Toby was driving me crazy. Take the over-excitement of a puppy, blend it with a child hyper on sugar (or in his case, honeycomb) and blend well. Even I couldn't make him sit still for longer than a few minutes before he was off exploring our temporary camp again. He was constantly shifting, getting under everyone's feet and I was exhausted. Finally, Mother took him away to help with setting up for tonight.
We were living old-style. Simply put, we were living in basic huts, sleeping in wolf form for warmth and cooking by fire. Like the home village, these were ranged around a central meeting area. I already missed my room at home. It may be underground, but it was a damn sight more comfortable than the rock-strewn floor that was serving as bed tonight. I wanted my chair and a good sci fi novel. Instead, I had spent days searching for scent or feather of that damn angel and got nothing. In wolf-form, I huffed, flopping down next to the temporary hut that Jasper and I were sharing. As mates, we had taken full advantage of our right to claim a hut to ourselves and I was now thankful of the break from Toby's over-enthusiasm.
However, not ten seconds after finding a relatively rock-free patch of dirt, a message from Jasper had me bolting for the central meeting area. He came pelting in with two other males from the pack (well known enemies, mark you. I made a note to have a word with Father. Again.) We shifted to human form, exchanging broad grins.
"Nice work, guys." I greeted them.
The other two dipped their heads in acknowledgement, whereas Jasper elected to swing me up, hugging me tightly. I laughed at his over-exuberant display, which successfully irritated my Father as he approached the group.
"You have news?" He barked, his broad frame only two inches taller than Jasper.
"We've located the angel, Alpha." Jake responded, respectful as always. "He's hiding in a nearby town, apparently under the care of a human female."
My Father growled slightly. "Will the human be a problem?"
"Not if I go, Father. Humans are less wary of lone females or a couple than of a group of males." I interjected.
"Imogen, I'm not having you go out there alone."
"Then I'll take Jasper."
He growled again, clearly irritated that he had given us the chance to go running together. "Fine. Bring him here. If the human is a problem, bring her too."
"Yessir." Jasper avoided looking at me, knowing that I was seconds away from laughing. We shifted, running instantly into the woods to avoid an awkward moment and eventually making it to a small town. It was the kind of place a couple of wolves at around six and seven feet tall would have been noticed. Mind you, Jasper and I didn't exactly blend in whilst in human form either. Our long coats and sombre attire got some funny looks as we made our way to the cafe where Jasper had first spotted the angel. One whiff of the place and our mood suddenly went through the pavement.
Turning to Jasper, I could see that he looked as ill as I felt. A reek of sulphur and rotting...something, overlay all of the other smells around the cafe.
"Stinkin' demons" Jasper growled under his breath. We'd had dealings with them before, mainly when they encroached on pack territories, but they always left a distinctive stench in their wake.
We tracked it swiftly to the source, trying not to inhale too deeply as we entered an alleyway.
Well, now we know where the angel is.
He was, in fact, lying flat on his face in the slush, with a demon gloating over his body.
"Wow, I didn't think that there was anything worse than your smell.. until I saw your face." Jasper was of course, using his very best manners.
The demon snickered. "Says you, dog breath."
We both growled at that, closing the distance between us. The demon actually began to close the gap.
"Listen. We're not just any old mutts. We're hybrids, jackass and currently, you're between us and our property. And you know how territorial we can be, so beat it." Jasper finished in a low growl, shifting his stance. I stood perfectly still behind him, ready to throw the knife at my fingertips if the demon took as much as a step in the wrong direction. It shifted as though to make a move, then curled its lip.
"Enjoy sniffing around the holy trash." Smirking at Jasper, who was barely restraining himself, the demon vanished in a belch of foul fumes.
Both of us made noises of disgust and I turned to Jasper. "Go back to my Father. Tell him that we have the angel and to watch out for demons. I'll have a friendly chat with this one and be right with you."
A grin broke out on his face. "We need him alive, Imi. If he got knocked out by a demon, I doubt the poor guy will stand a 'friendly chat' from you."
I smiled sweetly. "I'll be nice."
He laughed. "That's what I'm afraid of." He kissed me swiftly on the forehead. "Don't be long, okay?"
I smiled. "Sure."
He left quickly then as I considered the prostrate form on the ground at my feet. Shrugging, I dragged him back to the cafe. An annoying bell chimed and the owner came over.
“Welcome to… oh my god! Nate! What the hell did you do to him, you piece of-“
“Shut up, will you. This wasn’t me. But I need to talk to him – get everyone else to clear out.”
“Hell no! Who do you think you are, royalty?”
I couldn't help laughing slightly at that. If only she knew..“Just get rid of them.”
The idiot woman just stood there.
A slight smile crept over my face. If that's what she wanted... “Fine. I’ll just deal with him here then.”
I hauled the now semi-awake angel to his chair.
“Well hello there.” My tone was less than friendly as I remembered what this 'angel' allowed Toby to do. “We need to talk.”
"Wha- Why am I wet?"
I rolled my eyes.
Dear God, dear Lord please do not tell me he is concussed.
"A demon attacked you. My mate and I saved your ass while you were face down in the slush."
"You're coming with me."
"Wait, what? Why?"
"Just a small matter of the crater you left. Oh, and you threatened our pup. Oh, and something about summoning something that could have killed our pup? Yeah, something like that, lets go."
It seemed like none of my words had really been processed so I hauled him to his feet again.We were halfway to the door when the annoying woman popped up again.
"Where do you think you're taking him?" She was stood in the doorway, arms folded, as though she thought she could stop me. Humans were so irritating sometimes.
"Listen lady, you kept everyone in here. If you want to make a scene, go ahead, but I can guarantee that it will end badly for you and everyone else in this cafe. He is coming with me. That is all you need to know. Now, I am on a deadline, so please, excuse me."
I was kinda annoyed at this point. Demons, long hours, setting up camp and now an obstinate human that was interfering with something that her mind could not even imagine.
"You're leaving. But he stays here with me."
I bent down to growl in her ear. "Look. You are in way over your head here. I'm an undercover agent arresting a very dangerous criminal. If you continue with this, then I will arrest you both. Understand?"
She suddenly paused, her eyes opening wide.
I scooted past her, my dazed prize in tow, before she could do anything more. By the time she was out on the street again, we were gone.
"Hey- where's Annie? Where am I?" Finally, the angel woke up. "Get off me." He yanked his arm away from me and started back up the forest path, where the edge of town was barely visible. Taking a risk, I shifted, jumping to block him.
You are going with me, even if I have to knock you out and drag you the whole way. And believe me, I will not be half as gentle as the demon. Now be a good angel and march.
The last word barked in his head loud enough to cause him to wince. He still looked like he was going to risk it though, even though he looked as though a breeze would have him on his backside so I growled to underline my point. He got the message.
"Where are we going anyway?" He muttered, sounding a little like Toby after a tantrum.
I didn't answer, shifting back into human form and directing him along another path.
"Do me a favour, and just go. Please." I really did not have the energy for small talk. It was with great relief that I finally spotted the camp. Father, Jasper and a couple of the other wolves were there to greet us.
"I told you not go to out alone." Father growled.
"You're welcome." I replied, exhausted. He'd reprimand me for that later, but now, I just wanted to curl up with Jasper and sleep for a week. I handed the angel over, and left, Jasper's arms around my waist. The angel was marched to the main hut, whilst Jasper and I curled up together over the warm embers of a fire, had a hot, filling meal and promptly fell asleep, curled together. We had barely slept a couple of hours when we were summoned for the interrogation.