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z-August Turner

World of Darkness: Attrition - Big Bad Wolf [Complete]

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August 22, 2011

Life is what happens when you’re making plans. August really hated that saying, especially now that she was its effects in full force. She’d made a lot of plans to get her degree and get a job, then her insanity had started. August had gamely made plans to accommodate that, then she’d gotten dragged into a cemetery and nearly knifed by some guy. Aside from the trauma and all the accompanying issues from the attack itself, she’d then had a medical bill dropped into her lap for her ambulance ride and emergency room visit.

“Cocksuckers!” she snapped as she stared at the letter and attached bill. Outrage and helpless anger flooded her and she tore the bill up instinctively. Throwing it on the floor, she flopped onto her bed, blinking back angry tears.

It’d be fine. She’d be fine. She wanted to believe that, more than anything. But it was damned hard to feel anything other than kicked while she was down. “Fuck,” she snarled, pissed beyond reason and irrationally hurt that they’d bill her for getting attacked. “Fuck!

Pushing to her feet, she grabbed her last forty dollars out of her hiding hole – her emergency funds that she kept for the end of the semester, when she ran out of money. This money had to buy enough food to feed her until her loans paid out. Fortunately, she wasn’t eating a lot, and she could snitch some food from Oneca’s food, if she needed. The green-eyed girl winced as she remembered the last time she’d done that: Saja had given her a knowing, cool look the next time they’d met. Satan hadn’t said anything; she didn’t need to. August had gotten the message.

It was a short walk down to campus, where August caught the bus. Her bus pass was one thing she kept up, paying months in advance to ensure she wouldn’t become completely dependent on Oneca. It bothered her to rely on her roommate so much, even if Oneca didn’t care. Plus, this shopping was better done on her own.

The walk and the ride gave her time to calm down. There were probably victim advocacy groups that would help her pay her bills. She just needed to find them and jump through their hoops. It seemed like so much work, and August pressed the side of her head to the bus window, feeling the creep of despair. Should she even bother? At this rate, she was just going to end up in the crazy farm, so what did a few missed bills here and there matter?

Her stop was reached and August piled off with everyone else. Like part of the herd, she ambled into the store, breathing a sigh of relief when the air-conditioning closed in around her. Grabbing a basket – a cart was just going to depress her over how little she had in it – she headed for the pasta aisle.

They should have plenty of Top Ramen there. Yay, August sighed to herself, even as she accepted her lot in life.

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The not too distant past...

It was getting dark and Shane felt tired and sore. He had been driving for days now, not really sure where to go. He just passed through a town and thought about staying there at a Motel but decided against it. Right now he didn’t feel much like being around people and the small town seemed already too crowded for his taste.

Small droplets of rain started to show on his windshield and by the way the sky darkened it looked like a storm was brewing – a perfect match to his mood. Sometimes he asked himself if god himself was reaching out with his fucking arm to put him down in such moments. He felt chased by invisible hunters and his eyes were constantly checking the rearview mirrors.

Stay calm… stay calm…

A sign announced the next gas station within 5 miles and Shane decided it’d be better to take a break now, get some food and maybe get an hour of sleep or two. As soon as he saw some lights he pulled over and parked his old Ford Bronco within sight since it was everything he had. His entire life and belongings were in that vehicle and he’d be damned to lose it because of neglect.

The place was rather rundown and from the smell he could tell that he should stay away from the coffee. He found a comfortable row with a straight line of sight to his Bronco and took off his coat exhaling profundly as his body relaxed slowly. While he rubbed his temples the waitress approached and took his order with a bored undertone. As soon as she was gone Shane stared at the empty row across. It all started in a place not much unlike this one. He closed his eyes trying to cast away the resurfing memories but he was too tired, too worn out and mentally exhausted to gather the willpower to fight it.

Gasping he saw her shape again, her beautiful face and long black hair. Her eyes were green like an emerald forest and her smell… she smelled so good…

„I miss you, Lilly… I miss you so much…“, he quietly said to himself. Shane looked at his hands which were dirty from the long trip but all he saw was blood. Blood dripping from his claws. Flashes of memory hit him unexpected, her face beautiful and immaculate in one moment, then distorted and ripped apart in the next. He clenched his hands to fists, fighting the urge to physically expell this painwracking experience but that would end in some kind of mess… as usual.

The waitress came back and served him his food temporarily interrupting his reverie and bringing him back to reality.

„Everything ok, Mister? You don’t look so swell“, the waitress asked him obviously trying to sheer him up a little. She looked like the typical failed existences that were so common in these parts. Late 20ish but looking like in her late 30s because of too much make-up and an unhealthy life-style. Her dreams were shattered just like his, that was the only thing they probably had in common.

Shane gave her a weak smile and flatly said, „I’m ok… thanks.“

As he was finishing his meal he saw a police-car taking the slot right next to his Bronco. The officer got out and walked slowly around his car, inspecting it with suspicious eyes. Shane stopped eating and watched the man approach the station and entering the diner-area.

„Al, who’s Ford Bronco is that parking on my slot?“, the Officer asked the owner of the place who just nodded towards Shane in response. Shane looked up from his plate and watched the slightly overweight man approaching. In his minds eye he already saw what would happen next. The police officer would ask him for his papers, then ask him to stand up and go outside to check his car. Then he’d arrest him for whatever fellony he could muster and probably confiscate his car… that was not an option.

„Is that your car, Mister?“, the officer asked without introducing himself, automatically assuming he was the undisputed authority. Shane felt the urge to bury the mans face into the next wall but he remained calm… relatively calm for him.

„Yes…“, he answered, „… Sir. Any problems with it?“

„Actually yes… the left rear light is broken.“

Bullshit!, „Really? I’ve got a spare in my car, I can fix it before I leave.“

The officer shook his head, „I have to ask you to stand up and come with me, Mister…“

„O’Neally, Shane O’Neally“, Shane answered teeth grinding behind his cold mien. His eyes spoke death and he really wanted to kill that man now. Instead his body slowly rose from his place and he picked up his coat putting it with one fluid motion on.

„After you, Mr. O’Neally“, the police officer said giving Shane a toothy grin. The man obviously enjoyed abusing his power.

Shane breathed heavily through his nose, his nostrils flaring with suppressed anger just play along… everything will be fine, he kept telling himself. As he reached his car he inspected both rear lights and found no damage.

„Excuse me, Sir – but I can’t see any damage.“, he said pointing at the right rear light. The police officer came around and gave Shane an annoyed look, then he kicked the rear light with his boots, shattering the plastic.

„Broken, like I said.“, the officer replied sarcastically. Shane’s eyes transfixed the man and the beating of his heart started to deafen any other sound. He only heard the rush of his blood and the thundering of his beating heart.

„Asshole…“, he pressed through his lips, his body already assuming a more primal shape. A red haze clouded his vision and he could barely restrain his anger.

Before the officer could react Shane charged him grappling the officer by his collar and shoving his face into the damaged rear light.

„Broken you said? I show you broken.“, he shifted his position holding the hapless and surprised man with steely grip and rammed him into the rear light like a battering ram.

With sickening crunching sounds the rear light broke even more but Shane knew that it was far more that he had damaged as the body got limp in his hands. Disgusted he dropped the officer staring at the prone body for a moment. A dark stain spread from the officer’s head covering the immediate area with his blood. Get away… run! he heard his inner voice yelling at him.

Get the fuck out of here!

He quickly got into his car and left the place, never looking back. The feeling of being chased never ceasing, always present. His eyes stared into the abyss and he could see no escape…

August 22, 2011

He lost track of time and each time he saw a police car he flinched and tried to appear casual, as if nothing had happened. If he was lucky it would be harder to track him once he got into a bigger city... like L. A.

Shane made his way through the traffic trying to avoid the larger streets and he definitely had issues concentrating since he surely hadn’t slept for the last 24 hours, maybe even 48 hours. His body surely felt like was driving for days. He pulled over into a parking lot near a grocery store and got out of his truck. The stink of the city repulsed him but it was a necessary burden he had to bear giving the rather unpleasent circumstances.

With a few uneasy steps he made his way towards the entrance of the store and took in a deep breath of relief once he was inside and felt the air-conditioning on his skin. He briefly looked at the baskets and carts and decided to take one of the carts since he would definitely need more space than a basket would provide. His first target took him straight to the beverages were he took half a dozen cans of beer from the refrigirator when he picked up something from the corner of his eyes – long black hair... Lilly...

His heart skipped a beat and he felt an adrenaline surge not unlike when he changed. His hands grabbed the cart fiercely as he tried to keep himself in check. Slowly he guided himself towards the woman he just spotted and part of his subconscious mind made him approve of this since she was checking out the various selection of Top Ramen they had. As he got closer he noticed more and more similarities between her and his Lilly. The way she stood and carried herself, a tinge of pain, maybe even melancholy or something akin to it.

Shane didn’t notice how close he actually was standing to her now since his curiosity and bewilderment completely changed into a stare. It can’t be... you’re... dead...

He blinked several times with his mouth half opened forgetting completely how to breath...

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Many women have natural sense when they’re in danger. From children, they’re taught that they are weaker than boys, that boys can hurt them. When they grow up, the boys become men and the danger becomes higher. It goes from pulled hair and skinned knees to broken bodies and shattered lives. The game is the same; the stakes are just higher.

August slowly became aware that someone was hovering near her; relaxing her visual focus a bit, she could see two people near her in her peripheral vision. They had both stopped and August could feel eyes on her. Take a picture, guys, she growled to herself, scowling as she leaned in to peer at a container. She didn’t need to do that, but it gave her something to do while she decided how to react. She was here to shop for minute amounts of food, not get stared at by people.

Fine, she thought when the moment had drawn out long enough. With the attack in the cemetery fresh in her mind, she slipped her hand into her purse and closed her fingers around the slim shape of her mace. Swallowing, she turned, her expression set into one of aggravation. The first one she saw was a man, standing staring at her with wide eyes. He was kind of cute in a darkly handsome way, but he looked like he’d seen five miles of bad road from the bottom of the truck. He had the pale look of someone who hadn’t slept enough; the bags under his eyes were sporting bags of their own. All in all, not the kind of person she wanted to be undressing her with his eyes when she was already pissed about bills and the fact her menu featured ramen with a side of ramen for the foreseeable future.

Her green eyes snapped with irritation as she started to say, “Can I help you-” Her throat closed in pure terror when she looked past him to see the woman. It was another hallucination, but that didn’t matter to August. The woman looked like her. Not exactly, but it was unsettling. Worse, she was horrifically mutilated, her face rent by deep bloody slashes that cut into bone as well as flesh. The wedding dress hung in bloody strips on her body; a ghostly chain wrapped around her neck and disappeared into his chest, as if she were bound to him. The hallucination was staring at the man with fury in her eyes, but there was pain too; the woman had unending tears pouring down her face.

The basket clattered to the floor as August stumbled backwards. Her face was set in terror as she backed up, her only thought to get away from the hallucination. She ran into a display, tipping it backwards and tripping herself to the ground. As she hit the hard floor ass-first, the woman’s white, dead eyes came to rest on August. The hallucination tilted her head to the side in an alien gesture of consideration; a slash had bisected her eyelid and most of her right eye. The white orb bulged for a moment before something thick and gray oozed from behind it and rolled down her cheek.

The green-eyed woman had seen some terrible things in her life: her sister beaten to death being one of the bloodiest. This was the worst, by several factors. The gorge rose in August’s throat; she clamped a hand over her mouth, but it was too much. She twisted to the side and vomited what little was left of Sam’s wrap onto the floor. Gasping and heaving, she started to cry, wiping at her mouth as she shook in terror and pain.

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The world had stopped spinning. Everything was quiet, all he heart was the beating of his heart. She was standing right there in front of him, immaculate. He didn’t dare touch her for this could only be a dream but it felt so real... oh so real.

”Can I help you-“
, she asked, her wonderful voice rang in his ears and then she collapsed. His dream collapsed like a card-house and he took his first breath since he saw her kicking the world back into speed. Sounds, smell, emotions assaulted him as he tried to understand, to grasp what was going on. Instinctively he reached down to her, he needed to protect her.

Ignoring the mess she made he carefully pulled her closer hushing with a soothing voice, “It’s ok honey... it’s ok. I’m here now, I won’t let anyone hurt you, Lilly. I won’t fail you again, I promise.”, he was talking half to himself and tears were clouding his sight. He was struggling with the pain and anger that built inside his guts, the pain for the loss he went through and the anger it created because of his fucked up life. Why couldn’t they leave him alone – why couldn’t he have a normal life?

“I’ll always love you, Lilly – always

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August was only vaguely aware of the man. She was too focused on the pain of throwing up; on the fear that shook her like a rat in a dog's mouth. Had she been reasonably stress-free when this went down, she might have held it together better. But she wasn't; she was already angry and freaked out and just plain tired. All she could do was cry, right until she felt arms around her from behind.

"Ack! Fuck!" August yelped, not even really hearing what he was saying. Her fingers splashed through the vomit to snake inside her purse, mindless of the mess she was making as she reclaimed her grip on the mace. Even as he was cooing at her, August aimed the canister over her shoulder and hit the trigger.

Mace is a weapon best used at a distance, because it will affect a small area. The manufacturers of such devices recommend a distance of six to twelve feet. They definitely do not recommend aiming it over your shoulder and macing the man who is plastering himself to your back. August had read the instructions, but she'd never practiced with the device, figuring that when the time came, she could remember six to twelve feet, aim and shoot. But in the fog of panic, she forgot all that. She also didn't remember to get her thumb under the flip top, but the man didn't seem to realize what she was doing until the stream of chemical irritant jetted out of the small canister.

August had already been crying; now her eyes forced themselves closed and wouldn't open. Her exposed skin began to burn and August started to whimper. She was barely cognizant that the guy grabbing her didn't seem bothered by the pepper spray. So fucking unfair! August thought before her higher brain functions dissolved into repeated repetitions of "It burns! It burns!"

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Her reaction caught him completely off guard. He wanted to give into his own pain and now he was left open and unprotected. If she could still see she would’ve seen the saddest look in his face yet but it quickly gave way to anger.

“IT’S THEM! IT’S THEIR FAULT!”, he screamed furiously and got up searching for the fastest route out of this place. His instincts took over – something told him he should better flee else trouble would come his way. He looked at the whimpering woman and quickly scooped her up holding her gently in his strong arms trying to not give in to his urge to run away with her. People would surely start asking questions and create even more problems than he already had. So instead he forced himself to stay... stay and hope help would come.

“Calm down, Honey. I got you.”, he spoke softly to her looking helplessly around. What was he supposed to do? He smelled the chemicals from the Mace she used and from the way she tried to cover her eyes she seemed to have hit herself with the devilish substance. His heart was beating fast and pounding in his ears but he couldn’t give in to his instincts, he needed help.

“Can someone help us? Please... she’s in pain.”, he walked slowly towards the cashiers hoping that the store manager or anyone else who felt responsible would respond.

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“Nrgh,” August moaned, trying to make sense of what was happening to her. She was being carried by a guy; she could hear his voice, almost in her ear. And while he’d been cute, he wasn’t cute enough for her to tolerate his level of insanity. Dec, Oneca, I will so apologize to all of you after this, for thinking you’re crazy. You guys are eccentric; this fucker is crazy.

That thought had managed to restore some sense of priority to August. First priority: getting some help from someone other than the crazy fucker carrying her.

“Can I help you?” Harmon Davis got paid more than most of his employees, but he still felt it wasn’t enough on days like this. He had vomit and something that stank in his pasta aisle and he wasn’t in the mood to deal with this after having to throw out half of his apple shipment this morning. He approached as closely as he dared, hand over his mouth, trying not to breath too deeply.

“My wife… she’s hurt!” The man was clearly in a panic, cradling the lovely woman in his arm with sweet tenderness.

“Ngh hi’ wiiv,” the woman moaned, pushing against the man and trying to get him to put her down.

“I’m sorry, miss?” Harmon asked.

“Not. His. Wife!” she snapped with carefully pronunciation, even as the guy put her on her feet. “Maced him!”

“Honey, please…” he said, trying to pick her up again.

The guy wasn’t acting maced to Harmon. He’d seen people maced during the Rodney King riots, and they were generally pawing at their faces and crying, like the woman was. Fuck this. “I’m gonna call the police and an ambulance, miss, you sit down, alright?” he said, pulling at his phone. He'd let the cops sort out the crazy.

Thank you. What I wanted,” the woman snarled, hand out as she tried to move away from the man without vision to assist her movements.

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Shane looked like a shot deer. His eyes stared through Harmon with a pain he had never seen before. Why was she doing this? Why was she lying? He was slowly and very gently putting her down making sure she was standing steady as his mind was searching for reasons why she was acting like this.

“It wasn’t my fault.”, he explained, half talking to her and Harmon. It seemed as if he was talking to someone else actually or to the past, if you asked him.

“Lilly, please... I can take you to the hospital – it’s ok, trust me.”, Shane tried very hard not to cry although felt like curling up in the darkest corner of this forsaken place and just weep until he’d run out of tears. But he was supposed to be strong, he was supposed to protect her. “I’m not gonna let you down, Lilly – I won’t fail you again

He was caught between self-pity and determination. Parts of him acted on instincts purely but he knew that those would surely complicate things and sooner or later cause irreversible and most of all permanent damage. His rationale tried to analyse what was transpiring but was fooled with false information. Information he so much wanted to believe in. He wanted her to be alive. He wanted this second chance – he needed a second chance or any chance to be precise else he could aswell throw himself off the next bridge...

and survive the impact giving his cursed luck.

“Lilly... please...”, he pleaded reaching out with one hand to her while he closed his eyes. Please...

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"My name is not Lilly, you fucking perv," August snarled. She would have been far more tactful had she known just how violent Shane could be but with her self-inflicted blindness and the burning pain crawling over her skin, she was in no mood to be gracious. "Fuck! This burns!"

"Ma'am, do you need an ambulance?" the manager asked.

"First I need the police - this guy thinks we're married and I know we're not!" August snarled, blindly sitting down and rubbing at her skin. She couldn't help it - the shit burned like fire. She was never laughing at those assholes who did this on Youtube - this shit was not funny! "It's just Mace, this doesn't cause damage."

"You maced her?" The manager looked up from his dialing to stare at the man, startled.

"No, I maced him! He was grabbing me and called me by another name!" August snapped.

"Lilly... why?" the man asked softly, reaching out to touch August's hair. The woman flinched and slapped at his hand.

"Don't. Touch. Me," she seethed, even as she heard the manager say, "Yes, I need to report an attack at my store. I have no idea. A woman's been maced, some man says they're married, she's insisting that they aren't... Look, it's the cops' job to figure this out, not mine. Mine is making sure my customers have fresh groceries. Yeah, it's the Shopper Mart on Santa Monica..."

"He killed me." The voice came with a gust of cold air and August shivered.

The young woman pressed her hands to her eyes, hiding her face. "Stop," she whispered into her hands.

"Shane killed me. He turned into a big wolf and did this to me, on our honeymoon." The cold was spreading across her, as if something were touching her. It felt as though the woman was trying to spread over her and August fought the urge to vomit again.

"Lilly, baby, please." August felt him kneel in front of her; she could feel the warmth of his body competing with that terrible cold.

"Do not call me baby." The delusion snarled that at the same time August did, which was weirdly gratifying to the young woman, even as it was frightening.

"You have no right to call me anything sweet," the delusion added.

"He can't hear you," August pointed out as softly as she could.

"Lilly, who are you talking to?"

"Then tell him."

"No!"

The cold intensified and August felt her skin crawl. What was that thing doing to her? "Tell him!" the voice missed, her tone furious.

A wolf with silver eyes flashed through her mind; a whisper when she was alone in her room. Oneca's words and Madeline's conversation all played again in her ears. A floating sandwich in her kitchen. Something inside August cracked, just a little. Ghost, she's a ghost!

"Shane, Lilly says you can't call her anything sweet anymore," August whispered, still shivering.

In the distance, the sound of sirens rose in a banshee's wail.

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The truth was pouring out of her like hot lava melting away Shane’s fortress of stubborness. He wanted to refuse the truth but the words cut through directly to his cerebral cortex forever leaving a hot trail of truth in his minds eye. Lilly was dead.

He killed her.

With his own hands.

Claws to be precise.

Shane was staring at his hands, his body was trembling. His heart was pounding in his ears, almost blocking out any other sound and yet everything was so crystal clear like never before in his life. He felt an itch under his skin, an urge to break free and tear apart this truth he refused to believe. He wanted it to be a lie. He wanted to tear it apart with his claws.

A wolf-like wail escaped his lips which ended in a single word... “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

He felt it under his skin – his Uratha heritage wanted to break out and destroy but he knew it would not ease the pain. It would make everything worse. Shane stared at August-not-Lilly and a low rumbling snarled escaped from deep within his bowels producing a sound that was primal in nature. It incited one instinct – flee!

Shane willed himself to stand still clenching his fists repeatedly just to keep himself from bursting out in a pounce and kill the first person who crossed his path. He looked at August-not-Lilly exposing his teeth like a wild animal, his canines looking elongated... more than humanly reasonable.

No... he wouldn’t hurt her. She talked about Lilly – she knew her, had some kind of connection to her and he would be damned to lose that now. Even if this woman wasn’t Lilly – she was close enough and if he wanted to remain somewhat sane he had to know what was going on. With blinding speed he shoved the manager aside and picked up August-not-Lilly up and charged out of the Store. People jumped out of his way knowing that it was a bad idea to get involved in this crazy probably drug-induced insanity which was not worth risking once life over.

Shane found his way to his Truck and more or less forced her inside trying to not hurt her unless she would do something stupid but the girl seemed momentarily too terrified to fight back. The engine roared and he found his way into L.A. traffic, trying to stay away from large roads and sirens...

“Listen... I’m sorry... really... I... I know you’re not Lilly. I just... you just look so much like her and I wanted it to be true. Please you’ve got to believe me. I won’t hurt you, I never would... I... I... just need to know. I... Need...you.”, he confessed.

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The man's anguished cry-howl made her flinch in fear. That hadn't sounded like the reaction of a sane man, and the girl was suddenly far more willing to believe the ghost's statement. People didn't make - couldn't make - noises like that. Somehow, she thought her chance of dying her had risen. Ears straining, she waited for Tyla's disembodied voice, feeling completely vulnerable from the blindness. At least she could see the first hint of something; a blur of color.

When August heard the man's growl, for one absurd moment she thought it was Dec. That somehow, he knight-with-shining-eyes had found her and was rescuing her. That growl - she'd heard something like it before, but when the manager cried out and she felt hands on her, August realized the truth: that the man was making that sound.

"Let me go! Fucker!" August screamed as she was pulled to her feet. He was trying to pick her up, but August kept thrashing, making it hard to get a grip on her. Finally, Shane gave up being 'nice' about it and August was tossed over a shoulder. "Help! Fire!" August shouted as the man dashed out of the store. She felt the sun on her back and then heard the door of a vehicle open. She was put on her feet for a second, just long enough for her to register that she was standing. Before she could take advantage of the moment, she was picked up again and dropped onto a car seat. Hands gently pushed her over, then caught her arm when she found the passenger door and tried to open it.

Then he dumped his next bomb on her. “Listen... I’m sorry... really... I... I know you’re not Lilly. I just... you just look so much like her and I wanted it to be true. Please you’ve got to believe me. I won’t hurt you, I never would... I... I... just need to know. I... Need...you.”

"No, you need psychiatric counseling and probably some lithium," August snapped before she could think better of her reply. And maybe a muzzle sized for a tiger. "If your 'need' for me includes rape, then I'm going to stuff and mount your cock on my wall." It was an empty threat, especially if he was anything like the big wolves who had served as guardians for her before. She still felt better for trying to be brave and fierce. So long as he didn't hurt her, she could probably keep pretending to be tough. So far, all he'd done was talk.

Shane blinked at her for a second. "No, I would never hurt you," he told her, sounding surprised. "I told you that."

"No hurting me includes not kidnapping me!" August shouted. Her vision was starting to come back, but she wasn't comfortable with trying to escape - yet.

"I'll take you home, if you want. Or let you go if you give me a phone number," he told her.

"Oh, fuck no!" August snapped. "There is no way in hell I'm giving you my number or showing you where I live."

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There was a short moment of awkward silence. Shane didn’t know what to do – he had rushed head first into this without actually having any plan what to do and now the rollercoaster was on track...

August was still half blinded and had no idea where they were going and waited for an opportune moment to make her escape – fortunately for her Shane had stopped yelling at her but the silence didn’t do much to improve the situation. They must’ve gotten into a less frequented suburb of L. A. since he was driving relatively slow and August couldn’t make out much traffic if she could trust her ears.

“Listen... I.”, he was struggling for the right words and most of all because she said that kidnapping was part of hurting her. That was definitely not on his mind. If only she would listen to him and give him a chance but that wouldn’t happen. Hell, if he was in her situation he probably would’ve freaked out, too. He was a lunatic – but he wasn’t the bad guy. He wasn’t evil.

“I’m not the bad guy... I’m sorry.”, he pulled over and stopped the truck, killing the engine. Then he reached past her to open the door.

“I’m not the bad guy. I’m not kidnapping you, I am not going to hurt you. But I do need help.”, he looked at her but she was still unable to recognise his face, her vision was still too blurry.

“Please help me.”, he pleaded keeping his hands on the wheel. He already saw her getting out of the truck and probably disappear forever. Why would fate play such a trick on him? Why couldn’t he leave all the bad things behind?

“I killed my wife and I don’t know why... I don’t know what happened... it’s driving me insane.”, he felt very much like crying now but the last time he cried was when he was 8 years old and got seperated from his sister Sarah. He cried for days and they punished him for every tear he shed. He never cried again since then – most of the time he got angry instead. Furious, to be precise. Even now he could feel it. A primal rage that struggled for release. It had become a constant companion since that fateful night when he killed Lilly. Sometimes it felt like drowning to him – the rage gnawing away at his sanity until there only one thing left – pure killing instincts, unrestrained and even liberating to some degree but it always left a trail of pain and destruction.

When he looked back there was only regret.

“Just go... I didn’t mean to scare you.”

I miss you Lilly. So much

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August flinched as the truck stopped and a heavy arm slid across her stomach. But all that happened was the pop of the door opening. The green-eyed girl didn't hesitate to slide away from the dangerous nut, out the door and into the sun. Her vision still wasn't great, but she could see more with each agonized blink of her eyes. The ghost was ranting; August tried to block it out so she could hear.

Her first instinct was to run like hell, but she stopped herself and listened as the crazy man talked. "I..." She wanted to say something, but 'get help' never actually seemed to help. She started to add 'good luck', but that seemed lame.

Her mind dredged up the memory of the great wolf in the snow, of the silver-eyed (Declan) beast in the cemetery. Both of them had helped her, and now another one of them needed help. You owe them. August squeezed her eyes shut. I can't believe that I'm going to do this.

"I'm going to help you," she said, but she made no move to get back in the truck. "But I'm doing it on my terms. Two weeks from today, meet me at Holmby Park at 2:00 p.m."

"Two weeks?" he asked, his voice uncertain. The ghost's rantings changed to include August in their curses.

"Yeah, I need time to get over this," August said, waving at the truck. "You know, my abject terror of you. So give me some time." She also needed to talk to Madeline and do some research. But mostly, she needed distance from today. "You come alone. I don't want you to bring nut-buddies with their dead wives attached." The second she said that, she wondered if that were wise. Did he know his wife was haunting him?

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Shane perked up at her words. She’s going to help me?. He didn’t believe his ears but yet she was standing there and offering help – on her condition which was perfectly fine.

It was a flicker of hope that she gave him and he thankfully accepted, no matter under which conditions. He would’ve blindfolded himself and tied his arms to his back and spent the whole two weeks on water and some bread alone just to get this chance she offered.

He smiled at her – a warm and handsome smile full of compassion and most of all gratefullness. She had done something only Lilly had ever done before. She gave him a chance to show that he wasn’t evil. That most of the time he was trying to stay out of trouble but it somehow stuck to him like some kind of superglue which was impossible to wash away entirely.

“Thank you.”, he said with his soft voice which was in strong contrast to the guttural sounds he managed to produce at the grocery store. How could someone be so kind and so batshit-crazy at the same time? If they had met under ‘normal’ circumstances she could’ve considered him cute and handsome – maybe even more given the right time and place.

“You’re going to be ok? Do you want me to wait until someone picks you up?”, he wasn’t trying to gain more time in her presence. Shane was really concerned about her well-being and now that she had offered to help he didn’t want to risk losing her to some hobo who decided it was a good idea to take advantage of someone like her. His urge to protect her came directly from his love to Lilly, the similarities between the two women were incredible. Even the way she spoke or now how she stood there – it was Lilly. Just like Lilly. Maybe she had a twin sister somewhere and never told him?

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"No. No, no. I've had about all the help I can handle from you," August said, sighing as she was finally able to see the neighborhood she was in. It was safe enough that she didn't mind being left here. "I meant it when I said that I needed some time away to calm down. You really scared me."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." Shane looked crestfallen.

"I get the feeling you say that alot."

"He should be sorry!" Lilly wailed. "He doesn't need help, he needs to die!" Her spectral chains shook as she howled. "He kill me, he killed me!"

August sighed again. "Look, I feel like shit and Lilly's giving me a headache. So I'll see you in two weeks."

After the man (wolf-man) had left, August started hiking. It wasn't far to the bus stop; thankfully, she'd stuck her pass in her pocket so she could have easy access to it on the way home. She rode the bus back to the store, which was still crawling with cops. The manager pointed her out to them and August found herself quickly flanked by the Blue Line.

"Ms. Turner, what happened, in your own words." Detective Criado was young and hot, with definite Latino sexiness. Detective Orson was old and overweight; he constantly wore a bored expression on his face. He was also the one asking the questions, despite the fact that he managed to slur his monotone tone so that they all sounded like statements.

August told them the story, leaving out the ghost and feigning an upset stomach to cover the vomiting. "Then I talked him down," she said after relating her kidnapping. "He was just confused and upset. I reminded him of someone who was dead, someone he'd cared about. I think he just got turned around. He didn't hurt me."

After relating that fifty more times, August was allowed to reclaim her money and purse. The officers were being a lot nicer than the last ones August had met. Her desire to shop was gone, so she accepted a ride home from the cops.

It was a ghost. August stared out the window of the car and felt her reality shift. It was a ghost, and he turned into a wolf.

What world do I live in?

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