Austin, Texas, 2010

He could smell it, the stale mustiness that trailed in the wake of revenants, cloistering and thick. Jet’s lip curled in distaste as he stalked the streets, the heavy air of midnight wrapping around his wiry frame like a favoured blanket. He was close now, very close. So damned close that her scent was cramming itself down his throat, his fingers tingling as they wrapped more tightly around his bone bow. The fingers of his right hand brushed against the fletching of his innocent’s bone arrows where they jostled lightly in his hip quiver and he drew one silently as he rounded a corner, keeping it tucked out of sight against his inner arm.

   The darkness wasn’t enough to keep some from noticing such things, the cameras especially caused a problem when they couldn’t avoid public altercations. Jet grinned despite himself, wolfish glee lighting his face. They caused a problem until Momma dealt with the tapes and witnesses, anyhow.

    He wouldn’t have need of her assistance tonight, though. He’d been stalking this freak for days and she had a pattern, one that had made her harder to track as she kept away from major arterials and skirted anywhere that cameras were visible, but despite the initial frustration, it made his job easier. There would be less to clean up if he took her down out of sight. But first he had to identify her cleanly, not having caught sight of her, just her malodourous scent drifting along lazily, leading him around and around the whole bloody city, luring him in. But he was close, so damned close.

   Taking another stomach-churning breath, Jet stepped down a side alley, the scent drifting ahead of him still. If Momma wouldn’t have beaten him for his weakness, he would have brought his brothers. They could have tracked and destroyed this freak in mere hours together, but he couldn’t ask for their help. He had to be strong. Had to be stronger than anyone else in the whole damned world. That’s what Momma said. Even if at seventeen he was not only younger but significantly smaller than his behemoths of brothers. One day he would be their equal, and when he was, he had to be stronger.

   He drew to a stop, the clatter of a tiny pebble skittering across the concrete behind the buildings he currently traversed whispered to him. He drew his lips back, baring his teeth in feral anticipation as he brought his arrow to rest against his bow, breathing shallow, and silent as his footfalls while he approached the corner where the faint light of the moon trickled out, the spectre of a shadow moving through it. Another deep breath, a step, light footsteps moving away.

   He swung around the corner, arrow sliding against bow as he drew, his gaze catching the faint glint of light off a blade as an axe whirred towards him at the twang of his bowstring. He lurched to the side, not fast enough to avoid the throwing axe that had been directed straight towards his head with impossible accuracy. Even as the blade bit deep into his shoulder, tearing through muscle and sinew, imbedding itself in bone, he found he couldn’t be angry, not as the world seemed to slow, the revenant who’d thrown the axe spinning to the side with a dancer’s grace as his arrow whirred past. He felt himself falling distantly as his eyes caught on thick, dark hair and large dark eyes set in a face framed by high cheekbones and a full mouth.

   Beautiful. The freak was absolutely fucking beautiful. Laughter barked its way up his throat as he felt his back slam into the concrete, rattling through him even as the pain began to register, the image of the damned freaks face flickering behind his eyelids with his every blink until she appeared above him, that full mouth set in a hard line, the eyes glinting with rage.

    “Hunter,” she hissed and Jet grinned at her, let the malice in his expression highlight the predator he was.    

    “Freak,” he drawled, reaching for his arrows with his uninjured arm as the warmth of his blood pooling on the ground beneath him seeped along his spine.

    She snarled, those beautiful lips pulling back to reveal small, straight teeth before her attention snapped to the side, another snarl sliding up her throat. She turned back to him. “We’ll finish this another time.”

    “Count on it,” Jet promised, even as he pulled free an arrow and she deftly dodged as he jabbed at her, snatching the handle of her axe and tearing it from his shoulder in the same movement.

    His laughter was laced through with pained gasps as he let his head lull to the side, watching her swing herself up onto a windowsill, scaling the wall with practiced precision before she vanished onto the rooftop.

    “Count on it,” he murmured again, voice quivering as his vision began to fog over.

    “Christ, Jethro,” he heard a voice, so much like his own, growl a moment before two mountainous forms appeared above him. “You let that freak bitch get ya’?”

    He couldn’t tell which of his brothers spoke, their near identical forms blurring together in his sight until only the bright blue of their eyes remained.

    “Ought’a let ya’ die, runt. Momma ain’t gonn’ be none too pleased ‘bout this,” the other brother said.

   “Gotta keep the pup ‘live, Jos, that’s why Momma sent us after ‘im.”

    “I know…”

   Jet’s vision faded out, the alley becoming nothing, the warm trickle of his blood vanishing as he felt his body lifted, the weightless sensation taking with it the pain that pulsed through his shoulder. He wondered briefly which of his brother’s carried him, but it didn’t matter. They’d take him home, where Momma would patch him up good and proper. There wouldn’t be a doctor, no emergency room, but Momma and his brothers. Like it always had been. Momma wouldn’t beat him until he’d finished healing.

   Then, then he would start the hunt again, because behind the closed lids of his eyes he saw that beautiful face, felt her pull even as unconsciousness beckoned. She was his. If she fell it would be at the end of his bow, and he’d kill his brothers if they tried to get in the way.

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