Disguise

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Elephant in the Room

Reece’s POV

I ran like the wind. I could feel my strength returning, but not as fast as I’d like. I could still feel the bond from Flora’s side, which gave me relief and anxiety. Now that I knew where she was, nothing would stop me from killing the bastard that had taken her away from me. I had no plans yet, but I was sure that everything I did would be very, very painful and by then end of it, he would be hurting ten times more than Flora was. Or a hundred.

I wished I could feel her emotions, let her feel mine. Give her some sort of comfort that I was there and I knew what she was going through. I wish I could get into her head and tell her that everything would be okay, and that we would be fine. Nothing would touch us.

I cursed at my short sighted-ness. A member of my own court? It’s always a snitch. Always someone unfaithful who brings everything down. I could feel my wolf now, Zuka’s anger bubbling with mine as he got stronger with every minute. I could sense that I could shift within moments, as my strength flowed through my veins. Was I too late?

I skipped through the seven floors and raced right through to the roof, my eyes frantically looking for the small room that was the elevator shaft. We’d have never looked for her here. Never. I didn’t even want to think about the consequences of using The Command on him. If others found out I would be dethroned for sure, no matter the cause. There were some things you never ever did. Like harming someone’s mate. Some rules were absolute. I wondered how the moon goddess would punish me - or if she would show mercy.

But, at the forefront of my mind was my only goal, my sole focus. I needed to get to her before I lost my head completely. Before there was no need for my people to dethrone me because I would kill everything in my sight till someone killed me. A life without Flora, that was blasphemy.

I heard someone scream, the most agonizing scream ever, and my blood turned cold. Followed by a maniacal laughter, that made my insides rage.

“….kill me.”

“This is the only thing a Nihl should be allowed to say. Their only wish that I could grant.”

I lunged forward, Zuka at the forefront, and red in my eyes. I could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing except for the thirst of his blood in my canines. I would shred him apart to pieces. The door broke down like paper and I watched as a gleaming knife plunged into Flora’s stomach. She was bleeding all over, her skin had several cuts that didn’t seem like they were going to heal anytime soon. He must have given her some silver too. Fucking bastard.

He released the knife and turned around to face me, astonishment and fear taking over his features as his King stood before him. Zuka and I fought internally, with Zuka wanting to rip this guy and me wanting to go help Flora. I lowered my jaw and caught him in the neck before he could even phase to match me. Not that he ever would.

I flung him to the side of the tiny room, my wolf barely fitting inside. I heard his back break but paid no heed as I rushed forward to my mate. Phasing back, looking at her through my tears.

“Flora! OH MY GOD! Flora -wake up!” I gently nudged her, making sure to not touch the knife and make it worse. She was delirious, and barely conscious. “Reee…You came.” She said softly, her eyes still shut as she spoke to me.

The knife in her stomach was bleeding less now, but she still wasn’t healing fast enough for it to make a difference. Behind me, I heard some movement and turned around to guard Flora from any threats. It was Hank and Sienna, holding down the assailant. They’d followed me up till here and somehow gotten their strength back as well. “Don’t kill him!” I ordered, “He. Is. Mine.” They nodded at Zuka.

Noori stepped in, her standard briefcase in her hand as she tried to get to Flora. I growled at her, like a pup protecting another. She raised her hands in front of me and spoke very slowly, “Reece…Zuka. She needs medical help. Let me do my job. You’ve done everything you can here.” She spoke, and her words took effect. She handed me some shorts that I put on.

I moved behind for her to see Flora and watched as she tried not to panic at the state of my mate. I knew it was bad. I knew it was horrible. I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if..

I let out an agonizing howl at the scenario, and then my eyes turned to the one who was responsible for most of this. Sienna and Hank had him bound, and injected with silver, but he was still conscious. A bone jutted out from his thigh, which wouldn’t heal because of the silver. I gave him a cold stare, but he only looked at me with resolution. “I have done you a favor.” He told me and I moved closer to him, my bloodlust for him would never be sated.

“Nate found Xena, she’s completely fine.” Sienna told me – I think she was trying to keep me calm.

I nodded, feeling nothing regardless. I would hurt him so bad. I took one of his fingers and broke it right off, leaving the skin intact. It sagged like a lifeless little piece. He screamed in agony. It didn’t make me feel better.

“Reece, she’s bleeding too much.” Noori’s voice brought back the agony that I had blocked away. I turned to her, my mind a mess, and my body restless. “Do something, anything.” I begged. “I’m afraid to move her, I don’t think her body could take it.” Noori told me in the smallest voice possible and I shook my head.

“Reece there is one way and you know it.” Sienna told me, whispering from behind and I shook my head. Could I do that to her? “We didn’t even talk about it. I don’t even know if she’d want it!” I protested, hating that I had to make this decision here. They could sense my unease and frustration and Noori quickly said.

“I’m going to stabilize her as best I can, but Reece – you need to make a decision, I can’t promise anything without your help but with it, I can definitely get her to stay alive.” Noori told me, taking the reins and ordering Sienna and Hank around. I bent forward too, tracing the large and small cuts, eyeing every little painful sigh that Flora could give me. I focused on her breathing – shallow and unsteady but the only sign that she was even alive.

I knew what I had to choose, and I also knew that there was no other way. I refused to see her die and I knew she would forgive me at some point. Noori managed to get most of her bandaged in a temporary, haphazard way while I breathed out. “I’m sorry,” I told my mate as I kissed her lightly on the cheek. Lying here in this dark elevator shaft, struggling to fight someone who’d left her drugged and tortured, I had failed her. And now her only chance of surviving this was by making a major change – a decision I would take for her.

“You can’t stop this! How did you even phase so quickly!” Jeff said from behind us and I turned to glare at him. “I can do anything, I am your king.” I told him and his wolf cowered to me, even though he didn’t want to.

“There has to still be silver in your system!” He protested as he realized what we were talking about and I shrugged. “I phased.” I told him, knowing that you could never phase if there was silver in your system.

“But- we put so much! One bite was enough to stop you guys for hours!” He protested, as if he couldn’t believe this. Hank slapped him hard, “Your calculations were probably off, twat.” He said, cruelly and I nodded, looking back at Noori for confirmation. She nodded at me, but there was still something in her head.

“How much did you put?” She asked Jeff, and when he refused to answer, Hank bent down to one of his other fingers. We still had nine left to go.

“Okay! Okay!! We put over 10 grams of it!” Noori gasped at the amount – “There’s no way you guys could phase after that, they’ve obviously made a mistake.” We looked at each other, our mindlinks were back on with each other.

“It won’t work – she will die because silver blood won’t help her!” Jeff reiterated and I felt myself wanting a minute of silence to decide. Hank, on my command, broke two more fingers that pushed him over the edge, unconscious. Werewolves felt pain, they just healed faster.

There was total silence now, except for our pacing heartbeats, and Flora’s weak one. I could only pray that it would work. I didn’t have a choice. She didn’t have a choice.

Breathing out, I held out my hand, palm up and Noori nodded at me with relief. “It’ll only hurt for a second.” She told me, but it didn’t ease my pain. I was numbly as she drove a needle into my arm and extracted enough blood to fill a half liter bottle.

And then I watched her send that into Flora’s body and prayed that it would work.

Nothing happened. I felt myself inching closer to panic and rage. Her heartbeat was still faint, and it wasn’t improving.

“This has to work.” Noori insisted, sitting back on her heels and looking at Flora with all the hope possible. I felt a tear fall to the floor as I watched Flora’s broken form.

“Can you guys get through to anyone else?” Hank asked us from behind and I shook my head. I couldn’t hear anyone except the people in this room. “Couldn’t you? How did you know they found Xena?” Noori asked him and Hank shook his head, “I passed Nate in the hallway up here.” He told me and I shook my head.

It didn’t make sense, why would only three of us be able to phase and act like silver didn’t affect us? So, was there silver in my system? I felt my blood run cold. There was no way we healed as fast as we did if the amount Jeff put was correct.

“How is this happening?” Hank thought out loud and I felt a groan escape me.

And then all three of us looked at Flora.

Did she will it?

“Oh my god.” Noori whispered and Hank caught up.

“She used her powers.” He said and I nodded, bending forward to gingerly move her into my arms.

“Stupid girl! You were already so weak!” I yelled at her, crying as she laid still in my arms. No wonder my blood would take longer to take effect, or not take effect at all.

It had to be the only explanation – other people still didn’t have their strength up.

And then, “You stupid.”

It was only the softest of whispers, but it filled my heart with joy. I looked down to her, eyes open only partially, and still breathing with a struggle, but she was awake now.

“FLORA!” Noori and Hank said, coming closer and relieved now.

I felt the biggest weight lift off of me as I stared at her face. My angel, my princess, my stupid, stupid Queen. I could do anything for her. Go to any lengths for her. I would do anything for her. I couldn’t stop crying. If anything, it only accelerated further.

“You’re making my face wet.” She told me, her expression adorable as she squinted. Almost as if I had woken her up from her sleep and she didn’t have the energy to deal with my antics in the morning. Could life ever be that normal?

“I’m sorry.” I told her, my voice unstable and she only smiled, “it’s okay.” She mumbled. Noori bent forward now, checking her pulse and administering another dose of something.

“She needs to sleep in order for me to stitch her up.” She told me, and I nodded reluctantly.

The consequences of what I’d done would catch up to me, but for now, I was glad that she was alive, and that was really all that mattered.

“Wait – Flora. I’m sorry.” I told her quickly, but she managed to sigh.

“I’m alive and safe now, nothing has changed.” She told me, her face a small smile.

But everything had changed. My decision to put the blood in her system – she would wake up and nothing would be the same ever again.

“Flora-“ I tried to tell her what I’d done but she was unconscious now. Sienna placed a hand on my shoulder, meaning to appease me. “You didn’t have a choice, Reece.” She told me and I nodded. I knew I didn’t. I just hoped that Flora would think the same.

A bustling Xena and Nate entered the room we were in. Xena gasped at all the blood and the state of her best friend while Nate tried to protect her from the sight. “She’s going to be okay.” Noori assured her immediately, but it didn’t look like Xena would believe it till she saw it.

Her eyes went to Jeff and Nate instantly held her back, knowing that she was still unstable from the marking. It took time for them to understand and control their mood swings. “I will kill him! I will slit his throat! Oh, he better not be dead! I need him alive so that I can kill him!” She yelled, while Nate lifted her up from her waist and threw her over his shoulder. He was a werewolf, and despite the marking, she was still human. She would never match up to him in strength.

I turned to look at Jeff, his mangled body lying on the floor, barely bleeding. The bone from his thigh was still jutting out, but it had stopped bleeding before Sienna administered the silver. His fingers on the other hand, they’d probably turn blue and fall off.

If I let him live that long.

Xena was crying now, Nate was holding her head on his chest and patting her lightly. Sienna was back to barking orders that I couldn’t give at the moment. She would have been such a great leader if she’d wanted. Noori was applying pressure to the open wound in Flora’s stomach, who was out cold. She was healing much slower than we’d have liked, but it was because she’d used so much of her life force in willing me back my powers. I cursed at my inability, knowing that if she hadn’t done what she had, I probably would have taken two tries to simply break the door down.

Hank was already out the door, probably going to round up the remaining loyals and get the situation under control.

Everyone seemed to be doing something except me, who was only thankful in this moment. I would go and find Grey and Atticus to wipe their memory after I was sure Flora was going to be okay. I owed them that.

“I still can’t get through to Grey.” I told them, voicing my thoughts out loud and Nate nodded. “The links will be down till there is silver in our system.”

At this Xena looked up from his chest. “I could mindlink Flora all along.” She told us and Nate looked surprised. I however, wasn’t. “Yeah, we think she used her powers to wipe the silver out of some of our bodies. It’s how I could phase.” I told them and watched their faces morph into surprise.

“In a way, she saved her own life. If she hadn’t done that, you’d never be able to use your blood to heal her.” Noori told me, satisfied as the bleeding stopped from her patient.

At this Nate stepped forward. “Reece, you gave her your blood?” He asked me, moving Xena to one side as he looked at me for an answer.

I knew he didn’t mean it in the accusatory way, but my defenses kicked in, “I didn’t have a choice!” I reiterated, feeling defeated despite the end of this situation. Nate nodded, understanding immediately. “I’m sorry, man. I know it must have been a tough call.” He told me and I nodded, looking once more at my mate, wondering how she’d react.

“Wait, why would you give her your blood?” Xena piped up, looking between the two of us and Noori stood up. “It helps her heal faster, makes her stronger.” She said but we all knew that there was an elephant in the room.

“But…?” Xena asked, her patience clearly reaching the end.

“But she’s now going to turn into a werewolf.”

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