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Confessions (IC)

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It had been almost two weeks since the full moon and his run with Mia, yet still he had heard nothing from her. The more he thought about it, the worse he cursed himself for actually thinking it might work. He couldn't blame her for not calling. For all he knew, there was another man in her life and the things she did on full moon nights were her deepest secrets.

All the same, he thought he deserved to know what was going on. After all, they were pack.

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One good thing about being a werewolf was never needing a phone book. You could look up where someone lived with only your nose. Thomas might not have known much about Mia, but he knew she lived and worked in Southside like he did. That meant he just needed to walk around and try to pick up her scent.

It briefly occurred to Thomas that this might be considered stalking by some. Ht thought differently. Mia was a part of his pack. If nothing else they always had that connection. Besides, he held a higher rank than her now. If he wanted to speak with her, that was his prerogative. That he felt worse about than the idea of calling it stalking.

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Thomas found himself at the Southside mall. within the hour. There was no trace of her there. Thomas found that strange. She would have to avoid the mall for at least a week or two for the strong scent of Lycanthropy to fade. Thomas didn't know any girls in their 20s that avoided the mall. It was too bad, he would just have to search elsewhere.

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There was no trace of her in the shops on main street. She didn't frequent the waterfront either. More and more, Thomas began thinking that either this girl was like a ghost, or he had misheard when someone told him she worked in Southside. Then, as he approached his home from the north, he picked up a small trace of fur that didn't belong to him or his roommates. Thomas followed it.

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The scent grew stronger as he neared one of Southside's convenience stores. The WaWa stood on a smaller road that branched off of one of the roads coming from the northern section of the city. From the concentration of her scent, Thomas guessed that she did a lot of her food shopping here.

A normal detective might have gone in and asked those inside about a girl that resembled Mia's description. Thomas had only to keep following the scent. It grew stronger the farther he traveled into the rural housing section of Southside. He was getting closer.

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Thomas stood at the bottom of a driveway. She was here, he could smell it. But if he could smell her, then she could smell him. He looked up towards what he determined was an auto body garage that someone was running out of their house. Thomas had identified the place by the strong scent of gasoline, oil, and various other mechanical fluids. Thomas walked slowly up the driveway, looking for any sign of Mia.

As he drew closer to the house's actual garage, the smell of car parts was overwhelming. There was a car jacked up in the left side of the garage. The right side was empty. A pair of legs in work boots and denim jeans similar to his own jutted out from beneath the car. "Excuse me, sir," Thomas addressed the legs, hoping to inquire about Mia.

The legs pushed against the ground, pulling the person out from under the car. A very dirty, grease stained Mia wearing nothing more than boots, gloves, overalls, and a not-so-white-anymore sports bra glared up at him. "What are you doing here, Thomas?" she demanded.

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Thomas was extremely taken back by finding Mia so suddenly. He was at a loss for words. Mia interrupted his stutter, "I asked you a question. What are you doing here?"

"I was looking for you," he managed to explain, still flustered.

"Well, you found me. Now go away." She picked up a nearby wrench and slid abruptly back under the car.

"I'm not just going to go," Thomas replied beginning to place his hand on the hood of the car.

"Don't touch that!" Mia snapped from beneath the car. Somehow she was aware of what he'd been doing, "And why not?"

"Because I want to talk." Thomas lifted his hand from the car.

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"Mia! Is that a customer?" An average sized overweight man poked his head out of the door in the garage that led to the rest of the house.

"No, Monty!" Mia called from beneath the car. "Just someone I know."

"Okay, then. Feel free to take a break, but just remember that we need Mrs. Jones' car done by the end of the day!"

"It's okay, Monty. He's not staying long," She pulled herself out from under the car again. "You want to talk," She said, ditching one wrench for another, "But I don't. Why do you think I haven't called you?" She slid back under the car. Thomas wondered if she would ever have come out again if not to change wrenches.

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"I thought you might have lost my number," Thomas replied weakly, refusing to be discouraged, though growing angry at her attitude.

"Oh, I have it. I just didn't feel like calling you. Now do me a favor and get lost so I can get this done." She told him.

Wolf didn't like that. As much as he hated Pack dynamics, he was still the alpha wolf in this situation. Thomas stepped on the board Mia was laying on. His foot rested on the small piece of wood that was exposed between her legs. He pulled on it hard with his foot and it slid out from under the car. "You can't order me around. I'm staying, and your going to talk to me." Wolf was laying down the law, and Thomas was brandishing a finger in Mia's face. Their eyes met and neither moved for a few moments.

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"Fine," Mia finally spoke, turning her head away in submission. Thomas was suddenly reminded of how she looked lying on her back during the last full moon when she'd let him have control over her. He liked that memory. From the look on her face, she remembered it too, but didn't share his feelings. "But don't expect me to stop working. I need to get this done." she picked up her wrench and rolled back under the car so she wouldn't have to look at him.

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"So why did you not call me?" Thomas started the conversation when it seemed Mia was refusing to.

"I told you already. I didn't want to." Came her muffled response from beneath the car.

"Because that really helps a lot," Thomas replied sarcastically. He sat on the ground near the end of the car. He peered under the car to see if he could see her face, but the angle was too sharp. "Why did you not want to call me?"

"Because I don't want what happened the other night to become an ongoing thing." Mia's explanation was abrupt. But then, she was fed up with not being able to say the things she wanted to to the other wolves. She hoped that of all people, Thomas, would understand.

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Thomas' heart sank. Though he had suspected that was the case, he did not want to believe it, or hear it, for that matter. "Why?" Thomas asked, dumbfounded. "Was it something I did?"

"You don't get it do you?" Mia rolled out from under the car and sat up to look at him. "It's not something you did. Or about anything the Pack did. It's something that the wolf who bit me did."

"But you do not even kn... No one knows who that is. How can you know what they did?" Thomas briefly wondered if all women made this little sense, or was it just the ones he had a thing for?

"I know enough. I know they bit me." Mia flopped back on the board and slid back under the car. She took out some of her anger freeing up a particularly tight bolt with the wrench. Her Lycanthropic strength helping with that job.

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"I do not understand," Thomas said flatly. He was missing a huge part of this conversation, that much was clear.

"Of course you don't," Mia replied, practically attacking the bolt, "You're having the time of your life being part of the Pack. As I'm sure every one else is. Well, news flash, I'm not." Thomas was silent. He knew when it was best not to respond. He decided to wait and see how far she would take this. "I go to the pack house on full moons because I have to," She continued. "I only take orders because I have to. If I didn't I'd be kicked out of the pack. You don't get it because you enjoy being a..." She hesitated, glancing towards Monty's office. "Being one of us. Well did you ever think that maybe some of us don't like it?"

Tears began to well up in her eyes, and Thomas felt a sharp pang of guilt and helplessness in his chest. "I hate it, Thomas. But there's nothing I can do. Believe me, it's nothing personal, but I would rather have nothing to do with the Pack or with you, but I can't do that. I can't do it, because inside, I know that I'm going to have to change once a month. Lord only knows what I would do without the Pack. I'd probably end up killing someone because I lost control."Mia threw her arms up helplessly.

Thomas sat in stunned silence.

"Do you understand now?" she asked returning to the car's underbelly and her work, "It's nothing against you. I just didn't call because I hate being reminded of how much I hate my life." Thomas sat and listened to the steady *crank crank crank* of the wrench. Underneath the car, Mia was crying. But she would never let Thomas hear that.

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Of all the people she knew from the Pack, he was one of the nicest. Maybe it was because he liked her, or maybe it was just because he was a nice person. Either way, one thing was sure. He'd saved her what surely would have been a beating at the hands of Steve. Steve was notorious for that. Maybe she did owe Thomas something, but she couldn't allow herself to just give in like that. If she wanted to really be independent from the Pack, it was going to take a lot of work and determination. She was going to have to go through with it 100% Mia cranked away at that pesky bolt some more.

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Thomas didn't know what to say. Mia had been part of he Pack and a Lycanthrope for nearly as long as he had. In two years, they had both seen their share of Wolves try to distance themselves from the Pack. They had both seen how it had driven them nuts. A wolf without a pack is like a bird without wings. Thomas wasn't sure he could bear to see it happen again.

He'd have to do something, but he just didn't know what. He knew she wanted to leave the Pack, but he also knew that she wasn't sure. Her fear hung in the air like a wet blanket. It covered not only her, but the car, and even Thomas himself. Her feelings of apprehension covered even the smells of gasoline and lubricant.

Part of one's job as a member of a Pack was to protect those below you. They weren't strong enough to be a higher ranking, and for the same reason, they were not capable of handling things that those higher up could. A few weeks ago, Thomas and Mia had held the same rank. Now that Thomas had more power, he also had more of a certain responsibility. Thomas had his mind made up.

"Meet me at my house tonight after you get off work. That is an order. If you are not there. I will come find you again."

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Some Time Later

I really can't keep doing this, Thomas thought as he folded the leather jacket and tucked it into the black duffel. The jacket sat on top of the gas mask, ballistics jacket, gloves, and other pieces of the costume that he used during the night. A secret isn't a secret if you keep telling people. He mused. All the same, Mia needed help, and this was the only way he could think of to do it. Besides, Wolf seemed to think she could be trusted.

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Mia finished her repairs on the car and said good bye to Monty. She quietly washed her hands and face in his work sink before mounting her motorcycle and placing her helmet on her head. As she stepped on the clutch and put the bike in gear, she had to admit she was curious what Thomas wanted. She felt she knew him well enough to know he wasn't planning anything dishonest.

Mia decided not to bother with a shower. She wasn't feeling particularly willing to make herself look nice. Five minutes later she was at Thomas' house, having driven straight there.

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The door bell rang and Thomas was there to answer it. He quickly hedged Mia away from the door. He slung the large duffel over his shoulder and told her to follow him.

"What's in the bag?" she asked him, now extremely curious.

"Do not worry. You will discover the answer to that question before long." Thomas briefly felt like his grandfather might, with his multitude of riddles. He led her down the block. Not too far away was a small set of buildings. Some of them had large gaps between them. Others had smaller passageways, like alleys. Thomas led Mia to one of the smaller ones, and dropped the duffel on the ground. Thomas normally would have gone farther towards the city before starting his patrol, but he didn't want to make her walk. There were enough shadows here that no one would see him change anyway.

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"Alright," Mia said, "We've been walking long enough. I don't want to go on one of your marathons around the city. Tell me what this is about."

"Fine," Thomas let the duffel bag drop where he was standing and turned to face her. As he prepared himself to put on that costume his body language was every bit the predator. When she saw this Mia was startled. It was a different side of the normally peaceful Thomas that she wasn't used to seeing. She took a step back , unsure of whether to be afraid, or attracted, or what?

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"A few months ago, I felt exactly like you did. I couldn't stand being so different from what I used to be. I just didn't realize how close we were until you said something about it this afternoon."

Mia said nothing. She'd just managed to get the red out of her eyes from the crying. She didn't want to start that again. Her only response was wrapping her arms around herself, folding them in front of her and looking away at the floor.

"The only real difference," Thomas was saying as he looked right at her, "Is that you have given up, and I was not ready to do that."

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"As much as I realized that dealing with the Pack sucks, and as much as I wish I could go back to the way things were, I can not change anything. So I just took my mind off things by picking something else to focus on." Thomas slid the duffel bag over to her, "Open it," he told her.

The duffel bag unzipped, and Mia's eyes became as wide as saucers. "You've got to be Sh***ing me." Mia bent down and pulled out the jacket and the mask. Her ponytail falling forward over her shoulder as she did so.

"You're Lukos?"

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"Is it really that surprising?" Thomas asked, crouching in front of her he pulled the bullet proof vest out of the bag. "You have heard the rumors," he said, standing, "Right?" Thomas began to buckle the vest to his chest.

"People say he's not human. A monster beneath the mask." She stood, holding the gas mask in both hands and staring into it. "He even howls at the moon." Mia was fascinated.

"I do," Thomas told her. He was now zipping the leather jacket. "Who else could it have been? We are the only pack in town." Thomas tightened the straps that held a pistol to the front of his jacket.

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"I know," Mia began a weak protest, "I just didn't think,"

"Just like you were not thinking this afternoon." Thomas cut her off. She was still staring at the mask which he pulled from her hands. "You just need something else to focus on." he strapped the mask on and his breathing rasped through it.

"It could be me, if you want," Lukos offered, stooping to take the fire axe from the bag and sling it over his shoulder.

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This time it was Mia's turn to be dumbfounded. She stood, staring, trying to take in what she had just learned.

I tried to be nice, Lukos thought, But that did not work. So maybe she will understand if I am tough on her. Lukos, now fully in costume, turned away from her. "There are other people that need my help. I can't wait around for you to answer me. But if you need me, you know how to find me." Lukos leaped up the side of the building, latching onto the gutter, he braced his legs against the wall and jumped again, this time making it onto the opposite roof. Lukos disappeared into the night, leaving Mia with no trace of him except for an empty duffel bag and the lingering scent of wolf. Leather and Fur combined to make a unique combination of scents that only he could possess.

Gazing down at the bag on the ground, Mia smiled. She felt like a large weight had just been taken off her shoulders.

Inside her, her wolf howled.

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