Dex took us back to our room in silence. I was grateful that the big room on the way to the elevator was empty this late early in the morning. The last thing Kimberly needed at this point was a blue, eight handed Martian-thing trying to give her a hug.
As the elevator carried us to our floor, I noticed that Dex kept shooting me looks, as if he wanted to talk to me but couldn't bring himself to do it. I was just fine with that. Dex had lied to me, tricked Kimberly, and he didn't seem the least bit guilty about any of it. He unlocked the door to my room, but put his hand on my arm when I tried to go through it.
“We need to talk," he said.
I gave him a long, hard look, or at least as hard as I could manage in my submissive state, and then nodded.
“Kimberly, go inside and wait for me," I told the girl. She still looked miserable, but didn't argue. Dex closed the door behind her, but didn't lock it.
“Well," he said, putting his hands in his jacket pockets, “I guess you probably have a few questions for me. Go ahead and ask them."
The moment he gave me permission to speak, all my inhibitions were gone. “What is wrong with you?" I demanded, my temper already rising. I wasn't brave enough to speak in a disrespectful tone, but I hoped he could still understand how angry I was.
Dex shook his head. “More than I'm willing to tell you about right now. But I want you to know that I did all of this because I thought it was best for you."
“You knew Majestic would want to keep Kimberly instead of me," I said. “But you brought her here anyway."
I brought her here because I knew they would want to keep her," he clarified. “I knew that if they had her, they would let you go. That's what you wanted, right?"
My face turned red with anger, and I fought back the urge to yank that shaggy blonde hair of his right out of his head. It wasn't hard- I probably wouldn't have tried anything anyway.
“You were going to let a five year old girl live her entire life in a cage being tortured by Victor just so I could go home?" I asked.
“It's what you wanted, isn't it?" Dex asked. “To go home?"
“Not like that!" I shot back, absolutely disgusted. How could he talk about these things so casually?
“Well, it doesn't matter now anyway," he said with a shrug. “We found the original Silverblood, so you're both free to go."
“But you didn't know we were going to find it," I argued. “If we hadn't, Kimberly would still be in a cage!"
“I don't see what you're so upset about," Dex said, leaning up against the wall. “Either way, you're going free. It's what's best for you."
“But what about Kimberly?" I asked. “Is it what's best for her?"
“What's best for one person isn't always best for somebody else. No matter what you do, somebody is going to hate you for it."
He paused, and then turned to look me in the eyes. I immediately dropped my gaze.
“Could you honestly tell me that you'd rather stay here for the rest of your life instead of Kimberly?"
I didn't hesitate to answer, “Yes."
Dex sighed, and shook his head. “I guess this job is getting to me more than I thought."
“Don't blame this on your job," I spat at him. “You're just a…" My voice trailed off, unable to call him the name that I had been thinking.
“It really is my job," he argued. "Ed, and Victor, and I all work here for the same reason. We have something wrong with us, and they've promised to make it go away if we do whatever they tell us."
“What's wrong with you?" I asked, curiosity momentarily overriding my anger.
“I already said I'm not telling you that," Dex said, holding up a finger to forestall me. “But what we do… well, it makes it hard for us to care about other people. Everything we do is for ourselves, to get us one step closer to fixing ourselves."
“You and Victor, maybe," I challenged him. “Edgar seems nice, though."
Dex snorted. “Only when he's around a pretty face like yours." I blushed and looked away. “Around everybody else, he's just your stereotypical antisocial nerd."
He cleared his throat, bringing himself back on topic. “The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think you understand how hard it was for me to do all this for you. I've always looked out for myself, so trying to do all this for you was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. You heard Vaazkima back there: he was getting close to finding my cure, but he's put it off for who knows how much longer because of what I just did."
“You're not going to make me feel sorry for you," I said, though I found my resolve to be angry at him fading away.
“I'm not trying to," he said. “I'm just trying to make you understand. I don't want bad things to happen to anybody, but in the end it can't always be helped. I'm sorry you're mad, but I think I did the right thing."
We stood in silence for ten seconds, just looking at each other.
“Do you have anything else you want to know?" he asked at last.
I tried to look into his eyes again, but found that I couldn't. I crossed my arms above my stomach and hunched over, trying to make myself as small as possible.
“What happened to me?" I asked in a hoarse whisper.
“You've been made submissive," he answered immediately.
“What does that mean?"
“It happens when a werewolf is beaten by another werewolf," he answered. “When they realize they aren't the strongest wolf in the pack, they become submissive. The wolf that beat them usually claims the position of its alpha. When a wolf accepts another wolf as its alpha, they become completely subservient to it. If that wolf says to jump, they ask how high. It stays like that until the alpha shows some sign of weakness that even the weak wolf can't ignore. That's usually when the next strongest wolf beats him, takes his place, and starts the whole cycle over again."
He stopped to think for a moment. “Most werewolves are made submissive not very long after they're first changed. You probably kept your dominant nature because you were only living with your mom. The wolf in you knew that, if it came to it, you could overpower her whenever you felt like it, which made you the alpha in that house, whether you realized it or not."
“Completely subservient?" I echoed, my mind still on what he had said before.
Dex nodded. “Right now, you're probably ready to take orders from anyone willing to give them, right? That's because an alpha hasn't claimed you yet. When he does, all your attention will be focused on him. You'll do whatever he says until a new alpha takes over, and then you'll do whatever they say."
Images flashed in my mind of all the things an alpha could make to me do if I was completely subservient to him, and my I suddenly felt queasy.
“I don't want to join a pack," I said.
“You have to," he replied. “Your mother is gone, and do you really think you can take care of yourself in this condition- much less a scared and confused five year old?"
I remembered Kimberly, probably listening to our conversation on the other side of the door. I had promised Mr. Wrogan I would do whatever I had to take care of her. If that meant joining a pack and becoming submissive to another werewolf, I would do it.
“All right," I agreed weakly.
“Don't worry," he reassured me, putting his hand on my shoulder. “We're going to find you a good pack. Mr. Wrogan wouldn't be happy if he found out we stuck you with one of the bad ones."
“But you're not the one looking," I reminded him. Victor was.
Dex grimaced, and patted me on the shoulder a couple more times. “Just try to relax, okay?" he said. “Everything will work out just fine. Now, you'd better get in there. You promised Kimberly you would explain things to her when you got to your room."
My heart sank even further into my stomach. As if I didn't have enough to worry about between dominant alphas and raising a child, now I had to somehow convince that child that she was a werewolf? Maybe it wouldn't be that hard, I thought. She'd seen me transform just a few hours ago.
“All right," I said, turning to the door and bracing myself to go inside. I turned the doorknob, my brain already working triple time to figure out what I was going to say.
“Good luck," was all he said to me, and I heard his footsteps heading back in the direction of the elevator.
As I opened the door and stepped into the room, I realized that I had completely forgotten that I wanted to be angry with him.
NEXT TIME: Talk with Dex? Better than expected. Talk with Kimberly? Well... we'll see.