Disclaimer: The Sentinel is a Pet Fly production, no money is being made, no infringement intended.
Author's Notes: > Happy Halloween early... Now I can get back to catching up on archiving if the dang muse will leave me alone for five minutes. Yes, another OFC.
Blair Sandburg paused while unloading grocery bags of party supplies from the back of the '69 Ford pickup and stared up at the full moon haloed by a smoky ring of cloud. "Wolf moon."
He didn't realize he'd spoken aloud until a voice behind him repeated "Wolf what?" Jim Ellison, his partner and Sentinel of the Great City, and Detective Katherine Volkavich from Homicide had just come out of the North Street Community Center.
Blair nodded upwards. "Wolf moon. Full moon with a ring? My mom always called it a wolf moon. Pretty cool, wolf moon on Halloween."
Jim, being Jim, just grunted and came over to grab one of the bags. Volkavich, however, looked up and nodded. She was the first person on the force he'd seen even shorter than he was, with an oval, high-cheekboned face, aquiline nose, weak chin. The plain pumpkin orange T-shirt she wore with her black jeans did nothing to disguise her inward-curving shoulders. A cold wind combed through his long curling hair, and stirred her short cap of reddish brown hair streaked with premature grey. Blair was surprised she wasn't cold, walking around in short sleeves.
He gestured at the Halloween colored outfit. "Weren't we supposed to come in costume?" When they'd been roped in as Major Crimes' contribution to the Halloween safety campaign, Jim had grumbled a lot, but he'd produced an old set of fatigues that gave him a startling resemblance to GI Joe. Blair had been amusing himself with action figure jokes all evening. For himself, since the event they were chaperoning was an alternative to trick or treating for the littler kids, Blair had dug a red and white checked shirt and an old pair of denim overalls out of his closet. A makeup kit from the grocery store provided red circles for his cheeks and black stitch-seams. A serviceable Raggedy Andy without going the whole nine yards and dyeing his shoulder length brown hair bright red. He didn't trust the chemicals to wash out.
Kate glanced down at herself and smiled one of her quick, tight-lipped smiles. "I am in costume."
Blair wasn't sure what to make of that, she could be referring to the orange and black, but she'd held his gaze intently, until he'd looked away, guiltily. He still wasn't sure if she'd overheard him, the case the three of them had worked together, when he'd called her a dog. It was stupid, hurtful, male-bonding B.S. which Jim had started by complaining about her perfume, that she marinated herself in it, and maybe used two brands because of the musky tang under the flowers.
The thing was, Blair was an anthropologist, and should know better. The ideals of female beauty changed with time and from culture to culture, just because she didn't live up to today's standards didn't mean she deserved ridicule. And being a short hairy hippie guy, Blair knew all about being rejected for your appearance.
What really burned him was that during that case, he'd noticed she seemed to have better than average senses of smell and hearing. She could be a partial Sentinel, but she thought he was a schmuck so he couldn't ask her about it.
A couple of local parents had volunteered to decorate the community center with orange and black crepe paper streamers, cardboard ghosts, witches, bats and black cats, jack o'lanterns and skeletons taped to the cinderblock walls.
One table was set up with little gourd pumpkins for the kids to decorate and the soundsystem was set up with sound effects tapes and holiday novelty music. Jim, Blair and Kate set up the plastic jack o'lantern bowls of candy on the last table. Blair was having trouble putting the last of the Kit Kat bars in the heaping bowl, as they kept sliding off.
Jim was leaning against the wall; he didn't want to be here so he was pretending that he wasn't, but he softened up once the party got started. The little kids came in groups, with a parent or an older sibling. Most of them were in unimaginative store-bought costumes, a plastic mask and printed slip-over, made in the image of a cartoon or movie character. Blair chuckled and wished he had a camera at the sight of Jim listening intently to a five year old girl explaining to him about the Warner Brothers and Dot from Animaniacs.
Jim was surprisingly good with kids. Blair sometimes wondered if that was a result of the Sentinel instincts. Jim was genetically programmed to protect his tribe and children were the most defenseless members of the tribe, which most likely brought the protective instinct out in full force.
The candy gone, the gourds all decorated, dried, and collected by their creators, the last of the little kids waved bye-bye as they left. The tables were folded and put back in the storeroom, clearing the floor for the teen dance.
Kate closed her cellphone and walked up to them with an apologetic look. "Zack's running late," she said, referring to her partner, Zack Adams, who was supposed to chaperone the dance with her. "Can you two stick around for awhile?"
Jim grimaced at the idea of spending any time in an enclosed space with a bunch of teenagers and what they considered music, but he nodded. Blair ran into the men's room to wash the makeup off his face.
The kids started to show up for the dance, the kids too old to trick or treat but not old enough to think of Halloween as just another day. Blair smiled at Lupe, a fifteen or sixteen year old done up as a gypsy in a white blouse, long skirt, embroidered shawl with dangling earrings and strings of beads was the first to return after walking her younger brothers and sister and a neighbors' kid home.
As he'd expected, he had to do some work with Jim, keeping his dials down so the sound level was bearable. He'd still probably end up with a headache. Blair was leaning against the wall, watching the kids, doing his best imitation "Ellison Adult Authority Figure" glower, but his tendency to bop along with the music spoiled the illusion. He overheard a couple of very pretty young girls, dressed stylishly but, in his private opinion, in a manner too old for their ages.
"Check out 'Esmerelda.'"
"Gawd, she's still dressing up for Halloween? What a freak! I'm surprised she came, like anybody's going to dance with that."
Lupe, who had been a kind of wallflower all evening, heard them too. Blair's heart broke at the look on her face, as she turned and walked to the door. He remembered his earlier thoughts about doing the same thing to Kate. He looked after her, then across the crowded dance floor at Jim. "I'm going to walk one of the girls home," he said, but there was no sign the Sentinel had heard him. Must still have the dials down. He caught a glimpse of Kate, and she nodded, meeting his eyes.
Damn, he thought, following Lupe, she's got to have enhanced hearing, and I've got to get close to her, get her to trust me so I can ask...
"Lupe?" he called to the girl a few steps ahead of him on the sidewalk. "It's getting late, let me walk you."
She glanced back at him. "You don't have to, Mister Sandburg." But she slowed her step. He caught up.
When they crossed the street he said, "Kids can be cruel. But you didn't have to leave the party."
"I know, I just..." An icy October wind blew down the street. Lupe pulled her shawl tighter around her, Blair shivered and wished he'd thought to bring his jacket. "It hurts. I have to put up with them at school. Why tonight too?"
Blair started to formulate a reply about developing social skills and how she could have a good time in spite of them and living well is the best revenge, but before he could speak somebody grabbed him from behind, wrenching his arms up. He yelped and struggled, but whoever had him outweighed him by a good fifty pounds.
A kid, seventeen, eighteen, dusty blond hair and dull green eyes came to circle Lupe. "Trick or treat, chica. You got something sweet for me?"
This was bad, this could get ugly very quickly. Blair took a deep breath and pushed off against his captor to kick out at the other boy as a distraction. "Lupe, run!"
She disappeared into the darkness. Blair hadn't managed to break free; his arms were still held tightly by one boy. The other swore and pulled a snub-nosed .38 out of his jacket. Blair's heart began to hammer in his chest. Stupid. Just because you didn't see a weapon didn't mean there wouldn't be a weapon, how many times had Jim told him that?
The low growl surprised them all. Advancing slowly was a sleek shape recognized by the most primitive level of the brain, a nightmare with flattened ears and ivory fangs. The young punk with the gun automatically pointed it at this new threat. The... wolfBlair identified it with growing wonder, the reddish brown and gray fur identified it as a timber wolf and one of the big onesraised its head and the growl became louder and deeper.
The boy fired and the wolf leapt. There was a scream as the gun clattered to the sidewalk and the boy scrambled away and ran. Swearing steadily, the one holding Blair shoved him and followed.
His head cracked the sidewalk hard as he went down, a bright explosion of pain and he struggled against it, not wanting to lose consciousness with that creature so close... even though it had saved him...
The wolf was looking after the fleeing punks, as if deciding whether or not to give chase. The plumed tail rose and wagged, a quick disdainful flip from side to side. Then it walked up to Blair, cocking its head. The brown eyes were soft and gentle.
"Hey thanks," Blair said quietly, "for that whole Rin Tin Tin bit." He sat up carefully, suspicious of this unwolf-like behavior. "Are you my spirit animal? How come Jim's jaguar has philosophical discussions with him and I get an attack dog?" He frowned.
The tail wagged again and the wolf licked him from chin to hairline. Then the wolf trotted off, fading into the moon-silvered shadows. Blair propped himself up on his hands and rested.
Pounding feet approached and he looked up at Jim's anxious shout of "Sandburg!" and got to his feet, smiling woozily at Jim and Lupe.
From the darkened alley, Kate Volkavich smiled as Ellison and the girl took care of Sandburg. She'd better get back before she was missed. She scratched absently at her shoulder where the regenerating flesh itched madly, pushing the bullet back out. She'd been lucky, silver was one of many lies, Wer were just hard to kill. The damage had to be too great to heal. She pocketed the slug, then reached for the bra and T-shirt she'd folded neatly on the fence.
"Gonna be the death of me yet, waru," she muttered, glancing up at the Eye of the Goddess, still high in the sky. There was Wer blood in Sandburg somewhere, probably through his mother's line. Wolf moon indeed. He didn't seem able to shapechange, he didn't scent her for what she wasin fact he seemed deaf and numbnosed as any human. And James Ellison was a Hunter; the signs were there for anyone to read, though she'd never believed the stories she'd learned as a pup. But then, the world of Men thought Wer were only old stories, so she supposed anything was possible. James Ellison was the Hunter... and Blair Sandburg his Hound. It didn't matter, they were oath-bound to protect the city as she was, part of the pack she'd claimed for herself in the police department and she'd stand beside them when needed... unless Ellison called the Hunt. She hoped she'd never have to make that choice.
~ End ~
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Page last updated 8/15/03.