"Try...again...Liz," he replied, his voice quaking like a leaf. He was sweating in fat beads now, rolling down his forehead to form at his chin before slipping smoothly down his neck to pool at his collarbone before sopping the collar of his shirt. "Have to..."
"I know, Sean, I know," she whispered, and heaved again. Now the sweat did some good, and he was literally slick enough to get shoved through the window. She followed, contorting herself in order to slip through the window with ease, and then close it.
The moon over the front lawn was heavy and white, way too bright for Liz's thoughts. She muttered a couple of curses to herself, and then a prayer or two as she helped Sean up. The two turned back to the bushes and skittered through them--well, Liz did the skittering and Sean was attempting more of a half skitter, his body wracked with chills. "Liz..." he whispered. "Keys..."
"I know, hon. Come on, we've got to get out of here," she said.
"Liz..." he half-moaned. "Liz, I..."
"SHUH!" she suddenly hushed, the force of it nearly knocking him back.
The feeling had come over her.
Usually, it came in bad times, or when her body truly felt her mind needed to know something important. Fear now spiraled up through her body and made her hands quake, and again she began to move with Sean again, cautiously. The two of them were well practiced at blending with the shadows, and yet Liz felt that every eye could see them, that every house was alive with people pointing and staring at just them.
A police car passed by then, and she froze. "Scrrr," came from the back of her throat, and she surveryed the area, eyes looking with a practice born of hard and fear filled times. Yet all she saw was the random police car driving past...well, enough 'random' cars to make her especially worried.
"Sean, auxillary plans," she whispered, and even in his struggle he was able to nod, and the two of them crept back toward the house.
* * * *
Detectives Fox Charlton and Ian Wolv, who were partners, were among the last to arrive. By this time, the word had already gone out the two suspects were nowhere to be found, though the car they'd been reported driving in was now in Miguel's garage. In fact, the car was registered to him, and they found he continually paid insurance on it as well as had papers and registration for it. He had appeared at the door in a state of agitation and undress--he claimed that he had been plagued by nightmares for several years now, and this last night's one was particulary terrifying. The two immediately set to finding and questioning him.
Yes, he had been friends with both suspects.
No, he hadn't seen them that day. He hadn't seen the two of them in two years, and his obviously bitter tone showed that he believed the official story.
His wife Miranda appeared on the scene within the hour, driving the second car registered to them, a '92 Ford Taurus. She'd claimed to have just gone driving around, and had stopped at an all night Walgreens to pick up a bottle of spirits, coffee, and hot chocolate. She, too, supported her husband's words.
Detective Charlton was the person to record the official story, and Detective Wolv questioned. They'd been partners for a little over three years, and worked and blended well together. She was about 5'6 to his 6'1, red to his deeply black hair, brown eyes for both, those his sometimes drifted more into hazel; when he was particulary excited, they developed a strange and powerful golden cast. They were loners due to their personalities--both tended toward analytical depression with occasional bouts of cheeriness--and their profession; being a devoted cop is quite the turn off to many people. Between them had developed a rather close and friendly bond, a teasing bond, something akin to true friendship. Fox usually took the less threatening position, due to her sex--though Ian would tell you she could badger the HELL out of someone--and they had a pretty good sucess rate.
The only thing unusual about the interview was a few comments Miguel made. They worked in different departments, and had never met, yet his air was friendly and comfortable to be in, and both found him immediately likable without being too disarming and cocky.. Too bad he's suspected of harboring a felon, Ian thought occasionally throughout. Otherwise, I'd like to earn this man's friendship.
Back to the comment, though. This is what he said:
IAN: If you know anything, you'll contact us.
MIG: I know many things, Det. Wolv. (laugh) But yes, if I find anything out, I will contact you.
IAN: All right.
MIG: I've noticed you haven't spoken through, Det....
FOX: Detective Fox Charlton, sir.
MIG: (a bit of surprise, a bit of awe) A fox, eh? Intruiging. If I may ask a personal question...
FOX: (shrug) All right, sir.
MIG: Do you hate your name?
MIG: Do you hate your name?
FOX: (pause) I did when I was a child, but I've grown into it.
MIG: Then perhaps it will end tonight. Beware, though--separate a mated pair, and you will have blood on your hands.
MIG: It'll make sense in time. Please excuse me.
Needless to say, both detectives were confused.
They were even more so a few minutes later when a call came through saying that a local farmer had reported hearing wolves in the area, and wanted to check it out.
And they were being ORDERED to go.
* * * *
Unless he'd been caught...
Doubt it, she thought. Two years practice made hiding a real snap, especially after those beginning days when the two of them--mostly YOU!--had been so paranoid they thought airplanes flying overhead were targeted for specifically them. She wondered how zealous their families had been in searching for them, wondered if Sean's had actually really cared too much. Hers had to of--HAD TO OF!--well, she hoped, at least.
She almost wondered if Nicole had spilled the beans. Her friend rarely withstood that kind of pressure, from the authorities, families, everyone close to either of them. She allowed herself to smile into the mess they called "grass"--what she wouldn't give for a forest right now! Or, at least, to be in the forest with Sean.
But this was HIS moment, and even when he'd invited her, she'd never thought to intrude upon his space. It just seemed wrong of her to want to do that sort of thing, even though she'd lounged over his body for upwards of two years now. Truly closer to two then three, her mind nitpicked as she raised her head slightly above the grass.
Clustered around the extreme edge of the field--thank God they'd chosen that side!--were law enforcement officers. People who'd been called out for some reason, and who were holding their position for some other reason. Maybe they thought the two of them, oh, dangerous? Maybe they thought the two of them weren't even the two of them; she'd made a few animal calls, and Sean had chorused, and for a few brief moments the two of them made sweet music together. Just for a few moments they'd bonded in a primal, natural way, before the primeval urge had ripped him away from her and into the forest. She risked a slight turn of the head, risked the moonlight shining off her hair or the movement alerting those with alert eyes, in order to glance back.
No sign of him.
Maybe he'd decided to abandon her. The urge, she knew, had been POWERFUL this time. More powerful than usual, and so much so that she was itching to jump out of her skin.
"Come on, come on," she muttered into the grass, sinking down, hands clawing the slippery sides. If she fell, they'd hear. If she got up, they'd hear. This just wasn't her night.
Suddenly, her acute ears picked up the clicking sound of a megaphone, and her blood froze. Someone was deciding to issue a statement? Did that mean they knew a human was roaming the field?
She couldn't help but nearly die on the spot, her heart thumping
so hard that she swore it was going to break her breastbone. Then
she had to clamp her hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that sprang
up. Maybe she was going hysterical, but what could she do?
Trained cops, hardened detectives, nervous rookies--she could imagine them
all, and could see the bright blue and white megaphone being handed over
to the roughest of the bunch. He took a breath, red face flushing...and
then let loose with such a ridiculous exclamation that it took all
the training the elders had not to guffaw, and a few rookies turning bright
red and sqweaking, look away in an embarrasment rivaling what she'd once
called "The Smashed Twinkie" scenario.
"Elisabeth Wheeler," came the sudden cry, followed by, "Sean Black!"
Now it's time for my heart to stop, she thought quietly. A patch of moonlight shifted over her--the field, like most Indiana fields at night, was foggy--and she made furtive scrambling noises in the near silence, her heart pounding in her ears so loud that it drowned out the slightest sound, sending her into more panic. This is SOOO bad!
"Elisabeth, if you're out there," came the dark voice again. "And I have a feeling you are." A breath, heavily accented by the megaphone and allowing her to scramble a little more. She was about to cross the ditch and make a scramble towards the woods...if only they'd keep talking, just a little more. And if she could find a way to make a sudden diversion far away from her.
Tough luck on door number two! she thought, melancholy draining into her mood. Did she really expect to get away? Or see Sean again? So strong tonight...maybe I should've gone!
But she shook her head and moved crab-like and slowly again, scrambling in miniscule paces down the side of the hill towards the bottom of the muddy ditch. Her sweatshirt was stained with dark clay, as were her thin, dark sweats; it was starting to get cold down there, and she clamped her teeth together in hopes that they wouldn't chatter as loudly. She'd forgotten how chilly it could get in a ditch, how the night turned cool outdoors--too much sleeping inside, I guess.
The voice had continued, and she tuned in again. "...don't know whatever happened to you back then, but it's all right, Elisabeth. You and the baby can come out anytime now--it's all right. We know how traumatic it is for a young women to be raped and have a baby..."
I tuned in why? she thought sarcastically. Whoever tipped them off to our location was an idiot. The temper within her started to rise, and she felt an urge--a crazy, insanly strong urge--to clamber back to the top and yell "NOT!" loudly.
I would've in the beginning...I was invincible then... she
thought sadly. Mind leaping ahead, she realized that the person must
have known that, and therefore they were playing off the before-New-England
Elisabeth. It could be then...NO! Nicole wouldn't squeal...would
she? And where did she see us? No, it doesn't fit.
Still, it troubled her deeply.
Tuning back in, "....but I just want you to know that you don't have to feel any obligation to this man, and you don't have to fear us. Don't hide Elisabeth--whatever he told you about us, it's not true." A terrifying pause. "He can't hurt you anymore Elisabeth--we have him."
She slid down into the ditch with a soft rustle than sounded like a sharp crack to her ears. She lay there for a moment, and felt her insides turn to a soft, jelly-like substance. "Sean," she whispered into the red clay; it didn't reply.
OhmyGodthey'vegothimwhatamIgoingtodonowthattheyhaveSeanseanseanSeanSEAN!!! ran sludgingly through her brain, and her face pressed into the clay even more. It was cold and reassuringly, and it slipped into her hair, tainting her auburn locks a black color.
The voice droned over the megaphone for longer, and she lay there through it. And then, swiftly, a soft hand, warm though the cold, touched her.
"YOU BAS...sean?" she cried in a whisper, turning, swinging her hand like a claw--but it was caught by the wrist, and forced down, and a pair of pale gold eyes stared at her.
He nodded, and then he lay down next to her the mud. She fiercly, instinctively hugged him, rolling him on his back in the slippery clay; he carefully hugged her back, hands very gentle so he wouldn't hurt her. She pulled up slightly, and looked down at him, then hugged him once more. Finally, as if her mind caught up with her, she pulled away, a little embarrassed. He said nothing throughout, letting his eyes talk for him, watching her dirty and hushed form as it lay there, and feeling a coldness within him dissapaite. As he had wended his way back to her, he heard the annoucement and froze, waiting for her to wiggle out of the mud and run toward them, and be taken. His steps had quickened, not so concerned with the sucking mud between his toes as with Liz's safety; when he'd seen her, he'd breathed a loud sigh of relief to himself and had approached cautiously.
Her response, though, had puzzled him. Could it be that.....why did she......how come she.....questions that he couldn't finish nor answer sped through his head, and he glanced over at her again, wondering. Perhaps out West... he thought softly. When we're warm and dry, instead of muddy and wet and slimy, then maybe there'll be answers. But he didn't pursue the line of thought, for that's when he heard it.
"Liz," he said hoarsely, voice deeper than normal, bringing her eyes around to gaze at him, glowing. He let her anger go stale, then said, "Liz, they're calling out search parties."
"WHAT!?" she yelled as quietly as she could, voice half muffled by the mud.
"Come on," he said, half growling the words. "We've got to MOVE, and now."
The two of them slithered into a position near the bottom, and turned to crawl, belly near to the ground; Liz followed Sean, not knowing where they were going in the dark and fog. Sean had a much easier time crawling, for his body was more flexible than hers right now; she, though, was able to struggle through it, and soon the ditch divided. Sean sucked in his breath, for he knew that there was a small path of open ground they'd have to go over before they hit the forest of the shadows, and he turned to Liz.
It was then that the barking of dogs sounded.
Liz cursed, the breath muffled in her sweatshirt, then looked up at Sean. "You have to go," she whispered.
"WHAT? No, I can't!" he replied.
"Sean, you're not being rational...."
"Look whose talking about being irrational! Those are DOGS, Liz."
"Exactly. Which is why you have to go, NOW. I can make a distraction for them." A wry grin slipped over her face. "I'm pretty good at that."
"Elisabeth Wheeler, listen to me!" The sound of a baying hound came closer, and a starch white beam of light caught their eye. "You're going to have to come with me, tonight."
"Sean, I can't."
His eyes flashed amber. "Why not?" he growled, white teeth blaring at her in the night.
"Because its your thing, Sean, and I just couldn't....even now." The dogs bayed again, closer this time, so close that Sean's ears hurt from the sound. Tears suddenly welled in Liz's eyes, surprising her, and her voice dropped. "Please Sean, they'll get you...and I know you don't feel well....just go, GO! And let me get out of it my own way."
"Liz, we're a team. We need to stick..."
"they're going to kill you, sean," she whispered fiercely. "NOW GO!"
He paused just for a second, golden eyes reading her blue-grey, and sadness welled. Then he turned, and as the moonlight passed over him he melted into it, scampering up the sides of the ditch and into the woods. She counted off five full seconds before letting loose a "NOOOOO!!!!" and taking off running. Her feet pounded up the ditch side, calves letting out minor protests as she ascended the incline and took off into the woods. The dogs let loose high pitched barking, their screams bringing the officers running to them, and after her.
long as its me, not him....
The forest wasn't too dense, but dense enough to produce quite a fall of leaves, and she slipped once before dashing to her feet. Her butt ached, though, and despite the warmth the run was generating, her muscles hadn't warmed up and were screeching at her. Her hand caught a birch tree, and she skittered around it and took off down a barely marked trail. Ahead of her--far ahead of here--an animal howled, then barked, then howled again. Behind her--just a little behind her--the dogs bayed and barked, and the policeman grunted and turned on their brights.
got to get away, got to find someplace to crawl into, come on, COME ON!
She spied a small creek, and delibrately splashed into it, wading upstream against the soft flow, washing her ankles and her shoes and getting sand on her sweats. She gritted her teeth as she pushed against it, then turned suddenly and sprinted clumsily up the sandy bank.
uh oh, left tracks...
Again she whirled around a tree, except this time she completed
the revolution, scattering leaves and prints all the way around.
Lord, do I wish for a fence, she thought, suddenly doubling back
on her trail and running another way. The hounds behind her gave
off a confused bay--must be at the river! Hah, lets see if they can
track this vixen any farther--and she doubled up again, then crossed
a log, slipping once on the moss and nearly falling over. She waded
through the trees, water rushing to her ears, scrambled over another, wider
creek, and kept going. Her lungs protested fiercly at all this activity,
and her calves ached as if she'd just run up Mt. Baldy. Still, she
kept going, knowing that the more a distraction she was, the less time
they'd have to concentrate on Sean.
Suddenly, there was a valley in front of her, a wide valley with a tiny stream and...yep, those were thorns! She managed to untangle herself in time to hear a rather close dog's bay, and panic seized her feet and propelled her up the side. Another mossy log stood in front of her, and without thinking she plunged across it, her feet moving with precision, stepping carefully yet quickly.
Until she hit the patch of dry log, and everything was thrown off. Her balance tipped, and as she fumbled for it and lost, she pitched over the side of the log and into the wood below. She felt her arm bang, and her head, and she gave a low moan in pain. She tried to move, but her body seemed resigned to the position; plus, it hurt! too much to even consider her getting up again. The throb in her head nauseated her, she moaned again, and rested a little. Once again she tried to move, splintering her right arm up and adding to her pain so much that blackness swam before her eyes, and she moaned once more, futily.
The last thing she heard before passing out was the long, low, mournful cry of a woodland predator, calling to its mate.