Chapter 1 - A New Patient

Chapter 01 - A New Patient

Empty.


He sighed, the sound thunderous in the vacant office, the clunk of the wall clock grating on his nerves as it ticked second by second away into another lonely night. Eight o’clock had come and gone before he stood, deciding that there was no chance that any more drop-ins would come his way this evening, no matter how long he kept his doors open. No matter how many business cards he gave out, or the sign he had placed on the main street, or the ads he had taken out in the community newsletters, nothing had helped. His clinic remained veritably empty.


He had a few regulars that stopped by—good old Mrs. Gertrude Copper and her eight felines had a checkup once a month, which brought in a pretty penny, but it wasn’t enough to keep the practice open without some other, steady income, despite the company that the old woman kept. She said she ran a small shelter out of her home, but Tiber figured that it was more of a stray cat collection situation. Because of her good heart, he secretly gave her as much of a discount as he could muster. He didn’t want that woman giving up everything for those cats of hers, which she would given the chance.


As they say, one must spend money to make money, so Tiber had spent money on a marketing attack at the surrounding area. He labeled himself as a walk in clinic, open late and on weekends. It even worked out well for a time. At least until the kitten spa opened around the corner, then the doggy daycare with special nail treatments a few blocks down. They all had vets that would care for your pet during the day, and the animal would smell great when it got home. It was a pretty penny, but wasn’t your best friend worth it?


Ugh.


Maybe Amara had been right. Maybe the practice was doomed from the start. It had seemed like a great opportunity to settle down with his new wife, to set up a base of operations, and to grow into a stable life for the two of them. Instead of traveling through rural, impoverished areas like they had been, going where their organization required a new doctor to help with large animals, Tiber thought he could make a life for them. Carve out a little piece of paradise. They could get a house. They could start a family. Amara had wanted to keep traveling, but it wasn't something that they could do forever, right? She had seemed to agree with his reasoning.


And that's when the troubles had started, not just with the clinic, but with everything.


Maybe Tiber really should give up and let it go. Maybe he would try another week, he pondered as he shuffled to the front, locking the deadbolt on the clinic’s entrance, fingers finding the switch for the ‘open’ sign and pushing it to ‘closed'. Eyes the color of pale bills that he would never see looked up the stairs  outside, that rose to street level, then he sighed again as all he saw was nothing but darkness and stairs and the golden hue of the street lamp outside that hardly reached the front door from the street. What a bad location… His Realtor had insisted that it was perfect, and it would have been, if anyone could find the door.


Tiber had let his secretary go first, just six months after opening. He hated to see her go because she was so much better at all this office stuff than he was. He had seen her at a nail spa down the street. What a step down. She had spotted him one time when he was shuffling to work and had insisted that they go for coffee. A latte and a trip back to the office to cuddle the office cat later, she insisted that the moment he could bring her back on, Tiber had her number and he had better just call. What a sweet girl she was. He did not regret giving the little white runt of a kitten that he had taken in from the neighborhood to Emily. He knew that she would take the best care of him, and hey, maybe one day she could bring the cat back when she returned to the office.


His tech went next, which Tiber regretted terribly. Davidson was a driven young man, who was devoted to his field of study. He always talked about the night classes he was taking so he could get into veterinary school. Tiber hoped that he hadn’t broken the young man’s dreams when he had to let him go. Last time that he had the balls to look him up on Facebook, he saw that he was working across town in one of the puppy spas, likely massaging dogs for three times the amount that Tiber had been able to pay him at the clinic.


Tiber hated it. He hated all of it.


He had sunk every penny into his business, but it still wasn’t bringing in enough that he could pretend he was breaking even. Tiber was late on rent, not to mention the bills, and at this rate, he was going to have to declare bankruptcy by the end of the month. Hell, his licensing was due by next month, and if he didn’t scrounge up enough money for that… Maybe he would check with Randy to see if there were any positions available for this doggy massage business.


How embarrassing to even consider, but what could he do? He was at the end of his rope, exposed air above a free fall supporting his feet, his only lifeline about to go up in flames and drop him into the open maw of emptiness.


His parents would be aghast if they knew, and utterly mortified. Both were successful, respected doctors in their own fields, and they had hoped he would  follow in their footfalls. It was how he had started out. He had finished his understudy in medical sciences but dragged his feet his first two years of medical school. It was interesting, sure, but his true passion fell to helping those that could not help themselves. Why be a doctor of human medicine when healing the little fuzzy (and not so fuzzy) critters of the world was so much more rewarding for him? But, just as his mother had promised, he was starting to regret the choices that he had made when he was young and willful.


Her voice echoed in his head as his gaze slipped around the office, shrill and accented lightly, her expression sour as his own. Lately he had found that same scrunch between his eyebrows, and he disliked that very much. Tiber didn't stomp, but he did step heavily, feet dragging slightly, as he walked back toward his office, small cot with its sleeping bag waiting in the corner, desk pushed up against the wall and hardly used, because he used the room mostly for living. Hand grasping about the chilled door knob, he closed the office door, blocking the view of his sleeping bag and the overnight bag  he had lived out of for… he couldn’t even remember how long. It had to be just over three weeks now.


Three weeks since Amara had kicked him out. Three weeks since he had told her the house was being repossessed by the bank. Three weeks since his life started to end. The landlord would have a hissy fit if she found out that he had been living in the office. It would be a liability to her, but thankfully she hardly spent any time there. She only stopped by when she wanted money from him.


Which was more often than not, because he never seemed to be able to pay the full amount. Her patience was waning.


There was the thumping of footfalls running down the stairs outside his office door, and a loud voice started yelling, the glass bending as what had to be a tree trunk started to pound at the door.


“Hey! Hey, is anyone in there?” a voice called out, deep and oddly familiar, deafening in the still office. Startled into stillness by the commanding voice, he touched his pocket, where his cell phone lay. If the man attached to the voice was dangerous, he could call the police. He could only think of the various ritzy bars around the area that were open late into the night. Had someone gotten into drink and decided to try and rob him? As he stood, scared quiet, the knocking intensified. “Doctor! Doc, please open up! I’ve got an emergency!”


That didn’t sound like a drunk idiot. It sounded anxious.  


A whine assaulted his ears and tore at his morality. He wiped a hand over his face to  calm his racing heart, straightening his glasses as he hurried towards the door. He couldn’t leave a pup in pain. That just wasn’t him. Opening the blinds, his eyes were drawn right to the large, furry beast in the even bigger man’s arms. A frown flew over Tiber’s face as he opened the door, immediately backing up so the man and his dog could step into the room. “What on earth happened? Don’t answer, just bring him through to—” and he was cut off.


“Tiber?”


Both the figures paused and Tiber looked up from the—well, it wasn’t quite a dog—to stare at the large man that dwarfed the canine in his arms. He had known someone that tall once, but not muscled… but as he stared, Tiber’s expression dawned into comprehension. “Owen?”


“When I saw the name on the sign, I thought—hell, I need help, man,” Owen said and charged on in. Tiber moved with him, stepping right through from the front door, locking it behind him, through recovery and over into the surgery room.


“Over here, put him down here,” Tiber said, pointing at the examination table, turning the lights on in the surgery room and running his  hands and arms through the vagarious process of cleaning, the brush and soap scraping off dust and dirt and grime that he had to get off before he touched any kind of wound. The process was lengthy, and it left his arms a little raw, but it was better than allowing anything that might be on him to infect an open wound. It also gave him time to think, if just for a moment.


Tiber and Owen had been friends back in university. Owen was there on a football scholarship, and Tiber was slowly killing himself with the doctorate course he had known he would never finish but drove himself into the ground anyway. They had started out as roommates, then study partners, but Tiber hadn’t seen him since he left the university to pursue his veterinarian training. They had promised to keep in touch, but… well, these things fall through the cracks. They had talked a time or two, promised to meet up, but never did, and time and distance had been the largest factor keeping them from reaching out, at least in Tiber’s case. “Tell me what happened,” Tiber told the man, as he walked toward him, hands cleaned and dried thoroughly, gloves securely wrapped around his hands. “What’s his…” Tiber tilted his head and scrutinized the canine’s features, “Her name.”


Owen’s eyes widened slightly. “Her name’s Drew,” Owen said, a look of intense concern on his face, his voice softer now that he was inside, and shakier. “She was shot—by hunters, I think. I think they thought she was a wolf.”


Tiber could very well see how these nameless, faceless hunters might have thought that. The animal was huge, clearly hanging off the metal operating table, easily six feet long from snout to tail.


“Owen,” he said with a frown, “she is a wolf. No dog is this big, and her features…” Tiber’s eyes slid up to look at the man and he spotted Owen’s expression. The man was uncomfortable, shifting from foot to foot, obviously not wanting to say too much. People weren’t allowed to keep wolves without a permit. This was an illegal pet, but a whine escaped the wolf’s snout and Tiber let out a long breath. He was still going to treat her, and if Owen was any kind of an observant man, he could see that written all over Tiber’s features. “We’ll talk about the laws later. I’ll need you to help me with her. Can you pick her up and stand over on the scale over there?”


They quickly figured out how much the wolf weighed, and Tiber made a stop at the dwindling supply cabinet, removing the correct sedative. “Is she allergic to anything?” Tiber asked, looking at Owen.
The man blinked and looked like he was deep in thought, his face pinched and paling, his attention going right to the she-wolf as she whined. “Fish. Um, and… and she has a reaction to silver.”


“Silver… that’s going to be a bit tricky,” Tiber stated, frowning and filling the needle from the tiny glass bottle with far more liquid than he would use for a far smaller dog. “Is it a skin irritant?” he asked, and looked at Owen, who nodded. “All right, no bandages. I think we can manage that,” he stated, and walked over to the patient to check up on her.


“Drew, right?” he asked, and Tiber put a hand on the wolf’s neck, petting her softly, his voice lowering. “Hey, Drew. My name’s Doctor Vale. I’m going to get you all sorted out, okay?” He looked up at Owen. “I’ll need you to keep her calm. Think you can do that? I need to examine and get her sedated.”


The bullet was in her back leg, wedged deep in her flank, as if someone had taken a shot from her as she was running away. Cowards… Tiber had a healthy dislike for hunters and poachers from his time working abroad in Africa and China. Working on endangered animals at the reserves and on local livestock was rewarding, and it showed him how how truly a hard time animals could have if they were not protected. But the good news was that she wasn’t bleeding half as hard as she could have been. No arteries had been hit, but the slug was buried deep in the muscle. It would take a bit of tugging to get it out… something that would leave the poor girl sore for a long time. That’s okay. He had drugs for that.


The whole process would be a lot easier with an assistant. It always was. Especially one who knew what they were doing. Tiber looked up and stared at Owen. “You want to wait outside?” Tiber asked, and Owen just shook his head. “Good. Go clean up and wheel that tray over here. It’ll go over easier if I have an extra set of hands.” The man nodded mutely and went to do what he was told.


Tiber made short work of the hair on the old girl’s leg and gave her the injection that would sedate her, all the while murmuring soft assurances and petting her neck, until Owen returned to take over for him. He hooked up cuffs to her legs, so her vitals could be recorded. A tube went down her throat and into her lungs to make sure she kept breathing, when he was sure that she was out. Owen lost his composure as he did it, but he didn’t step away. He merely took a breath, hardened his face and let the moisture that was building slip past his barriers unhindered. He must have had the wolf for a while.


With a man up top, making sure her vitals were stable, it was a lot easier for Tiber to focus on his task. Tiber went to work with the precision of a surgeon, hyper focused and reliant on his nurse, feeling where the slug had pushed its way in. It was wedged in, but it was still in one piece, which was good. A small cut here, he saw the skin around the cut flare up pink, and he looked up at Owen.


“You weren’t kidding about the allergy. That’s a pretty intense one,” he stated. Silver was in most instruments these days, so he would have to rely on an older, if reliable, instrument. Pointing Owen toward a black bag, he got him to retrieve an old pair of tweezers. As Owen sterilized them for him with Tiber’s direction, a whine spread from the wolf. Tiber put a hand on her neck, rubbing a gloved hand through her fur.


“There. there, girl,” he said softly, as he was assaulted with a long stare as Drew managed to push through the haze of the drugs. Her eyes were beautiful, such a light brown that he was sure they were nearly yellow in the light of his operating table. “Don’t worry, Drew. We’ve got you,” he told her quietly, smiling down at her. “Owen and I are going to take good care of you, okay? You just sleep.”


The intelligence that he saw in the she-wolf’s eyes surprised him, and after a moment, it seemed like comprehension fell over her. She let out a sigh as she closed her eyes. Tiber looked to the vitals and relaxed as he saw her vitals were not just strong, but stable. Tiber gave her a final dose of sedative to ensure that she would stay out for the rest of the procedure.


It left Owen and Tiber to do their work.


Tiber took the forceps as soon as Owen returned with them, and got right to work. “Just keep an eye on her numbers,” Tiber told him, setting the clamps to keep the area clear. “If anything drops more than ten points, let me know.”


It didn’t take long find the bullet, what did take time was prying it loose. The metal was stuck, and stuck good. He would need to take an X-ray to make sure that her hip didn’t have any fractures when they were done, but that was a conversation that Owen and Tiber could have afterward.


Owen was deadly quiet as Tiber worked, and Tiber all but ignored him as he did. It had been forever since he had seen the man. When he had known him, he had been probably just as muscular, but he had a generous layer of blubber about him, making him look as soft as a pillow. Now he seemed hard and built, the muscles sneaking through the tee shirt that was nearly too small on him. Tiber wondered if he had decided to continue with his nursing degree. He had been well on his way to becoming one of the best surgical nurses Tiber had ever seen when he had said his goodbyes and moved cities to finish his schooling. Tiber could have asked, here and now, but he didn’t want to distract himself from his patient.


“Can you hold your hand here?” Tiber asked eventually, and Owen complied. “Keep her leg still, I just need to…” Tiber adjusted the forceps, the teeth on the edge of the pincers biting into the right grooves, and with a celebratory sound, he was able to pull the bullet free of the bone. “There we go,” he stated,  eased the bullet out through the entry wound, and eyed it and the gush of blood that came up with it.


Dropping the forceps and the bullet into a metal tray on his tray, he went back to clean the wound and close her up, but with the silver allergy, he would need to find another way to keep her closed. Most of the medical supplies he owned—and truly, that you could purchase anywhere—were made with at least a percentage of silver. The needles would be no good, neither would the staples… maybe the glue.


Cleaning her up, Tiber pulled back, glancing up at the clock and frowning. Nearly nine-thirty—was it already that late? He blinked, and his eyes burned as he did so, bringing the entirety of the day crashing down on him. He was tired, but he felt good. He felt as if he had accomplished something, which was a lot different than he had felt in a long time. He had helped a wolf and an old friend, and now he just needed to get the glue to close her up…


And that was when Tiber’s night started getting really weird.


As Tiber cleaned the wound, he noticed that it wasn’t as deep as it had been before. The bone that he had been able to see before was no longer visible, just the vivid pink of the muscle that should sit above it. Then the wound started to grow more and more shallow. Tiber blinked, looked up at the clock, and back down at the wound. It was… knitting back together, even as he stood and stared at it.


“The hell?” Tiber asked. He didn’t notice that Owen started, or when he stared intently at Tiber. Then, instead of lying there unconscious, like she was supposed to, Drew the Wolf was moving; or at least, that was what Tiber thought it was at first. But as he watched, paws started to elongate; arms and legs followed suit; dark, chocolate-brown fur started to shrink in places, to be replaced with similar colored skin.


It was sickening to watch the transformation, as something turned from one thing into something completely different. He was rooted in place, unable to look away from the unnatural event that was happening before his eyes. It wasn’t long before Drew the Wolf was no longer Drew the Wolf, but Drew the extremely shapely, extremely naked Drew the Human Woman.


“Don’t panic,” Owen said, a hand on the young woman’s face, his voice louder than it was before. Tiber started, having forgotten he was in the room. Owen’s expression screamed concern, relief and an inkling of fear.


“Your dog’s not a wolf either,” Tiber stated, his voice sounding tiny, maybe a bit far away, his eyes moving away from Owen to stare at skin a moment before quickly turning back to the other clothed human in the room.


“What—” he started, but Owen answered before Tiber could ask his full question.


“She’s a werewolf. Don’t think too hard into it just now. Can we finish patching her up, and then we’ll talk?”


Tiber’s eyes slid down to the haunch that had the bullet in it, now a shapely thigh, and his eyes went to the wound. It was still there—just—on girl flesh instead of animal flesh, and Tiber felt a little ill to his stomach. It was why he would never make it as a doctor of humans, he knew—he saw blood on humans, and he felt ill.
He didn’t repeat the word that Owen had uttered, he just turned and went to the supply closet. Glue... he needed the glue.


He turned back, and the girl was watching him. Starting, he whirled back around, looking desperately for a blanket. He placed the blanket over her as Owen helped her to remove the tube that had been down her throat and was helping her to breathe. It didn’t seem like she needed anymore, and she seemed quite blasé about the fact that she had woken up during her procedure.


"I—think you should go to the hospital,” he said, his eyes glancing to the wound, that had stopped shrinking. “Maybe... get checked out by a doctor.”


“No,” the girl said, and she pat her bare hip. "Finish it. You're almost done."


There was such authority in her voice that Tiber couldn't help but jump to do her bidding. Tiber's hands weren't shaking, he knew he was better than that, but he could feel the jitters starting. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, held it for a good thirty seconds, then started.


The girl didn’t move. Tiber wasn’t licensed to work on humans. How would that hold up in court, though? It would make him sound like a crazy person, swearing that she had been a wolf when she had gotten onto the table.


So instead of freaking out like he wanted to, Tiber ignored Owen as he had done before, and focused on adhering the skin together. The flesh could grow between the glue, to push the dried glue out as it healed. He’d have to see her in a week or two. Maybe less to make sure that the glue wasn’t going to get caught in the new skin. He’d have to get Owen to make another appointment. But.


But.


Tiber stripped off his gloves and threw them on top of his tools before plucking the tray from its table and taking it to the sink. Placing it in the sink to the left, he proceeded through his disinfecting procedure, going through the motions like he always did. It was comforting. It was safe. It was something he always did. He knew what this was. But back there, behind him? That was something new and he didn’t know how to handle that.


Werewolves. Werewolves. This was crazy.


Owen cleared his throat from behind him. “Can I see the bullet?”


Tiber jumped and whirled around, back to the sink and eyes as wide as saucers, looking up like a scared cat at the giant tree of a man standing near him. He hadn’t heard him come closer. Tiber hadn’t even heard him. What was he? A ninja?


Staring wildly at Owen seemed to inform him that he was not quite comfortable with the man’s proximity, and Owen backed off a step, something in Tiber’s expression causing him to be weary of him.


“Yeah,” Tiber said after a moment, and his fingers dropped down to the sink, plucking up the distorted slug and running it under the running water before holding it out to him. Owen eyed his hand cautiously as Tiber moved to hand it to him, and instead, he dropped down to inspect it, eying the piece of metal with disdain and intense scrutiny.


“Can’t I just give it to you?” Tiber asked, Owen raising his gaze to stare at him with a frown.


“It’s made of silver,” he stated simply.


“So? I think you can take it. I’m not going to bite,” Tiber started, then  stopped short, heart skipping a beat as he remembered popular culture surrounding such beasts, and that furrow he knew so well scrunched together on his brow. “Oh. You’re one too?”


“Yeah.” It was a simple statement, but one that flipped Tiber’s worldview on its other end.


Tiber drew his hand away, dropping it into the metal dish he had placed it in, before handing it back to the large man. He turned away from him after he took it and focused on cleaning, and until he was good and ready, he didn’t turn around again.


“Thanks, Tiber,” Owen said from farther away this time, and when Tiber turned around, the dish was set on the counter, and Owen was shoving something into his pocket. His expression was far more relaxed than it had been before as he looked toward the girl on the table. “I think she’ll be just fine.”


“She needs to go to a hospital,” Tiber told him and Owen smiled at him. Smiled. “I’m not kidding,” Tiber told him, his brow furrowing, expression darkening. “She was shot, Owen. I patched her up, but she needs some work. She needs to have a blood transfusion. They need to start her on antibiotics. She needs help, Owen. This wasn’t… this wasn’t something that I should have done.”


Owen’s fingers were sliding through the woman’s hair as she started to speak, her voice clean and crisp, as if she hadn’t been completely sedated mere minutes before. “The doctors wouldn’t understand,” Drew started. “They don’t know how to treat us. With some rest, and some food, I’ll be okay now that you’ve gotten the bullet out of me.” Tiber’s gaze must not have been very convinced because Drew continued, “Really. I know how we work, okay? I’ve been what I am since I was a little girl. We’re tough. So a little bullet wound won’t kill us as long as it doesn’t have any silver left in it. You got the bullet out of me, so now I’ll need some rest. That’s all.”


Tiber shook his head and snatched his glasses off his face, scrubbing his eyes with the palm of his hand. “Is it safe for me to move her?” Owen asked, and Tiber let out a huff.


“I suppose that it will have to be,” Tiber stated, a frown on his lips, looking back to the girl wrapped in a mishmash of towels and cute cat blankets that Mrs. Copper had started bringing in for him. “The wound might weep a bit of blood on the edges, but… Drew, if you start to get a fever or anything, get to a hospital. I mean it. You’ll need medication. You’ll need actual, proper care. This is a vet clinic, Drew—I’m not equipped to help people here.” Owen nodded, though Drew frowned at him. Tiber scowled back at her, and she frowned harder. Owen was the only one that looked relieved.


“Get out of here, Owen,” Tiber said, his voice soft and strained. “I don’t want you coming back here with injuries like this, with animals that turn into people. I can’t be involved in this. I’m… not equipped for it.”


Owen stared at Tiber for a long moment before his shoulders fell and he nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, okay, Tiber—I’m sorry for getting you involved.” He looked like he was a puppy that had just gotten kicked.


Tiber hated the look, but he had seen enough of those kinds of eyes from canines, so he felt like he was somewhat immune. Though, it made guilt well up in Tiber the moment he saw those eyes on Owen’s face, making him feel like he had just done the worst thing imaginable. “Owen, wait,” Tiber started, but the damage was already done.


“No, Tiber, you’re right. I shouldn’t have gotten you involved. I just… I didn’t know where else to go. Thank you. We’ll leave you be, okay? Have a good night.” The man smiled a warm, friendly, understanding smile that made Tiber feel like a shit person.


Owen was a nice guy—hell, he had been the nicest guy Tiber had known back in university. He was the only one that he had ever spoken to about dropping out before he did, and when he came by to ask for a favor, Tiber had made it sound like he wasn’t welcome. It wasn’t that… but the words were said, the meaning skewed, and Tiber couldn’t find the right words to fix it—not before Owen walked out of his life and likely left for good.


Owen turned his back and gathered Drew up in his arms. The girl was tiny in the tree-trunks that Owen was rude enough to call arms, but she likely stood higher then Tiber did when standing straight. Though that was not hard, considering Tiber’s compact stature. A lot of people stood on par, if not taller. It had bothered Tiber a lot when he was younger, but as he grew older (if not sky-wise) he learned that there was far more to life than one’s physical appearance.


The girl’s color was still not great. She had lost a fair amount of blood, if the clotting he had seen before had stated anything toward the obvious, but Tiber had a feeling that the pair was going to ignore all of his warnings, all of his insisting, and take her right home. Wherever home was for werewolves. Did they live in a cave? Did they sleep in the woods? He should make him fill out an information sheet for a new patient, but… Hell, he should make him pay for the procedure, but—he couldn’t do that. If he did, then he would certainly loose his practice. He couldn’t take money for working on a human, even if she wasn’t a human when he had started the treatment.


Before Owen could leave, the girl stirred in his arms, and she looked sideways at Tiber. “Drew, hey, you’re okay,” Owen started.


Tiber hung back, doing his best to not look at them, though he saw movement as Owen put her down onto her feet. It wasn’t something that she should be trying just yet, but Tiber doubted any comment from him would matter.


The girl accepted Owen’s jacket, the blankets falling from her form. Tiber looked at her after a moment, awkward and unsure at first, then openly staring as she looked back at him, catching his eye and holding his gaze like a pro wrestler holds his victim, tightly and without mercy. Her hair was dark, a slight rats nest of tangles and curls that spilled over her shoulder with the intent of looking as if she had just walked out of a movie and into real life. It was eerie how beautiful she was, and from her stance, it seemed as if she knew that.


“You’re the one that took the bullet out of me,” she stated, the comment not a question. The coat was three times her size, covering her nearly down to her knees.


“Yes,” Tiber said, almost squeaking, and he felt utterly ashamed of the tone of his voice.


She either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Thank you,” she said simply. “That would have been annoying to get out myself.” With that said, she turned and moved with a grace he had only seen in a ballet recital—not saying that Tiber attended a lot of ballet performances, but there had been the odd one.


Owen gave Tiber a nod. “Thanks again, Tiber. We owe you.” And with that, they were gone, out into the night, quicker than they had appeared.


Tiber was left to contemplate his thoughts as the silence settled around him. He returned to the front office to close up once more, making sure that he’d locked the door and turned off the sign and computer at the front desk. He paused by the inventory sheet and marked off the medications he used as expired, just for his records’ sake. Then he went into surgery room to finish cleaning up, unsure about what had just happened, but slowly processing. Either he was going crazy, which was utterly possible, or werewolves were real.


The last tool cleaned, he turned and leaned against the sink and looked toward the blankets that had fallen to the ground, where Drew had dropped them. And he looked toward the door that Owen and Drew had disappeared through. He was struck how empty the room and the office felt. Frigid, silent, dead. Only cold, hard steel, and chilly linoleum to keep him company. Running a hand over his face, he let out another of his continual sighs.


Sleep. Sleep, and then he’d think about it in the morning.