Hey, guys, I'm on vacation until February 7, but I wanted to make sure I got this post in, since it's for such a good cause. If you haven't heard of Nick Wilford's Overcoming Adversity bloghop, you should go check it out!
I decided flash fiction was the way to go for this one, since I'm considerably better at writing about others than myself. So this is a super short story from my Capitoline Hill world.
"Are you sure you're ready for this?"
No, I thought emphatically, but I only nodded to my brother. Not that he couldn't tell. He was my twin and my partner; he could basically read my mind.
"Don't worry so loud," he said with a laugh. "We'll be fine."
He stretched his arms out, then cracked his back. "I'm not worried," I muttered.
I didn't dignify that with an answer. Ben glanced over at me when the expected retort didn't come, and he raised his eyebrow. "Damn, you really are worried."
"Look, it's totally normal, man. It's your first mission. It happens to all of us."
I sighed and tried not to get frustrated with him. "Ben, you've been a Guardian for all of two months. You've barely had more than one mission."
He glared at me, but there wasn't any heat behind it. "I hear things."
We were both quiet for awhile, though I could feel his eyes on me. "Cut it out."
"Then stop being a pansy. You knew what the job was when you signed up for it."
Ah, there was the rub. Of course I'd known what the job was. Every Pack werewolf knew what the job of a Guardian was. Every Pack werewolf grew up hearing about the mighty Guardians and how important their job was and how special they were for doing it and how grateful we should all be that they protected us.
With that kind of build-up, who wouldn't want to be a Guardian?
But now, faced with the task of tracking down a rogue werewolf who might be going insane, I was starting to have my doubts. Sure, I'd passed my tests. Sure, I knew I was tough. I could fight. But hunting someone? Maybe killing them? Could I... could I kill someone, even to protect the Pack?
"Think about it this way," Ben suggested softly. "If he's sick, you're doing him a favor. I wouldn't want to live with Moon Sickness, would you?"
"I'd want someone to put me out of my misery before I hurt anyone, especially someone I cared about. And Jon Harton was Pack for a long time. He knows us. He'd never want to hurt us or risk exposing us. You know that."
He was right. He really was, and the part of my mind that was willing to be logical understood that. Just like it understood that, even if this wasn't what a rogue wolf would have wanted, we couldn't take the risk that he would do something we couldn't undo. But there was another part of my mind that was screaming like a 12-year-old girl who'd seen a spider, complete with jumping on the table and stomping my feet.
"If you can't do it, you need to tell Geoffrey now, so he can replace you," Ben continued, his voice suddenly hard. "You can't go out there if you're not sure. I have to be able to count on you to have my back."
"I know," I said. I took a breath and sorted out my thoughts. "I can handle it."
Ben studied my face, checking for weaknesses. Whatever expression I was showing must have passed muster because he nodded, a grin breaking out. "Then let's go do this, bro."
He held out his open palm and I slapped it. "Let's go," I agreed, and I swallowed my doubts and followed him off to do my job.