How little it mattered why Darcy agreed to keep eyes and body far away from her while she shifted, in particular, Ruben's creepy stare was far away from her. Darcy was no slice of cake either but there was something about the spindly limbed maniac that left her wary especially when she was nude, in her most vulnerable state, shifting. How she didn't want to shift at all in this miserable basement and yet she had a part to play in this careful game of misdirection. It was a perfect opportunity practically gift wrapped with her name on the card. Fuck, she hardly knew if she could will on the shift in this wretched place. This was an opportunity to spin that dialogue and that vampire had to take her word for it. It was almost too good. Just what story she would weave, she hardly knew and perhaps she should have been worried but Harley was no stranger at navigating underpressure. She weighed those options regardless, as Darcy did as she asked, even so much as striking Ruben with incredible force that made a sound that indicated some kind of damage within the vampire's jaw. Harley held little sympathy, glad that the aggression was not targetted upon her for once. That specific perk was not lost upon her. The sight of the slinking, mopy vampire with his nose to the wall, whimpering away was a sight she would savour. She supposed she better live up to her side of the bargain, even if begrudgingly. The clothing slipped away from her figure and soon did everything human along with it. How badly she wished to riot against every last one of his wishes. Yet, this time everything depended on him believing her. How quickly predicaments change.
It was not long at all before all the attention within that cursed room had fallen back upon her, the sleek black panther she'd become. The only feline not within one of those cages, not that those numbers were anything to write home about. Perhaps she should count her blessings. The pain and the exhaustion from the shift left her breathless for a moment before the feline within her seemed to uncoil within. That part of her seemed to sigh in some form of relief.
It irked her being reduced to nothing more than a trained animal at a circus. Forced to perform on cue. That feline that she transformed into, a striking sleek panther looked the perfect image of agitated, her tail jerked too and fro as if on a string someone manipulated. Yet Ruben, even despite that silent warning seemed dead set on drawing closer... far too close. Her lips peeled back in warning until her gaze caught sight of Darcy doing very much the same thing. How goddamn disturbing was that, and yet Darcy's warning growl was enough to keep Ruben at bay. Fine by her.
All douchebags, please keep all appendages to one's self. Harley's attention shifted to the weakened feline within that cage. That conversation purely for show and yet Harley could not help but feel genuinely bad for him. If she could save the poor feline she would have. But he was dying, the scent of him, the frailty of him indicated that his system was failing. She wondered if vampire blood ould be enough, not that anyone would cut a vein for the sad creature. His bones protruded sharply from beneath his skin, like a skeleton with skin, his gaze lacklustre all hope or life had fled. It was easy to forget about the leaches that all but wanted to eavesdrop in that conversation that was, to them, all but dead silence. At the very least, he didn't have to die alone, at least she could offer him that. How much she hated Ruben even more than Darcy in that very moment. Darcy, surprisingly tolerable in those moments. How she knew she would have suffered the same fate as that broken feline in the cage, only having suffered from starvation for a fraction of the time as the abused Serval. She didn't even catch his name, not that it mattered even though it did, to her. Did that make her soft? The only fortunate thing was this his death was peaceful. The panther remained, looking sadly at the now-dead feline with perfect clarity, her paw daring to reach out to the lifeless creature, only meeting the silver-lined steel. Her thoughts swept her away until she felt Ruben's hand pressing into her thick, soft obsidian fur, it drew her abruptly from her thoughts. How she was full of rage and sadness. Those two emotions made the perfect tornado within the wildcat.
It took nothing more than that for the fight to erupt. Harley's body vibrated with that intent. A violent jerk in retaliation. That fury resonated within her, it was instinctual to clamp onto that vampire's hand an instant reprimand. Her attention was solely upon Ruben then. All that built-up rage could be pummelled into him. Darcy even took a step back as if to offer her more room yet she was barely aware of him then. She hardly thought anything of it then before the rest unfolded like a blur of savagery fueled by instinct. That's all Harley could call it. Yet, even for a lanky bastard. The man was strong, all vampires were. After throwing her across the room, he just as quickly had her in a chokehold. He seemed to enjoy the closeness of his body against her own, his breath panting as if to draw more of her in.
He was going to fucking kill her and Darcy was going to watch. How unsurprising. Yet.... she had valuable information. Surely, he would not let it go... and yet the man seemed to watch with sick fascination. Harley was only vaguely aware of it as she thrashed and fought for her life. How little did she seem to know that the cowboy was prepared to intervene then, he'd already reached for his revolver. But Harley had a plan of her own. After all, there was only one damn person she could rely on and in that very moment, it was herself. How good it felt to have that grip released, the slender vampire clawed at his own throat. The panther landed lightly on her paws. It was an all too satisfying sight to see Ruben with that metal stick protruding from his neck. Rage... like no other than a vampire could possess burst from him like the blood that oozed from him. Her claws unsheathed, taking advantage of that situation to seek retribution for the Serval and for herself. Red lines appeared across his face where her claws came in contact. It was enough to put distance between them and at least draw closer to the one man who could have prevented her demise and yet just as easily cause it. How close she was to killing Ruben with the silver pronged stick. How bad it would go for her should she have succeeded. She would have not lost any sleep over Ruben's demise but could she live with the repercussions?
She appeared near Darcy and that desire to give into those instincts was a strong thing she needed to struggle to be in control of. It was far too easy to go after Darcy next.... But she saw the glint of his gun. When did that get there? She appeared next to him as if she was trained. Her intent was clear that she was no threat as she lowered her haunches to sit, her chiselled face tipped to the side and upward to peer at him with intelligent eyes. He was impossible to read, his form entirely looming like a storm, crackling with a static of uncertainty.
Ruben was ready to launch toward Harley once more... Ruben was bloodied, his flesh torn where she struck him diagonally right across his very face. He was a vile sight, his movements just as grotesque as the rest of him. He belonged in a horror movie. His fangs were the last thing she saw, a glint of intent before Darcy's booming voice demanded silence. It was like a trainer's whip cracking like the sound of a sharp lightning bolt, demanding order from his... subjects. A little too late.
Ruben hesitated and yet dared to ignore that very command. That lesson that was bound to come would come swiftly and it did. Darcy lifted that gun which already lingered within his hand. He took aim, he hardly needed any moment at all before that thunderous clap of his gun fired.
The she-cat flinched at the piercing sound that rattled about her skull, long after it fired. Yet it was only one bullet that he needed to shoot the grotesque vampire right between the eyes. Harley could not do anything but stare, watching as the cowboy execute perfectly what actors attempt to emulate in those outlaw movies. He fucking blew the smoke away from the gun with a puff of air, cocky bastard. He probably thought he was living a fucking stand off in the wild west. How quickly in that moment that gun could have sooner been turned upon her next, how part of her seemed almost ready for it. Yet she stood her ground, her vibrant violet gaze remained upcast upon him as if waiting for him. As though she were nothing but an obedient... pet. How she fucking hated the word. Hated simply sitting there at his complete mercy and yet.... She still remained strong. Dignity was intact for another day. Almost.
Darcy seemed oblivious to Harley as if she hardly even existed when transfixed in his own reverie. It was deathly quiet save for Darcy them. Harley listened, her ears twitched with the sound of his accented voice, it was filled with passion as he recited some law. A man who truly believed in his words. So.... in short. No one was allowed to kill anyone unless Risque wanted it. It sounded a lot like a dictatorship... but hey... potatoes.. patatohs. How he seemed lost as if attempting to sift through his own thoughts. She wasn't sure if that last bit was to frighten her into her place or simply justify what he had done to Ruben. Or was it to justify punishment.
The vampire looked toward Ruben, Harley following his gaze. Was he dead? Errr.. correction.... Was he truly dead? She hadn't seen any vampires come back from a headshot. The tall vampire was left in a helpless, broken, crumpled heap upon the floor.. Blood pooled around his body like an ominous halo. She all but stared at the man's face who seemed angry even in that comatose state. It was then that Darcy's hand reached to pet her. The touch sent a shockwave of tension through her entire body as if the desire to snap at that very hand like she had Ruben gripped her so resolutely. There was no harshness to his touch and yet how she despised that very feeling of his hands upon her, that invasion of her space to further solidify her place as beneath him. He demanded her submission to him. Her lips curled and yet she didn't move, he was goading her. Baiting her to strike him. She would not be lucky the second time, surely he knew it. Harley was nothing more than a prisoner in her own body. Knowing damn well that if she retaliated the next gunshot would be in her. How his words echoed sadistically, invading her as he stroked the top of her head, lost in the velvet softness of her fur. Harley would never know how she maintained her stillness then. Even as he spoke that threat. His hand was so close to her waiting jowls. He knew it, he had to. She attempted to pull away and yet still his hand found her.
How he seemed to rationalize what transpired... in her favour. Te growl that threatened to escape all but silenced. This was her... verdict. At that moment he was nothing more than a judge, jury and executioner. Good kitty. How her fur seemed to stand on end.
Tap.. tap tap. His fingers all but purposely provoked her now, as if he was testing her further to tolerate any last irritation he could dole out. Blatant irritation settled upon her features as her tail whipped about like a snake who had been stepped on. That damn thing had a mind of its own. He seemed to stand like that for a good long moment until he was good and sure of something only known to him before he spoke once more. It was a damn good thing she was in this form, unable to speak her mind. She glowered at him with such venom. But they softened at the mention of home. Home? She could go home? It was within her grasp. But was it a rotten little trick? To offer her hope only to pluck it away? She had no doubt to put it passed these vampires and yet... how good the thought of home felt. She slipped away from Darcy towards where her clothes were abandoned in a pile upon the dead Serval's cage.
Could she shift back so soon? Fuck.. if she knew. For a moment it was like she waited for him to turn away. Still forever trying her luck... she could have sworn her eyes were laughing then... even though it quickly dissipated at the sight of the dead Serval. Another casualty to this war she wanted no part in. The thought of his family losing him a second time seemed to allow a hurt to seep in. She focused on that human side... so distant it was within her..... How reluctant the feline was to give up her power. Harley could do nothing more than focus on her breath... on the thought of her fingers and toes. Her legs.. Oh, she always missed those in this form... She focused on her hair... her ability to talk... when suddenly the animal, the beast within her slowly began to recede, it began as a tickle within her gut, there was no other way to describe it. Changing back somehow felt a far more gentle and longer process, at least for her. She had no one to ask. Refusing to give Tetradore or any of his ridiculous pack anything even if it meant figuring this shit out on her own. She seemed almost proud of herself to figure this out on her own but how tired she was in the aftermath.
How she just wanted to lay upon the cool ground for a little while, to press her cheek into the cool stone. To close her heavy lids and allow those limbs to simply rest. That shift truly took a toll on her body even though it certainly had improved. A groan escaped her as she used the cage in an effort to stand, not caring that her back was to Darcy as she changed. She leaned up against the cage as she crossed her arms across her chest, her shoulders slumped. The fabric of her shirt a barrier from the burning silver.
"Welll, Sherrif Darcy." He had no sense of humour at all, she had half a mind to salute the murderous vampire if only to indulge herself in a little bit of mockery. At the very least she found herself super entertaining. But she was too tired, and as if on cue, the woman yawned before the raven haired woman continued her carefully crafted tale. She didn't want to give him any more time to mutter his threats or somehow decide she was suddenly useful for his whims. She focused solely upon the hope of home as she spoke. "In the commotion, he said he couldn't see their faces. He said they escaped through a door that they busted open for the cats. He heard the man, he had an accent.. and the woman was a shifter... not like him.. Whatever that means. A dog or shit... He also really likes boobs.. But that's basically any straight man in existence." Technically not a lie.... How close to the truth that was... all of it, save for that little twist, her own little white lie buried in the truth. But even that.... Harley was not like him. She was not a Serval.. She was a panther... Truths... all of them and yet what she revealed was all in her control and yet.. Only crafted a bright neon sign pointing toward another man she had no qualms in throwing under the bus. He was far from innocent and already Risque condemned him.
"Don't they say.. Always look to those closest. There is a fine line between love and hate.. Yadda yadda... I don't know if you can get much closer than blood." She shrugged dismissively, her voice sounded almost as tired as she felt even though her efforts to conceal it. How she also knew that mention of canines... would only condemn another guilty party. Cade. Was it so wrong to insinuate they were working together? Or at least place those dots for Darcy to connect. How she meddled in ways that could alter too much. To stir a war that was already bound to be. Her amethyst eyes found his own mismatched gaze, a gesture to appear somehow fearless even as she continued to lean upon that cage for support. It was dangerous to show this weakness and yet perhaps she could pass it off as.. Casual. A woman with nothing to lose, offering up hypothetical people that wasn't her.
Her line of sight shifted toward Ruben was still very much motionless. His eyes were still opened, hardened black coals of oblivion that could have sucked away one's very soul. She was sure of it. Was it cold in here? Or was it just her? She crossed her arms as if to conserve her own heat.
"Is he dead.... Well.. more dead than usual?" Harley asked curiously and yet somehow cautious, her body faced Darcy, hardly foolish enough to let her guard down now. Her use was complete. But she couldn't not look at the incapacitated man on the floor. If one could call a beast a man. His arm still reached out eerily toward Harley as though even in this state the mangled corpse had tried to get at her. "I really don't like him." She admitted, perhaps to herself out loud.
This room, it gave her the creeps. Dead bodies tended to do that to someone, but she wasn't going to give Darcy the satisfaction of knowing that. Now what mattered relied on Darcy alone... was he a man of his word? She asked that singular question, that he would have only made him seem like more of 'the man' as much as it pained her. But she would have said any number of things to be free of this place. "So, am I free to go?"Hopefully she didn't look too eager.
better to fight for something, than live for nothing