The Orphans of Cerberus

BY : Fetherhd
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 1741
Disclaimer: Square Enix holds all rights the the FFVII world and its characters. This is a not for profit fanfiction

The Orphans of Cerberus Chapter 34

Chaos kept his swearing internal. He needed his every breath as the snow laden wind clawed at him with freezing talons like a living thing. Ice covered wings made any maneuvering difficult and his overtaxed muscles had long since passed the point of simple pain. Combine that with a system stressed by a multitude of old and new injuries plus a serious loss of blood, the demon lord was staying airborne on his iron will alone!
The wolf thing that he carried thankfully kept its’ mouth shut, evidently very aware that his transport did not need any distractions. Griffin had even gone so far as to shift his body weight ever so slightly one way or the other as they dipped, rose and fell on the currents whim. This made it easier than if the demon was carrying a dead weight. Still…Chaos was very near the end of his formidable strength when a sweep of the wind parted the snow, giving him a quick, welcomed view of the mansion's roof line. Exhaustion made the winged one just drop out of the sky. He was thankful that Reno wasn't there to witness the impact and subsequent explosion of soft snow as a snide comment about…hard…landings would have certainly winged the demon's way.
Griffin ended up on top, as the dark one had rolled at the last moment, letting his immortal body take the worst of the impact. A quick shake proved that nothing but some heat was going to help the frozen, spiky condition of his fur. To his surprise, Vincent's proud demon accepted the hand up that he offered. The weary visage had an odd look as the golden gaze raked over the Were's new style.
"What…?" Griffin ran broad, talon-ed fingers through the mess, trying to get the things to lay down.
Grey lips quirked in a tired smile.
The winged form blurred as red mist surrounded him, it was Valentine's smoother softer tones that finished the thought.
"You just look a little like someone we know. HE…wears his hair in that style."
Deep brown eyes blinked in consternation as the red cloaked gunman staggered towards the mansion. Griffin hustled to catch up.
"Are you telling me that he does it on pur….?"
The Were-beast almost slammed into the man's back as Vincent came to a sudden stop just inside of the great room. The warm, homey scene of people gathered around a warm fire had been replaced by a scene from a slaughter house. The fire had long since gone out and there was blood splattered and pooled through out the room. The freezing air muted but did not erase the smell of vomit, fear and pain that still lingered in the air.
Already weary, Vincent swayed.
Without thinking through the possible consequences, Griffin slid a strong arm around the man's slender waist.
"The Gods….?"
Abraham had appeared in the entrance to the hall. The elderly man was pale, and his rolled up sleeves exposed arms and hands that were stained dark with blood.
"I would not put my faith in them….they usually have an agenda that does not include a mere mortal's wants and needs!"
Valentine stiffened at the unwanted contact and the bartender tactfully withdrew his support. The demon ridden man's words were almost obscured by the deep rumbling growl that accompanied them. All weariness was gone from his movements as the ex-Turk flowed towards the Valet.
"What in the nine HELLS happened here?"
Griffin hastily moved to the side, flanking the retired assassin's path.
Not once in the Second's long life had he experienced a moments concern about Abraham's safety. The Patriarch was a cunning, ancient and powerful being. Not much could threaten him. BUT…. something about the way this crimson cloaked, tattered man moved screamed….predator…and even worse…RIVAL….to all of Griffin's highly tuned instincts. Without realizing it, he shifted down to pure beast. He stopped his forward prowl as his Alpha's steel eyes glanced his way and one hand made a stop and settle motion.
Vincent's cold red eyes never left the face of the man he was approaching. He could see the great wolf pacing him out of his peripheral vision but did not let it distract him from his target. His flesh hand had dropped and it clenched at his side as he realized that Cerberus had been left with Rude. No matter…the other hand was just as efficient a weapon. As he approached, much to his surprise, the Valet did NOT give ground. Abraham squared himself up, his chin dropped and that quicksilver gaze never shifted off of the ruby. There was NOTHING submissive in the old man's posture as his thin lips lifted to expose strong white teeth in a predators smile.
"You will STOP…youngling….I am NOT the enemy here!"
Valentine was jerked to a stop, almost against his will, by the authority that rang through the man's remarkably dulcet tones. He remained in a slight defensive crouch…he did not let his guard down, and that lethal claw was at the ready…. sharp talons spread wide. He kept his reaction short and sweet.
That intent metallic gaze never left the gunman's face as one of the bloody hands reached up to push a bunch of almost white hair back from the usually impeccably groomed manservant's face. The man winced at the sight of the blood and settled for pursing his lips and trying to blow the annoying strand away.
"I, unfortunately, saw very little of the attack. Their tranq darts were loaded with something very…potent. We might be able to wake the Turk up long enough for you to get some information, Whisper….."
Valentine straightened out of his position as the old man's face twisted unhappily and then settled back into it's usual calm lines. Griffin's large form slid past the two of them and disappeared down the hall before Vincent could protest. The Turk…. Whisper….the ex-Turk did not miss the fact that Abraham did not mention any of the females.
"Abraham….where are the girls?"
For a moment, something ancient and savage peeked out of the old man's too calm visage, then it was gone.
"I only found blood from the two boys who now reside in the lab. I believe the females were….taken."
Vincent fought a short vicious battle with his demons, one wanting to race through the storm ravaged forest, one wanting to fly, both consumed with a savage, rage filled bloodlust. Because of his "guests" combined exhaustion the Host just barely won this one. Still…. the eyes that never left Abraham glowed a bloody, molten gold and a hellstorm edged his words with thunder.
"I need to talk to Reno."
Chaos in particular had a bone to pick with the cocky redhead and if the Turk wasn't very careful in his answers it would be his bones that were demon picked.
At least that is what the trio was thinking until Abraham drew back the curtain separating Reno from the lab proper. Vincent hissed through his teeth and was surprised to hear a concerned hum from Chaos at the wreck that the attackers had made of the Turk. Reno’s pale skin was more grey than white with dark greenish half circles smudged above the bright red tattoos under his closed eyes. Thick, blood spotted bandages were wound around the man's upper chest and one shoulder. Where it was not covered, his flesh was a mottled black and blue.
The Valet stepped past the motionless gunman and twitched the coverlet down to show that the redhead's lower body was also heavily bandaged and he was strapped to an immobilizing back board. At Vincent's silent brow raised look. Abraham tucked the blanket back around the narrow waist with an oddly gentle motion.
"He took a bullet in the back. Also one in his upper lung. I managed to stabilize him but he will have to wait for surgery until Griffin can get Whisper stable or… not."
Crimson eyes traveled over the myriad of machines that flashed and beeped around the injured Turk. Such was his…experience…in these matters that he could see that Reno was holding his own, but barely so. The gunman's lips tightened, he was having a hard time controlling his visceral reaction to being down here. A soft moan had his pale face turning back towards Reno as the unconscious man stirred. Anger flashed across the stoic features as the gunman realized that the Turk's wrists were tied tight to the bed frame. One elegant leather clad finger reached out to stroke lightly down Reno's bruised forearm then paused to tap lightly on the restraint.
"You have about three seconds to explain these before I get….upset."
"It is for his own safety, I assure you.."
One of Abraham's long fingered hands rolled gracefully in the direction of the Turk's mauled shoulder.
"There were two…ah…Troop… males with the kidnappers. One of them gave the boy a very nasty bite. I awoke just in time to keep him from scrambling his own brains with a self administered bullet."
A tired smile quirked the thin lips.
"He would not accept my…. assurance that everything would work out and seeing that he was a little….stubborn…I felt it prudent to take precautions in case he regained awareness while I worked on Whisper"
They were interrupted by the strident beeping of several medical monitors going off, a quick glance assured them both that is wasn't Reno. A spate of growled cursing followed by "Abraham…I need your hands!" had the Valet turning to look at the alcove where Griffin was working on Whisper.
The steel gaze settled intently on Valentine's face.
"I am not sure when he will wake up, but if you want a report on what happened, you should stay here and keep an eye that he stays stable, the one bullet is in a very bad spot. I need to go assist Griffin."
Valentine again gave the machines and needles a hesitant glance and he tried to ignore the rolling in his stomach that being in a med lab always caused.
Chaos' softly rumbled, "SUCK IT UP, HOST! WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED HERE!" finally had him settling his long frame into a chair that Abraham set by the bed. As the Valet headed towards the curtained off corner of the lab that held the surgical bay, pale green eyes slitted open and Reno managed a croaking, desperate whisper.
"Yo…. Val….that black bastard bit …untie …please…. ole fucker wouldn't let me….
The Valet had stopped and he turned back to the room, one grizzled brow cocked up.
"This VERY old …fucker… is privy to information you don't have. All is not as desperate as it seems. Be patient I will be back to explain as soon as Griffin doesn't need me."
Vincent lifted a hand before the man could duck behind the curtain. His words were soft, almost a whisper.
"Tell me the truth, Abraham…is Reno going to…Change?
The old man sighed.
"I AM sorry, this should have been HIS choice. Yes, there is no stopping the metamorphosis now… BUT…. it will not be in the way that you think…Whisper saw to that. Now…. I really do need to help with my son."
Crimson watched the man disappear and then settled only to widen a little in surprise at the look of apprehension on the injured Turk's face. Reno cleared his throat and his voice was a little stronger if not somewhat…whiney.
"Ah man….ya aren't goin ta let Chaos kick my ass, are ya? Yo, don get me wrong…don mind dying, jes don wanna have my ass kicked while I'm doin it!"
The man's green eyes slid closed for a second and he managed a weak, gurgling chuckle.
"Course, couldn't feel his big feet on my butt anyway…OH…and you could wait till I …Changed…then at least I'd have the chance ta drag myself around and maybe gnaw on his fricken ankles a bit fore I die."
At Chaos' prompting Valentine leaned forwards a little and his clawed hand tightened carefully on Reno's bound wrist. The voice that rumbled past the gunman's lips was deep and rough.
A surprisingly sweet smile curved the Turks lips up as he seemed to relax without moving.
"Yo…man…thanks, ya don know what that means ta me!"
He winced slightly as Vincent's hand tightened a little.
"Don't go back to sleep Reno…we need to know what happened here."
Taking careful, liquid sounding breaths, Reno responded by giving the gunman a short, very concise briefing on the attack. As the Turk gave him a halting description of the man who had accompanied Dr. Angelique and as he pictured Duprey,(oh yes….they still remembered THAT one's face!) Vincent felt his heart freeze to a laboring halt….Chaos also stilled and there was rage plus a sick fear for their mates in his deep voice.
At the second hesitant description, green eyes flew wide as the empty chair tipped and then crashed to the floor.
"YO…WHOA…Vince! Those were Deepground Dragonflies!...they are slow but can handle some really crappy weather and they have a huge range!. You will never tra…. Ah SHIT!"
Reno ignored the pain and the blood that taking a deep breath forced up into his throat as he watched that crimson form flow out of the door..
The valet came shooting out of the surgical bay at the panic in the Turk's voice. Reno was just barely able to choke the words out between bloody coughs.
"Valentine…ya got to stop him!
Vincent was moving through the great room when there was a soft rush of misplaced air, and a heavy weight slammed into his back sending him tumbling to the floor. Fiery pain from the numerous bites and slashes on his battle weary body made his vision swim as the freshly sealed wounds tore back open. Before he could recover, strong hands flipped him then….Vincent could not conceal his shock as the old man lifted his heavier than it looked frame and slammed him hard up against the wood paneling. Pain made the gunman gag as his ruby eyes rolled back for a second. As the gunslinger grimly held on to consciousness he managed to focus on Abraham only to have his raven brows arch as the Valet's lips lifted in a snarl to expose elongating canines. The metallic eyes picked up the glow of molten steel.
"YOUNG FOOL! Do you have a death wish!"
Vincent managed to get his hands up but could not loosen Abraham's grip. He got a rough shake as his only reward. There was a rumble in that soft voice that had not been there before.
"If you go out now…these mountains will kill you."
Vincent blinked hazily, trying to pull his thoughts together. The ex-Turk was not used to being manhandled and it had been a LONG time since Chaos had felt intimidated. It did not help that the Galian Beast chose this moment to flood them both with the desire to roll belly up and offer their throats in submission. Both the Host and the dominant demon turned on their subordinate in astonishment.
The gunslinger staggered, the recipient of a vivid image of the Galian crouched with tail tucked, practically quivering.
"Can't help it… can't help it!"
A panting pink tongue was added to the picture.
“I KNOW him…we do NOT want to challenge this one!"
Valentine quickly tightened the leash on an outraged Chaos.
"How do you know him…beast?"
The Galian's images ears flattened and he whined.
"I don't know…but his blood SINGS to me, Master of mine…listen to him. He is very old, he is wise.!"
Both demons winced as their Host growled and then explosively released his frustration.
The Patriarch did little more than blink at the breeze as that gleaming gold fist put a hole through the hardwood paneling not inches from his head. He tightened his grip on the crimson cloaked shoulders but refrained from giving this particular youngling another shake as he eased the man away from the wall. The Alpha knew when NOT to press his luck.
"It is going to take ALL of us to find and bring our females back. I have already broadcasted the… WORD. As soon as this storm lets up even a little, every wolf on the planet, be it Were or brethren will have their eyes, ears and noses searching for the missing. We WILL find them!"
Vincent sagged in Abrahams strong grip. The ex-Turk knew that the man was right. Even if "they" were operating at one hundred percent, Neibelhiem mountain storms were deadly killers. Besides… by now….the wind and snow would have obliterated any traces of their foe.
Abraham sighed, and glanced at the blood that had splattered the wall where he had slammed the gunman. Ah…another one to add to the walking wounded list it seemed. He kept his tone gentle as he gave a slight tug, guiding the stumbling gunslinger in the direction he wanted him to go.
"Now…please come back down and keep an eye on Reno. Whisper is not doing well and I would hate to lose both of those boys."
It took everything he had for the gunman to stay in that med bay listening to Reno's increasingly ragged breathing, the soft beep of monitors and the strident alarms that occasionally sounded from the surgical alcove accompanied by urgent voices and the occasional curse. Chaos perked up a little as SOME of the swearing was in a language HE had not heard in millennia.
Hours had passed when Abraham came out to prep Reno. He kept his voice soft as he explained to Vincent that Whisper was far from out of danger, but seemed to be holding his own. It seemed that the White Were had been Reno's guardian angel in the fact that they had been engaging in "physical" activities while the male was in his human form. This had transferred special cells into Reno, in essence teaching the man's immune system to control and manipulate the Were's lethal virus. When Reno made the Change, HE would have control over it. The Turk would become a TRUE Were.
Reno was in and out of awareness, the gunman listened carefully so that he could ease any fears the redhead might have when he awoke. As they transferred the too still man to a surgery bed, Vincent offered his services when they reached a point with the Turk that a cure could be used.
The manservant gave him a tired smile….
"I can cast Cure, so can Griffin. As a matter of fact, we intend to take care of your injuries as soon as we finish with Reno."
At the gunman's confused look the man gave a soft chuckle.
"Our …allergies….fade as we mature. I can guarantee that silver would have very little effect on Griffin and none at all on myself. Still….thank you for the offer. I am sure you are aware that a Cure will only help the body with what it would do naturally. It cannot grow a spinal cord back. Griffin thinks that if we remove the bullets and just nudge things and stabilize them back where they belong, there is a small chance that the boy's new healing factor will repair his spine when he makes his first Change."
Griffin opened the curtain and was wheeling Whisper's bed in as Abraham loosed the brakes and started Reno towards the surgery bay. The Turk stirred and there was a flash of green as they came abreast.
This was whispered out as the beds passed each other. Red brows pulled down in a frown.
"Shit…untie my damned hand!."
Abraham elongated a nail into a talon and delicately sliced the Turk's restraint. The man's pale fingers drifted out and carefully tucked themselves for a second into a limp, white, tape and needles covered hand. Reno gave a slight squeeze.
“Yo….ya hang in there big guy. I'll be back in jest a sec. Wouldn't want ya to see any face but mine when ya wake up."
As Abraham got them moving again Reno rolled his eyes so he could catch the man's steely gaze.
"Ah…Braham…Ya promise? This'll be okay?"
The Patriarch only hesitated a moment, then he carefully patted the Turk's less injured shoulder as he guided the bed under the bright surgical lamps.
"Yes…Reno everything will turn out all right. I give you my word."
The man went out of his way to avoid meeting Griffin's tired, worried brown eyes as he slipped the anesthesia mask over the Turk's white face.
Marion pressed back against the wall as Duprey turned off the current on her cell and opened the door. The massive bulk of Titan entered and dropped a limp, bloody ball of Yuffie on the floor. As Marion started forward without thinking, the male gaped at her and growled. Dr. Bernard Duprey watched and then beckoned for her to walk out. When she hesitated the man very softly spoke.
"You will follow me…if you give me ANY flack, Titan will deal with you."
She was lead into a well equipped surgical bay and the Vet stumbled to a halt when she realized that Ice was strapped to the center table. The Were female was awake, her soft whine just audible as Dr. Angelique finished up a pelvic exam. Her ex-boss gave her a sweet smile.
"Ah….Marion I am SO glad that you are here to assist me with this. I have done Cesareans before, but not on an animal, and not when just one fetus is to be removed. I expect that you will be more skilled at doing this then I. After all, we want NO harm to come to Specimen C6's other infants…. now do we."
At this, Ice hissed and writhed trying desperately to escape her restraints.
Marion tried to stagger back, only too run into Titan's broad, hard chest.
"Mother Gia….NO…you BITCH. I won't do it!"
Something evil and very nasty looked at her through the elderly woman's eyes as Duprey gave a dark chuckle.
"I told you she wouldn't do it. You might as well give her to me…."
A wicked smile curved the older woman’s thin lips.
"Oh….I don't know…don't you think Titan would like a tidbit that isn't a sloppy second?"
Ice went perfectly still on the table at the woman's hissed words.
Marian thought she would faint as the beast behind her rumbled his approval of this plan and she felt his length press and then grind against her ass for a moment.
OH GODS! Still the woman was going to refuse, then she saw the fingers on one of Ice's restrained hands move through a slow dance.
"No choice…better you than her."
The little Vet swallowed a sob.
"Were do I scrub up…?"
Marion had managed, by the time she finished scrubbing and double gloving, to capture some of the cold clinical detachment that she had used as a scientific research intern. Even back then she had always had problems keeping her emotions out of the way when the research experiments she had to perform had pricked her conscious. She lost what little calm she had gained when Angelique informed her that anesthesia would not be used during the procedure. The researcher did not want to put the other kits under its’ influence this soon after the specimen had been tranqed. When the Vet balked and insisted that they at least use a spinal block, the twisted woman's cold eyes had narrowed and she had casually mentioned that being "used" by Titan, was a guaranteed and …gruesome…. death sentence.
That was how the little Vet found herself standing in the operating theatre, staring at Ice's defenseless shaved flank, a razor edged scalpel clutched in her shaking hand. Mother Gia…..She was so twisted up inside that she was having hard time visualizing how the muscles and major arteries lay in this area. She flinched as Ice jumped in her restraints when the scientist used a finger to carefully trace out where her first cut would be. Oh GODS…..
The female's frightened silvery blue eyes met hers. Their pupils were dilated wide in sheer terror.
Marion made a huge effort and kept her voice steady and calm.
"Ice….you well HAVE to keep perfectly still. The other kit's lives depend on this!"
The silver shifted to slate as Ice's inner eyelids flicked closed. The long slender finger's clenched for a second into fists and then relaxed.. Marion could not help herself as the researcher in her noted the small wave that passed over the bound form as the Were used her exquisite control and stilled every muscle in her body. All that moved was the slight rise and fall of her arched ribcage as she took slow, shallow breaths. Marion took her own deep breath and focused in hard on her trembling hands. The only thing she could do to help Ice was to be rock steady and to work FAST.
As the woman's medical training kicked in, the shaking in her hands stilled. Not letting herself second guess, Marion made her first controlled, sweeping cut. She knew that the scalpel was so sharp that for a second or two Ice's nervous system would translate only a hot/cold sensation… not one of pain. Using that precious window, the Vet slipped the blade between the muscle fiber, cutting the connective tissue. A flash of movement and Angelique was putting gleaming silver clips in place to keep the wound open. The bitch was humming softly as she used a retractor to spread the muscles apart, making the opening gape wide.
Marion could feel every muscle in Ice's body quivering as she fought for control. A soft whining moan worked its’ way out of the female's damaged throat as the scientist's hands dipped inside her abdominal cavity to move organs out of the way, exposing the smooth uterine wall to Marion's knife. A quick glance at the monitors showed Ice's heart rate was skyrocketing and her blood pressure was falling, the Were not only bled at the surgical site but had bitten through her lips or tongue and crimson leaked out of the corners of her clamped lips to streak across her velveteen cheeks. The Vet savagely stepped on her own screaming heart as she made her next incisions. One hand slid into the now opened womb and gently eased a small birth sac encased body away from its’ sibs. Mother Gia….the little kit moved, tiny hands or were they feet slid along her palm as if the infant was curious about this unfamiliar entity entering its’ limited world. Marion breathed a soft prayer that it was not aware that she was killing it when her razor's edge separated it from its’ placenta. For a couple of heart stopping seconds, blood flooded from the wound in a ruby waterfall as she cut the umbilical cord, then Ice's healing factor kicked in and the flow slowed. The feebly squirming kit was plucked from her hands by an impatient Angel and as Marion frantically removed clips and started some stitches in the silver contaminated incision, she could hear the researcher speaking into a recorder as she made cold clinical notes.
"The fetus was delivered live via C-section. The addition of two extra limbs demonstrates that Hojo's deformation birth control protocols are still in place."
Ice jerked against Marion's hands, the female losing her control for the first time in this horrendous ordeal. The Vet took a quick second to surreptitiously stroke a soft hip. The silvery eyes flashed open and the woman pursed her lips a little and gave a slight shake of her head. They did not need to give this bitch ANY clue's as to that doomed kit's parentage. There was the slim chance that NEITHER of the two researchers had ever seen Chaos' unique genetic footprint.
Marion's hands faltered in their stitching as she distinctly heard a soft squeak that was quickly smothered.
Angel did not miss a beat,
"The infant did draw a first breath but as expected, fetal development is not far enough advanced for it's immature lungs to sustain life. The female's cadaver well be used for further research and for the harvesting of stem cells."
The Vet had to blink as her vision blurred but her clever fingers did not slow in their task. Marion was very aware that if this did not heal well, the weaker scar tissue could tear during the stress put on it when Ice went into labor.
As Angelique's cold voice continued recording the lost kit's statistics, Ice closed her eyes and turned, as best she could in her restraints, away from the Vet. Wet silver joined the crimson of blood in tracking down her still face. For Marion, having to witness the Were's grief for her lost daughter was made all that much worse by the fact that Ice again bit into her lips and her tears were shed in complete silence.
Abraham and Griffin had managed to keep the gunman down in the lab just long enough to keep a watchful eye on Whisper's very critical condition while they worked on the Turk. The gunman had tried to vacate as soon as he had satisfied himself that the two Were's had done everything that they could for Reno. (All they could do for the man's shattered back was wait and see if it would pull together when he made his first Change.) Abraham, who was VERY aware that the gunman had a real phobia about anything medical, let him leave with the promise that when the Alpha came looking for him later, the man would allow his injuries to be treated. Valentine had remained silent for a long moment. Abraham just waited patiently, he knew that the man was "conversing" with his demons. Still… Vincent had finally agreed to this and had insisted that they come and get him if Reno showed any signs that he was going to Change.
Abraham found Vincent holed up in the mansion's library. Really…. he should have looked there first. BUT…he had checked the quiet man's room first, hoping that the ex-Turk's obvious exhaustion would drive him to sleep. What the man NEEDED was a couple of months to rest and recuperate in order to replace his body's depleted resources! The Patriarch shook his head, he knew better. In all the time that the Valet had silently observed the man, he had realized that Vincent very rarely slept and the sleep he did manage to get was frequently disturbed by night terrors. The raven haired man spent more time pacing quietly or reading by the library's great fireplace when he was home, than he did in his own room. Really, it seemed that the great winged one he Hosted spent more time in bed than the human did. Of course, it was Ice's bed and Abraham was pretty sure that the demon wasn't sleeping while HE was there. Still… more often then not…when this happened, Vincent would at least get to rest part of the night, sleeping while cradled protectively within Ice's warm embrace. The Patriarch would not be surprised to find out that the Demon Lord planned it that way.
Abraham paused in the partially open doorway, his experienced eye taking in the ex-Turk's ragged condition. Valentine was standing motionless in front of one of the tall windows, looking out at the driving snow. He had built a fire and removed his tattered cloak as the library heated up. The gunman was leaning against the window frame, his arms crossed, golden talons glimmering as they tapped a nervous tattoo against his flesh arm. The firelight reflected off a waterfall of raven hair that cascaded down to brush against the elaborate holster that was strapped around his narrow hips. This shifting, midnight curtain obscured most of the man's broad shouldered back. Occasionally, as he breathed, it would ripple and glimpses of porcelain pale skin could be seen through the rents that sharp claws and teeth had torn in the fabric of his black shirt. The flat ebony of dried blood absorbed that same light making it very clear that a lot of the damage did not stop at the cloth.
As the Patriarch stepped into the room, the medical instruments on the tray he carried rattled together. Valentine gave lie to his relaxed stance. The man spun and his gun hand blurred. Before he could even blink, Abraham found himself staring down the business end of a long, evil looking Peacemaker that had been discreetly tucked into that custom designed holster. The Valet slowly finished his blink. He lifted his tray slightly, drawing the gunslinger's tired eyes to it.
"I would certainly hate to have this bottle of fine cognac sacrifice itself by taking a bullet for me."
One of those elegant brows arched up, followed by a soft…
"Hnnnn…that would be a shame."
Valentine eased the hammer back as the weapon dipped and then smoothly disappeared back into its’ assigned place.
The manservant settled his tray of supplies and fine liquor on a small side table beside the fire. His lean hand made a small "come hither and sit" gesture and he hid a slight smile as the ex-Turk responded automatically then stiffened as he caught himself. The man hesitated a moment as if to make it clear that he could resist the pull if he wanted to and then he stalked forwards to take a seat by the table.
"I would very much like to know how you do that!"
The old man turned to pour a couple of snifters of the cognac, this served to hide his look of "satisfaction" and also the slight glow that lit his eyes whenever he asserted his dominance. When he turned back to serve the gunslinger, his gaze was again simple, steady steel.
"I am the eldest lycanthrope on the planet. My Grandfather was the founding Alpha male of the "Family." and my Father served in that position after him, as would my son after me. All who share my bloodline are…hardwired…so to speak, to respond to my authority.”
Vincent, who had been in the process of sipping his drink seemed to freeze for a second then he casually set his glass down.
"Authority….? Hnnn…the Galian beast insists that he knows/doesn't know you…?"
The man left the statement as a question….. open ended.
Abraham just studied the young (lets face it…in comparison with the Alpha's millennia…the boy was very young!) man's face for a moment. Valentine was VERY good at concealing his thoughts and feelings behind a cold almost disinterested mask, but the Patriarch could almost feel the man's desperate need for information. He suddenly realized that, where as Vincent SEEMED to cope very well with his…augmentations, the ex-assassin knew very little about the entities occupying his mind. AND… even if Chaos had deigned to fill him in on pertinent facts about HIS omnipotent self…The one he called the Galian beast was probably as much in the dark about its’ existence as its’ Host was.
The Patriarch took a fortifying sip of his own drink and lightly tapped the solid, black clad shoulder.
"Why don't you let me take a look at those wounds and we will see if the theory I have tentatively worked out is plausible."
Vincent's inscrutable crimson gaze dropped, and as the man slipped out of his ragged shirt, he looked stoically at the table top. Abraham got the distinct impression that the man was ashamed of the way his chest ,shoulders, and back were crisscrossed with a multitude of silvery scars. There was not an inch of beautiful skin that was not marred by these old wounds, open, weeping new ones and the mixed black, green and blue of bruising and dried blood.
The Patriarch's thin lips tightened as he sent a trickle of power out, confirming to himself that a lot of the damage was not just skin deep.….by the GODS….somebody needed to take this boy and SHAKE him. If ANY of his Seconds had allowed themselves to get into this kind of condition, well HE would have kicked their BUTTS! Just for a second his probe brushed against something ancient and immensely powerful…Abraham got a brief flash of amusement from the entity for his intrusion, and… disrespectful… thoughts, than he was gently but firmly pushed OUT!
Guilt flashed through the Were….after all… he could have relieved some of the burden on this man's shoulders by coming clean sooner and allowing some of his more…aggressive…Pack Males to help deal with the Changeling outbreaks. The Valet stifled a sigh…and reached for the cloth nestled in a bowl of hot water mixed with antiseptic, better late than never.
Vincent tried very hard to disassociate himself from the cool sensation of Abraham's fingers tracing along his back followed by stinging and heat as the Valet carefully cleaned dried blood from his skin and wounds. He did NOT like to be touched, even by people he considered his friends. The elderly man seemed to be very aware of his discomfort because he murmured a soft apology, the gunman stiffened when he realized that it was not directly solely at him.
"Please relay to your eldest that I apologize for the intrusion….BUT… I do need to triage what is most serious here. Your body's resources are VERY low and the type of healing that I do will draw on them along with mine."
It was Chaos who cleared up the ex-Turk's confusion. His rumbling explanation did NOT help Vincent's peace of mind at all.
Valentine straightened in his chair with a soft…. Hnnn….ruby glinted as he warily watched the Valet pull a chair around and settle in front of him with the obvious intention of continuing his clean-up on this side. Cold, golden talons encircled the man's wrist before he could touch the steaming cloth to pale skin. Vincent's voice was soft but it demanded an answer.
"AGAIN….I would very much like to know…. how did you do that!"
Steely grey eyes picked up a molten glow then dimmed as Abraham looked away.
"By blood my people are linked. This is especially true with my lineage. The Patriarch is absolute law in our society and the Family is compelled by these blood ties to obey that dominance. In return, and as a balance, the Patriarch leads… BUT… he also serves….every new pack member is linked to him at their birth or at their "Making". Each KNOWS him from the moment they enter this world and he is aware of their…essence…until the day the bond is broken by oblivion. This keeps us united even when we are… by necessity…scattered to the four winds.
My Grandfather passed the title of Patriarch down to his son, and my father bequeathed it to me. Oh Valentine….!"
The gunman felt something in him twist at the fear…and quiet longing that filled the man's voice.
"Your blood SINGS to mine!"
In the back of his mind, the beast gave out a low, moaning whine at this odd echo of his earlier words. ….Vincent could feel the old man shaking in his careful grip as he continued.
"I had a son, a chosen and cherished successor who was destined to take my place when I wearied of this world, and I am weary…. Valentine…weary in a way that only your Eldest could possibly understand!….My son fought, my son DIED…. trying to protect his mother, my life's love and her unborn litter….my LAST litter….from Shinra.”
That darkened steel never stopped searching the ex-Turks face.
"This beloved son's given name was…. Galian."
Valentine felt as if all of the air had been sucked out of the room as his psyche was overwhelmed by the Beast. Joy, bitter sadness at what had been taken away, and the aching loneliness off a Pack creature kept in literal isolation poured through him. Added to this… was a pure rage aimed at Chaos…who had slapped a proverbial collar on the Beast as a safeguard to their floundering Host's sanity when the Galian tried to rise. The lesser demon fought back with untold strength, fueled by the desperate fear of losing something just found that he hadn't even known had been lost!
The end result was Vincent's head feeling like it was going to blow apart and splatter demon all over the room. He vaguely realized that his tightening grip just might be breaking Abraham's arm.
"Mother Gia…. CHAOS…let him OUT!"
Vincent had "Changed" many times over years so he was taken back when instead of the blessed darkness he usually experienced as he gave up his body, he found himself in the unfamiliar position of "standing" next to Chaos, while watching through the ecstatic Beast's eyes. The gunman's mental…self …staggered and the much larger demon put out a casual hand to steady him.
Chaos slanted a sly look Vincent's way. And grinned wickedly at the pole-axed look on his Host's face.
Valentine just blinked…
The Dark One's attention turned back to what was happening on the outside.
The Galian beast had staggered erect during the Shift and the old man had risen at the same time. Power swirled through the room as an ancient, craggy wolf replaced the svelte form of the Valet. Abraham at one time had been the robed in the rich deep red of chestnuts gleaming in the Autumn sun. White had age grizzled his lean muzzle and salted that rich coat but the muscles that rolled under the shaggy hide were still well formed and strong. He was not near as large as the Galian, but confidence in what and who he was made it very clear that this one felt he had nothing to fear here. The Alpha male's eyes gleamed like molten metal as the great wolf stalked forwards, ears pricked, bushy tail held high. The gunman could not believe that ANYONE had ever mistaken this creature for a simple wolf.
Both of the voyeurs winced at the apprehension that rolled through the Galian. Seeing a living part of his past had evidently re-awakened some of the beast's dim memories. These were not vivid… but….they were clear enough for the young male to know that he was a mere shadow of what he had once been. The beast dropped to all fours with a softly whined…
The very end of his shaggy tail twitched in a half hearted wag.
Valentine's brows tried to crawl off of his forehead as Chaos wearily powered up…it seemed that the Elder of the two demons was bound and determined to back up his threat if the younger was caused ANY pain. The Demon Lord's worried gaze turned his way for a moment.
The harsh growl moderated, and Vincent heard something he had never thought to hear coming from the mighty being… self recrimination and guilt
The demon returned his attention to the odd home coming.
Vincent was surprised when he looked in his supposedly dead heart and found that he agreed with the demon's next almost whispered statement.
The man shifted to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ancient….he and Chaos were as one in this. If Abraham did not watch his step….there would be HELL to pay!
Abraham stalked to the younger Were's side and that lean head dipped to lightly sniff along the Galian's nervously panting mouth. The gunman, who had made an art out of reading people could see that the old wolf was VERY aware that Shinra had damaged that which was precious to him. BUT….the graying head slid its’ cheek along the broader, blunter snout and then buried its’ questing nose into that shaggy, pale mane. Just barely heard was a softly murmured…"Beloved son… Galian…." and a soft snort made the wisps around the black horn's rise and then fall as the Father moved along, rubbing his chin softly down his son's broad back. Vincent swallowed against the sudden lump that had developed from nowhere in his throat and tried to distract himself by wondering how the solemn Valet reconciled himself to having a gently wagging tail…it seemed a rather undignified thing.
"HMPH…"The deep, always rough voice was oddly stilted and Chaos studiously avoided looking in his Host's direction.
And…it would seem…. A voice.
The old wolf lifted his long face, his molten eyes seemed to ignite and the dying coals in the fireplace exploded into high dancing flames. The Patriarch raised his belling voice, singing to the elements his thanks for the return of a loved one thought long lost…even if he was not everything AND something more than what he once had been. For a second he sang alone, then Galian threw back his head and his deeper tones joined and blended with that of his father's A third, lighter voice rang out from the basement labs and the two watchers listened in wonder as the haunting beauty of joyful wolf song echoed and rang through the stately mansion's deserted halls.
Angelique jerked away from the cell sample she was studying as Duprey stormed into her lab and slammed a DNA breakdown under her nose. A blunt finger stabbed down pointing out an odd genetic footprint.
Bernard, it seemed, was livid.
"That's the fucking Chaos Gene, Angel!…I would recognize it anywhere! It seems that your trained BITCH wasn't as much at heel as you thought!
Angelique stared at the incriminating evidence. The fetus was worth a fortune as a research cadaver and stem cell reservoir….BUT if it truly was the dark demon's get…it had been priceless as a living weapon. The nasty, evil look that settled on the "Good" Doctor's face did not bode well for the recipient of her displeasure.
"That bleeding heart, conniving little CUNT!"
The Doctor tapped her pen against the countertop and then gave her assistant a savage, cold eyed glare.
" Fine….I thought that MAYBE specimen M might have more use to us than to be just an incubator. Evidently I was wrong!"
Narrowed hazel eyes pinned Duprey were he stood.
"Bernard, make an example of her.….Hurt her….Cure her and then give her to Shadow."
The man nodded and turned to leave, only to stop as his boss cleared her throat.
"If she kindles, Duprey….I want there to be no question as to the litter's paternity…do you understand?"
The sadistic man grinned….
"Oh…I will make DAMNED sure there is no possibility of cross contamination. My only question is….Do you want to watch?"

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