“Well done, everybody," Wrogan said, brushing his hands off. “Let's get it back to headquarters."
Victor stepped forward immediately and took the handle of the large net that held Stark. The metal fibers were still swirling in a spiral of red, yellow, and green, but Stark hadn't moved an inch inside it. With a grunt, Victor pushed it, scooting it across the parking lot like some kind of psychedelic lawn mower, to the back door of the bank. He pulled out a key ring like I'd seen Dex wear, and unlocked the door with it. Just like I'd expected, it swung open to reveal the Corridor or Doors.
“You did well, Amber," Mr. Wrogan said, bringing my attention back to him. “Good work."
All I did was sit around and not get in the way, I thought, but I wasn't about to tell him that. He still owed me a favor, and I didn't want him to think I was anything less than completely deserving of it.
I turned and went back into the pocket dimension where I'd left my clothes, and was happy to see them in the same pile I'd put them in. I wouldn't have put it past Ed to try and steal my underwear or something, but I guess Wrogan had been enough to keep him in line.
Still, I thought as I shifted back and got dressed, he did do pretty good in the fight just now.
I hadn't been expecting that. Victor was the best fighter, but that didn't really surprise me. What surprised me was that Edgar, a kid who couldn't be older than fourteen, was a better fighter than Dex. Sure, Dex had held his own, but Ed hadn't been lost his weapon or been injured.
Dex's injury, though. He'd been bitten by a werewolf. Everything I knew about werewolves told me that would turn him into one. But he was acting so calm about it that I couldn't make myself believe that he'd actually been changed. That left only two options. Option one was that he was already a werewolf, which I highly doubted. I was beginning to be able to recognize werewolves instinctively, and Dex didn't trigger whatever sense told me that. The other option was that he hadn't been turned at all. That was impossible, though. I'll admit that I didn't know everything about werewolves, but it didn't make sense that he could be bitten and not become one. Was lycanthropy like a disease or something, and some people were just immune to it?
No, I couldn't believe that. There was another reason, and I had an idea what it could be. I finished pulling my shirt down over my head and marched back out into the parking lot where Wrogan, Dex, and Ed were still waiting for me.
“So," I started to say, but Wrogan cut me off.
“I know, you want to start making plans to catch Hendricks. We can't right now, though."
“I— what?" I demanded, rounding on him. “You promised you'd help me get my mom back!"
“And I will," he insisted calmly. “But there's nothing we can talk about right now. Hendricks hasn't remained on the loose this long because he's an idiot. If we're going to catch him, we will need to make plans. This will take time, but I promise that we won't forget about you."
He grimaced. “I understand that your previous interactions with us have been less than ideal, but I am not like Mr. Vaazkima and Miss Shavver. When I make a promise, I keep it."
I pursed my lips angrily, but didn't say anything. He did make sense, I admitted grudgingly. Catching a demonic crime boss didn't sound like something you just threw onto your to-do list between getting a haircut and picking up milk. I nodded to him, and he clapped me on the shoulder before heading to the door Victor had left open. When he was gone, I turned to face Dex. He was the one I really wanted to talk to right now, after all.
“Hey," I said, and he turned to look.
“Oh, so you decided to talk to me after all?" he asked coyly, grinning.
“She couldn't talk in her wolf—" Ed tried to butt in, but I spoke over him.
“Those vials you keep in your pocket. What do they do?"
Dex's eyes went wide with surprise, and his hand instinctively went to cover the inner pocket of his jacket. I expected Ed to make another clever remark, but instead he got a wary look on his face and backed away.
“I'm just gonna go," he said, jerking his thumb towards the door. “Victor might need my help."
Before either of us could respond, he turned and ran through the door. It was weird, especially for him, but I didn't particularly care. Now there was no one to interrupt us.
“We're all alone," Dex said, and the look he gave me seemed a little nervous.
“How very observant of you," I said, putting my fists on my hips. “What do those vials do?"
“People are going to get the wrong idea, Sugarsnout," he said, and I stepped in front of him to keep him from edging toward the door.
“What," I demanded again, trying to give him my most dangerous look, “is in those vials?"
Dex sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He didn't look particularly threatened, but I could tell he didn't want to be here either. “Look, Amber, a guy's got to have his secrets."
“I know what it is," I said, refusing to break eye contact.
He snorted, and gave me an amused smirk. “Sure you do. Why ask, then?"
“Okay," I admitted, “I don't know exactly what it is, but I know what it does. It curses lycanthropy."
This time, the look he gave me was so full of surprise, it would have been worth it even if I was wrong.
“That," he said after a few seconds of silence, “is ridiculous."
“No, it isn't," I shot back. “I saw what the Silverblood did to you. It bit you, and then you drank one of those potions."
Dex shook his head. “Completely unrelated."
“Then why aren't you freaking out?" I demanded. “If I had just been turned into a werewolf, I'd be freaking out."
“You've already been—"
“Shut your smart mouth and answer my question!" I yelled, my patience reaching its snapping point. He was trying to dodge the issue, but I wasn't letting him go anywhere until I got some answers— even if I had to steal his wand and run away with it.
He spread his hands. “I don't know. Maybe I'm just lucky, okay?"
“Prove it," I pointed at his jacket. “What do those potions do?"
“Let me have one."
I growled at him, a real wolf's growl, and then lunged for his jacket. My hand shot out, trying to get inside that hidden pocket, but Dex reacted just as quickly. He grabbed my wrist, halting it with surprising strength. I struggled against him for a few seconds, but then gave up, my spirits already falling.
“Just one," I begged him, looking at him pleadingly. “It would solve everything. Just one!"
He shook his head. He didn't look angry, he looked sympathetic.
“You don't want these potions," he insisted, letting go of my wrist and taking a step back. In our struggle, I hadn't noticed that we'd gotten turned around. I wasn't between him and the door anymore. He took another step back.
“Please," I begged him again, tears running down my cheeks, “just give me one."
“Don't go down that path, Amber," he said. “It'll destroy you. Just live your life, make yourself happy, and forget about going back. It isn't going to happen."
With that, he stepped back again, and shut the door to the bank behind him. I didn't bother chasing after him. I knew that if I opened the door now, the Corridor of Doors, and my cure, wouldn't be there anymore.
NEXT TIME: Well, that sucks… OR DOES IT? Could this cure be enough to make up for betraying Stark? If it is, how might she go about getting one? That's a problem for another day, though, because without Stark Amber is on her own to get Kimberly through her first change.