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Where the Wild Things Are
A lot of soldiers were bitten, in the early days of the war. The Taliban would do this thing where they recruited werewolves, particularly young ones, from local villages and gave them money for their families.
In return, the wolves would get as close to Army bases as possible and, on the full moon, attack.
The US learned how to deal with it pretty quickly, but not before losing entire camps.
Carter remembers those days. Some of those camps look a lot like this room does now, and she might actually throw up.
Alejandro Cruz has been torn apart.
There's really no other word for it.
Blood splatters across the floor and the walls, dragged from pools and slashed in intricate lines leading from the body to the bathroom door. It looks like the wolf played when it was done, and Carter's stomach rolls.
Reese paces, claws in his fingernails. Carter wonders if this bothers him as much as it does her. Probably not, because he's an old wolf and a CIA assassin. Blood, even this much, won't bother him.
"We have to call it in," she says. She doesn't want to. The public is already panicked over Sarah Greene's death, and this, a wolf attack outside of the full moon?
"I know," Reese mutters.
"Do you think this is the same werewolf that killed Sarah Greene last week?"
He doesn't answer right away, instead carefully picking his way through the soaked bathroom to get a closer look at Cruz's body.
"Yes," he growls. "It has to be the same wolf."
"There won't be more than one sick wolf in the city at a time," he says flatly, stepping back. His eyes, normally blue, are flecked with gold.
"A sick wolf?" She's heard that term before, she thinks, but she can't remember—
"One of us who hunts humans."
She frowns again, wrinkling her forehead. "Why only one at a time?"
"The sick are killed," Reese says. She can't read his face between the gold flashes in his eyes, but he's not happy, not at all.
Her stomach rolls again.
"This one doesn't have pack," he continues, pacing again. "If it did, they would've killed him after moon night."
"This is the man you've been watching, right?"
"The werewolf warned him before he came," she mutters. It doesn't make sense. "It wanted him to be afraid, to know that it was coming."
Reese shakes his head like a dog trying to rid its ears of water. "The blood from the warning will be Sarah Greene's," he says. "And the wolf took some from Cruz."
"He changed here?"
Reese nods, running his fingers over the bed. "Fur and blood," he mutters. He holds up a few strands of long black fur. "And then he changed again and left by the window."
He's right—the window is shoved open and the sill is gouged, the imprint of claws left forever. Dark, wiry strands of fur are snagged in the window, just like some were left on Sarah Greene's coat.
Reese sticks his head out of the window. "He jumped onto the fire escape, probably ran through the back alley."
"When was Cruz killed?"
Reese's shoulders go tense and he seems to shiver. His fingernails gouge into the windowsill. "If Cruz was in the bathroom, around four-thirty."
"Were you watching?"
Frustration ripples from him in waves. "I'd just left. The wolf would've been right there—" A deep, angry snarl escapes from his clenched teeth and she almost takes a step back. She stops herself just in time, though, because John isn't going to hurt her, no matter how angry he is.
He softens. "My wolf hates bad hunts," he explains. "And it hates missing its prey."
Carter thinks back to all the times a suspect has gotten away from her, and how angry that makes her. "I can understand that," she says.
He almost smiles.
"This wolf will keep killing until he's caught. Call it in. Have the labs analyze the fur, see if there's any prints left. The wolf had to have taken a container or something with it, for the blood."
Carter nods, taking one last look at the carnage before reaching for her phone.
"Carter," he says. She turns back around. "Will you keep my shoes?"
"Your shoes." It's so out of place here that she can't help but laugh a little, and he kicks off his shoes. "Yeah, okay. You gonna try and track him?"
Reese nods. He's shedding his shirt now, and she's surprised to see that there's a fresh, blackened line scarring an arm. He's taken some silver recently.
"Be safe," she says, and he gives her a wide, toothy grin.
"Close your eyes," he says, his own a bright, wolfish amber.
Carter does, and when she opens them again, Reese is across the room in one bound and out the window.
Carter sighs and flips open her phone. "Hello, yeah, this is Detective Carter, I need to report a homicide…"
Lionel Fusco wakes up with a killer headache and a very large werewolf sitting on his chest.
"Jesus Christ," he chokes, throwing his hands up, and the wolf snarls thinly, leaping off his chest and growling to itself.
Fusco sits up. There's a knot the size of his fist sticking out of his forehead and dried blood cracks when he tries to move his face.
Ow, fuck. He'll just sit here for a bit, then.
Once the world stops spinning, he can get a good look at the wolf. He relaxes a little. He knows this wolf, and it probably won't kill him today.
The wolf fixes the detective with bright, fierce amber eyes. It growls.
"Nice of you to show up," Fusco says. "Where were you when I was getting ambushed, huh? You didn't say nothin' about running into crazies with baseball bats. Just some surveillance, you said."
The wolf ignores him, sniffing the bloodied edge of the bat. He sneezes, a snarl lifting his muzzle, and paces in front of Fusco.
"You hunting?" The only times Fusco has seen his 'friend' in wolf shape have been during a hunt, which makes him feel almost bad for the poor guy at the other end of the line, but if the wolf's hunting Mr. Baseball-bat-from-nowhere, well, Fusco can't really feel bad for that guy.
His head fucking hurts.
"Look, man, I didn't see it comin'. He blindsided me."
The wolf eyes him flatly, and, not for the first time, Fusco wonders if he can smell emotions. It wouldn't surprise him.
The wolf jerks its muzzle upwards, at the high rise and Alejandro Cruz's apartment.
"Aw, hell," Fusco mutters. "Cruz is dead?"
The wolf nods, growling quietly.
Fusco holds up his hands. Isn't there some rule about not making eye contact with wolves? Like it pisses them off, or something? He looks at the wall behind the wolf just to be safe. "I didn't see who got me, I swear," he says. "Think he killed Cruz?"
The wolf barks, which Fusco thinks means yes. Damn it.
"I'll pull security footage, see what I can find," Fusco offers, which the wolf seems to find okay. He gives the detective a look that promises they'll talk later, and then he's gone.
Fusco rubs his head gingerly. He doesn't think he'll stand up just yet, but he squints up at Cruz's apartment.
"Fucking werewolves," he mutters.
"Police have issued a blanket house arrest on all werewolves today after a second victim was found dead in his apartment a week after the full moon... All wolves are to stay in their homes and wait for the police to check their alibies. Citizens are warned to avoid any and all wolves they see on the streets. If you see a werewolf outside of his or her home, call the police immediately.
"Citizens are also advised to stay indoors after dark, especially in the Brooklyn area, where Sarah Greene was killed, and Queens, where Alejandro Cruz lived."
Finch turns off the TV with one quick, awkward jab. He doesn't break the remote, this time, and he drops it before he can.
Alejandro Cruz is dead. Finch pulled Reese off of him and now he's dead—
Killed by a werewolf, too. The same one who slaughtered Sarah Greene on moon night. The city is in an uproar. It's one thing to lose someone on moon night, but a week later? Werewolves aren't supposed to be able to change past the moon, let alone kill people—
In the depths of the library, a door opens and Reese's now-familiar scent—tinged, this time, with something awful and burning that his wolf shies away from—hits Finch's nose.
"Mr. Reese," Finch says quietly, forcing his voice to stay steady and calm.
"I have a problem," Finch says, and shows Reese his hands. He has, instead of normal fingernails, sharp, black wolf claws, and it's kind of causing him to panic.
Reese, however, doesn't seem that concerned. "How long have they been like this?"
"A few hours." Four hours and twenty-eight minutes, to be exact. So far, Finch has broken his keyboard, clawed a hole in the wall, and shredded the only book on lycanthropy he had in the library.
He doesn't know what to do. The claws have gotten worse. When he broke through his keyboard, they were still human-looking, but now they're not—
He can't work if he has werewolf claws. He can't read, or go over files, or dial a phone. He can't do anything—
The claws are worse than they were four hours ago. It's probably the panic, but Finch just—
"Relax," Reese says, slow and even. Finch doesn't, but the wolf in the corner of his mind does, settling down with a sigh. It suddenly feels safe and a whole blur of other things he can't get ahold of, despite Finch's anxiety. "This happens sometimes, especially if you're distracted. What were you doing?"
"Digging through Talia Mason's information," he says.
"That'll do it."
At Finch's raised eyebrow, Reese explains, "you were hunting. The wolf felt that and reacted to it, that's why you have the claws."
"And that happens often?"
"You'll learn to control it," Reese says, in that same low, steady voice. "The wolf reacts to emotions. It feels your anger or your fear or your hunt and it wants to see what's happening, which causes partial changes."
"How do I reverse it?"
"Be calm," says Reese. "Don't fight it. Just relax."
Finch breathes, pulling his clawed hands away. Easier said than done, he thinks. How the hell is he supposed to be calm when this is happening to him?
But no. He can do this. Being a werewolf isn't any worse than the aftermath of the accident, is it? At least the wolf doesn't hurt. Much, anyway. (He's been having some pain in his neck, but he can ignore it, if he tries hard enough).
"It's normal," Reese says. "You'll notice other little changes, especially after moon-dark. You get used to them pretty fast."
"And these changes are?"
"Sharper hearing, sense of smell, stronger fingernails. Old injuries, especially bad ones—" here Finch gets a meaningful look—"will heal. You'll start to hear the wolf, too."
Finch closes his eyes briefly. "And what exactly is 'hearing the wolf?'" He already knows, of course. He's heard his own, but Reese doesn't know—
"It—talks to you. The longer you live with it, the easier it is to understand. And first you'll just feel it—anger, happiness, the urge to hunt, the need to run." Reese looks away, out the big, dirty windows. "Have you heard yours yet?"
"No," Finch says.
Reese snaps back around, eyes flashing, and he grins widely. His teeth are sharper than any human's should be. "Right. Don't try and smother it."
That is not what Finch has heard. All the articles and emails that he's sifted through have said the same thing; block out the wolf, suppress it, don't let it bleed into yourself.
"The more you try and cage it, the harder it fights on moon night," Reese warns. He meets Finch's eyes and the wolf snarls, bristling in the corner of his mind. He flexes his hands instinctively, matching Reese's gaze, and sees a gold-flash of wolf eyes—
Finch looks away, the hairs on the back of his neck sticking straight up.
"Alejandro Cruz, thirty-five, was found dead in his bathroom today, the victim of a wolf attack…"
"Do you know what happened to Cruz?"
Reese seems to accept the change of subject, leaning back on his heels with a sigh. "The wolf attacked Fusco before he got Cruz—knocked him out with a baseball bat. It came up the fire escape, through the window, then transformed and killed Cruz. Or something like that. Why the hell didn't we install a camera inside the damn apartment?"
"I have security cameras on all sides," Finch says, already running through his mental list. He hadn't been watching those cameras because he was focused on Mason instead—he thought the threat to Cruz had slackened.
He won't make that mistake again.
"Which side of the building did the wolf come in on?"
"Eastern side, in the back," Reese says.
Finch—gingerly—types a few lines of code into one of his backup keyboards and brings up the feeds. He and Reese lean in, frowning at the grainy quality. It was, unfortunately, still rather dark at four-thirty, but they can see a smudge that is Detective Fusco lurch forward, and a dense shadow—human-shaped, but strangely contorted—dart up several flights of stairs, pause at Alejandro's window, and then disappear inside.
"That'll be the wolf," Reese murmurs, squinting. His eyes flash gold and Finch's wolf hums a growl. His skin itches.
Finch fast-forwards the footage to where the dark misshapen figure leaps out of the window again, lunging on all fours down the ladder, where it hugs the side of the wall, clinging to the shadows before reaching the ground and flying off a computer screen.
Finch rewinds and pauses it, zooming in on the blurry shape. It's a werewolf, it has to be. Black-furred and huge, bigger even than Reese's long-legged wolf. Finch can make out a tail and a pair of ears, and what looks like a massive paw, but it's off, somehow.
"Is it possible to be both at once? Wolf and man?" Because that's what this thing looks like, a cross between a person and a wolf like the movies.
Reese curls his lip. "Like The Wolfman? No, not that I've seen. The best we can do is claws, fangs, and eyes before we go all wolf. The in-between only lasts a second."
This is strangely comforting, because he's been having this nightmare where he gets stuck halfway through the transformation and ends up half-wolf for the rest of his life. It's good to know that he's one or the other, never both at the same time.
But it does not explain their strange murderer.
"Alejandro Cruz is thought to be the second victim of the werewolf that killed Sarah Greene last week," the TV drones. "Both were working on a—"
"I'll have Carter look into the blood," Reese was saying, his voice a rumbling growl.
"Shh," Finch hisses, holding up a clawed finger, his ears straining to hear the TV.
"—which, if passed, would make the cure mandatory for all werewolves."
"Cure?" Reese stiffens, turning his attention to the TV. "What cure?"
Finch hits a few keys and Alejandro's name and company, Imaginum Health Care, it's always the pharmaceutical company, pop up in the Wall Street Journal.
"New 'Miracle Cure' in development by Imaginum Health Care," Finch reads aloud. "The engineers behind this new experimental cure seek to solve the problem of lycanthropy with medicine. A Vice President of Imaginum, Alejandro Cruz, has been campaigning for months to get government funding for this research, and has been in contact with several lawmakers and lawyers to make the pill mandatory—"
"Sarah Greene," Reese mutters, reading over Finch's shoulder. He points, and sure enough Sarah Greene is in the article, mentioned as the young up-and-comer who was drafting the bill.
"And it's written by Talia Mason."
Finch leans back in his chair, his mind whirling. Mason, Cruz, and Sarah Greene, all connected to the same thing—a new drug for werewolves that would "cure" them over their furry problem.
"Sarah's death must have been unplanned," he says, already up and limping over to his board of faces. "A spur-of-the-moment attack, because her number didn't come up. But the others…"
"He saw the others in the paper and decided to hunt them," Reese finishes. He paces, back and forth, back and forth.
"Which is why their numbers came out of the machine." A werewolf serial killer, Finch thinks. He wants to laugh hysterically because this whole thing is like something out of a bad horror story, except he and Reese are the good guys and the wolves never are.
"I'll stick to Mason," Reese says. "She'll be safe for another week at least. It doesn't matter how strong he is, no wolf can turn on moon-dark. He's killing on cycle patterns, so the next kill night will be—"
"The waxing quarter," Finch murmurs.
Reese raises an eyebrow. "Very good, Mr. Finch. Been doing your homework?" He's almost smiling, eyes glittering amusedly.
Finch ignores him, but the corner of his mouth turns up. "Stay on Mrs. Mason, Mr. Reese. I'll see what I can do about this security footage."
"Call me if anything comes up," Reese says, already on his way out the door. "And Finch?"
"Remember to breathe."
Finch smiles at that, and looks down at his hands.
The claws are gone.
Reese crosses the street and casts one last look up at the library. He can't see Finch through the grimy windows, but he knows that his partner is up there. Pacing, probably, worrying his lip, running through a hundred different scenarios in his head.
Reese wonders how that's going, now that Finch has a wolf in there with him.
Run-hunt-seek, his own wolf growls. It bristles, claws extended. It hates a botched hunt, and this strange werewolf killer sparks something deep and furious inside of it, and inside of Reese too.
Ours-to-protect, the wolf tells him.
Reese closes his eyes, ducking inside an abandoned building and, for the third time today, kicks off his shoes.
The wolf hums, singing blood-hunt-kill. It remembers the Other's smell—sharp and acidic, like sewer mixed with forest musk. That's a good place to start, the sewers. Dozens of unregistered wolves live around them. There's a good chance he'll find some leads there.
Ours-to-protect, the wolf snarls, thinking of Sarah Greene and Cruz and Mason.
Ours, Reese agrees, and shifts again.
This, Finch thinks, is horrible.
Moon-night makes him want to die. The wolf is completely asleep—moon-dreaming, Reese had said—and with it, the sense of smell, the hearing, and even the muted ache of bone-deep healing is just gone.
After living with them for two weeks, the loss is like a punch to the face.
To make it worse, he just wants to sleep. The part of him that's tied to his wolf is exhausted, and he can't help but itch to lie down on the couch—not Reese's couch, but his own—and close his eyes for a while.
He has been running surveillance almost non-stop for the past seven days.
Ever since they made the connection, Reese has been on Talia Mason almost constantly and Finch has hard-wired every appliance in her house to his own personal system.
He can see just about everything in the Masons' Park Avenue apartment.
Reese put in motion sensors on all their windows and a bug in every room, and with all of that, the Masons are probably one of the safest families in New York City.
But despite all this, Finch is still braced for Talia Mason's death.
She spends too much time out in the unprotected open. She and her husband George like long walks in the park, and that is where the wolf will get her, when it finally strikes.
But it will not attack tonight. Finch had been skeptical, at first, when Reese told him that moon-dark made it nearly impossible for a werewolf to do anything, but right now Finch is too tired to move across the room, let alone shift and go running around the city.
He feels bad for Mr. Reese. He'd never known that moon-dark had such an effect. Otherwise he would've—
Well. He wouldn'tve done anything, really. The numbers never stop coming; the machine doesn't care if it's moon-dark, and neither do criminals.
Besides, Reese seems okay. He's been a wolf a long time, he'd said once. He's probably used to it by now.
Finch shakes his head, trying to get rid of the sleepy fog that clouds his mind.
He has work to do, feeds to watch over, Reese to keep in touch with….
He's asleep before he even realizes what's happening.
This is nice, Reese thinks, enjoying the cool air as he shambles down the street after Talia and George Mason. The air is sweet and crisp and the night brightly-lit, though he misses the moon and her gentle light.
He doesn't mind moon-dark, all that much, but he misses the wolf when it's gone.
A sharpened sense of smell would be useful, right about now. It isn't terribly hard to keep an eye on the Masons, but still, having the wolf to back him up is always reassuring.
The Masons turn, leaning into each other, laughing. They're cute if you don't know them. Reese, unfortunately, knows them.
George Mason is a hard, demanding employer, slow with praise and quick with criticism and threats. Talia Mason is a cutthroat reporter. They're the kind of people Reese would hate, if he was still back in the service.
He's not in the service, though, and the Masons aren't too bad. He doesn't want them to die, or anything, and so he follows a good distance behind, keeping a wary eye out for any dangers.
They turn into Central Park, still leaning on each other.
Reese follows. He likes the Park. He'd come a lot, before Finch, whenever he wasn't too drunk to hold down a wolf shape. For such a popular place isn't not really policed well, and his wolf had gotten a kick out of needling the animals in the Zoo.
The Masons weave through the ground, completely unaware that Reese is following them, and he watches them through half-lidded eyes.
This is nice. A calm hunt, for now anyway. He's still pissed over the whole Cruz thing, and attacking Sarah Greene. He'll get this wolf, though. He never misses a hunt.
Soon, he tells his sleeping wolf, and keeps after the Masons.
They slip down a narrower path, and he frowns. It's always harder to tail someone down an empty trail—can't hide in a crowd, and he rolls his eyes and reluctantly follows—
A high-pitched, terrified scream splits the air, and the hair on his neck stiffens.
He catches the faintest stink of sewer and forest.
"Shit," he swears, shooting forward after the Masons, and he bursts into the smaller path—
A huge dark shape crouched over Talia bolts, and he sees a tail vanish into the undergrowth. Others on the path are panicking, running away from the Masons. George is down but struggling up, his face gashed, but Talia isn't moving—
Reese stares off after the thing and swears again, crouching at Talia's side.
She gurgles at him, eyes surprised, her throat a torn, gaping mess.
Even though he knows it's pointless, he presses his hands to her shredded throat, the blood spilling up warm beneath his fingers.
"Talia," George chokes, "Talia, Talia—"
A police officer charges through, screaming for back up into his walkie talkie, and people start crowding around now, drawn by Talia's scream.
"I'm sorry," Reese says, holding Talia's throat together.
She meets his eyes, trying to breathe, blood flecking her lips.
And then, she dies.
Mark Snow is waiting by the window, watching New York move below him when they hand him the phone.
He checks the caller ID and smiles. "Hello?"
"Agent Snow," the Director of the CIA says shortly. "I understand John Reese is active in the city again."
"Define active, sir," Snow says politely. He knows what it means, of course, but in situations like these it always helps to have clearly-defined boundaries.
"He's killing people," the Director growls. "In wolf shape. The city is panicking, Snow. There hasn't been this much anti-wolf fear since the '60s."
"How would you like me to handle it, sir?"
"Take him out. You have unlimited access to his files."
"Authorization to use deadly force?"
"Granted. Take him out, Snow. I'd rather you get him alive, but if there's no other option..."
Snow smiled to himself, wicked and wolf-like. "I understand."