Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 34 - Lost Luxury

Chapter 34

The moment Brandon saw the precious garments he tried to snatch them away.

But Ezekiel was too fast for him. He jerked them out of his grasp. “Hey Shifter...give me my gloves! I know those are mine.”

Ezekiel hissed at him in warning, flashing his teeth aggressively. Brandon glared at him, but he didn’t make a move to take them again. The Shifter shook them as he leaned closer, holding the gloves in the space between them.

“My name is Ezekiel...not Shifter.” The Shifter told him, his eyes nearly as long as ovals instead of round like a mortal’s pupil.

“I don’t care!” Brandon said back to him.

“That’s fine...you don’t have to tell me your name. Just stay calm. I know that these belong to you so you don’t have to be so aggressive about it.” The Shifter, Ezekiel told him with a sharp smile. “I found these on you when you came here. Along with a knife. A very long knife that you stabbed me with. I lost the blade in the mulch and didn’t care to go get it back....but I grabbed these from you pocket.”

Brandon’s eyes stayed glued to the leather as Ezekiel talked to him. He had a lot tied up in the gloves that the Shifter held. A lot of secrets that he needed them to conceal. So he ignored the Shifters words and after a short silence he snatched for the gloves again, but Ezekiel leaned back and he missed.

The Shifter smiled at him as he wiggled the gloves. “Want to tell me why you have these and why you were carrying a knife with you?”

“Seriously Shifter this isn’t funny.” Brandon said feeling his head starting to pound even harder.

“Ooooh” Ezekiel said sucking air through his teeth and making a pained expression. “Sorry that’s....not my name. I’m sure I just told you what it was, maybe you didn’t hear me? Im Ezekiel.”

Brandon slapped the covers between them in frustration. “Fine Ezekiel. Happy? I hunt so I need these items.” Brandon said in a short manner. “I need the gloves to protect my hands and the knife to skin my kills okay? That’s all”

As the Shifter listened to him, Brandon shot forward and snatched the gloves out of his hands. “And they’re mine!”

Surprisingly the Ezekiel let him have them.

Brandon’s weak hands fumbled numerous times as he tried to slip the leather over his hands. Brandon sighed in relief as the cool leather covered his palms. Brandon smiled up at his hands as he flopped back on the bed. The gloves were vital to him. In ways that he didn’t want to acknowledge. The leather had always been on his hands, he needed it to function.

He was overjoyed to see the only other possession that he had in the world, besides himself, returned to him. In fact he was so preoccupied with his returned property that he didn’t see the way that Ezekiel was analyzing him until he looked up and saw him watching. His blue eyes moved from the gloves, to Brandon’s, throat, then up to his eyes. The clear unnatural slit in his eyes making him look all the more dangerous all of a sudden.

“You’re....very odd.” He hissed out and looked at his hands again. “I know that you’re lying about the wound in your stomach. Something sharp and long cut you and it wasn’t a rock.” Ezekiel said, tilting his head to the side he cast the gloves a glance then looked at Brandon’s throat again. “Your scent is all wrong too....” The Shifter put a fist to his chest and rubbed his hand against his throat as though he were in discomfort. But he quickly cleared his throat and moved on. “I think...that there is something wrong with your skin. Or possibly something in your body skewing your scent.”

You have no idea...
Brandon thought to himself. But on the outside he smiled coldly at the Shifter as though he was somehow offended.

“Yeah well who cares what you think?”

The Shifter hissed, his blue eyes flashing just a little bit brighter.

“Stop deflecting. I can smell it on you. There is something wrong with your body! And your story makes no sense! It could be some kind of pest in your hair or veins or....a drug that you took. Just let me smell your pulse.” He said reaching for Brandon’s newly gloved right hand, but it was Brandon’s turn to jerk away from him.

“No...why?” Brandon bit off tightening his fists so that the leather on his hands squeaked. Just the idea of being touched again so soon and by anyone else except Glen....made his skin literally crawl.

The Shifter leaned forward. “I just want to prove that there is nothing nasty in your veins. My brother checked you out a little while ago and didn’t smell anything. But I do. And I keep smelling it. It’s....”

Brandon watched the Shifter, take another in hail of his scent before frowning and wiping at his nose as if something were irritating him. “Well I can’t describe it. I don’t know what I’m smelling, but I’ll be able to understand it now that you’re stitched up and after that shower my mother gave you. You scent is cleaner...no old blood.”

“I don’t understand.” Brandon said to him honestly intrigued, even though he would never show it. “You live in a Shifter Clan and I guessing from you people’s reaction to me...I’m the first mortal to come this way in a while. So what could you possibly know about mortal drugs or how detox even works?”

“Wow.” Ezekiel rumbled at him, smiling slightly. That charming smile hitting Brandon everywhere he didn’t want to be hit. “That’s like the longest, non-ambiguous, sentence you’ve managed to speak so far. I’m surprised. No, I’m amazed.”

“Whatever. It was just a question....” Brandon sighed looking away.

“Okay, okay don’t pout.” Ezekiel tried to sooth him. “Look....drugs aren’t just used by mortals okay? There are a few unfortunate Shifters in our Clan that have gotten into mortal narcotics and my mother has had them here while she attempted to remove the drugs from their systems. Does that answer your question? ”

“Yes.” Brandon nodded his head.

“Okay. ” Ezekiel nodded back at him. “Now can you give me your wrist?”

“No. Keep your nose to yourself. ” Brandon said sneering at the blue eyed beast. “I’m not on drugs and I don’t want you touching me anymore.”

“No one who’s on drugs actually admits it.” Ezekiel said calmly brushing off his denial. “Weather mortal or Shifter they will lie about it. So I want to check you myself. And I’m gonna have to touch you.....” Ezekiel said, then asked him as he put up his hand. “I know that you hate it, but I need to.”

Brandon sighed and nodded again. “Fine...but this counts as your last goddamn question.” He bit off and Ezekiel shrugged.

“Okay....” Ezekiel agreed still holding out his hand.

“Just do it fast.”

Ezekiel put a hand on his wrists and it wrapped around the leather tightly and pushed his arms against his chest. Shackling them against Brandon’s sternum with nothing but his grip that was like iron. Brandon realized that he didn’t trust him not to attack him. As the Shifter leaned over his chest. His weight pressing on the arm that he had on top of Brandon’s chest making Brandon squirm in discomfort....because deep inside the Shifters proximity was far too nice. Little flutters of awareness kissed his skin at every point where they came into contact, innocent brushes that highlighted tingles across his nerves.

Ezekiel snarled as Brandon pushed against him, making Brandon think of a beast leaning over his kill. Which of course made it harder for Brandon to sit still. Ezekiel tightened his hold and put a hand on his chin making Brandon freeze as he held his face still. “Hey calm down. Don’t move so much or this will take longer then we both want it too.”

With his hand on his chin and their faces so close, Brandon felt a small hop in the pit of his stomach as the Shifter moved down on him and to anyone they would have thought he was going to kiss him.

But Ezekiel bypassed his mouth completely and sniffed at his collar, his hand snaked up Brandon’s arm and wrapped around the back of his neck, supporting the base of his head as he drew Brandon closer pulling him up off the pillows slightly. Cradling him like a lover.

Trying not to fight him, Brandon let him pull him in and turn his face to the side. He stiffened as he felt Ezekiels nose brush against the nape of his neck sending a shower of electricity along his body that made him clench in shock. The Shifters hand softened on his throat as though to gentle his demand. Then Ezekiels inhaled him again, the sound and feeling of his breath on Brandon’s skin was frightening......and just a little bit too intriguing.

Brandon shuttered as the arm on the back of his throat, softly shifted from the nape of his neck to his chest, resting over his heart. Large and warm, he felt Ezekiels fingertips through his thin shirt, his heart beat bouncing against his palm.

He didn’t k ow what was going on with his body at this point. Brandon closed his eyes and shuttered out another breath. He really didn’t like to be touched. He hated it, but as he felt the Shifter drawing back, his hand sliding down the front of his throat gently caressing away the heat left by Ezekiels breath before it dropped away. Well....he knew he didn’t hate it, nearly as much as he should have.

“Ok.” Ezekiel mumbled backing away further as he let Brandon’s wrists go. He eyed Brandon dubiously for a moment then pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “I’m done. I didn’t smell anything in your system today either. Just...your blood. So I believe that you’re not drugged out, or suffering from some kind of pest in your blood but you still smell....strange to me. Your blood is so different.....” Ezekiel trailed off, looking away from a moment like he was trying to place the scent.

“I smell strange? Yeah that’s always a nice thing to hear. Maybe I need another shower?” Brandon chuckled sarcastically under his breath. He shook off the feeling of Ezekiels hands and laid back in the bed. He whipped the sheet over his chest, trying to put as much space between them as the small bed would allow. “Now you can leave me alone right?” he said tugging on the cover weakly trying to get Ezekiel to move off the bed.

“Not really.” Ezekiel hissed. It was disconcerting for Brandon to hear those animalistic sounds coming from him, but at the same time it seemed to fit into his presence too well.

A man....But a beast as well.
Brandon reminded himself as Ezekiel continued to talk.

“But since we need to wrap this up before my father gets wind of this entire thing I will go.” He said taking his feet.

He slid up off the mattress and put his arms behind his back as he stood next to the bed. Just the simple act of shifting his weight causing the muscles on his arms and chest to flex. Brandon almost found himself looking the Shifter head to toe all over again. His height, his hair, and his arms and chest glistening from his daily activities, drew his eyes.

The way his shirt and jeans flexed with his every movement. The Shifter was....nothing but a distraction. His body was a magnet for Brandon’s eyes, but other things kept pulling his attention. Especially his scent. The smell of pine and sweat wafting off of the Shifter was possibly the nicest thing that Brandon had ever smelled. It calmed him slightly, but rather then think about how or why, he choose to fight it.

The Shifter held Brandon’s gaze with his glowing cat eyes. “Hey I want to ask you one more thing before I go though.”

“And what if I said No?” Brandon challenged him. “You’ve already reached a max of ten questions mister.”

Ezekiel blinked as though Brandon hadn’t said a word and continued to look him in the eyes. “Please tell me why were you screaming?” He asked him softly. “In your sleep...you were screaming like someone was killing you.”

Brandon could have played dumb. He could have ignored the question, but he knew that he did often dissolve into screams against his will. In his sleep he could feel the panic taking hold and he had woken up on more than one occasion.....hyperventilating or screaming into his pillow. Clawing at his face...or in pool of vomit.

He didn’t have to see the sad look on the Shifters face to know that he had been privy to one of Brandon’s scream sessions.

“Don’t...Don’t worry about it. We don’t have to talk about that.” Brandon scoffed and looked away from him. He was getting uncomfortable talking to this Shifter the longer he picked at his brain. “You don’t wanna know.”

“Come on would it hurt you to answer just one of my questions?” Ezekiel shot back at him.
He was nothing but a stranger to Brandon. But Brandon did owe him.

A stranger that saved your life.
Brandon remained himself.
Even if you didn’t ask him too.

He debated whether he would answer him seriously. What harm could it do to talk about the screams? The dreams.
Brandon knew that if the Shifter had been anything like his father; the pushy and aggressive Mantilo with his barbed questions, Brandon wouldn’t have talked to him at all. But Ezekiel didn’t act that way towards him. He honestly seemed curious. The Shifters voice held a genuine note that Brandon found hard to shut out completely. And that sort of irritated him.

He looked back at the Shifter, feeling a little defeated even though Ezekiel hadn’t said a word yet. Calm and shocking blue eyes just analyzed him. Waited patiently for a response. Brandon felt compelled to say something to fill the expectant silence between them.

“Fine, I’ll tell you, but it’s nothing big.” Brandon sighed as he finally broke the silence and answered his question. “I suffer from night terrors. I have a bad dream and I scream...That’s it.”

“Night terrors? Do all mortals experience them? What are they about? Do you have them often?” Ezekiel asked him next with a curious tilt of his head.

“Look I thought you only had one question?” Brandon hedged rather than answer him this time.

“Sorry, your right.....I’m done. I’ll leave you to rest.” Ezekiel sighed throwing up his hands. A beautiful smile overcame him suddenly. “But I think I can do something for you, before I go.” He said. “If you’ll let me....there may be something that I can do to help you get a few good hours of rest tonight.”

“Well what are you gonna do?” Brandon shrugged. “It’s just how my brain works, you can’t help that.” Brandon said as he sighed, pushing his head back into the pillows.

“Yeah well I know how to fix your brain....or at least trick it into resting for a while.” Ezekiel told him still smiling.

“IF your TRICK has anything to do with more needles? Then I don’t want to see it.” Brandon told him, as he yawned. He was sure that his jaw bone popped as he felt the tears gathering in his eyes. He was dying to sleep, but he knew that there wouldn’t be any peace for him when he did close his eyes. He tried to keep talking to the Shifter but even that seemed to be getting harder. “There’s nothing to do for this kind of thing. You can’t trick a brain with meds.”

“I don’t plan to use any needles on you.” Ezekiel said. “But I don’t think your gonna like it when I do this either.” Brandon waited to see if Ezekiel was going to pull out some kind of pill or sleeping fluid but Ezekiel stayed next to him not moving for a few seconds.

“Just don’t move around too much....” He hesitated to move back, and instead after having a silent battle with himself, he reached out and put a hand to Brandon’s forehead gently, but far faster than Brandon could catch.

Shocked by the sudden contact, but already laying down on pillow Brandon was unable to flinch away from the touch the way he wanted to. Instead he had to settle for a glare.

“Get off me!” Brandon shouted at the Shifter. But since he neither had the strength to move his arms or shift his body, all he could really do was raise his voice. “Stop touching me! Get off...please! Dont!”

Ezekiel met his glare head on and didn’t remove hid hand in the least. “Shhh...” Ezekiel mummed as though he was soothing a small animal and not a person. The eyes that he had closed opened and they were now burning bright blue. The eyes of a cat pinned him down, but there wasn’t anything angry or cold there, just soft and imploring. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise...you are safe with me.”

Brandon was uncomfortable with the instant belief that he felt for his words. But so far the Shifter hadn’t done anything to him, but asked him a few questions and return his gloves to him....so maybe believing Ezekiel when he said that he wasn’t going to hurt him now wasn’t completely moronic of him.

God...does he have to touch me...?
Brandon thought to himself.

“What the hell are you doing?” he forced himself not to shout this time giving an unwilling inch.

“Don’t worry. I’m not trying to do anything weird.” Ezekiel mummed, his eyes drifting closed again, as though he was falling asleep, except that he kept talking. “Just close your eyes. I’m gonna see if I can help you.”

“I don’t want any more of your help! So, get away me Shifter.” Brandon nearly shouted, as he tried to turn his head away, unsuccessfully. Wedged into the pillows he didn’t move much.

“Listen....You’re so obviously exhausted. Don’t you want to sleep? If you let me I will help with that!” Ezekiel snipped at him, opening one of his glowing eyes to look at Brandon’s face. And Brandon had a good idea of what the man saw, because he was tired.

No.


Tired and exhausted, those words didn’t fit.

Brandon felt far worse.
Dead. Empty. Sloth.

Those words hit far closer to his mark of how he was currently feeling and he was just lying down in a bed.

If...if the Shifter wants to help me sleep, maybe I can try to hear him out? He’s probably just going to medicate me again anyway.

Brandon told himself.

“Ok. Let’s see you put me too sleep then.” Sighing Brandon finally closed his eyes and that’s when he began to feel it.

A soft pressure on his mind, something a warm as the hand across his forehead, it expanded all across his senses, his cheeks, his throat, and his hands. Like sunlight light, but soothing. And suddenly Brandon saw himself sitting on a small patch of green grass, in the sunlight sleeping. It was so calming to see the grasses and the blue sky, the luke warm wind on his scalp.

Where is the image coming from? Are these Ezekiels thoughts?

Brandon wondered.

I feel a cold chill on my forehead, but why dose his skin feel so cold now almost like its piercing my mind?

So many questions, so much anxiety but the warmth was just too nice for him to fight. He didn’t want to fight it.

Brandon slipped into a soft unconsciousness that was warm and sunny this time instead of a biting solitary darkness. For the first time in......weeks he got to rest.

Brandon had stayed strong longer than most men could have staved off sleep deprivation or the insanity that it causes, but he was overjoyed to finally slide into the calm darkness now. He knew that the nightmares were gone for now. Of course they would return, but for the next few days Brandon would be free of it. And tonight.....By GOD he could sleep! And for the next few hours he could sleep without worry.

What a luxury.

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