9.8

When the next ship was due to arrive Sam had some of the girls take Jessie shopping in the city. He was waiting as it landed and the men unloaded a few boxes of unused supplies.

“Sir, are you ready for my report?”

He recognized the main officer and joined him just inside the ship, ducking out of the way of traffic. “Any progress?”

The man frowned suddenly, “Can I be frank, sir?”

“Please do.”

“Honestly, it’s more like negative progress. The more conscious and aware he is the more hostile he is. No shifting back and everyone was afraid to get close enough to feed him. We were shoving food in using a pole.”

“You’re military trained, he’s in a cage.”

“Yes, he’s an angry predator in a confined space who attacks anything within reach.”

“Point taken. Where is he?” Sam headed down the corridor to the left as the man gestured and found the room where the Vagrant was sprawled on the floor, facing the door. His head raised as Sam approached and he started snarling again.

“I was hoping he might recognize you and respond more positively but that doesn’t seem to be the case either.” The officer didn’t actually enter the room, standing in the doorway.

“Oh no, he recognizes me alright.” Sam moved across the room as the Vagrant’s head tracked him, the snarling turning into a low growl, “He just doesn’t like me. You’re dismissed, I’m going to have a chat with our guest.”

The man left quickly and Sam sat on the floor against the wall, “Jerret, right? You remember me, I’m sure.” The wolf stopped growling and curled up on the floor, facing away from him. “Right, well I tried to warn you you’d end up here. If you’d just come with us from the start it wouldn’t have had to be so dramatic.”

The vagrant didn’t respond and he shifted uncomfortably.

“Is there something I can get you? Food? Clothes? I think they said they have your book somewhere.” He tried again.

The Vagrant harrumphed and his tail thumped against the floor.

“Are you just going to ignore me? I will sit here all day talking to you if I have to. I’m a very stubborn man with nothing better to do right now.”

Jerret tilted his head into the air and yawned, revealing a set of sharp teeth momentarily.

“I really hate one-sided conversations but so be it. First off you’re invited to dinner once you decide to return to your human form. It’s formal but we’ll get you something to wear. I’m assuming you don’t have any food allergies unless you tell me otherwise.” Sam waited a moment for a response but received none, “There’ll also be a bedroom provided as long as you stay here, since you’re our guest. You’ll also have access to the library if you like.” Sam noticed Jerret’s ears perk slightly at that, but there was no other reaction.

“Sam, mother wants to know if you’ll be in for dinner. Oh, is this our other guest?” Sarah appeared in the doorway suddenly, eyeing Jerret curiously. The vagrant jumped to his feet, snarling again and backing into the far corner of his cell, hackles raised. “I don’t think he likes me, Sam.”

“I think I’m going to be here a while. And I don’t think he likes anyone at this point. Can you send some food for me when it’s time?”

“Yeah, sure.” Sarah didn’t take her eyes off Jerret until she was around the corner and gone again.

Sam waited until Jerret had settled down a little to speak again, “That was an intense reaction. Most people aren’t afraid of her till they get to know her.”

Jerret lay down again, far away from the doorway, staring into the gap intently.

“So that’s something to discuss, you never reacted so strongly to anyone on the other planet. Even when I was half-mad and pointing a gun at you you held your ground. What had you so alarmed about…” Sam frowned and fell silent. Jerret glanced over at him briefly, returning his gaze to the door. “It’s not because she’s a stranger, she’s not physically threatening. Because she’s a woman?”

Jerret relaxed enough to lay his head down again and huffed softly.

“So you have issues with women… adult women at least. You were fine with Jessie. Now I have to wonder if that happened before or after you got out of the fights.” Sam stretched his legs out a bit, risking getting slightly closer to the cell, “Also I should warn you there are a lot of women around here. I have… a lot of sisters.”

Jerret huffed and stretched out on his side.

“Look I… we wanted you here for Jessie’s sake. She says you’re the same species and I need all the help I can get raising her. You don’t have to stay forever, I’ll send you off wherever you want if you just tell me everything you can.” Sam watched the man hopefully but he didn’t move, “At least consider it?”

Jerret huffed again and Sam chose to take that as affirmative.

“Well I’m going to sit here talking to you while you consider it. A friend of mine who know a lot about shifters in general said it helps some varieties keep from going feral after being shifted for a long time. I’m guessing you haven’t changed back since we left you on that planet either.” He hadn’t realized wolves could make exasperated groans, but that was the only sound Jerret made in response.

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