Chapter 2: Hungry Like The Wolf

Part One: Job Satisfaction

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(March 21st)

Murray swallowed heavily, wishing that he was anywhere else but here. “Uh, thanks for seeing me, boss.”

“Not at all, Murray.” The man leaning back in his chair smiled a sharp-toothed smile, hands resting easily on its arms.“I always have time for my men. What's up?”

“Well, it's just, uh…” Murray trailed off. “You know, I've been here a long time, boss.”

“Quite a while, yeah. Six years, right, Mel?”

“Six years next month, Lord Fenris.” Murray blinked. He hadn't seen the old man standing just behind the boss. He quickly nodded, feeling sweat popping out on his brow.

“Uh, yeah, that's right, Mr. Melchior. Only, the thing is… I, uh… I want out.”

The chair tilted forwards. The sound of its legs hitting the floor echoed loudly in the small study. Murray felt himself starting to tremble, and willed himself still, not quite meeting his boss's razor-sharp gaze. He wasn't smiling anymore. “You want out,” he echoed slowly.

“Uh, yeah, that's right.” Murray licked his lips, and pressed on into the silence. “Only the thing is, I got a kid to take care of. And her mom, well, she's sort of messed up, and I gotta take custody. If anything happened to me…” He broke off abruptly as the sound of splintering wood filled the room.

“That would be terrible,” Fenris agreed smoothly. “After all, family is very important.”

Murray looked from his boss's smile to the slowly cracking arms of the chair, and back to his boss. “Uh…” Much too late to back down now. “Yeah. So, you know, it's nothing personal, boss. I like working here and all, but I figure I need to find a job that's a little less, y'know…”

“Dangerous?” Melchior supplied wryly from his place behind the chair.

“Yeah. Kinda.” Murray bit his lip. He looked up as far as the plastered-on smile, and barely managed to keep his voice from breaking.

“I understand completely, Murray.” The boss smiled. “Under the circumstances, I don't think there'd be any problem in letting you go.”

Murray sighed with relief. “Thanks, boss. It means a lot.”

“Of course, of course.” Fenris stood, and one of the chair's arms came with him. He paused, frowning, and let the shattered wood fall to the floor, and then smiled again as he turned towards Murray. “There is, of course, your severance to talk about.”

“Uh, I don't need nothing, boss.” Murray considered the wisdom of running screaming from the room, but Fenris was already raising his hand.

“Oh, I insist.” He snapped his fingers. “Mel?”

Melchior stepped forwards smoothly, pulling out a small clipboard as Murray watched, frozen to the spot. “Let's see… seventy-nine jobs with us, and you did that wonderful work during the Gibralter incident, plus seven percent, and you're still owed twelve for the last job…” He considered for a moment, and then said, “I think that amounts to a severance package of twenty-six thousand.”

Murray blinked. “Dollars?”

“Of course dollars.” Fenris stepped forwards, putting an arm around Murray's shoulder. “Unless you'd rather have it in some other currency. Mel can handle that, no problem.” He looked down at the desk, and then casually added, “Oh, and Murray? Total formality thing, but you know that if you ever tell anyone details about us, Melchior's going to have to turn you inside out.”

“Of course, boss.” Murray straightened. “I'd never tell anyone about you.”

Fenris nodded, stepping around the desk and putting his arm over Murray's shoulder. “Don't worry about it, man, I trust you. Hey, funny story. Remember Carl? Left three months back?”

“Yeah…” Murray said.

“Well, he also said he'd never tell, and I said 'I know you won't', and he thought I was about to kill him.” Fenris laughed, shaking his head, and Murray joined in a bit nervously. “Can you imagine?”

“How is Carl doing?” Murray asked.

The hand by his shoulder changed, fingers lengthening into claws. Murray glanced over to see Fenris's mouth lengthening, teeth turning into fangs. “Oh, I killed him,” Fenris said. Murray's eyes started to widen, and Fenris burst out laughing, stepping back and patting his henchman on the back. “I'm kidding, I'm kidding!” He shook his head, still chuckling. “He's in Kentucky, running a bait stand or something, I don't even know. You should stop by, say hello.” He wiped tears from his eyes with now-human fingers. “Aw, man. Go on, get out of here.” His smile fading, Fenris nodded seriously to Murray. “And take care of yourself, man. You ever have a problem, you give me a call, okay?”

“Sure thing, boss.” Murray grinned, saluted, then turned and left.

Fenris watched the door for several seconds, and then dropped back into his chair with a sigh. He glanced over to find Melchior watching him solemnly. “I didn't kill him,” Fenris pointed out. “Really wanted to. Wasn't sure if I would for a moment there, but I didn't.”

“Once again, sir, your restraint is an inspiration to us all,” Melchior said.

“Yeah, guess so.” Fenris idly pulled the second arm off his chair, turning it over in his hands. “Think he noticed?”

“I imagine he was stunned by your magnaminity.”

“Yeah.” Fenris said again, sitting back in his chair thoughtfully. “Murray's a good guy. I'm glad I didn't kill him.”

“I would expect he is as well,” Melchior said, confidant that his lord wasn't really listening anymore.

He was right. Fenris leaned back, looking off into the distance. “Don't like to lose him, you know. Feels like a betrayal. Family's important, though. You gotta look after your family. Can't blame him for that.” He slammed the chair back down, leaning forwards. “Right. We've wasted enough time on Murray. You got the paperwork?”

Melchior nodded, placing several folders on the table. “Every step of the plan, my lord.”

“Great. Let's get Kitsune and Proteus in here, and get planning.” Fenris smiled a savage, humourless smile. “I really feel like destroying something, and it might as well be profitable.”

Melchior nodded, bowed, and walked out from the room. He found Proteus waiting for him, leaning against the wall, a patch of grey against the dark wall. “Is Murray dead?” Proteus asked easily.

“Of course not.” Melchior gave his companion a level stare. “Lord Fenris was most accomodating.” There was a long pause, and then Proteus grumbled, reached into his pocket, and passed Melchior a twenty-dollar bill. Melchior took it with an enigmatic smile, sliding it into a vest pocket. “Where is Kitsune? Our lord wants a meeting.”

“She's down in the gym.” Proteus pushed himself away from the wall. “I'll go get her.”

“That is most kind of you.” Melchior nodded, and Proteus started down the hall. The old man smiled, watching him go. A good man, but with little faith. Melchior understood Lord Fenris better than his companions, knew his strengths and his flaws. There had never been any doubt that Murray would leave the room alive.

With a slight shrug, he turned to re-enter the room. There was work to be done.

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