It turned out that the kids had conveniently forgotten to inform us that they had been playing hide and seek when Kelly disappeared. I didn't doubt that they had been afraid they would get in trouble. The kids were forbidden to be playing games in the woods. Kelly had traveled deep into the woods and found herself a nice hiding place in a hollowed out tree trunk. She had waited for her friends to find her and eventually fallen asleep. When she had woken up she couldn't remember which direction she had come from and wandered around lost for hours. The driver of the mystery truck turned out to be a teenager, sneaking onto base for a late night rendezvous with his girlfriend.
Kelly's mother had been overjoyed when she saw Agent Gibbs standing on her front porch, her daughter asleep in his arms. By then the rest of the wolves had been sent home and only the Alpha and I remained. The woman had a brief surge of fear when my boss informed her that her daughter had been found by the local werewolf pack. But after she had taken a moment to collect herself, she had shaken the Alpha's hand, thanking him with genuine gratitude.
I sighed, leaning back in my chair as I watched the cursor flash on the monitor before me. The report wasn't particularly difficult to write, but I found myself stalling regardless. With an unhappy sigh I pinched the bridge of my nose, squeezing my eyes shut. It had been so difficult to remain in my human form amongst all those other wolves and now...I turned and stared past Tony to look out the large windows of the squad room. The sky was completely cloudless and the moon shone with all her radiant glory. Inside I could feel the wolf stirring, basking in the moonlight as she called to him with a sirens song. I turned back to my computer and pulled up a lunar calendar, though it wasn't necessary. All werewolves could recognize the phases of the moon. Again my gaze was drawn to the sky.
Soon she would be full.
Soon she would force the change upon me.
"Hey McMoony, whatcha' thinking' about?"
Tony had his feet propped up on his desk as he reclined back in his chair in his classic 'meditative' pose. To a regular human he would have appeared to have been asleep. But the sound of his breathing wasn't regular or slow enough to signify sleep. He dropped his feet and turned to look at me, eyes bright from the excitement of the day.
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I smirked with amusement. It was highly unlikely.
"I think so, how many cheese balls do you think it would take to fill up the moon?"
Tony laughed and stood, he ran around my desk and grabbed the back of my chair. I gripped the arms and lifted my feet as he pushed me out from behind my desk and towards the window. Ziva briefly looked up from her monitor, her fingers slowing as she finished typing her own report, watching our antics with an amused smirk on her face.
"Not a clue McPinky, I was wondering why we don't have any werewolves in the Navy."
For a fraction of a second I completely froze up. Would it begin now? The extreme scrutinizing gaze upon all of his colleges until Tony found himself a werewolf hiding amongst them?
"I do not see any reason to believe there are no werewolves in the Navy." Ziva stood, abandoning her paperwork as she walked over and hopped up to sit on Tony's desk. "It is reasonable to believe that there are several werewolves whom have not revealed themselves to the public eye, just like the fae. Perhaps the werewolves in the Navy believe that they could not maintain their lives aboard their ships if their crewmates knew what they were."
Ziva's argument was reasonable, if a person knew nothing about werewolves. The whole sinking like a stone was what really kept wolves from applying to the Navy. But her reasoning served well enough to distract Tony.
"But just think about it! Not all of the Navy is on ships all the time, surely someone in JAG or even here at NCIS." He hitched a hip against his desk and crossed his arms, a deep look of thought crossing over his face. "In fact, I'm surprised that NCIS doesn't have any outed werewolves, every other agency does!"
He stepped away from his desk, pacing between it and Ziva's as he counted off the alphabet agencies on his fingers.
"The FBI, CIA, NSA, ICE, the secret service, Homeland Security! They all have agents that have stepped forward to reveal themselves as werewolves!" I watched as my teammate through his hands into the air with exasperation, trying to smother the feelings of guilt that were quickly resurfacing. "NCIS is one of the only agencies that doesn't have a werewolf on the payroll! What's wrong with NCIS?"
Ziva tapped a finger against her chin thoughtfully as she watched Tony pace. Then slowly her eyes slid upwards, towards the door to the directors office.
"Perhaps NCIS does have a werewolf on the payroll, but the director has decided to keep the information under bandages."
Tony halted, turning his head to look up at the directors office as well.
"First off, it's under wraps Ziva, not bandages. And why would the director want to keep something like that a secret? When the werewolves came out NCIS added to the fae policy that insures any werewolf employees that they won't be discriminated against." He frowned, leaning up against Gibbs's desk. "No, I think it's more likely that there are no werewolves here at NCIS. I mean, if there were, wouldn't Gibbs have found out who they are by now? He's got friends from the Marines that are werewolves, I think that he'd recognize a werewolf when he saw one."
A look of shocked horror past over his expressive face and for a moment I was sure that I was doomed.
"No way! I just realized." He looked cautiously all around him, turning in a circle and peering over the dividers between the offices. Then he leaned forward and beckoned us to lean in as well. I did so reluctantly, wheeling my chair up next to Ziva. Tony leaned forward, his hands cupped around his mouth as he whispered. "Maybe the reason that no werewolves want to join NCIS is because," here he paused for dramatic effect and I had to beat down the urge to reach out and strangle him. "No werewolves want to join NCIS because Gibbs is a werewolf!"
Thwack! Gibbs's hand came out of nowhere and connected roughly with the back of Tony's head. I leaned back in surprise, I had been so absorbed by what Tony was saying that I hadn't even heard the team leader approach.
"Not a werewolf DiNozzo. If I were you would have probably been eaten a long time ago."
"Right boss, Thank you boss!"
We scattered, each of us returning to our own desks with smirks or barely smothered laughs. As I returned to my report though, I couldn't keep my mind from straying to the thought of Gibbs as a werewolf. I was torn between what I knew about my boss and the truths that I knew and believed about wolves.
There was no doubt in my mind that if Gibbs were to ever become a werewolf, he would be an Alpha. An extremely strong Alpha. Hell, he was the closest thing I had ever seen to an Alpha in a human being. He had a very strong dominant personality, he was a natural born leader and he was extremely protective of his team. Those were the main instincts of an Alpha wolf, to lead and protect the pack.
But I had seen men before. Men who were different after the change. Sometimes the predator and the instinct that is born inside is too strong and when the man rises, he is a completely different person. A person who is still human, but his mind is touched too much by the wolf. I didn't want to believe that of Gibbs. Everything that I knew about him assured me that he would be an ideal Alpha, in complete control of himself. But I had seen the madness that some dominant wolves face and I couldn't deny that it was a possibility.
I shook myself from my thoughts and cast a weary eye towards my boss. It didn't seem like he had noticed the straying of my thoughts. I watched as he chicken pecked on his keyboard with a finger and sipped his coffee. I glanced away, before he caught me watching and questioned me. I needed to stop wondering about things like these. Gibbs would never become a werewolf. To become a werewolf he would have to be attacked, mauled and practically killed. Eyes back on my computer screen I growled, low and dangerously, at the thought.
No werewolf would ever get close enough to attack Gibbs. Or Tony or Ziva. Or any one of my friends, my pack, here at NCIS. Any wolf that tried would end up dead by my fangs and claws.
The rest of the week passed in cold case files and empty coffee cups. Every night, when the moon rose, I could feel the draw of her power and fought the urge to simply succumb to the change. Finally Friday was over and Gibbs dismissed us with a jerk of his head towards the elevator. I smiled, relived to be leaving and excited for the coming weekend. The MCRT was not on call this weekend, so unless there was an emergency I was completely free.
"Breaking news here at ZNN."
"Hey Probie, Ziva and I are gonna go hit the bar. Why don't you go grab Abbs if she's free and join us."
I shook my head, rejecting the offer before he had even finished asking.
"Sorry Tony. I can't, I've already got plans."
"Oh come on Elf Lord! Questing for rare armor or something doesn't count!"
"The FBI investigation into the violent animal mauling across DC continues as more victims continue to be discovered."
I glared and resisted the wolfs urge pounce on Tony and bite him. Somehow I decided that the gesture wouldn't translate from wolf to human well. Tony smirked, assuming that my glare meant that his assumption had been correct. I decided that when I finally found the courage to show my friends what I was, I was going to run under Tony's feet and trip him up as much as possible.
"Not those kinds of plans. Sarah and I are driving home to see our parents this weekend. We won't be back until Monday morning."
"The FBI continues to claim that these are the attacks of a rouge bear, but several concerned citizens are asking, are these attacks being committed by a werewolf?"
I didn't wait for his response as I brushed past him and bypassed the elevator, choosing instead to take the stairs. I was in a hurry, Sarah and I had only a few hours to get home before the moon's strength was at her zenith. I just hoped that she was waiting at my apartment and ready to go when I got there.
As I pulled into my parking space Sarah was waiting, our bags and Jethro by her side. I popped the trunk as she grabbed the duffel bags and quickly tossed them into the trunk before pushing the dog into the backseat and sliding into the passenger seat.
"Agent Gibbs let you guys leave early today didn't he? I wasn't expecting you for another hour at the most."
I nodded, glad that I had thought to call her as I left the Navy Yard.
"We've been working cold cases for the last few days. I think that I was the only person still working when he finally decided that he had had enough of Tony flying paper airplanes at the legal personnel as they walked past."
Sarah laughed as I pulled back out onto the street, turning in the familiar direction of our parents home. Inside the wolf paced restlessly, nudging relentlessly at my control. He knew what tonight was and he was excited.
"Have you been watching the news lately Tim?"
Sarah sounded slightly anxious as I shook my head. I hadn't watched much of any news, save weather reports, since the werewolves revealed themselves. We hadn't stirred up as much controversy as the fae had. But I still didn't enjoy watching experts discuss whether we should be allowed to hold onto our citizenship or be listed as animals under the Endangered Species Act.
"There have been a bunch of mauling's, all over DC. The FBI is investigating, claiming that it's a bear, but a bunch of people are screaming werewolf."
I sat up straighter in my seat. That was news that I probably should have listened to.
"Did they say who the FBI agent in charge of the operation was?"
Sarah shook her head. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel, suddenly very glad that my little sister was going to be home in Ohio for the full moon. A rouge werewolf on the run in DC was a dangerous thing. With the full moon approaching it would only get more dangerous. I could only hope that the local pack would be hunting it as well as the FBI. I let out a quiet scoff at that thought. Half of the DC pack was made up of FBI agents.
One more reason for me to stay a lone wolf.
"You don't think they're going to blame you for this, do you? I mean, aren't the lone wolves the first suspects?"
That made me grit my teeth. Of course they would have to investigate all of the lone wolves in the area. But it was DC, the capital of the United States! There were several lone wolves living in the area besides him. Although, if they couldn't find him when they wished to question him, that could cause problems. I took my phone from my pocket and made sure that the ringer was turned up all the way. Not that that would matter, the FBI never called before they dragged you around for questioning.
"I don't think that any of them will seriously consider me as a suspect. Submissive wolves don't have the violent tendencies that the dominants have. They will probably have to question me anyway though, just for procedures."
Sarah nodded, one of her hands snaking into the backseat to stroke Jethro's soft fur. For a moment I stared at the locked screen of my phone and contemplated calling the team to warn them. But what would that accomplish? None of them would take kindly to being asked to lock themselves up in their homes, safe and sound, for the weekend. If anything that would make them go out just to spite me.
With a growl I shoved the phone back into my pocket. I couldn't regret coming home, not since it got Sarah out of the danger zone. But I would now be worried the entire weekend. I shot a look at the clock on the dash. Only a few hours until dark. I applied a little more pressure to the gas, speed up just a little over the limit.
I hadn't had much time to great my parents before the rising moon sent me dashing into my old room. I quickly swung the door closed, assuring my privacy, as I began to quickly strip out of my work clothes. I didn't bother with folding them, I just left them where they fell as I pulled up the shade over the window.
Pulse drumming erratically in my ears, I slid open the window and sat in the pool moonlight that shone through. My breath quickened until I was practically panting, fighting to stay relaxed as I allowed the wolf to come forward. He came eagerly and I collapsed to the floor, racked with pain.
I clenched my teeth tightly as my back arched off of the floor. My bones began to slowly shift, changing my form from a bipedal human to that of a quadruped wolf. Soft whimpers became whines as my face elongated into a muzzle and my teeth grew, long and razor sharp. Skin pulled tight over limbs that where changing into shapes it was never meant to cover and soft brown fur began to grow. My fingernails lengthened and hardened into claws that drew long scores into the hardwood floor.
A werewolves transformation wasn't quick, it wasn't easy and it sure as hell wasn't painless. I laid on the floor of my childhood room in agony for the fifteen minutes that it took to become a wolf. For several minutes after the change was completed I lay still on the floor, panting heavily, tongue lolling as my new body shook. Eventually I managed to stand and stretched to work out the last of the painful aches. I walked around the room, getting reacquainted with four feet instead of two and gave my sandy brown fur a vigorous shake.
As I paced past the door I paused, lowering my nose to sniff under the crack. With a canine grin I stood back and scratched at the door, whining loudly. The sound of my family scrambling away brought forth a short bark of laughter. After a moment the door cracked open and my father glanced inside.
"Everything go okay Tim?"
Obviously I couldn't answer him in this form, so I let my actions speak for me. I left my room, walking leisurely into the hallway to allow my family to look me over. Sarah stepped forward with a smile and a large leather dog collar. My ears dropped comically as she latched it around my neck but I did not fight. This was one of the more practical rules enforced by the Marrok. All lone wolves running free were required to wear a collar whenever they went out as wolves.
The tag on my collar declared me Squirrel and listed Sarah's cell number to be called if I was found.
It was a mistake letting Sarah purchase the collar and tag. But she had insisted that since it was her that would have to come fetch me if I ended up in the pound, all naming and collar options would be up to her.
I didn't understand how anyone could mistake a werewolf for a dog; though people had been for centuries. Sure, the coloring of a werewolves coat tends to appear more like a dogs than a regular wolf. (I've heard rumors that the Marrok's tail has a white tip on the end, as if he'd dipped it into a paint bucket.) But if you really look at a werewolf you can see the differences. For one, even small wolves are around the size of a mastiff. Some wolf's size is more akin to that of a bear. Another difference is in our shoulders. The musculature is completely wrong for a canine, but werewolves were built for fighting and our muscles reflected that. With our altered shoulders we had a much wider range of sideways motion than our native cousins.
Collar secured Sarah gave me a quick, pleasant, scratch behind my ears. I stepped away sneezing at her in a reproachful manner. I didn't like that she was so comfortable around werewolves, even me. There was always the chance that she would get to comfortable around the wrong wolf and that would be disastrous.
She glared, but stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest. I gave my family a final canine grin and trotted down the stairs then out the open back door. On the porch I paused, raising my nose into the air and taking in several deep breaths. For the most part I smelled my parents and the scents of the house, but when I closed my eyes and filtered past that, I could smell the trees and the dirt.
With a leap, I bounded off of the porch and ran into the woods, a gleeful howl ripping past my lips as I went. My paws dug deep ruts into the dirt, propelling me quickly through the trees. I danced through the wilderness, not paying attention to where I went or anything around me. I just laid back and let the wolf take over as he basked in the glow of being free. Of being an animal.
Eventually I stopped, flopping gracelessly into a pile of deadfall and rolling onto my back lazily. My stomach rumbled and the wolves ears pricked forward, nose raising into the air as another animalistic urge took over. Quietly I rolled out of the deadfall, treading lightly now on my paws. I turned my head in all directions, scenting the air around me before focusing towards the east.
On silent paws I crept between the trees, all senses on high alert. Finally I found what I was searching for, a female white tail deer, a doe. The wolf flexed his claws, ready to charge, she would be no challenge for us and he was hungry. But I held us back, watching. The doe was preparing to bed down for the night. Every now and then she would quickly look up, frantically searching in all directions as a prey animals instincts screamed that she was in danger. But she couldn't see me, slunk low to the ground, and she stayed where she was. When I was certain that she didn't have a fawn, I stopped reigning the wolf in and he charged.
The doe screamed in panic as the large brown beast charged towards her out of the darkness. She barely had enough time to climb to her feet before I was on her. Werewolves teeth are sharp and our jaws are strong. One fierce bite snapped her neck, killing her instantly. I stood for a moment, frozen by human revulsion, as her blood soaked my fur and run over my tongue. In the distance a small pack of coyotes voices rose in song. Abruptly the human revulsion was pushed back and I dropped the carcass, raising my own voice in song to silence the weaker predators. They would not hunt here, this was my territory!
Their song ceased and, satisfied, the wolf turned back to his kill; and fed.