Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Oh here we go. Now that I’m feeling marginally better, things are heating up with Gareth and Owen. The end is nigh. Enjoy**

For a minute, the fear and panic overrode everything and I couldn’t focus on what they were saying. It was as though white noise obscured my hearing, just a buzz of sound that blocked anything else out. But Owen’s loud and inventive cursing pulled me back to the present and I sucked in a breath as I made myself focus in time to catch the important questions.

“How in the fuck did she get past our pack?”

“Best guess is sleeping spell. Your packmember is unharmed, but comatose for the moment.” Lane’s voice was high and he was speaking fast. “Her scent is all over the apartment though, and our agents are working with your alpha to track where she took Aeron.”

Tracking. Oh. I could do better than wolves. At least where my brother was concerned. I jumped up and jammed my feet into my sneakers, not even caring that the back of one stayed stuck under my heel, and rushed to the door. Owen caught me, Lane stepped in front of me, and I fought them both.

“I can track him.” My voice was desperate and I didn’t even try to hide it. “I can do it, better than anyone else. I have to find him.”

Owen reeled me in, holding me tight, even as I tried to get free. He grabbed my chin, and made me look at him. “Because of your mind-meld thing.”

I nodded even though it wasn’t a question. And that wasn’t exactly what Aeron and I had but I wasn’t going to stop to explain. Not now. I had to get to my brother. Owen nodded.

“That’s great and we can use that, but Gareth, you can’t—”

Owen’s eyes flashed amber and the growl that rose up from his chest stopped Lane’s words short.

“Get. Out. Of. Our. Way.”

Oscar hissed from his perch on Lane’s shoulder, and Lane’s eyes hardened. “I’m going with you. And you will do as I say. Do you understand?”

“You bet,” I agreed quickly, not meaning it at all. While the rational part of my brain understood that the MBI was not only in charge of this case but trained for situations like this, my heart didn’t care. My brother was in trouble and at the hands of the woman who birthed us. Who’d proven she was a vile creature who didn’t care about her children. There was no telling what she would do.

Owen dropped to his knees and shifted, faster than I’d ever seen him do it before. It only took seconds and then he was a wolf, shaking himself out of his pants and underwear. I took a moment to help him out of the shirt, but then I was running, my familiar and mate at my side. Lane grabbed my arm and steered me toward his SUV and I was quick to hop in, making sure Owen’s tail was out of the way before I slammed the door shut.

“Go!”

Lane, for his part, started the engine and pulled out onto the street. “Where’m I going?”

I had to take a moment to center myself, which was hard with the worry coursing through my veins. But Aeron was right there, just like he always was, at the edge of my awareness when I looked for him. He wasn’t conscious but I could feel him.

It was hard to split my focus between that and my connection to my brother. My words came out stilted as I tried to speak. “East…not far…miles…east.”

I heard Lane speaking, but it wasn’t to me, so I tuned it out and concentrated. Aeron was in rough shape, that much I could tell. And whatever that bitch was doing to him hurt. Even though Aeron wasn’t aware, exactly—I couldn’t tell if he just passed out or if she’d done something to him—it still hurt. Deep down, in his soul. I gritted my teeth against the pain. If I only felt a residual amount, I couldn’t imagine the agony he was in.

“She’s hurting…him…go faster.” I panted with the effort, and Owen pressed against me. I slid my fingers into his fur, holding on tight, and pulled on our bond, using it to gather more magic and strength.

It took trial and error, a few wrong turns, and my increasing panic didn’t help. With ever minute that passed, I felt Aeron slipping further away, even as I could tell we were getting closer to his physical location. Then suddenly, it was as though he was right in front of me and I screamed for Lane to stop. He slammed on his breaks, and if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt, I would have gone through the front windshield.

It was a rundown looking apartment building on the far side of town, which I only knew because Aeron had looked at a place nearby before the pack put their foot down and helped him get into a better place closer to pack territory. But he was in that building somewhere, I knew it.

Lane threw the car into park, jumped out, and right before he slammed the door shut, he yelled, “Stay in the car!”

Fuck that.

Owen and I were out of the vehicle seconds later, and Lane was yelling at us, but we both ignored him. The security door to the vestibule wasn’t locked and I raced through, my hand still buried in Owen’s fur. He was leading the way now, nose lifted, and I let my connection with Aeron go. Owen could find him by scent now, and I could focus my magic in other ways.

Up the stairs, Lane on our heels, past the second floor and to the third. Owen paused at the door, I tried to control my breathing, and then Owen moved forward. We crept down the hall, past several apartments. The air stank of rotting food and mildew, the carpet stained with gods knew what. My heart was pounding in my chest.

Owen stopped in front of a door halfway down, then leaned hard against me. I drew power through him, focused it, and blasted the door off the hinges.

It only took a second to parse out what I was seeing. My brother, lying prone on the ground, Remy lifeless on his chest. Black magic wove around him, sucking his magic and lifeforce into the woman who had once been my mother.

I screamed, wordless and filled with rage. My magic burst out of me, not really focused, and the power of it knocked Bianca off her feet. The magic connecting her to Aeron didn’t break though, and that needed to happen. Lane was shouting behind me, at me or at her, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t care.

I slammed a shield spell forward, cutting her off from Aeron, and the concussive force of it made plaster crack and the floor creak. Bianca spun up another spell, this time aimed at me, and Owen darted forward, attacking with fangs and claws. She went down under him and I scrambled forward, needing to protect both my mate and my brother. Another shield around Owen kept Bianca’s magic from hitting him, but it reverberated against my magic in a painful way. I gasped, air sucked from my lungs, and dropped to my knees.

I yanked hard on the bond, needing the grounding it provided, and Owen hunched low with the strength of it, still snarling at Bianca but safe in my shield. This wasn’t my strong suit, and I hadn’t been trained in it, so it was all I could do to keep us all safe while Bianca rallied her magic and tried to attack again.

I wasn’t alone, though. Lane was there, and his magic added to mine, bumping up against it pleasantly until it streaked past in a binding ward. It wouldn’t hold her for long. I knew her strength when she wasn’t charged up, and she’d been draining Aeron.

But seconds later the room was flooded with more MBI agents and the combination of magic and shifters was enough. Bianca finally went down under the combined force and within minutes she was unconscious and so tightly magically bound, she had no hope of escaping.

Breathing hard, I let my magic go and finally turned my attention to my brother and his familiar. My hands shook as I touched them, panic screaming in my gut, but then a relieved sob escaped. They were both alive and breathing, though in rough shape. Drained near death, but alive. I pulled on my bond again and Owen leaned heavily against me, but I had to shore up Aeron and Remy. I couldn’t do much because I wasn’t a healer. But I could help.

Lane came over a minute later. He touched my shoulder and fed me some power for a few moments, then crouched down. “Let EMS have them. Come on, Gareth. Back off.”

I did, slowly, and trying to fight tears. Owen pushed up under my chin and I gave him my full weight. Once I’d pulled back my magic, EMS swooped in with IVs and vitals and magic of their own. I sat down hard and buried my face into Owen’s fur.

Lane leaned in close. “You’re in trouble.” But he said it with affection that let me know that while I was going to have to answer for what I’d done, I wasn’t actually in trouble. “Get up when you can. We’ll get statements and then get you to the hospital.”

I nodded slowly, sucked in a breath that also got me a mouthful of fur, and tried to get myself back together. I was crashing hard, exhaustion creeping in now that the fear was past. Aeron was loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled out the door, Remy receiving care right along with him.

I struggled to my feet. It was going to be a long day.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Here we go! Another episode with Gareth and Owen. I have no idea when this will end. Enjoy!**

I paced, unable to sit. To settle. Owen’s gaze tracked me from the couch but he wisely kept his mouth shut. He, at least, got to go outside. Shifted into his fur and went for runs. I, on the other hand, hadn’t been allowed out of the house in days. Weeks? I wasn’t sure how long it was at this point.

Intellectually, I got it. Bianca was free and Owen, the pack, my brother, even Lane….they all believe it was possible she would come after me. I was worried about that myself, but not overly. I was more worried about Aeron, and I was glad he had pack members staying with him as well. 

“Come cuddle with me.” Owen’s voice was low, cajoling, and even though I adored my mate and what he was trying to do. But I was too cranky. And a little paranoid.

“I need to check the wards,” I muttered, crossing back to the window and placing my hand against the jam. This house had really good anchor points, and I reached deep for the magic, pushing more into the wards I’d built with Aeron’s help. We’d done the same at his place. The magic flared up, bright for a second, then settled back down.

Before I could move to the next point, Owen was behind me, wrapping his arm around my waist and tugging me back against his chest. He kissed the back of my neck. When he spoke, he kept his lips against my skin. “You’ve check and rechecked. They’re the strongest than can be.”

“Have we heard from Lane?” I asked, not relaxing.

Owen, for his part, didn’t even sound frustrated when he answered, despite the fact that I’d asked that at least ten time just today. “Not since yesterday.”

“But they’re sure of where she is?”

“Yes, love. Lane said he’d let us know.”

“But he’s not supposed to.” I sighed and tried to let the tension go. “He’s going out on a limb and skirting the rules by keeping us in the loop.”

Owen made an affirmative noise and squeezed me tighter. After a long moment, I blew out a breath and let him take my weight. He held me up easily, and didn’t try to make me move or say anything else. We stood there for a long time, and I couldn’t resist drawing on our magic just to give the wards another boost. Owen sucked in a breath, and then let out a small chuckle when I was done.

“I like Lane.” Owen said, conversationally. I was a little surprised he didn’t comment on my obsessive need to check the wards.

As a reward for his incredibly patient behavior, I pulled away enough to grab his hand and tug him to the couch. Then I pushed him down, let him get comfortable, then flopped down on his lap. I didn’t quite fit but neither of us cared. He liked me close, and I liked it too. It had been awkward at first but we’d found a way to make it work.

I fiddled with his shirt, rubbing the fabric between my fingers. “I like Lane too. He’s good people. We should invite him over.”

Owen kissed my head. “When everything dies down we’ll see where it stands, yeah?”

“Yeah.” I sighed, closed my eyes, and thunked my head down on his shoulder. “Do you regret it?”

Owen went completely still. Then asked, very carefully, “Regret what?”

“Us. Being my familiar. Me calling you.” I exhaled hard. “It’s been crazy since the second we met, and you certainly didn’t sign up for a judgmental High Mage and a murderous, black magic wielding family.”

“Not for a second.” The conviction in his tone made me relax. It’d be a would lie if I said I hadn’t been nervous about his answer. And when he took hold of my chin and made me look at him, I saw it there in his face. “I love you. And I believe fate put us together for a reason.”

I kissed him, hard and thoroughly, because what else can I do. When we broke for air, I smiled. “I love you, too.”

“Yeah, I know.” He waggled his eyebrows, then kissed my cheek. “We’ll get through this, love.”

I nodded, tucking in close again. “Do you really think she’ll come after me?”

“I don’t know.” His voice was soft, contemplative. “I think Lane thinks it’s a possibility and he’s closer—”

Owen went still, then bodily lifted me and dropped me on the couch. “Stay there.”

I didn’t even have a chance to respond before Owen was at the door, and he pulled it open without hesitation. My heart leapt into my throat, taking in the taunt line of his shoulders, and the claws that tipped his fingers.

I was shocked when Owen ushered Lane in through the door, and opened my mouth to ask what was going on, but Lane’s wide eyes and ghost white face stopped me in my tracks. I stood fast, and Lane’s eyes shot to me.

Lane swallowed hard before he croaked, “She’s got Aeron.”

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

*And we’re back. The Gareth and Owen saga continues. Enjoy!*

I’d been increasingly clingy, but Owen didn’t seem to care. In fact, I was pretty sure he was enjoying the heck out of the fact that I wanted to be in his space one hundred percent of the time. He was always kissing my head or cheek or neck, and always wrapped me up in his arms when I pushed in close. We spent a good portion of time cuddled on the couch. Soon I’d have to find a job, and Owen would have to go back to work for his family’s construction business but for now, the pack was taking care of us.

If my parents hadn’t been arrested for black magic, and the past few weeks hadn’t been taken up by continual interviews with the MBI, we’d probably be expected to contribute sooner. But we had things going on, and though I felt guilty, I was glad I didn’t have to think about anything else at the moment. Owen insisted I didn’t have to feel guilt.

“This is what pack does, babe,” he said more than once and always with a fond smile.

I was working on it.

In the meantime, I was happy to curl up with Owen, under a warm afghan, and just soak in time with him. I was practically in his lap, half reading a book, with him watching TV, when a knock at the door had us both looking up. Owen wrinkled his nose, but didn’t say anything as he eased me to the side and stood.

“Who is it?” I asked quietly.

Owen pulled a face. “Willis.”

I groaned, not wanting to do this again. It had been so many conversations, day in and day out, and I was just so freaking tired of it. I sat up and put my book aside, but didn’t move off the couch. I wasn’t going to be hospitable. I just didn’t have the spoons.

“Agent Willis!” Owen said as he threw open the door, false cheer in his voice. “To what do we owe the pleasure? You just can’t get enough of us, huh? You miss us?”

Willis grimaced. “May I come in?”

Owen crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, I don’t know—”

“Let him in, sweetheart,” I said with a sigh. Owen could do this all day, and I just didn’t have the strength. Let the agent in so we could get this over with.

The way the couch was angled, I couldn’t see Owen’s face well, but his body language was that of a predator, and he pointed at Willis. “Behave. And if you upset my mate, I’m kicking you out.”

I let out a half-hearted laugh. “Owen.”

“It’s fine. Thank you.” Willis stepped in and to the side, so Owen could shut the door behind him. Oscar wound around Willis’s feet, and Willis scooped the cat up and perched him on his shoulder. He waited for Owen to lead the way, then followed Owen into the living room. 

“No partner today?” I asked, curious. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mathers, since she always acted like we were inconveniencing her,  but they always showed up together.

Willis shook his head. “No. I, uh, shouldn’t be here actually.”

Owen’s face went stony. “What does that mean?”

Willis sighed heavily and sat in the recliner when I gestured to it. Oscar immediately settled into his lap. Willis immediately put his hands on the cat, rubbing Oscar’s ears gently. Oscar squinted and started up a purr I could hear from across the room. 

“Agent Willis?” My voice was tentative.

“I’m not here in my official capacity. Lane is good.” I nodded and Lane smiled. “Look, I’m not supposed to be here, and you’re going to hear this in an official capacity soon. You’ll be asked to come down to headquarters, I’m sure. But I thought you should hear it from me.”

Owen didn’t hesitate to put his arm around me. I was sure he felt the anxiety coming off me in waves. Just the resigned tone of his voice, the careful way he chose his words, had me on edge. I opened my mouth to ask, again, what was going on, but Lane spoke before I could.

“Your mother has struck a plea deal and won’t be going to trial. In exchange for testifying against your father, she’s getting a reduced sentence.”

My gut clenched. “How reduced?”

Lane’s face contorted. “Time served and three years’ probation.”

“What?” Owen and I said at the same time, but Owen’s was a shout and mine was a whisper. Fear clenched in my gut.

“How is that possible?” I managed to ask.

“She had compelling evidence and the Tribunal Prosecutor felt her testimony was more important than prosecuting her.”

Owen growled, low and deep in his chest, causing Oscar to hiss and jump up onto Lane’s shoulder. Owen didn’t care. “What in the fucking hell could be good enough for that?”

“I can’t say.” Lane’s voice was calm, and he held up a hand when Owen made an indignant noise. “I really can’t. I shouldn’t even been telling you at all, but I didn’t want you to be blindsided. I want you to be able to put protections in place.”

I stared at Lane. He’d been kind from the first moment he’d shown up, and he’d done his best to make it as painless as possible. Even though it had, in fact, been pretty painful. He’s reined in his partner when she had gotten too aggressive, and gave me as much time as I needed to answer questions. He’d come here, against protocol or whatever, to break the news that Bianca would be release into the world despite her crimes.

“Hey, Lane? You hungry?”

Owen’s jerked his gaze to me at the same time Lane’s head sprung up. They both stared and all I could do was smile. Pushing to my feet, I held out a hand to Owen who took it immediately.

“Gareth.” Owen pulled me close, then tilted my chin up to look me in the eye. “There is a distinct possibility she’d come after you. Or Aeron.”

I glanced at Lane. “Is she out yet?”

Lane shook his head. “But it shouldn’t be too long. A day or two at most.”

“Okay then, let’s eat. We appreciate you coming to tell us, and we’ll be able to prepare.” I patted Owen’s chest. “I’m gonna call Aeron, okay? We’ll figure it out. After we eat.”

I pulled out of Owen’s embrace and headed out to the kitchen. Nerves roiled in my gut and just the thought of Bianca being free, and wanting retribution on either me or Aeron, was scary. But I had to try not to worry about it. There were things we could do to protect ourselves and we would. Plus, we had the pack now.

“Is he okay?” Lane’s voice drifted in from the other room. 

Owen responded a second later. “No, but he will be.”

Yes I would.