It wasn't one of his best ideas, but it had to be done. They needed every help they could find to track down and save Jim. Mick knew that and that's what forced his hand to make that call and put aside his uneasy personal feelings. He fucked up big time. Again. He knew. He still hadn't made amends for the first time. At least he felt like he didn't, no matter how many times he’d managed to keep Corey and Sid and the others safe.
They didn't have much time and although Sid was with the devastated Corey, waiting and dreading the next call, Mick had to do something. Tracking Jim's phone didn't get them far, because they switched it off and took out the battery nearly right after that horrible call, but at least they could narrow things down a bit. Still, the territory on which's edge Mick was standing was still too big to find the hiding place quick enough. That's why he called for more help.
And damn they were good sneaking up on him...
One moment he was standing by a tree, the next he was lying on the ground with a high-heeled leather boot pressing against his throat and a gun pointing at his head.
"Hello, Megan. It's nice to see you too..." Mick looked up motionless at the black-haired woman with curves to die for, the green eyes looking back at him sharp like a knife yet there was a hint of playfulness in them too.
"Hiya Mr. Mick. My sister still doesn't want to talk to you. So what’s so urgent?" the woman twisted his pointy heel on the man's throat to underline her words.
"The wolf I am protecting. Corey Taylor. Remember how his mate ended up in the hands of the families? They are not done hunting him. And took his new mate too. Please help, Megan. This guy never chased the families. He’s just a guitar player. And you know Corey doesn't deserve that either..." Mick practically begged the woman.
The pretty woman in leather thought for a moment, clearly enjoying the fact that she managed to corner Mick and make him beg for their help. "You know well that for hunters it doesn't matter if that poor guy didn't interfere with their business. Especially if it's the corrupt families that are after your protégé. Which we know is the case..." Megan thought out loud. "They'll always see the danger in Taylor," she bent a bit closer, leaning on her free forearm that she placed on her thigh to see Mick's face better. "And they'll always see the potential danger in whatever mate he chooses. Don't tell me you forgot how the minds of the hunter families work... I'd be even more disappointed in you than we already are, Mr. Mick."
"I know this. But I'm desperate as you can see. I wouldn’t have called if time wasn't this short. It's his first full moon today. They are probably already torturing him to drive him mad and make him shift... That's how they managed to do that to Corey's first mate too, I'm sure," he said. It was something he never told Corey because losing his mate was hard enough for him to process without such a gory detail.
Mick knew all too well that Megan and her sister, Stacey were born and trained in a hunter family. Not a corrupt one though. That and the fact that the sisters were one of the strongest and most experienced hunters around were the reasons why he even made the call. And now he was ready to beg more, if needed, in order to make up for his repeated failure.
"Hm... What do you think, sis? Should we help them?" Megan glimpsed to the side to exchange a contemplating look with Stacey, who just stepped out from behind a tree and walked close enough for Mick to see her too from his position.
She looked exactly the same like her sister, aside from a few differences in her tight leather clothes and minor details on her pretty face. It wasn't such a surprise since they were identical twins. The big man couldn't stop himself from swallowing hard seeing the two of them again. Especially Stacey.
"I dunno sis, he always had such strong morals and made promises to follow 'the right' path no matter who or what he left behind. If we help, it is for Taylor and his mate. Corey saved some of us before," Stacy came closer and looked coldly at the man on the ground. "But the attacks won't stop. He should man up already and keep at least one promise he had made. After all, he left everything behind to keep Corey safe. He should get started."
Mick swallowed more from Stacy's words. He knew the woman was right. He once made big promises to her as well. Then left when he learned about the corrupt ways of the families and wolves. Turning humans to super criminals and practically slaves for their clans. "I'm sorry Stacy. Pleas help them."
"Yeah, Taylor did help us out in the past. Also he's still just monitored by us because he's useful in fighting the corrupt families," Megan nodded with a deep sigh, which made her chest heave. Mick didn't miss that either, of course, but very wisely bit his tongue this time and focused on the conversation.
"True. And we swore to protect the innocents. With a little stretch the new mate can fall under that category too," Stacey said, ignoring both Mick and his apology. She'd never admitted it, but it still hurt seeing the undeserving man to whom she naively gave her heart years ago.
"Hm... you're right again, sis," Megan twisted her heel on Mick's throat just for the fun of it.
Feeling that this was the moment when Mick should use all he could offer, he cleared his throat, ignoring the heel bruising up his skin. "You can also have your revenge on me afterwards, if you want," he added uncharacteristically quietly.
"Oh wow, things just got more interesting! You must be truly desperate," Megan chuckled and finally put her gun back into its holster on her thigh and took her leg off Mick's throat to step back next to Stacey, exchanging a final look with her. "Very well. We'll help. We'll come back to the rest later."
Back in the shamans’ protected house, nearby from where they took Jim, Corey was restless. At least Sid seemed to be okay. But the kid kept bugging him with his idea of how to go after the hunters. Although it was the wolf's main concern to keep at least Sid safe, he was also not fond of the idea of staying hidden and safe till his mate goes through... who knows what and let's not think of the full moon that was upon them.
After a while Sid decided it was time to lay out his cards on the table.
"You know, I'm not stupid and you taught me to always pay attention to the small details and be sneaky if it's needed. I know about my parents. What they were and did. You raised me and I want to help you, Corey. You were practically a father to me. So please… I want to belong more to your family. If you bite me, I can help free Jim and you know that time is short."
Corey had to admit that he was right. Sid has been bugging him with the idea of changing him since he got his consciousness back by the edge of the forest. What did he have to lose? Sid would not turn on him, he knows the way the demon wolves live and truly they need all the help they can get.
"And I could be a good help, I promise. I know how to fight and you know my soul and mind too. It'd be an honor to carry the spirit and even the shamans said years back that my soul is pure too. So that eliminates the possibility of me becoming an evil demon wolf..." he went on, using every reason he could think of to persuade Corey. "Plus I could become your protector, like you were to me all these years. I could pay back your kindness. Revenge isn't what I seek and you can feel it, I'm sure," he added quickly. "Please, papi..."
"Very well," Corey gave in with a sigh. He took Sid's offered hand and let his canines grow. "Ready?" he asked but not waited for an answer and quickly bit the younger man's wrist.
Excited, Sid only had time to nod and then grimaced a bit from the pain that shot up from his bitten wrist, but otherwise he suppressed the moan of discomfort. Also the pain started to quickly ebb down from the warm tingling that'd started spreading quickly from the bite. He knew that because of the closeness of the full moon the symptoms would spread and show faster than on Jim whose body had nearly a month to get used to the changes, but he was willing to make that sacrifice. Also, he was going to be a helper wolf with a less powerful spirit inhabiting his body, which was different from mates and the spirits they carried. And Sid knew that Corey would help him adjust as fast as possible to be able to free Jim while they waited for 'The Call' and Mick's return.
As the evening grew longer, Sid got more pained and distressed. Corey tried to help him with his own powers and by explaining things about the shift and how to use his new skills. Meanwhile he used his token to ask around the forest creatures but they arrived back with no real useful information about Jim and the ones who took him. The wolf was worried and played with the idea of going after Mick on his own. But the changing of his 'son' made him drop that plan. And also distracted his mind a little while he helped Sid through the process as much as he could. As one of the greater spirit carriers and the one who bit Sid, he could connect to his rapidly mutating mind to ease the pain of the transforming body.
"Not much now. You're doing great, kiddo," he cooed holding Sid in his arms like when he was just a little boy and wanted his comforting. "Thank you for getting closer to my family, Sidney," he added and the half-changed blue eyes shined on him playfully.
"We should turn Mr. Mick too and go on hunts together. We would need a big black wolf as a protector," Sid giggled then growled as another wave of the warm rush took over him.
Corey wanted to add that it's not that bad of an idea but that he wasn’t sure about it, just when the phone rang.
"I have news. No time for details. Meet me up at the junction not far from where they took him. We got help and know where they are hiding," Mick spoke fast even to his usual self and seemed to be running or walking fast.
"Okay. I bring Sid too. He is almost done. No time to explain either. Meet you there".
"Corey... Don't tell me... Okay. I have surprises too. Cross your fingers."
"Good news," Sid stated, not asked, a clear sign that his hearing had already improved and he heard what the men were talking about. "Let's go. We can't waste any time..."
"You sure?" Corey frowned. "Okay, okay," came the snort from the 'I'm going to be fine' kind of look and instead of arguing, he slid out of the backseat of the car. Corey moved Sid there before the pain got too overwhelming for Sid’s body, and they've been waiting there ever since. Now the wolf got behind the wheel to get to their destination faster.
Minutes later the small wolf could see the slight disbelief then acceptance on Mick's face about Sid's change. "It had to be done. Don't say anything. He wanted it and was our only choice," Corey got out of the car and helped Sid out too. Can you walk?" he looked at his 'son,' who seemed to be doing somewhat better by then.
"Yes," the red-haired new wolf said, putting a hand on the car for support but otherwise he could stand again.
"Okay, so first of all where's Jim and who's helping us?" Corey turned to Mick.
The big guy sighed shaking his head then shook off his doubts and focused on the task at hand. "Four miles to the north west from here. An abandoned warehouse in the forest. And it's the twins," Mick added, exchanging a meaningful look with Corey. He was one of the very fucking few who knew about Mick's relations with the girls.
"Was it a wise move?" the redhead asked as he reached under Sid's armpit to help him start walking towards that direction as fast as he could.
"I had no choice either. And they know this territory the best. I made a deal with them. It's gonna be fine. They could further narrow down the location from my last coordinates and only this storage was left as a possible hideout. They went ahead to check it out and just messaged me that they are indeed there. We have to hurry..." he cut himself off while hurrying next to the other two, not wanting to say why, but it was probably clear given the circumstances.
In that moment Corey's phone started ringing again. It was them.
"Yes," Corey answered the phone.
"You can see your mate wolfie if you come alone. I'm sure you know by now where. Not underestimating you for one minute," the voice said coldly. "But just to make sure I'll text you the directions. And I mean it. Come alone or you'll get another skin before it's time.”
"Fine. I'm on my way," Corey growled and cursed as they hung up. Soon the beep of the text message came.
"Okay. Let's go. Maybe there’s still time before Jim shifts. And I have to resist the moon too," he growled again. His face was already showing more of the wolf signs.
Sid nodded and they walked to catch up with Mick. He was in a hurry and Sid started to voice that with various curses because he had more and more difficulty with walking.
"He's a puppy too, Sid. Don't curse him," Corey chuckled a little as they stopped for a few minutes to let the younger one catch his breath. But it was harder this time. Sid had to sit down and the change finally caught up with him. Within a few minutes a reddish wolf stood there on his four legs and looked up at Corey almost apologetic. "Hello, kiddo. You look pretty," Corey kneeled down to pet the new wolf. "Let's get Jimmy," he added hugging the furry neck shortly and started to run after Mick now.
Mick wasn't even surprised when Corey and a wolf-Sid stopped next to him in a couple of minutes. "Nice fur," he told the new one, who gave him a wolf-grin and a huff in return. "Alright, so this is the place according to the coordinates they sent you and what the girls managed to figure out..."
"Damn right, Mr. Mick," Megan's voice came out of nowhere and the next moment she jumped off a nearby tree along with her sister. They walked closer to the small gathering, their eyes not missing the new wolf. "Well, hello, Taylor... and Sid, I assume," she frowned lightly.
"They had no choice," Mick murmured noticing the twins' gaze on Sid.
Ignoring the excuse, Megan looked towards the building while Stacey kept an eye on the others and started talking to Corey.
"We counted 15 corrupt hunters around and inside the perimeter, but there could be more hiding. We also mapped out the best routes to infiltrate the building. But if we're not mistaken, they want you to go in alone. You can. We'll have your back..." she started laying out their plan then the little group quickly discussed the details. All that was left was for Corey to walk in alone.
Here goes nothing... Corey thought as he raised his arms in the air and walked into the little cleaning before the entrance. He was sure there were watchmen all over the place, and the girls said that the main door was also guarded.
As he got closer, some armed masked man opened the door for him and another tapped him over for weapons. Then signaled with his head for Corey to follow him.
It seemed they entered the main storage room and it was breathtaking. Corey could sense Jim again and smell the wolf blood and the burned flesh. The man led Corey to their leader who stood with a silver pointy spear next to a cage. It had barely enough space for a man as small as Corey was, so Jim was standing bent over in the cage. His eyes were a glowing gold and he was almost turned.
"Welcome, wolfie. Nice of you to drop in. What's your offer?" the leader said with a cold grin on his face.
"Let him go. He had never done anything against you or your businesses. You can have me instead."
"Don't be ridiculous. Like your little group wouldn't try to come after us in some wolf-vendetta or something," the leader rolled his eyes dramatically.
"They won't. Just let me talk to him. I promise they will go on with their lives as musicians and never interfere with nothing you and your people are in," Corey's voice was already more growls than human talk. As he got a nod he walked to the cage calling Jim's name.
The caged half-animal had no idea how much time had passed since he was locked up and tortured. He had to hold on to every last ounce of his strength to stay more or less in human shape, because he instinctively knew that shifting to wolf would be bad for him. Very bad.
He just preyed to the spirits that they would lend him enough strength until Corey and the others would get there. Because they surely would. Even in his bloody and burned state he could hear the leader's last phone call.
Then finally Jim sensed him. His mate.
His glowing yellow eyes turned towards him as he was quietly panting through his elongated teeth, nails turned into claws as he was holding onto the bars for support. At least the assholes stopped poking him for now.
There was very little human in his eyes as they shifted to the approaching man. He wanted to break down and cry for seeing him again, but all he could do was staring and holding on to the bars in fear that if he did anything else, he'd lose it and shift on the spot. His bite mark was burning more than any pokes made with the silver spear. The pull of the moon was starting to narrow his world down to that mysterious call. It was like tunnel vision but for the senses. Corey's voice came to him from the distance, but it was still the best sound Jim could remember and it pushed him onto his knees as joy, fear and worry washed over him in one mixed wave.
"Corey. Go away. They gonna kill you," he managed to grit out, barely sounding human.
"No, baby... I'll make them free you. No matter what it takes," Corey almost cried from the way Jim looked and felt. He kneeled down and put his hand on Jim's. "Stay strong, baby. I am with you now," Corey was heartbroken as he felt the pain of his mate.
"No touching and mushy stuff!" the leader barked at them and touched the silver blade of the spear to Corey's neck. "Get back."
Jim nodded as an attempt to make Corey back off his cage without an unnecessary injury. He thought he could hold on to his humanity a bit longer, but in a few seconds the clouds were blown away from before the pale full moon and its rays got through a broken window, licking along Jim's bloody skin, making it start to ripple, the black fog from his bite mark starting to ooze and swirl around him.
Jim folded in on himself with a hoarse yell. He was losing control fast. There was no way now to stop the change, the pull of the moon was too strong for that. And he finally shifted.
In the next moment a brown wolf emerged from the torn heap of clothes and jumped against the bars snarling, drool dripping from his sharp canines as he tried to break free in vain.
Corey stepped back and swallowed seeing Jim.
"Nice!!! Finally," the hunters’ leader grinned. "Your turn redhead!" he poked Corey again.
But there was no need for that. The ray of the moon reached the small man too and the black smoke covered his body, soon leaving a shifted wolf on the spot.
"Good. Guys, get him!" the leader ordered the guards.
They started moving towards Corey, ignoring the snarling wolf in the cage that was slipping deeper and deeper under his instincts, not knowing yet how to control them and stay himself. Especially after all the torture his now healing body had to endure and which pissed the spirit in him off too.
Luckily, before the guards could surround and capture Corey – obviously to later kill him off along with Jim – Mick, Sid and the twins attacked too.
From there the fight was a blur.
At some point Stacey managed to get near Jim's cage undetected and hooked some small device to the key pad by the lock to get the code that would open it up. "Jim, I assume. Name's Stacey. We're helping you. I'm gonna open your cage, but if you attack or bite me, I'll fucking gut you. Are we clear?" she asked staring into the yellow wolf eyes without fear just when the device beeped.
As an answer Jim mustered up enough willpower to back away from the bars and when Stacey opened the door, he was just a brown blur as he shot out of the cage and jumped against the throat of the guard that was about to shoot Corey. Jim almost bit off the guys arm and landed next to Corey.
The fair-colored wolf touched his side to his mate, but was too busy with fighting the leader alongside with Sid.
Megan and Stacy were taking the guards down very effectively meanwhile. The guards started to get inside from outside too. And they managed to somewhat separate the girls. Two of them cornering Megan while she changed weapons. Good thing Sid noticed and the young, newborn wolf bit out the throat of the two bastards with ease.
Jim wasn't really aware of the small gesture his mate made on his side, because all he wanted to do was tear into skin and flesh, to finish off these bastards that threatened his and the others' lives too. Soon there was nothing human in him just the bloodlust of the wolf.
Meanwhile Mick was helping out Stacey, or more like protecting her back as they were firing their guns or using previously concealed knives to finish off the hunters.
"Fuck me, that was close!" Megan burst out and risked a glance at the red wolf, somehow the itch to pull the trigger while she had the chance easing up after the furry pup's heroic move. "Thanks, pup. I'll remember this," she barked at him then threw herself back into the fight.
Corey saw it all from the corner of his eye while cornering the leader with Mick. Jim on the other hand had lost it badly. The piled up emotions and stress triggered by the pain made him go berserk and he jumped at everyone's throat and tore flesh with the uncontrolled growls of a wild beast.
With Sid back by their side, Corey and Mick unarmed the leader of the corrupt hunters. Corey jumped against his chest and knocked him off his feet. Finally the bastard had two madly snarling wolves in his face. From his side Sid seemed to be talking to Corey about what to do and Mick held the same fucking spear against the leader’s throat.
"What now, fucker?" Mick grinned all cold and evil, and it made him rather alluring...
The two wolves moved in the blink of an eye and finished off the hunter quickly, because they had more pressing matters to deal with now.
With a muzzle full of blood, Corey huffed at Sid and they leaped after Jim who’d killed off the last human and was growling wildly in the corner at everything.
As Stacey wiped the blood off her dagger on the clothes of her last victim, she looked up in time to see Mick and the wolves corner the leader. And she had to admit that Mick was still... hot in action. Damn. Shaking her head she checked on her sister, who was just finishing off her own attacker then they put some more distance between that corner where the brown wild wolf was, snarling at everyone at this point.
Stacey didn't hesitate to unsheathe her gun and aim it at the ground near Jim, ready to use it in case he attacked. "They better do something about Taylor's mate or this'll end ugly..." she said, keeping her eyes on the possible target and her hands steady.
Corey jumped in front of the woman and huffed.
"He says he will talk to him. No need for the gun. "Mick translated and watched Corey go closer to the out of control wolf. "He bit him. And is his mate. He will manage, Stacey."
The woman nodded but her gun stayed aimed.
Corey tried to make contact with Jim. After the brown wolf almost jumped at him for the fourth time he finally could. "Listen to me, love. No one will hurt us anymore. You hear me? It's me Corey. Look at me... You're my mate and we can run under the full moon like you wanted," he circled slowly before the still growling wolf, and kept getting closer as he was speaking in his head.
Jim seemed to listen and recognize his mate, but didn't just calm down that easily.
As Corey was trying to sweet-talk and reason with him, he managed to get close enough to touch his nose to Jim's.
"Watch him, he’s good. A good wolf knowing what and when things have to be done," Mick nudged the side of the wolf Sid, but glimpsed at Stacy too as the small group was watching how Jim stood frozen from the touch.
Corey stepped back and a little to the side. His head nuzzled Jim's neck, and the growls ebbed down a bit. With the next move Corey nuzzled the top of Jim's neck, pushing his body a little as he leaned against Jim's side. Keeping up the nuzzling, Corey kept pushing his mate's nape down and rubbed their sides together. Soon one of his paws was on Jim too and Jim picked up the rhythm. With the nuzzling again an again in a slow tempo he slowly started to feel his mate closer again. Like a slow ritual dance. The blond wolf was pushing the brown with the slightly dominant moves combined with tender loving. Jim fell under the spell more and more and soon laid down under Corey's paw and panted up at his mate with a wolf smile, totally submitting to his moves.
Finally Jim's mind cleared up enough and he could think now and truly see Corey, not just through the fog that descended upon him as his instincts took over earlier. He felt more himself as he gazed up at the majestic wolf over him. He even made some soft whining and growling sounds, playfully touching the other wolf's chest with a bloody front paw.
"Run... I need to run," he managed to communicate with his mate, kinda waiting for the permission to get up. He had his first kill, but Jim was still too deep under to start thinking about that. Tomorrow. It can wait till tomorrow, he thought.
"Intriguing," Stacey mumbled next to the others. "Still can't get it how you can understand them as wolves," she said to Mick before she could stop herself, then when she realized that, she looked at the big man on her right side.
"I swore to protect Corey. The shamans made me understand the demon spirit wolves so I can really protect them," Mick said with a soft smile looking back at Stacy. "I have some kind of a mind-link with them all the time, even in human form," the big guy stated on a matter of fact tone and looked down at Sid nudging his hand.
"You were a great help, kid. Really," Mick chuckled at the hyper wolf, petting his head as the mates ran out through the door Megan opened.
"Come, sis. We can't stay here for long."
"Right," Stacey nodded both to Mick and her sister. "Alright, big guy. We take off. You two clean up the mess as I doubt the lovebirds will come back any time soon... And we'll contact you about your debt later," she said, her face neutral again, but her eyes stayed a tad bit longer on the ex-hunter than necessary.
Which Mick (and even Sid) noticed then they just watched the twins leave.
"Quite the walk off..." Sid voiced his opinion through said bond which earned him a light hit at the back of his wolf-head.
"Behave..." Mick warned then looked around. "Okay, I guess this mess will take a while," he sighed then headed towards the closest torn apart corpse.
Meanwhile out in the forest the mated pair ran faster than any animal was capable of. They were chasing and bumping into each other time after time. Now that there was no danger anymore and Jim found his way back to himself with Corey's help, he could finally enjoy his first shift and the run under the moon light.
Soon they were slowing down at a clearing, rubbing against each other or play-fighting with relieved and happy yips. This was how it was supposed to go in the first place. Without the bloodshed. But Jim knew they would still make the most of it. So when Corey started nipping and circling him, Jim gave in to his instincts once more, but this time he stayed himself.