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Nov, 11 2020


Frustration was a familiar feeling.  It was everywhere in her life really between ducking her pursuers, dealing with others, and mostly dealing with herself.  It was not a new thing to feel the frustration boiling in the gut.


She was just mighty tired of feeling it.


When she had seen the city from Calder's ship she had been somewhat sure she had been here.  The skyline of it looked familiar somewhat to her.  As she walked the city though she couldn't seem to find anything that clicked in her head.  Perhaps she only knew the skyline from a picture or something.


Sometimes she was sure she knew something of the city but when she sat and tried to remember her mind was blank or she simply suffered from her brain trying to explode.  It might have been a car driving by, a place that looked kind of like something she knew, or even just a person.  


It left her wandering for weeks, stealing food sometimes so she might eat and scavenging the rest of the time.  There had been a few...opportunistic souls that she encountered as well but they had changed their minds about coming near her.  Snapping a person's neck in front of his cronies seemed to do that.


The fact that she could do that and not feel bad was...strange.


Shivering she pulled the oversized coat she had gotten from Calder tighter around her still thin frame.  If she didn't find anything soon she was sure she could go back to Calder if he was still in town.  It was probably better than living on the streets like she had been doing the last few days.  She simply did not want to give up unless she felt she had exhausted her options.  


With that in mind she had kept to major crossing areas.  Spots that seemed like she should have visited them if she had ever been in the city, be it as a guest or as a resident.  So far she was batting zero and she couldn't say that made her happy.


It was dark now as she wandered through Central Park.  Nothing was clicking as she looked at park and places around it.  Sometimes she got that same feeling like something was staring her in the face but she couldn't drag anything up from her mind.  


Perhaps it was because it was dark?  Maybe if she waited for it to be light out it might help.  She didn't have anywhere else to go and with the farms right there she could at least eat in the morning.  No reason to leave with a decent bench to lay on.  Concrete was far colder anyway.


So she curled into as much of an inconspicuous ball as she could on the bench, doing her best to keep the coat wrapped around her warmly.  She should be alright this way, maybe cold as she tried to rest a bit but comfortable enough in the oversized clothes and boots while she waited for the sun to rise.

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Hooded green irises had been staring at the clock for almost fifteen minutes.  What most would consider a regular object of methodical organization, he was going to smash into a thousand pieces in a few moments.  The second hand had a lag that'd started around 4, late night back to back appointments kept him from fiddling with it to fix.  Now, office assistant gone, gym closed, office closed, and every muscle was being held to a compressed quiver to prevent tearing across the room to destroy everything in his path to silence it.


Depths of self control and rage were bottomless, the tangled fight leaving him still for sometimes hours.  If nothing triggered action, he could take control.  If agitated... something  as little as a smell, or sound, all hell broke loose.


Breathing.  Slow.  


Sigh finally was pulled in, the balance of the internal battle finally tipped.  Leather chair pushed back, hands on the dark wood desk as he stood.  The battle was not over completely.  The clock had to be silenced, and he would have to burn this off.


Silent footsteps stopped at the shelf, finger delicately opening the glass face to stop the pendulum, closing it to the sound of gears ceasing to move the water torture that would have sent him into a rage two years ago.  There had been a lull, when his world seemed to stabilize, now fully freight training again to an uncontrollable Were.


The building was finally silent, the itch of agitation still sprinkling over his skin.  Stepping into his personal bathroom, he changed quickly.  Rugged runners, loose black running pants, a gray tee shirt peeled over his lithe torso.  Black hoodie, fingerless gloves, black Navy skullcap.  One key on a lanyard tucked into his hoodie.  Hood up.  Knife sheath on the inside of his forearm.


Building locked, he bypassed his car for the alley and picked up pace.  He had to run it out, which was next to impossible for a Were.  Hours.


Laps of the park spiralling inward, brain unconsciously tracking... irritation spiking, then resolving until a snap in his brain stopped the world on a dime.


An entire demeanor snapped into mission mode, innocent runner instantly turning shadow and standing silently in the dark just out of the reach of the path light. 


Eyes on an occupied bench, brain folding over itself in scents it did and did not recognize.

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She dozed, much as she always did.  Even when she had been in a relatively safe environment she only dozed.  She couldn't remember the last time she actually slept.  The nightmares were always lurking just behind closed eyes.


This time something woke her.  The feel of eyes on her.  She could remember that creeping over the skin shiver from...from...


She was somewhere dark...and cold.  Concrete walls and a metal door.  Her hands were hurting, knuckles bloody and bruised from vain attempts to get out the door.  She didn't want to be here!  She wanted to go home!


She felt like metal spikes were being driven into her skull then.  The pain making her clamp her hands to her temples and give a pathetic little whine.  That feeling of being watched wasn't going away either.


Stupid of her, she should never have stopped in the park.  It was to exposed!  Her pursuers easily could have figured out where Calder was bound for.  In the open like this she was a sitting duck to those magus!  She needed cover, she needed to hide!  What was she doing trying to dig up what happened to her when her life was on the line!?


The fear quickly multiplied into panic and she hopped up from the bench to look around.  There was a clump of trees nearby she might be able to hide in, provided that Lightning McQueen wanna-be wasn't there yet.  Oh but the lady could stop her and so could the mind guy.  She really hated the mind guy.


To late to try anything now, it was run or stand.  While she wanted to stand she needed to even any playing field she might have.  So she moved towards the trees, her hand clenching on the rough piece of shrapnel she had wrapped in duct tape to use as a knife.  It was rusty but sharp and was better than nothing surely.


She didn't see anyone, but that didn't mean no one was out there as she tried to be cautious.  Her eyes darting about and trying to see everywhere at once.


"Keep it together," she told herself trying to work through the pounding head and fear.  "Don't panic."

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Breathing had all but halted, twitched top lip over unusually pronounced canines for a mere human threatened to sheer off the white weapons... He was aware but not aware, frozen yet kinetic and urging to move in an explosion of deadly muscles, laughter echoing inside a hollow cave, the scent of shampooed hair mixed with metal and greasemonkey.  


Pancakes.  Bacon and piano music.  Smell of soap on freshly cleaned skin.  Gun oil.


His cheek twitched.


Deep green, full of pupil watched her jump up.  She knew he was there.  Mack always had good instincts, but Mack was not Mack.  Mack didn't jump, or sleep on park benches. 


He couldn't untangle himself inside.  Relief, rage, uncertainty, empathy.


His foot stepped forward out of the light, chest finally allowed to take the deep breaths he needed after running so hard.  Hand on his hip, the other swiping the Navy beanie off his head and scrubbing fingers up the back of shorn hair as he "innocently" just "arrived" from a run.  


It gave him hope that his instincts had maybe started to do the right thing, the normal thing instead of crush a skull on impulse.




It was audible, but so far away in his head.


Play it like... everything was normal.  Normal not normal.  Normal without... well what they had become.  Something was desperately not right.  Gone without a trace that even he couldn't track.  Months...


"Mack, is that you?  When did you get back?"


Innocent.  Easy.  Cordial.


In his head he was screaming.

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