Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 52 - Reaver

Chapter

Information, and facts.....Brandon thrived on knowledge he gained on a day by day basis. From the first book and words he had ever learned, he’d felt a hunger for more. Learning was what kept him alive. IT was what filled the gaping hole inside of him. He needed to know everything about everything around him.....because he knew so very little about himself at all.

Brandon didn’t know where he was going...

Brandon didn’t even know WHAT he was supposed to do...

And he definitely didn’t know why something like him existed at all.

Anything Brandon could take in or attach to the empty blank slate that he had to stare at everyday....was vital to him feeling like a normal man. Learning and questions seemed like all he had to cling to in life.

“Get over myself , huh?” Ezekiel smirked clearly done-in by Brandon’s blunt words.

Ezekiel finally looked up from his cup and rolled his eyes in ex-pirated consent.

Brandon was overly relieved to see that his gaze was as clear as water. His pupils were still slit like a beasts and they still glowed slightly, but the cloud of anger was gone.

“You know your tounges going to get you in deep water one of these days?” Ezekiel as he stood up and walked over to Brandon leaving his cup behind him. He softly pulled up a chair, and faced him and gave him an attentive head nod. His student proximity making Brandon want to lean in.

“Alright fine. ..since you’re so curious, that you feel the need to be rude after all that....go ahead and ask away.” He said with an open gesture of his hand.

Brandon ignored his glib tone and turned towards him, or turned towards him as much as his stiff side would allow before he jumped right in a subject that had been on his mind since Lander had first started to pick at him. “I’m not rude and this is about your brother Lander...” Brandon began.

“I don’t want to talk about my brother, Brandon.” Ezekiel slightly growled. And instantly Brandon wanted to be offended by his tone and he would have been. If he wasn’t secretly impressed by Ezekiel obvious affection and loyalty for the members of his family....no matter how obnoxious one of them seemed to be.

So rather than be offended Brandon lifted a hand in a calming gesture.

“Hey....cool it.” He snipped at Ezekiel slightly. “It’s nothing bad.....I was just saying, before me and Lander got into it, he told me that he could read minds...and that he had tried to read my mind, but had been unable to do it.” Brandon explained, then shook his head. “What the hell? Is that true? Can you Shifters read minds?”

“So, he told you that...” Ezekiel sighed. A small bit of understanding seemed to dawn on the Shifter and he rubbed a hand against his blue eyes. ” Try to understand. Most of us tend to only talk about our...abilities only if we have too.” Ezekiel told him, hesitating for a second before continuing. “But to answer your question, not all Shifters read minds.′ He explained. “In fact Lander is the only one who can minds in the entire Clan...While the rest of us can do other things...”

“Like what?” Brandon inquired, and Ezekiel sighed at him.

“Are you serious?” He asked. “I thought you mortals were all about science and facts...do you actually believe anything that I’m saying right now? Believe we have powers?”

“Who knows? I don’t have any real reason to doubt it, do I?” Brandon pretended to contemplate, even while he worried that he had walked into a verbal nurse. He didn’t want any of the Shifters analyzing him....or asking questions about him. He needed to seem normal, he needed them to stay away from him. So he tried to shift the focus. “I’m mean who cares what I think, if the truth is in front of me....I don’t run from it. Are you tell me the truth?”

“Well, yeah and, you’re honest at least.” Ezekiel conceded tapping a knuckled on the side of the counter top, suddenly. “Well, for the most part the abilities that a Shifter has or doesn’t have varies by what they are and where they are in relation to Shifter territories. ”

“Ok...Meaning what?” Brandon pushed.

“Meaning...that a bird Shifter will never have the abilities of a Leopard Shifter. ” Ezekiel answered him, shifting in his seat slightly. “And...” He continued gesturing with his hand. “There are only ever two Shifters in any one Clan that has abilities they can use at all. For example A bird Shifter will have Powers more related to thier build, environment as hunting style the same could be said for a Leopard Shifter.”

“Alright. But how do you get them...?” Brandon asked stating to enjoy the back and forth. “And why do you have them in the first place?”

Ezekiel shook his head. “No Shifter knows or really cares about that part.” He revealed with a shrug of indifference.

“We are supernatural creatures these powers are just apart of our lives. We don’t need to know WHY. Most of us simply chalk it up to nature....or God...or an overabundance of energy coming into us when we are born.”

Ezekiel shrugged. “But most Shifters don’t ever posse powers so its hard to track it....or the reasons for it to exist in our people. If anyone wanted to guess I would tell them to assume that it is a fluke, mother and all that jazz. It is what we are.”

Brandon was easily intrigued by the conversation, as well as surprised to hear a Shifter speak of such a thing as a possible deity or “God”. He had assumed that their people wouldn’t cling to such things as religion or faith in higher beings.

Things Brandon had learned to shy away from long ago.

Brandon had heard of God.

Had prayed to God.

...But Brandon had also killed the one that had taught him about the idea of God and benevolence and he had killed many more after killing that person.

Whatever GOD existed, if one or many existed at all, He would surely not listen to Brandon now. And Brandon didn’t want to pretend and pray to the silence, anymore.

Brandon turned from that thought and smirked at Ezekiel.

“So you’re telling me that you brother was granted these amazing abilities, by chance?” He asked the Shifter rounding the conversation back to the original topic.

“Yup, but I wouldn’t call the abilities amazing.” Ezekiel told him, a heavy undertone hidden in his voice that Brandon didn’t quite understand. “Lander can read minds....up to a point.” Ezekiel explained putting stress on his words. “All abilities that I know of are different, and have different hang-ups. For example Lander can’t read a few of the Shifters out in the Clan for reasons no one really understands. He also can’t read my elder brother Walter or my Father and sometimes he can’t even read my Mother Glen either.....” Ezekiel stopped as if he suddenly remember something, he turned his gaze on Brandon. “The first night you got here Lander told us that he couldn’t read you either....Have you felt anything....cold or like a pressure on your mind?” He asked Brandon, perfectly describing the things Brandon had felt just a few minutes ago with his brother, but of course Brandon didn’t let on that he knew what Ezekiel was talking about.

He simply shrugged. “Nope. All I know is that your brother was saying something about me blocking him and then he started calling me names.” Brandon said and left that sentence there for Ezekiel to interpret.

And Ezekiel did with a small head nod. “Lander calls it “Blocking”, but what he means is that there is a wall around a person’s mind that he can’t get past. Some Shifters can do it like my Father....” Ezekiel informed him. “But Lander says that mortals rarely have the know how to do that kind of thing.”

Brandon waved a hand in the air. “Well, then I’m just a rare case.” He said, trying to insert as much nonchalance into that sentence as he could.

“Who knows, either way it gets under Lander’s skin....he’s a little emotional when he can’t get his way....” Ezekiel unnecessarily tried to explain as they both looked away for a moment, each gathering thier thoughts.

But Brandon simply remained silent. Soon another few moments had passed and he looked back at Ezekiel as a new question eventually popped into his head.

“Well back to the point....” He began, trying to move away from Lander and more towards other topics. “Before we got into that argument....your brother told me that you all had powers of some kind in this place. Does that mean that the rest of your family have these powers too?” Brandon asked him.

“Well it’s mostly me and my Brothers.” Ezekiel corrected him. “My mother and father have no abilities, but they are strong in other ways. They wouldn’t be the Clan Heads if they were weak.”

Brandon pulled up an image of the men standing around his bed from the night he had first came fully awake and he counted their shape mentally, before he said. “That’s four Shifters in all, if I’m counting you with your brothers.” He said recalling that all the men that he had met before showering with glen had been Ezekiel siblings. “But, I thought you said only two Shifters ever get to have abilities in most of the Clans around the world.”

“It was a fluke.” Ezekiel shrugged supplying this as the only answer. “But we all have different powers. And so far....You’ve already been on the receiving end of what I can do.”

Ezekiel told him, leaning on the counter top and staring at Brandon expectantly. And at first Brandon wasn’t fully catching on to what he meant, then it clicked. He remembered Ezekiel’s hand on his head. Brandon remembered sleeping after that touch, feeling warm and cold all at once.

“You used your power on me when you put me too sleep.” Brandon said to him and Ezekiel nodded as he sat up in his seat.

“Yes....ans so you know formally we just call them, Innate abilities.” Ezekiel calmly explained. He turned his gaze from Brandon’s as he leaned back in his seat, taking a deep breath and stretching slightly, before settling back down.

“Innate abilities often show up after we Shift for the first time. And in my family’s case, it just so happens that I and all of my brothers were born with them. I can’t reveal Walter and Nates abilities to you without their permission, but you already know that Lander reads minds.” Ezekiel admitted, shrugging a slight apology before he moved on. “And as for me? I can implant feelings, emotions and even memories all with a simple touch of my skin on yours.”

Ezekiel tapped a finger on Brandon’s hand, striking the leather covering his hand. “Happiness, misery, joy and even grief, I can manipulate It.” He pulled back. “But as a personal rule I only do it with permission and only if the person in question really needs me to do it to them. They have to e open to the manipulation to work most times too.”

“Innate abilities? Hmmm.” Brandon made an impersonal sound, then shook his head. “So you can make anyone feel anything if they let you touch them, but....Why do you only use your abilities when people ask you too? It seems like your brother uses his abilities on everyone all the time.” Brandon inquired, positively intrigued about the other power the Shifters he was staying with could wield. Of course Brandon had lived with monsters all his life. See things that no one would understand or believe. He had even read, small passages about the Shifters before meeting one.

Little blurbs in tiny books that had alluded to the idea that their kind were able to perform supernatural feats, but it was one thing to read about it and something else entirely to experience some of it.

But even though Brandon was intrigued, in the back of his mind was the knowledge that he could do things none of the Shifters in that entire clan would be able to withstand. There was the knowledge that there were monsters after him....monsters just as horrifying as him. Men with powers he didn’t want to see anyone subjected to ever again.

Brandon shook his head to knock away the heavy thoughts and pulled his attention back to the man sitting beside him.

“If I had abilities like you and your brothers...” Brandon admitted, purposely ignoring the fact that he did have power of his own. But the power that he possessed couldn’t touch other people and for all he knew it had no name. “I’d use that ability all the time, Ezekiel. Just one free happy memory to replace one sad memory for everyone I meet.

“Ah, but you know it wouldn’t stop at just one.” Ezekiel laughed cynically and raised his palm. “If you could have nothing but happy memories all the time...wouldn’t you ask me to implant them and erase everything else in your mind? Every sickness or fight or....bad dream?” He remarked.

And Brandon knew that that last part was directed at him, but he didn’t raise to the bait, instead he resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the Shifter.

Would I ask you to erase every bad dream or sickness I’ve ever experienced!? OF COURSE I WOULD!!! In a fucking heartbeat....

Brandon wanted to respond. He felt the dark, the fog of his past festering like a gaping wound that no stiches or scalpels would ever be able to seal or cut away.

“Well...” Brandon responded weakly instead turning in his seat to look at the Shifter. “...Who wouldn’t want to be happy Ezekiel?” But Ezekiel growled in denial and lowered his hand.

“It’s not real happiness if I have to create it for them.” He responded simply. “That’s the problem with my ability. It can’t last.... because you can’t be happy and subconsciously miserable at the same exact time. Right? Besides its incredibly hard to do it most times.” he asked confidently and try as he might....Brandon didn’t have a rebuttal. So he moved on.

" I guess Your right.” Brandon replied nonchalantly, then quickly blurted out a new question.

“So um...can you do anything else?” Brandon asked him, looking away from his calm eyes, as Ezekiels gaze felt far too direct all of a sudden.

Ezekiel hesitated for a second then discreetly clenched and unclenched his right hand before responding. “I have a few other abilities, but they aren’t anything I feel like discussing at this point.” He said, his words nearly as cold as a slab of cement between them. But Brandon couldn’t help but want to chip at it slightly....if for no other reason than because he didn’t like Ezekiel’s cold reaction to his inquiry.

“Dose....does it have something to do with “Reavers?” Brandon asked him going back to what Lander had said, and tried not to stutter when Ezekiel full on glared at him in displeasure. “Can you tell me ah what that’s about? Your brother was growling about something like that before he left and...” Brandon continued until he finally had to look away from the intense blue gaze.

“I dont know why he said that!Lander....had a big mouth.” Ezekiel hissed softly finally breaking off his glare and sighing.

“But....Reaver is sickness and in Shifter society, we don’t discuss them...or how Shifters become them.” he commented, obviously not in the mood to discuss the new seemingly heavy topic. Brandon didn’t understand so he kept pushing.

“So...Reavers.....are Shifters?” Brandon slowly pieced together.

“Yes...” Ezekiel replied as thought the answer were a tooth being pulled from him. It was so obvious from his displeasure that this was something he didn’t want to talk about with anyone. But the reason why....remained obscure, so Brandon asked the first question that came to him.

“And....are you a Reaver, Ezekiel?” Brandon asked him quietly and not knowing why he was speaking in a hushed tone. The word “Reaver” Brandon didn’t understand it or know what it meant, but he got the feeling that it wasn’t a good thing and it was at that point that Ezekiel cut him off.

" Tou couldn’t know this but it’s rude to ask that around here Brandon....Reavers are lunatics.” Ezekiel hissed in a tone only a few octaves higher then Brandon’s whisper, as he grimly clued Brandon in. “Reavers are Shifters, born with something in their blood. Like a virulent disease. They will go mad at the drop of a hat and slaughter anything and everything around them. They are Shifters with unnatural speed and strength. Most Reavers caused with this disease have only one fate and one fate only....to slip into complete madness and die alone and forgotten. ”

Ezekiel turned to him, the mesmerizing glow in his eyes almost menacing but also hissing deep pain and resignation. “It’s rude to ask me if I’m a Reaver, but since we’re past the point of no return just know that you should fear me. You should fear my anger...just like the rest. ” He annunciated the sentence in a stern voice that left absolutely no room for further discussion on that matter.

And yet Brandon couldn’t help but marinate on that information in silence. He wanted to understand why or how someone even became a Reaver, but Ezekiel must have sensed him stewing in his thoughts, because he started him up talking again with a new question of his own.

“Anyway Brandon you don’t seem too surprised about everything you just heard?” Ezekiel commented, gesturing towards him and speaking without a whisper or a hiss now. “Is it...common in the mortal cities to see things like this...do your people perhaps have abilities too?” he asked him.

No, but His people had power. Raw....dark....Power. And Brandon knew that HIS people did things with that power....that he didn’t want to remember.

Brandon honestly didn’t have an answer about what the mortals did or didn’t do. He had only ever been around monsters and darkness. He knew very little about anything and most mortals he had only just began to interact with when he began his....“Journey.”

So he answered simply and vaguely. “Well it WAS startling to hear about your powers and everything...” He began, grasping for words as he went along and trying not to bumble them. “But I....um....I learned about Shifters and their societies from schools books and off the web while I was...um traveling around....so most of this is no big surprise to me, I guess.”

Ezekiel chuckled. “That’s interesting...” He began looking at Brandon and smiling. “You mortals read books to learn about us in school....and we read books to learn about you....”

Brandon smiled back at him slightly and he sensed at that moment that both of them had settled in to a mutual, companionable rhythm. They exchanged a few more questions, wrapped in a strange cocoon of familiarity that didn’t make sense to Brandon, but also didn’t seem unnatural. He talked to Ezekiel as though he hadn’t been completely separated from most human contact all of his life.

“So, do you and all the other Shifters in this village really change? Do you change into Leopards, I mean?” Brandon inquired, completely unable to imagine the man before him as an animal, even though he sensed something.....predatory in his eyes. “I can’t exactly imagine you with spotted fur and four legs and a tail?”

“We don’t change we Shift...and we are what we are.” Ezekiel tried to explain, but when he saw the look on Brandon’s face her tried to revise his words. “Look, I’m me, but I’m the leopard too. We were born together, we share the same heart and mind. It wouldn’t be fair to keep him locked up. So I Shift into him and yes....I grow a tail and everything you described right down to the fur.” Ezekiel finished with a calm smile, looking like a man talking about his most prized possession instead of a beast taking over his body.

“Well would you rather be a Leopard or a man?” Brandon inquired sensing that Ezekiel had great care for his other half, but Brandon also could see that he didn’t dislike walking around on two feet either.

Ezekiel chuckled and nodded his head. “There are times when I like one form over another I guess....” Ezekiel answered with a slight hesitation. “Leopards are so aware of everything. Not to mention being a man all the time is boring and often slower, but I can’t choose one without killing another.” He said his eyes shining and still slit, but full of a carefree light that Brandon didn’t want to enjoy.....but couldn’t wholly resist.

“So what you’re telling me is that you are both of them?” Brandon concluded, but once more Ezekiel shook his head.

“No, we are neither.” Ezekiel told him sharply. “Not man not beast. Simply Shifters. We. Just. Are.”

“Okay.....” Brandon conceited, personally coming to the realization that it didn’t have to make sense to him, if it made sense to the Shifters. “Well, what about food?” He probed with another question. “Do you guys eat meat or are you all domesticated and knaw on leaves of lettuce and eat with forks and spoons.”

Ezekiel chuckled and leaned in close. “Can you seriously see me walking around here with a bowl of wimpy leaves in my hand? I mean look at me...” He demanded softly.

Brandon shrugged ignoring Ezekiels self important smile that was getting more and more eye catching the more that he did it. Brandon fingered the cup sitting in front of him, drawing Ezekiel gaze towards it for a moment. “Well you did just brew me a cup of tea, like a good lil house wife...So I was confused.....” He teased.

Ezekiel hissed at the jest, then smiled far too easily and openly. A nostalgic tilt came over his lips, making him look like a big kid. “My mother taught me how to do things like that...and just so you know I haven’t made a cup in years. I personally prefer a hot grill, to a shiny kitchen.”

“Oh well, you’re a regular cave man aren’t you... “Brandon drawled at him. “Let me guess....you take your meat raw and bloody Right?

“Yup...I love the blood the most. There’s nothing like a fresh kill.” Ezekiel laughed, a light moving in his eyes that seemed separate from his gaze. “I honestly don’t know how your people gets along with out a pair of sharp teeth and some of these...?” He said raising his hands and putting them on the countertop. And between Brandon blinking his eyes; Ezekiel’s teeth and nails were suddenly and noticeably elongated.

The very pointed tips of two white fang brushed his bottom lip and the rounded nails of only seconds before had become long pearly white claws.

Like a fascinated child Brandon turned and leaned into wards the Shifter. Not noticing that as the two of them conversed they each separately took chances to move closer together. Brandon poked at the solid claws on one hand, not feeling the smoothness that he guessed was there, because of the leather, but he still felt the claws hardness.

Smiling in surprise Brandon found himself softly flipping the Shifters hand over and pinching the point of the claw, which nearly pierced through his gloves. “Your nails their so....well...deadly, but also pretty cool.” he found himself mummering as he pulled back.

“Don’t worry about them too much.....They are both retractable.” Ezekiel said back and then he demonstrated this. His nails shook slightly as they grew inches in length in only a few split seconds, quickly turning into the clear and deadly, but eye catching claws of his inner Shifter. Then with a thought he seemed to pull his nails right back in. Brandon put the clawless fingers down softly.

Then Brandon leaned in to look at his teeth next. Wordlessly Ezekiel tilted his head back and let himself be explored by Brandons curiosity.

Suddently Brandon’s side protested at the movement, reminding him that he had to keep a firm hand on his injured stomach, but he still raised his other hand and placed the tips of his fingers on Ezekiel chin and glanced up into his slightly opened mouth.

“I gotta say...You people are regular killing machines....” Brandon commented as he traced the curves of the teeth with his eyes. There were actually six of them in all. Two long nearly blade like canines stationed at the top and two more medium length fangs sitting beside the longer top teeth. Then at the bottom row were two more sharpened teeth, barely longer than two inches, but just as sharp looking as the other four upper canines. “And suddenly I have a whole new respect for your mother.” He said as he dropped his hand with a small shiver. Ezekiel laughed, dropped his head and looked right at him.

And the combination of his smile, filled with tools for killing and his eyes, dancing with both a dangerous glow and a charming openness was diabolical. Brandon pulled back shocked when he felt his heart stir into a ache of odd longing.

He’s so beautiful....

Brandon thought.

There were so few good things....or good images that he had experienced in his life. So little beauty.

But this Shifter looked at him and it was enough to nearly make him forget that beautiful things don’t exist in his world. That he didn’t get to touch beautiful things.

But these were things he could never afford to forget.

The boyish smile melted away like a dream as Ezekiel tilted his head, using the movement to capture Brandon’s gaze. “Jeez, I’m starting to notice that every time I look at you...You have this habit of catching your breath.” He tilted his head back level. “Am I that frightening to you?” He tested softly, obviously sensing Brandon’s withdrawal, but not pulling back himself.

“Yeah, I bet you wish you could frighten me.” Brandon returned scoffing, using bravado to act unfazed, looking at the Shifter and easily coming up with an answer for his odd behavior. “But I was really just surprised for a second. It’s your eyes. Their quite stunning.” Unconsciously Brandon reached out and caressed the space beneath the Shifters right eye. He didn’t feel his skin beneath his fingertips, but he felt the heat.

“Every time I’ve seen them they have been glowing slightly and the pupils are slit in long thin ovals...” Brandon began “....Are you always mad or something?”

Ezekiel blinked at that question, then replied. “Well, most Shifters eyes glow a little bit or at least change shape, sometimes for no reason at all Brandon. But our eyes mostly tend to light up when our inner beasts come closer to the surface. Still, most of the time our eyes will glow when were in danger or simply in a highly emotional state of mind...”

Emotional state of mind?
Brandon mused to himself as he looked at the Ezekiel and the Leopard before him. As he remembered another beast...another person with glowing enchanting eyes.

That Shifter...was a monster....
He thought to himself....his mind slipping into a dark corner of memories that was never far away from him.

Jacob...he was always around me and his eyes always seemed to glow just before he’d unravel....

Brandon felt the darkness trying to rise up higher. So heavy that it stung his eyes and throat, threatening to spill over. Trying to prevent it, he kept talking even though he could barely even see Ezekiel’s face anymore.

“Do they get like that when you’re hungry too? I’ve seen eyes glowing like this when...” Brandon stopped suddenly and blinked.

He wasn’t in his dark thoughts, he was staring into Ezekiel’s eyes realizing that he was talking far too freely.

Ezekiel frowned at his hesitation. He reached up and grasped Brandon’s gloved palm holding it as he pulled it down form his cheek. He squeezed it gently. Comfortingly.

“When what Brandon?” he softly pushed, his eyes searching his face.

Brandon froze as he realized that Ezekiel was touching him far too late. He felt the weight of his hand, the heat through the leather gloves. He snatched back his hand.

And a knock far away in the other room shattered the moment like glass.

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