34a. - What Is 'Normal'? Pt. 1
Peter’s mouth opened wide like a hippo as he loudly yawned. He had never felt so exhausted. His body felt like it had been hit with a tractor-trailer. Even though it had been months, he chalked his fatigue up to the recurring nightmares he had of William. The look on William’s face when he had shoved his hand into his chest cavity was one that was forever ingrained into his memory.
Peter felt a tinge of fear. Fear that William wasn’t truly dead. Even though he saw Cole stomp his head into nothing, he couldn’t help but feel…
He turned his head towards the window and immediately hissed at the sunlight that nearly blinded him. He quickly rolled over to escape its violent rays and fell off the bed and onto the floor with a loud thump. Groaning, he crawled to the door and forced himself up. The heaviness in his bladder pushed him to get some relief.
Peter absentmindedly walked to the bathroom still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes but hissed again at the sunlight from the small bathroom window. He quickly rushed over to it and pulled the curtain over it. He walked to the toilet and let out a sigh as he relieved himself.
Walking over to the sink he realized he didn’t have to stand on his toes to get to it. In fact, he realized he was actually facing the mirror that was usually perched just above his head and out of his reach. Peter’s eyes grew wide as he stared at the strange person before him.
He stumbled backward, blinking frantically trying to figure out just what exactly he was looking at. He raised his hand to his cheek and saw the person in the mirror raise his hand as well. Peter’s mouth dropped open as his reflection did the same before he screamed at the top of his lungs.
Alexander slowly opened his eyes as he felt Kiara’s hair tickling his nose. He glanced down to see her naked, dark mocha body, sparsely covered by a thin white sheet and nestled between his and Leo’s bodies. Their legs intriguingly all entangled together beneath the sheets.
He gently caressed her arm, softly touching the bite marks that he and Leo had left all over her body from their intense, erotic night before. Alexander had to swallow down his hunger as he got rock hard remembering how many times they made her come. They were certain no one was home when they started. But by the time Kiara was meeting her fifth orgasm, they had thrown caution to the wind.
Alexander felt that his hunger for Kiara seemed to only intensify with each passing day. It wasn’t like before when she first entered into his life and Elijah had threatened him to stay away. This was something entirely different. His desire for her had far surpassed addiction. And he often wondered how she was able to handle both of them claiming her the way that they did. At least she was healing quicker.
He kissed her shoulder as he removed his arm from around her. She pushed her face further into Leo’s chest, falling deeper into her slumber. Alexander smiled when Leo instinctively wrapped his arm around Kiara, holding her close. Both dangerous predators so overly possessive of their mate, Alexander still couldn’t believe he and Leo had actually come to an understanding, agreeing to share her. He was still having a hard time figuring out this connection he had with the man he once called foe. But Alexander found himself becoming increasingly closer to Leo. The trust they had formed was more than formulaic. Less to do with their soul bond and more to do with their love for Kiara.
He moved the sheet off of himself and slowly got out of bed, making sure not to wake up either one of them. He immediately cringed and quickly covered his face when he walked into the sunlight.
“Fuck,” he whispered as he quickly stepped back. He put his hand into the rays of the sunlight to see if it would burn like before he had his amulet, but nothing. “Weird...” he whispered. He covered his eyes as he walked across the room and headed towards the door. He quietly opened it and stepped outside, closing the door behind him.
Alexander adjusted his pajama pants and wiped his palms on his bare chest. He looked around before his hair fell in front of his face. “The fuck,” he said confused. “Did my hair-” Suddenly he heard a loud scream come from the bathroom. Alexander rushed to the bathroom and rammed the door open. His eyes widened in shock. “Peter?!”
Peter stopped screaming and looked frantically at Alexander before he started screaming again. “Peter? Peter, calm down!” Alexander said, rushing to the strange teenage boy in front of him. Peter wrestled in his arms as he continued to scream. “Peter, stop fucking screaming!” Alexander said, trying to calm him.
“WHY IS YOUR HAIR LONG?!” Peter finally spit out.
“You just aged several years in a day and you’re asking me why my hair is long?!” Alexander said bewildered. Then it suddenly occurred to him. “Wait... my hair grew?!” Alexander glanced to his side and jumped startled, shocked that he could actually see himself in the mirror. His eyes widened as he rushed to the sink and looked at himself more intently. His long black hair was down to his shoulders and he had scruff all over his face. “What the fuck...” Alexander said, looking at himself severely confused.
“OH MY GOSH! YOU’RE TURNING INTO A WOLF!” Peter screamed hysterically.
“I’m not turning into a wolf, Peter! Calm down, will you!?”
“We can’t keep them all cooped up in here,” Marshala said, laying back on the couch rubbing her swollen belly. “This house is enormous, but... they’re adults. Very sexually active adults.”
“It’s not like we were trying to,” Elijah sighed as he leaned against the wall. “Leo comes over all the time now. And he doesn’t even use the door. He sneaks in through Kiara’s window. Her window! I mean if he honestly just knocked, I would gladly let him in!”
Nick chuckled as he massaged Marshala’s swollen feet. “It’s probably better that they hang out here rather than at our cabin. The pack still hasn’t adjusted to... this... Us sharing our mates with vampires. I’ve already received quite a bit of opposition. But honestly, I don’t give a shit. As long as the three of them are happy and safe.”
“Oh, they’re quite happy!” Elijah groaned, covering his face. “I’ve heard far too much from her bedroom. My image of my sweet and innocent Kiara has been forever tainted. I feel like... an overprotective parent.”
“That’s so cute, Elijah,” Marshala smiled. “I mean you being protective of Kiara... not the... other part.”
Nick couldn’t help but laugh. “Shit. Now I’m glad they don’t come to the cabin.” Elijah gave Nick a cold glare that sent Nick into another fit of laughter. “Sorry, Elijah,” Nick grinned. “Though, I’m not surprised. They can’t seem to stay away from each other for too long. But perhaps we need to start thinking of alternatives.”
“We do,” Marshala agreed. “I already feel awful that Kiara had to put her studies behind to focus on learning how to be a witch and breaking this curse. But she’s still young with goals and aspirations. I want her to finish her studies. And I think Leo and Alexander should too. They need to find some normalcy in their lives. It can’t just be... this.”
“I guess you have a point...” Nick pondered. “Maybe-” Suddenly, they all looked up when they heard multiple screams coming from upstairs.
With wide eyes, everyone stared at a trembling teenage Peter sitting on the couch with his knees curled up to his chest. Blood tears streamed down his face as his bottom lip quivered. “WHY ARE YOU ALL LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT?!” Peter shouted at them.
“Cause you’re a fucking teenager,” Cole scoffed. “Like what the fuck?”
“Cole, honestly... language, please,” Elijah sighed as he sat down next to Peter.
“What’s happened to me? Am I dying? Am I going to die?” Peter asked, frantically.
“No, Peter, you’re not going to die,” Kiara said apprehensively. “Just... give us a minute to figure this out, okay?” Peter dropped his head as he cried into his arms. Elijah rubbed soothing circles on his back, trying to calm him.
“So, Peter... aged to the body of a 19-year-old boy,” Nick said. “And Alexander grew.... hair?”
“Another ‘what the fuck’ moment,” Cole said, tugging on Alexander’s long dark locks. “How’d your shit grow so long?”
“Ow! Let go, dammit!” Alexander cringed as he slapped Cole’s hand away.
“I thought vampires didn’t age,” Leo said.
“We don’t,” Elijah said. “We take on the exact form of when we were created. Frozen like a photograph. Meaning our hair shouldn’t grow either. If we try to cut it, it will just grow back to the length it was when we were turned. Sometimes instantaneously.”
“This must be a side effect of the blood bond,” Marshala said. She sat on the other side of Peter who was anxiously rocking back and forth. “It has changed your biological makeup in some way. It will be okay, Peter. Don’t worry. We’ll fix this.” Peter nodded though his eyes were uncertain.
“How?” Cole spoke up. “Just how the hell are we going to fix this?”
“We’ll... figure out something. I’ll consult Gina... and maybe a few other witches on what to do,” Marshala said.
“Maybe this is an opportunity,” Leo said. Everyone looked at Leo confused. “I mean he’s practically an adult. He doesn’t have to be a kid anymore,” he explained.
“He may be an adult physically, but he’s still a child mentally,” Marshala said.
“Melissa bound his mind,” Elijah clarified.
“So unbind it,” Cole said.
“Few witches can perform that sort of magic,” Marshala said. “I for one can’t.”
“I can,” Kiara spoke up. Everyone looked at her surprised, except for Leo and Alexander who smirked proudly.
“She removed the blood bond,” Alexander reminded them.
“And she brought us back from the In-Between,” Leo added. Kiara’s cheeks flushed over as she looked at the two of them. She loved how encouraging and supportive her mates were even in her moments of doubt. She wanted to attack them both with kisses that would probably lead to something more, but instead, she set her eyes on Elijah.
“With your permission,” she said to him. “I would say it’s Peter’s decision to make, but... I’m not sure he understands.”
Elijah hesitated. He glanced at a terrified Peter who had his hands in his hair, feeling greatly overwhelmed. “If you can do it...” Elijah said finally.
Nick, Leo, and Alexander set candles around the living room as Kiara sat down in front of Peter. “Don’t be scared, Peter,” she said, taking his hands in hers. She looked into Peter’s bright blue eyes that were tinged with fear. They were innocent, doe-like, and full of confusion. “It will be okay... You trust me, don’t you?” she asked.
Peter bit his lip and furrowed his brow as he nodded apprehensively. Marshala handed Kiara a jar of oil that she dipped her fingers into before she placed her fingers against Peter’s temples. Kiara kept her jade green eyes on Peter as she started to speak an unknown language. The lights flickered as the windows flew open and several glasses in the kitchen broke.
Peter let out a bloodcurdling scream as blood trickled from his eyes. Elijah, Alexander and Cole immediately tensed up as the instinctive reaction to comfort their brother welled up inside them. “I’m almost done,” Kiara said, sensing their distress as she continued her incantation. Seconds later, Peter stopped screaming and passed out on the floor.
“Well, he’s still breathing at least,” Cole said, putting his hand to Peter’s chest.
“Did you think I killed him?!” Kiara asked, offended.
“I mean it was your magic that made him this way, little thing,” Cole chided.
“I was helping, you big dummy!” she scoffed before Alexander stood in front of her.
“Don’t get yourself worked up. Cole is just being an asshole,” Alexander said, comfortingly rubbing her arms. He turned to Cole with a cold glare. “Don’t start shit,” he warned as Cole rolled his eyes.
Marshala sat down next to Peter on the couch and dabbed his forehead with a damp cloth. “He just needs a minute to rest,” she said.
Elijah walked over and crouched down as he eyed his brother’s face. “He at least looks peaceful...” he said.
“Have you guys had any other side effects?” Nick asked.
“Sensitivity to sunlight,” Cole said. “I thought my eyes were going to burn out of my head when I stared out of the window this morning.”
“Likewise...” Alexander sighed.
“If it doesn’t go away in a few days, we’ll look into what we can give them to decrease their vulnerability,” Marshala said to Kiara who nodded.
“I also... saw my reflection this morning... I wasn’t ready for that...” Alexander said, quite alarmed.
Elijah widened his eyes as he looked at Alexander. “Did you?!” Alexander nodded slowly.
“Definitely a side effect we’ll need to look into. I’ll consult Gina on that one as well,” Marshala said.
Elijah looked down at Peter once he started to wake up. Peter’s face cringed as he slowly opened his eyes to meet Elijah’s gaze. “...E-Elijah?” Peter said.
“Peter,” Elijah smiled warmly.
Elijah stood to his feet as Peter sat upright on the couch. His fingers ran through his dark brown hair as he tried to take in his surroundings. He glanced at his two brothers watching him expectantly. “...Alexander? Cole...?” Peter said, confused. Suddenly Peter’s eyes narrowed as a snarl came to his face.
“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU IMBECILES DO?!”
“So... this... is not going as they thought it would...” Leo said, leaning against the kitchen wall as he listened to Peter yell at his brothers.
“Nope,” Nick said, standing in front of him and shaking his head.
“How old is he?” Leo asked.
“Older than Cole and Alexander,” Nick said.
“Damn,” Leo sighed. “He sounds fucking pissed as shit.”
“Yup...” Nick said, looking into the living room.
“Peter, if you would just-” Elijah started.
“Just WHAT exactly?! Did I ask for you to release me?! Did I ask for this change?!” Peter snarled at them in a thick Old English accent.
“Peter, you’re in the body of a young adult. We couldn’t keep your mind in a childlike state,” Alexander tried to reason.
“Yea, it’s fucking weird,” Cole muttered.
“All of you are TOTALLY out of order!” Peter snapped at them. “How DARE you make such a decision without consulting me?! Do you know how long it’s been?!”
“Because you were a child...” Alexander said. “You barely understood what was going on.”
“Then you could have explained it to me!” Peter growled. “How moronic to think of only one solution and a BAD ONE at that!”
“God, I preferred childlike Peter over grumpy, centuries-old Peter...” Cole groaned.
“And I preferred when dimwitted dullards such as yourself didn’t irritate me from your mere presence alone, you simpleton!” Peter snarked.
Cole stared at Peter wide-eyed. “Damn, Peter...” Alexander muttered.
“I think Peter is just hungry. Do you need to feed Peter?” Marshala asked.
“Do not patronize me, witch! Because of you, I am no longer a child, so do not speak to me like I am one!” Peter growled at her.
Elijah furrowed his brow in anger. “Alright, Peter, that’s enough-”
“No! I’VE had enough!” Peter snarled angrily. “I want out of this miserable world and this miserable life!”
“Peter...” Kiara said softly as she cautiously stepped up to him. He glanced at her with his jaw still clenching from anger. “Do you want me to put it back?” she asked. “Do you want me to bind your mind again... the way Melissa did in the beginning? Because if you want me to, then I will. It was not our intent to hurt you or disrespect you. We truly thought we were making the best decision for you. But if you want me to return your mind to how it was, then I will.”
Peter slacked his jaw slightly as he eyed Kiara curiously. He felt his anger subside a bit as he looked at his three brothers. “I like her,” he said. “She’s made the most sense thus far.” Cole rolled his eyes as Peter approached Kiara. “You can undo this, witch?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. “If that is what you want. But... I really do think you’ll enjoy your life as an adult.”
“I’m not even a full adult,” Peter scoffed.
“You’re physically around 19 or 20,” Kiara said. “Those are some fun prime years.”
“Fun?” Peter scoffed. “What is fun to an immortal who’s already lived hundreds of years.”
“There’s a long-ass list,” Cole said.
“Perhaps if we showed you a bit what it’s like to be a vampire outside these four walls,” Alexander said. “For years you’ve been relegated to this house. You haven’t been on a hunt. Around other people. You haven’t stretched your legs or exercised your skills in decades.”
Peter eyed Alexander curiously. “And you assume that these nonsensical activities you consider ‘fun’ will change my mind?”
Alexander chuckled, amused by Peter’s persistent negativity. “Maybe... you should at least give it a shot.”
Peter sighed as his shoulders hunched. “Very well... convince me.”
“Good grief...” Peter groaned as he tried to shield his eyes from the sun.
“Just a bit of sensitivity. Should be temporary,” Alexander said. He grabbed Peter’s arm and pulled him towards a dark shed. “We’ll wait a bit for the sun to go down.”
“Am I expected to make small talk with you two?” Peter scoffed.
“This rude ass mofo,” Cole snarked.
“Listen, Peter,” Alexander said, trying to calm his brothers. “We remember how miserable you were when we first met you through Elijah and Evangeline. Before Melissa bound your mind. We just want to show you that... things can be better.”
“How so...” Peter asked skeptically.
“Well, now that you’re a man brat instead of a brat brat, you can do manlike things,” Cole said, leaning back against a tree with his arms crossed over his chest.
“Such as?” Peter asked impatiently.
“Such as exploring the world, learning cultures, meeting new people,” Alexander said.
Peter rolled his eyes. “Sounds dull.”
“Fighting, fucking, and feeding to name a few more,” Cole shrugged. Alexander shook his head with a smirk as Peter pulled back offended.
“Are we savages now?” Peter scoffed.
“Peter, you’ve never even fucked a woman,” Cole mocked. “You’ve finally got a fully functioning dick. You should at least be excited that you can now get laid. Just look at Alexander. He’s been pounding Kiara’s fine ass since day one. I got in there too little too late.”
“Seriously?!” Alexander snarled. He violently shoved Cole backward. “The fuck!”
“I’m kidding!” Cole laughed at an unamused Alexander.
“You’re a barbarian, Cole,” Peter said coldly.
“I’m the barbarian who’s at least lived. You’ve been missing out, little brother,” Cole smirked.
“I’m OLDER than you!” Peter snapped.
“But smaller,” Cole smirked.
“And slower,” Alexander grinned. “Unless you can prove otherwise... Ready to hunt?”
Peter curled his upper lip in disgust as his nose flared. He glanced at the sun to see it was already starting to set. “I’ll show you halfwits...” he muttered.
“I didn’t think Peter would be so... grumpy,” Kiara said, sitting on Leo’s lap in the Blackbourne kitchen.
“Well, he’s been in that childlike state for decades,” Elijah said, leaning against the counter. “He’s adjusted. Accepted it. It’s most of what he knows. His transformation was rather... abrupt.”
“Do you think Cole and Alexander can help temper him out?” Leo asked.
“I hope so...” Elijah said. “Peter is an old vampire in the sense that he’s seen enough to find no point in living in this world anymore. Hopefully, we can help him find that will again.”
“We should enroll him in school,” Kiara said. “He can meet new people.”
“I don’t see that going over well...” Nick said, sitting next to Marshala.
“Not at all,” Marshala sighed. “But speaking of school... Kiara... Leo... I believe you should refocus on your studies. You’ve been away from Excalibur University for far too long. It would be irresponsible of us as educators to allow you both to drift away from attaining a degree. Especially you, Kiara. You may be a powerful phoenix witch, but you are still a black woman in this world and you will be treated as such.”
“Yea, I know...” Kiara sighed. “Gotta work twice as hard to get half as far.”
Leo furrowed his brow with worry and confusion. “I would never allow anyone to mistreat her. I’ll beat the shit out of any son of a bitch who even looks at her the wrong way,” he said tensely as he tightened his hold on her waist.
Kiara chuckled as she ran her fingers through Leo’s short blonde hair. She tugged his head back so that he was looking up at her. “You may be a warrior wolf, Leo, but you can’t physically fight racism,” she chuckled as she kissed his forehead. “But thank you for always being ready to defend my honor,” she teased, tugging on his ear.
“He’s so much like you,” Marshala teased as she squeezed Nick’s hand. “Remember when you attacked that store clerk for following me around the store.”
“Racist asshole,” Nick muttered.
“You almost killed him,” Marshala laughed.
Nick rolled his eyes. “Key world almost.”
Marshala chuckled as she set her eyes back on Kiara. “I want us all to try to have a normal life again. You guys are still young. You have much ahead of you.”
“I do want to finish my studies in medicine,” Kiara said. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but... now that I have magic... I want to learn to merge the two skill sets. Maybe there’s more that I can do.”
“You’ll never know until you try,” Elijah smiled encouragingly.
Peter squinted, his eyes darting frantically. He tried to find the hare that was just within his sight before it quickly disappeared. He abruptly turned his head at a noise until he finally saw it again, and his mouth curved into a grin. “I’ve got you, you little-” He immediately leaped for the hare before it quickly darted away from him and straight into the hands of a lightning-fast Alexander.
“Better, but... you’re kinda loud,” Alexander said holding the hare by its neck.
“Kinda loud? You could hear his grumpy ass stumbling around a mile away,” Cole teased as he jumped down next to them with a hare in his hand as well.
“I will end you, you cretin!” Peter snarled at Cole who burst into laughter.
“Relax, Peter,” Alexander chuckled, handing him the hare. “You’re just a little rusty. You’ll get better with practice.” Peter huffed as he grabbed the hare in frustration. He looked at Alexander who stared back at him with soft, tender eyes and gestured for him to feed. Peter raised the hare to his mouth and bit into it, drinking hungrily.
“And then, when you finally learn how to hunt without needing a damn babysitter, we can move on from hunting food to hunting pussy,” Cole said. Alexander rolled his eyes with a smirk.
“You mean a mate,” Peter said as he wiped his mouth and dropped the drained hare on the ground. “I suppose… I am quite curious as to what all the fuss is about. But, I’m not interested in your moronic activities or the work it takes to find a mortal. I’ll just take the witch.”
Alexander and Cole looked at Peter confused. “Marshala?” Cole asked.
“Not the one with child,” Peter scoffed. “The younger one. She’s very nice to look at.”
Alexander’s eyes widened as Cole burst into laughter. “Peter,” Alexander said frankly. “Kiara is my mate.”
“Since when?” Peter asked.
“Do you not remember anything?” Alexander asked bewildered. “She’s always been mine.”
“I just remember her being around the house… kind, helpful...” Peter said, trying to think. “I understood things quite differently in my childlike state... Things are coming to me in fragments... But we are brothers, Alexander. We can just share her.”
Cole’s laughter hit another octave higher as Alexander massaged his temples, trying to calm his steadily rising temper. “I am not sharing her with you, Peter,” Alexander said tensely. “I’m not repeating myself.”
“You and Cole shared several women,” Peter scoffed. “What makes her so different?”
“That was a long time ago,” Alexander said. “When we were still controlled by William and before Elijah enforced his animals-only feeding rule. Besides, I only fed from mortal women. Cole was the one who had his way with them.”
“Stop your lies, Alexander. There were a few that caught your eye... and your dick,” Cole smirked as he pretended to reminisce. “They loved you, you romantic. But, damn... what I wouldn’t give to bite down on some dumb big-titty broad.”
Alexander merely shook his head. “I swear I’m going to fuck you up, Cole.”
“That was when Alexander was more fun and not tied down to one woman that he shares with a Volkov,” Cole teased.
“Really now?” Peter said, offended. “You can share her with a wolf but not your own brother?”
“I’m done with this conversation before it turns violent,” Alexander said, waving his hand dismissively before walking away.
“I can’t believe you’ve gotten so big so quickly,” Kiara said, helping Marshala put on her coat.
“Wolves develop faster than that of the average human,” Marshala said. “And Volkovs are already a special breed.”
“I should have figured that,” Kiara smiled. The door opened as Alexander, Peter, and Cole stepped back inside. Kiara immediately rushed into Alexander’s arms to hug him as she gave him a relieved kiss on the lips. “How did it go?” she asked, pulling back from him.
“...disturbing...” Alexander said flatly, trying not to reveal his irritation. Kiara looked at him confused before she glanced at Cole who looked like he was trying to hold in a laugh. Meanwhile, Peter stared at her intently as his eyes roamed over her form. “Let’s go,” Alexander said abruptly. He grabbed her possessively by the waist and pushed her away.
“...okay..?” she said, stumbling forward.
“You too,” Alexander said, grabbing Leo’s bicep. He pulled him towards the door.
“What’s wrong?” Leo asked.
“Don’t ask questions. Just go,” Alexander snapped with a tinge of irritation in his voice. He pushed both Kiara and Leo out the door.
“What was that all about? Where are they going?” Marshala asked.
“Oh, wouldn’t you like to know,” Cole smirked.
“Peter,” Elijah said to him. “We think a bit of social interaction with the outside world might help you adjust.”
Peter scoffed. “I’d rather not.”
“Your brothers started attending university to help them acclimate to the mortal world,” Elijah insisted. “You might like it.”
“UNIVERSITY?!” Peter blurted. “You mean a prison for mortals to learn diluted information and stories that falsely position them as the victors in tall tales. But were truthfully them just barely surviving natural selection? Piss off. I’d rather ram a stake through my heart.” Peter turned on his heels and headed back upstairs.
“Well, you have definitely got your hands full, Elijah...” Nick snickered.
“Heavens...” Elijah groaned.