The wound was filthy, unsurprisingly. The one on his arm at least. I checked there first, after washing my hands and going for a slim pair of metal tongs. The way I approached him made it clear I expected this process to hurt, and he should as well. He tensed, but didn't move away; he remained there, watching me with wary blue eyes.
Carefully as I could, I eased the wound open, sliding the tongs into to hold flesh apart. I was lucky, and managed to grab the bullet lodged in his arm in one quick motion, minimizing how long I had to be poking around. I felt him sigh in relief, but it was only partly over. I cleaned and bandaged the wound so it wouldn't get infected. It would heal soon. Our kind had accelerated healing, which was why it hadn't been terribly infected to start with. If the bullet hadn't still be in his arm, he'd likely have healed on his own fine.
But there was still the question of his other wound, the shot to his side. It didn't take much investigation to realize this wound was much worse. The bullet was lodged deeper, so deep I couldn't see it with my naked eye. I'd have to hold it open to even try to find it, and then attempt to remove it. My expression must have showed my thoughts, for the grey wolf suddenly asked, Will I die?
No, but this'll hurt so bad you might wish you had. I'm sorry. I waited a moment, and when he merely braced himself I went to work. I slid in the tongs, pressing aside skin and muscles, probing for the bullet's location. I found it, after a long tense minute, and pulled the tongs out. But the bullet wasn't in them. It was too deep for me to grab like that. There was no way to hold his flesh back and grab it at the same time, not with the entry wound so small.
There were whimpers curling in his throat, quiet and low as if he were trying to keep them back. I hated feeling like I was hurting him worse, but there wasn't much else in the way of options. I'm going to have to make it bigger, so I can reach. I gently petted his side and waited for him to brace himself once more.
This time I got out my knife, and with two quick cuts, widened the wound enough to go back in. Every sound he made made me want to comfort him like he was a pup, but all I could do was work as quickly as possible. It felt like it took forever - and I'm sure it felt longer to him - but I finally snagged the bullet and drew it out. It, the tongs, and now may hands were covered in his blood. I washed my hands once more, cleaned the wound and without delay sewed up the wound I'd made. It was only then I sat back, exhaled and said aloud, "Well yer all done."
He was still laying curled and tense, shaking slightly from the pain. He was incredibly strong. I would have been howling in pain, possibly passed out from it, but he bore it with near-silence, only a few whimpers of pain and a stoic attitude.
I gave in to my desire then and smoothed my hand down over his hair like I was petting his fur. It's all over. It won't hurt anymore. I paused and then asked, "You were shot. How did it happen?"
He watched me, a multitude of expressions in his eyes. Confusion, pain slight understanding, resignations. He glanced at the sheep. Hungry.
I was confused myself for a minute, till I realized he meant what I'd assumed on my own. He'd been shot going after someone's flock. Humans here don't like sharing their sheep with wolves. But I have food we can share. My eyes strayed back to his bandages, as if making sure they were fine. The one on his side was stained red from his bleeding, but it wasn't much. What are you called? I finally asked one of several questions I wanted to know.
He watched me again, another range of thoughts and emotions in those eyes, as if he were deciding his next course of action. Grey. You?
I said my name aloud. Jesse doesn't translate into wolf-speak.
Grey blinked at me in confusion, silver brows furrowing. His mouth worked to make a sound, but managed a rough grunt. Your name is wrong, he determined. Dark One. That he could manage just fine.
I smiled at that. I couldn't help myself. All right. You can call me Dark One. Describes me just fine. There was so much more I wanted to ask, wanted to know. But those blue eyes had grown tired. He needed sleep, and I needed to go watch the flock. We could answer more questions later.