I scrub at my face with a hand, trying to remove the tears. I know that I’m probably making my face dirty, but I don’t care. I don’t care about my appearance, I don’t care about the others. I don’t know what is happening to my humanity.
“If they are monsters, what does that make us?” I ask, but Colin just looks away.
“We are more,” he says but he says it quietly.
I look at him and see the stain from the gunshot wound. I can’t help but reach out a hand to touch it, as if reassuring myself that he is whole again. He winces at my touch but doesn’t move.
“What happened?” I ask.
“We were chasing him and we came around the corner…” he stops and looks back, toward the place I found him. “The shot came out of nowhere. One minute I’m next to Max and then I’m on the floor in a puddle of my own blood.”
I close my eyes and lean toward him. I want to give him my comfort but I’m not even sure I can. I feel so alien. At my movement he reaches out and grabs me.
“Max froze and I saw someone come out with a gun. They were dressed in fatigues and camouflage. They walked him away.”
“Which way?” I ask, holding him tight.
Unlike the hug from before he is sort of limp in my arms, as if he doesn’t want to hold me to him. I pull away and look in his face. Oddly, I can see embarrassment and perhaps shame. He won’t meet my eyes.
“I didn’t stop them,” he says, mumbling.
“You couldn’t,” I say.
“It feels like I’ve failed,” he whispers.
“You haven’t…” I begin.
“I did, he was my…,” he interrupts and then pauses. “I don’t know. Leader?”
He looks at me then and I can see that he is holding back tears. I get what he is saying. I’ve read enough books to know that it feels as if we are a pack and that Max is our alpha. But for me it is more than that. With Max missing I feel adrift and I want him here with me. Anger flashes through me and I feel my top lip peel back from my teeth. It is purely animalistic and Colin steps away from me at my expression.
“Let’s go find him,” I growl and add to myself, because Max is mine.
Colin nods and we jog back to the alley. I go to the place where I smelt the fear and I hear Colin’s intake of breath. I step beyond it and then I smell another. This person is human.
“I’ve got him,” I say.
Scenting the air, I start to follow. I can smell Max and after a while the two combine to form a strange concoction of Max and human. It is easy to follow. Colin is behind me as we jog further into the maze of warehouses.
We must have gone no more than half a mile before I notice that the scent is leading me to a large warehouse that is sitting on its own.
“Looks like they went in there,” Colin says.
I nod. But I also look around. At the moment we are safe in the maze of buildings, but in order to get to the building we will have to cross open space. I really have no wish to get shot.
“We need to find another way in,” I say.
Colin nods and we start to move around the building, keeping our distance. At one point he points to a flash of light on the roof.
I nod. I think it must be someone and I assume that it’s the sniper. I flash of rage rolls over me. That is probably the man who shot Colin and left him for dead in a bin. I growl, surprising myself with the sound.
“Soon,” Colin says, and strokes my back. I know he is trying to calm me. The odd thing is that it works.
Slowly we move around the back of the warehouse. As we do a door opens and two step out. The first thing I notice is that they smell like Max.
“Do you think he is lying?” the one with the cigarette asks.
“No,” the other says, lighting his mates fag, “but he’s holding back.”
“Damn shame that the guy they were chasing died.”
The two are wearing fatigues and they are holding themselves with the confidence of those not worried about the world they are in.
“The thing we put in the dumpster?”
“Mmmm?” The taller says, taking a drag of the cigarette.
“Do you think he survived?”
The shorter blonde one looks out toward us and shakes his head. I know he can’t see us but I feel like stepping further back into the shadows, although the movement will give us away.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I think he did.”
The tall one shrugs. “We should have stopped them at the airport. Ricky should have let us go after them.”
“He knew the girl.”
“Yeah, but she’s dead. At least that’s what the thing in there said.”
Both turn to the door as if they hear their names being called. They walk back in.
Colin tugs at my hand, pulling me away from the warehouse. For a moment I resist him. I want to burst into the warehouse and kill them all. Max is mine. But he doesn’t let up and eventually I allow myself to be dragged away.