• Lycanthropy
    Chapter 2: Awakening

    I’ve always hated being in or near hospitals. They’re always so white and sterile, unnatural. The vibes that I got there were always so sad and hurt, like no one is happy that they’re here, especially in this hospital. The mental hospital. Where they put people like my mother, so they won’t be a danger to those around them.

    I remember when Mom didn’t need to be here. It was back when my father was still alive. Mom loved Dad with every fiber of her being, so when he died she just broke down.

    She locked herself away in her room for months afterward, living in her own fantasy world where her family was still together. I remember walking by her room at all hours of the day and night, and hearing her talking to what she honestly thought was her husband.

    I was only ten then, so Max had to leave her college dorm and live with us again so I wouldn’t be all alone. She fed me, took me shopping, became like a surrogate mother. It was amazing; she could do so much to hold our family together and still go to college. I owe so much to her. It’s a debt I could never repay. That’s why I hate worrying her. She has done and continued to do so much for me; it’d be unfair to trouble her with extra. I feel guilty sometimes when I unload all my emotions on her, but she always gets me to talk to her. Max is the most important person to me now, for all that, she’s done and all that she’s continued to do.

    My sister tried everything that she could think of to get Mom out of that room, but nothing worked. Back then, some people said I was too young to understand it, but I knew what was going on. I knew that I could’ve helped Max, but my mother seemed to be happy, so I never did.

    After a few months had passed, Max got Mom out of her room. When we took her to the doctor, they didn’t diagnose her with anything, just put her on anti-depressants. The medicine did its job, but only for a little while.

    The anti-depressants were destroying her from the inside out. Mom stopped eating, and she lost a lot of weight. She also started having extremely traumatic nightmares. I remember sleeping with her in her bed so that she wouldn’t be scared. The meds were causing violent mood swings, as well. Once, I saw her in the bathroom with a razor, her wrists bleeding all over the place. I was so stunned, my legs just collapsed and there was this screaming. She looked at me, and she was so happy and scary. Max came running and grabbed her, stopped her, called 911. When we got there, there were all these cuts on her arms and legs, some old, some new. It turns out she’d been cutting herself for a while. We never noticed because she always wore these black dresses after Dad dies, long sleeves, a collar like a turtleneck and the edge scraping the ground.

    I was pretty shaken after that. I guess I never really knew how bad it was. After she got out of the hospital, we took her to the doctor again, and this time they prescribed more pills for her newly developed problems. So in the end, she was practically taking a handful of pills every six hours, every day.

    To make matters worse, the medicine never even worked, so after two years of taking useless pills, Mom stopped taking them. Max and I hid anything dangerous to keep her from hurting herself again. So if anything went wrong in any way, she would either get really mad and throw things, or get really upset and lock herself in her room for a few days. Even though she was getting violent, she would never lay a hand on me. So I would take care of her, no matter how she acted. I didn’t mind, really. I had to. Max needed to go to school, and I insisted I could do it myself.

    Once, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. I was just home from school, and walked into the dining room. I could see her through the doorway. She was unloading the dishwasher, and I don’t think she noticed me. I was walking off when I heard a crash, and for a second, I thought something about the dishes had gotten her angry, so I ran back. She wasn’t going crazy, just staring at this ceramic plate she’d dropped on the floor. At first, I thought she was upset about the plate, but then I noticed her face. She was staring at this big, jagged piece, her face a mixture of hunger, relief, and fear. When she reached out a trembling hand for it, and rolled up her sleeve, I finally realized what she was doing. I jumped in, smacking it from her hand and grabbed her arms, trying to get her to stop. She looked at me and when I saw her face, I knew it was a rage, twisting inside her like a monstrous worm, gnawing at her, driving her insane with pain and anger. She snarled and shook me off, shoving me to the floor before running off. I landed on the broken plate. I had to go to the hospital to get the pieces removed and stitches for some of the cuts. Mom had locked herself in her room, and I told the doctors I lived alone with my sister, that it was just a silly accident. Max was so worried when she came to get me, but she didn’t say anything about Mom. Even though it was bad, when I got home, Mom was so sad, begging and apologizing, I didn’t really blame her. It almost became the story I told the doctors, at least in my mind. Even then, Mom was still pretty calm and gentle.

    I remember the day that she really snapped. Well actually, I don’t remember what happened, mostly. The only things that I remember are coming home from school, hearing crashing, and yelling coming from the kitchen. I remember running over to see what was going on and then feeling a sudden burst of red, white, hot pain, this wetness on my face, and then all this light, and then nothing.

    When I woke up, it was at least twenty-four hours later. I had no idea where I was at first, but I figured it was the hospital. I looked around to see my mother sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, crying and quietly sobbing something about her precious baby and all her fault. I saw Max, too; she was pacing frantically, and muttering something like “Shouldn’t have left them alone.” When they noticed that I was awake, she started smothering me with hugs and kisses, glad that I was still okay. Mom slowly came over; shaking like somebody was going to hit her, tears streaming down her face. She stood beside my bed, and for minute, nobody moved or made a sound, just stared at her. Finally, she threw herself on me and sobbed all these apologies. I guess that was the first time I truly realized she couldn’t control herself anymore. I always thought she could, because she never hit anything or me and that one day she could make herself better. That final realization made me cry. I didn’t know if I’d ever get my Mom back.

    Later on, Max told me what happened. Apparently, Mom went into a rage and was throwing dishes and glasses all over the place. So when I ran over to see what was going on, I got caught in the crossfire. A glass caught me right at the hairline, over my left eye. The force and surprise of it knocked me to the floor, hitting my head on the hard wood, which caused me to black out. It took Mom at least five minutes to calm down enough to notice me here. She freaked out again and called Max, who called for an ambulance.

    I ended up with stitches in my forehead. The doctors told us that I was lucky that the fall didn’t give me a concussion. After two days of observation, I was allowed to go home with Max, but my mother had to stay in the psyche ward. Since then, I’ve been under Max’s care, and we’ve visited our mother once a week.

    I felt for the scar on my left arm, rubbing it absentmindedly as I looked around the hospital waiting room. I was slightly scared. How could I explain this to her? What if Mom freaks out again and the hospital stops letting me see her? This place’s gotten strict enough to make you leave all your belongings at the front desk. I had to leave my backpack with my stuff in it there. I looked down and noticed my hands were shaking. I pressed my scar harder and clenched my fist to stop the shaking.

    A gentle hand on my shoulder interrupted my thoughts. “Your mother is ready to see you now, Rory.” A female voice said. I looked up to see Natalie Adams, one of the younger and nicer nurses in the hospital.

    “Hello Mrs. Adams.” I said cheerfully, smiling sweetly at her. She smiled back and tucked a lock of her thick, brown, curly hair behind her ear. “How are you?” I asked, friendly and calm, while I stood up. At least my voice wasn’t shaking.

    “I’m just fine, thank you. How are you?” She asked, as we walked down the hall to Mom’s room.

    “I’m good.” Not really. I paused, thinking for a moment. “How’s baby Amy?” I asked, remembering that Mrs. Adams had a baby girl a few months ago. At the mention of her baby, Mrs. Adams’ dark brown eyes brightened and her smile widened.

    “She’s doing Fine!” She said excitedly. “She said her first word the other yesterday! It was ‘no’!” Mrs. Adams’ smile fell a little. “I wish her father could’ve heard her…” Oh yeah. Her husband was in the army, so he was away a lot. In fact, right now he was away for some drill or something.

    I smiled comfortingly at her. “Don’t worry. It’s just drill, so he’ll be back soon.” I said soothingly.

    She nodded, smiling gratefully. The young woman promptly began to tell me about all the things that her baby could do now, gushing in that excited way only mothers can about the smallest of things, and I only half listened, nodding once in a while so she’d know I was listening. When we got to my mother’s room, she stopped abruptly.

    “Well here we are!” Natalie chirped, a bit nervously. She patted me on the back, “Have a nice time with your mom, Rory!” She called, waving as she walked away. I think she’s a bit frightened of the patients who’ve been violent in the past. I suppose it’s normal. I waved back until she was gone, then I turned toward the door. I was trembling again. Swallowing, I clenched my fists and thought as hard as I could at my legs to stop shaking. After a moment, I was calm again. I continued the knocking motion I’d started before, rapping softly on the wood.

    “Come in….” came a soft voice from inside. I took a deep, nerve-steadying breath and opened the door.

    Mom didn’t look at me right away. She was sitting up in her bed watching something on her TV. Her long, blonde hair pulled back into a loose ponytail, and her green eyes were half-lidded, watching but not really taking in the dramatic soap opera. She looked so old right then. She used to look so young for her age; she was sometimes even mistaken for Max’s older sister. Since the incident, she’s looked so tired. After a minute, she finally looked over in my direction.

    “Hey, Mom.” I said quietly, sitting in the chair next to her bed and taking her hand. She smiled warmly at me and squeezed my hand.

    “Hello, Gregory, dear.” She said, using her other hand to gently pet my cheek. “You just visited with Maxine a couple days ago. Why are you back so soon? Can’t stay away from your dear old mother?”

    I bit my lip, Mom was getting better, and she hasn’t had a relapse in a really long time. I don’t want her to have one, just because of what I’ve got to tell her.

    “What’s wrong sweet heart?” She asked, running her free hand through my messy hair, smiling sweetly with her mouth and frowning worriedly with her eyes. One of those many talents mothers have, I guess.

    “Mom… I-I’m gonna have to go away for a while.” I said, stuttering slightly. I leaned into her hand like a cat being pet would.

    Mom tilted her head to the side and her eyebrows disappeared beneath her blonde bangs. “Why?” she asked. I broke eye contact with her and my hands started shaking nervously again. Why am I so bad at concealing my emotions? She knitted her eyebrows together in concern and moved her hand from my face. She brought it down to join her other hand, trying to hold my jittery hands still. “Aw, honey, you don’t need to be scared. You can tell me anything.”

    I took a breath, steadying myself. “I just have to go, Mom.” I said gently, “It’s really hard to explain and it might scare you. You might not understand. I don’t really get it, myself…” I bit the inside of my lip to keep myself steady. This was harder than I’d thought.

    My mother was silent, for what seemed like forever. I started gnawing on the lip between my teeth, hoping to God that she doesn’t press on to find out why.

    She finally spoke. “Will you be coming back?” her bright green eyes dulled with sadness. “You’re still so young, and I don’t want to loose my baby.” She brought her knuckles up to graze gently across my cheek. “Did I ever tell you that you look just like your father?”

    Yes, she’s told me that before, countless times, and it’s true. My father had blonde, messy hair like mine, and I have the same cinnamon brown eyes as he did. Not to mention our facial features were alike, too. Except that he looked manly, where as I look like a girl.

    I took her hand away from my face and held it. “I’ll come back, Mom. I wouldn’t leave you and Max forever. Honestly. You guys are everything to me.” I said, faking certainty. To be completely honest, I don’t really know if I can come back. At least that’s how Xyen made it sound.

    She smiled at my answer, “Well then, who will you be leaving with? We can’t have a cute boy like you off on your own; someone might try to eat you right up!”

    I blushed a little, “Mom!” I hate it when people call me cute, especially when Mom does it. Besides, I was trying to be serious here. No kidding around.

    She ignored me and continued, “And anyway, you never like going places alone, Gregory. In fact, I remember when you were little, you would never go anywhere with out me, your father, Maxine, or Alexander.” Mom slowly drew me into a bear hug and rubbed her cheek on my head. You’d think that being in a hospital for three years would make someone loose some of their strength, but despite her overall weakness, Mom still had a grip like boa constrictor. I guess that’s another Mom thing. “You used to be so clingy! It was so adorable!” She cooed into my hair. I could tell by her voice she was grinning.

    I struggled weakly against her hold. “Mom! Let go!” I whined. Even though we were alone in the room, it was still embarrassing to have your mother practically maul you with parental adoration. “I’m not a little kid any more.”

    She giggled and let me go. Sitting back in her bed, she asked, “So who are you going with? Someone nice, I hope?”

    “Yeah, he’s nice…” I said slowly, my voice trailing off. I should probably tell Mom about my sexuality now. I know, I know, I probably should have sooner, but… it was so hard with all the other stuff going on. I mean, I may be leaving forever, so a mother deserves to now that her only son is gay. “I’ve got something else to tell you.” I said, looking at my hands. “It’s kinda about the guy that I’m going to be traveling with.”

    Mom’s eyes got that gleam in them, the same sly gleam that Max’s eyes got when she knows something that I don’t think that she knows. “Oh?” she asked, the slyness in her voice was barely masked.

    “Yeah, I’ve known this about myself for a couple of years now.” I was looking up at her, but now I was suddenly very interested in the off-white floor tiles. I hoped that she won’t freak out. I’ve been fearing this day since forever. I took a deep, deep breath. “Mom, I’m-I’m gay.” I said, slightly rushed. My face got all hot again. Geez! I can’t stop, can I?! After a minute, I gathered my courage and looked up at her with out lifting head, through my eyelashes.

    I was surprised when I saw and heard her chuckle softly. “I already knew that, honey!” She said, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. I stared at her, my jaw slackened. If she already knew, then why didn’t she say anything? “What? You thought that I wouldn’t notice?” she put a finger to her chin, coyly. “Although I always thought that you would go for Alexander, since you two were always together.” Her voice trailed off as she gave me that sly look.

    I jolted out of my stupor, straightening up. “Ew, Mom! Alex is like my big brother! That’s so wrong!” I clutched at her bed sheets, confusion overtaking the embarrassment. “And if you knew all this time why didn’t you ever say anything about it? Don’t you care that your only son is gay?” I was afraid of her answer, but I had to ask.

    “I don’t have anything against it. In fact, I find it adorable!” She squealed excitedly, grasping my hands tightly. “As long as you’re happy and you have someone who loves you, I’m happy as well.” She smiled warmly, as a mother should. Thank God, she’s so understanding.

    I slowly started to smile and laughed softly. My heart felt ten times lighter than it has for years. It was amazingly good to get that off my chest. “So you’re really okay with it?” I asked.

    “Of course!” Mom lowered her head to my level. “What’s he like? Is he cute?” She squealed like an excited schoolgirl.

    I blushed. I wouldn’t call Xyen cute. He was down right sexy. And it was so absurd when Mom acted like that. It always put me between her excitement and my embarrassment. So I just settled for a scandalized: “Mom!”

    She looked at me innocently. “What? I need to know all about my son’s new boyfriend! It’s a mother’s duty to protect her precious children.” I could practically see the sparkles flying from her. “Which means that he and I need to meet at some point.” She said, mock stern, shaking a finger in my direction.

    I blushed some more. “Xyen’s not my boyfriend!” I protested, although it was a half-hearted effort. I wouldn’t object to it if he was.

    My mother rolled her eyes. “Sure he’s not.” She laughed when I puffed out my cheeks in a childish pout.

    For the next thirty minutes, we continued to talk about things, mostly about Xyen. Mom wanted to know everything that I knew about the red head, which was, honestly, very little. I decided, though, that it was best to keep the fact that he was a lycanthropist to myself, as well as all that other lycanthropy stuff. She didn’t need any extra worries.

    When a nurse knocked on the door, we said our good byes. I kissed my mother on the cheek and walked out. I looked back at my mother one last time to see her smiling sadly, a tear running down her cheek. I want to turn around and take back what I said about leaving, but knew that I needed to do this. Holding back tears of my own, I waved to her as the nurse shut the door.

    As I walked hastily down the hall, I tried to discreetly wipe my tears away. I felt like I was abandoning her. She probably feels so lonely now…. I was able to pull myself together by the time I got to the front desk. I asked for my backpack. I checked to make sure that everything was still there, and then I walked out.

    When I was on the sidewalk outside the hospital, I didn’t turn the way to my house. I went the other way. Toward the field.

    * * *

    Xyen was sitting in the tallest tree near the mouth of the age-old woods, waiting for his clan’s leader to make her appearance. From his perch, he could see everything. All the way from the expanse of the field, to at least a mile further into the forest. He was looking forward to when his cute, little Rory would come back, a lot more than his grumpy leader.

    Sighing, he glanced at the sun, pulled a necklace made from a watch, stared at it irritably, and flopped down onto the branch, reclining against the rough bark. ‘Late again,’ he thought sullenly to himself. She was always late. Trying to relax, Xyen closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander away as the breeze rustled the forest’s leaves. He started daydreaming about the blonde boy and himself together, thoughts maybe inappropriate for young eyes and ears. Abruptly, his dreams were interrupted by an annoyed huff audible to only his ears.

    Rheya’s face appeared in his mind’s eye. She looked oh so annoyed at her host’s behavior. ‘Stop thinking like a pervert, Xyen, it’s disgusting.’ She scolded him. ‘I have to see your stupid fantasies, you know. Have a little consideration.’

    Xyen smirked, ‘Why should I?’ He knew that Rheya didn’t like Rory, but he didn’t really care. ‘And besides, I was just getting to the good part.’

    ‘Because that boy isn’t worth your time. He probably just has a stupid, little, weak familiar.’ The panther growled disdainfully. ‘Like a rabbit or a chipmunk.’

    ‘Whatever you say, Rheya, whatever you say.’ Xyen knew better than to argue with her, because then it would just drag on and on. So as the disgruntled panther growled on, the red head ignored her in favor for an attempt to resume his prior daydreams.

    ‘Don’t you igno-’ Rheya was interrupted when Xyen heard someone from the forest floor call his name.

    He looked down to see a tall, dark haired woman. Her hair was short and shaggy, the longest strands only reaching the nape of her neck. It fell into her sharp, emerald green eyes. She looked young and attractive, but also domineering; the large, scary looking spear about her height that she was leaning against enhanced this impression. The woman was staring up at Xyen, waiting for him to come down.

    Xyen took one last look at the field before he jumped down from his branch. He landed on his feet with feline grace, right in front of his leader.

    “Good afternoon, Leader Xyla.” Xyen said, bowing slightly at the waist. He saw her nod at him when he straightened. “Lovely weather, isn’t it?”

    “Hello, Xyen.” Her voice was similar to Xyen’s, hypnotizing and silky-smooth. “Did you make contact with your target?” Xyen sighed inwardly. Xyla was the type to never beat around the bush.

    Xyen nodded, “Of course.” He leaned against the tree leisurely, showing that he was not feeling threatened by the intimidating woman.

    “Did you inform him of his true nature?” Xyla inquired. She growled quietly when she saw Xyen roll his eyes.

    “Of course I did! Why would I not? I was just planning on kidnapping the dude, and pulling his familiar into his consciousness without telling him what the hell was going on in the first place. Because that’s SO much better.” Xyen answered, voice dripping with sarcasm. He thought for a second, staying quiet.

    “Well, did you release it?” Xyla said, barely keeping the irritation from her voice. She was getting a little antsy, shifting her weight from foot to foot. She and their clan needed Rory desperately.

    The red head hesitated for a second, before answering. “Well… I didn’t release it, but I told him to think about what he wants to do, he is meeting me here tonight with his decision.”

    “What?” She asked, her eyes going cold and her voice going dangerously calm. Xyen shivered lightly, this was the tone that she used when she was extremely angry. “You told him he had a choice? Why would you do that?”

    “I had to! It is not like I could force him to come with me!” Xyen yelled, throwing his arms up in anger, despite his leader’s dangerous mood.

    Xyla took a step forward, closer to her subordinate. “We need him Xyen. We can’t loose him to the sickness.” Her voice raised in volume very slightly.

    “Do you think I do not know that?” Xyen also took a step closer. He was a few inches taller than Xyla, and he took pride in that, trying to use it to his advantage. “I do not want to loose him either! I made sure to tell him that I would remove his spirit if he decides not to come with me.”

    She gasped almost inaudibly, “You can’t give him that option! It is forbidden to remove another’s familiar, Xyen! If he chooses to stay with his family, he would have to die!” Xyla was furious. She ground her teeth at Xyen’s incompetence. Maybe he wasn’t ready for any major missions after all.

    Xyen’s eyes widened and he took a shaky step back as a gasp escaped his lips. ‘Wha-?’ How could he have forgotten! Rheya’s silence signaled she had not remembered this rule either. What if his Rory didn’t come, and got the sickness? The leaders from the other clans in their group would force him to do the killing. He didn’t want to kill the cute blonde. Rory had done nothing wrong. Choosing his family shouldn’t condemn him, right? He didn’t want to kill anybody.

    Xyla continued ranting as Xyen panicked inside. “Are you so pure and noble you would rather he die than think he has no choice? Because the truth is, none of them have a choice! Do you think it’s fun to take these- these children from their homes and families for reasons they don’t understand? How many people in this world just wander off to an unknown goal with a stranger they probably think is insane?” Nervously, Xyen bit his lip and noticed he was trembling.

    Xyla sighed when she saw the red head’s trepidation. “I’m sorry. We’ve lost more people to the sickness while you were gone…” She said apologetically, sighing and slowly running her hand through her shaggy hair.

    Xyen bit down harder. ‘More people?’ he thought. More innocent people, unknowing people have been killed for their illness; just like her. He clenched his fists and stared at the ground. ‘What if my mistake…?’ He couldn’t even finish the thought. He felt a hand squeeze his shoulder comfortingly. The red head looked up into eyes almost identical to his.

    “You better hope that he decides to join us, Xyen. Or else the leaders will make you do the dirty work, and we’ll loose another one to this damned disease.” Xyla said quietly. She removed her hand and stepped away. Once she got to the tree, the clan head picked up her spear and silently said good-bye with one last look, before jumping up into the trees and disappearing.

    After his leader was gone, Xyen sighed and slumped down to the ground, in front of his tree. He put his head in his hands and sat there, slowly calming down, wrestling with his thoughts until he heard a soft, shy voice calling his name.

    * * *

    When I got to the field, my “stalker” was nowhere to be found. What if he was really just messing with me? What if he wasn’t coming? I know that I probably sound like a major worrywart, but I can’t help it.

    I walked towards the woods calling Xyen’s name. I really hoped that I wouldn’t have to go in there. I’ve heard disturbing stories about that place. People at school say that they’ve heard screams coming from those woods. They say that there are ghosts or a monster in there. I stood about ten yards away from the eerie place and stared at it for a few seconds, shivering a little with fear. I called for Xyen again, and not getting an answer, I turned away from the forest.

    I walked a little further, still calling the red heads name. “Xyen?! Where are you, damn it?!” I was getting frustrated. If he’s standing me up I will so slap him or something. I stamped my feet in aggravation, taking a few more steps until I was stopped abruptly. Two strong arms wound their way around my waist and lips brushed against my ear. I was so surprised, I almost peed myself. Hey, it’s pretty freaky when you’re wandering through the woods everyone stays out of to have somebody molest you from behind. Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT bad, but you get my point.

    “Hey there, Rory.” Xyen whispered, his warm breath fanning against my sensitive ear. I shivered and tried to push his hands away. “You jackass!” I squawked, startled, “Get off!” He turned me around so we were facing each other. Unfazed, he stared into my eyes, and I glanced away nervously. “Did you decide?”

    I looked up again, slowly, trying to ignore his hands. His voice still had that hypnotizing effect that it had last night, and to make matters worse, he was wearing a shirt with a low-cut v-neck. It showed off his pale, sexy chest and believe me, that is very distracting.

    I tore my eyes away from his torso, looking up into his eyes. They weren’t as bright as they were before, and when I didn’t say anything, because I was spacing out, he got this worried look on his face. His arms tightened a little and I shook my head, breaking out of my voice and chest induced trance.

    “Oh! Don’t worry, I’m coming with you.” I assured him, smiling at him for a change. Xyen sighed with relief, all the tension in his eyes and body melting away. Man, he must have stressed a LOT while I was gone. I felt a little bad about it, but it also felt nice to think that he was worrying about me.

    “Great!” He smiled widely at me. Xyen has a really nice smile, and I had to try hard to suppress the blush that was threatening to form on my face. I failed. A sexy smirk slid over his face. “You look cute when you are embarrassed, Rory.” He crooned in a voice that made me shiver. One of his hands began to stroke the small of my back. “What kind of reactions did you get last night?” the red head asked me casually.

    I sighed; my good mood had just been shattered. When Xyen asked that, everything from last night came back to me, especially when Alex blew up at me. “Well…” I began to fidget, “My friend Alex didn’t take it so well, but Max and my mom were really cool about it, so...”

    Xyen’s perfect eyebrows fractionally moved closer together and he cocked his head to the side. Wait! I mean, his eyebrows. Uhm, yeah. “How did you friend react? What did he do?” he asked.

    I looked down away from his piercing gaze, not wanting to relive what Alex did to me last night. Sure, it wasn’t that bad, but it still scared and hurt me. Xyen took one arm from around my waist and tilted chin back up.

    “Tell me.” He said quietly. His voice and eyes compelled me to do as he said.

    “Alex got really mad at me and hurt me. I had never seen him so angry before. It was terrifying.” My voice was almost monotone, and I still wasn’t meeting Xyen in the eyes.

    Xyen’s hand moved to my cheek, and he rubbed it gently. “Look at me.” He whispered commandingly. My eyes locked with his obediently on their own accord. “Show me where he hurt you.”

    I slowly took off my jacket; I was wearing a sleeveless shirt under it. Xyen’s frown deepened when saw the livid, purple blotches.

    “Your friend did that to you?” he asked, gently lifting one of my arms. Xyen leaned his face against the bruise and nuzzled it with his nose. The red head started to murmur something that I didn’t understand. My face started turning red again. What is it about this guy that makes my face so… disobedient? I mean, really!

    I stared at him in confusion. What is he saying? What is he doing? It looked like he was smelling me; It was kinda weird. I shuddered whenever his warm breath touched my arm, but that was nothing compared to what happened next.

    Xyen’s eyes flicked up to mine, they were smokey and deep, and I couldn’t look away. It felt as if he was looking into my soul, that he could see everything that I might have been hiding, places even I wasn’t aware of. His eyes didn’t look away as he placed his mouth onto my bruise.

    My eyes widened and I gasped as I felt him place slow, kneading kisses on the mark. My left hand clutched at his shirt, and my face felt hot. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I was a little scared and embarrassed, my knees felt like they were melting were melting

    I yelped in surprise when Xyen licked my arm. He slowly lapped at the bruise, sending sparks of pleasure up my arm. I was surprised when a quiet, little moan escaped my throat. My face flushed more when I heard him chuckle.

    When Xyen stopped licking my arm, I whimpered in disappointment. Why was he stopping? It felt so good. My melted knees suddenly buckled, not being able to support my weight anymore. If Xyen hadn’t caught me, I would’ve fallen to the ground in a heap. He laid me down on the soft grass gently, kneeling in between my legs. His eyes caught mine again before he bent his head down to my left arm and continued what he was doing before.

    He didn’t spend as much time on my left arm as he did on the right, but I got even more flustered when his hands began to wander. When he looked up at me, his hands were stroking my hips gently and my right hand had somehow gotten tangled in his silky, burgundy hair.

    “The bruises are gone, Rory. Your lovely skin is no longer marred.” Xyen whispered huskily into my ear. I shivered and got my hand out of his hair and put both my arms loosely around his neck. My hazy eyes locked with his, and I almost gasped again. His eyes held so much emotion in them, most of them I didn’t recognize. While I was entranced with his eyes, he started whispering something else that I couldn’t understand.

    I broke away from his eyes when I felt his breath on my lips. He was still whispering, and since his face was so close, his lips were constantly brushing mine. Each time that our lips touched, a short, little shock would go through me, but that was nothing compared to when he really kissed me.

    When our lips finally met completely, the shock of electricity that went through me was so strong that I arched into his body and moaned aloud. Xyen groaned in response and rested his arms so that his forearms lay on either side of my head. His lips moved against mine, gently trying to get me to join the dance. I kissed back timidly, not really knowing what to do. I’ve never had much experience with kissing, so this was all pretty new to me.

    I gasped when his tongue licked my lips, and I moaned when it went in and touched mine. I’ve definitely never done this before, but he obviously had. I mean, the only time that I had ever kissed anyone was a couple of years ago, before I figured out that I was gay. I was only thirteen then, and it was nothing close to first base, unlike this. I tentatively tangled my tongue with his. Since he was clearly better at this, I just followed his lead.

    Now, throughout our make out session, the sparks of electricity that were going through me kept getting stronger and stronger, going from exciting warmth to painfully intense, until I could barely take it. I yanked his hair a little to signal that I need to breath. When we separated, Xyen began to plant soft, little kisses on my face and neck. I was in my own little world, and I barely noticed what he was doing.

    The shocks still didn’t stop, and I started feeling the warm sensation in my chest. It felt pretty nice, at least until I thought that I heard something strange. It sounded like a growl, from an animal. Then there was another, and another, getting louder. They rose up into my throat, and my vision went white as red-hot pain came from my chest, as if something was being ripped out of it. I wanted to scream, but what came out was a blood curdling, bestial roar.

    The pain was too much, and I blacked out. I vaguely remember Xyen getting off me, and seeing a flash of gold in the corner of my eyes, and then nothing.

    End of chapter two