her off, but hey… it’s really fun.
“Couple…" She trails off, then her face hardens. I can almost hear her thinking: well I’ll just have to put up with this a little while longer, just a little longer.
“Couple…" Raid also starts but I quickly cut him off.
“Oh Raid, honey, you must have hit your head too hard this morning. Do you need a recap? We're a couple, and you and I have been... for a looong time." I know I’m a terrible actress, I don't need to hear it from you, and obviously I can’t lie to save my life… but I can lie to fool Vladia. Which may be enough.
“Wha… ohhhh." His eyes fill with realization as it finally sinks in. He is going to have to put on a good show for Vladia if he wants to get us both out of here alive.
“Okay… you know what I just realized something: you guys are a little cramped in there." Vladia has a devious look in her eye. So about two seconds later I find myself still in the dog cage tied to the side, Raid is roped into one of the swivel chairs that are in the back. I guess she meant Raid is the only one who gets a new seat. Darn! I can still see him. He’s no more than three feet away, so it’s nice so I can make sure she’s not trying to eat his face.
“Hey, Vladia can you turn me so I can face Lila." Raid asks quietly. Wrong question.
“Oh Raid…" Vladia turns him towards the opposite direction, hands lingering on his shoulders. Grrrr.
“Hey maybe you could stop throwing yourself at him, it's kind of sad." I called. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself until she turns around. Her face is twisted into a mask of pure fury. She advances slowly with her gun in hand. I watch unconcerned, remembering the tranquilizer darts, those weren't so bad … until she pulls something out of her pocket. It’s a pure silver bullet. My heart flutters. She locks it in place, and aims at my foot. Raid manages to swivel around only just in time to see her fire.
A scream tears through me. All I can do until the world stops going splotchy and black is sit slumped over, whimpering.
“Well, that should teach you to keep your mouth shut!" she crows.
“No!” Raid shouts. I am touched that he cares but all his shouting got him was Vladia turning her focus on him. It’s my turn to shout now… except I can’t, because I am in terrible pain. She slowly paces towards him, leans down, and stares into his eyes. She carefully sits on his lap. Raid to his credit tries to turn his head, but she clamps her hands down on both sides of it. He couldn’t stop what happens next. She roughly kisses him. I'm not going to describe it more. Also I had more pressing matters. As spitting mad as I am, all I can manage to do is silently curse her/ ignore her. When the pain hits again, I double over and I notice that my foot is still bleeding... heavily. Crap! I maneuver my arms out of the rope until all that is tied to the side is my waist. I start to pull my shirt off until I realize I have an audience. Vladia just looks annoyed that the rattling noise I make distracts Raid. He tries to look away. That’s when Vladia laughs so hard she is jiggling. She gets up and grabs an extra shirt and throws it into the cage. Apparently our embarrassment makes for a great show. I'm glad I'm so entertaining.
“Oh, hahahahah, I’m sorry, except I’m not. You guys stay here. I’m going to go out and get some canned food from the fire I set up outside."
She leaves, still laughing. Raid just looks at the sliding door with a frown. While his mind tries to sort out what the heck is wrong with Vladia, I am still bleeding. I quickly scoop up the shirt and press it to where the bullet has entered my foot. That’s when I get worried. The bullet never left my foot, there is no exit point. Silver left in a werewolf is like poison. The silver spreads through our blood stream until it finally kills us. I take a closer look and I can see not very deep in is the bullet. Dang... I’m gonna have to pull it out. Cover your ears kids.
Raid, making sure Vladia has left, swivels around to look at me with a worried expression spread upon his face. If I weren’t currently poisoned and dying I would feel satisfied, and then I would remind myself that his worry doesn’t mean anything. It can't.
“Lila… Lila I’m so sorry." What could he possibly be sorry for? He didn’t shoot me. “Lila, I should have warned you about her, what she could do." He sounds so pained, it cuts me a little deeper. He shouldn’t be sad and hurting, I feel it deep inside. I don’t want him to be upset, not over me. Even if I tried to convince myself I didn't hear worry in his voice I couldn't entirely banish it.
“It’s… It’s okay, don’t worry Raid, it’s fine." I tried to go for reassuring, but with my shallow breaths and winces of pain, I don’t fool him one bit.
“LILA." He yells as a wave of pain causes me to slump to the floor.
If you have never felt pure silver in your veins as a werewolf, this is what it feels like: it’s like you have fire in your veins that slowly makes its way along. So slow the fire burns and never lets up. It burns through you till it reaches your heart… and you’re gone. With my pant leg lifted up Raid and I can both see the silver reaching halfway to my knee. It’s beautiful and eerie at the same time. Also very painful. I look up at him, eyes watering, and he looks back. What I see in his eyes is terrifying. It’s a mix of determination, pure fury, and love. The scariest thing I see is the love. Love for me? Also the anger is pretty frightening. While I silently contemplate his thoughts, Raid grows increasingly worried.
"Lila, come on just hold out a little while longer."
He keeps staring at me, watching, making sure I am still here and not on the other side. This goes on for a while. Twenty minutes. It’s enough time for the silver to spread to my abdomen. It’s hard to see but I can feel where it is. I lift up my shirt a bit to try and catch a glimpse of it, I feel like I’m four again, making tummy faces. I wonder if Raid remembers.
Raid's face never strays from mine, even when Vladia flounces in. She is waaaay too happy.
"Vladia." Raid says without turning from me.
"Yes, what is it?" She said with a sigh while eating noodles from a chinese food carton.
"Yeah, why not?" She answers calmly.
"LILA IS BLEEDING OUT ON THE FLOOR AND YOU’RE EATING?" He is amazing. Here he is, tied to a chair, at the mercy of this lady, and he is yelling at her... for me.
"Yes, I do believe I am, obviously." I am looking to him for his response when it happened: it was so fast.
In a flash of silver claws spring from his hands and he slashes his ropes. They fall in coils to the floor and with superhuman strength he rips the chair out of the floor and hurls it into the wall... right next to Vladia's head. She gives a small squeak and sinks to the floor. A noiseless exchange commences. Raid lifts her gun from where it has fallen when she raised her hands to cover her head to protect herself. He hands it to her. She shakes her head and his face turns ugly. His fangs are curling out over his lips and his ears are drawn back. He is still human but the wolf is very much there. She raises her gun to her head. Raid then waits a moment while she sits there crying. Eyes closed, hoping he would change his mind. He gently lowers the gun from her head and points to the wilderness. Faster than thought possible of a human she takes off just as it starts snowing. As soon as Raid has made sure she is a safe distance away, he turns to me.
His eyes travel up my legs and to my throat where the silver has stopped. It has gone little ways past my heart but it stopped soon after, knowing it has found the right place. I have so little time. We are free now. He is. Even if he pulls the bullet out the poison is still in me. All I have to do is set him free.
"Lila... LILA... stay, come on don't leave me... not now, we’re so close." No Raid, you are.
"Raid I have a question." Heck, if I’m dying I’ve got nothing to lose.
"At the clearing when you said you were saving your face for someone... were you talking about Vladia?"
"Lila... it's always been you, why would you ask such a silly question... I should have told you sooner. I was going to... and then all this happened." I feel so silly, it's obvious he didn't like her but... it couldn't be me. I wince. I can feel the poison starting to attack my heart.
"Lila, you can't die... not after you know I love you, it's not fair." He loves me. I feel a warmth in my chest. It's not fire.
"Raid, I think I love you too, I think it's that fuzzy feeling I get when you smile, I'm not really sure." If this is what love really feels like, it's been like this for a while but I have been pushing it away, trying to hide it. No need now. He deserves to know. "I knew for sure when I saw you yell at Vladia for me." His response makes tears spring to my eyes.
"I knew when I saw you the first day you came to the camp. I've been trying to find a way to tell you everyday."
So now we both know, and it's because we're both so painfully aware. Aware that the odds of both of us making it out alive is... not so great. Raid's chest heaves. I'm so surprised to see tears trailing down his face. I'm supposed to be the only sucker for hopeless love stories, I guess we have that in common too. No. I will not leave him. Not like this. He knows what I'm thinking. We have so little time. We have to try... even as hopeless as it is.
He scoops me up and starts running like Vladia's after him. Out into the icy plains. I feel the wind whipping through my hair, tangling it. A snowflake hits my nose. He looks down at me. I take it all in. His face full of life, is beautiful, but it soon fills with horror as the snowflake melts and a raspy cough rattles my chest. No. I will not go now. He pushes on faster and faster. I can see the camp. Everyone is waiting. My mother's eyes go wide, and they fill with tears. She knows it's too late. My eyes start to do that movie thing when they close and open... and close. The last thing I see is Raid smiling gently, telling me.
"It's ok, you'll be ok." I wish he would be. Be okay after... after I'm gone. I will NOT leave him! Beyond him all the snowflakes appear to be suspended in mid-air. What I thought was a snow, melts and rolls down my cheek. It's a tear of joy.
Not ten yards away from camp I see it. Lila's eyes turn a shade darker. She feels lighter in my arms. It's not fair. There has to be something. Something. She's crying. It's so quiet, she looks so young, too young. I charge faster, I barrel into the healer and set her gently in front of him. His eyes look sad and dead. "NO!" I yelled in anguish. "You have to TRY!" He looks shaken, Lila's mother comes behind me and rests a paw on my shoulder. She's not mad at me, she's happy. I made Lila so happy. I watch the healer rummage around until he reemerges with a vial of golden liquid in his jaw. The liquid practically glows. "What is it?" I know I shouldn't have interrupted him but I have to know it is safe.
"It's a potion given to me by an older werewolf, he was his tribe’s healer. This is the cure for silver poisoning, I only have enough for one dose so I figured when will we have a better opportunity to test it than now." I am a little upset that he is treating this as an experiment, but it’s our best shot. He pours the liquid into her mouth, I watch as nothing happens. I hold her closer to me, and try not to lose myself.
It’s so bright, my eyes feel glued together, like they have been that way for a long time. It’s so weird, I feel like I have woken from a long nap. Why? It was so peaceful, I was drifting up to the stars until I felt something start fighting the silver. If I was dead, why was I hurting? Am I alive? Alive... Raid! My eyes fly open and I see Raid. His eyes are closed; he looks in so much pain. Tears are streaming down his face. One lands on my cheek. Don't cry.
"Raid..." I croak. His eyes fly open.
I hear cheers, and he's holding me to him. He's so warm.
"There's something I need you to know, before you try and leave me again." Before I can ask he leans down and kisses me, and before I know it, I'm kissing him back. We pull away. I can't help but feel ecstatic that he was my first kiss. I’ve never felt so happy. I even wonder for a moment if I’m not dead. Until he helps me up and I see everyone with him. My mom looks so happy. Kind of like she is going to burst. Raid's dad looks so smug. I figure he thinks Raid learned all his lady-charming skills from him or something. It’s one of those picture perfect moments. All I can think about as he leads me to my house is how happy we are. He opens the door for me and gives a little bow, I curtsy in return. We both double over giggling and he helps me to my room.
"Raid, don't leave please." As much as I have healed, I still am hurting, and now we are together, him being gone is just another kind of pain.
"Never ever." He bends over and tucks me in. He silently sits on the edge, whispering something about sweet dreams, and leaves me to it. I find it hard to sleep with him looking at me. I wouldn't send him away, so eventually the sandman pays me a visit, and lays me down to sleep. The next morning the frosty air filters through my window, shattering light, and illuminating Raid's sleeping figure at the end of my bed. He stayed. His eyes flutter open, when he sees me awake, his face splits into a grin.
"Lila." Hearing him say my name like that, a sleepy sigh, just made my day. My one wish: to hear him next to me always, to see him every morning, to get to love him forever. Apparently he feels the same way, when I look at him beaming, he gathers me up into his arms and holds me. His arms felt warm around me and he smelled of mint, not the bad kind, mixed with pine. It was one of those take a picture kind of moments. Hopefully something as beautiful and perfect like this never has to end. Then again I have the worst luck... but not today, or for the longest time.
This does seem like a great way to end a story. If you're wondering what happened next here's a little summary, though this isn't the end of our adventures, we never saw Vladia again. Eventually when I got older I got my wish. We were together, as we were for the rest of our lives. Which, thanks to being werewolves, are still continuing. We spent every day together, racing the wind, chasing the sky, and loving each other endlessly.
Forever and ever.
Until I remembered Calisto.
She’s not going to be happy.
Somewhere, in northern Alaska, there’s a place. A place where the wind, sky, earth, and water all meet. A place where all of nature can live together. Well… that’s if they can survive. Mwa ha ha ha!