Not much happened after that day; I took a shower and sat watching TV for the night. I wasn’t watching it really. I was thinking about her. The more I thought, the more I hated her. The way she spoke to me like I was nothing! She didn’t give me a chance! But... maybe I was a bit forward, she had to understand. I lived alone. I worked alone. I had been alone for so long. I curled up on my gnawed, tattered sofa and switched off the TV.
I didn’t dream, it was black and empty and consumed a whole day.
It was only when the dull ring echoed through my apartment that I dragged myself up and mopped over to the phone, I waited for her to say something first. "Hey," she said, sounding shy and nervous. "I .... Wait. Before you say anything, this is not to tell you that I want to go out on a date with you or that I might be interested or anything like that. You understand?" I was sure she had rang up just to rub it in.
"Sure," I shrugged, I didn't care anymore, but I could feel some small part of me light up with hope - I doused it quickly.
She audibly sighed with relief. "Right then. Well. Um..." She sounded awkward. "You ... wouldn't be able to tell me where any ... clubs were? Like ... clubs for our kind? It's just ... I don't like befriending humans. It always feels wrong to keep stuff from them and lie to them."
"Sure. Your funeral," I snarled, why? Why tonight? Why me?
"What?" she asked, sounding shocked. "Why are you so angry? I'm asking you, aren't I? And you don't expect I'd go alone?!" Maybe I did? Maybe I just hoped that she was going to. I’m a lone wolf.
"Okay, I'll meet you at the shop then... I suggest you don't dress too provocatively." Last thing I want is to go into that joint with a piece of vamp bait.
"I wouldn't," she said, sounding like she was rolling her eyes, she probably did.
"Yeah well, just reminding you how sly those leeches can be. I'll meet you at 7? If that's okay?” It was only the instinct in me that said yes, to get some company, to be amongst others. ‘Wolves are not usually solitary animals.
"Yeah." Her tone was surprisingly soft. "Thanks, Alex."
"Yeah,” I didn’t say anything else. I just hung up the receiver.
She arrived at my garage in a long cotton skirt and thin, long-sleeved blouse of the same material. When she saw me, she stunned me by coming up to me and giving me a hug - though it was slightly hesitant and awkward. "I don't mean for you to be my tool," she told me. "I'm not like that."
I rested my head on her shoulder weakly, "it's okay... I didn't mean to be like that the other day - I'm not used to company."
She stepped back, smiling slightly ruefully. "I shouldn't have mentioned you barking."
"Most people do, I fall asleep a lot," I smiled awkwardly, my shoulders drooping. "You look... pretty,"
She nodded, conveying appreciation that the compliment was toned down. "Thanks. I guess you look handsome. But looks ... don't mean anything." She looked away, pain flashing in her eyes.
I looked at her strangely, but agreed, "true. But, I'm sure you've got a lot more too," I shrugged, "Your car, or mine?"
She shrugged. "You know where we're going. But ... don't make it look like I'm your girlfriend. Or I'll find a shapeshifter or witch who I'll go with in the future."
"If I said I had a girlfriend no one would believe me," I muttered under my breath and unlocked my car, "get in."
She sat down, not responding to my comment. "So ... were you born a werewolf or bitten?" she asked conversationally.
She nodded. "I feel really sorry for the people who are bitten. It's good that it's illegal to change humans. At least this has always been natural for you."
"Yep, but... we pick up the worst traits in dogs," I laughed slightly, a small smirk tugging at my lips.
"What, like chasing your tail? Though you might do that anyway, if you thought it might impress the ladies." She smiled to herself.
"Would you find me chasing my tail attractive?" I took a quick glimpse at her with a joking smile.
She stiffened, almost imperceptibly. Her smile disappeared. "No. You'd be making a fool out of yourself."
"Of course," I continued smiling, if anything to coax that lovely grin back to hers. "But no, luckily I only drool and bark in my sleep," I muttered sarcastically.
She failed in trying to suppress a giggle. Her brow furrowed shortly after, though.
"Someone once offered to make a werewolf do it," she murmured. "For my ... entertainment." She sighed. "He wasn't a bad sort, though. Not ... not back then." She sounded like she had something stuck in her throat. The pain was back in her eyes.
I pulled on the brakes and turned to her, "Flora, are you okay?"
"Yes," she replied, but she most definitely did not look it. Her chest had started rising and falling faster, and she looked like she might be about to cry and I certainly didn’t believe her, I wasn’t about to take her out while she was bawling her eyes out, and seeing her upset... made me upset too.
"Sure you don't want a friendly hug?" I offered, trying not to put on the instinctive puppy-eyes. "There's nothing to be upset about..."
"What do you know?" she said with surprising vehemence. "Dogs would be optimistic, wouldn't they?" she put one fist to her face and took several deep breaths. When she removed her fist, she looked at me. "I'm sorry," she said. "Thanks for the offer. But... no hugs. And don't try to tell me that everything's fine because it's not."
"I'm used to it, don't worry." I shrugged off her comment, "but what's wrong? I'll be your guard dog if you want."
She shook her head. "I... It doesn't matter. And my dad would freak if I got a guard dog. And no one expects me to have a male companion for a while, including me."
"I wouldn't... I'm not ready for... that" I murmured, staring at the floor, "but I would like a friend... if that doesn't sound too desperate," I laughed nervously.
"You not ready?" she asked, snorting. She sighed quietly. "Um, I didn't mean that. I mean that ... I'm wary of guys in any context. I'll be your friend but ... even being alone with a male /friend/ is slightly scary." She smiled at me and reached out to pat my shoulder. "You don't sound desperate at all."
"What about a male dog?"
"My dad would freak."
"Why?" I asked, starting the ignition again.
"Well, can you imagine? Me walking around with a dog at my heels?" she shook her head. "Plus, he's not too fond of furry animals. Hesitates to get attached to anything."
"So no sitting on your doorstep?" She shook her head fiercely, making her hair fly up around her like a whirlwind. "Well, if you ever need anyone to be there to protect you, you ring me.”
"Er, yeah, we'll see. But I said we could be friends, right? Once we find someone to form a trio with us, everything will be fine. Sort of."
"Umm... yeah... I don't do... well, any sort of relationship that well - you're different," I sighed, "we're here." The Admiral’s arms. The Miami hub for the dark. The place made my skin crawl.
"You won't make any other friends?" she asked curiously.
"I don't trust people."
She frowns. "Oh." She looks pained again. "People can be bad, can't they?" She awkwardly climbs out of the car. "But never mind that. Let's go have fun!" I nodded, following her with a frown; I just wanted to go back to my dreamless sleep. It was so much safer, warmer... better.