Kitty Goes to Washington Page 60

Stockton stared at him, round-eyed and blinking.

“I'm not an agent of Satan,” I said tiredly. Not that it would do any good.

“Time will tell! You're no more human than the beast inside of you!”

“Senator, for the last time, I have a birth certificate that proves I'm an American citizen, and you're currently violating my civil rights in a big way. Don't make me add slander to the charges I'm going to bring against you.”

“Make your threats. I have great faith that the people will thank me for what I've done here tonight.”

“Senator, look at this, look at this picture you're showing people: you've got me in a"—uh, probably shouldn't say that word on network TV—"a freaking cage! You're standing there slobbering like a madman, calling a reasonably cute blond an agent of Satan, and you think this makes you look like a good guy?”

“History will prove me right. When hordes of your kind overrun the homes and neighborhoods of God-fearing folk, people will know I'm right and my actions will be justified!”

Hordes? Huh? “Oh, you can just keep talking, because you're digging yourself a hell of a hole, monkey boy!”

“Kitty, maybe not so much yelling,” Stockton said.

That stalled the tirade for the moment. I was breathing hard, like I'd just been in a fight. Duke and I glared at each other through the glass. Yeah, he could be a tough guy when I was locked in here. But put him in here with me…

I grunted as pain washed through me and ducked to hide my grimacing features. Too late. I'd run out of time. Pain burned through my nerves, down my limbs. I could feel every pore on my body. In moments, fur would sprout.

“Both of you, get away from the window,” I said, my voice low and scratching. Surprised, they did so. I had to pull it together for just another minute.

I straightened and looked at the camera.

“Of all the authors I've read, Jack London gets my vote for most likely to have been a werewolf. Even if he wasn't, he spent a lot of time writing about the line between people and animals, civilization and the wild—how that line usually isn't much thicker than a hair, and how it gets blurred. He understood that space better than anyone. That's a lot of what being a werewolf is about: living in that blurred space and learning to reconcile the two sides. The other thing you learn is that a person doesn't have to look like a monster to be one. This is Kitty Norville, voice of the night. If you remember nothing else about this broadcast, please remember my voice. I'm not going to have it anymore.”

T.J. had held me the very first time I shape-shifted. I imagined his arms around me now, his voice. You'll be okay, you'll be okay—

The Change slammed into me, fast and brutal. A flood bursting the damn. My punishment for keeping it locked in too long. I bent double, trying to pull off my shirt. I couldn't help it—I screamed, and my sight disappeared.

Hate and fear. And all she could do was watch.

The next day I watched a recording of what Stockton's camera crew broadcast. The news station had framed the video with all sorts of nifty graphics, “Special Report!” and “Live!” logos and the like. It made the whole thing seem cheaper, somehow. As I shape-shifted, I ripped out of my shirt—I went bra-less on full moon nights—and squirmed half out of my jeans and panties. Half naked, tawny fur rippling down my back, I toppled to my side, writhing. My limbs melted and re-formed, my face warped—I'd seen this happen to other people, I'd been through it myself so many times. But watching it happen to me was strange, like what I saw didn't match what I knew I'd felt. The transformation looked fluid, one form morphing into the other in a change that rippled outward from the center of the body. What I'd felt was ripping: the human form ripping apart to let the Wolf out of her cage.

In a few seconds a large, adult wolf lay on the floor of the cell, kicking her hind legs to untangle herself from the jeans still pulled halfway up. She was sand-colored, darker fur trimming her ears, spreading down her back, and tipping her tail. On her chest and under her body the fur turned light, cream-colored. She was sleek, alert, her eyes gleamed a bright amber.

She was beautiful. She was me.

Immediately, she ran. Caged, frightened, she searched for the way out, which meant running along the window, whirling at the silver-painted wall, running back and forth. Unfortunately, she covered the length of the cell in a single stride. She pivoted back and forth, staring out at her captors, like the ultra-neurotic predators in a zoo who seem hypnotized by their own movements.

A domestic dog who's angry or afraid might bark itself hoarse—as they were bred to do in their role as watchdogs. In the wild, wolves rarely bark. My Wolf was silent. The whole lab was dead silent, except for the click of her claws on the linoleum. The personal mike still lay on the floor, clipped to my discarded shirt, picking up the sound of it.

Duke dropped to his knees before the window, laughing harshly. “You see? You see what we're dealing with? You can't ignore this!” He looked at the camera and pointed at Wolf.

She shied back, startled, head low and ears pricked forward, waiting for a challenge.

Evidently expecting a slavering, howling beast slamming herself against the window in an effort to attack him, Duke frowned.

“Don't give me that,” he said. “Don't play coy. You won't get anyone's sympathy. You'll show them what you really are. I'll make you show them!”

He scrambled to his feet and lunged at Stockton, who stood on the other side of the cell. The reporter put up his arms in a startled defense.

Eyes wide, lips snarling, Duke grabbed Stockton's arm and pulled him off balance. Then he opened the tray slot in the door and shoved the reporter's hand into it.

Stockton shouted in a panic and struggled to pull away, but Duke kept him locked in place, bracing with his entire body. Spry old guy, wasn't he?

“Go on! Bite him!” Duke shouted. “Show us what you are, what you're like! Attack him!”

Wolf's tail dropped and she backed away, putting distance between herself and the raving madman in front of her. She knew how to keep out of trouble.

With a soft whine and an air of sadness, she settled in the far corner of the cell—as close to the corner as she could get without touching the walls—lying flat and resting her muzzle on her front paws.

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