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by Wes Leigh

Chapter 15

WARNING FOR SENSITIVE READERS: Like the previous chapter, this one also contains descriptions of extreme violence. Please read with caution if you are bothered by such things.

Y'all just halfway thoughts
Not worth the back of my mind,
But to understand the future
We have to go back in time.

-- Pitbull, 'Back in Time'

From high in the rafters, Daniel looked down, stunned.

He saw himself. In vaewolf form. Struggling with the vampires and werewolves who tried to capture him.

He saw Xavier forcibly lifting Connor and throwing the two of them backward through a broken window. He heard them splashing into the river below.

He shook his head. Confusion fogged his mind.

He looked down and saw himself, as a vaewolf, leaping around the room, slicing open a vampire, head butting a werewolf, constantly on the move, giving kids a chance to escape the mill with the chaos he created.

There was a brief break in the mayhem. Daniel the vaewolf looked up at Daniel the human. Their eyes locked, silently communicating.

The Daniel in the rafters suddenly understood, nodded his head, and disappeared.

Daniel reappeared hidden in the highest branches of a tree, looking down on the abandoned mill, watching as the last teenagers entered the building, laughing and excited. Connor's pickup pulled up and the doors opened. Connor got out of the driver's side. Xavier climbed out of the passenger side. Daniel slid out behind him.

It was disorienting, to say the least, for Daniel to sit in the branches of the tree, watching himself walking into the mill. He wanted to scream at the three boys below, warning them to leave and get all the other teens to safety, but he held back, forcing himself to watch and wait.

The rumbling noise of car tires crunching on gravel caught his attention. He looked up the road and saw several vehicles pulling over to the side of the road and doors opening and people getting out. Some shifted into wolf form and loped down the hill, heading for the abandoned mill. Others teleported to positions just outside the walls, waiting, eyes beginning to glow, fangs dropping, talons extending.

Minerva Smyth teleported into the middle of them all, ending up next to Andreas Finnigan. She pointed at the mill and motioned for the forces around them to begin moving in.

Daniel no longer felt compelled to watch and wait. Now his heart shouted at him to move!

He shifted into vaewolf form and dropped silently to the ground at the base of the tree. His eyes glowed golden and he roared, screaming to his soulmates, It's a TRAP! GET EVERYONE OUT OF THERE!

Daniel teleported twenty feet forward, grabbed a vampire by the neck, and hurled him shrieking into the side of the building. Teleporting sideways, he grabbed two werewolves by the neck and smashed their skulls together, dropping them at his feet.

Other werewolves shouted and snarled, trying to catch him with their claws, but he leapt over them and hit the building wall, pushing off before anyone could catch him, and crashed into another group of werewolves. They scrambled to grab him, but he teleported away to the top of the hill, found his bearings, and teleported back behind a group of vampires. He grabbed one, an ancient hag, and threw her over the mill into the river below.

Minerva yelled at the vampires with her to knock down the wall in front of them. They ran at the wall, striking it with shoulders and fists. The wall collapsed, sending wooden splinters into the room and a cloud of dust into the air. Vampires and werewolves poured through the hole, seeking targets.

Minerva strode forward with Andreas at her side. "Get them!" she screamed. "We'll deal with the abomination later!"

'No,' Daniel thought, 'you'll deal with the abomination NOW. I've had it with your bullshit!' He ran into the cloud of dust from the falling wall and began striking right and left, indiscriminately slicing open vampires and werewolves alike.

Two vampires converged on Daniel, trying to knock him to the ground, but Daniel disappeared and reappeared behind them, slicing one open from the base of his skull to the end of his spine. When the other turned to face Daniel, Daniel launched himself forward and clamped his jaws around the vampire's neck and shook his head, ripping the vampire's neck away.

Daniel saw Connor and Andreas rolling on the floor, jaws snapping as they tried to latch onto the other's throat. He looked up into the rafters and saw Xavier and himself. He heard Xavier cry, You have to get out of here, Daniel. This isn't your fight! The Daniel in the rafters was sobbing as he screamed, I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT YOU! Xavier replied, Remember us, as he teleported away.

Ignoring for now the other Daniel, perched safely in the rafters, the vaewolf Daniel turned his attention on Minerva. He saw Xavier reappear behind Minerva, pick up a steel bar, and attempt to thrust it into her back, only to be blocked by Edward Finton, who intercepted the bar while more vampires teleported in and grabbed Xavier. Minerva wrenched the bar away from Xavier and pulled it back, preparing to thrust it into his heart.

Daniel picked up a werewolf lying unconscious on the ground, lifted it in his arms above his head and hurled it with all his strength at Minerva and the vampires holding Xavier. The collision was monumental, sending vampires flying in every direction. Suddenly free, Xavier disappeared and reappeared next to Connor and Andreas, where he began smashing his fist into Andreas' snout.

Daniel had no time to watch. Werewolves were stalking him now, circling him and looking for an opportunity to pounce on him. He waited until he saw them flinch, preparing to leap. Then he teleported away, leaving them howling in frustration.

Daniel saw Gabi Finnigan in wolf form, leaping at Connor and Xavier. He lowered his head and charged a vampire, catching him in the pit of his stomach, making him fall to his knees, retching. Daniel grabbed the vampire's arm and spun around, hurling him at Gabi and knocking her into a wall.

Dodging right and left, Daniel continued to avoid capture, slicing his claws across a face, head-butting another, biting a hand that reached for him, launching himself sideways and teleporting backward. For a moment, he found himself free of attackers. He looked up and saw Connor and Xavier staring at him in amazement. GET OUT! he roared. A werewolf jumped on his back. He reached over his shoulder, grabbed the werewolf's arm, and threw him to one side. Two vampires leaped at Daniel, knocking him off his feet. Looking up from the floor at Xavier and Connor, he pleaded, PLEASE! MY LOVES, PLEASE! GET OUT!

Minerva screamed, "CAPTURE THE ABOMINATION! We'll deal with the rebels later!"

Werewolves and vampires converged on Daniel, but he somehow fought his way to his feet, tossing them away, struggling to stay free from their grasp. His eyes begged Connor and Xavier. For all the love you hold in your hearts for me, I beg you to save yourselves!

Daniel watched with relief as Xavier grabbed Connor around the chest and dragged him backwards. Xavier shoved through a window, falling with Connor in his arms into the river below.

Looking up into the rafters, Daniel saw himself staring down, stunned. Their eyes locked. Daniel sent a quick image of a tree outside the mill, high up in the branches, but fifteen minutes in the past, with the silent warning to wait for Connor's pickup to pull up before taking action.

The Daniel in the rafters nodded his head and disappeared.

The Daniel on the floor of the mill found himself overwhelmed, knocked to the ground, and pummeled by fists and pierced by claws and ripped by teeth. He roared again, summoning his last ounce of strength to throw off his attackers. He almost succeeded, but as he stood up, Minerva swung the iron bar she held in her hand, striking him in the side of the head and knocking him out.

A cheer rose up as the bleeding werewolves and vampires realized they had captured Daniel. Minerva cackled triumphantly. "Pick him up," she commanded. "And follow me."

"Why not kill him now?" Edward Finton snarled.

"It will not serve our purpose as well," she hissed. "Bring him." She stepped over the body of Gregor, kicking his bloody corpse with one foot. Joshua Byrne, with his head twisted at a horrid angle, lay beside Gregor. Jacob, Joshua's twin, had collapsed across them both, his throat a bloody mess, his dead hand clasping his brother's arm.

Minerva strode through the hole in the mill wall, followed by vampires carrying Daniel's limp body. Once clear of the mill's collapsing walls, they hurried to their cars, threw Daniel inside and drove off.

Inside the mill, Gabi Finnigan helped Andreas to his feet. His throat was ripped and torn, but he was alive. She called several other werewolves to help, ordering them to lift Andreas and bring him outside and up to their vehicles. As they carried their injured alpha, she wrapped the wound as best she could. It would heal in time, she knew, though it would take much longer than normal, for the bite of another lycan healed slowly and painfully.

Daniel's mind would not focus. Shooting pain bounced off the inside of his skull. He heard voices and felt himself carried somewhere, but every time he tried to shake off the fog surrounding him, the pain brought a wave of darkness that swallowed him up and stole his awareness.

Dim shadows were replaced by bright afternoon sunlight, bringing more shooting pain from his eyes now. Voices mumbled all around him. Rough hands lifted him up into the air again. His mind finally focused on harsh screeching next to ear, the voice of Minerva screaming, "He shall receive neither mercy nor restoration."


In that agonizing moment, the pain faded completely and his longing soul reached out for the two he loved more than life itself. He remembered being held in Connor's arms with a sleeping bag wrapped around them, keeping them warm. He recalled Xavier's first kiss, chilling his lips while making his body burn. He remembered the warmth of their hands on his neck, his chest, his groin. His mind summoned a memory of their bodies entwined with his own, penetrating him, making him groan with intense pleasure.

His eyes snapped open, glowing golden for the last time. I… cherish…

He could say no more, though he knew his soulmates would understand, and all else around him faded.

Minerva picked up Daniel's body and tossed it off the roof, laughing as it landed with a heavy thud on the ground below.

Connor fell to his knees, unable to cry, unable to think, knowing only that his mate was gone.

Xavier walked forward, legs stiff as he forced himself to march to Daniel's crumpled body. He knelt down and gently turned Daniel over. Daniel's face was peaceful and calm, unworried at last. Xavier grabbed the bar and pulled it from Daniel's chest, throwing the vile metal away, before kneeling down and picking Daniel up in his arms.

Minerva stared down at Xavier. "If you do not return to your clan now," she hissed, "you forfeit any chance of restoration. We will hunt you down and annihilate you, just as surely as we have destroyed that abomination you hold in your arms."

Xavier turned his back on Minerva and disappeared, taking Daniel with him.

Edward Finton ordered a band of vampires to find Xavier, but Minerva countermanded him. "We have plenty of time to deal with the traitor. For now, we have rebels who must be judged."

Connor watched as Xavier disappeared with Daniel in his arms. He cried out, Xavier, where are you taking him? There was no answer, no hint of a response. Connor began weeping as he realized there was no longer a soul-link between him and Xavier. With Daniel gone, they could not hear each other.

He bowed his body to the ground, weeping unashamedly.

"Get up, boy," a voice commanded.

Connor lifted his head and saw his mother standing before him, her hands red with blood.

"Get up," Gabi repeated. "Your father is calling for you." She looked around at the other werewolf teens and snarled, "All of you. Get to the Lodge. We'll deal with you there."

Connor climbed to his feet and followed his mother to the vehicles parked haphazardly around the courthouse. He climbed into his pickup, startled when Donny and Ethan climbed in next to him. They all stared straight ahead, saying nothing. Connor was relieved. He didn't want to talk either.

Driving out of town, they headed for the hunting lodge. A line of vehicles followed them, all climbing the hill to the lodge and parking at the base. Then bloody teens and adults alike tromped up the hill to the door of the building, walking inside and gathering in the main hall.

Wrapped in blankets, Andreas Finnigan sat staring into the fire. Gabi walked up and placed her hand upon his shoulder. "He's here," she said.

Andreas looked up at Connor, his eyes older than Connor had ever seen them. Andreas sighed deeply and said, "I hold no ill will against you, boy. It was a challenge for leadership of the pack, and we'd have fought eventually, though I'm mighty disappointed it happened for such evil reasons." He coughed and cleared his throat. "At any rate, the challenge must be completed. I bare my throat before you and grant you the honor of taking my life and assumin' leadership of the Silvermane Pack. We need a strong alpha, boy. War is comin'."

Connor knew what his father was asking, but he couldn't agree. He shook his head slowly from side to side. "I can't do it, Pa. I can't."

"I'd have killed you, boy," Andreas continued. "For the good of the pack. And now that's what you must do. Take my life and lead the Silvermanes." Racking coughs caused Andreas to double over in pain.

Connor backed slowly away. "I can't, Pa."

Andreas snarled, "If you don't, I'll open the challenge to the entire pack. You have one day to decide, boy. One day." Andreas looked around the room. "As for the rest of you, I absolve you of any wrong-doing. You were followin' Connor's orders, and that is what every pack should do. When he comes to his senses and takes his rightful place as alpha, I ask you all to follow his orders again and kill every vampire in this county. Kill them all." Andreas began coughing again, leaning back against Gabi.

Every eye in the room was on Connor, waiting to see what he would do.

Connor turned on his heel and began walking away.

"Where are you goin', Connor?" Donny demanded.

"I have one day to decide, right?" Connor snapped. "One day."

The vampire youth knelt in the grass in front of the courthouse. Minerva and Edward walked behind them, then came to the end of the line and started back down the line again, walking in front of the kneeling vampires this time. They stopped in front of each one. Minerva placed a talon under each chin, lifted the head, and stared into the eyes of the rebellious youth. She told every one of them the same thing. "I restore you to the Covenant. Obey me."

When the last teen had received clemency, she commanded them all to rise. Her eyes began to glow red as she said, "War is upon us. Our enemies are preparing, and so shall we." She smiled and hissed, "Death to the Silvermanes, and death to all who oppose us."

Connor drove his pickup up the hill to the cabin. The cabin where the three of them had shared so much love, so much laughter, so much joy. He parked the truck and slowly climbed out. Opening the door of the cabin, he looked inside and found what he had expected.

Xavier sat on the edge of the bed, leaning over the body of Daniel. Xavier was carefully cleaning away the blood and filth from Daniel's body. There were no wounds on his arms or legs. His vaewolf body had healed itself of all those. Even the hole in Daniel's chest was now almost gone, but his eyes remained closed in death.

Connor sat on the other side of the bed and began helping Xavier. They washed Daniel's chest and stomach together, leaning down and kissing here and there. They stroked the soft blonde hair on his lower stomach before moving down to his legs, washing his thighs and calves and even his feet.

Then when they finished, they pulled the blanket up to Daniel's chin and they both leaned over to kiss him at the same time. A gentle and chaste kiss. Their lips touched together on his cold lips, breathing upon his face, dripping tears upon his cheeks.

Then they dropped down on each side of him and held him in their arms, falling into an exhausted and heartbroken sleep.

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