Brigitte watched as her body bucked on the bed, Tyler trying to hold her still and failing. Her moon-eyes had rolled back, revealing the whites, empty of everything. He had placed one of the bright yellow strips of cloth in her mouth to keep her from swallowing her tongue, had gasped when her physique had started to alter into that of the beast in warp-speed.
But although the wolf tried to combat the purple assailant by urging the transformation on faster, faster, Brigitte's body was not meant to be a battleground. She was dying as the disease tried in vain to save her, changing her beyond recognizable means, but too late.
She began to resemble her pursuer in form, buckling into a hunchbacked beast with too long limbs and a malformed muzzle. Her clothes, shredded, did not hide the dusk-colored fur that sprang up in patches on her skin. But her back was still bare, smooth, and so were her breasts and the curve of her neck. Her fingers were still articulate, her thumbs still opposable. She froze three-quarters of the way between woman and wolf and breathed her last shuddering breath as Tyler looked on in wonder.
Brigitte followed his hands as he explored her body, his fingers lingering on the line of nipples that had sprung from her abdomen, the stub of a tail that had sprouted from her spine. He ran his smooth thumbs over the wrinkles in her face, skewed in a permanent snarl. Then he pulled the lids down to cover the dead white of her eyes.
When Tyler opened the door it had stopped snowing, leaving only a dusting on the ground that lay before him. He had wrapped her body as best he could in both sheets and the comforter, leaving the bed bare and without meaning—she would take everything they had done there, together, with her to the grave. Tyler laid her in the back seat of his car and drove away, leaving a do not disturb sign on the door.
Brigitte traveled with him, a shade in the front seat, a murmur in his immediate memory. She saw how the scratches on his face had healed into red lines, the teeth marks on his neck into pearl dots. She had left her mark upon him in many ways, none of which his lycanthrope blood—or his ways in the world—could completely erase. His eyes were clear and focused straight ahead, but his arms were tense, his hands gripping the wheel with immediacy.
He was going to bury her in a vacant field somewhere in Saskatchewan, where only the solemn, cawing crows that perched in the trees would bear witness. But even with the sharp spade he found in a nearby barn, the ground was too hard to dig into. He looked lost for a moment, unsure of what to do with her body, the bedclothes billowing around it like earthbound clouds in the wind.
Tyler walked to and from the barn, gathering armfuls of hay and piling them in the field. He stopped to contemplate the mound, onto which he placed her stiff body. Then he went to the car and came back with an old cigarette lighter, one he had kept in his kit in case there was some substance one of his girls wanted to smoke. He looked at it for a moment, then placed it in his jacket pocket.
Arranging her corpse, Tyler uncovered her transformed face and contemplated it for a moment before covering it up again. He kept the new, frightening visage hidden in order to stop the picture he held within his mind of Brigitte, wholly human save her yellow eyes, from fading away.
Watching from some place Brigitte could not name, she saw as Tyler crouched over her body, producing the lighter.
"I'm sorry I couldn't keep you," was all he said before igniting the pyre.
Brigitte closed her eyes and did not open them until the man had gone off into the sunrise, and all that remained of the monster she had become were smoking blue-black ashes.
There were sounds first—slow breathing, soft sighs, a man's voice singing off-key on the other side of time. Screams of pain, screams of pleasure. Snickers. Heavy-handed silence.
Then her other senses returned, slowly but surely. The taste of blood in her mouth, her own and bittersweet. The feel of the sheets covering her, a pressure on her left hand. The smell of his flesh, sweet.
And then Brigitte's eyelids fluttered, rose to reveal the world she had thought she had lost.
She was alive. She moved her fingers, her toes, arched her back and stretched as if she had just woken up from a long repose.
The man who had been lying beside her, clutching her hand, withdrew it in astonishment. It was the same man from the vision—fair skinned, flawed.
"Tyler," she spoke tentatively, and thought she saw something like relief in his eyes.
She sat up and looked across the room to the mirror, expecting to find some evidence that her vision of her own destruction had been at least a half-truth, but her reflection had not changed. Her eyes were still yellow. She smoothed her hair back behind her ears and found that they still possessed points. Claws, teeth—they were there to remain, she assumed. But in exchange for her life, these minor defects on her person were of little consequence.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"Wicked," said Brigitte, taking the words out of her dead sister's mouth and relishing the sound of them.
"'Wicked' as in, 'I'm going to beat the shit out of you again, Tyler?' or 'Wicked', as in…okay?"
She turned to look at him over her shoulder, smiling sadly.
"As in, I think I'm fucking lucky to have survived that triple dose."
"Are you…are you…?" He looked hopeful.
"No," Brigitte said, "To be cured is to die. And I'm still very much alive. But I'm in control, for now."
Tyler fidgeted, reaching out as if he were going to take her hand again, but then retracting it.
"I tried to hold you still, but—but I just couldn't…your eyes, they were…"
"It's okay, Tyler," Brigitte said, "It's okay."
Tyler swallowed, nodded.
"Christ, I'm sorry I hit you. I'm sorry I even thought about hitting you."
"Tyler," Brigitte said, "I nearly killed you. Your reaction was reasonable…and I…I should be the one asking for forgiveness. I didn't mean most of the things I said…"
"Which means you meant some of them," he countered. "Which ones?"
"About you and me…being messed up…about not being able to fix this…well, not without putting a gun in my mouth and pulling the trigger, anyway. Your mother…she must have been an incredibly strong woman to end her life."
"I thought so," said Tyler quietly, "Part of me wishes she would have done it sooner. Part of me wishes,"—and here his tone wavered—"that she would have shot me too."
"Was it bad?" asked Brigitte, and the sympathy in her voice was unmistakable.
"It was—" Tyler began, stopped, blinked slowly several times before beginning again, "It was like she had killed me. I couldn't think about anything else…it consumed me every minute of every day until I thought I would go crazy. And then I started in with the girls, fucking and fucking. It helped. I don't know how, but it helped. But I never felt a thing."
Brigitte nodded, inviting him to continue.
"I got the job at the care facility and things started to turn around…I was in control again, but then I got that same old sensation, like nothing mattered, had ever mattered. So…the girls, again. Things were looking up…"
"Then they brought me in," said Brigitte, "Fresh meat."
"So I thought," Tyler said. "And boy, was I mistaken…for the most part."
Brigitte gave a short laugh, looked shyly into her lap.
"You're a strange kind of creature, Brigitte," said Tyler, "And that intrigued me."
"The lycanthrope blood probably helped," said Brigitte, shifting away, standing. "It's probably why you were so eager to get into my pants. Wolves attract other…wolves."
Tyler didn't confirm or deny her suspicion, just shrugged, wincing mid-gesture.
"Speaking of canine copulation," he said, rubbing his shoulder, "You mentioned something about wolf-boy being close. That was hours ago."
She cranked open the window, letting in a cold blast of air, standing and inhaling the wind through flared nostrils.
"It's snowing west of here, too. It slowed him down, but he's persistent. Single-minded, you might say." She shut the window, turned to face Tyler.
"You can tell all that from a little sniff?"
"Yes," she said, "I know his scent. It's become all too familiar."
"Has he ever, gotten, you know..." Tyler asked, looking strangely embarrassed.
"Close to fucking me? Once. Right after I realized I was his idea of a good time. He had me on the ground, was standing over me, panting, in an alleyway in Edmonton, but then a car backfired a block away and it spooked him. He hadn't gotten used to the city yet. He's become a lot more difficult to deter since then."
"He can really tell that we had sex?" Tyler asked, "You weren't bluffing even the slightest?"
Brigitte folded her arms across her chest.
"You basically marked me as your territory by sticking it to me," she said wryly, a sarcastic grin flashing on her lips for a moment, "Oh, he knows. He knows my scent just as well I know his. Your smell—the things we did—you're all over me, Tyler."
"Then why'd you let it happen?" Tyler asked, "Why did you give in to the wolf?"
"Because I wanted to," said Brigitte, her voice low, "I…you're not the only one who was intrigued, Tyler."
"But you knew the entire time that you were going to kill me."
"Not the entire time. Only when I realized that getting rid of you meant I would actually have to end your life. And even then, I didn't want to kill you Tyler. I thought I needed to."
"You were wrong."
"Yes," said Brigitte, "I was very wrong."
"You could have warned me…you could have said something."
"What?" asked Brigitte, looking him square in the eye, "'Tyler, I'd be really obliged if you could get your mind out of the gutter for five minutes and help me get out of this mess. Also, I'm a werewolf, and if I don't dispose of you after you've so unselfishly aided my escape, my crazy lycanthrope lover will.' Hmmm? You would have thought I was fucking nuts."
"Yes," said Brigitte, "But I'm not alone in that accolade."
Tyler sighed deeply, frowned. He got up, testing his legs. Brigitte noticed that all of his visible gashes had knit themselves shut. He seemed to have recovered his senses and balance well enough after the beating she had given him, and Brigitte wondered vaguely if Tyler had discovered his unnatural healing abilities before, or if he was as unaware of his own special condition as he appeared.
He began to pace on the opposite side of the bed, lost in his own thoughts.
Brigitte perched in the chair in front of the door, fixed her gaze on a distant point and didn't say anything. She was content in that moment to be sitting there, feeling life in her limbs. The wolf was not gone, but buried, and it felt wonderful to be free—if only for a fraction of time—from her dual consciousness.
After a while spent in silence, Tyler halted in his tracks and turned to face her, a determined air to his movement.
"So what are we going to do about it?" he asked.
"About what?" returned Brigitte, raising an eyebrow.
"It. The wolf."
Brigitte rested her head on her arm and watched him continue to stride across the room in one direction, back again. He was brimming with potential energy—give him a push in the right direction, and she could either spare him or further incriminate him. He acted as if it was his decision, but Brigitte knew his fate truly lay in her hands. She was still blocking the doorway, after all, lounging in the chair and looking at him from the odd angle. He might have been pulling something, trying to act tough, or he might have been sincere. The only way to differentiate between the two was to offer him a way out. She was sure he would take it.
"I suggest," said Brigitte, "That you reclaim your stuff and get the hell outta here. Whatever happens, it isn't going to be pretty."
"I can handle carnage, I can handle blood. I'm not squeamish."
"I know, Tyler," Brigitte said, "But it's not only the death of this creature you have to contemplate—it's our deaths as well. We could both die, trying to stop this thing. If you don't go now, you may never get another chance."
Tyler looked at her long and hard, studying her wild countenance. Hers was a face that both asked him to stay and cried for him to flee. She couldn't control the way her features conveyed both longing and loathing, she couldn't make her eyes declare one or the other.
"Brigitte, baby," Tyler said, finally, running his hands through his hair and giving a half-smile, "If I were going anywhere, don't you think I would have left by now?"
Brigitte felt a swell of something that she wasn't sure how to define in her breast, and wanted to get up and go to him, embrace him, kiss him. But she restrained her emotions, kept her human urges in check. She couldn't afford to get carried away again, not when there was still so much at stake for them both.
Sighing, Brigitte returned the subdued smile, stretched again.
"Got any suggestions?"
They finished packing the remainder of their things into the one duffel bag, and as they left the room, Tyler reached back in for a moment to take the "Do Not Disturb" from the inside knob and transfer it to where the maid would see it hanging, a bright orange placard against the cream-colored door.
"I pity whoever the hell has to clean that up," said Tyler as he got into the car. Brigitte slid into the passenger seat and slammed the door against the brutal wind that was blowing outside. She shivered in the chilly interior even though she was wearing the new jacket. Tyler let the engine warm up before cranking on the heat. When he turned the knob to let in the warm air, he smiled as Brigitte immediately pulled her hands from her pockets and placed them over the vents.
"I would have assumed you were more tolerant of the cold," he said. Her only response was to blow a very visible breath and then take to rubbing her hands together.
Tyler drove, keeping his eyes peeled against the storm for the place where they would make their stand. They drove through barren farmland, the snow blowing off the fields and across the road in snaking formations even as more fell from the sky.
He had just turned off onto a smaller road when Brigitte stopped trying to warm herself up and squinted ahead.
Slowing down as his headlights cut against a solid stone structure ahead, Tyler copied Brigitte.
"It's an underpass," he said as they rolled into the opening and darkness enveloped them. Brigitte inhaled quickly and did not exhale until they had passed through to the other side.
"It's perfect," she said, turning to look back into the tunnel.
Dawn was just breaking as Tyler parked the car on the shoulder, knocking off a few more chunks of frozen asphalt as the vehicle dipped down to the gravel. Brigitte got out and he watched her scent the air, her arms crossed and her back to the wind.
Climbing back inside, she did not both to stop at her customary seat. She merely maneuvered directly over the stick shift and onto Tyler's lap.
He let her rearrange herself, unbuttoning his coat so she could press her body directly to his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, kissed her forehead before she buried her face in the crook of his neck.
"He's coming," Brigitte said, her lips brushing his skin as she spoke, "He's only about ten miles away now."
Tyler kissed the curve of her jaw, the tip of her pointed ear.
"Now all we have to do," she murmured, "Is wait."
Outside the car, the wind howled.
Tyler turned off the car twenty minutes later to save the battery, but Brigitte wasn't shivering any more. She was snug and solid leaning into him, her eyes closed. She hadn't said anything else—just breathed—and Tyler didn't want to interrupt their reverie with meaningless words.
He was brimming with questions, however, that sooner or later, he knew, would spill from his mouth.
She seems sorry but how can I be sure? he thought. Why the fuck am I cradling her like a child when she just threatened to break my neck? Why am I waiting with her for the wolf to come when I know it could be the end for the both of us? Why do I even trust her at all?
Because, the voice in his head replied, because she trusted you to get her out, to get her away from that place. And you told her you wouldn't try to run away and she believed you.
"I never took you for the cuddling type," he blurted out, and Brigitte opened her brilliant eyes to look up at him.
"I never took you for someone who would let himself get this caught up with a girl," Brigitte retorted, tilting her chin up to offer her mouth for a kiss. Tyler accepted the invitation.
"Am I that transparent?" he asked after, laughing.
"Only since we had sex," she said, closing her eyes again, "Now I can read you like a book."
"Unfortunate side-effects indeed," he smirked.
"Have you always had those healing abilities?" Brigitte questioned, running a fingertip across one the puckering flesh of one of his scars.
"I'd never really thought about it before…but even in all those years of playing lacrosse, I never broke anything. Not even my nose, which half of my teammates must have done in the quarterfinal game junior year alone. I took plenty of spills. Thought I had torn a ligament once, but the day I was due at the doctor's office I woke up and was perfectly fine."
"It's in the blood," she said, "The disease protects you. It isn't foolproof—if it were there would be a hell of a lot more full-fledged wolves running around—but minor cuts, bruises—those heal almost immediately. That's why I've got scars up and down my arms—I tracked it. The closer he got to me, the faster I healed. My presence must have accelerated the process for you, too."
"You seemed to have reaped all the benefits, Tyler," she said, "Without suffering any of the consequences of the disease."
"And any children I might have…" he said, and when she opened her eyes to regard him, he quickly corrected himself. "I mean, hypothetically speaking, of course—would my children get the diseased genetics and have the same abilities?"
"Who knows," said Brigitte, "If you're a mutation, then maybe. If you're a carrier, they could end up like me and your mother. Monsters."
"You're not a monster, Brigitte. You are currently performing the duties of a lap dog very well."
"Your ass must be freezing," she chuckled.
"A little bit." He paused and put forth the next question carefully.
"But don't you want children someday?"
"I don't think I would want to force what you had to go through on another human being willingly. It would be unfair."
"It was okay for awhile," Tyler said, "They held things together for a long time. Probably as long as they could."
"I don't think I'd make a very good mother," said Brigitte, "My mother tried way too hard and ruined everything for all of us."
"But didn't you love her?"
"Yes, I loved her. I was supposed to hate her like my sister did, but how could I? She was my mother, and I couldn't blame her for trying to be what she thought was a good parent. She just…didn't go about it the right way."
Brigitte paused, and turned to look out the window for a moment.
"I was supposed to do a lot of things," she whispered, "That I could never follow through on."
"Thank goodness for that," Tyler said, swallowing compulsively. She turned back and stroked his throat.
"Roll down the window, will you?" she requested, "I need to catch his scent again."
Tyler opened the window a crack. A blast of cold air forced itself through the tiny space, and she inhaled sharply. Then she moved her head towards the glass, taking little short sniffs as she went.
She drew back suddenly, her eyes wide.
"Less than a mile now," she breathed as Tyler rolled the window back up. She started to shift back into the passenger seat, but Tyler held onto her hips in protest.
"Don't…don't go out there Brigitte," he said, "We can drive all night and…"
"He'd never find us?" asked Brigitte. "He'd always find us, Tyler—make no mistake about that. The only thing that stops it is death. You know that just as well as I do."
"Let me go, Tyler," she said, gently, cupping his chin in her palm. "Let me go."
Tyler sighed. He slowly released his hands, and she was soon sitting alongside him, gripping the door handle.
"You really think this is gonna work?" he asked.
"It has to," said Brigitte.
"I'm coming, too," said Tyler, but she shook her head.
"No. Stay here, like we planned."
"Will you call if you need me?" Tyler asked, but he knew the answer before it left her lips.
"No," Brigitte said, "I won't. Keep the car running. You hear me scream, you count down from one hundred. If I don't come back by the time you reach one…then you have to go."
"I won't just leave you—"
"Yes," Brigitte spoke, a tiredness creeping into her voice as she stepped outside the car, the wind beginning an immediate assault on her small form. She closed the door and leaned close to the window so he could watch her mouth form her next words.
"Yes," her lips spelled out, already tinged blue with the cold, "Yes, you will."
Brigitte stood at the opposite entrance to the tunnel, braced against the wind, her gaze trained on the snow-covered landscape before her. The sun had started to rise, creating a thousand shadows for the beast to hide within, and among the silvery trees his grey pelt would blend almost inconspicuously. Brigitte's glorious golden eyes, though, caught the waxing light and bent it to her will, and she could discern every snowflake that fell before her as if it were under a microscope. Her nostrils flared. She shuffled her feet and picked out, from the machinations of Tyler's car running in the background, the approach of her pursuer. The sound of cracking branches, padded paws on the soft snow, sent shivers up her body, and as she turned her head in the direction of the noise, his monstrous form slipped from the trees and onto the road far before her.
The creature looked no worse for having traveled hundreds of miles, part of his journey completed in the middle of a blizzard. He shook himself off, and raised his head to fix his own golden glare upon her. Clawing at the earth, he caught her scent and gave a gruesome growl that made Brigitte's jaw tighten. She shucked her coat and stood before him in her thin cotton tee-shirt, but she didn't shiver.
"You want me, you bastard?" she shouted, her words whipping towards him in the wind, "You want me—come and get me."
The wolf snapped his tail from side to side as if he were truly contemplating the decision, as if he hadn't had that very thing on his mind for the past year. Then, with a few shuffling steps, he started forward at a trot, gaining speed as he advanced.
Brigitte, taking a deep breath, took one step, then another. Then another and another until she, too, was bounding forward, bent on keeping the wolf as far away from Tyler as possible.
His strides were huge, but she met him a little more than halfway the initial distance between them. As woman and wolf launched forward, both emitting growls that could have shook the ground, far away Tyler heard them collide in midair with a crash of teeth and claws and sheer power.
She had leapt last—she had the advantage of inertia. Brigitte bowled the beast backwards onto the asphalt and rolled to her feet again, managing to tear a gash alongside his ribs. But she had met her match. She screamed unwittingly as the wolf lunged and latched onto her upper arm with his fully developed canines, but as he preoccupied himself with gnawing on her bicep, she bore the pain and swung around to stab him in the right eye.
He released her with a howl of rage, shaking his head violently as the eyeball oozed its vitreous liquid down the side of his scarred face. If she could blind the other eye, he would have to rely on scent alone to catch her.
Then she realized that she had triggered the response she had relegated to Tyler. He would have begun counting. If she did not end it quickly, he would do as he was told and leave her to her fate. Perhaps it would be better that way, she thought. No complications, no confusion—just our paths splitting into two again, his looping back in the direction from whence we came, mine going…somewhere else.
They circled each other on the blacktop, the wolf cocking his head at such an angle that trained his functional eye on her at all times. She licked her arm, staid the blood that had been flowing from the puncture wounds.
"That all you got?" she questioned, and on cue the wolf dug his claws into the earth and sprang forward.
She tried to dodge his flying form but couldn't maneuver out of the way fast enough. Knocking her backwards, he pinned her to the ground, a paw on each arm, and snapped at her face, carving sloppy canine kisses on her cheeks.
"Get…off…me," she snarled, drawing her legs up and kicking at the beast's hind-legs. But he ignored her barrage and breathed heavily in her ear.
She drew back her left leg and placed a determined kick in his groin. The wolf, leaping backwards, let out a snarl to rival her own.
She turned over, tried to scramble away on all fours, but suddenly the wolf's front feet hit her heavy on the back, slamming her into the ground.
Opening his mouth, he clamped down hard on her shoulder, and Brigitte screamed again.
He tightened his grip, pressing her into the asphalt below. With sharp swipes he began using his hind feet to tear at the seat of her pants, his claws furrowing her lower back, her buttocks, her thighs.
She had managed to force her arms up and began tearing at the wolf's muzzle, but he just dug his teeth deeper into her flesh.
Brigitte worked her fingers into the wolfs mouth, tried to pry apart his jaws, but her strength was quickly fleeing her along with the blood pouring from her shoulder.
"Leave me alone," she screamed, "Leave me alone!"
But the wolf was as single-minded as she herself had suggested, and he had finally succeeded in ripping asunder her jeans.
It's too late, Brigitte thought, he's already taken what you wanted. You'll never have what he had. Ever.
The wolf let go, and Brigitte immediately surged forward, but he had grabbed ahold of her jeans. She struggled out of the denim, scraping her bare legs on the pavement. She heard more rending noising as she tore her feet free of the material and staggered forward. But as she struggled, he came from behind and caught her again.
"No!" Brigitte cried, but she knew it was over. She thought she heard the engine rev, the tires squeal. The wolf hunched over her, the beast inside her own body waking, responding, forcing her still.
And then, through the air, a stone the size of a tennis ball came flying. It smashed into the wolf's temple with a dull thud.
"Get the fuck off my girl, you deformed, dirty son of a bitch!"
Brigitte looked up and saw Tyler standing in the tunnel entrance; his arms held cocked back, his hands wrapped around a lacrosse stick containing a rock similar to the one he had just pitched forward.
The wolf paused, raised his own head and watched Tyler.
"I said," he spat, "She's mine."
He slung the stick forward, and with a whir, the second rock flew. It hit the wolf in the same spot as the first, with a considerable amount of force.
The beast stepped backwards with a howl, shaking his head and Brigitte shrunk down to the ground, breathing hard.
"Run, Tyler, run!" she screamed as the wolf shook off the confusion caused by the blows to his temple. He leapt over her prone body and charged towards the man. Tyler, as if he couldn't hear Brigitte's cries, smiled, dropped his lacrosse stick.
"That's it," he said, stepping back into the shadow slowly.
Brigitte struggled to her feet, took a deep breath, and started towards the tunnel. Her gait strengthened into a sprint after a few shaky strides. As she neared the wolf he whirled and snapped at her, but she passed him without a scratch. Barreling forward, the sounds of her pursuer melded with that of an approaching vehicle. Their were trails of light on the floor of the tunnel, and then she saw Tyler in the dim glow, pressed against the stonewall, his eyes wide with terror.
She ran, pushing her body hard, the sharp wind stinging her fresh cuts and bruises. The entire tunnel was alight now, and the wolf was only a step behind her.
She trained her eyes ahead, into the light. The driver was going fast, too fast to stop in time. A man seemingly pulled directly from her past, he pulled on a cigarette and didn't see her or the thing that followed until he focused his eyes straight ahead. She watched shock steal over his face, heard as he slammed his foot on the brake.
Suddenly before her, Tyler's hand arm appeared, a flesh and bone blockade between her and her impending death.
It doesn't look like much, she thought, But it's something. He's strong, or he wouldn't be standing there. It's enough.
She hit Tyler's arm and it curled around her moving form, pulling her sharply to the side as the screeching of brakes filled her mind. She hit Tyler's body with a thud, and he pressed her form into his, flattening himself against the cold stone.
She felt something tear open her shoulder and she screamed into Tyler's chest as he tried in vain to pull her closer. If they could only slip into the stone, melt away completely, but the sounds kept Brigitte in the present.
The vehicle passed in a blur, skidding, and there was a sickening medley of crunching and inhuman squeals of pain.
The truck stopped a few feet outside the tunnel, the remnants of the wolf dragged along on the underside in a jumble of malformed limbs and maligned intent.
"Shh, baby, shh," Tyler soothed, and Brigitte realized with a shudder that she was still screaming. She hushed.
"Come on," he urged, "We've got to get out of here, come on sugar."
With a deft movement, Tyler swung her up into his arms and jogged through the length of the tunnel. When they broke from the other side Brigitte turned back to see the trail off blood she had left, listened as the driver opened his door, and whispered, "Oh, fuck me," to himself in exasperated tones.
"The side mirror caught you in the shoulder, baby," Tyler said as he carefully placed her in the passenger seat. The car was still running as he slid into the driver's seat, "Should I bring you to the hospital?"
"No, no," she answered. Tyler fished in the back and produced his scrub shirt, balled it up, and pressed it to her shoulder. He pulled her other arm to hold the makeshift bandage in place. Brigitte sat, shaking, staring at her bare legs, the red silk panties she had put back on after their tryst for reasons she still couldn't comprehend.
She let him drive for ten minutes before she told him to pull over. She found her cords and stepped outside, tried to get the replacement pants on. As she struggled with one hand still applying pressure to her bleeding shoulder, she saw Tyler come around the front of the car.
"Brigitte," he began, but she shook her head.
"No, I don't need your help."
"Yes, you do," Tyler said.
"No! I told you to stay in the car, Tyler. I told you to count."
"I did count. And when I got to one, I realized that I had never been good at taking orders from anyone."
"You weren't supposed to leave the car. You were supposed to drive away. You were supposed to let me go."
"I couldn't! I couldn't let you go. I'm not going anywhere, damn it!" he shouted, grabbing her and pulling her to him, "Don't you understand? I'm not going anywhere."
He kissed her fiercely, but she fought it, breaking away.
"But there's always going to be another wolf, another near-transformation. I could hurt you, Tyler. I could become like your mother," she challenged, standing there bare-legged and bleeding. But Tyler had his hand around her beating heart, forcing it to keep going.
"Fuck Brigitte! I couldn't help her. I couldn't help her and I couldn't change what she did to me, no matter how I tried. But I can help you, Brigitte. I can. Please, baby, let me help you."
He drew her in again, tore the cords from her grip, brought them to the ground. Then he picked up one foot, stepped it into a leg, then the did the same with the other. She tried to push him away, clawed at his back, but he didn't stop. He slid the pants up her legs, and onto her hips, his fingers carefully pushing the buttons into place.
Brigitte continued to struggle as he worked, and in the distance, she suddenly saw her sister. Ginger stood radiant as the snow sparkled around her in the morning sun, her red hair dancing in the wind.
Slowly, the shade brought her head up, then down. She was nodding.
"Ginger," whispered Brigitte, pausing in her assault, but her sister just gave a small smile, and faded away as if she had never been.
"Brigitte," said Tyler, pulling her back from the brink, "Brigitte…"
She stopped trying to fight him. She stopped trying to believe that she had to be alone, that there was no way for them to walk away from all this together.
He nuzzled her cheek, pushing her face back so each was staring into the other's eyes.
Alone, their eyes were the colors of cornflowers and marigolds, and together they melted to make a shade of green that belonged to the grass, that spoke of a summer to come.
She couldn't keep the tears from flowing. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her weeping eyes.
"Oh Brigitte," he said, and gently pressed his lips to hers until the tears had dried, until she kissed him back with an equal portion of understanding, desire.
He led her back to the car, reluctant to release her at the passenger door, but he did.
"Go back," she said, when they were in place.
"There's something I need to do, Tyler," she declared. Without another word, Tyler swung the car around.
As they neared the underpass he slowed the car cautiously.
"Don't worry," Brigitte said, reaching in the back, "The guy in the truck is gone, probably off to tell the story to people who won't believe him."
"I wouldn't have believed it either," he said, "If I hadn't have seen it with my own eyes."
Brigitte turned back to the front. She had the camera in her hand.
"What are you doing?" he asked, but she didn't answer. But she didn't try to stop him when he followed her out of the car and back into the tunnel, either.
The corpse was just on the other side of the opening, a bloody stain on the black top. Crows had already begun to congregate in the surrounding trees, filling the air with their raucous calls.
Regarding the mess through the lens, Brigitte let the sunlight catch the red on the snow covered ground before snapping the picture. She took another, and another, documenting every part of the death, filing away these pieces of her past with every click of the camera.
When she had finished she found Tyler standing beside her, bearing the jacket she had discarded and his lacrosse stick. She took the jacket, but eyed the stick skeptically.
"A reminder," said Tyler, reading her mind as he twirled it around, "There are some things I don't mind remembering."
"But what about these pictures?" he asked.
"Reminders. Of things that I can't forget."
She contemplated the corpse, then turned back to Tyler.
"You have a can of gas? And a match?"
Tyler seemed to understand. He disappeared into the dark and came back with the gasoline and the lighter from her dreams.
She let him douse the lycanthrope with the gas, inhaling the heady toxic smell as it filled the air. He crouched down, flicked open the lighter, but then he paused.
He held the device up for her to take, expectant.
"You should do the honors," Tyler said, and she took the lighter in her hands. The metal was silver, and the combination of the cool metal in her palm and the gasoline in the air made her nauseous. She bent down, moved her thumb in the familiar motion. Thoughts of cigarettes and lockets and needles filled her mind as she held the flame to the flesh, let it catch.
She stood dizzily. Tyler caught her, enfolded her in an embrace as they watched it burn.
"What about Alice?" she asked suddenly, when she had successfully cleared her mind of the memories and the smell of burning hair had overtaken her senses, "You think she's still looking for us?"
"Don't you worry about any of that," he assured her, "I'll take care of everything. I've got connections."
"Brigitte," Tyler soothed, "Trust me."
"Alright," she said, "I trust you. But we'll need more monkshood. Wolfsbane, maybe, if we can figure out a way to grow it. I'll never…I'll never be normal, you know.""I know," sighed Tyler, "But neither will I."
He dropped his arms from around her shoulders, took one of her hands in his instead.
"So…Brigitte…" he said, watching the flames lap at the corpse, licking the bones clean, "Where do you want to go?"
He held onto her, entwining his fingers in hers as he waited for her reply.
She stared at her reflection in the blaze, her golden eyes burning as if they were a part of it. But they were a part of her, too, a part she wouldn't have to hide with him. Her shoulder hurt, but it was healing. She could feel the flesh knitting itself together, repairing the damage. She was a broken woman, but with a little work, maybe Brigitte could be repaired.
She squeezed Tyler's palm, turned her gaze to him. He took his eyes from the fire and smiled. This time, she smiled back.
"I don't care," she said, "If you're the one who takes me there, it can be anywhere."
"You are quite a woman, Brigitte," Tyler chucked softly, "I might have to pull over periodically and show you just how special you are."
"You fool," said Brigitte, still smiling, "There'll be plenty of time for that later. For now, you'd better just drive."
"Yes ma'am," said Tyler, with a wink. But as they turned to go, he held onto her hand with no intention of releasing it, releasing her. And for Brigitte, feeling Tyler's intentions—both wonderful and wicked, but full of promise—flowing through his fingers into her own, that was enough.
Brigitte and Tyler, the end of something at their backs, stepped towards something new. They weren't afraid. It was waiting for them in the black. Together, they moved into shadow. As the dark swallowed them up, the fire spat and snarled in the middle of the road, until the only things left were the dying embers and the spattered bloodstains, violent red, in the snow. In time, those, too, would disappear.
But they would remember, every time she put the poison in her veins, every time he held her as it coursed through her body.
They would try, because trying was the only thing that would keep things from falling apart.
And because it was impossible to forget, they would remember.
They would remember everything.
It's been a blast, folks. Thanks for all your support and comments as I struggled to put this beast to bed. Hope the ending was satisfactory and worth the wait.
Expect more GS fanfiction from me in the future, possibly more with this particular pairing, possibly other things. I'm kicking around some ideas.
Until then, happy writing!