Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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Wolfsbane: Chapter Eight


With a little foresight and courtesy toward the appropriate parties, Oz managed to set up a time to meet with Howell behind the second door. The staff assured him that only werewolves would be working in Satellite 2 that night, and that the bouncer would warn him if anyone of uncertain exposure to the underworld was about to enter.

“So you’re the wolf expert?” asked Howell when they were facing each other across a two-seater table against the far wall.

“Not really,” said Oz. “But we don’t think you need one of those.”

“Then what do I need?”

Oz scratched his stubble reflectively. “Maybe start by telling me exactly what happened.”

The story was brief and direct, which earned the man a few points in Oz’s book. Apparently, he was having doubts that his recent actions had been entirely of his own volition, and unlike the Sunnydale residents that Oz had grown up around, he had decided not to ignore them. “...I got a theory,” he finished up. “I think I might be a psychic werewolf. Does that sound likely to you?”

“Hm.” Oz thought about that for a moment. “What’s a psychic werewolf?”

Howell’s brow furrowed in consternation. “You mean that doesn’t happen? You have to be bitten physically for it to have any effect?”

“Far as I know.” People could get some weird ideas about what was real or possible now that they acknowledged the existence of the supernatural, but Oz wasn’t tempted to laugh. He had heard weirder, and it wasn’t as if anyone had been handed a guidebook. “What we’ve got so far is that there’s an eldritch superbeing hacking brainwaves. It needed you to get Buffy and/or Angel here, so it made you want to do it.” He paused to take a drink of beer, then went on, “There’s been some deaths in town lately that the police can’t explain. Bodies torn up, throats ripped out like a wild animal attack. And I know how it sounds, but they mostly haven’t been on full moon nights. We’re thinking the killer, or plural, is possessed by the same entity that nabbed you. So there’s your silver lining if you want one - at least you didn’t get mojo’d into killing anyone.”

Silver lining or not, Howell looked understandably perturbed. “There are others? All programmed to do something, none of us realizing until it’s too late?”

“Most likely.”

“How do I know I’m not earmarked to murder someone now that my first job’s done?”

Oz looked him in the eye and answered, “You don’t.”

“Jesus Christ,” Howell exhaled, sitting back in his chair. He finished off half of his glass in one long swig. “I need to turn myself into jail or something. You guys shoulda told me sooner.”

“Nah, we got you covered. A lot of werewolves around here have ways to lock themselves up if they have to. Privately. We can modify the cage in my place real easy, make it comfortable, but you won’t even have to use it if someone’s with you. No need to make your life any more difficult when we know you’re not a criminal.”

Howell smelled afraid, but he looked grateful, and a little surprised. His eyes focused for a moment on Kell, the bartender, who had no other customers to deal with and was quietly organizing things behind the bar. Then he looked toward the door, then back at Oz. “Okay,” he said, using both hands to emphasize his words. “Here’s another thing. You just met me” - he checked his watch - “two hours ago, and now you’re offering to put me up in your own house, not even batting an eye? How do you know you’re not infected by this thing?”

Oz shrugged. “I’m always like this.”

“Drink to that, I guess,” said Howell, though his tone was skeptical. “Isn’t there any way to, you know, get a diagnosis?”

“I don’t know,” said Oz. He hesitated, wanting to believe that the assistance he had provided so far was enough, and that he didn’t have to pull himself any deeper into this. Howell still needed answers, though, and the killings in Cleveland needed to stop, and there was a resource that was still waiting to be tapped. “Hey Kell,” he called. “Do you mind if I use your laptop for a moment?”

She took it out for him, and he got up and stood at the bar to type out a quick message. Howell, standing next to him, read it out loud: “‘It’s Oz, can we talk?’ Who’s the recipient here? This isn’t even an email program.”

“Yeah, she kinda transcended those.” Oz saved the document with the name ‘Willow’, created a folder called ‘Witch Network’, and dropped it in. “She’ll get it.”
Tags: wolfsbane
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