Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.
Teodor looked up and down the street. He didn't see anyone. Teodor changed his hand into the hybrid form, the part wolf and part human. He spanned his fingers across the furrows. He could not cover the hag's span.
He heard the clinking of glass behind the building. Teodor pulled his jacket around him tighter and walked to the alley way. He peeked around the side, the wind scraped across his cheeks.
A young boy pulled the empty bottles out of the garbage and threw them in a gunny sack. At first Teodor thought it was Trucker, but this boy had red hair. He wore a stained and torn army surplus jacket.
“What are you doing?” Teodor asked.
The boy looked up. He grabbed his sack and turned to run. Teodor stepped into the alley, just as the boy slipped on the ice and fell backwards. The sack crashed on the blacktop. The boy's head hit the pavement. He didn't move. Teodor ran over to him.
A pool of blood formed on the ice underneath the boy's head. Teodor cradled the boy's head and lifted him off the ice. He took the boy inside.
Bilge blew into an empty shotgun shell at the bar. He looked up. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, another one?”
Teodor nodded, “He slipped on the ice out there, banged his head.”
Bilge shrugged, “Take him upstairs, I should start a day care.”
Teodor carried the unconscious boy upstairs. As he brought the boy inside Blige's apartment, he glanced at Trucker and Gunner. Both of them looked at the boy in Teodor's arms and then at each other. Gunner looked like he could kill the boy with his eyes.
“What's he doing here?” Gunner asked.
Amanda ran over with a dish towel. “What happened?”
“Slipped on the ice outside,” Teodor said.
“Lay him down,” she said.
Teodor placed the boy on the couch, then turned to Trucker and Gunner. “You guys know him?”
“Yeah, he's a River Rat,” Gunner said.
“They aint supposed to be in this part of town,” Trucker said.
“They don't care about that,” Gunner said to Trucker, then he turned to Teodor. “Call the cops, he's gonna steal anything not nailed down.”
“Can you get me another towel?” Amanda asked.
“He's not doing much now,” Teodor said, grabbing a dish towel off the counter.
“Those kids are into some really bad stuff,” Gunner said.
Teodor handed Amanda the dish towel. “They can't be that bad.”
Gunner stood up, wrapping his blankets around him. “Maybe not, but they work for some of the gangs, and others.”
“They're always trying to get us to join them,” Trucker said. “If we don't, they beat us.”
“Do you think these are the kids that stabbed Jazz?” Amanda asked.
Gunner's face went white. “You know what happened to Jazz?”
Amanda glanced at Teodor, with a panicked look. Teodor braced himself. Gunner's stance changed. He tensed. He squared his shoulders and stared at Amanda. Gunner let the blankets fall open, “What happened?”
“We found him begging," Teodor said. "Someone had stabbed him in the side. But the hag killed him.”
“And you couldn't stop her?” Gunner asked.
“She's quicker than us.”
“But you scared her away,” Trucker said.
“Maybe they didn't,” Gunner said. “They didn't tell us about Jazz, either.”
“How would we have explained it?” Teodor asked, returning Gunner's stare.
“Did you even try to help Jazz?” Gunner stepped closer to Teodor.
Teodor placed his hands on his hips. “We did, he didn't want our help.”
“Gunner, they saved your life last night.” Trucker said, his voice sounding quiet and far away.
“Maybe they are saving us for the Woman.”
“What?” Amanda threw down one of the bloody rags.
“What the hell?” Teodor asked.
“You two appear at the same time the Hag comes to our place,” Gunner said.
“We were looking for Trucker,” Amanda said.
“We wanted to make sure he was okay.”
“Bullshit,” Gunner said.
“Hey,” Teodor said. “Believe it or not, some adults don't want to hurt you.”
“Oh, so we are your charity cases now?"
“No. Look, you may not believe me, but I had a bad family too. I can relate.”
“I'm a werewolf, we're not supposed to be nice,” Teodor said.
“How many times did you dad beat the crap out of you?” Gunner asked.
“He wouldn't beat me, he's send one of my brothers to teach me a lesson,” Teodor said.
“Big fucking deal."
“Yours used his fists, or maybe a belt? Mine used claws, teeth, fists, and knives. So stop playing hurt little boy.”
“Teodor!” Amanda stood up.
“I watch out for the rest of the kids, asshole,” Gunner said.
“And the Hag is hunting you down like small animals, and you're scared.”
Gunner clamped his mouth shut, his body shook either from his temperature, or his anger. He glanced over his shoulder at Trucker. “Yeah, I'm scared."
“I'm sorry about Jazz,” Teodor said, “I am sorry you are getting hunted, but Amanda and I will help you.”
Gunner wrapped the blankets around him. “What about that one?” He asked, motioning with his head towards the couch.
“I couldn't let him freeze to death out there. Maybe they are being hunted, too?”
“They have adults watching them."
“Yeah, but you made it clear, they don't care about the kids.”
Gunner nodded, he turned around and sat back down at the kitchen table. “Yeah, if they aren't bringing enough money in from begging or stealing. They are turned over to some other people.”
“What sort of people?” Amanda asked.
“Bad. Trucker escaped from them.”
Trucker nodded, his face turned ashen. “They wanted to sell me to this guy, who...” he said. His eyes start to water.
“How old are you?” Amanda asked.
Trucker bit his lip and swallowed, “Eleven.”
Amanda covered her mouth. “Horrible.” She whispered.
Teodor put his arm around Amanda.
Bilge walked into the apartment. He paused. “Did I miss something?”
Gunner pointed to the boy on the couch, “That's a River Rat.”
Bilge looked at the kid, “One of those, he's not going to be trouble in the state he is in now.” He walked into the kitchen. “Trucker, go take a bath, I got some clean clothes for you.”
Trucker slid off the kitchen chair and left the room.
Bilge sat down at the table. “Guns are loaded,” he said, pulling out a pack of his thin cigars, “If she comes back, I'll shoot her again.”
Gunner reached for one of the cigars. Bilge slapped his hand away.