Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 44 - Scars

Brandon waited for Ezekiel to speak, but for the longest time the Shifter only examined his wound, so when he did finally speak again Brandon was pulled out of the darkness he had begun to slide into.

“I don’t understand this...” Ezekiel sighed to himself.

Brandon exhaled feeling frustrated and sleepy all at once. “What’s there to understand? It’s a few cuts....”

“Not that....” Ezekiel chuckled dropping his hands from his side. He steeped behind Brandon out of his periphery view. Brandon forced himself to stand and just as he opened his mouth to ask Ezekiel what he was doing he felt Ezekiel hands on the back of his head. His cool fingers caressed the base of his skull where Brandon knew a three pronged scar disappeared up into his hair line.

“This is what I don’t understand.” Ezekiel told him. “It looks like someone tried to break open your head. Why would someone do this to you?”

“Leave it alone Ezekiel. I. Don’t. Know! I have no Idea what you’re talking about!” Brandon growled at him. And moved his head slightly away from his touch.

“Right.” Ezekiel told him softly. “Or is it more like you don’t want to talk about it?”

“Why the hell does it matter?” Brandon bit back at him. “They were all accidents.”

Ezekiels hands touched his head again. Brandon refused to answer, as Ezekiels hands began to drift down. He gritted his teeth. “If all of these were accidents I guess I could understand, but these aren’t accidents. Someone has been hurting you.” he growled and unlike Brandon when Ezekiel growled it sounded like there was a giant animal ready to pounce through his chest and maul the world around him. The sound made Brandon fell tiny.

And yet Brandon was far too preoccupied to be frightened. Ezekiel hands roamed down the back of Brandon’s neck to his shoulders and then his ribs. And every time he came to a scar branded across Brandon’s skin, Brandon felt his fingers outline it or feather across it gently as though they were still fresh enough to feel pain.

Everywhere that his hands visited tingled after he moved on. Brandon’s fevered skin cooled where he touched it. Ezekiels palms ghosted down his back until they came to his ribs and it was here that Ezekiel paused. Brandon stifled a shiver as Ezekiels palms settled over his side and his finger wrapped around his body. His fingers sat in the groves where ten long horrible slashes cut across his right and left sides stretching down toward his belly. The cuts faded from view just a few inches above where his towel wrapped around his hips.

“Oh man....” Ezekiel said to himself. “Are these claw marks?” His voice filling the suppressive silence between them that Brandon refused to fill. “Has a Shifter been attacking you? Is that what happened?” he asked Brandon, but still got no response. So he moved on.

Ezekiels hands dropped from the marks over Brandon’s sides as he reached around Brandon, his heat on Brandon bare back as he grabbed his writs. He pulled him around, forcing Brandon to face him. He locked eyes with Ezekiel for only a second before Ezekiel took his chin and tilted it back. He forced Brandon too look at the ceiling so that he could look closer at the gruesome marks that marred his chest and upper arms.

Why am I being so docile? Is it because the Ezekiels hands are barely touching me. Or is it because where ever he touches my skin I feel a zing from the top of my head to the base of my skull? Is that normal? I can’t tell if I hate it or not....

Brandon wondered to himself. But that is what he felt every time Ezekiel touched him, a shock? But it was a good kind of shock, a good feeling after feeling noting but fatigue and pain.

So Brandon let Ezekiel look him over, he found himself fascinated by the shook he could see playing across Ezekiels handsome face. He watched him as Ezekiels fingertips skirted across his collar bone, chest, and arms and then stomach where yet more old cuts and healed scars dotted and braided. Because Brandon had a hard time understanding the Shifters reaction he let the contact between them continue when he otherwise would have pushed him away. To Brandon the scars had been there for a long time. They were just a part of him now, something ugly. Like his soul.

And on top of that Brandon had never really cared about how they appeared to others but it was clear from Ezekiels face that the state of his body was disconcerting to say the least.

Brandon knew that the two worst scars could be seen now. The one on his chest just below his collar bone; where a long deep scar slashed across his sternum. Brandon knew that it looked like a long blade had been drawn vertically and viciously from the top of his left pec through his right breast and off the side of his body. The second worst scar could be found on his stomach a few inches to the right of his belly button where it looked like some on had driven a spike deep into him leaving a round hole behind to heal.

Ezekiel’s hands brushed across this scar like all the others and Brandon ignored the way his breath hitched when Ezekiel hands brushed past the hem of his towel. The whole time, as Ezekiel checked out one scar after another Brandon had tried to ignore the fact that his hands were all over him, but it seemed to be getting harder and harder. He was getting anxious for no reason.

Ezekiels touch wasn’t sexual so it didn’t make Brandon feel uncomfortable in that sense and still Brandon found himself feeling disturbed.

Suddenly all he wanted to do was cover himself up and hide. It was such an unexpected feeling...embarrassment. Shame. Instantly Brandon hated that he felt that way at all or even the fact that Ezekiel brought out those feelings in him.

At that exact moment Ezekiel look up, looking Brandon in the eyes. He was shocked to see that his eyes were slit once more. His bright blue pupils burning. They glowed a powerful color of blue, not like water, or the sky, but a flash of power and light. It was a lightening blue Brandon decided and his black pupils that had been round only moments ago, were now nothing more than thin slits lost in the lights glow.

The eyes of a Shifter, a predator born into him held Brandon to the spot. As an aggressive hiss crawled up and out of Ezekiels throat. “All of these scars... are pretty old.” He said. He looked down at the scar covering Brandon’s chest as he put his hand over it. Brandon swallowed as his touch made his heart jump, he prayed that Ezekiel didn’t notice.

“This one....” The shifter began. “This gash must be at least four years old, and this hole in your stomach....” Ezekiel continued as his hand glided down Brandon’s feverish skin to his belly. “It looks like someone skewered you, but why?” Ezekiel raised his eyes back up to Brandon’s. Brandon keep his face blank, he offered no answers.

Ezekiel snarled as he exhaled in his chest making Brandon jump. “Your safe here ok.” he told Brandon softly. Ezekiels eyes traveled down to the red wound in Brandon’s side and he shook his head. “Tell me who’s been hurting you. Tell me how you ended up in the forest that night. If you’re running from something I....we will try to help you.”

Ezekiel almost implored him to speak. But Brandon only looked away.

Ezekiels gaze hurt him. He seemed to see too much and yet not enough. Brandon didn’t crack under his assault, he refused to open up about himself anymore then he already had. It wasn’t safe here, it wasn’t safe anywhere.

Suddenly Ezekiel snatched up his chin forcing Brandon to look at him again.

“Brandon say something....just talk to me.” Ezekiel called to him again making Brandon exhale sharply as Ezekiels cool touch seeped into him. His eyes burned, pulling, commanding. Hunting? Once again Brandon was caught breathless, but he fought against it and snatched his face away from Ezekiels grasp.

“Stop touching me.” He told the Shifter. Mint green eyes glared into Ezekiels feral ones full of distrust and anger. Rebuking his kindness completely. “And stop asking me questions.”

“I never asked you for your help Shifter. If you’re going to interrogate me against my will you could have just let me die.” Brandon told him as he turned and flopped down onto the edge of the bed. Ignoring fresh pain from his side he quickly reached over to where Glen had sat a robe and a fresh change of clothes. Brandon slipped the robe over his shoulders covering his back and chest and arms if not his legs and feet. The cloth felt good, protection against the predator that now stood glaring down at him.

“Die.....Is that part of why you came here? Because you were going to die?” Ezekiel asked him after a moment of pregnant silence.

Brandon didn’t answer him right away. He just stared down at the water that dripped lazily from his wet bangs to splash onto the thick carpet below.

“So what if it was...” he finally sighed almost numbly. It didn’t feel good at all to speak about something like this to a complete stranger

Ezekiel put a hand to his forehead and exhaled sharply then dropped it again. “Alright.” he said. “If that’s the case then...” he began then paused. Hesitated....

Brandon looked up at him. “Then what?” he said with a glare. Brandon didn’t want to hear anything like pity or Judgement. He could honestly do without both, but he was surprised when Ezekiel simply shrugged and looked away from him.

“Then I’m glad I found you...when I did.” Ezekiel said and smiled. Brandon watched the flashing blue in his eyes faded away completely and his pupils dilate back to normal, then suddenly he turned and began to walk away. Brandon watched him walk over to the door and open it before he thought to say anything back.

“That’s it?” He asked Ezekiel before he could walk out. Ezekiel turned back to him, as he held the door ajar.

“Yup.” Ezekiel told him with a soft smile. Then he tilted his head back and snapped his fingers. “Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you the rules.”

“Rules? What rules?” Brandon said with a fresh glare.

“Well my parents are letting you stay, at least until you get better. So there are some things you have to know. It’s noting big.” Ezekiel laughed. “I’m just gonna tell you a few things that could save your life. You are a mortal in a house full of Shifters after all. Where the wild things are....”

Brandon stared at him coolly. “Just get on with it.” he said.

“Alright. Living here you’ll be mostly around my family. So I guess my advice to you would be “Stay away from my dad. You just need to be careful of what you do while you’re around him.”

Brandon raised his robe to catch the water that was gathering under his chin. “Careful how?” He said. “Am I in danger here?”

Ezekiel thought to himself for a moment before he responded. Not exactly reassuring he knew. “Yes and no.” he finally said. “You see my father Mantilo, he already doesn’t care for you much.”

Brandon scoffed. “Yeah I could tell.” He could still see the large man’s face in the back of his mind. His burning yellow eyes and his features Shifted in rage at Brandon’s refusal to cooperate and answer his questions.” He threated to kill me the other night.”

Ezekiel cringed then nodded his eyes filled with apology. “I’m sorry, but you did break onto his lands and attack me. So he feels like you violated him personally. Like you violated his home”

“And that’s a bad thing I know, but why do I have to hide from him? Its not like your father is the king of the world... ” Brandon exclaimed.

“Well...for one, while you’re on our lands....” Ezekiel sighed. “He kind of is King of the world. See my father is the Head....of this entire clan. The Clan Head is what he has been titled by his fellow Leopards. He’s as close to a king as anyone can really be in Shifter society and in in the twentieth century.”

“Are you serious...?” Brandon chuckled. “That’s just fucking peachy.” He breathed. Then he looked back up at Ezekiel, curiosity making him ask a new question. “So what.....Glen is like the Queen by your Clans definition!?”

Ezekiel shrugged in answer. “In a way....yes. Were Leopards so the women are considered as strong as the men in every regard.

“Wait...Leopards.” Brandon asked him, finally realizing that he had the answer to the question that had been plaguing him for the last few hours.

“Exactly, were the Leopard Clan.” Ezekiel answered and suddenly the slits in his eyes made all the sense to Brandon. He had stumbled into a Land full of highly intelligent big cats, that walked around looking like men and women....but could easily rip off his head.

Somehow remaining calm and collected Brandon chuckled. “Wow....So what about the other Shifters that I saw here ...and you....Oh! Don’t tell me.” Brandon laughed. Ezekiel rolled his eyes seeming to know where he was going. Perhaps he had heard the joke bubbling up on Brandon’s lips before.

“So you and your brothers are like perfect little princes?” he snickered. It sort of felt good to mess with the Shifter a little. “My God...Are you the Prince of the Leopards. How perfectly annoying is that?”

Ezekiel drooped his shoulder sighed obviously not liking being teased.

“WHELP! This conversations going off the rails. We’ll talk more about my family status later okay. What’s important right now is that you understand where you stand and that it’s not in a favorable light as far as my Dad is concerned. So try to avoid any confrontation with him.”

“All right!” Brandon said in expiration. “I get it. Next rule?”

Ezekiel raised a hand and put up three fingers “I actually only have three rules for you. One stay away from my dad.” he said lowering his thumb and each consecutive finger as he ticked off his statements. “Number two don’t attack anyone ever again, because....well most Shifters won’t hesitate to eliminate a threat.”

“And you’re so different because...?” Brandon drawled at him.

“Because you’re still breathing.” Ezekiel responded and shrugged like talking about murder was normal. And perhaps in Shifter Clans murder was handled that way. Brandon wasn’t sure, so he tried to move past it.

“So you didn’t kill me, but you weren’t exactly delicate in apprehending me!” Brando reminded him as he remembered Ezekiel trying to get the needle out of his hands only a day ago. “You nearly broke my hand and you popped my wound open.”

“No...all of that was you!” Ezekiel hissed back. “And I wasn’t trying to hurt you, but when you attack someone multiple times, it grows old really fast. Besides, I had to defend myself. You attacked me...three times....? Am I just supposed to ignore that and play nice with you?′ Ezekiel pointed out.

“Fine, I won’t do it anymore.” Brandon ground out. He had the feeling like he was being far too nice to the Shifter.

“You promise?” Ezekiel niggled him further, prompting Brandon to glare at him.

Brandon grumbled. “No, I’m not promising you a damn thing. But I didn’t know what was going on when I jumped on you! Gezz I’m not some maniac I’m not goona jump on every random stranger I see in your Village, if I even go out into it.” Brandon wiped his mouth, the black leather gloves on his hands flashing in the candle light.

Then he sneered at Ezekiel slightly. “But I still don’t like you, so I might find myself tearing you apart again real soon. You never really know....” He shrugged. He said it more to get a rise out of the blue eyed Shifter, but that didn’t mean that Brandon didn’t slightly mean it too.

“Ok sure.” Ezekiel chuckled as though Brandon’s threats were nothing but idle chit chat. “Well that only leaves rule number three and this one is just as simple as the last two. Don’t wander around by yourself.” Ezekiel told him lowering his hand as his tone growing cool and serious.

“Great now I’m being baby sat!” Brandon shook his head. “So what am I to you people? A prisoner?”

“No, it’s nothing like that.” Ezekiel tried to explain to him, his blue gaze pinning Brandon down for a few moments. “I told you, my Dad doesn’t trust you. He’s worried that you could be a threat. We have to put Clan safety above anything else. So if you need to take a walk or if you want to leave the mansion, just make sure that either my mom Glen or I’m with you, but I doubt you’ll be moving anytime soon...” He finished.

“Fine.” Brandon sighed. “I’m only gonna be here a few more days anyway. Until the lock down ends. Treat me like a criminal if you what to. What do I care?” Brandon laughed to himself.

Ezekiel frowned at his bowed head. “I told you that’s not what we’re doing....”

“SO.....is that all you wanted to say tonight, because I’m tired.” Brandon said, cutting Ezekiel off harshly as he raised his head back up. “If that’s all you wanted to tell me I want to be left alone now.”

Brandon watched Ezekiels jaw flex as he chewed up whatever words he had been about to utter.

“Ok.′ He said after a cold silence. “After you eat just put the dishes out side, they will be taken care of. And Ill be back tomorrow morning to check your stitches.”

“Fine.” Brandon said as he looked over at the food sitting on the other bedside table directly behind him, then he looked back at Ezekiel and made a shooing action at him.
“Now go away.”

“I’m going.” Ezekiel sighed putting up his hands. “I’m going....Would it kill you to say thanks Mortal?” And without another word Brandon watched him pull the door open and walk away, shutting it softly behind himself.

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