Some context and backstory

This scene originally took place in the middle of Havoc’s Moon, as a break between a minor action scene leading up to the big boss fight.

My goal was to build more drama and increase the tension between the characters but the more I revised it and the surrounding scenes, I felt it more dragged the plot down than helped anything. I hated making the decision to cut this scene because this fictional band has been with me forever and I really wanted to plug them in somewhere. This scene might turn into a stand alone Slaughter Chronicles short story later or I might move it over to my Heart of the Forest Cycle universe. It’s about Regina meeting one of her idols, a fictional lead singer of a fictional band I wrote into my very first NaNoWriMo manuscript all the way back in 2005.

As always, this is a deleted scene so it did not make it to the final editing stages. There will be grammar mistakes and the writing is not as polished. Please keep that in mind as you read and don’t judge me too harshly 😉

There are some “spoilers” but nothing that gives away key plot points.


(Context from a previous chapter)

On the wall by the door was one lone Burning Bitch poster.

Burning Bitch was a local punk rock group and, while the band toured all over the East Coast, the lead singer, Lorelie The Siren Sierra, was coming here, to Silver Wolf Stills, for her Halloween solo-tour show. Lorelie’s solo stuff was more acoustic, more folk-rock, than Burning Bitch’s usual repertoire. But her punk roots pumped new life into sea shanties and pirate ballads that Regina could not help but love.

It had taken Regina a solid year of begging Atlas to ask Tony, the Beta and distillery manager, to reach out to Burning Bitch and book a show. She would have asked Tony herself, but she knew he would automatically refuse any request that came from her because that’s how he was.

A dick. About everything.

Atlas said Regina was too judgmental, that Tony might surprise her and say yes. But Regina knew better. The feud between Regina and Tony was older than the malice she felt for all of Atlas’s girlfriends.

Before Regina went back to Dark Home this last time, Atlas finally had enough of her whining and gave up on trying to teach her about diplomacy and positive communication. He asked on her behalf. Sadly, Burning Bitch was booked solid until next summer, but The Siren herself agreed to play the Halloween Special of her solo tour here, at Silver Wolf Stills.

(Fast forward to the night of the show)

The singer on stage wore a red dress and a half-mask of black feathers, just like the girl she sang about. She was in the middle of Regina’s second favorite song. It was about a ghost ship and the ghost captain’s ghost daughter venturing onto land once a year to meet up with her still living lover at a masquerade ball. Regina was almost sure ghosts weren’t real—she had seen none yet—but the melody was soothing, as only an acoustic banjo could make it, and Lorelie Sierra’s voice was melodic and mournful.

The stage wasn’t really a stage, just a stack of wooden pallets bolted together for stability, but Lorelie The Siren Sierra of Burning Bitch rocked the precarious structure as if it were the grand stage of Carnegie Hall. A tight cluster of humans and werewolves—all in costume—crowded the back half of the bar. A few outliers, mostly pack members, sat at the bar content to just drink and listen.

Regina hovered by the front door, hesitant to go in. She was muddy, bloody, and pretty sure she’d make everyone high from the gasoline fumes wafting off of her person. Her (right) eye swelled shut, but pink fluid still leaked out of the corners. That whole side of her face was a bruised dark red and there were red pin-pricks where each of the Vermin’s twelve little legs dug into her cheek.

She had never been more thankful that tonight was Halloween. Her bloody clothes and well-chewed face could easily blend in with the Instagram-ready ghouls and devils and kitty cat faces of the bar’s patrons.

I am a Deadite, Regina thought. I am a zombie. I am—

“What the Hell are you doing here?” A sharp voice tore Regina out of the song like a fish snagged by a hook.

Fuck.

Tony’s nose wrinkled, “You smell horrible. What did you get into? Is that gasoline? Regina, I swear if you ruined another vehicle I’ll put you on administrative leave for a whole year.” There was more hazel than blue in his eyes.

“Calm down,” Regina snarled, more angrily than she intended. “There was a Vermin infestation. I had to set it on fire.”

“Did any get away?” Tony asked, suddenly all business.

“No, I made sure.” Regina held up her arm for emphasis. Tony frowned at the red bite marks and inflamed flesh.

“You can’t come in here like that,” he said.

“Oh, thank you, Regina. I appreciate you taking care of a threat to all my human patrons, Regina,” she mimicked. “Why, no problem at all, Tony old pal.”

“What happened to the wards in that area?” Tony asked.

“I don’t know,” Regina said snarkily. “What happened to the vampires promising everything was clean?”

“Don’t mention our neighbors.” Tony glanced behind him, clearly more worried about any humans who might have overheard than her actual injuries.

“It’s Halloween, they’ll think were talking about ordinary people,” Regina said. “Now excuse me, I’ve been looking forward to this show for three months.”

“Oh no,” Tony barred the way. “You’re not going in there like that. You’re a mess.” 

“Come on! No one else can tell,” Regina said. “There’re no rules against me watching the show.”

“There are when you’re covered in mud and blood.” Tony said.

“It’s Halloween,” Regina repeated, exasperated that he was still talking while Lorelie was finishing up possibly her last song. “Let people think it’s a costume.”

When Regina watched previous concerts in other states on the Burning Bitch live feed, Lorelie always ended her solo sets with the ghost song. But the audience could sometimes persuade her to do an encore. And Regina would not miss it just because Tony didn’t like how she looked.

“You know the rules,” Tony said. “No one allowed up here unless they look presentable.”

“I didn’t have time to change,” Regina begged, more tired than angry. “Come on, you know how much I love her.”

“No.” Tony insisted.

“I’ll stay out here then, just shut up and let me listen to her. The show’s almost over, anyway.” Regina took two steps backward and leaned against the outside of the doorframe. From this angle she could only see half of Lorelie’s head and her hand on the banjo’s fret board. It would do.

The crowd at the stage cheered. Regina lost sight of Lorelie as she took a bow.

“Alright guys! You’ve been great! Since it’s Halloween, I’ll play one more song.” Lorelie tuned her banjo to the sound of applause.

“Yes!” Regina gave a triumphant hop and stumbled sideways when her ankle rolled. “Fuck,” Regina muttered. She cast a quick glance at Tony, but he appeared to not have noticed. Still too busy scanning the crowd for traumatized humans.

“Please be the death song, please be the death song,” Regina chanted under her breath as she bounced unsteadily on the balls of her feet with nervous excitement despite the pain. If she could just keep moving, her system would work itself back to normal and she’d finally start healing properly.

Tony was silent for a moment, his lips pressed in a frustrated line. “People are going to see you there when they leave. Come here.”

“Where?” Regina took a panicked step back. If he pulled her into the light, he’d see her face, see the rest of the damage. Little granules of bloody mud scraped against the raw skin of her arms as she crossed them protectively over her tattered chest. “I’m not missing the encore!”

Tony let out a frustrated growl, “Just come here. You can wait over by my office. You’ll get a better view too.”

“Wow,” Regina didn’t bother hiding her shock. “That’s really nice of you.”

“I’m not doing it for you. Now come on, before she starts,” Tony moved away from the door. Regina pressed a hand over her swollen eye and followed.

Lorelie launched into the story of the song she was about to sing, giving the crowd teasing tidbits without telling them the song’s name. Regina loved that about Lorelie. Not only was she a wicked musician and a brilliant lyricist, she was a master storyteller. Even though Regina re-watched every recorded show on YouTube at least a hundred times and could recite every single one of Lorelie’s stories by heart, Regina never tired of them.

She ran her tongue over her teeth and fought the urge to spit bloody saliva on the floor. Excitement bubbled in her chest and took some sting of her punishment away. Yes, she missed the concert, but at least she got one song. One and a half songs, really. She could be happy with that.

Tony moved through the press of human patrons and members of the werewolf pack effortlessly. Regina had to work not to bump into people. The humans were oblivious to who she was, but the werewolves she passed gave her more room. Regina was an unfamiliar sight this far out of the woods, and their expressions ran the gamut from curious to cautious. To them, usually her presence meant trouble. 

But that night, Regina had taken care of all the trouble. She even repaired the ward Thane crushed at the beginning of her punishment. And she was just in time to hear her favorite Burning Bitch song.

“The Death Song!” Lorelei growled huskily into the microphone.

“Yes!” Regina pumped her fist in the air. The motion almost sent her stumbling into the path of two unsuspecting humans on their way back to the stage from the bar, full drinks in hand. Tony grabbed Regina’s arm and pulled her the rest of the way to his office. He let her go when they reached the door, his hand almost throwing her arm away instead of just letting go. Regina staggered and had to hop a step to catch her balance.

“Are you drunk or something? What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing.”

Lorelie started playing and Regina forgot all about Tony. She let her attention float away with the music. Her blurry vision darted from the light fixtures above Lorelie’s head to the silver statue of the wolf on the bar. As the song continued, Lorelie’s voice brought Regina out of her daze and she started scanning the crowd. Regina could identify the humans but didn’t know if they were bar locals or just here for the concert. The bar wasn’t her territory.

Then her slow healing gaze fell on Atlas. He tucked his bulky frame away at the corner of the bar. Regina raised her hand to wave at him but then saw Marianna glued to his side and she lowered her hand quickly, brushing her fingers through her dirty, tangled hair to hide the gesture. Tony noticed.

“You don’t like her?” Tony asked as if he read her thoughts.

Regina snorted. “Nope.”

“Tough shit. She’s not going anywhere.” 

Regina couldn’t tell if Tony was being sarcastic or harsh. “Says you,” she spat under her breath. “They never last longer than six months.”

“She’s different.” 

Was it Regina’s imagination, or was Tony’s voice a little kinder? A little sympathetic? Nah. “You’re so helpful. You gonna watch my back on missions now, too?”

“Just stay here and don’t come out until everyone leaves,” Tony stalked toward the bar. “I don’t know why I bother with you.”

“Neither do I, fuck face.” Yes, I am the pinnacle of Void hunter maturity.

The Death Song ended and Regina clapped and whooped with the crowd, leaning on Tony’s doorframe for support. The werewolf staff herded the humans out and Tony took the drawer out of the register. Regina slid along the wall, away from his office door so she wouldn’t have to talk to him again.

She was so focused on keeping her eyes on Tony, she didn’t notice the stage and cracked her left knee into one of the pallet’s corners.

“Ouch,” an amused contralto voice chuckled, and Regina came face to face with The Siren herself. “You okay?” Lorelie asked.

“Y-yeah,” Regina’s hand flew over her eye again, hiding the wound. “I’m good.” Her leg from her knee to her hip was numb and tingly. The knee itself screamed as if caught in the claws of the Volcano Scorpion again.

“Great costume,” Lorelie said, oblivious to Regina’s pain. “I love zombies.”

“Yeah, me too,” Regina cautiously dropped her hand from her face. “That’s why I dressed like one. Hissssssss,” she raised her arms, pantomiming the movements of a hungry, dead thing. Lorelie laughed as she bent down to lay her banjo in its case. 

Regina cast a nervous glance over her shoulder to see if anyone else saw her being silly. And, of course, there was Tony with his jaw clenched like he was trying to bite through steel, gripping the edges of the register drawer like he wanted to throw it at her.

“Do you need help with anything?” Regina asked, ignoring him. “I’m the owner’s sister.” It was one of her cover story lies that actually had some truth to it. Or would have if Tony wasn’t such a dick.

“Oh, that would be great,” Lorelie smiled, showing off her dimples. “It’s just me tonight, as you can see, and these amps are kind of a bitch to wrangle.”

“Bitch! Because of your band,” Regina giggled. “I gotcha. No problem!” She followed where Lorelie pointed and started picking up equipment. “Your set was really awesome, I’m sure. I only got here at the end, though. I had to work.”

“Aww,” Lorelie pouted. “Sorry you missed most of it. But thanks for coming at the end when you could have just gone home.”

“I will literally drive up a river and through a blizzard to get to the last five seconds of one of your shows,” Regina hoisted an amp.

“Okay, crazy zombie.” Lorelie laughed again.

“Sorry, that came out wrong,” Regina blushed and was thankful neither Lorelie or anyone else could see it under the congealing blood and dim lights. “I just really like your music. And Burning Bitch too. You’re my second favorite band.”

“Who’s your favorite?” Lorelie asked as they walked out the back entrance and crossed the employee parking lot.

“Bowie!” Regina beamed. “He’s my—uh—dog’s favorite, too. We can listen to Bowie for hours every day.” (Author note: the “dog” is Squee)

“That is so sweet,” Lorelie smiled back at her. “Can I see a picture?”

“Of what?”

“Your dog?”

“Oh! Right,” Regina palmed her back pocket. “Oh man, my phone’s in my car. Sorry.” In reality, it must have lost it when she was digging up Danny or setting the Vermin on fire. That last involved a lot of running around and whacking things with a flaming tree branch.

“Next time,” Lorelie shrugged. “Well, this is my rig. Thanks for your help.”

Lorelie’s van was a beat up blue monstrosity covered in stickers that ranged from political slogans to music brands and coffee companies. There was a glittery pink mermaid stuck to the driver’s side window and a silver trident above it. Regina gathered herself to spew fond farewells all over her musical idol.

“Regina,” Tony’s voice rose sharply behind her. Regina turned and wobbled again as her abused ankle twisted yet again.

“Hey, Tony!” With supreme effort, Regina plastered the fakest smile known to man across her face and willed her open eye to stop watering. No matter how she felt about him, she still followed pack rules. And pack rules said never fight with each other in front of the humans. “What’s up?”

“This gracious lady needs her cut for the night. And there’s one more speaker by the bar. Go get it, please,” Tony said.

“Sure thing.” Regina tried her best not to limp. Damn fucking ankle, she whined to herself. Damn fucking paralysis.

Inside, the bar was pretty much dead. Atlas and Marianna moved to the middle of the bar now that there were no more human patrons to worry about. They filled their glasses with one of Tony’s seasonal, flavored moonshines left over from Summer, Peach Lemonade. 

The solid silver wolf dominated the bar. If any of the humans ever asked, Tony would joke that it was hollow, and not even silver-plated, but none of the werewolves would ever touch it. Silver burned worse than fire. Almost worse than Volcano Scorpion blood.

Regina hauled the remaining speaker toward Lorelie’s van and passed Tony coming in as she was going out. She smiled at him, just in case Lorelie was watching, but didn’t speak. And the smile dropped as soon as he was behind her. All the way down the hallway and in the silent bar, Regina heard him sit down heavily next to Atlas, and the low hum of their conversation faded into the background as Regina stepped out the back entrance again.

“Thanks a lot,” Lorelie said as Regina loaded her speaker into the back of her van. “This is for you,” she tossed a small white bundle at Regina. “For helping me pack up.”

Regina caught the bundle and shook it out. It was a Burning Bitch t-shirt with Lorelie and the rest of the band posing in a punk version of the Artemisia Gentileschi painting Judith Slaying Holofernes. Lorelie was Judith, of course, wearing a red tartan corset, a spiked collar, and safety pins in her ears.

“Thanks!” Regina waved as her second favorite singer hopped into the driver’s seat and backed out of the Bar’s parking lot. “Next time bring the whole band. We’d love to have you back!” Regina kept on waving as she drove down the highway, into the crisp Halloween night.

Satisfied Lorelie was truly out of sight, Regina locked the back door with the chain and padlock the bar staff hid under a plastic bucket behind the air conditioner.

*

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I struggle with endings. The beginnings of things are easier to write than endings. One of the things I struggled with for this novella specifically was the note I wanted to end it on. Originally, this was to be published as a solo novella, not included in a bigger collection. So a lot changed during the editing process.

Once upon a time, Tony didn’t hate Regina. Up until literally the week before I scheduled the pre-order for Pulling Teeth, he was not bitter about Atlas bringing Regina home, he was not terrified of what would happen if Thane got his claws into her. And he decided—I thought—that he would want to be supportive and help her adjust to her new life.

I wasn’t mad at this ending, but when I put the final product together I found it was a little slow and had repetitive conversations between the characters. Two of the things I’m working on with my new editor are pacing and repetition.

Moonshine is the sequel to Dead Girl Moon. If you haven’t read either of these, here’s some context:

The setting is a werewolf pack’s compound that doubles as a bar and distillery…and other things too but for info on that, check out my post about HADES.

Tony hates his father. He has emotional trauma he hasn’t worked though. Regina has similar emotional trauma and Tony finds it hard to justify her coping mechanism because they involve the person (his father) who caused his trauma.

I hope that wasn’t too much of a spoiler.

Note: Since this is a deleted scene it has not gone through the entire editing process. There are typos, there are POV shifts, there are clunky sentences. Don’t judge me.


The distillery’s sub-level served as the pack’s medical bay and a series of small, empty concrete rooms Thane called Containment. They were for the newly contaminated, wolves who didn’t know how to be wolves. For wolves who were afraid of what would happen when they turned.

Thane tried to leave her there but when he turned away she latched onto his hand. He tried pulling back, he tried twisting away but she would not let go. He opened his mouth to reprimand her but when he saw her eyes blurry with tears, her lips stretched in that feral, panicked grimace, something inside him squeezed and then softened.

She made Thane promise not to lock her in.

Leaving the door open was easy enough. He knew she already imprinted on Atlas and possibly Vlad as well, Thane trusted her not to run off again. He even gave her one of the field issue sleeping bags so she wouldn’t get cold. And Tony said he didn’t know how to parent.

For a while, Regina sat quietly on the concrete floor, wrapped in slick polyester and survival fluff, unable to sleep. She hoped someone would come visit her. Atlas wanted to move her into his house right away but Thane insisted she stay isolated for at least 12 hours, just in case exposure to the Void made her sick again. Thane was confident, since she spent almost four days on the road, any adverse affects from Doctor Gregor’s treatments would have presented themselves by now.

But Regina was surprised to see Tony rapping his bruised knuckles against the open steel door.

“Well don’t throw a parade or anything.” The bruises on his face had mostly faded but there was still a deep, scabby gash across the bridge of his nose from where Atlas hit him. “Are you cold? Do you want a blanket? More food? It’s getting late, are you tired at all?” Tony asked.

“So you do bleed. Real blood,” she turned away from him and burrowed into the folds of the sleeping bag. If he tried to touch her or pick her up she would bite him.

But to her surprise he laughed, “Yeah, I bleed.” The smile he gave her was all teeth and disappointment as he regarded the tiny lump half hiding under the sleeping bag. Her hair straggled out from the opening like a distress flag. “You’ve got Atlas wrapped around your little finger. Thane too, God only knows how.”

“What’s that mean?” slowly, slowly, she turned and peeked out at him. Her golden eyes red-rimmed and suspicious.

“You’ll see, trust me. Since you’re living here now you’re going to have to listen to us and do exactly what we say, when we say it. It’s dangerous out there in the world. And there’s still standing orders to kill us and everyone else here who came from HADES. If they find us we’re all dead and I’ll bet my life if your mother’s people knew you were alive they wouldn’t stop looking until they found you. We need to make sure they don’t. Got it?”

“I don’t know why they’d want me,” Regina allowed herself the smallest nugget of sadness, any more and she’d start crying again and she wouldn’t be able to stop. “But I don’t want them.”

“Well, Atlas wants you. Fucker thinks he can teach you math! You’re going to be homeschooled and everything. That’ll be fun to watch.”

Regina’s nose wrinkled in disgust, “Mother didn’t make me do math.”

“Well you’re not with your mother anymore,” Tony said, then he caught himself, “Damn, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.” He raked a hand through his hair.

“Mother let Michael do everything he wanted,” Regina whispered, not entirely ready to trust him. But there was something in his voice that wasn’t there before, there underneath the pain and resignation. She didn’t know what it was but she wanted to find out, so she kept talking. “He got to learn how to fight because he was strong. Mother said I had to stay inside my tiny room and listen to God because I was weak. But I could never hear him. Or he never talked to me. I don’t know. I wanted to be like my brother but she wouldn’t let me.”

“Your brother was away when your parents died?” Tony’s mask was back in place with a fresh coat of lacquer smoothing over the cracks. “Do you think he’s looking for you?”

By the time Regina was born, Michael was already well into his training. He always picked on her whenever Mother wasn’t looking, teasing her for fumbling her sacraments and tangling her rosary. He always tattled on her. He was probably happy she was gone. The thought didn’t make her sad, really, but she felt a heaviness in her heart like the echo of seeing Dead Daddy dead on the bathroom floor.

After she left the house turned mausoleum, she stayed by the river for a little while. She was smaller then and could disguise herself as a dog. In those days she didn’t pay attention to the time or the weather and wasn’t in her girl-shape much. She was sure Mother would come back from the dead like Lazarus and try to kill her again. But she never did. And no one came looking for her. She drifted farther and farther away from her town. She stopped only when she found a place with unfamiliar smells and no idea where she was or how to get back.

“No,” Regina said. “He doesn’t like me. If he wanted to find me he would have. He was always mad because I got to spend more time with Dead Daddy. He said he couldn’t wait until Mother sent me away and he could have both of them all to himself.”

As soon as the words left her mouth bile churned in her stomach and she felt sick, “He’ll think it’s my fault they’re dead. Everything was always my fault, even when it was his. He always blamed me for everything.” The tears threatened to fall again, stinging her eyes. She fought them, sniffing hard and blinking up at the ceiling.

Tony gave her a sad look, “Kid, I don’t know why families are fucked up. But I do know Sanctum and trust me, it’s best for everyone if they never find out you’re still alive.”

“How do you know? Were you a Sworn Sword too?” she peered cautiously out at him from beneath the tangled fall of her hair.

“No,” he shifted, wincing as he moved, and pulled something out of his back pocket. Another scrap of cloth. It was part of a jacket sleeve and smelled faintly of gun oil. Sewn onto it was a white patch shaped like a cartoon bone and three black dog heads with pointy ears and noses. “As soon as I was old enough to,” he paused, considering his words carefully, “see the truth of the world, Thane put me to work.”

Regina scooted forward, across the empty space in the tiny room. She took the patch from him, ran her fingers over the thick, black embroidery.

“BiscuitsofCerberus,” he continued. “Internal affairs. I hunted down all the hunters who refused to turn themselves in after they’d been contaminated.”

“Did you like doing that?” she asked.

He laughed, “No. But I did it anyway.”

“I’m glad they think I’m dead,” she said bitterly.

“Honestly, we don’t know that for sure. But Atlas and Thane think you are,” Tony said.

Regina reached out and touched the top of his hand. He sat there, staring at her small fingers tracing the shapes of the bruises. He could barely feel her fingers, he was numb and the cold of the basement had nothing to do with it. He was quiet for a long time before he spoke again.

“I want you to put everything Thane told you out of your head for a minute. Pretend you never met him. You can remember it all later if you want. But for right now, just 60 seconds, put it away. Can you pretend for me?”

“I guess so,” she pulled her hand away and when her eyes met his again, his eyes were more emerald than blue and she recognized the edge in his voice. It was fear.

“Alright, thank you,” he sighed and steeled himself. “Just because we’re werewolves here and we’re hiding from the GluttonsofChronos and Sanctum doesn’t mean we’re not still working for HADES.”

“You told me to forget everything,” Regina frowned suspiciously.

“I did. I’m telling you. My words, not his. We’re monsters who hunt down and kill other monsters to protect the people in our territory. My father hunts down other monsters for HADES. Is that the kind of life you want? If you really want to, you can leave with Vlad tomorrow. You’ll have a shot at a normal—well, not exactly normal but more normal than here. If you stay you’ll be helping the people who locked you up. And I can’t promise my father won’t be nicer than Prometheus—your Doctor Gregor.”

“Can I remember what Thane said now?” Regina asked.

Tony let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding, “Yeah, go ahead.”

“I want to stay here,” she said.

“Can you tell me why?” Tony tilted his head towards the bare ceiling and squeezed his eyes shut against the harsh lights.

“Why don’t you want me here? What did I do to you?” she asked. And there was pain in her voice.

“Look, I don’t want to hurt you,” he said sadly. “I want to throw rocks at you until you run away but I don’t want any of them to hit you.”

“Where else can I go?” she asked. “I don’t have a home.” The white room Mother built just for her floated up from the murky depths of memory. The walls of her tiny corner of the world were illuminated only by a tiny white candle that Mother let her put on the floor because it it was already on the floor it didn’t have anywhere to fall. When she opened the tiny white door it did not lead into the hallway or her old living room but a larger white room. A room with a metal table and the sink where Doctor Gregor washed his hands. The water running through his fingers was red.

“I know,” Tony said. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re weird,” Regina sniffed. “And I don’t like you.”

“Yeah, I know. Thane is too. You need to watch your back around him.”

“I’m going to be his assistant,” she said, the first traces of pride in her voice.

What’s the harm? She’s already fucked up, Tony thought. She wants it, never mind she doesn’t understand. Maybe one day—No. He wouldn’t let her suffer the way he did. If Atlas was going to let this happen and if he really didn’t have a choice, he’d do whatever he could to keep her safe. But not because he cared. He would never allow himself to care about anything, not again.

“Mother didn’t let me do a lot of things,” Regina said, choosing her words carefully. “Michael got to go to camp and learned how to use a sword.”

“If all you want is a sword,” Tony began.

“No,” she stopped him. “I want to be a wolf.”

“I can’t let you do that,” he said, “I can tell you what wolves do, I can even tell you what werewolves do. I can teach you how to control your beast but I can’t let you be one.”

“Thane said I could be a wolf,” she insisted.

He gave her a look that was close to pity then. One of the hunters at Farrowthorn looked at her like that once, when he couldn’t figure out where she fit in the menagerie of predator and prey, human and monster. He was dead because he thought she was weak and defenseless, because she was a little girl on the outside but something very different on the inside.

“My father says a lot of things.”

“I don’t want to be a little girl anymore. I want to run in the forest. I want to be with the moon.”

“But the moon doesn’t have Evil Dead or Atlas or all the other things you love. The moon is a cold, dead rock and you, regardless of what’s happened to you, are still a person. You need to be around people. We all help each other and one day someone is going to need you, not your wolf.”

This is the end of one of the first drafts of the scene where Regina and Theodore Thane first meet. Thane is a formative presence in Regina’s youth and I really struggled getting their first encounter *just right*. This didn’t make it into the final version of Moonshine but I wanted to share this with you because I thought it was an adorable interaction between Regina and Thane where he shows more of his human feelings and she acts like the adorable wolf pup she is.

Enjoy!

Note: This is a deleted scene from the early drafting stage. It is extremely rough and has not gone through the editing process.


“Did you live in a cage too?” Regina looked up at him, eyes wide. There was sorrow there but with it was something Thane did not expect. Kinship. When she looked at him she was looking for something familiar, something that transcended blood and humanity. Like a bolt to his brain he realized she was looking at him because she was him. She saw herself in his scarred face, his rage filled, emerald eye.

His own son never looked at him like that.

Thane felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time: a smile. Not a whole one, a small, half-smile that the scar trailing down his lower jaw turned into a grimace. He reached out and rested his hand on her head, tousled her tangled, red hair. She made a noise half way between a purr and a bark and smushed her face into his hand.

He smelled like silver and bitter plant matter, acidic blood and dry, cracked leather.

Reluctantly, he pulled his hand away, “Let’s get you back to the main compound. I don’t want Atlas trashing my lab looking for you.”

“Okay,” she chirped, tucking herself against his leg. She reached out and snagged his hand again, pulling it back onto her head. His fingers curled under his chin. Like a little chick under its mother’s wing, he thought. The small smile faded.

“I’m not your mother,” he said, stepping away from her. “And you are not a pet. Now, I need to get—” before he could finish she darted away from him and when she turned around, her arms were wrapped around his mask. The whole thing was almost as big as her torso and the tip of the curved leather beak almost touched the ground.

“My mask,” he finished. “We’re going to have to do something about your weight. You’re too small for your age. Malnourishment and repeated lymphatic stress have severely degraded you.”

“I’m okay,” Regina said, pushing the mask up toward him. Her arms were like twigs, literal twigs. If she was a tree she wouldn’t make good firewood. If she was a tree he would cut her down and salt the earth she grew out of. Then he would cut down all the other trees in a three mile radius to make sure whatever blight corrupted her didn’t spread to the rest of the forest.

He took the mask from her and fastened it over his face once again. “No, you are not. You need to eat something.”

“I already did,” she beamed. To his horror, she pulled a brown and silver wrapper out of her pocket. “Atlas gave me chocolate.”

“Of course he did. Sure, go ahead and wreck her metabolism you fuckwit,” he said as if actually speaking to the werewolf Alpha. Then he rounded on her, “And you, why would you take candy from a stranger?” Before he could stop himself, he pointed his finger at her, “Never eat candy ever again.” He was shaking his finger now and his detached, objective, scientific ego was having a heart attack.

Regina’s eyes got big, “But it was yummy.”

“I don’t care,” his irritation was muffled by the mask but it was still there. “Never again. Now, we’re going to the galley and you’re going to have real food. Protein. Lots of protein.”

The End!