Chapter Fourteen: Dusk
Author’s Songs of the Chapter: Found You by Kane Brown and Losing Myself by JayteKz
I wake before Noah and detangle from his sweaty form getting myself a drink from the fridge in the other room, my throat is parched as I had nightmares about blood so much blood. I move quietly trying not to wake any of the pack as Noah’s haunted eyes float behind my own his mouth and fur-coated in the blood of innocents. What a messed up set of nightmares. I’m not surprised to find Crane awake deep in thought as he prods absently at a glass of water placed in front of himself. I fill up my own glass and settle beside him as I try not to let my mind rewind the nightmares. I glance around my sleeping packmates as they are scattered about the living space within my room, it’s a tight fit but no one minds except for Reaper.
“Can I quote a show we used to watch?” Crane asks gently, his tone light.
“Sure, why not?” I reply as I sip at my water.
“Who we have to be to survive and who we are, they are very different people.” Crane paraphrases and I break into a chuckle.
“I can’t believe you just paraphrased a quote from The 100.” I toss as Crane joins me in chuckling.
Time passes as we drink quietly my heart swelling because I finally have my brother back, my pack back. I can keep that monster they made me deep inside, I can hide it from my pack as long as they are around.
“I missed you,” Danny whispers surprising both of us as he joins us at the counter.
“I miss this too.” Crane smiles in response.
Suddenly Danny is pulling Crane and I off our stools and into a tight group hug. It feels good to have my family back, my blood. My eyes flicker to Reaper’s sleeping body and I let out a sigh as the memories that came to me before the nightmares resurface in my mind.
‘I’m not sure if you guys remember but Reaper is family too, he’s blood.’ - I send to Crane and Danny who’s eyes widen in obvious surprise.
‘Jackey? He’s Jackey?’ - Danny questions his mind working quickly to try and remember the version of Reaper we knew as our cousin from our childhoods.
‘Jackey, wow, life didn’t treat him any better than it did us.’ - Crane states as all of our eyes turn to Reaper’s sleeping form, or I should say Jackey’s sleeping form.
‘What happened to him?’ - Danny prods me curiously but Crane and I shake our heads in response, we know the same information about Jackey as Danny does.
I don’t feel this is the time to discuss Reaper’s past, nor is this the time to explain everything to one another about our lives.
‘Should we tell him?’ - Crane asks me, but, Danny doesn't give me the chance to respond.
Danny moves to Reaper’s sleeping form jostling him lightly with the tip of his toes. Reaper instantly bolts awake jumping up teeth bared as he faces Danny.
“What? What’s wrong?” Reaper asks quietly as his eyes find us, his canines retract as he realizes he isn’t in danger.
“Come join the family reunion Jackey,” Danny responds before he makes his way back over to us leaving Reaper with his mouth plopped open in pure shock.
Danny joins us at the counter seating himself as a smile plasters his face as Reaper makes his way over to us. Crane quickly pours Reaper a glass of water, a clear offer for him to join us.
“Who spilled my real name and how did you figure it out?” Reaper growls unhappily as he takes the glass of water joining us.
“I did, and I remembered it,” I state simply as I refill my glass of water having emptied it.
“What do you mean remembered it?” Reaper prods not satisfied with my response.
“You used to come around a lot when we were all little. You and Danny would always get into arguments about which one of you was our favourite cousin. We were all close until your mom was murdered by hunters, from that point on things began to deteriorate between our parents and your dad. Eventually, you disappeared with your dad never to be heard from again, until now.” I explain to Reaper, his facial features soften as he seems to be remembering.
“Some painful things occurred throughout my life starting with my mom's murder and from there I quickly shoved a lot of memories away in a place in the back of my mind where I could lock them up and never think about them again. Up until just now, I had never thought back to the past, it’s been too painful.” Reaper replies honestly as he gulps his water down.
We fall silent as the bedroom door opens as Noah lets himself out before joining us as he kisses me on the cheek.
“I was raised as a human in a trailer park where my mom was a drunk majority of my life. My dad’s dead so mom worked her way through asshole after asshole, none of them were particularly fond of me. At a younger age, I found my way deep into drugs and selling them, I was good at it and it provided food for my belly. My ex-girlfriend saved me from that path until once I was clean one boyfriend decided to beat me to the point that I thought I was dead before dumping me in a garbage bin outside the trailer park. The only reason I lived was because of the people I surrounded myself with. From there my life only got worse as my girlfriend at the time disappeared, I later learned she was tragically killed by a bear while running from the white-furs with Dusk. When I first met Dusk she helped me become who I am now, I went from wanting to kill myself to this strong alpha who has a greater purpose in life.” Noah explains as he wraps an arm around me kissing the top of my head as he shakes a little recounting the beating before going resilient.
Crane and Danny nod their heads as I’m sure they already knew Noah’s story but Reaper listens intently. Noah’s opening up is important to Reaper and that makes me proud of both of them.
“I’m not ready to share my past but I am ready to search for a better future amongst your pack if you will have me?” Reaper asks and a smile breaks across my face though it is Noah who answers.
“Family always seems to find it’s way back together, you are family now Reaper and more than just by blood,” Noah replies happily.
Suddenly happy applause rise from the room around us as our, so-called, sleeping packmates rise to accept Reaper as one of our own. I watch my packmates happily as they congratulate Reaper. That monster deep within me tugs at my control wanting to protect my packmates more than ever but they don’t need that me right now. Crane clears his throat silencing the room and pulling me away from that darkness.
“I figure it’s time I tell everyone what the humans are keeping from us so we aren’t blindsided by it. However, I want you to know that even though what I’m about to tell you I trust Penny and Hayley.”Crane announces, he directs the last part at me specifically.
“Spill,” Noah states as he steps protectively behind me as if he can sense the terrible pain the words Crane is about to say will cause me, how it will rip control from me by that darkness I’ve been burying.
“The collars were activated as a shock collar for the adults who were being kept with all of the omegas. The collars fried their brains top mush, the pain of such an act made them turn on one another. I tried to help them, to help Lora and Cassie’s mom but they turned on me. I resorted to protecting the young omegas as they became a target by those who once protected them. The collars made the adults irrational, the pain unbearable as they did anything to try and end it. They killed all the adults, they are dead, Lora and Cassie’s mom are dead.” Crane explains pain etched in his tone as a single tear stains a trail down his cheek.
I sway as I stand swallowing painfully at this news. My aunt, the last adults we had left in our lives, the lone survivor is gone. Lora is gone. Danny falls to the floor a strangled wail leaving his lips as Cassie tries to comfort him and Lily holding back her tears.
“I just found mom, I just found her,” Danny mumbles as he shakes beginning to sob, my packmates rush around them trying to comfort them.
The room erupts into sadness over our loses as we comfort one another, Noah’s hand rubs my shoulder soothingly before he leaves me to go to Danny. Reaper hovers near me his face grim his eyes searching me. A single hot tear trickles down my cheek as Reaper’s eyes meet mine, he shakes his head at me trying to tell me to hold onto myself. Noah moves back to me as if Reaper has said something to him, something about my reaction. I move to the bedroom than into the bathroom where I lean on the sink my fingers digging into the sides of it but the tears don’t come. Looking up at the mirror I see Lora’s face in my own which causes anger and pain to slam into my system, I erupt into flames. I let out a growl as I slam my fist into the mirror shattering it, the anger threatens to overtake me. Pieces of glass bounce breaking as they fall my fingers ache as the sink edge cuts them, I’ve lost so much already, I’ve lost my parents, I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost my freedom, I’ve lost too much. I’m done losing! From now on I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep my pack alive, my race alive. Redemption will come my way eventually but for now, it’s time to be the Hellhound, to be the creature Jack made me into. I turn from the sink walking back into the bedroom where Noah waits for me. Our eyes meet and Noah nods, I see the same transformation in him as occurred in myself just moments ago, maybe they made us all into different versions of ourselves.
“You and me Dusk, we’ll be what we have to be, we’ll do what we have to so no one else dies. It’s time to step up so this craziness ends.” Noah states as he looks at me, sadness aches through me for us.
“I wanted to be more than the demon, I wanted us to be more,” I reply sadly than Noah is holding me as we both cry flames bursting around us.
We cry because, for the sake of those around us we need to tuck the majority of our humanity away, we need to embrace the animals within. We mourn our own needs and wants before we let them go. From that moment on we are no longer simply Noah and Dusk, we are dangerous weapons. Composing ourselves we step from the bedroom refacing our pack.