Wolf was stunned. This was his mate. He remembered her beautiful amber eyes.
Torn snippets of pictures floated to the surface of his mind.
The beautiful she-wolf with the eyes that sparkled in the sunlight. The unique, gentle curve of her lips, opened in laughter. Racing the storms together, the wind whipping their faces. Lost in each other's eyes, hers wide and beautiful as a golden moon. Nuzzling her soft, thick fur as she nipped playfully at him.
They were not complete memories, only broken pictures, as if someone had cruelly yanked them out and jumbled them up carelessly.
With each picture of the past, the longing at his centre grew like a previously dry lake that was suddenly overflowing.
How could he have lost his mate for so long and not remembered? Guilt and grief joined the happiness of having found her again.
Avon waited and listened, his curiosity piqued. He heard the mental voice of the female wolf as it spoke to Argus's Wolf. His own psi abilities were extremely limited. That left one possibility.
Wolf stood up and approached his mate, the yearning in his loins and the joy of finding her made his heart burst. His mouth opened in a wolfish grin.
The female wolf stood her ground against the two-legs. She growled in warning and her sharp fangs were on full display. The danger was clear but Wolf was blind to everything except his mate and how beautiful she was when she was angry. He reached out to touch her.
Fangs grazed his forearm in warning, not enough to break the skin but enough to make him yank his hand back.
Wolf yelped in shock, holding his arm protectively across his chest. He looked at her with wounded eyes. "Rrrr?"
"Wolf! Out of the way!" Jenna aimed her gun at the she-wolf.
"Grrr!" Wolf grabbed Jenna's gun with a warning snarl. "Mate." He threw the weapon crashing against a tree.
* Do not try that again, * warned the she-wolf into Wolf's mind.
"Mate?" asked Jenna, not understanding, eyeing the battered weapon at the base of the tree, partially covered by wet clinging leaves.
The pain from the warning nip was barely noticeable, but there was a greater one inside as he came to the crushing realization his mate did not know him in this human body.
* Wolf? * The Argus-Alpha's voice was weak inside its mind. * I remember now. * There was great pain in his voice. * They did this to us. * The human groaned. * It's so cold. *
More memories surfaced. Feelings. A name.
Wolf reached hesitant fingers towards his mate. His voice was hopeful, gentle, and afraid. "Bright-Eyes?"
The she-wolf paced around him warily, * How do you know my name? *
"Interesting," said Avon, who could give clinics on understatements.
With everyone preoccupied, Jenna edged surreptitiously towards her gun. She was feeling very naked without it. A snarl from the she-wolf stopped her and she backed away, palms open. "You mean they know each other?"
“I suspect this is where Argus received his wolf personality.”
Only when Jenna sat down next to Avon did Bright-Eyes stop snarling at her. "They used a real wolf?"
"It appears so."
"So what happened to the real one?"
“I imagine that is what the wolves are trying to find out.”
Wolf said to the she-wolf, "Your name is Bright-Eyes. You are my mate."
The she-wolf shook her head violently from side-to-side. * You are not. The two-legs took my mate. You are a two-legs. *
As an experiment, Avon gathered his mind, as he did when he spoke to Cally.
* He has the personality of a wolf inside his head. *
The golden-eyed creature looked directly at Avon. Her voice in his mind was full of surprise. You speak like a wolf.
* I speak like a human. Which I am occasionally. *
The female wolf shook her head and sneezed. * Two-legs do not speak with their minds. *
Avon tilted his head in amusement. Two-legs?
* Humans use two legs to grip the ground. She sniffed critically. Not an efficient posture for the storms. *
* Ah. A logical wolf. * After all the illogical people he had to endure, finding a logical wolf seemed like an irony of gigantic proportions.
* One would not want to be an illogical wolf. *
* Of course not. Avon smiled. Nor an illogical human. *
* Why would one wish to be illogical?* she cocked her head, her ears flicking.
* Insanity perhaps? *
Wolf eyed them both suspiciously, he recognized the look on Avon's face. It was the expression he had when he spoke to his Cally-mate with his mind.
Jenna was becoming frustrated at the 'loud' lack of verbal dialogue. "Alright what's going on? she huffed, "Are you talking to Cally?"
"No," said Avon. "I'm speaking to the wolf."
"You can't be, I don't hear anything."
"Not our Wolf."
"Avon, if you don't make sense soon, I'm going to think you are insane."
"That would be an improvement."
* Why do you allow your pack to speak to you like this? * the she-wolf asked as she directed a snarl towards Jenna.
Jenna tensed, gauging the distance to the gun and wondering if she could risk it.
Avon asked, * Can you speak so Jenna can hear you? *
* Of course *, said the she-wolf who directed her next words to Jenna as well. * Your pack female is not well trained. *
Avon suppressed a laugh.
Jenna's eyes opened wide. "It's…speaking to me."
"I asked her to," said Avon.
Jenna's eyes narrowed, "Wait a minute. What did she just say about me?"
"She's a wolf." Avon's mind turned to the problems at hand. Despite everything falling apart, he was enjoying this. It was a mystery to solve and he was not hampered by the loss of his sight.
"I can see that! I'm not blind."
The she-wolf eyed Jenna with disapproval. The female needs to be bitten.
Avon gave a half-choked laugh that caused Jenna to glare at them both.
"No one is biting me!"
With the impassive mask back in place, Avon said flatly, "I wouldn't dream of it. Cally would never understand."
The she-wolf huffed, * This female is rudely mannered. *
Jenna fumed. To be criticized for her manners by a four-legged animal was too much after everything that happened.
"She has," Avon tilted his head in Jenna's direction, a smile playing on his lips, "issues."
Only a conscience, and the fact the pack would probably tear her apart, stopped Jenna from diving for her pistol and shooting the two smug Alphas where it really hurt. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Probably." He turned to the she-wolf. "You've identified Jenna is not the Alpha female?"
* Of course. * The she-wolf licked her paw delicately and rubbed her muzzle with it.
Jenna's increasing outrage turned her face red. "I'll have you know I was born an Alpha!"
* You are Alpha. I can smell your mate on you. It is not this female. *
Avon inclined his head in appreciation. "You truly are a logical wolf."
* And you are a puzzling human. *
"I have been many things."
During this exchange, Wolf's warm brown eyes drank in his mate's beauty even though she glared at him occasionally, annoyed by his rapt attention. His fractured memories included that glare; it filled his body with warmth and excitement.
Avon said, "Wolf, do you remember being with these wolves?"
"One does." His voice was soft and full of affection. The ache for this mate was fierce and touched to the core of his being.
* That is not possible, * said Bright-Eyes, sneezing again. * My mate is a wolf. *
Wolf’s head pounded as he tried to understand. “I...remember...being ...a real wolf.” The pain of saying it was too great. His head bowed and he put a hand to his head. When he lifted his head again, it was with Argus’s anguished yes. “Avon.” He staggered and Jenna reached for him. The ordeal of the last few hours, trapped in a nightmare that had been his life, robbed him of all strength and he sat down heavily. He put his head in his hands. “They...made me into an animal.”
Avon’s voice became quiet. “They conditioned you. Imprinted the wolf onto your mind.”
“Y-yes.” His voice was a half-sob as he recalled the darkness. “I...remember...some of it.”
“This must have been after they took you from the Academy.”
Argus’s fists clenched in anger and his voice was tight. “I...,” It was hard to focus his eyes. “I tried...to fight them, Avon. But...”
Avon’s voice was hard with shared anger. “They were too strong.”
Argus’s eyes squeezed tight, trying to hold back tears. He remembered being a wolf. A creature wracked with pain who struck out to kill its tormenters. “They connected us somehow. I could feel everything it was feeling.” The metallic taste of blood in his mouth as the wolf bit down. Argus shook his head, shaking off the memory as the joy of killing an enemy crept in like a thief. “The wolf’s name...was Brave-Heart.”