Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 60 - Urge To Protect

Chapter 60

Ezekiel sat, with a hand full of wet clothing, staring at the stairs that Brandon had just fled up and disappeared from onto the second floor of the barn. Ezekiel didn’t know what had prompted the mortal to run off, and since he was hardly in a position to chase after him, being mostly nude himself, Ezekiel resolved to leave Brandon to his own devices.

He took his time washing out the slop from his clothes and Brandon’s, before ringing them out and placing them in the grass beyond the Barn to dry in the sunlight.

Soon enough the clothing were dry enough for him to redress himself. Then deciding that he had given Brandon sufficient time to hibernate Ezekiel made his way back inside of the barn, over to the stairs that lead to the second floor and called him down.

It took a few more calls, but eventually Brandon appeared at the top of the stair case looking like he was dragging his feet. He also looked terribly self-conscious in the single long towel that he had wrapped around his hips.

Ezekiel watched him jog down the steps, but to his confusion Brandon stopped nearly five steps away, halfway down the stair case and just stood there. Hesitating...as if he didn’t want to come any closer.

“Thanks...for washing them.” Brandon murmured, making no moves to step any closer. Or to reach out for the clothing. There was this cloud of....embarrassment about him that Ezekiel didn’t understand. His face flushed, his heart beat erratic.

So Ezekiel took a step up towards him climbing the steps to get closer and because he sensed Brandon’s unease, he stopped short of him by three steps. “No problem...here.” Ezekiel said holding out his clothes to him, and with little hesitation this time, Brandon snatched them up.

Ezekiel dropped his arms and because Brandon didn’t immediately make any moves to go and get dressed he said. “The sweat pants may still be a bit wet, but after you get dressed let’s get the rest of this hay laid down outside. And then it will be time to move on to our next stop for the day....unless you want to get back to the Mansion?” He asked and partially suggested, feeling the hesitation in Brandon’s every move and knowing that he was terribly uncomfortable and wondering if it was somehow Ezekiel’s own doing.

But with a head shake Brandon denied his suggestion “No... I’m not ready to go back yet.” Brandon replied loudly. He clutched his clothes under one of his arms. “I don’t mind shadowing you for a few more hours...I mean...if you dont mind and...”

“Good. We'll finish more rounds together.” Ezekiel told him cutting off his hesitant words.

And then, far from welcomed, silenced descended between them.

Ezekiel openly and unabashedly stared at him. He took no pains to hide it. Saw no reason that he should. He didn’t deny how the man drew his gaze in that moment. Like a soft magnet.

And then his eyes began to wander lower. He couldn’t help it....he was just a Shifter. First his eyes settled on the increasing thrum of skin at Brandon’s neck. His pulse picking up, jumping beneath his nape. He seemed so highly aware of Exekiels gaze that he seemed to buzz with anxiety. From there Ezekiels eyes and ears focused on his chest. The longer that Ezekiel focused on Brandon it was clear that he was definitely having a reaction to his proximity, but weather it was a fearful one or something else....Ezekiel didn’t know.

The man glanced away, his graceful swan like neck inviting his attention once again as did the glimmer of the sun along his swale frame. But even though he found Brandon’s form attractive, his attention was taken more with the numerous, and brutal scars that marred his chest and back like terrible tattoos.

Brandon’s definition though obviously effected by whatever ordeals he had suffered was easily seen in his lean sides and arms, the flex and movement of his breathing outlining the slight muscular tone around his stomach, chest....his dusky brown nipples.....the duvet of hair beneath his navel that he wanted to caress...

And it was at this point that Ezekiel wanted to kick himself. More and more he was finding the path of his thoughts turning....to the sensual. To the salacious.

And he didn’t really know what to do about it. He was a male like any other....sex was in his head, but when he was with Brandon...there was an undertone of it. His breathtaking scent, his needy breathing...his hesitant movements. Ezekiel sensed it all. Far to sharply and it was and had been a problem for the last few days....that Ezekiel couldn’t seem to solve.

What was it...and why Brandon?

Ezekiel wanted to ask himself.

A mortal...with beauty...and anger...and something else in his gaze that pulled Ezekiel in. A deep mystery.

Possible sensing the heavy undercurrent of unspoken words Brandon shifted beneath his gaze and asked him directly. “Why are you staring at me Guardian?”

Ezekiel smiled at his blunt tone. He found Brandon’s directness refreshing, even though the mortal had a tendency to ask things in the shortest...and rudest manner possible. IT was also the simplest. And Ezekiel always found himself tickled by that fact.

But seeing as the mortal had asked Ezekiel a serious question he licked his lip and attempted to offer an explanation for his ogling that wouldn’t immediately make him seem like a creep. “Just...looking for a few answers.” He told Brandon.

Seeming to dislike that answer Brandon rolled his eyes and said sharply. “Well you’re not going to get them ogling me like I’m some kind of freak....so stop it.”

“Is that what you fell when I look at you? When my eyes are on you I know you can see exactly what I think...cant you?” Ezekiel said suddenly unable to stop himself. And tired of dancing around the subject. He disliked the dismissal in his tone, Brandon’s nonchalance around him, but Brandon simply tightened his hands on his clothes and didn’t respond.

But Ezekiel smirked because he knew that Brandon felt exactly what Ezekiel felt when Ezekiel looked at him.

Sharp attention. Deep interest. Curiosity. Maybe even some of the fire that had no right to exist for this man. But even though the markings on his body were shocking to Ezekiel....he held no dislike, or disgust for Brandon’s appearance. He didn’t think he was a freak....but he also didn’t know anything more about the mortal then his first name.

The silence was a wall between them that lengthened. Ezekiel didn’t know what else to do, but he keep talking. He had opened this can of worms and he wanted to see what it was going to lead him to.

“Brandon...don’t shut down on me.” He said taking a step up on the steps. “I can’t read your mind....and I’m just asking you to talk to me...”

With a strategic back step Brandon put quick space between them. “About what? I don’t understand what you want me to say.”

“Talk about yourself maybe?” Ezekiel suggested to his question. “You know plenty about me and about my family...” He started small. Hoping that it would lessen the directness of his words. “You know about me...about me being a Reaver.....”

Ezekiel said then stopped as he realized the truth of that one sentence. The mortal before him knew one of his deepest secrets...and Ezekiel didn’t even mind. Ezekiel chuckled at his own odd behavior and with a head shake he continued to talk.

“It’s crazy...but I don’t even know your age or where you come from. I guess, I’m asking you what I’ve been asking you since we first met. Who are you?” Ezekiel shrugged. “What happened to you out there? Where did you get those wounds from?”

“And who are you? What gives you the right to ask me anything?” Brandon asked him with a flare of defensiveness, which was so commonplace with his personality that Ezekiel easily ignored it.

“No offense.... “Ezekiel began, stopping on the step just in front of Brandon and asking. “But has anyone ever cared enough to ask you about this stuff besides me? I want to know...”

“Leave it alone! Why do you care...we barely know each other?” Brandon shot back sidestepping the question and turning it back on Ezekiel, with a cool glare.

The ease of his evasions and his refusal to give up any information, now and in the past, made Ezekiel want to hiss at him. Instead with a sigh Ezekiel glanced away “No matter what I say to you, you evade it.” Ezekiel told him, truthfully letting some of his irritation show as he put a hand to his chin and rubbed his thumb across his mouth in thought. “It’s like this is...a game where you turn every question back into a question. You never give me a straight answer Brandon.”

With a soft scoff Brandon looked him right in the eyes. “You’re delusional, you’re imagining things that aren’t real. Like the fact that you have any right to pry into my life. I assure you Ezekiel...you don’t, even if you are a type of lawman in these Lands.” Brandon said, once more evading the true heart of the questions he had been asked.

He was a mystery. It was the mystery behind his looks. Behind his words and his behavior....the mystery of Brandon...it drew him. Made him step forward. Made something in him want to remove the mystery. Force it to flee and leave him and the mortal alone for once. And because of that Ezekiel was on the step in front of him, challenging Brandon and his stubborn actions. He hissed in his face.

“Oh...Like I’m imagining the fact that you’ve never taken off those leather gloves not once since I gave them back to you. You wash, eat and sleep in leather gloves.” Ezekiel began smiling at that, but he knew that it was purely a smile of condescension. “And am I just imagining this... horrible cut in you stomach too?” Ezekiel growled as his eyes drifted down to the red and freshly stitched up hole in Brandon’s side.

“Something tried to split you open like a piece of fruit...it nearly killed you! You could be dead!” Ezekiel hissed more as he took his right hand and gently laid it over the stitches. His touch wasn’t harsh, but Brandon still flinched and stepped back. Like a Leopard on the prowl Ezekiel couldn’t help but follow him backwards. Step for step. “Your guts, and your stomach were nearly outside of you, festering with infection....you nearly died because of what they did...”

“Stop it...” Brandon managed, his lips stiff as he clenched his teeth and tried to move another step backwards.

Ezekiel traced his steps, slowly. Feeling far too much like he was hunting “And what about all of these other scars.....They look so old and painful...” Brandon jumped as his back bumped into the guard rail. Ezekiel stopped, not boxing him in, but also giving Brandon no where to easily step, but into him. Ezekiel ignored the fist at Brandon’s side and came closer. “They look familiar...”

“Ezekiel...dont.” He began voice shaky. Possibly thinking to utter a warning or a threat...but something had caught Ezekiel’s eyes about the pattern of the scars that he hadn’t noticed before.

Following his instincts Ezekiel let some of his inner beast leak out. Let some of its energy pour down his fingertips. Then not stopping, Ezekiel put his claws against Brandon’s skin, just above his chest, listening to Brandon gasp in shock as his palms and claws pressed against his old scars and bare skin. There was no way that this was okay, but Ezekiel wasn’t thinking about anything except for what he had discovered. The scars in Brandon’s flesh didn’t match the length and width of his finger and palms ...but they were similar enough that Ezekiel felt a chill run up his spine.

Shit....am I seeing this right? Claws...? Could a Shifter have clawed at him...Something with Claws had to have done this?

“What are you doing...?” Brandon tried to object at the caress of his hands and shift away from him, but Ezekiel caught him up against the railing. The Mortal froze up in fear but using his hand to tilt Brandon’s face to the side Ezekiel soothed his stiffness and tight breaths with a few soft mummers.

“Shhh...Dont run. I’m not going to do anything bad. I wont hurt you.” Ezekiel pressed, stepping closer and bending into the crook of Brandon’s neck, so that he could see more of what had now caught his attention in the valley of endless damage that had been done.

A bite mark. Lots of bite marks. Ezekiel didn’t know why he hadn’t see it before, when he had first examined Brandon’s body, but in the warm sunlight pouring into the barn it was far easier to see, then in the dim candle light of the mansion at nighttime.

Something gnawed on his neck with its teeth....was this done by an animal or Shifter? But why would someone or something be...chewing on his neck and clawing him up?

Ezekiel asked himself as he traced the outline of the scar instantly recognizing the ragged tearing and the sharp lines and healed punctures as a bite. Teeth plunging into flesh and pulled back out leaving behind the scars of this act. Vicious and deep Ezekiel wondered how long it had taken the wounds to heal and how painful the attack must have been.

Ezekiel didn’t know what in god’s name possessed him to do what he did next, but suddenly he wanted that mark...to disappear. He couldn’t have described the feeling that came over him at that moment as anything else....except irritation. Irrational irritation.

He felt a flush of energy pour out of his core as the beast of his soul growled inside of his head, Ezekiel felt his teeth lengthening behind his lips. He felt an urge to bite overcome him...like nothing before. Too feel the warm flesh before him yield to fang and tongue, to pull Brandon in and make him submit for just one moment. To make him understand...but understand what? Yield to what?

Ezekiel leaned in and resisting the urge to bite, he placed his lips against the offending scars. He placed a kiss to all three of them, feeling Brandon flinch at each brush. His breath came shallow and hesitant.

The man seemed to turn fragile as glass beneath his touch.

Ezekiel felt Brandons bare chest heaving against Ezekiel’s hands, heard his heart beat begin to race as the seconds lengthened. The man was both terrified and uncertain yet...he seemed to want to stay close. In that moment Ezekiel realized his angry personality was just a mask, something to hide the terror the man held inside for anyone getting to close.

Why was he doing this? Why was Ezekiel so attuned to him?

Ezekiel and the beast inside of him didn’t really know.

It was confounding to have these urges overcome him. Urge’s that felt bone deep, but only penetrated the surface of his mind. He didn’t understand Brandon...but he was beginning to understand himself even less. And right then he didn’t have any control.

" I think you need to stop...” Brandon whispered, a shiver dancing down his spine that could have been anxiety or fear. Or excitement.

“Will you tell me who hurt you Brandon?” Ezekiel found himself saying next. Because that was the main question that he really wanted to know the answer to. And he pressed for it, with another dance of his lips to Brandon’s skin that made the man shudder and breath his name.

"Eze...ki..el..." Brandons voice made Ezekiel feel a dark hunger curl alive for a moment. His hands itched to reach for the man but he held back.

Ezekiel rumbled at his silence wanting to force the man to open to him. He knew that this was what laid at the heart of his attentions....his attraction. The urge to protect. It was ingrained in him...it was who he was. And it was what he wanted to do for Brandon. It was what had drove him to save the mortals life...and defend him against his brothers and father.

But Ezekiel should have known...after all of their other encounters, that Brandon was perhaps no different than an wild animal. Mistrustful, suspicious, and aggressive. And like any animal that’s been cornered Brandon lashed out, instead of cracking and answering Ezekiel’s probing questions.

The balled fist that he had at his side, came up and landed on Ezekiel’s chest, with a resounding smack and the force of a shove all rolled up into one.

It stung, and pushed Ezekiel back in surprise

Instantly feeling foolish and frustrated Ezekiel drew back another step, with a soft hiss. He covertly rubbed his offended collar as Brandon glared at him, his breathing quick and his eyes filled with a little frustration of their own.

“I told you to stop....you can’t do things like that...” Brandon grumbled looking far too shaken by what Ezekiel had done, too vulnerable. “How many times do I have to tell you not to touch me? I don’t like it!”

Ezekiel wanted to back off. He knew he needed to back off before he pushed too hard, but the Leopard inside of him....didn’t accept that. It sensed the defiance in Brandon’s body language, the challenge, the disrespect....and for some reason it refused to let that stand. Ezekiel agreed with its refusal to submit, so much so that instead of pulling back Ezekiel found instead that he began to crowd Brandon. He moved into his space once more forcing him back against the guardrail.

“And why is that?” Ezekiel found himself speaking without thinking. He growled the question, because the beast inside was simmering in his blood.

“Why what!?” Brandon nearly growled back the question, not intimidated or cowed by Ezekiel’s anger.

“Why can’t I or anyone touch you without you having a meltdown!? Help me understand why you push me away so aggressively when you’re the one who kissed...!!” Ezekiel stopped, blinked and caught himself, heard what he was about to say and quickly halted it. Or tried to halt it...but Brandon latched onto his hesitation. Heard the heaviness of what was unspoken. And because he was just as irritated as Ezekiel he attacked it.

“I’m the one that what...!?” Brandon replied like he knew that he was missing something important. “What did I do...” he asked again, curiously he sounded utterly defenseless and anxious to hear the answer, just as much as he sounded upset.

“You... you kissed me.” Ezekiel finally said as though he were speaking something he had never hoped to speak. And he hadn’t. Only minutes after Brandon had woken up and spoken to him....Ezekiel had pretty much come to a conclusion that Brandon didn’t remember any of the events that had transpired leading up to him meeting his father and getting threatened by Mantilo.

From that moment on Ezekiel had told himself that he wouldn’t mention the incident to...anyone but here he was. Throwing it out into the world, between him and Brandon....between him and a man that he still knew nothing about, but was also terribly drawn to....in the worst way. “Out in the woods....” Ezekiel continued....even though he didn’t know what he hoped to get form this admission. “You kissed me.”

“No way!?” Brandon exclaimed stepping towards him, looking offended and self-conscious at the same time. Ezekiel didn’t like the obvious disquiet that his reveal had caused in Brandon, but now that they words had been spoke there was nothing to do but watch the disbelief flit across his face.

“No ....I couldn’t have kissed you. I would never do that!” Brandon said again his denial even stronger this time.

And somehow Ezekiel felt compelled to turn his denials on their head. “But you did! You attacked me, I knocked you down and the next thing I know, you had me like this...” Ezekiel rattled off the scenario, but just as he reached out and his fingertips brushed Brandon’s face so that he could demonstrate, Brandon slammed back into the rails in an attempt to escape. Utterly terrified.

“Get the hell away from me..!” Brandon shouted and shoved him away so fiercely and suddenly that Ezekiel lost his footing. He stumbled back off the fourth step and hit the ground, butt first and with a grunt of surprise.

“Ah, I’m sorry...I guess I asked for that.” Ezekiel groaned as he slowly climbed up onto his feet and barley ran a hand over his backside to remove the clinging debris from the floor. He looked up at Brandon, who wouldn’t look back at him.

“Yeah you did. I’ll...I’ll see you outside.” Brandon said, and with an anxious scramble he fled back upstairs to dress.

With nothing more to do and feeling distinctly rejected. Ezekiel went outside and began spreading hay once more. He didn’t question his strange behavior or pay attention to the lingering feeling of warm skin against his lips.

He didn’t think about the way the man had nearly crumbled from his touch. Trying his hardest to not only ignore the twinge in his hip from being knocked away and hitting the ground, but also to ignore the sharp and intense feeling of frustration that he had absolutely no right to feel.

“Stupid!” He hissed at himself and used the heat of the sun and the scratch of the hay to push all thoughts of warm skin and the burning scent of Brandon far away lest he make another ass of himself....for nothing.

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