"So do I." Nikolai admitted with shameless ease, Gerard was…he was a part of Nikolai’s life that was yet to resolved and as much anger that Nikolai possessed for the other werewolf, there was also a hope that the bridge that had been so thoroughly burned to the ground might one day be capable of being rebuilt. It wasn’t forgiveness, not really, Nikolai wasn’t certain that he was capable of forgiveness, but it was something. He hated the thought that the closure he would receive would be tearing Gerards heart out with his bare hands.
"As muscle?" Nikolai asked with a raised brow, "No. The only theanthropes in the town are wolves, and they’re all my wolves. We don’t accept outside jobs individually. If there was a job to do, it would be a pack job." He shrugged, had the girls not been torn in half completely, he would have thought that someone had been attempting to make it look like a werewolf attack. But inhuman strength was a difficult thing to mimic without leaving behind obvious evidence like track marks or bruises from a chain that would tie around the waist.
"There is one other thing besides their appearance," Nikolai began carefully, "I don’t think it’ll help any. They both wore the same perfume."
Anita didn’t know why she felt so sympathetic. She didn’t usually. It wasn’t her problem, not even her town but she couldn’t help but hope that she wasn’t going to find Gerard at the centre of all this madness. For Nikolai’s sake. She brushed her fingers against the photo he’d given her, almost absentmindedly as she listened to his responses. No other theanthropes besides the ones in his pack – but they both knew that some could sneak in unannounced if they were smart enough, sneaky enough. She didn’t dare to mention it though, he seemed to pride himself on the tough ship he ran and saying ‘well, no, I think someone might be able to sneak on through’ might ruin their meeting.
Anita licked her lips before frowning. The same perfume? That wasn’t on the police report. She almost asked how he knew before she realized that he probably smelled it. That was a strange coincidence, she’ll admit, and she made a mental note to go without perfume for her stay in town.
“Did it come from the victims or the attacker?” If she could get access to the apartments of the victims to look for the bottle, she might be able to see if it was just a very big coincidence or maybe it drew the attacker. If it wasn’t there, well then maybe it might be a bigger clue to finding the attacker. Who attacked short brunettes that smelled the same?
“I mean, have you tried tracking it?”
No wifi for a while.
Don’t forget me.
He owed no loyalty to Gerard. Not anymore, yet the boy still meant something to him. He couldn’t easily cast aside seven years of caring for him over one judgement call, sending him away, exiling him had been a decision made out of betrayal and bitterness, he wasn’t sure that had he been able to look to the boy with a level head, that he would have made the same decision.
"I don’t think you understand my reluctance fully."
Nikolai muttered, “He wasn’t just another wolf that had sided with the former Alpha, he had been like a son.” Maybe that would put things into perspective for her and maybe it wouldn’t. He couldn’t name him, because if the murderer was Gerard, which Nikolai selfishly hoped that it wasn’t, then he didn’t want her to kill him. He didn’t want anyone to kill him. If it came to his death, there was only one who should tear his heart out and that was Nikolai.
He sighed and pushed himself to his feet, appearing at first that he would leave it at that, that he would not dislodge a name, nor description, that she would need to do things the hard way. Instead he rounded the desk, opened the lower drawer and pulled out an old, faded and folded photograph. He held it out to her mutely for a moment.
"His name is Gerard."
Despite Nikolai’s hushed voice, Anita heard him with clarity. Perhaps she was overstepping her boundaries here but she could not find it in herself to stop. She had a job to do and she didn’t owe Nikolai any kindness on her way to gather her information and find the fiend that had killed two young women already. Anita though remained silent as she listened to Nikolai’s explanation, and almost apologised. Almost. The rogue wolf was almost like a son to the Ulfric, and she wanted to ask why he wasn’t by his side but thought against it. She was sleep deprived but she wasn’t stupid.
The Executioner took the photograph, unfolding it and smoothing her thumb against the faded image before she heard the name. Gerard. Well, that was unexpected. If the tables were reversed, Anita wasn’t sure if she’d give away the name but regardless she nodded at his assistance. “I hope he falls off the suspect list as quickly as possible then.” She took the photo and made a mental note to write that name down before she forgot it, before she reached over and finally took one of the blueberry muffins.
"Is there anyone in surrounding towns that might use a theanthrope? As far as I can tell, there isn’t a connection between the two girls apart from their appearance." Very close to her own, and she wasn’t going to mention that.
I think the only thing louder than my uni library at the moment would be a construction site.
Fuck this fucking fuckery, you fucking fucks.
Nikolai could count on one hand those who had been exiled from the pack rather than killed, some having been given leave to disappear, other simply managing to escape. None had been any real threats to the Pack, not then and not now but there was one name which rose and had remained at the forefront of his mind since the first murder. Nikolai kept his stare carefully level, unwilling to give any sign that a name had surfaced just yet.
Nikolai leaned forward, hands laced together in front of him as he done so, the more he dwelt upon the possibility of the werewolf being Gerard, the less likely he thought it possible. Gerard had been like a son to him for many years, he trained him and taught him how to control his shifts and as repayment he had betrayed his friends to be slaughtered and had him captured and brought to Jonas.
"But he’s a coward and unlikely to do something as bold as this." Nikolai admitted aloud, he shrugged then, pondering on his own pack mate for a little too long. "We’ve been on the look out for him regardless, it’s a small town and he’s known around here."
"Besides him, there is no one I know who would go about a backhanded challenge like this, only a mongrel." Most lone wolves were denied the opportunity to remain in the city, unknown and with no loyalty to the pack, but Nikolai was reluctant also to assume it was a lone wolf who had done the murders. He had lived half his life as a lone wolf after all.
One. Anita’s interest was peaked, she straightened in her seat and waited for the name drop that didn’t come. Her lips pursed. She understood he didn’t want to name names but if he didn’t, it made her life and job a lot more difficult. “I think we both are aware that cowardice is not always a good alibi.” If the wolf was determined enough, he didn’t need to raise his own hand for violence but to simply point a dangerous creature in the direction of his enemies.
Anita licked her lips before she leaned forward, she had a feeling this case was going to be a tough one. “I understand your reluctance to tell me things, to name names. I’m in your territory, asking about your wolves. I understand, but I’m here to help these girls, and by that I help your pack’s reputation. I need you to cooperate with me here. I need that name.” They were both well aware that Anita could find out the name at some point, it didn’t need to come from his lips but that would be the easiest option since she was right there.
"I need you to help me here, Nikolai."
His wolf pined for prolonged contact, to stroke skin to skin, feel the fur beneath the flesh before Nikolai removed his hand from hers with a shared nod of acknowledgment. Despite the wolfs desires Nikolai had a far tighter reign upon his curiosity and his lust than to jump the first werewolf to walk through his garage door. Still, his gaze lingered almost against his will, she wasn’t what he had expected. She was more…adorable than terrifying. A small button nose, high cheekbones with large almond shaped eyes thickly framed by black lashes and thick curls that hung over her shoulders in tangible waves. Her skin was pale as alabaster and for just a split second he found it almost unbelievable that this was the feared Executioner.
But Nikolai knew better than to judge someone by their appearance alone. She was armed, gun and knives if the fold of her clothing and fall of her jacket sleeves was anything to go by. The scent of silver touched upon his senses and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his overalls.
"Now’s fine." The Ulfric assured and he made a thoughtful sound at the front of his mouth for a second before he jerked his head in the direction of the office. "Let’s sit. I’ll find you something to eat with that coffee, and I’ll tell you what we’ve found out."
Nikolai moved, not waiting for the brunette to agree or disagree, towards his office which had a clear line of sight to the front garage door. He pulled open the mini-fridge, scooped out one of the blueberry muffins that sat inside and set it down on the desk as he gestured to one of the chairs whilst he took up the second.
"Firstly, despite the Sheriff’s beliefs, no member of my Pack was responsible for either of the murders." Nikolai began as he clasped his hands in his lap and leaned back in his chair. "Every member was questioned by myself." none of which were capable of lying to him.
"No, I’m.." Anita started but the wolf was already stepping towards another room and the Executioner huffed with a soft sigh. ".. fine." She finished to herself before following the werewolf towards his office. She didn’t know if it was intentional or not but he left her the seat closest to the door and with the best view of the front garage door. She wasn’t going to mention it but she appreciated it regardless.
Anita took a seat after him before she placed her almost empty cup onto the table, eyes glancing at the muffins before she thought against it. She generally didn’t eat on the job, which might explain why she was usually shovelling food down at 3am before sleeping for about 4 hours. If she was lucky.
"Do you have any previous members that might hold a grudge?" She didn’t bother mentioning an old Ulfric, she’d done her homework. But maybe an old member might not like the shift of power, or the new direction he’d taken. It was either that, or a rouge wolf. By the photos she’d seen, it had to be claws. It just had to. Once she visited the morgue, she might be able to get a better answer but hey, corpses without throats didn’t get all that chatty.
"Any names that come to mind?"
Two bodies had been found. Both female, aged between eighteen and twenty-five. Petite with fair skin and long dark hair. One was a girl from the university, her name was Sara Hendrix. The other was a waitress, Riley Winston. The women had been strangers, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nikolai had spent the last three days searching for the one responsible before he had caught news that the authorities had chosen to bring in a Federal Marshall.
It set his teeth on edge, his wolf pacing restlessly. He and his pack were already under suspicion and investigation due to the way in which the girls had been killed, their throats torn out. The poor girl Sara, had been ripped in half by something with monstrous strength. Either a mongrel had trespassed upon his territory or one of his pack had broken the rules.
Either way, it made his blood heat with anger.
Nikolai had since tucked himself under an old GTO until he heard the bell chime above the garage door, the smell of motor oil and grease blinding his senses temporarily as he tightened one of the bolts and sighed, rolling out from beneath the car and sitting forward.
It was only when his airway was free, that he caught the scent. He felt fur and claws rub carefully against his skin and he growled quietly as he reigned the wolf back and looked up to the petite brunette whom had entered his garage. “You must be Anita Blake,” Nikolai spoke carefully. “I didn’t expect you for a few more hours.”
He pushed himself to his feet, grasping one of the rags he had tucked into his pocket, a stained red cloth and wiped his hands clean as he walked forward slowly. Custom said he greet her as a Ulfric, dominate. Instead he held out a hand for her to shake.
"Nikolai, but I suppose the Sheriff has already told you that."
Was it a little disturbing that Anita was glad to be called out on a murder case? Maybe, but she wasn’t going to dwell on it. Business at Animators Inc was getting crazy and she was happy to get out of the city for a little while. That is, until she got the crime scene pictures. Dolph had tried to talk her out of it, due to the descriptors of the victims so closely matching her own appearance but she was out of there regardless. Made record time too because who needed to sleep?
After a brief visit at the Sheriff’s office to be caught up to date, she was headed to the Ulfric. Once upon a time, she might not have bothered unless they were suspects but now she was stuck in the stupid game of were politics. To not address him would almost be an act of invasion from the clan she came from. This just seemed easier.
Anita slid out of her Jeep outside the garage with a Styrofoam mug of coffee as tall as her face, in desperate need of caffeine already and the clock hadn’t even struck 4pm. Stepping into the garage, the badge that hung around her neck swung with every step before she turned at a sound and she was hit with a scent. Damn it. She thought she was done with that.
The smell of wolf made her inner white wolf whine – it pawed at the metaphysical cage under her skin, whined to get a little closer to the Ulfric and Anita wished she could chastise the insatiable Lupa but when she looked at him, she could understand it for a moment. He looked like an alpha, through and through. She didn’t know how to explain it but just the look of him, she could understand why her wolf was whining. Didn’t mean she was going to listen.
Anita held her hand out to shake his with a small nod before stepping back, putting some distance between them. “No traffic.” She answered simply before taking a sip of her coffee, almost like she was trying to distract herself. “I can come back later if this is inconvenient for you. I just thought I’d come and get a start on this.”