In Wolf’s Clothing
Ezra had to admit the snake wasn’t as bad as he figured it would be. Sure it was no fare for the fine dining establishments he frequented when with his mother, but it was better than the gruel he was reluctantly accustomed to in some of the relative’s homes he frequented.
Vin silently watched the young wolf across from him devour the meal in front of him. The meat would only take the edge off the hunger he was certain Ezra was feeling. The wolf was too thin and would need many good meals before he started to resemble the beautiful creature he was. He still wondered about the Ezra’s age but there was no telling for certain until he decided to share that information.
“Come on Ezra let’s get this fire put out and get on our way. It’s a long walk back to Four Corners. Though I suspect we’ll run into the others somewhere along the trail.”
Ezra joined Vin on his trek after the fire was completely out and the campsite picked up. At least there is one benefit of this lupine form, no clean up.
Vin snorted at that comment and shook his head as he headed them in the direction of Four Corners.
“You think he’s okay Buck?”
“Sure he is kid, you know Vin’s about as sharp as they come.” Buck gave a nervous look to his old friend whom was also saddling his horse with quick efficiency.
“But his horse came back without him, why’d he do that? And Vin’s really late he shoulda been back hours ago. You don’t think bounty hunters caught him do ya?”
Buck winced at the low growl Chris gave before heading out of the livery with his horse in tow. “Nah just think that ornery ole horse ah his just decided it’d rather be in the barn than scouting around. Why I bet Vin’s cursing that dang horse ah his from here to Mexico.”
“Yeah you’re probably right, hope we find him soon.”
Buck clapped the kid on the shoulder before he followed Chris out of the livery with his own horse to join the others and begin the search for their friend. “Let’s go JD, Chris is antsy to get a move on.”
A few minutes later the town watched the dust clear as the five peacekeepers disappeared in the horizon.
“Dang it” Vin cursed his bad luck again. What a day this had been so far. It wasn’t enough he spent the morning burying a wolf, dumped on his rear when his horse spooked cause of a rattler, and he spent the afternoon walking back to town long after his patrol should have ended. Nope all that didn’t seem to be enough for his day it seemed now he had a twisted ankle to deal with. Of all the luck, now it seemed inevitable that he would just have to wait for the others to find him.
Ezra winced in sympathy for the man; he seemed to be quite in tune with the others pain. It seemed every time Vin tried to place weight on the appendage that a jolt of pain would hit Ezra as well. Finally the tracker had decided to stop and rest, but even sitting down he could feel the pain radiating off the man.
“Perhaps Mr. Tanner we should wait here for your friends to arrive?”
“Sure Ez,” Vin sighed as he removed the boot from the rapidly swelling limb, “don’t think we got much of a choice anyway.” Vin glared at his ankles swollen appearance and knew there was no way that boot was going back on anytime soon. He couldn’t believe they were only an hour’s walk from town when he felt the sand shift under his foot causing him to misstep.
“I believe I hear something Mister Tanner.” Ezra cocked his head in the direction of the low rumbling noise.
“Sure hope it ain’t another rattler, had my fill of those today.”
Ezra gave him a disgusted look, well as disgusted as a wolf could create. “I believe it is a group of riders, do you think it could be your associates?”
“Could be, which ways it coming from?” Vin nodded as Ezra looked off in the direction. “Could be them, that’s the right direction.”
Ezra padded away from the injured man to get a better view of the encroaching group. He moved farther away from Vin until he was out of the tracker’s sight. He could just barely see the five riders headed in their direction with the missing horse tied behind one of them. Finding a spot that provided him with some notion of protection he took a moment to observe the five riders. The man in the lead was dressed all in black and had an ominous air about him. Ezra was sure he was the leader that Vin had spoken about. He was sure of one thing; he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the man. Next to him was a large man that was quite intimidating, but Ezra could also feel a gentle nature about him. He was surprised by the dark man that was included with the group; the man rode with such comfort and self-assuredness which was such a contrast to the slaves of the south that he had met that rarely showed any type of pride that had long been beaten out of them. He could feel a deep compassion about the man and looked forward to being around such a caring soul. He could literally smell the sex appeal of the man who rode next to the young man lagging behind the others. This man had a gentle soul and so much passion that Ezra felt drawn to him over the pleasant feelings. The young man that rounded out the group had an atmosphere of boundless energy. He felt a child-like innocence in the man and wondered just how he had managed to hold onto that incorruptibility for so long. A truly unique collection of individuals. He was a bit surprised that he didn’t hear Vin respond to him after spending nearly the entire day trying to block his thoughts from the man. A bit worried by the lack of response he quickly turned back to the man he had left behind.
“Mister Tanner are you alright?”
“Fine Ezra, why ya asking?”
“I was disturbed when you didn’t respond to my thoughts a few moments ago.”
“Never heard ya.” Vin looked at the wolf like he had lost his mind.
“That’s what I said didn’t I?”
“Yes, yes. This is marvelous somehow I have managed to block my thoughts from you.” Finally some privacy.
Vin grinned evilly at Ezra, “I would wouldn’t be so certain of that Ez, I can still hear ya.”
“Ah hell, I’ll figure it out Mr. Tanner, be assured of that good sir. Now there are five riders headed in this direction and I believe they are your associates.”
It wasn’t long before the five peacekeepers caught sight of their missing tracker sitting against the trunk of a tree. Chris literally sagged with relief seeing the man in apparent health and quickly encouraged his horse into a faster gait to reach the tracker’s side. The others followed suit and soon were pulling up to Vin’s position. They watched as Chris and Vin did their silent passing of thoughts and soon both men had a small smile crack their facades.
“Vin you hurt?” The gentle healer asked as he dismounted and started in his direction.
“Just twisted my ankle.”
“Let me take a look at it.” Nathan gently manipulated the joint and hmm’d to himself. “You’ll live but you won’t be walking on it for a while. I’ll just wrap it up for now and we’ll make sure you stay off it til it’s healed.”
“So what happened?”
Ezra watched from the safety of the shrubbery he had hidden in as Vin retold his story. Well an edited story that somehow left some important facts out of it, like his being able to understand a wolf when he spoke and heard it’s thoughts as well. Ezra shifted position to get more comfortable on the unforgiving ground and heard the click of five hammers drawn in his direction. His eyes widened in alarm and a small whimper escaped before he could stop himself. Oh God! Oh God! He chanted in fear he was about to be plastered with multiple gunshot wounds.
“Nooo don’t shot!” Vin yelled in panic as he quickly tried to gain his feet and found himself falling to the ground in pain. “Damn’t don’t shot ‘em cowboy.”
Chris looked back at his friend as if he had lost his mind that was a wolf hiding in the bushes, not some damn dog. Seeing his friend’s determination and fear for the animal he relented for the moment, but if it even looked like the animal was going to attack it would be dead in an instant. “Fine” he nodded “but he even thinks of attacking I’ll fill him with lead.”
Vin sighed with thanks that he had gotten the others to listen, though he could still see they were a bit nervous with the wolf so close. “You can come out now Ezra.”
You must be kidding Mister Tanner, I move and they will fill me with holes, and I’m rather attached to this hide at the moment.
“They ain’t going to shot ya, now come on out and meet everyone.”
Vin missed the looks the others were giving him, but Ezra’s sharp eyes caught their distressed look. I believe your compatriots are a bit worried about your conversation with a wolf. Why the healer has completely forgotten about me and looking at you as if you started sprouting something out of your head.
“Vin you okay?” Nathan asked a bit worried that Vin may have hurt his head when he fell.
“I’m fine, damn it Ezra get out here before I shoot ya” Vin grumbled out in frustration when he caught the looks of his friends.
Fine, fine Mister Tanner, but if any of these men shoot me I will exact my revenge upon you. Ezra slowly emerged from his hiding spot and tried to look as non-threatening as possible.
“Dang Buck he looks about half-starved” JD shouted out causing the others to jump a bit.
Ezra quickly found a position next to Vin and eyed the other men with trepidation. He had to get the focus off of him and had the perfect plan to do so. Did you tell the others how I saved you from certain death?
“What the hell are you talking about Ezra? What certain death?”
You know from that evil serpent.
“It would have been more help if you had told me sooner not wait until the dang horse had spooked already.”
Point taken but really I tried to warn you about the soft sand before you fell. Ezra noticed that much of the focus was off of him, all really except the dark presence that looked on with a growing smirk on his face. Ezra had a big grin on his face as his plan worked.
Nathan bent down and started to check Vin’s head for lumps and bumps. “Now hold still a moment and let me check your head, you may have hit it Vin.”
“I didn’t hit my damn head” Vin protested but to no avail, once Nathan was determined there was no stopping the worrywart. He looked over and caught the grin on his best friend’s face before giving the wolf an evil look.
Chris laughed at the two of them; life was going to be interesting with the mischievous wolf around. Turning his attention to the wolf he gave a quick nod, “Ezra” he acknowledged before walking off to get ready for their trip back to town.