(happy new year. as always, no ownage, no money made, no insult intended. enjoy.)
"Run, Forrest, run!"
Abby had been really very patient.
She had helped Josie dump tons of Tony (damn, but the man had mass) onto thick white bath towels spread out on top of Josie's guest bed. She had wiped him clean of most of the blood, and then watched as Josie performed one of those nurse/magician tricks, where something is on top of a sheet and then the sheet is pulled in a seemingly simple but really very intricate manner, leaving whatever was on top of the sheet under it, undisturbed. She had had tea (which, she felt, was the classic response to a situation like this: 'Oh noes, we are being hunted by a bloodthirsty madwoman who isn't even human! Anybody for a spot of tea?') and cookies, and Josie had thoroughly kicked her ass at poker, and Tony still hadn't moved an inch.
"You haven't lied to me about Tony waking up, have you?" Abby asked suspiciously, after staring at him very pointedly for several minutes, with no visible effects. "I mean, you won't turn out to be a psychotic cackling madwoman who intends to turn this room into a shrine for Tony's dead body, and then lock me in here with him until I starve, will you? Because that? So doesn't fly."
"Someone's been reading Victorian horror romances," Josie surmised drily.
"Well, yeah! They're totally awesome! Melodrama deluxe!" Abby enthused. "All gigantic haunted mansions and huge frilly dresses and Death and Madness and Love, and...Hey! That wasn't an answer to my question!"
Josie sipped her tea in a very infuriating manner, eyes dancing with laughter. "I've never really been one for frilly dresses, Abigail. And this room doesn't lock."
"You could have a collection of stuffed bodies in the attic," Abby said, petulantly.
Josie snorted inelegantly and put her cup down. "His body has to finish healing before he comes back," she very patiently explained. "Otherwise he'd just die again right away, obviously. If he'd been stabbed somewhere less important than the heart he'd have been up by now, because it would have taken less time for his body to get back to minimal function. But you never did do anything the easy way, did you?" She addressed this last bit to Tony, patting him fondly on the head as she leaned down to cast a critical eye on the wound. "Should be no more than an hour now, two at most," she predicted. "It's sealing itself nicely."
Abby had avoided looking at the gash, preferring to focus on less gruesome parts of naked werewolf. Somehow, gore wasn't at all interesting when it came from Tony, and not from someone she'd never know as more than a body in Ducky's morgue. Now that she did look, she could tell Josie was right; the jagged hole was barely there any more. The new skin looked shiny and pale, and when she reached out a careful finger to touch it, it was significantly warmer than the rest of Tony, who was currently mainly at room temperature.
She wondered if there would be a scar.
A huge yawn overwhelmed her, and after she'd stretched and squirmed and made kitten noises, Josie had somehow managed to make their cups and plates vanish and was holding out a thick green blanket for her.
"Get some rest, girl," Josie ordered. "You'll notice when he wakes up. I promise."
Abby was about to protest that she most definitely couldn't sleep now, but then she yawned again, and her jaw felt scarily close to dislocating, and after that she didn't think Josie would believe any assurances of non-tiredness, and anyway Abby wasn't one to say no to fate, and there wouldn't be a spot just big enough for her next to Tony on the bed if she wasn't meant to curl up in it.
So she did, and Josie switched off the lights and gently closed the door behind her, and Abby drifted off to sleep with her palm covering the warmth over Tony's heart.
Once he had been, then he had not-been, and now suddenly he was again; not-running, not-smelling, drifting like fog in this place of not-light. Clinging to his back was his Other, silent and small like prey in hiding, those soft and useless claws digging deep into his shoulders.
There was no sky here, no land and no water, nothing but him and his Other. No trail to follow, nothing to tell him if he was even moving, only not-light stretching out all around him as far as he could see.
His Other was like water in the winter, and still he walked.
There was no sky here, but suddenly he could hear Her calling for him. The Wild Lady, She who mastered him with Her ebb and flow. From far away came Her call, but he heard Her, and he turned towards the sound and started running.
Josie answered the phone on the third ring.
"Josephine." The voice was deep and smooth and male, used to command and tinted with traces of a soft and exotic accent.
"I wondered when you'd call," she said. "I should have known it would be just after I'd managed to fall asleep."
"I apologize, Josephine," he said, not sounding particularly apologetic. "But if you were expecting my call I do not see why you went to bed at all."
Josie laughed. "Well, not all of us have the luxury of aging only mentally, you dusty old relic! This old woman needs her beauty sleep!"
"Not so old, where it counts," he murmured warmly. Then he sobered. "Josephine...Expecting my call? Then-"
"He's here," she interrupted, anticipating his question, "safely tucked away in my guest bed, and well on his way to mending. Which is why I'd really like to get some sleep in before he wakes and turns the house upside down."
"He's there?" If she hadn't known him as well as she did, she wouldn't have caught the relief in those words. "Very good. That certainly simplifies matters. I was not looking forward to rushing all around the city looking for him. The pack ties are muted almost to nothing when someone is In Between. Were you with him?"
"No. An absolutely charming girl named Abigail brought him here. If I was younger..."
He hummed thoughtfully. "So he's told her."
"It would appear so, yes." Josie smirked to herself. "If he hadn't I'm sure you'd be organizing a break-in into the NCIS morgue right now, not keeping fragile old ladies from their sleep."
"Fragile old ladies, really," he snorted. "You've never been fragile in your entire life."
"Much to the despair of my late parents. I note you don't deny the old lady part."
"I've offered to assist with that, but you always turn me down."
Josie's smirk faded then, turned into something bitter sweet. "Well...you should never have had to offer."
He was silent for a while. "No. I shouldn't." A sigh. "I'd best be going, Josephine. There are still...things to be taken care of. Things I should have dealt with a long time ago."
"Yes." She paused, uncertain. "Sennefer...He's...It's good that you're here."
"Is it? Truly?"
He hung up before she could think of a reply.
There were shapes in the not-light now – shadows dancing on the edge of his vision, blurred even more by the speed of his passing – but they were growing clearer, there the sharp of rock and there the tall of tree, and then scents, as if from very far away, telling himfaster, faster and most of all Her call, growing louder and more insistent, making him able to ignore the there of smallfurrywarm skittering out of his way and into the underbrush.
His Other shivered, burrowed deeper into the fur on his back. It was colder now, like before the dawn in spring, chilly and fresh with mist rising from the ground to coil around him and cover him in tiny glittering beads of water.
Run, run! She called, and he followed.
The ground gained texture under his paws – soft and moist and springy – and there was a sound in the distance, deep and slow and measured, tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump, a red sound in the not-light, red like home and safe and pack and Sire, and it mingled with Her calling until he could think of nothing else.
Faster, faster! Run!
He was tired now, but he was so close. The not-light was thickening, angry, not willing to let him go. It stuck to him like resin, slowing him down and pulling him back. In front of him it piled and built like storm clouds, a great looming wall as far as he could see to either side.
The message was clear: This far, but no further.
He raised his head and howled his defiance.
Then he ran straight at it.
It was no longer passively restricting his movement; it tore and clawed at him viciously with invisible talons, catching his hind leg and making him stumble and roll. He got to his feet only to be thrown again. It pressed close then, keeping him down and unable to move, the oppressive weight of it slowly crushing him and his Other. It held him until he was gasping and choking, and then carelessly tossed him like a leaf back to his starting point.
Come! Run, run! Come!
He dragged himself back up, snarling, the red sound booming loudly in his ears now, giving him strength and keeping the not-light at bay. Slowly, one step at a time, he limped back into it, pressing ever forward through the smothering lack of substance and its savage fangs and thorns, to Her and to the red sound.
It seemed to go on forever. The not-light raged around him, pummeling him from all directions, and his Other's useless claws were losing their hold and his paws wouldn't lift from the ground, but still he fought forward, and then suddenly it stopped. The not-light gave way; disappeared as if it had never been.
The forest around him was lush and green; tiny pink flowers nestled in the soft moss, and slender pines stretched arrogantly into the night sky. It was quiet but not silent – no threats other than himself - and he wanted nothing more than to lay down and lick his wounds and sleep, but still She called.
A little further. Just a little further. Come.
He could see Her now, hanging low over the tree tops, and he stumbled stiffly towards her. She smiled at him then, shining brightly, and as She'd promised, it was just a little further until he found a cave, one that resonated with the red sound and was just big enough for him and his Other to curl up in. He nudged his Other with his nose – getting no reaction except a tightening of the arms around his neck, he huffed and let himself collapse on the ground, too tired for grace.
The red sound rocked him, vibrated through his body, steady and slow, louder and louder, his heart slowing to match. Soon, it was all he could feel and all he could hear and all he could see and then...
Tony gasped and sat up in the bed.
To be continued.