Disguise

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Hard Women

Flora’s POV

The room was brightly lit. The walls were colorful and the curtains were drawn apart for maximum sunlight. After all, they weren’t vampires. I snickered at my internal joke before I noticed the dark corner in the space.

The corner was a person.

She lay curled in a tight ball, not even turning her head to see who entered the room, which I was sure her werewolf senses would pick up easily. My heart dropped with her aura. She looked so lost and scared. Misguided.

I was told that she didn’t do much. Ate a meager amount - which said a lot because werewolves ate like monsters - and just sat in the corner all day, sometimes even falling asleep there. What a pitiful way to live. The staff and Noori had tried to get her to talk but she didn’t say much.

The bed was made and looked untouched, looked like she had spent another night on the floor, in that corner. I rounded her bed, and approached her, making sure to make enough noise that she didn’t get startled if she hadn’t been paying attention.

Finally, when I made it in front of her, she lifted her eyes to look at me. They widened slightly - so it seemed that she did recognize me. That was good, it meant that I had a chance. But I had to tread carefully; the slightest jump and my pack would have me out of here in a heartbeat.

Her dark eyes narrowed slightly, as if they were waiting for me to start some speech. Had she heard a lot of speeches? I wouldn’t doubt it. Feeling a little lost, I gave her a small wave, not uttering a sound and then without waiting for her response, I sat down right in front of her.

I suddenly wished that I could hear her pulse, know if this proximity was affecting her but then again, it did the previous doctors no good so what good would it do for me?

She was wearing a hospital gown. It hung loosely on her body and reached mid thigh. I took her in, dark circles, pale skin, malnourished and lifeless.

“You look good,” I blurted out without thinking, and then a heavy blush settled on my cheeks. Her head whipped to my words before she gave me an incredulous look.

Okaay..I sucked.

“I mean, uh. Since the last time we saw you and all.” I altered, but I couldn’t keep the heat off my cheeks. What an insensitive thing to say!! Dammit Flora you might just make it worse!

Her gaze was still fixed on me, almost mesmerized that I had to look away. Maybe this was a mistake. I had no idea how to deal with this kind of situation. What was I thinking? I’d just show up here and she would magically start talking?

“Good to know.” My head moved so fast I think I got a whiplash. Did she just..

Quickly, I rearranged my features to look as calm as possible, but internally I was buzzing. “I can hear your heart.” She informed me and once again, I went red. How did I always always manage to get into these situations! For once, all I wanted to do was to take charge but nooo. That would just not happen.

“That’s right, I keep forgetting about this.” I admitted, deciding to just give up with any tactics and be honest. I mean obviously, she would see right through me anyway. “You’re human,” she said suddenly, as if it only just came back to her. Or maybe she didn’t know?

“What did you think I was?” I asked, simply keeping the conversation going now. She looked me over once, my uncombed hair, the ripped jeans and a plain white t-shirt were not the most interesting thing. “There are tons of other species.” She said vaguely but didn’t divulge anymore on it. I really really had to start learning more about these other species and werewolves! Ugh.

We were uncomfortably quiet for a minute before I said another stupid thing. “Looks like the bed is too soft eh? You obviously prefer the floor. Hard surfaces for hard women.”

What? Just...WHAT? I earned another incredulous look from her. “Small talk is not your thing.” She observed.

“Well, ‘talk’ is not your thing.” I shot back, internally triumphant. I think she almost cracked a smile. Was my stupidity actually working?

“I suppose.” Isla said, almost as an afterthought. Another awkward silence.

“Thank you for saving my life.” I simply nodded, not knowing what to respond to that. What kind of a Queen would I be when I lacked basic communication skills?

“It seems as though you’re wasting it though.” I told her, looking around the room. When was the last time she stepped out? Weren’t werewolves wild creatures? Didn’t they desire nature much more? Isla’s face contorted in pain but I didn’t intend to take my words back. “You have no idea what I’ve been through,” she said defensively, but with the lack of energy in her body her voice didn’t have the power it might have once had.

“Ditto.” I told her, almost insensitively. That seemed to take her aback. “Plus, you can always tell someone what you’ve been through. I was told that you had numerous chances.”

“I know what all of you want to talk about.” She whispered lowly, almost as a warning and I nodded, not even bothering to deny it. “That saves me time then.” I told her, almost daring to smile, her threats weren’t scaring me. She wouldn’t hurt her savior would she?

“You already know why we are here. You already know what you need to do. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that there are other lives at stake and you could help save them and all of that. You also know that you need to pick up the pieces and start living again. So I’ll spare you the speeches and just ask you this- what’s stopping you? Because it obviously isn’t the lack of knowledge about what is good for you and your species.” I finished and looked away from her. Almost annoyed that she was just stuck in a corner when she had so much to live for! When she was actually alive.

“What if telling you puts me in trouble?” she said softly, so softly that I almost thought I imagined it. “Then you face it bravely. You’ve faced so much worse and come out standing.” I told her, my voice firm.

“I - I can’t .” She mumbled miserably.

“You don’t want to.” I corrected, being gentle.

“The King..if he finds out he will kill me.” That stopped my next reassurance. So this was related to the crown! Not some random inter-pack rivalry!

“I’ll talk to him for you.” I promised. I could at least do that much. “But for that I need your complete co-operation.” She gave me a wide eyed look. “Why would he even talk to -” And she drew in a very sharp breath.

“Queen...” She whispered, her voice layered with awe. And just like that I lost the upper hand. The way she was looking at me was making me so uncomfortable. “Err, hi?” I told her, waving my hand stupidly. Her eyes went to my hand before zeroing on my face before going all over me once again.

“You came inside to talk to me all alone?” The disbelief was so thick that I had to blink a couple of times.

“Well, yeah? We saved your life, I hardly think you’re a threat.” I told her automatically. What was this girl on? “Besides look at you. You couldn’t take on a rabbit if it walked up to you.” I said this with a grimace. “Is this how you take care of yourself all the time or is this a special event?” The hospital gown covered her stomach but I was sure her skin was stretched tightly across her ribs.

She looked taken aback at my scolding. As if no one had ever yelled at her to take care of herself before. “Seriously. I’ve seen Reece and the others eat and you don’t even eat one percent of what they do!” I yelled, more annoyed now. “Did we go through all that trouble to save you so that you could waste away?”

“I...”

“I would understand if it was the trauma holding you back. I would respect that, respect the healing space you would need emotionally and mentally but now..” I paused making sure she was looking right at me. “Now it seems like you just don’t want to deal with the mess that you might have made.” I chided. Her sunken eyes widened before she turned her face away from me, embarrassed.

“The only way you put things behind you is by talking about them, one of my closest friends told me that.” I smiled fondly, thinking of Xena. I hope she was fine with Nate in B3.

“You don’t know what I’ve done..if you did then you wouldn’t want me here as well.” She said sullenly, a traitor tear escaped her eyes. “I assure you I didn’t venture into a forest in the middle of the night to save your life just to hurt you later.” I told her.

“That’s because I- you - you don’t know!” She reiterated and I sighed. This girl was going to have to talk to me and that was just it! I wanted no excuses! I willed it to happen.

“You didn’t intentionally mean to harm anyone.”

“How would you know that?” She challenged, finally looking at me. Did she want me to blame and accuse her? Come on woman! Take the bone.

“I just have a feeling, am I wrong?” I said vaguely. What could I say? I was intuitive from the start.

“No, but I kept quiet about things I shouldn’t have.” She riddled on, and I turned my head quizzically to the side. “So?”

“So?” she mimicked, confused at my obvious expression.

“So tell us now.” I said simply, but then as an afterthought I added, “Now that you are safe and no one can hurt you.” My tone shed a hint of protectiveness in her direction. Her resolve destabilized. She looked at me with vulnerable eyes. I took a chance and extended my hand, for the first time attempting to touch her. Placing my hand on her own I repeated with sealed promise, “YOU are safe now.” Somehow, it did the trick and she listened, nodding her head just as the water works began. I anticipated it as she cried, but didn’t move further to comfort her. She needed to let it out.

I could feel the others’ anxiousness as I sat there, occasionally patting her shoulder or her arm, they didn’t want their Queen alone and unprotected for so long. I didn’t have the complete hang of the mindlink yet, but I silently sent them a message anyway, hoping that it would get through before I shut my mind again. I needed all my concentration so that I didn’t scare away the girl next to me. She had finally stopped sobbing, and her actions reduced to small sniffles.

“So shall we get up? Finally eat this delicious lunch and get to work?” I maintained my firm resolve, waiting for her to answer me.

“Yes...Queen.” She told me, matching my resolve with her own, gradually strengthening one.

--------------------------------------------

She ate very little, but I didn’t push. I knew that her appetite wouldn’t just grow after days of starvation. She’d throw up if it was too much food. I was very impressed by my own abilities, to be very honest but something told me that I earned her trust the second we saved her, rather than because of my conversational abilities. I grimaced in annoyance, what Queen was awkward when people needed her? I was going to be an absolute disaster. Hopefully I wouldn’t bring down the entire kingdom or something.

After some hysterics from Isla’s end, she permitted Cole and Grey to enter the room while she narrated her story.

“She was very charming. I met her through Alpha Deta and took an instant liking towards her,” Isla started with no background on this mysterious ‘she’. Cole looked like he was about to ask something but I shot him a sideways look, making his words die at his lips.

Isla went on, unaware of our exchange, “Alpa Deta first approached me because his own pack healer was burdened with too much work. I took it gladly, bored at my own pack. Blyit has three healers you know.” She informed me, her eyes on her twiddling fingers the entire time. I could only assume that Blyit was her home.

“My Alpha agreed, saying that it was good to strengthen pack bonds and everything.” Cole frowned at this and I made a mental note to ask why later. “I spent a week at his research lab in Europe. He had taken permissions over there as well.” She stopped twiddling her thumbs as her eyes took a distant look, a flash of pain crossed her features and I placed my hand on hers. You’re safe now.” I said for what felt like the millionth time.

“I was supposed to analyse blood cultures. That’s what I did all day. They wanted me to find out if the cells reacted to these certain serums that were supposed to be a cure.”

“A cure for what?” Grey asked, his voice as gentle as possible. “For various werewolf diseases. It was a peak at that time. We needed to strengthen ourselves to prevent silver poisoning and other things. I was happy to do my part. My Alpha was proud and I was travelling.” Cole’s eyes softened at that. I had my suspicions that this was how Sienna was when he met her.

“This was two years ago.”

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