Lions, Tigers and Bears. Oh My!
Part 17

Usual disclaimers apply.  The following contains male-to-male sex.
If you are under age or such reading is illegal in your country,
please go elsewhere. Otherwise, please enjoy.

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A Special thank you to Brett for his editing work


December 18th 2010

We made it out before anyone caught up to us and then we ran toward where we’d hidden the jeep. Lao had joined us in shifting so he could match our running speed. As humans we had the endurance to run for a long time, but once shifted we could add a lot of speed to that. It insured that we left out pursuers far behind us.

A couple of miles into the run I fell into a comfortable rhythm and my mind started wandering, going through these last few months, and putting things together. A picture started forming, one that I didn’t like, that I didn’t want to believe. I shoved it aside as a piece of over worked imagination.

It didn’t stop me from glaring at the back of Lao’s skull.

We stopped running before we reached the jeep. We didn’t want to take the chance that it had been found, and we’d run into a trap. It also allowed us to shift back to human, the tatters of my clothing did nothing to protect my modesty. Unlike Lao who always wore clothing that was loose enough to accommodate his shift, and Arsalan who just wore tattered clothes, I liked mine to fit my human form well.

It also gave me a chance to let some of my anger loose.

“What the fuck got into you? I told Arsalan not to touch anything ‘cause I didn’t think I had to tell you. What do you do when you see some trinket, you just grab it?”

“This ain’t no trinket,” Lao said showing me a sheathed sword, holding it almost with reverence. “This is the dao with which General Fu Youde won the war for Hongwu, it is a national treasure and should be in China, in a museum, not hidden in a warehouse inside a mountain.”

I forced myself to calm down and looked at it. I could understand how Lao might have felt coming across something of historical value to him, and how he might not have thought too rationally in its presence. The scabbard was well worked leather with the form of an easter fire dragon worked into it. the hilt was wrapped with dark rope interwoven with red fibers. It was plainly made, but still a remarkable piece of craftsmanship.

“Yeah,” Arsalan said in the silence, “Took me a good dozen searches to find out where it was.”

The anger flared on hearing that and it took all my self control not to do anything right then and there. I could see in Lao’s eyes he realized I’d worked things out.

“Arsalan, can you go check on the jeep?” I asked. It was a miracle I was able to keep my voice sounding casual.

“Sure,” he replied, “I’ll be back in a minute.”

As soon as I couldn’t hear him running anymore I decked Lao.

“You son of a bitch. You knew that sword was here. Did you know the journal was too?” He didn’t reply immediately so I let myself fall on my knees on his stomach and put my face against his. “Did you know? And don’t even think of lying to me.”

“Ya, I knew.” He finally said looking me in the eyes. He didn’t even have the decency of being ashamed.

“How about the stuff in Congo, was that just a setup?” I grabbed him by the collar. “Did you con Martin into being part of this?”

“Hey Guys, The jeeps ok,” Arsalan said in his usual jovial tone. “You know if you were going to have sex you should have waited for me.”

It was just too much. Hearing him reminded me of the fun sex we had together, and that I’d started to care about him. I pulled Lao’s gun out of its holster, cocked it as I turned and shot Arsalan between the eyes.

He went down before realizing what had happened. That was one betrayer down. I placed the muzzle against Lao’s head.

“I should shoot you right now.”

“Ya know they ain’t silver,” he said calmly.

“Yeah, I do,” I replied, “but one of this in your head will keep you down long enough for me to go get the silver knife I keep in my bag. That’s going to leave an impression on you.” Lao tensed under me, and I wondered if he might try to force me off so I pulled on the hammer. For the first time since I’d known him I saw worry in his eyes.

“Now, you’re going to tell me if you setup all the stuff that brought me here.”

“No. That cave was real. Ah knew about it for years and ah had the piece of that page. Ah paid Deraie to arrange the old man and tell you the story.”

“Oxford? Did you arrange that too? Martin?”

He shook his head. “Ah knew the stuff in the cave had been taken there. And ah knew they sent it to America. Ah got no idea who Martin is.”

I looked him in the eyes for any indication he was lying. If he had somehow involved Martin in this I was going to slice him into sushi and feed it to himself. His eyes didn’t show any indication he was withholding anything and I still couldn’t read his scent. He’d better hope I never found out he’d lied about Martin.

I pushed myself off him. “Why? You son of a bitch. Why the charade?”

“Ah had to get in there,” he said getting up.” Ah knew ya’d be able to find a way in.”

“Didn’t it even occur to you to just ask for my help? I thought we were friends.”

He shook his head. “Ya wouldn’t have helped unless there was something in it for ya.”

I looked at him in disbelief. “That’s how you think I am? That I would only help a friend if I’m going to get something out of it?” Arsalan started stirring. “Just what kind of man did you become, to think that of a friend?”

I threw the gun at his feet. “You remember in Lima, when you told me about that holy person, that took you from a tiger and made you into a weretiger? And why he’d done it?”

Lao nodded.

“Well, I’ve got news for you. You failed. You learned just about the worst traits a human could have.” I turned and left them there.

* * * * *

 I was so pissed, that I didn’t even think of putting on clothes before getting behind the wheel, and speeding out of there. I almost over turned the jeep twice on the bumpy terrain before reaching the road, where my reckless driving probably scared half the other people on the road to an early grave.

After a couple hours I calmed down enough to realize that, while I might not be able to kill myself in a car accident, I could hurt someone pretty badly, not to mention that I could get the cops after me, which would be bad since  I didn’t have any identification with me. It wasn’t a good idea to bring it when you were planning on doing some breaking and entering.

I looked around as I slowed down, but only to figure out where I was and to make sure I wasn’t being pursued. How I had managed to avoid any cops at this point was a mystery. I stopped at a rest area only long enough to put on some clothes and hit the bathroom.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Lao and what he’d done to me. I kept trying to understand why he’d done it. He’d told me, but I kept trying to find another reason, something that felt less like a betrayal than this did. I had to stop the jeep again during that, as I found myself having trouble breathing.

I had to pull off to the side of the road as anger overwhelmed me, causing me to bend the steering wheel out of shape. I got out and screamed at the top of my lungs as I kicked the jeep.

How could Arsalan have gone along with it? What had Lao promised him, to act as a distraction so I wouldn’t have time to put things together? Was he as much of a buffoon as he let on? Or had it all been an act as part of distracting me?

How could either of them make me care about them like they did, and then just betray me like that? The question caused me to punch through the door.

I got back on the road once I blew out enough anger to be able to see properly, but now I was wondering if my quest was worth it. I looked at my bag on the passenger seat, the journal was in it.

Had it been worth it? The trekking through the jungle, the cold cave. Being manipulated by Lao and Arsalan? Forcing Robert to see me again and be reminding him of what I put him through. No wonder he had been so angry with me. In my own way, I had betrayed him just as badly as Lao had me.

I pulled off the road as I realized that. I had loved Robert with all my heart and I’d betrayed him. My insides turned cold; I had done the same to Martin.

I had told myself I was leaving to protect him, to protect his future, but I had promised him I would stay and then left. I hadn’t wrapped it up in a convoluted adventure like Lao had, I had been more straight forward about it, but I had still betrayed him.

How many of my other lovers had I betrayed this way?

* * * * *

It took me a lot longer than it should have, but eventually I made it back to Kody’s. After he quizzed me, I hid myself in one of the bedrooms for days on end.

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