Chapter 66 - Connected
~~If I was not myself and you were someone else….
I’d say so much to you and I would tell the truth.
– Ellie Golding (Dead in the Water)
Ezekiel dreamed seldom...and when he did....it was often just a confusing dream that he would forget within minutes of waking up....
But tonight he dreamed of something he didn’t think he would ever forget.
It started off so innocent and normal...and painful. Everything was dark, nothing moved and that was painful because all he could do was listen.
Someone was screaming in his head, in his heart.
Ezekiel heard every scream, it ripped at his nerves, it made his snarl and hiss, but there was nothing to hiss or snarl at. He simply had to listen to the screams....screams that sounded familiar for some strange reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Suddenly Ezekiel blinked and in the next moment all the darkness was gone. No shift...or movement on his part....he was simply standing in a small room.
A bathroom.....A familiar bathroom. His bathroom, back at the mansion or at least one that looked like his.
The echoes of the mysterious screams chased themselves around in Ezekiel’s head, making him disoriented at first. Until the smell of steam...so warm and moist Ezekiel would have believed it was real and not just a dream mist, brushed past his face and began to clog his lungs. The wet fog gathered close in the small space....he swallowed it with every breath, so that the screams left his mind, replaced by the cloying feeling of steam on his clothes and skin.
The steam was warm...too warm. And in it he sensed the real heat....the source of the steam. And suddenly he heard the water. Fast and heavy and furious....it fell far in front of him and to the right, hidden partially by the steam. Ezekiel could just make out the curtain of a shower, where he guessed the steam was coming from.
Ezekiel approached the shower...and as he got closer he sensed the heat growing. The steam too thick and warm.
And it was just then, before he reached the shower completely that he heard the splash of movement...the mummer of a voice. It was a dream. He shouldn’t have been worried....or even embarrassed...but he was. Because that was Brandon’s voice.
In his dream....about a Shower.
Ezekiel instantly wanted to deny what that said about where his head was when it came to Brandon...but....to his surprise a sound...a broken wail, a sob overcame his thoughts, pushing all thoughts of embarrassment or guilt to the back of his head.
Why is he crying?
Was Ezekiel first and last question as he slowly walked up to the shower curtain.
Even though it was a dream, Ezekiel’s first instinct as a gentlemen was to speak though the curtain...but as he came up to the side Ezekiel saw a flash of skin in the steam....red hot, blistered, boiled. Horrified by the glimpse and not thinking Ezekiel tossed the curtain to the side and there Brandon sat in a ball, beneath the spray, stark naked...but of course this was as far from Ezekiels mind as night was from day. All he could see was the travesty of damage that was being done.
Every inch of Brandon’s back was bright red, scalded and burned. Steaming water running in furrows down his back. Ezekiel looked at Brandon’s face next and was horrified to see...nothing. A black stare....no pain in his gaze, but his eyes were black rimmed and puffy looking. The burning water had to be painful....agonizing as it ran across his exposed flesh....but when Ezekiel looked back at Brandon’s face. Brandon just sat there, letting the water burn him, letting it boil his flesh.
Incensed, by the sight and the damage he was doing to himself, Ezekiel called his name.
“Brandon!” he shouted. “Brandon!”
And got no response. Brandon ignored him entirely. In fact he only looked up at the opposite walls of the shower. His beautiful green eyes, misted with tears...and empty. Dead eyes. Then Brandon moved his arms and when he did Ezekiel saw...blood.
Gushing like a fountain from his wrists. It was everywhere....it ran freely and there was nothing he could do. Ezekiel shouted in shock and dropped down next to the tub, just as the sharp clatter of a blade hit the bottom of the tub.
That sound of the knife hitting the tub shattered across Ezekiels ears like a gun shot. He winced and closed his eyes as it bit into his ear...unrealistically amplified by the dream and when Ezekiel opened his eyes again, the blood was gone. The blade was gone.
There was just Brandon...sitting in the boiling water, steam all around...Brandon’s head hidden in his knees, his dirty blond hair plastered to his head.
Ezekiel’s heart....was racing. He took a moment to swallow the dread of a moment before and fought to remind himself that he was in fact only dreaming...
This fact was further emphasized when Ezekiel, who finally did overcome the panic and dread of a few moments before, tried to reach into the tub and touch him his glance off of him. Ezekiel found in the next few seconds of trial and error that he couldn’t grab him or shift Brandon from the tub. He just sat there burning.
Unable to move him....Ezekiel diverted to trying to capture Brandon’s attention once more. “Brandon look at me...Brandon....” He called and still he got nothing. Frustrated and anxious Ezekiel shouted at him. “Why are you sitting here....Can you hear me?!”
Suddenly on the edge of the tub, between them sat a blade. A long blade. It appeared out of nowhere as things often did in dreams....but when he saw it Ezekiel felt a queasy punch in his stomach.
He thought and starting to get a horrible inkling of exactly what was going to happen next Ezekiel reached out and tried to take the blade up and away before Brandon could see it....
To his detriment his hand passed right through the blade as if it were water. He tried again only to arrive at the same conclusion. There was nothing he could do about the blade. So once more with no other option Ezekiel once more turned his attention to Brandon. But nothing he said seemed to penetrate....nothing he said made Brandon stop looking so lost and agonized.
“Get up....Brandon get up....” He said, but it was like talking to a wall IT was frustrating and frightening, because as every second passed Ezekiel felt like he was running out of time.
“Maybe I should kill myself?” Brandon suddenly murmured to himself. It was the only thing he had said since the dream had begun and the words sent a chill down Ezekiel’s spine. Nonchalant. So serious. So broken.
And suddenly and completely oblivious to Ezekiel’s attempts to grab the blade. Instead he reached up out of the hot water and easily he picked up the blade. It was long and it gleamed as he turned it this way....then that way in his left hand. His black rimmed green eyes analyzing the tool. There was no light in his mint green eyes, no fire...no life.
“Stop it!” Ezekiel snarled and because he didn’t know what else to do; he couldn’t grab the blade and he couldn’t make Brandon see him. Ezekiel knew it was nothing but a dream...but still Ezekiel couldn’t watch anymore. Couldn’t watch it all over again.
Sure that he would fail and have to watch the rest of the nightmare unfold Ezekiel reached out and grabbed Brandon and kissed him. Urging, screaming at Brandon with his touch.
To his surprise and shock the feeling of skin came to him. The weight of a face in Ezekiel’s hands. The movement and the yielding of a mouth against his own. The kiss wasn’t anything short of harsh and direct on Ezekiel’s side. Mixed with anger and concern... and the hidden want of the waking world. The kisses melted togeather. First one then many....it was sweet...and dark and Ezekiel feared to let it end. Feared to let the bliss end and the nightmare continue so he kept on, hoping to change the dream. To fix this broken image of Brandon that he didn’t understand. A horrible image that he wanted to destroy because he couldn’t tolerate the idea of death and the mortal in the same place.
The Brandon of his dream...kissed him back. Just as desperate. Just a dark in his imagined want...just as relentless. Needing him. Ezekiel wanted to moan as he tiled Brandon’s head back, and felt the kisses go even deeper. He felt the heat his soft lips, tasted each damp caress....the panting, the....
Something hit him hard. Ezekiel’s came up from his dreams far too muggy and confused to react.
Ezekiel shouted in surprise as a boot collided with his arm a second time and shoved him to the side. Ezekiel hit the forest floor and groaned as he was taken away from his inner warmth and ripped into reality.
“Hey...sorry ass!” Lander snarled standing over him sneering. Green eyes flashing in the dim light that shown in from the canopy above. “You’re supposed to be on watch, Ezekiel!”
“Fuck you...” Ezekiel’s said sitting up slowly, then feeling the throb in his arm Ezekiel snarled and stood up. “Son of a...” He shoved his brother with a snarl of fury as his mind finally came up out of its sleep. “Did you just kick me!?” Ezekiel asked.
Lander shoved him back without an answer and just like that Ezekiel felt the rush of nail’s and teeth...and the easy rage....but...
“Hey you two!” Mantilo suddenly growled from across the fire. Their father was laid back against a tree, his led out before him as Ezekiel had been sitting only moments before. He had one eyes open...it was glowing with a stern anger.
“Be silent!! You’re going to scare off our prey. And Ezekiel your brother is right, boy get up....you had first watch for this patrol....Now do your job!”
Ezekiel hissed at his brother, turned and walked over to the fire and dropped into the straw of the pine needles. He glanced around the fire spotting all of his brothers and his father, sleeping in the small relatively flat area, in the middle of the forest about twelve miles away from their mansion. He focused on the thing that they were hunting. He focused on the missing Shifter Billy. He focused on chill in the night air.
He focused on the crackle of pine needles and the dance of the flames and not on the fact that he wanted to strangle his brother Lander for kicking him....and for waking him up.
And most of all he tried not to think of Brandon...because if he did....Ezekiel would end up wanting to check on him...to see him. And if the dream was somehow a reality, he would want to stop him. Save him.