Leon. Was. Here.
My panic level doubled as paralysing shock flooded through me; how had he gotten here? How was he standing there, grinning; a sick grin that made my stomach roll as I caught sight of his evil eyes. My terror reached new heights as I took it in, the overwhelming dread kicking my brain into gear as my mind finally came up with a response; a single three letter word.
He moved the same time I did. Instinct made me lurch for the knife rack just 3 metres away, but his hands were clamping down on my waist and throwing me sidewards before I could reach them. I screamed as I skidded across the smooth tiles, but I was cut off just a moment later as I crashed into the cupboards with a dizzying smack. I didn't stop moving though, scrabbling across the floor before I'd even stopped sliding; the crushing fear that was driving me wouldn't let me sit still. But even though I was moving as fast as I could; faster, maybe, than I'd ever moved before, it wasn't enough to beat him.
His hands were locking in an unbreakable hold around my ankles, hauling me backwards and sending me slamming into the ground once more with pained cry. I kicked back at him furiously, twisting onto my back to try and loosen his grip. By some miracle, it worked – or more likely, he let me go – my foot breaking free and connecting with his hard body, making him curse as I threw myself away from him.
Again I lurched for the knife rack, flinging myself across the counter and grabbing for it even as I felt Leon once again catch my feet. For the third time I found myself pulled to the ground, but I managed to yank out one of the blades before I crashed into it, my vision flickering with black for a second; a second too long.
Because he was on top of me now, his weight crushing as his hands locked around my throat, forcing me into the ground. I writhed beneath him, bucking in an attempt to get him off me, but he was too heavy; too heavy, and too strong. It didn't help that he was suffocating me, cutting off my air supply; I could feel myself weakening with ever second that passed.
Yet somehow, I still had the knife.
And I still had enough strength to slash out with it, plunging it deep into his side. Of course I missed; he moved out of the way, rolling us across the ground; though not quite fast enough. The blade sliced shallowly across his chest, making him snarl with anger as I continued to struggle. He tore the blade from my hand, giving me the opening I needed as our next roll left me on top of him; I lunged away. But faster than should have been possible, he was suddenly pressing me down again.
And then all I could feel was his hands locking around my neck, pain exploding in my skull, and blackness crashing over me.
60 seconds. It had only been 60 seconds, but already I missed her; missed her too much. It didn't matter that I was less than a mile away. It didn't matter than I'd seen her just seconds earlier. It didn't matter that I could feel her very presence through the imprint.
It just wasn't enough. Not anymore. I needed her; small and warm and soft and sweet. I needed to see her, touch her, and to know she was absolutely and completely safe. Because now that she was no longer distracting me, all of my worry and anger and fear was coming rushing back, and it was all I could do to stay where I was and not go running right back to her.
Not yet. Soon, but not yet.
If only waiting wasn't so hard. Hard, and only growing harder, as her sadness suddenly reached me through the imprint, making me worry increase as I wondered at the cause. It was a worry she must have felt, because in just seconds the sadness was gone, replaced with happiness; she was telling me that she was ok. If I was human, I would have grinned; even without words she knew what I needed. But while the happiness was calming and reassuring, the other emotions that slipped though weren't so much.
She was restless, which made me fidget, clawing softly at the ground. But that wasn't the problem; the problem was the fact that whether she knew it or not, she was pulling at me, wanting me with her. It made me both happy and sad to feel it; happy to know she wanted me, but sad that I couldn't do as she was silently asking. Because I hadn't forced myself away from her for no reason, and until I caught up to speed with the pack, I couldn't return; not unless I wanted it all to be for nothing.
And so with all the strength I had, I pushed her as much from my mind as possible, trying to pay attention to Quil's thoughts in my head.
Jake, man, you still there?
Yeah, sorry. Got a lot on my mind right now.
Yeah, and you'd have a lot less if you stopped worrying about us. Things aren't going to collapse if you leave us on our own for a few days.
You don't sound very convinced. He said with a laugh. I growled softly, preparing to throw back a retort; instead I found myself flattened to the ground.
Because in one horrifying moment, Thea had suddenly exploded. An all-consuming wave of terror had blasted through me, slamming me to the ground and stunning me. And her fear was only growing, growing exponentially as I launched to my feet and tore through the trees, all but flying across the ground as one irrepressible thought dominated all others.
Panic. Horrible, terrifying panic. Panic that was both hers and mine, mixing together and searing through me with unstoppable force that made my blood boil. It was panic that was driving me faster, faster, because I was sick to my stomach and Thea was hurting and I could not lose her. But as Thea's explosive emotions suddenly disappeared, abruptly cut off as the imprint emptied and all feeling of her was dimmed to just the weakest link, an awful thought occurred to me.
I could not lose her; but maybe I already had.
I let out a terrible growl, my pain making it sound more like a roar as I thundered through the woods. It had been just seconds, and I was only halfway back to the house, but it didn't matter because she wasn't there anymore. I could feel her moving further and further away, which made me whimper; because I knew it wasn't her doing it. The dimness of the imprint could mean only that she was unconscious, and someone else was moving her; and I knew exactly who.
Him. The shapeshifter. Only he could ever scare her so badly. Only he could ever force her when she didn't want to go. And only he would dare take her away from me.
He would pay for this. He would not get away with this. She was mine.
She was mine; and I was going to get her back.
Because I had blasted past the house now, not bothering to check it, heading directly to where I knew she was. I could feel that much, at least; I could still find her. I would find her; I could feel myself growing closer with every frantic push of my legs. Closer and closer, so close I was trembling with adrenaline and fear and anticipation and hope.
I would not lose her.
Thea was just metres away now. Metres that I was covering in less than a second, bursting through the trees with a furious growl, my body tense with expectation; only to find myself skidding to a stop.
She wasn't here.
I let out a pained and confused whine, turning frantically on the spot as I opened my senses up wide. Smelling for her, listening for her, looking for her; but there was nothing.
There was nothing here. Nothing but trees and bushes, no whiff of her scent, and no sound of a heartbeat.
She. Was. Not. Here.
Except the imprint said she was. I was throwing all of my energy and concentration into it, pulling at her as much as possible and feeling her as deeply as I could; according to the imprint, she was here. I could feel her here. Here. This very spot. The spot I was burying my head into, the spot that was nothing but dirt and leaves.
She was here; but she wasn't.
DAMMIT, WHERE WAS SHE?!
She had to be here. I could feel that she was here, and so she was. I just had to find her.
I had to find her.
But a minute later, after I had combed over every inch of ground in the area, the terrible truth began to dawn on me. A truth that I blatantly and completely refused to accept, but couldn't deny as I let out a mournful howl packed full of pain.
Thea wasn't here.
She was gone.
After that horrible realisation, it took almost a minute for me to pull myself back together; for me to start thinking through the aching loss that was spreading through me.
She was gone.
But I was going to get her back; I just didn't know how.
I began to pace as I thought it over, treading softly and aimlessly through the trees. Meaningless circles at first, but after a while I realised I'd been unintentionally heading back to Thea's house; a trip I'd done many times before when I was looking for her. The difference was that this time, she wasn't there–
I stiffened as sudden realisation struck.
She wasn't there; but her scent was.
Her scent that would lead me straight to her.
And so, just like before, I found myself once again flying through the trees. The fear and loss that had consumed me was now mixed with a growing hope; a hope that drove me run faster as I threw myself towards the house. Thanks to my subconscious wanderings, I was so close it took only seconds, before I was phasing and dressing in a rush. And then I was running, running through the wide open front door and down the hallway; before staggering to a sudden stop in the kitchen.
Because right in front of me, sitting on the floor less than a metre away, was a blood coated knife.
I balked at the sight, my body freezing. I knew I ought to pick it up, but the imprint had me locked in position; it did not want me to touch something that had hurt her. But with a shudder, I fought through it, stooping and easily snagging the handle; only to realise, now that I was closer, that this wasn't her blood.
Relief. Body melting relief. I was no longer eyeing the blade with disgust, though I couldn't say I liked it. It wasn't the only thing out of place either; the knife rack was also on the floor, on its side in the corner where two counters met. Then there were the cupboards, the doors dented and broken; more proof that Thea had been taken against her will.
She had been taken, but she had put up a good fight.
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about that; knowing she had tried and failed to escape him. Upset, definitely; it was horrible to imagine it, to know that he had hurt her in the process. Then came the guilt; I should have been here to save her. And lastly, there was pride; my imprint had managed to hurt a shapeshifter.
A shapeshifter that I would be hurting once I found Thea again; a thought that reminded why I'd come here in the first place.
I breathed in deeply, letting the smells of the house wash through me, searching for the only one I really cared about. Her scent; foresty and flowery and sweet. It was here, in this room; for a moment it almost seemed like she was here too. But she wasn't here; and neither was what I was looking for.
There was no trail to mark her leaving the house.
My eyebrows crinkled in confusion, and inhaled again. That couldn't be right; there had to be a trail. Your scent couldn't just disappear; it wasn't possible. You could hide it, weaken it, but it was always there if you tried hard enough to find it.
Yet despite that knowledge, despite my desperation and how tuned my senses were to her right now, there was nothing. Her scent was here, yes; all over the kitchen, faint through the hallway. It had been a while since we'd turned up here this morning, which explained the weakness of the latter, and the former also made sense. A short trail stretched down to her bedroom, but it doubled up, leading right back to the kitchen. No, what I was looking for was something else; something that should be fresh and obvious and unmissable.
Something that for some reason just didn't exist. I growled in frustration, turning in a pointless circle as my eyes roamed the kitchen. Dammit, what was I missing? There had to be something here, something I could track her down with; his scent, if not hers.
I froze. His scent. His scent wasn't here. I inhaled yet again, sifting through all of the smells to double check my guess.
Nothing. Not even a hint. How was it possible? He had been here, in this very room; that was his blood on the knife. And yet there was not even a whiff of any shapeshifter's scent, other than my own. It was as if he'd never been here; but he had.
Just like Thea was and wasn't at that spot in the woods. I growled again, thumping my fist down on the counter in despair.
Her scent wasn't here. His scent wasn't here.
I had no trail to follow.
I had lost her; and now, I had no way to get her back.