The Lone Wolf
The deer had come through this part of the woods not too long ago. The wolf put its nose in the air trying to sniff out a general direction. It had been snowing all afternoon which had conveniently covered up any tracks the deer might have left and that had made tracking prey all the more difficult. The wolf was almost in the mood to give up and go after another prey but she had a stubborn streak in her and had decided to continue.
The world shifted under her feet. She was in a more dense part of the tundra. The deer was still being elusive. A little further up was an opening from which the wolf could see the old fortress. The fortress was now the home to a kind wizard. The wizard had undertaken a massive project to help the common folk and would occasionally need help. He would call upon the she-wolf to ask for her assistance whenever someone needed to be tracked down. The wizard had a large Kodiak bear as a companion. The bear would on occasion accompany the wolf, he was good enough company. But mostly the she-wolf preferred to hunt alone as she did now.
She no longer had a pack. She could consider the wizard and the bear as her new pack but she hadn't decided on that as yet. As she moved through the forest, she looked around for any signs that could give her a clue as to where that damn deer was. She was looking around a tree which had some broken branches when she heard something behind her. With her ears perked up, she turned around but there was no one there. It was late evening and the forest was slowly getting shrouded in a blanket of darkness. She heard a sound again, paws on dried leaves, it was to her right. She turned and saw a dark shape looking back at her from the shadows, it was another female wolf. It slowly stepped in her direction and stopped at a distance so as not to alarm her. This intruder in her part of the woods was tall and slender. It had a long bushy tail and had strangely mischievous eyes as if it was contemplating on playing a trick on her. The she wolf growled, not appreciative of the company. The other wolf, unafraid, slowly turned around and the faded back in the ever deepening shadows. The she wolf kept staring in the general direction of the other wolf, wondering if it might have been too hasty. Maybe, a little company could have been a good idea. She turned around to look for the deer once again when she heard a strange alien noise. It was an odd beeping. She looked around but it seemed to be coming from everywhere…
And Shaw woke up.
She looked around her new apartment. Well, not so new. She had moved in over 4 months ago. It was studio apartment, small but comfortable. She woke up still thinking about her dream. She had been having that dream for years now. The other wolf was a surprise though. Not that she understood what the dream was supposed to mean, if anything. She didn't put much thought into it. She looked around her apartment and saw the half finished painting of a female face on her easel. She had been meaning to finish it maybe she would do it over the weekend. It had been a busy week. Her work might be boring but she still had to do it.
So, she finally got out of bed and after her usual exercise routine, got ready, had some breakfast and left for work. It usually took her about twenty minutes to get to her office by bus. It were those twenty minutes, when she had no one around but her thoughts, that were the worst. She would often just try looking at the passing city, but her thoughts would keep going back to everything that had happened five months ago. She wondered how everyone was. She knew that Harold had opened a small book store and Reese was a junior manager in some kind of a mortgage firm. But, more often than not her mind would turn to Root. For someone who had never needed anyone she strangely missed the tall graceful hacker. She missed her friend. She missed hearing that cocky voice in her ear telling her what to do and paying her sly compliments.
Four months ago, after she had gotten settled into her new life she had decided to check in on everyone else. It took her a few weeks to track everyone down. Root had told her everyone's identity just in case something happened to any of them. It had been easy to find Reese and Finch. Finch had however quit his job and had instead decided to open up a small library. Reese looked practically miserable at Arrowhead Savings and Loan. He was a junior manager there. She herself was going under the name of Samantha Harris, legal aid at Kirkland and McKenzie. Root had set herself up as Dr. Carol von Neumann, psychiatrist. In just a few months Root had managed to setup a very nice practice for herself. After all she had always been good at reading and manipulating people.
What had surprised her was, when she had finally decided to track down Root, how close her office was to her own new work place. It was barely a fifteen minute walk. This had lead to an unexpected habit on her part. Often in the evening when she would get off work she would walk by Dr. Neumann's office, even though it was fifteen minutes in the opposite direction and she would often miss her bus. Shaw told herself that just wanted to make sure that Root was safe. Not that Root needed protection. But, deep down Shaw knew that maybe, just maybe there was a remote possibility that she actually missed seeing that crazy smile. She would often stand on the sidewalk opposite Root's office. She had often spotted her pacing around her office or sometimes just staring out of the window. Once Root had even waved at her, when Shaw had accidentally stepped out of the shadows. Shaw had waved back. It had made her heart flutter for reasons she couldn't quite put into words. But it was nice see her and to be seen. And so the last four months had passed by.
Shaw finally reached her office building. Kirkland and McKenzie occupied floors 20 through to 28. It was one of the largest law firms in the city and had branches in five countries across three continents. These were the headquarters.
She had initially started by working under a junior lawyer but her efficiency had gotten her noticed, at a meeting, by Victor York, Senior Partner and Lawyer specializing in International Trade Law. Mr. York's personal assistant of almost twenty years was finally retiring and he was looking for a new assistant and was quite impressed by Ms. Harris.
Shaw was initially a little reluctant to work for Mr. York. He did have a reputation of being quite a ladies' man, but after three rather messy and costly divorces and over two dozen affairs, Victor York had finally mellowed down in the autumn of his years. He was in a steady relationship with a political lobbyist and had a strict policy of not dating or having flings with anyone at work. That however didn't stop rumors from floating around that maybe Samantha Harris had gotten her new position by sleeping with the senior partner. The rumors didn't really bother Shaw and after the incident in the supply room all the female staffers considered Ms. Harris as something of a hero.
It has so happened that on one occasion, Shaw had to pick up some pencils from the supply room. Upon reaching the room she heard voices coming from within. When she went in she found one of the junior lawyer trying to force himself upon a female colleague. Shaw had completely lost her temper and had put the man through a wall. The man ended with a dislocated shoulder and a broken jaw which had to be held together by wire.
Even though she had no regrets about her actions she had more or less expected to be fired. However, Mr. York had defended her and the female layer had also spoken on her behalf. The matter had been settled internally and the junior lawyer was blacklisted across the entire country.
After that day all rumor-mongering about Ms. Harris had stopped.
Over the course of the past four months, Shaw had grown to like and respect the senior partner. He had a certain old world charm to him. Always respectful and polite she could understand the attraction women and even certain men felt towards him. He had taken Ms. Harris under his tutelage and decided to teach her about Trade law and help her navigate the shark infested waters of international trade.
Shaw had just reached the corner office when Mr. York walked in.
"Good Morning, Ms. Harris could you bring me some coffee and also get me the File for Blue Arc Industries" he said as he walked in.
Shaw got up to get the file from the drawer while managing to get in a quick, "Yes sir"
A little while later she walked into the office with the coffee and the file. She put them both on the table and stood in attention next to the table. Mr. York looked up and smiled
"At ease, soldier. I sometimes wonder if you accidentally joined a law firm instead of joining the army."
Shaw loosened up a little. Her old training would sometimes kick in subconsciously. But she did consider the senior partner as her CO so she didn't mind it.
Victor went through the file as he sipped the coffee and little while later turned the file in Shaw's direction.
"Tell me what's wrong with that?" he asked of her.
It was a test. Shaw quickly glanced at the file and realized that some junior lawyer had made a rookie mistake and attached the wrong form. He was in for a rough day.
"Wrong form" Ms. Harris replied
"That's my girl. I'll make a lawyer of you yet" he complimented her with a smile. "Now get me this Mr. Pruitt on the phone. I need to have word with him"
Shaw did not pity Mr. Pruitt for what he was about to go through. Even she wouldn't have tolerated such a rookie mistake from a lawyer who was being paid a six figure salary.
An few hours later, after Mr. Pruitt had be scolded over the phone and some more files had been looked over Shaw was about ready to leave for lunch, when Mr. York asked her a most unexpected question, "What do you do for fun, Ms. Harris?"
"Fun, you are aware of the concept?" he questioned her jokingly.
"Well I really like to shoot people. But they keep telling me it's wrong and illegal" she replied with a rare smile on her face.
"Well that's what they tell me as well. Maybe you could find another hobby to cheer yourself up. You have been looking rather bored."
"Yes sir" replied Ms. Harris just as Mr. York's daughter walked in.
"Will that be all, Sir?" asked Ms. Harris preparing to leave.
"Yes that'll be all. See you after lunch" Mr. York replied.
"She can stay or maybe she could even come to lunch with us" said Beth York as she flashed her dazzling smile in Shaw's direction.
Beth York was the eldest of the eight children that Victor York had sired from his three marriages. Despite all his flaws and his philandering ways he had always managed to be a good father, not just providing financially but being there for all of his children. He had always managed to make time to attend all their various soccer games and school plays and in return his children and grandchildren adored him. Sadly, his progeny had picked up all of their father's bad habits. Almost the entire younger York clan had made it their life's mission to sleep with every able bodied and willing male and female across the entire east coast. Some of them had even decided to move the operation to the west coast and a few had even managed to conquer the old world. Beth York was foremost amongst them. She was something of a socialite and famously bisexual, she almost had a predatory look about her whenever she desired someone and she had been dying to get Ms. Harris into her black book of conquests. The only thing stopping her was the instructions from her father that Ms. Harris was strictly off limits, not that it stopped Beth from trying.
"Come on you can come with us, it's not like I am going to eat you for lunch. Well not unless you want me to" said the younger Ms. York trying to get Ms. Harris to accompany them.
"Beth" came Mr. York's voice from behind her. "Let her be." He then turned to Shaw and said "I will see you after lunch and don't mind her. She's just kidding."
"Oh, I don't mind" replied Shaw, while staring at Beth, as she stepped out of the office. She could flirt back when she wanted to and she definitely didn't mind the attention. But Beth wasn't her type. She preferred brunettes over blondes and she definitely liked them taller with dark eyes. She suddenly stopped, wondering where that picture had come from. She shook her head and continued on to the cafeteria.
It was that evening that Shaw ran into Root in the subway station. That night she again dreamt of the other wolf, but his time she dreamt of the lone wolf hunting alongside this mysterious new companion.
Shaw spent the entire next day in an unusually good mood. She had this faint smile on her face that eventually led to Mr. York asking her about it. "What's up with you today, Ms. Harris? You look practically jubilant."
"Oh, it's nothing. Just in a good mood" she replied still smiling.
"Well, it's unnerving. Seeing you smile so much. You always have the look of shark about to attack to some poor defenseless seal. But, it's a good look. You should smile more often, whatever the reason maybe, it suits you" said Mr. York.
It was evening and Ms. Harris was preparing to leave, when she was called into the office by her boss.
"Ms. Harris, keep yourself free this weekend" Mr. York said in a commanding voice, while going through some files.
Shaw stood silent for a while waiting for a more elaborate explanation.
"Well, this weekend it the annual get together at The Excelsior. It's organized every year by Mr. Lewis, owner of Buy n' Large Ltd. He is one of the richest people in the world. The Excelsior is the name of his country home. Well, home is an understatement it's more of a castle. 550 rooms over 3000 acres. He is amongst our oldest clients and usually all the senior partners get invited. It's a two day affair. Guests include politicians, business associates and of course law firms he deals with. It's a great place for networking so usually we travel with the entire retinue including personal assistants and aids" explained Mr. York.
"Yes sir." Shaw replied.