Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 64 - Complications

Chapter 64

~~I bruise Easily so be careful when you handle me....
-Natasha Benningfield (I Bruise Easily)

Half an hour later Ezekiel was shaking his head.

“Dammit, I knew this was going to happen!” He growled, a flash of bright light chasing its way through his eyes as he looked at Brandon then back at Crystal. The first fawn was born nearly within three minutes of Ezekiel placing Crystal in a pin full of warm clean hay...it was a small female with dark black eyes and a chocolate brown coat, but after that fawn (that Ezekiel decided to name mahogany) nothing else was forth coming.

After fifteen minutes Brandon had watched Ezekiel hop into the pin and like an expert he had reached into Crystals body and tried to help the mare push out the second fawn that he said he could feel inside of her....but nearly another eight minutes had passed and all Ezekiel seemed to have to show for his efforts was a shirt covered in birthing blood.

“This isn’t good.....it’s stuck.” Ezekiel hissed standing next to Brandon, turning to the coiled up rope that he had laid over the post nearly an hour ago, as though he was already prepared for something like this to happen.

“What? How can you tell?” Brandon asked Ezekiels as he watched him uncurl one end of the rope and deftly tie a noose in it. Before he dropped the whole thing back over the fence and started to answer Brandon as he dashed what blood he could off of his hands on his jeans.

“It’s been too long and only the tips of the baby’s legs are showing. And no matter how hard I pull it’s not enough....” Ezekiel explained “To make matters worse, Crystals heart rate...her breathing. It’s all getting weak....and so is the baby’s.” Ezekiels stopped whipping his hands on his pants then and took up the rope off the fence and reached out. “Here... “He said trying to hand the un-noosed side to Brandon. ” Help me. I need leverage.”

“Wait...me? No! I don’t know how....” Brandon tried to balk and dodge the rope, feeling like the wrong person for the job, but Ezekiel didn’t let him escape, he grabbed up Brandon’s hand and put the rope in it and softly closed Brandon’s finger around it, giving him no choice but to hold it, or argue, as Ezekiel took up the other end and began walk towards Crystal. Cooing encouragement and soothing words and dancing about the dazed and en-labored mare Ezekiel finally managed to slip a noose over the two, bloody, and nearly twig like legs and small hooves protruding from her rear end.

“Just pull on the rope.” Ezekiel said, walking half way back to demonstrate, before he pulled his own end of the rope taunt. “We’re going to help her push. You wait for my signal.” Ezekiel grunted and with nothing else to be said....Brandon pulled on his end of the rope, until it grew taunt and strict in his hands.....then he waited. It seemed like hours, before Ezekiel would finally hiss and shout.

“OK! Pull!” And Brandon did. He found very little purchase in the hay, but he dug in and did as best he could until with a frustrated sigh Ezekiel said. “Stop.....give her some slack...” he tugged on the rope and as directed Brandon loosened his hold slightly.

Crystal blew a heavy and exhausted sounding raspberry, Brandon didn’t want to see the blood running down her back legs or the still and unmoving legs protruding from behind her tail. The large female panted, sides and ribs blowing up and down, he could tell how uncomfortable she was and he wondered how long she would have the strength to keep on her feet.

Suddenly Crystal knicker’d and grew still, looking like she was straining or pushing to Brandon and it was at that moment that Ezekiel said. “Once more! Pull!”

Brandon and Ezekiel strained and were soon rewarded with the give of rope and a splash of red.

The fawn it the hay like a sack of potatoes. Its head and body flopping like jelly and settling in an eerily silent pile of long limbs and gushy blood and fluids. With a sigh of triumph Ezekiel dropped the rope and jogged over to the fawns still body in the hay. Brandon followed slowly, cautiously. Anxious to check on the baby....but also cautions of what he knew slept inside of him. Of what he also felt burring to life, hunting....watching. Reaching.

Brandon kept his distance, a few steps to the right of Ezekiel as he dropped into the hay and started to check the fawn over. At first Brandon thought it was dead, then Ezekiel turned and looked at him, a slight hopeful smile on his face as he raised his forearm and dashed the sweat from his brow. “Its heart beat is thread-dy, I can hear it starting to fade....But if I can just get it to breath!” And what followed after that was a tense six minutes of pumping and rubbing as Ezekiel pulled out all of the stops to get the slightly twitching body in the hay to respond. To breath....to live. Until he finally...just gave up.

Still and lifeless looking the fawn sat in front of him and with a curse Ezekiel let it be.

Ezekiel shook his head looking so disappointed that it actually effected Brandon, who was also feeling just a little devastated. Especially since Brandon could sense the life still simmering there. He could feel it like a small birds wings beating or a flash of light across his mind. The Fawn....its energy.....it was still alive.

And Brandon wanted it. He damn near could taste it. The Flame was always hungry. Always hunting. It reached. It knew. It told him to take it....but with disgust Brandon slapped its voice down. It was hard....nearly impossible to turn from the lure, the supple feast of life,. The flames will was so wild and heavy that it nearly choked him.....but Brandon did it and with the clarity that came after he pushed down the urges.... Brandon thought to possibly urge Ezekiel to save to baby....before Brandon killed it himself.

“Um....Try....Try it again....” Brandon began. Unable to stay back anymore he kneeled into the hay next to the bloody fawn and Shifter, ignoring the warm red liquid in the hay as it got on his jeans. And also choosing to ignore the myriad smells of the after birth and blood around them.

“What? Why....” Ezekiel turned slightly hard eyes on him, Brandon could tell that the loss of Crystals calf hurt him, but after a moment the look had softened and Ezekiel smiled sadly. “Brandon he’s gone already. It’s normal to lose one every now and then. ”

“Well, mister optimist...” Brandon began grabbing his bloody hands with his gloved ones. He guided then back over the Calves small and still warm body. “It won’t hurt you to try it again.....So just try again.” He told his quietly pulling back his hands and leaving Ezekiels palms behind on the small still shape in front of them.

And Ezekiel did. For another three minutes he worked...but on Brandon’s side....his mind was miles away from his body. In his mind.....in his soul....the flame was awake once more. Grasping, reaching, and pulling for control. Hungry. It sensed all of the life about Brandon....especially the small, broken life that laid beneath Ezekiel’s hands.

A shift in the air about the Fawns body unseen by his eyes, but felt like a pop in Brandon’s mind and deep in his chest alerted him to the fact that the fawn was still alive, but only just alive. It wasn’t breathing, it heart wasn’t pumping, but Brandon sensed the energy there....the potential for life. Like a singular spark to his entire core. The power inside of him shifted up reaching for the energy trying to take it. But rather than let the flame devour it Brandon pushed it down under layers of his own will. And when Ezekiel sighed and suddenly pulled back Brandon didn’t let him move far. He pushed Ezekiel’s hands back down onto the calves’ squishy slick skin, just over is ribs and locked gazes with him.

“Brandon...” Ezekiel said, starting to shake his head.

Brandon talked over him. “Just...do it harder. One more time....” He said. Brandon felt compelled to urge him. He had to urge Ezekiel to keep going....or the flame inside was going to have its fill.

Ezekiel eyed Brandon sharply, shook his head, and taking his words to heart he turned and slammed his fist into the calves’ chest once....twice....and unknown to him Brandon could sense the energy jolt back inside of the fawns small body, like a zing of electricity. And suddenly the fawn was up beneath Ezekiels hands, crying its life to the world.

Brandon and Ezekiel both jumped back in surprise then were quickly overcome with first stunned surprised then laughter. They both climbed to their feet completely uncaring of the warm blood on both of their pants and hands.

Brandon watched Ezekiel watch the fawn. Like a bird taking flight for the first time the little brown and liquid covered fowl climbed up on its wobbly legs and made its way to its mother laying in the blocked pin beside them.

“Yes!!” Ezekiel “We did it! WE did it. They all pulled through!!” he nearly hissed. Bright blue eyes glowing ever so slightly in excitement he stepped up to Brandon.

And embraced him, with the thoughtless joy of a child written all over his face. Once more forgetting that Brandon hated to be touched, but in that moment Brandon couldn’t fault him. He actually even managed a smile of his own. But Brandon wasn’t entirely sure if he was happy about the successful birth or....if he was smiling because Ezekiels embrace was warmer than the sunlight.

The elation he was feeling must have gone to his head because suddenly Brandon was being pushed back slightly and Ezekiel was talking to him. “You were amazing....If Crystal hadn’t made it I would have been crushed. Oh God thank you for all your help!” He said and before Brandon could get in a word edge wise he put his hands on Brandon’s cheeks and placed a kiss to his forehead.

Thoughtless, but quick and soft, the kiss was more of a peck that Brandon hardly minded....but then Ezekiels fingertips slid underneath Brandon’s chin like silk, tilting his head.

Shocked Brandon looked up at him, but this proved the wrong move because Ezekiel was looking down. And suddenly their lips were a breath away from each other’s. The warmth of his breath...the brush of his lips as the Shifter came close but didnt claim him....it was like a spark.

It was far too easy for Brandon to want him....and that was astounding. But what astounded Brandon even more then the intent in his powerful blue eyes was the fact that Brandon didn’t move away from the charged moment.

Instead Brandon felt unable to break away. Foolishly he even leaned in, their eyes connected, matching embers burning to life.

Brandon’s body and heart were swimming with emotions and other things he couldn’t describe, but perhaps by fates design it wasn’t meant to be.

Without warning Ezekiel screamed and pulled back. Nearly stumbling to his knees, he turned his back on Brandon and shouted into the air.

“Ow!!” Ezekiel exclaimed in surprise and with what also sounded like pain.

“Shit!!...You bastered!” Ezekiel growled looking distressed, he put his palms to his temples and squeezed his head between them. “Get the fuck out of my head!!”

“What’s wrong!?...Who are you talking too?” Brandon tried to ask the distressed Shifter, but Ezekiel wasn’t even responding to him, he stood apart, with on hand now at his head, wincing in obvious pain and speaking to thin air.

“I don’t care what you have to say!” Ezekiel continued to converse with the unseen. “I’ve told you not to invade my mind like that....Why? Well, because it fucking hurts!!!” Ezekiel snarled, with a small roll of his eyes.

Brandon would have thought the Shifter was playing some game, but for the fact that every other sentence that Ezekiel muttered sounded like the answer to another person’s words. And from what Ezekiel was saying Brandon suspected that he believed he was speaking to his brother Lander...in his head.

Brandon wasn’t skeptical or disturbed by the thought that the two shifter were communicating by thought, and of course Brandon remembered talking to Ezekiel about his family’s....abilities, but it was one thing to talk about something like supernatural gifts and another thing entirely for Brandon to witness it. For one....it was terribly confusing. So for the moment Brandon just watched Ezekiel speak to the wind as though his brother were within inches of him....and not in another village, on the other side of the Leopard Clans expansive homeland.

“OW!! Lander I’m warning you, get the hell out of my head....!” Ezekiel began, putting a hand to the side of his head and wincing in pain. Then he stopped, his eyes widening in shock. “Wait, what you say!? WAIT!!! What did you say? Billy has gone missing? What happened to him?”

Gone missing?

Brandon thought to himself, trying to follow the nonexistent conversation between Ezekiel and his sibling. He found himself trying to catch the Shifters gaze, but Ezekiel waved him off and put a second hand to his head as though the pain got more pronounced the longer he and his brother spoke.

“Okay... I get it!” Ezekiel said, then stopped and gestured in the air, throwing his head back in frustration a moment later. “I said OK! I’m on my way back to the house Lander. Just wait for me.” And with that Ezekiel seemed to end the conversation.

A good twelve seconds of silence and the simple clop of hooves in the distance was all that Brandon could hear as Ezekiel stood a few feet away from him, with his head in his hands, massaging his temples as though he had a massive headache. Finally and with a deep sigh Ezekiel seemed to uncurl from his pain and glancing back at Brandon he dropped his hands and said. “Sorry, when Lander does that....it’s like having cold nails jammed into my forehead. ” Ezekiel said then he cleared his throat and glanced out on Crystal and her new fawns.

Each of the babies were suckling hungrily and Crystal seemed to have recovered from her ordeal with grace and speed. She stood on strong legs, nipping and licking at the fawns doing her best to clean them.

With a hiss Ezekiel sighed said. “Well it...looks like Crystals going to be fine....” Ezekiel began shifting his head about so that he could get a good long look at her and her calf. Then seeming satisfied, he reached out towards Brandon, perhaps just to take his hand but Brandon wasn’t taking that chance. So with a slight stumble he moved back from his grasp.

“Brandon....” Ezekiel began with a slight note of confusion and taking a step to follow him, but between that step and the next he seemed to understand exactly why Brandon was trying to keep away.

“I’m sorry....” Ezekiel said, and dropped his hand.

Brandon shook his head and steeped further away. He couldn’t figure out if the Guardian was apologizing for trying to kiss him....or for not trying to do it anymore. But Ezekiel didn’t give him much time to ruminate on which one it was before he was speaking again. ” Come with me? It’s an emergency. We’ve got to go...now.” Ezekiel informed him with a slight air of urgency, and motioned for him to come closer so they could speak.

Realizing the weight of what he was saying, Brandon tried to move past the awkward pause between them. He slowly stepped back into Ezekiels space “What emergency?” Brandon asked him. “What’s going on?”

“There’s been an incident in one of the villages...we have hunting to do.” Ezekiel growled and Brandon saw his pupils grow long and narrow so that Brandon was sure that he speaking to something else instead of Ezekiel. Something with teeth and claws. Ezekiel turned without elaborating and started walking towards the gate.

As Brandon steeped past him and waited on Ezekiel to lock the gate he grew anxious in the heavy....angry silence. So he asked. “Well, um what happened? I heard you say that someone was “Missing”?

“Someone has gone missing. One of the locals in the Villages, a Shifter by the name of Billy. He’s disappeared and as of this morning he’s been gone for days, we’ve got to find him or find out what happened to him.” Ezekiel reported heavily, before glancing down at his blood stained hands and clothing.

“Come on...” He sighed. “Were putting together the Guardians and going out to search....But before that, I’ve got to get you home and switch my clothes.”

Brandon pretended not to feel strange when Ezekiel grabbed his hand and ushered him out of the pin, but he did, because he was still partially waiting on something that he had no right even thinking about. Something he had no right to engage in. Something like a kiss.

Shit...what am I doing!?

Brandon cursed himself for his actions and snatched his hand out of Ezekiel’s grasp as they went along. Ezekiel released him willingly and without comment and with a hurried pace they began the journey back towards the mansion in hurried silence.

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