Therianthropy: After Burdened

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Changing Flames: Evan

Upshot of being on the run, you learn some important things really fast.

Fiona was trying to pull as gently as possible on the bracer still attached to Chase, but it wasn’t exactly easy. I could feel mine scraping against my bone every time I so much as twitched a finger. I guess I should be grateful I was unconscious when they attached it, but now the bigger problem was how to get it off. I’d only heard a few vague rumors of what happened to us with prolonged exposure to silver, the kindest of them were the temporary loss of our shape shifting ability. One guy had even told me that it could cause blood poisoning for us if it was in for more than a few hours. Stories only got worse from there.

Mine had already been in for twenty-four hours, at least, and probably longer for the other two.

“Just, just keep talking to me sweet-face, you’re good at that,” Fiona told him encouragingly as she tried to work her nails into the skin around the point, which had already grown puckered and red.

Chase preceded to say a few choice things that I was confident had not been Fiona’s intention.

After another particularly vicious tug and another string of curses, Chase surprised me by saying something not laced with swears, “so tell me something squirt, who you looking for so bad?”

Fiona moved her hand from the silver for a moment to pop him on the back of the head, scolding at once, “is that really your business?”

“What,” he defended, having hardly even flinched while she’d done it, making me wonder if this was a regular occurrence. “I’m just making friendly conversation while you yank my arm off.”

“Then ask him about his favorite sports team, or how old he is,” she grumbled, going back to the current problem.

He didn’t have a chance to respond to either of us before yelping and trying to snatch his arm away, but her nails finally seemed to have somehow managed to get something at least semi loose. “Hold on, and stop fidgeting,” she told him patiently. “I found this bit on the back here, it looks like some smolders started to get through the metal.”

“Joyful, just what I wanted to hear,” he groaned, though seemed to be rendered speechless moments later, instead his jaw was left quivering and tensing spastically as he fought not to move while Fiona kept pulling.

“Can we not go to the hospital to get these things off?” I tried. Already my mind was scrambling to explain away these devices, but at this rate some stupid story still felt like a better idea with pain medication.

Apparently not to them as they both froze and looked at me like I’d spoken Mermish.

“You’re kidding right?” Chase snorted first as he finally realized that I wasn’t. “Dude, didn’t your parents tell you anything- Ouch!” He yelped furiously again, though this time it was from Fiona slapping him even harder.

“Take a hint would you,” she hissed, not quietly enough that I couldn’t hear from less than ten feet away, though the tone most likely wasn’t for that reason.

Chase was now rubbing furiously at his ear where she’d boxed him, frowning up at her with much more agitation than when she’d just been trying to rip his arm out of socket, but then turned back to me and vividly explained why that was a bad idea. “Hospital’s know about us man, we can’t go to them for any reason, because they will do a blood test to see who they’re checking over. When they find out it’s one of us, you’ll be right back where we found you.”

“But, I thought other people didn’t know about us,” I yelped, taking an automatic step back, from what even I wasn’t sure.

Chase shook his head sadly at me, some pity starting to light his hazel eyes that his hair was now flopping into. He took a moment to brush them aside impatiently with his still available hand before continuing, “Nah man, they know plenty. The common folk think we’re a myth, that’s true enough, but the higher up the food chain you go, the more they know. Doctors and pretty much anyone with a degree at least know we exist, and they’re supposed to test people and report in if they find us. Most don’t find anything because we’re not stupid enough to go, I think even most of them are convinced we’re all whooy at this point and they don’t even really know what they’re looking for, but they do nonetheless.”

Something bitter was starting to creep up my throat, but I knew if I even glanced at that feeling now I wasn’t going to like what I found, and I in no way wanted to have that moment in front of these guys.

Thankfully I was given a good distraction by Fiona declaring, “alright boys, you aren’t going to like this, but I think we’re going to have to go with option B.”

“Considering you’ve officially spent the past hour trying to take my arm off, I’m sure I’ll like option B.”

She raised a manicured brow at him, already making me feel less comfortable with whatever her idea was as she turned to me and asked, “you jip a lighter from those campers along with clothes?”

“Ah, yeah,” I admitted, quickly digging it out, “thought it might come in handy, they just had it out laying around.”

“Why do you want a lighter,” Chase demanded slowly, though the dawning look on his face showed he already knew the answer.

“Because the loosest part of this, is the section that came in contact with the flames,” she explained, and I came around behind her to see what she meant. There was indeed some blackened specks to Chase’s brace, which had come away from his arm leaving the skin underneath mostly intact, if red raised. The little of the flesh you could still make out that was still encased was raised and clearly bruised from having contact with the metal for so long, and I could feel my arm pulsing with the same problem. “I think I might be able to melt these things off.” Fiona finished in a declaring way that had me taking a few more cautious steps back. Good thing she was using him as her guinea pig. “It’s too bad we don’t have any pure salt and water handy, the explosion could start a nice big flame that would probably work fast.” She added with another look at me, “I’ve always wanted to try that.”

“Why do you know that?” Chase demanded with an odd look at her, somewhere between fascination and fear.

“College chemistry my love. My teacher made it a point to keep her students attention, and what better way than to show them how to explode something?” She replied while already turning back to him and flicking the bic. I think she was just trying to keep his mind off of what she was fixing to do next.

“But you were an art major, what were you doing taking chemistry classes?” He prodded, so it had clearly worked.

“They make art majors take science classes, but don’t make science majors take art classes, trust me, I wrote several bitch letters about it.” She happily explained while the flame caught, and before he could add anything on, she’d pressed the small amount of heat to the silver.

He howled loud enough we should be more worried about someone hearing, we weren’t that far away from a town and still more than likely had those Hunters after us, but to his credit he wasn’t thrashing away from her either. Instead, the longer she kept at it, the more still he got, until finally his face had just gone blank.

And it was working, the moment the little yellow fire danced to life making contact with the silver, it began beeding, and then with a few cautious pokes from her broken nails, finally the majority of it slipped right off and fell to the ground. I wasn’t sure if the metal normally reacted like that, or if this was some kind of tempered piece they used specifically on us. Hell, until a month ago I hadn’t even been concerned if any silver I came across was real enough to do anything to me, so I guess I could go back and kick myself later for not paying more attention in science class.

His arm looked a mess. The heated metal had not done wonders while in direct contact with his skin, and the process of getting it off must have felt like some level of torture, but quicker than I could have imagined, his pearly white face went lax, blinked sluggishly, and then he gave himself a shake and looked around again like it was for the first time. His eyes quickly zeroed in on us, and he gave an unenthused smile that looked more like a smirk as he stated, “see, no problem.”

“You’re unbelievable,” she shook her head at him, coming back forward with the lighter to get a few smaller pieces that hadn’t come off yet, they must have twisted and embedded in his skin separately due to the sparks of before.

One bit in particular began oozing off, trailing down his arm in a way that had to hurt even worse, but she merely gave it a flick off his skin and he hardly flinched until it landed near his wrist. “Hey, watch the collar!”

“I know,” she said back patiently as she quickly moved to brush it off before he could.

I frowned, trying to figure out if he meant his shoulder or something as she finally got the last of it off, and then I realized it had almost caught on a bracelet he was wearing. Then I realized it wasn’t a bracelet, but an actual cat collar. Dark green camouflage that barely had any room on his wrist, the bell had been broken off, but I could still easily spot it as one for the black buckle.

The question was on the tip of my tongue to ask, when she turned to me with genuine pity and said, “alright, your turn kid.”

“It’s not that bad,” Chase tried for some encouragement at the quickly growing panic on my face. “The pain’ll start dulling after the first few moments.”

I was not encouraged. Fiona thankfully wasn’t coming any closer, but instead was eyeing me critically with genuine worry, then softly asked me, “how many times have you changed Evan?”

It took me a moment to remember how to swallow, I was still watching that lighter in her hands that had a taco on it with more concern than I ever thought I would in my life, but her use of my name managed to snap me back and I admitted, “um, once.”

She gave such a large wince, I took another step back, that couldn’t be a good response.

Chase seemed to understand what she had, his face falling as well as he gave a low whistle and muttered, “shoot squirt. Okay I lied, this is going to hurt you almost as bad as it would a normal person.”

“You’re not helping,” Fiona snapped at him, her hand twitching like she wanted to whack him again.

Chase didn’t acknowledge her, his eyes still steadily on me as he told, “but you do need to get that thing off. Even as young as you are, it’ll still kill you if it’s in long enough. The younger the better sure, so it’ll take you a couple of weeks probably to outright make you drop dead, but the sooner you get it off, the better. Your pain tolerance definitely won’t be that much better by the time demand rolls around.”

Most of that was news to me, and it didn’t exactly put me on board with this. Still, it’s not like I had any better options. I did store that information away for future use, as it had also been neglected to me in the beginning to explain such a weakness, and hopefully by the time I caught up with them they wouldn’t expect me to have learned this. I needed to be alive for that to happen, so I took my shirt off, waded that up to be stuffed in my mouth and bite down on while Fiona came towards me, her hand gripping my elbow firmly the last comfort I got as forewarning.

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