That Which Lurks in the Deep

North Glenn 
@Songbird @Bones
One thing that Garrett wasn't sure he was ever going to be able to get used to about living in Colorado, was the air and how thin it could be at times. It was also strange for the nights to get as cold as they could, especially up in the foothills and mountains, but part of him enjoyed it, even if he could never fully get accustomed to it. One particular time that he struggled, though admittedly less so now than when he'd first arrived, was when he went for a jog up in the campgrounds for a change of scenery. Trying to get out there about once a week or so, he'd only managed twice in the last month and a half.

He knew it was reckless running with headphones in, especially being out in the wild where anything could come across him in any kind of mood. However, he didn't listen to his music very loud, stuck to the trail, and there were usually a few people walking the trails themselves anyway. Usually he was there earlier in the day, but now the sun had started to sit heavier in the sky, allowing for shadows fill the underbrush as he ran past.

 Ryder wasn't one for the thick woodland. Wasn't used to all of the sounds that made his head hurt even more. Even more than his potent and rather annoying scent. It seemed to weave and bob, sticking to the trail ahead. He was able to follow him through the jungle of metal and concrete to here. He could recall the exact face Alex left in his wake. He could still feel her fear. Her anxiety as the male approached her. He stuffed his hand in his hoodie pocket and nodded the Uber driver to be on his way. He waited for a few minutes, planning; eyeing the scenery before he too, began on the trail.

 Alex was the only person that he felt like he could trust in this shit hole. Alex had shown him a kindness that even his foster parents barely showed. He began to pick up the pace now, feeling a surge of anger and a sense of protection. He was doing this for her; and someone like her shouldn't have to feel they way she did. A flash of fangs crossed his mind, bloodshed. He was going to teach this mother fucker a lesson.

But first, to hunt properly, your prey needs to be fatigued.

Then. you strike.

The ground, still soft after that mornings rain, gripped the soles of his shoes with each step, reminding him just how far from the city he actually was. Some might have found the seclusion terrifying, worried with thoughts of getting lost and near death experiences, but Garrett found it relaxing. There was definitely a feeling of tension, there were always cases in which things happened, but he felt secure in the fact that they had never happened to him or anyone he knew.

As he ran, his pace matching the beat of his music, he wound his way further and further away from the trails beginning, pushing himself harder to go faster. He gave no thought to keeping pace enough to get back, that could all be handled by walking, and wanted to run off some of the stress his job saddled him with. As the minutes passed, he found himself becoming more winded, his breath coming heavily and in increasingly large gulps. Just a few miles from the paths end, he slowed his pace, favoring his left side at a cramp he'd worked up.

 The scent had filled his nose, now seemed to grow stronger. He was jogging as a reasonable pace, keeping up with the solid beats of his prey's footfalls. He quickly decided to veer off the trail, using the surrounding trees to further stalk his prey. The flash of fangs and burning muscles was clear to him. Though, a sudden tinge of electricity made his spine twitch, the repetitive rhythm became broken. As the male's slowed, Ryder's had quickened.

  The 'yote was quiet, the glare seeping from between the trees and subtle brush as he dipped low. The man was in his sight, and now the time to strike was at hand. He maneuvered behind him, out of his own line of sight before exposing his form. He had to act fast, as quick hand extending to grab a handful of the bastard's hair. He then used his left foot to trip him, letting him eat the very soil he'd be buried in.

Nothing had been quite what he had expected as he took in the view around him. With the day's light dimming where he stood in the trees, he took in several deep breaths in an attempt to rid himself of the stitch in his side. As he took one last deep breath, the song ended with perfect timing, leaving him basking in the silence that was the forest through his headphones. It was pleasant, clearing his mind from the stresses of his job, leaving his body exhausted enough that he was certain he'd still be able to get to sleep, even though he hadn't worked his normally exhausting shift. It was all starting to look up for him as he began to think of what he wanted for dinner once he'd returned home.

Before he'd had a chance to settle on a decision and before the next song had queued up, he a sharp pain at the back of his head. Given little time to process the tugging that bordered on a ripping pain at the back of his head, he felt a jolting pain at his shins and cried out. The sound didn't get far from his mouth before he was crashing forward, dirt filling hist mouth as he hadn't had time to close it. Stunned and more than a little frightened, he was slow to respond to the assault, but after a moments pause, he began to attempt to push up with his elbows, grunting as he did so, hesitant to find what was at his back.

  The scent had thickened. A salty aroma of sweat and Earth had ignited Ryder deeper into his actions. They had more meaning, and just as he attempted to rise, he circled his prey slowly. "Pitiful." The 'yote growled, his striking blue pools now bleeding orange. He was a small distance from his victim and carefully planned out everything. From following and tagging his rather sharp scent, to watching his day to day. Weapon? he didn't need one; because once you've survive alone all your life, you can find anything and everything to use to stay alive. One more day.

That day was saved by Alex.

He bent down, clinching his fingers over a rather large rock, roughly the size of a brick. To him, it seemed weightless, just as his guilt seemed to shed away as he turned to the male. He juggled the stone in his hand before watching the mother fucker. This was too easy, and only toying with him would prolong his agony.


"You... Fucking piece of shit." He took a step backwards. "You frightened her. With your soft, complicated words. You turned her world upside down. She doesn't need you. She doesn't need anything that revives painful memories." His rant made his muscles tense, chest began to heave as he replayed her face, instilling that very moment that she backed away. The initial wide-eyed look she gave him. It made him feel ill, made him feel ashamed of just how he handled that situation. The only reason the Were backed away, was because of her. Because of someone he only knew a few weeks. A stranger turning a stray into a loyal dog.

He would do it for her. Again. And Again. And...

As the man's forehead was struggling into view, he used all of his strength and miserable anger, cranking his arm backwards and releasing it. He let the sharp edges roll off his fingers, the arch of the rock forming perfectly into his own line of sight. "You... Will never scare her AGAIN. You. Have NO RIGHT to be in HER LIFE!"

Of all the things Garrett had expected, someone speaking hadn't been at the top of his list. The voice held no familiarity, but seemed filled with a poisonous anger that was directed at him. Confusion made his actions sluggish, his brain frozen between believing that this was reality or trying to accept it as a horrible dream that he would wake up from at any moment. With the sounds of a creek in the distance, small animals looking down upon him from the trees above, and a breeze that ruffled the sweat soaked hair that was plastered to his forehead, he almost allowed the latter instinct to kick in. So certain was he that this was just some terrible dream, he almost gave the situation a dangerous levity instead of reacting on instinct. Never one for many fights, he was a healer after all, he wasn't even sure what his first move should be, but something about the whole thing kept him alert and caused him to start planning.

He looked up as the… man, definitely a man… began circling him. His voice was rough, filled with emotions that didn't seem to fit with Garrett's lack of recognition for who this was and what he'd done to him. Why was he so angry? As far as Garrett could remember, he hadn't had enough time off recently to do much of anything, especially talk with many people. The last thought struck a cord with him, a sudden flash of recognition sending him back to the day he'd approached Alex and the man that had been in the street. Even in the dimming light, he could tell that it was him, especially with the way he was talking.

"Look, I didn't mea-" the words were knocked from him as stars shot across his vision in an explosion of confusing light. A sharp pain followed soon after, flaring across his forehead in a flash of fire that threatened to consume him and take him under. He'd been making his way to a kneeling position, but the world now swayed nauseatingly and the ground rose up to meet him with a hard impact. His eyes rolled as he tried to figure out what the hell just happened and decipher the words of anger that had been shouted at him just before.

"You don'- I did-" he began to speak again in an attempt to shake the pain from his forehead. It still ached, a pin prick of hot fire with a trickle of warmth making its way across his forehead. His best guess was that he'd been hit with something and it had thrown him for a loop. As he tried to explain, he began to push himself up once more.

 "SHUT. UP." He let his wounded victim struggle further, watching. smelling his reward flow from the broken skin of the pathetic human. The smell further reverting Ryder dangerously close to his bestial side. "She was.. Perfect. Oblivious. She's filled with doubt. She is filled with fear. YOU did this." Like a dagger, he pointed at him. Fingers tightly making a statement. He could feel his jaw tense so heavily. As if his very jawbone were to break. His blood smelled pure, a metallic after tone filled with fear and confusion that further justified Ryder's assault, and resolve.

 "I wanted to bash your fucking skull in right then and there." He continued, pacing back and forth, eyeing the male closely. It was like he mortally wounded the 'yote with his very presence. "I won't let her be marred by a little fucking shit like you. She doesn't deserve it. She doesn't even deserve me." That moment of weakness was recovered by his own internal struggle and anger. His past was full of it. The abuse he endured, the abandonment. There were silent connections that fated their meeting, and this piece of filth was recklessly severing them. In truth, Ryder didn't know what she needed, what she wanted, all he knew was he wanted to protect her. Shield her away from every little monster and worry. The Were could feel the animal rise, and he had to act quick.

He was going to fucking bury this human.

  Before he dashed towards him, his nostrils audibly flared. Heavy, angry breathing making his fists clinch. His blue pools slowly suffocated by the bright piercing orange. His muscles burned now, closing the gap between them as his foot landed against his already wounded face; the kick powerful enough to flip him over to see the darkened sky one last time, Ryder straddled him. Blocking his sweet, precious view. "You.." His heart pounded, blood rushing, making way for more lactic acid to further ignite his muscles. He pinned his arms with his knees and sat heavily on his chest, making the bastard grasp for severed breaths.

 "You... are hurting her." His fist reared back. One after another, he landed blows against his face and head. The feeling of knuckles soaking in blood awoke the very beast within him. The sight of blood and pain resurfacing his own torment, a vicious cycle in continuation. One he thought—knew— would never ever cease. Tears of adrenaline, of rage, of pain began to fill Ryder's eyes, blurring the thin lines of reality and memory. After a few more punches to the fucker's face, he bent down and dug deep within his memories, and began screaming—roaring— in the mans face, mixing his spit and tears in his red tinted features. The yell shook Ryder to his very core, head trembling from the very force as he felt the hot tears river down his cheeks.

 It took him a few moments to recollect himself, fatigue forcing him to hold himself over Garrett just to see the damage, the vengeance that was due. "She has given me purpose. She has.. Given me a better reason to live... And you were going to take all of that away..." He whispered, whimpering and whining just before he slowly rose from him, now standing and looking towards the same dull hued sky. His own bones painfully forcing themselves out of sockets, rudely grabbing his attention. It was inevitable now, and while he still had some control left of his body, he made a run for the thick woodland, leaving the male to his own suffering, leaving his corpse for the crows.

 More and more she found herself placing value in the times in which she could escape. Brief moments in the cover of night where she was free to be herself and embrace the beast. The gallery was coming along, albeit at a snails pace, the looming promise and threat of her time growing shorter and her responsibilities, much heavier. So for now she roamed and hunted whenever possible, thriving off that primal adrenaline following a victory against a smaller sized grizzly. A sizable wound splattering the large cheetah's left flank, though if she was concerned it did not show.

 Truthfully, the cats attention was caught on something else - something particularly curious on it's trek back towards the pathways and civilization proper.

 The smell of blood, the sound of yelling and struggle - all enough to rouse her curiosity. The cheetah slinking low through the trees and undergrowth, the glow of it's eyes in the dim light as she stayed silent and poised for action. Watching a figure run off, the scent of something not all together man - a dog, enough to draw a thunderous and low growl as she pushed through the cover and onto the trail proper now.

 Surveying a crumpled mess of blood, an abandoned rag doll of sorts - a feline tilt of the head as she kept her head low and leaned in close. The breathing shallow and the sense that this particular prize was more like sloppy seconds - of no use to her or her already sated appetite. Devoid it seemed of the thrill of the hunt, even as she leaned in to lick at the wound and the blood.

 Some small human fragment pushing through the feral to reason, the very real risk of another goddamn baby cheetah running around Mountainside.

He didn't have time to think on what kind of crazy he'd walked into, fear lacing his muscles and freezing them in place while his head continued to spin. He did have time to wonder where this was going to end and didn't quite like the answer he kept coming to. Obviously, this could have been a simple threat, an attempt to scare him away for good for... whatever fucking reason, but he could sense that the man was too built up for that. This realization sent another slice of terror through his heart, obscuring the humor at the fact that he'd felt safe just moments before.

Just as he'd thought, Ryder came at him again, and Garrett attempted to raise one arm to fend him off; not that it would do much good. Head still spinning, balance off center now that his main source of support had been shifted, he was no struggle against the fist that connected with him again and again. For what he thought was a moment that would never end, all he felt was pain. Even though the blows were centered around his face and head, his ears ringing with each impact, he could feel it in the very core of his being, blocking out everything else as the world began to burn white hot. He couldn't even make a sound, especially after a rather heavy blow to his jaw, and all he wanted was to be someplace else or to wake from this nightmare.

At last the pain seemed to ease, whether from his mind shutting off, his body going numb, or the man had finally tired of this game; any one of them could have been a possibility. Garrett himself seemed almost past the point of comprehending, hearing the mans agonizing cry mixed with a plethora of emotions and the words after it, but he was far beyond giving an answer.

Minutes or hours passed, maybe even seconds, before all seemed silent again. All he could hear was the ringing in his ears and all he could feel was a warmth that covered his entire face and filled his mouth and nose. He tried to roll over, not wanting to choke on the blood, but his body seemed incapable of listening and he didn't have enough of a sense to force it. Instead, with the world a dark muddy red, he found himself letting go and accepting the embraces of sleep. Had he waited just a few more moments, he would have been awake when a lithe form approached from the shadows and began licking the blood from his face.

 The focus turned to the face of the nearly dead stranger, licking away splattered and angry trails of red at a slow space. Curious now, the substantial sized beast nosed the figure once now, face close to his own as it waited for more continued signs of life before slowly turning round. The temptation was to move him further out of the pathway and view of any passing stranger - but in lieu of that she settled with one last fleeting glance on at least keeping herself hidden.

 Stalking through the underbrush, the shift was a relatively easy and painless one - settling in out of view for her needed rest. Confident that, assuming the infection took and she would not awake watching a corpse, she would find her way back to consciousness before him. Not spending too much time entertaining the other option, another goddamn corpse to clean up in Mountainside.

Time held no meaning. Minutes felt like hours, seconds seemed to pass without notice, and he slept. Who could say for sure if it was sleeping, especially since it hadn't been a voluntary choice and he could almost dig his way to the surface every once in a while, the sounds of nature melding into the dreams that held no purpose, but always had a flash of red hot anger and a lithe, dark shadow. He sharp rock, jabbed just under his ribs from where he'd landed, could have done the trick of waking him up, but he didn't move, didn't settle his weight on it enough to break the spell. Instead, he slept on; Unaware of the changes that were presently occurring within him.

His breathing, once ragged and labored, almost as if his nose could no longer properly support his needs, had steadily become more even. The bruises that hadn't really had time to settle were already gone, leaving behind only swelling that would quickly follow suit. It seemed impossible, and would have been to any onlooker had they come across him in his current state, but the wounds made in misunderstood rage were slowly reversing themselves with the quick passing of time.

 She woke some time later, the night still dark and the pathways seemingly baron - catching sight of the unmoved body to the side of the route and taking in a deep breath. Taking her time dressing as she noted the steady ride and fall of his chest, the promise of success, of another new Were in her midst. Pulling on her pants before she came into view, tugging down the hem of her shirt as she neared and stared down at him with a stony curiosity.

 "Can you stand yet?" Offering her hand out to the young man now, a small attempt at consideration as she prepared her speech for what was now the third time in less than a year. "That was quiet the beating from what I caught of it ..." Unmoved by the shedding of blood or violence as a whole, a familiar friend particularly where Were was concerned.

He could have been there for days for all the time that he was aware, stuck in a state of dreaming and waking as his body slowly removed the evidence of the early evenings events. It wasn't until darkness had fully fallen, the light of the stars and the moon muffled by the overhanging leaves, that he felt himself inching closer and closer to the surface of his consciousness. His waking seemed gentle at first, something that he could almost believe was a good rest after a long night at the hospital, but as he became more aware, the more he started to remember. Almost like a film flashing across his vision, he could remember the ambush and the ensuing blows, but none of it seemed to hold up with how he was feeling.

Eyes fluttering open, the sounds of night clear in his ears, he felt no discomfort or pain; at least caused by the hits he'd received earlier. He could almost believe that it was a dream and that he'd simply passed out from exhaustion after his run. His breathing came strong and clear, his nose back where it had been broken out of place, and he could easily open his eyes. None of it computed with what he had thought to be fact, and he began to wonder if he had been drugged. The fact that the stars seemed especially bright and he could almost count individual leaves seemed to support this theory.

Before he could even begin to make the moves to get up, still in question on whether or not it would all come crashing back to him once he moved, he had not anticipated the voice, or the hand that was presented to him. "Uh yeah, thank you," he offered, taking the hand and beginning to make his way into a standing position. "That actually happened?" He asked, scratching his head in confusion. The fact that she had seen it seemed to be telling that it had, in fact, happened, but he couldn't seem to make it all fit. "I must be going crazy…"

 "It most certainly did happen, Mister ...?" She waited, sizing the man up once he was on his feet and trying to make a few basic educated guesses. Younger than her for certain, seemingly well spoken - not the sort who she imagined to be involved in some sort of shady business. Then again, she supposed she didn't always look the part of the things she did or said either. "My name is Yana, and I can assure you that you're going a lot of places but crazy isn't among them."

 Inhaling a deep breath, she prepared herself for the crash course to come, wiping off some dirt from the knee of her leggings before she looked back to him properly. "The cheetah is, I assume, what you're caught up on?" She sighed then, surveying the mess of blood that stained the dirt and the man in front of her in equal measure, terribly curious as to what he had done that was so terrible. "Well ... maybe you should sit back down after all, we have a lot to talk about."

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