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Blood by Numbers (Part 2/?)


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So, this is sort of a continuation of my last story, The Lone and the Loner. You don't have to read that one first, but this one will mean more if you do.

Blood by Numbers

Part One:

- - -


- - -

He was getting married.

Del Castaneda laughed. He really never thought he'd see the day. He wasn't the type to settle down. He liked to have…options. Or at least, he had. Until Kara.


Just thinking about her made him feel lighter, as ridiculous as he knew that sounded. She was like his light. His whole life had been consumed by pain and loneliness. Until Kara.

He hadn't trusted anyone, not even Talbot Frost, the only person who'd ever bothered to stick up for him, hadn't wanted to let his guard down lest someone plunge a knife into his unprotected back. Until Kara.

Grinning to himself, he haled a taxi. In less than an hour, it would be done. Kara would be his. Forever. And their child…

Oh, God. He already loved that baby almost as much as he loved Kara herself. Kara, who'd insisted they not see each other…all day. He had tried not to let on how much even the prospect of so much time apart from her sickened him.

"Old East Church on Salem," Del told the cabby as he got in and closed the door. He was still smiling like an idiot. "I'm getting married."

The cabby, an older man with kind eyes, offered a smile as he pulled out into traffic. "Congratulations. You think you found The One?"

"Without a doubt," Del replied.

Less than a minute later, a black sedan with tinted windows slammed into the cab with enough force to send the vehicle skidding in a wild circle as they veered into oncoming traffic. Car horns shrieked. Tires squealed. Voices screamed.

Del's head slammed into the window glass, sending swirls of dizziness through his skull. As he fought to dig his way out of the blackening haze, he felt hands on him - hard and rough, dragging him from the car.

"Kara," he croaked as he flailed in what felt like open space. He had to get to Kara. He didn't know why or how, but he knew it was important. He…had to do…something…


Pain smashed through his face - pain on top of pain on top of pain. What was…happening? It felt like someone was bashing him repeatedly with a hammer. Searing white-hot agony spread through his cheekbone, up his nose, into his skull. Hot wetness coated his face and neck, dripping, oozing, as more pain followed.

Still, the pain kept coming, on and on until he though he would die. As another blow struck, Del wondered if his entire jaw had been ripped off, if his nose had caved in, if there was anything left of his face at all. He wondered if Kara was okay. And then he wondered no more.

- - -


- - -

As her daughter 5-year-old daughter Cindy watched, Kara Klein loaded up their suitcases into the trunk of her little Civic, then got in behind the wheel.

"Buckle up, CC," she said as Cindy hopped in the back.

"I know that," Cindy moaned, blowing the strawberry blond bangs from her face. "Can I have a Milky Way?"

"No." Kara pulled out onto Lot street, breathing a sigh of relief. They were on their way to the shore for the weekend; it hadn't been hard to convince Nyssa and Cam, her co-workers at The Puppy Spot, to cover her shifts for a mere two days so she could get away before she went absolutely insane.

"YES," Cindy protested. "You promised!"

"I did not." Kara turned on the radio to some jazz station and turned up the volume, knowing it would annoy the little girl to no end. She smirked.

Having Del show up at her door last week after five years of no contact had gutted her. She literally felt like someone had taken a shredder to her insides. And then there was the little detail that before approaching her, he'd ambushed her in the middle of the night like some mugger and demanded she give him her ring - the one he'd given her, her engagement ring; the ring she'd foolishly kept wearing for five years after he'd vanished on their wedding day.

She'd gone home to their apartment, thinking something awful had happened to him, only to find his stuff…gone. Like he'd packed up and left her. Without a word. Without warning. And he'd left not just her, but Cindy. His daughter.

If he thought he could just waltz back into their lives now --

Stop. Don't think about him. He has no power over you. None at all.

Now…if only she believed that.

- - -

She hadn't noticed him. Not yet, anyway.

Del jumped as his cell phone buzzed for the fifth time in the past two minutes. How the hell was he supposed to stalk Kara and talk on the phone at the same time?

"What?" he barked into the phone, cursing as Kara took a sudden turn onto Pumpkin Ave. He slammed on the gas, determined not to lose her. Not again.

"It's called, 'Hello?' Baby-eating asshole," Mason's voice growled in his ear. Mason. His Alpha. They had a pathetic pack of three, including Talbot, Mason's lover.

"This really isn't a good time, Master," Del drawled. Damn. He was getting too close. He fell back a bit, allowing another car to drift in between them. "Do you have orders for me?"

"Har-har-har. Tal wants to know if you're still alive. Guess you are."

Tal. Del smiled. Worried. His smile brightened. Worried about him. "Tell him I'm peachy and we'll talk later."


So, okay. It had been stupid not to simply stick with one name, but…he had his reasons. Del, though was his favorite name for one reason: Kara. It's how she knew him. His name on her lips was his freaking drug.

"Hanging up now." And he did. He had nothing against Mason. But if he lost Kara now, he had the weirdest feeling he'd never see her again. He couldn't let that happen.

- - -

It turned out Kara was staying in one of many small cabins on the beach in Yarmouth. He'd watched her park and carry two suitcases down a long, winding path that eventually led to a stretch of white sand and, even more eventually, a little pastel blue cabin with a stone walkway.

He'd called the number on the big sign he'd seen just outside the property advertising Seaside Cabins and used his power of persuasion to wrangle out a cabin of his own. For free. And for as long as he needed.

One of the many perks of being a werewolf. Okay, the only perk. But he'd take what he could get.

After picking up the key to his own cabin, Del went on a search. He found it in minutes. It wasn't far from Kara's, and it was pink. Bright pink.

Inside and out, apparently, Del noted as he unlocked the door and stepped inside. Pink and white and frilly. Flowery. Even the freaking fridge was a light shade of rose.

Del leaned over the sink and splashed water over his face, which did nothing to rouse him. He felt slow, stupid. And his nose had been itching the whole damn drive.

Still hunched over the sink, he finally allowed the tickle to spread. He rested his hands on the white countertop, starting to pant as the itch grew.

"Th--thank you so - hhh - much, Tal," he mumbled. "I've always w-wanted your…ihh…germs. Hehh…" He arched forward with a somewhat clogged-sounding, raspy little excuse for a man's sneeze. "hCK'tSSHtt!-iuu!"

Huh. He didn't remember ever actually sneezing before. Weird.

Bzzzt! Bzzzt!

And there went his cell again. He drew it from his pocket. "Hello, Master."

"It's me," Talbot said on the other end. "Are you okay?"

Del sagged a little. Tal's voice meant safety for him; it had ever since the day Tal had cut short one of Del's many beatings at the hands of Tal's old pack members.

"Didn't Master tell you? I'm peachy."

A snort. "Master? I thought Mase was joking about that."


Del made his way to the bed, which was incidentally a shade of salmon. Exhausted, he barely noticed the poodle-adorned pillows as he slid in under the covers.

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised."

"G-guess not." Damn, the tickle was back. He didn't want Tal to know he'd caught his cold, didn't want Tal to feel guilty, so he tried to stifle. "Pfft'nggh!-chu!…shit. That didn't work out like I'd planned."

Pause. "You're sick, aren't you?"


"Sorry. My fault."

"Yeah. Have Mase punish you. I recommend boiling water over the head. Works like a charm."

"For what, exactly?" Tal laughed tightly.

"I'm not really sure," Del yawned.

Another pause. "Hey, Leif. About Kara…I don't know what happened between you two, and it's none of my business, but…you're not going to…hurt her, are you?"

Pain. Lovely, lovely pain. "I'd rather die than hurt her," he croaked.

"Yeah." Tal sounded reassured. "I know."

Really? Tal knew? Because Del sure as hell didn't.

- - -

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You have NO idea how happy I got when I saw that you weren't going to leave us hanging with Kara and Del! Holy wow, I'm so EXCITED for this! :rofl:

Your writing always blows me away. It's just so expressive. I still love Mason and how he's such a jerk. :wub: And Tal! He's so freaking sweet.

The pink cabin! I died. :heart:

Wooow, well, I can't wait for the next part! This is gonna friggin' rock, I can already tell. :laugh:

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And... you do it again! How?! Why can't I have this amazing gift of yours? Why can't you share?! :cheers: Pretty please? I am LOVING Del/Leif. He. Is. Awesome. And the sneezes! Oh god smite me now! The sneezes are gorgous! Exwisite! I probably spelt that wrong. Oh well! :hug: This was lovely! Update soon!

BYE! :wub:

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...and of course you have to make it so I haven't any valid reasons to hate Del. Of course.

Random moments of LOLs:

"Hello, Master."

"How the hell was he supposed to stalk Kara and talk on the phone at the same time?"

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  • 3 months later...

Soooo, if anyone is still interested, I was inspired to write a bit more of this.... YEP.

Part Two:

“Uuuugh,” Kara groaned, rolling over in bed as her cell phone busted out an annoyingly chipper tune. She really wanted to ignore it, but couldn’t on the off chance of an emergency. After glancing at the clock (it was one in the morning), she flailed around for a few seconds before her hand finally curled around a cool oval.


A rasp of breath, then, “Cherry?”

Kara’s blood turned to ice. It was him. On her cell. Right now. “Why are you calling me?” she asked, schooling her voice into an uncaring dismissal.

Heavy breath. Pause. “I…I’ve been a good little wolf.”

Unease consumed her. His voice was…wrong. Husky and yet…small, almost child-like. Burrowing deeper under the covers, she whispered, “You’re cruel, Del. Truly cruel.”

No reply. A muffled cough.

“Please, Cherry.” Desperate, raw, bleeding. “Let me explain. Oh, shit.” More coughing, a gasp.

Closing her eyes, Kara shut off all emotion. He would not hurt her anymore. He wasn’t worth it. Never had been. “Don’t call me again.”

She jabbed the END key, then curled up on her side, buried her face in a pillow, and sobbed. So much for shutting off her emotions.

- - -


Kara shot out of bed, gasping and clutching at her racing heart. The banging came again, weaker this time.

Cindy, Kara thought.

She’d wanted her daughter with her in the bed, but Cindy had insisted she was way too old for that, and so had taken up residence on the couch.

“Cindy!” Kara hissed, slinking out into the TV room. Relief swamped her when she saw her daughter still fast asleep, a little lump under a blanket.

She scanned the room quickly for a weapon, finally deciding on a tall, metal floor lamp. She held it like a baseball bat, ready to swing, as she peered through the peephole.

Del’s distorted features stared back at her.

“Jesus!” she gasped. In her anger, she jerked open the door, ready to tear into him for scaring the absolute crap out of her! “Are you - ”

He was on her before she could finish the question, wrapping his big arms around her and lifting her off the floor. He spun her in a circle; she felt his body trembling against hers, felt his heart thumping overtime.

And then her brain kicked in.

“LET GO!” she whisper-yelled, not wanting to wake Cindy. She pummeled his chest. “Put me down right now!”

Hesitantly, grudgingly, he did as she asked, gently lowering her to the floor. He slumped back against the door, breathing heavily, his eyes downcast. His lips parted as if he were about to speak, but he ended up cupping a hand over the lower part of his face as he shuddered with a drawn-out sneeze that sounded nothing like his usual sneezes--or at least, the ones she remembered. “hHG’shXSHttcHyuu!”

He stood there for another few seconds as if waiting for a rerun. When none came, he swiped at his eyes and peered down at her. “Sorry.” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to…I don’t know how I…”

“Save it, Del.” Kara’s anger returned full-force. “And what the hell are you doing here, anyway? Are you following me?”

He looked at his feet, which were bare. In fact, he was wearing nothing more than a pair of checkered boxers and a white t-shirt. “Yes.”

Yes? YES!?

“Excuse me?” she spluttered, mind whirring. “You were--you’ve been--WHY!?” God, hadn’t he stolen enough from her already? A thought struck her suddenly; her blood chilled. What if he was there for Cindy? What if he wanted to take her baby girl from her? Pure terror sent a rush of adrenaline through her.

“GET OUT!” she screamed, throwing caution to the wind. She shoved his chest, herding him out the door. “I swear to God if I ever see you again I’ll get a restraining order.”

He didn’t resist, allowing himself to be ushered out onto the sand, hands held out at his sides as if in surrender. At her words, though, he let out a sound - just a small one, a tiny choked whimper.

For a second - and only a second - her heart dropped, and she wanted to take back the words, to erase his pain. Then the second passed and she hated him again.


“What?” she practically wailed, realizing too late that tears had gathered in her eyes and were now falling freely down her face. “Oh, God, what now? Tell me, Del, because at the moment I really don’t think it’s possible to make me feel any worse. You tore our my heart and you beat it into the ground and you never looked back!”

“No,” he whispered, so, so softly. “No.” He pulled her toward him as she began sobbing openly, belting his arms around her.

Out of her mind with grief, she pressed her face into his chest and cried and cried and cried. He stroked her hair, made little shushing sounds under his breath that did little to soothe her. How many times could her heart be shattered and still have room for more damage?


Kara felt Del’s chest swell, heard the catch in his breath, but she couldn’t bring herself to pull away. Not yet. Just a few more seconds, and then that would be it.


She thought he’d try to pull back from her, but he didn’t. He only held her tighter, pressing her into his chest. “Hhm’pTCSHuu!” he sneezed over the top of her head, exhaling in a long rush. “Hh. Sorry,” he whispered.

“No.” She tore free of him, hands flying up protectively. “Don’t. Don’t touch me. Just--just leave. I’m serious, Del. You can’t…you can’t just show up all the time. You can’t show up ever. And if you think I’m letting you get anywhere near Cindy--”

“I’ll go.” He glanced away from her, folding his hands into his pockets. “But I am sorry. I know you don’t believe me, but--”


Kara tensed. Oh, please, please, please, NO. She turned, slowly, to find Cindy standing there in her purple sheep pajamas, her big eyes full of questions.

“Who is that? Is he a bad guy?” Cindy wanted to know.

“Um.” Kara blinked. “Yeah, sweetie. He is. And he was JUST LEAVING.” She glared pointedly at Del, who was gaping at Cindy.

“I’ll kill him!” Cindy snarled, stomping her foot. “I’ll kill him for you, mommy!”

“No!” Kara rushed to her daughter, drew her close. “I can handle this. Okay? Just give me a few seconds. Can you do that for me?”

Cindy didn’t look happy, but she nodded.

“You.” Kara stabbed a finger in Del’s direction. “Get out. Right now. I don’t ever want to see you again. Do you get that? Really?”

I think I’m dying, Del thought. He had to be dying. It wasn’t even pain he felt. It was something else, something that clawed into his soul. “I…get it,” he managed to slur. He backed out of the cabin, backed down the path, backed and backed and backed. He couldn’t see. And it wasn’t dark…it was…white. Everything was white.

In his pocket, his cell phone buzzed.

He barely noticed.



Who was…he?


- - -

When Kara finally coaxed Cindy back to bed, she went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. It was something she hadn’t done in years, since before Cindy was born. But she needed it now, the comforting warmth of it.

She shouldn’t have to feel guilty for rejecting the man who’d smashed her heart. It wasn’t fair. But then again, what in life ever was?

Ten minutes later she was clutching her cup of steaming tea to her chest as she sidled to the front door and peered out toward the ocean. Maybe she’d just sit outside for a few minutes. Get some fresh air. Let the sound of the crashing waves lull her.

But as soon as she stepped outside, she was anything but lulled. Horror rose up in her as she glimpsed the downed figure crumpled on the sand just a few feet away.

“Del?” she said in a choked whisper - and then her feet were moving, carrying her to him as the mug of tea slipped from her grasp and spilled across the sand like a pool of blood.

She was shaking by the time she crouched by his side, gasping by the time she realized his skin was like ice, and fighting back tears by the time she noticed the irregularly faint beat of a heart on its way out.

“Oh God,” she whimpered, cupping his cold face. “Oh God, Del. Don’t do this.” An ambulance, she realized. She needed to call an ambulance. But just as she was rising to dash for a phone, he spoke.

“Please, Cher. Give me a…chance to…explain. That’s…all I ask.” His eyes were still closed, his skin still ghostly, but he was awake. And so, apparently, was his nose, whose nostrils began to twitch in agitation.

She stroked his hair as his chest rumbled with hitching breaths, murmuring, “Okay.”

Dark lashes pulsed as tiny shivers skittered across his brow. “Hehh…heh!nGGtss!uhh! I’m suhhh - sorry,” he stammered, body clenching again for another, tight “mCH!nnk!”

Kara said nothing as she helped him to his feet, guided him into her cabin, into her room, and into her bed. She could sleep on the floor.

He crawled heavily under the covers with a great sigh of relief, and she could tell he was fighting hard to keep his eyes from slipping shut.

Perching beside him, she soothed, “Sleep now, okay? There’ll be time for more arguing in the morning.”

His breathing changed almost immediately as sleep took him, the shadow of a smile lingering on his lips.

Not until she was absolutely certain he was asleep did she place a soft kiss to his brow and breathe, “Sweet dreams, my Delaney.”

- - -

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I just went and read The Lone and the Loner. And then this. And yes I'm definitely interested and you should continue. Also love the contagion.

I'd write a longer comment but I really do have to get some sleep before school tomorrow.

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You... you added... more?....................happy%20crying.GIF OHMYGODIAMSOHAPPY!!!!!!!!w00t.gif Seriously, I am like, in tears right now.heh.gif That was so beautiful! Oh God. ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU!!!!!!heart.gif I thought this was gone!upset.gif I thought you weren't going to continue! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CONTINUING!!! MORE SOON!

BYE! bleh.gif

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YES YES YES :D AND YES. IT'S BEEN TOO LONG. I thought you'd stopped writing for the forum. :( I'm so glad I was nosy and decided to check out what everybody else commented! Cause that led me to rereading the first thing and then reading the second thing which I thought was strange cause I didn't remember this pool of blood and then I notice "Posted Today" and I'm all like squeeeee cause you're writing here again! :D and plus, we haven't had a conversation in ages.

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