CHAPTER 20 - Lycanthropy (5)
Quinn listened quietly, his face an emotionless mask. The other two spoke, sometimes to him as they told their story, sometimes to each other. He wanted to think this was just a dream and that he’d wake up at any moment, but the cold metal of the Status Plate in his hands let him know that this was, indeed, reality.
Alex and Celia eventually fell silent, and the small room grew tense as the night breeze flowed in through the open window. A princess and a soldier from another world turned to look at him expectantly as the trio sat at the small table. When he took too long to reply, Alex spoke up once again.
“So, how about it?”
“How about what?”
“Joining us, duh. I could use a friend like you on my side. If only to add some more testosterone to the mix.”
“’Testosterone’? I have this ‘testosterone’? And it is something good?”
Alex laughed out loud as even Celia turned to him with a puzzled expression. Of course, a medieval-style world wouldn’t know about hormones and the like. He nodded and leaned forward, clapping Quinn on the shoulder.
“Yeah, just means I’m surrounded by too many women, and I need some bromance in my life. So you in, Quinn?” He snickered at the small rhyme.
Quinn’s expressionless mask finally fell as he looked between the two with worry.
“You would really accept a Lycan who has never triggered?”
Celia shrugged, looking to Alex, who now seemed to be the confused one.
“You mentioned that before. ‘Triggered’. I’m guessing it has a different meaning than where I’m from. Back home, Lycanthropes just transform on the full moon. Is it something like that?”
Quinn nodded slowly, his worry deepening. “Yes and no. I don’t know what a full moon has to do with anything, but we Lycans are cursed. It is why many fear and avoid us. Each of my race has a trigger, which would cause us to unleash our ancient heritage and gain immense power. As with every great gift, there is a price, however…”
He fell silent, and Alex leaned forward like he was waiting for Quinn to finish his explanation. When the large man didn’t, Celia spoke up.
“They lose their sense of reason. The cost of the bestial strength is the advent of a bestial mentality. They are overtaken by their primal urges and fight anything near them. Friends, foes, family. It is not uncommon for spouses to even be killed in the moment.”
Quinn’s eyes clamped shut like he was flinching against an expected blow. He stayed like that for several seconds until the silence couldn’t be withstood anymore. Peering through one eyelid, he saw Celia looking at her hands, neatly folded in her lap, and Alex gazing off into the distance, deep in thought.
The Lycan sighed. He knew that once the truth was out there, he would be cast aside, as he had so many times before. As he moved to stand up and leave, a voice stopped him cold.
He glanced around, wondering from where the new voice had come from, only to see Alex sigh.
“Don’t, Alex. Nothing could have been done. You’re stronger now, so quit being a bitch.”
Another grand sigh, putting the previous one to shame, escaped his lips. Then he smacked his cheeks. Hard. They immediately began to turn red, and it seemed like the light was coming back into his eyes. He looked up at Quinn and smiled.
“You’re right, hun. You, however, are very wrong.”
He held Quinn’s gaze with a determined one of his own.
“Rule #4. Fear is made to be overcome. Stop being afraid of yourself, Quinn. If you trigger, or whatever, I’ll knock you back to your senses. So, come with us and help me find my way home.”
Quinn’s broad shoulders trembled. His pride, his fear, his shame… They all fought deep within his mind as he looked into the red eyes of the man who had trounced him so easily.
Could he really be of help to this man, who had overlooked his actions so readily?
Could he trust himself not to attack and possibly kill this man someday?
Could he live with himself if that happened?
… Could he live with himself if he didn’t try?
He reached up and wiped the tears from his cheeks with the back of his sleeve. He watched Alex’s face, seeing the same types of emotions he knew intimately. The pride and shame in constant war. The soldier’s eyes showed it all in that moment.
And yet he looked so…
Making up his mind, Quinn pressed a finger to his palm and slid it along the flesh. A thin line of blood emerged from the newly made cut by the sharp nail. He held it up to shake Alex’s hand.
“It would be my honor.”
Alex stared at the bleeding hand for a few moments before he took out a FAST knife and flicked it open, cutting his own palm. He stood, and their bleeding flesh connected in a firm grip as their eyes locked. A smile slowly overtook the both of them.
“Welcome to the team, Quinn.”