The Mournful Howl

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Chapter 3

Gabriel shook his head as he heard the woman's retreating footsteps.

Could he be going deaf? He really hadn't heard her as she moved up behind him with a rifle.

If his father could see him now, he'd be certain he'd made the right decision to banish his eldest son to the wilderness.

Smelling coffee, he slowly looked behind him to see the infuriating woman coming back with two steaming mugs and what looked like a notepad tucked under her arm.

"I hope you take it black," she sighed holding out the cup. "I haven't found the dry creamer or sugar packets I packed. I think they're in the bottom of one of the boxes I haven't opened yet."

'Does she ever shut up?' his wolf asked, making Gabriel grin behind his straggly hair.

Hoping it would silence the woman, he took the cup and carefully sipped its steaming contents.

"How is it?" Jayne asked, looking at him hopefully.

Gabriel simply shrugged and downed the rest, ignoring the burning sensation as it ran down his throat.

Handing back the empty mug, he tried to turn back to his work, but the irritating woman reached out and laid her hand on his arm.

"Hey," she said, tugging on his arm until he turned back to her.

"I know you can't talk, but can you write?" she asked, juggling coffee mugs in her bandaged hands until she managed to grab the notepad and pen, holding it out him.

Taking the offered items, Gabriel quickly scrawled 'yes' before handing it back with a guttural huff.

"Okay," Jayne breathed, a brilliant smile appearing on her face. "What's your name?"

Realizing she wasn't going to leave him alone until she got what she wanted, Gabriel sighed and wrote his name on the pad below his previous answer.

"Gabriel?" she asked, looking at him, "like the archangel. I like it."

'Need to finish here,' he wrote next, his handwriting suffering because he wrote in a hurry. 'Lot of work to do.'

Reading the message and seeing the look of irritation on his face, Jayne's smile fell a little.

"Oh," she breathed sadly, "sorry I bothered you."

With slightly hurt feelings, she turned and went back into her cabin, wishing she wasn't so fucking stupid. Of course he didn't want to talk to some twenty something grad student who almost put a bullet in his back.

What was it about her that made people not want to be around her? She was smart, nice, generous, helpful, everything she'd seen other people be and yet she was literally friendless.

Even in school, no matter how hard she tried, she'd ended up the wallflower at all the social functions. When she tried to join conversations, she was slowly shouldered out of the group.

"At least I have sole control of the remote," she told herself out loud, trying to ignore the tear that managed to escape and roll down her cheek. "And no one steals my leftovers or hogs the covers."

Unable to put her usually positive spin on things, Jayne dropped the cups in the wash basin and strapped on her Bowie knife and ear buds.

Bursting out of the cabin, she started to run, not caring what direction she was going, she knew she'd find her way back no matter where she went.

She may not have been granted a wolf when she turned sixteen, but she'd at least been granted the small gifts of speed and absolute direction.

Gabriel watched as she ran past at inhuman speed, her legs carrying her a hundred yards in less than seven seconds, faster than a human eye would have noticed.

Stunned, he realized she was like him, but how? He hadn't sensed a wolf when she talked to him incessantly.

Dropping everything, he hurried to follow her.

Jayne ran until the darkness in her mind caught up with her and she couldn't take it anymore.

Sliding down against the rough bark of a pine tree, she pulled up the hem of her sweater and tank top, tucking them under the edge of her bra to keep them out of the way.

Drawing her knife, she breathed deeply before dragging the razor sharp blade across the exposed skin, hissing in pain each time she did it.

Feeling the clarity that came with the pain, she panted heavily, banging her head against the tree trunk, she felt the regret that always followed.

"So fucking stupid," she told herself through gritted teeth.

Suddenly, a rough hand cupped her head keeping her from hurting herself anymore.

Opening her eyes, Jayne turned her head to see Gabriel kneeling next to her, his breathing ragged after chasing her.

Quickly scrambling away, she assumed a defensive crouch, her bloody knife glinting in the sun ignoring the blood that ran down her side.

"What do you want?" she growled, sounding nothing like the other wolves of her pack. Instead she sounded like a human woman who'd smoked her whole life.

Gabriel stared at her, trying to understand what he was seeing. She moved like a wolf, and bless her heart she tried to growl like one too, but everything about her from her head to her toes screamed human.

Holding up his hands, palms out in a sigh that he wasn't going to hurt her, Gabriel dug out the note pad he'd shoved in his shirt front.

'Wolf?' he wrote, turning the pad so she could read it.

Jayne shook her head, not understand what he meant. What did he know about werewolves?

Sighing, he flipped to a new page and took the time to think out what he needed to write.

'You're a were, like me?' he said, turning the pad around once more.

Finally, she seemed to understand.

"You're a werewolf?" she asked, stunned, her defensive stance loosing some of its form.

She'd never thought to meet another like herself out in the middle of nowhere.

"Are you a rogue?" she demanded, resuming her former position.

Stunned, Gabriel shook his shaggy head.

Couldn't she smell that he wasn't feral?

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