These Bright City Lights

This chapter was written on a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  It’s also my answer to this month’s Genre Stretch (dystopia).  That genre isn’t one I normally play in, but I’m hoping that it’s clear that the world is really imperfect if someone who’s as nice as we’ve seen Lachlan be is being treated the way he is and plotted against for daring to try to rise above what some group of people thinks he should.  (It actually makes me think about some things that happen in our world even today, actually.)

**

23-0e03450229He hated meeting out in the open like this.  He jumped at every sound, half-terrified that someone he knew would see him and ask why he was there.

At the same time, he wasn’t sure that meeting someplace out of sight would have been much better on his nerves.  After all, then the people he was meeting could do anything.  In the open, where people might see, they couldn’t simply kill him, if he displeased them.

He heaved a sigh and paced away from the brightly lit sculpture at the center of the park, towards the trees.  He felt more secure there.  If someone who knew him happened by, he could hide.  When his contact arrived, they were still out in the open enough to feel safer from them.

“There you are,” a low, familiar voice said.  “I was beginning to think that you’d changed your mind about our agreement.”

He whirled around to find that his contact was there.  He heaved a sigh and nodded.  He decided to ignore the comment about changing his mind.  They both knew that would never happen.  “I wondered when you’d turn up,” he said, shoving his hands into his pockets.  Then, he shook his head.  “We can’t keep meeting like this.  In case you’d forgotten… some people can detect things beyond human ken.”

“Relax,” the man said, stepping closer.  “So long as I don’t touch you, Officer McClelland won’t be able to pick up my scent.”

He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  “I still don’t like it,” he groused.  Then, he heaved a sigh.  “They found O’Neill, but McClelland was useless.  He said something about basil at the crime scene.”  Frowning, he met the man’s gaze.  “Was that on purpose or was it just lucky chance?”

“I think you can guess the answer to that,” the man said, looking smug.

Honestly, if he had to guess, he’d say it was coincidence, but this man would never admit to that.  He wanted to seem as though he had planned for everything – knew how things would work out to the finest detail.  It made him more frightening to those who followed him.  Not that he’d admit to such thoughts.  All he said was, “Right… So, what did you want?”

“Things are proceeding well,” his contact said.  “However, there’s something that I need for you to do that will help to further our plans even more.”

“Go on,” he said, his voice soft.  As he listened to the next part of the plan, he bit his lip and nodded silently.  It would, of course, serve their purposes perfectly.  That didn’t mean he would have to enjoy it.  As his contact finished outlining the plan, he sighed and shook his head.  “Is all this really necessary?  It’s just one wolf and he’s not even that highly ranked.”

“We must make an example of him to the others of his kind,” his contact said, his eyes seeming to blaze with passionate anger.  “If even one of them is allowed in a position of authority over real humans…” he trailed off with a growl that reminded one very much of the creatures he so violently opposed.

“Right,” he said, nodding sullenly.  He took a steadying breath and nodded a second time.  “It’ll be pretty easy to do – just a word or two in front of the right person and Officer McClelland will be called before our superiors.”

“Good,” his contact said.  He smiled and added, “If a little of the fallout effects his partner… we wouldn’t be strongly bothered.  After all, he agreed to work with that wolf.”

“Right,” he said.  Then he watched as his contact vanished into the shadows of the trees.  He closed his eyes and took a steadying breath.  He honestly didn’t care what happened to Officer McClelland, but he was hoping to keep Ezra out of it.  After all, the man couldn’t help who his partner was.  Whatever the Organization might think, he didn’t have much say in such things.

He spun away from the trees and headed back towards the sculpture and its bright lights.  Somehow, that was more comforting.  He nearly jumped out of his skin when someone called his name.  As he turned, he saw Ezra Metternich running up to him.

Smiling warmly, the officer said, “Whatever are you doing here?  I thought you were still out west!”

Shrugging, he said, “I was just transferred back a couple weeks ago.”  He shook his head and added, “I didn’t realize that you were back in the capitol either, or I’d have looked you up.”  As he continued towards car, Ezra fell into step with him.  He hesitated before asking, “What’s new?”

He shrugged.  “I’ve been assigned to help integrate a werewolf onto the force,” he said.  He chuckled lightly and shook his head.  “We actually have a rather interesting case right now, not that I can give you much in the way of details.”

“What can you tell me?” he asked, smiling.

“Lachlan seems to be about as squeamish about dead bodies as I am,” Ezra said, shaking his head.  His expression turned thoughtful as he added, “Maybe worse.”  The officer looked up, meeting his eyes.  “I thought that rather… surprising, I guess.  I mean, we’ve always heard about how vicious his kind are – natural killers, and all that.  Yet, he seemed as anxious to get away from that… unpleasantness as I was.”

“Really?” he asked, frowning.

Ezra nodded.  “I think he was almost glad of the excuse the basil provided,” he said, his voice soft.  “He had a perfectly legitimate reason to be away from the scene.”

“You sure it was squeamishness?” he said.  Ezra frowned and he shrugged.  “I mean, there are stories about them… you know, eating people.”

“It didn’t feel like that to me,” Ezra said, his voice soft.  He chewed at his lip and then shook his head.  “I just… I hope that the Anti-Wolf Coalition won’t cause him anymore trouble.”

“They’ve caused him trouble?”

Nodding, Ezra said, “Someone firebombed his apartment.  The Office set him up at a safehouse, but he sent his mate back to live with their pack for the time being.”  His brows furrowed.  “He told me… he came home and… it terrified him to think that something might have happened to Esther.  Thank God that she was out at the market when it happened.”

“Was anyone hurt?”

“New building,” Ezra said, shaking his head.  “Lachlan and Esther were the only tenants that had moved in as yet.”  As they arrived at his car, Ezra waved.  “Stay in touch?”

“Definitely,” he agreed.  Then, he waved as he watched his old friend hurry off.  He heaved a sigh.  No, he’d do what he could to keep Ezra out of this sad business.  He might not like the wolf, but Ezra was still his friend.  It would perfect if he could get rid of Lachlan without any harm coming to Ezra.  If he could do that, they could work together again.

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