Home > Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(6)

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)(6)
Author: Patricia Briggs

It was all right for a fae to be an entertainer or a tourist attraction, but the brownie kindergarten teacher was quietly pensioned off. No one wanted a fae for a teacher, a mechanic, or a neighbor.

Fae who lived in upscale suburbs had windows broken and rude graffiti painted on their homes. Those who lived in less law-abiding places were mugged and beaten. They couldn't defend themselves for fear of the Gray Lords. Whatever the humans did to them, the Gray Lords would do worse.

The wave of violence prompted the creation of four large reservations for fae. Zee told me that there were fae in the government who saw the reservations as damage control and used fair means and foul to convince the rest of Congress.

If a fae agreed to live on a reservation, he was given a small house and a monthly stipend. Their children (like Zee's son Tad) were given scholarships to good universities where they might become useful members of society... if they could find jobs.

The reservations sparked a lot of controversy on both sides. Personally, I thought the Gray Lords and the government might have paid more attention to the innumerable problems of the Native American reservations-but Zee was convinced the reservations were only a first step in the Gray Lords' plans. I knew just enough about them to admit he might be right-but I worried anyway. Whatever ills it created, the reservation system had lessened the growing problems between the human and fae, at least in the US.

People like the visiting pastor, though, were proof that prejudice and hatred were alive and well. Someone behind me muttered that he hoped Pastor Julio recovered before next week, and a round of mumbled agreement cheered me a little.

I've heard of people who've seen angels or felt their presence. I don't know if it is God or one of his angels I sense, but there is a welcoming presence in most churches. As the pastor continued with his fear-driven speech, I could feel that spirit's growing sadness.

The pastor shook my hand as I left the building.

I am not fae, broad though that term is. My magic comes from North America not Europe, and I have no glamour (or need of it) to allow me to blend with the human population. Even so, this man would have hated me had he known what I was.

I smiled at him, thanked him for the service, and wished him well. Love thy enemies, it says in the scriptures. My foster mother always added, "At the very least, you will be polite to them."

Chapter 2

Mac the werewolf was sitting on the step by the office door when I drove up Monday morning.

I kept my face impassive and showed none of the surprisingly fierce satisfaction I felt, just handed him a heavy sack of fast-food breakfast sandwiches so I could get my key out and open the door. I'd been raised around wild animals; I knew how to tame them. A hearty welcome would send him off faster than harsh words if I judged him aright, but food was always a good lure.

"Eat," I told him as I set out for the bathroom to change into work clothes. "Save me one-the rest are for you."

All but one were gone when I came back.

"Thank you," he told me, watching my feet.

"You'll work it off. Come on, help me get the garage doors up." I led the way through the office and into the garage. "There's nothing pending today so we can work on my project Bug."

The Beetle was unprepossessing at the moment, but when I was finished it would be painted, polished, and purring like a kitten. Then I'd sell it for twice what I had put into it and find another car to resurrect. I made almost half my income refurbishing old VW classics.

We'd worked a few hours in companionable silence when he asked to use the phone to make a long-distance call.

"Long as it's not to China," I said, coaxing a bolt held in place by thirty-odd years of rust.

I didn't sneak over to the office door to listen in. I don't make a practice of eavesdropping on private conversations. I don't have to. I have very good hearing.

"Hello," he said. "It's me."

My hearing was not so good, however, that I could hear the person he was talking to.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," he said quickly. "Look I can't talk long." Pause. "It's better you don't know." Pause. "I know. I saw a news report. I don't remember anything after we left the dance. I don't know what killed her or why it didn't kill me."

Ah, no, I thought.

"No. Look, it's better just now if you don't know where I am." Pause. "I told you, I don't know what happened. Just that I didn't kill her." Pause. "I don't know. I just want you to tell Mom and Dad I'm okay. I love them-and I'm looking for the ones who killed her. I have to go now." Pause. "I love you, too, Joe."

There were a dozen stories that could account for the half of his conversation that I heard. Two dozen.

But the most prevalent of the cautionary tales werewolves tell each other is what happens the first time a werewolf changes if he doesn't know what he is.

In my head, I translated Mac's half of the conversation into a picture of a boy leaving a high school dance to make out with his girlfriend under the full moon, not knowing what he was. New werewolves, unless they have the guidance of a strong dominant, have little control of their wolf form the first few times they change.

If Mac were a new werewolf, it would explain why he didn't notice that I was different from the humans around. You have to be taught how to use your senses.

Here in the US, most werewolves are brought over by friends or family. There is a support structure to educate the new wolf, to keep him and everyone around him safe-but there are still the occasional attacks by rogue werewolves. One of the duties of a pack is to kill those rogues and find their victims.

Despite the stories, any person bitten by a werewolf doesn't turn into another werewolf. It takes an attack so vicious that the victim lies near death to allow the magic of the wolf to slip past the body's immune system. Such attacks make the newspapers with headlines like "Man Attacked by Rabid Dogs." Usually the victim dies of the wounds or of the Change. If he survives, then he recovers quickly, miraculously-until the next full moon, when he learns that he didn't really survive at all. Not as he had been. Usually a pack will find him before his first change and ease his way into a new way of life. The packs watch the news and read the newspapers to prevent a new wolf from being alone-and to protect their secrets.

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