Frigid air hit my toes as I rolled over in the bed, dragging the covers with me. Sitting up, I looked around. In bed again? It seemed like I had only been at Will’s house for a few days and most of that was within his queen sized bed. The dark window told that it was still late, but there was no sign of Will in the bedroom or ensuite. Abruptly, angry noises came from my stomach and I tried to remember the last time I had a solid meal. Not today, that was for sure.
Standing, my chest ached and I felt something akin to anxiousness, though couldn’t understand why. Nothing seemed to be off about the room, besides the fact that the owner wasn’t in it. Wandering into the main hallway, the clock on the far wall started to chime 10 pm and the only light visible was coming from a room I hadn’t been in yet, Will’s office. The cold hallway creaked underneath my feet and I pushed the door open silently. He sat next to the fireplace at his big oak desk and I watched him from the doorway. His head was resting in his hands with his wavy hair flopped over, hiding his face from the world.
Don’s words drifted back to me as I got to watch him unobserved. Emanating strength and authority just in that chair, what on earth would scare this man? There was Jazz playing softly from a stereo somewhere unseen on the mantel and the smell of food hit me, my stomach growling in response.
Will lifted his head and seeing me there, leaning against his door frame in baggy night clothes, gave a knowing, smug grin.
Yeah yeah, I couldn’t be angry at him anymore for the whole ‘biting without due notice’. I had officially drunk his kool aid in a steamy shower sex haze and made my choice. I eyed my bite on his neck, already faded, god that was sexy. I was on him. For how long this thing would last I didn’t know, however long until the scar faded? But there, I did that. Picking up something from the floor, he leaned back from his hunch and brought up a Chinese takeout box and chopsticks. My eyes widen as he picked a big chunk of chicken out of the box and crunched on it. While chewing, he said with an open mouth.
“By the way, I love Chinese.”
What a smart ass. I gave an incredulous laugh and walked into the room and right onto his lap, trying to grab the box out of his hand. He held it away behind him, forcing me to lean into his body.
“Will, I am starving here.” I dramatically moaned.
“Funny, I thought I just fed you?” he quipped. Oh lord, sexual innuendos from a 30 year old man? Taking my attention away from the takeout box in his hand, I looked down into his eyes and kissed his full lips, softly but deep. I quickly snatched the box out of his outstretched hand and chuckled and placed his hands on my hips. Sesame chicken. Giving my full attention to the box, I found the perfect bite and moaned “You didn’t feed me enough, apparently.”
Glancing down, it appeared the floor between the fireplace and desk had a little mini picnic set on the space and looked like Will had already started.
I moved down to the floor next to the fireplace and faced him, still in his chair. Looking in all the boxes, I was satisfied, all the staples of good Chinese takeout. After a few minutes of satiating myself, I glanced at him. Silent, he was staring into the fire, elbows on knees, fingers steepled to his face, deep in thought. His arms flexed in the firelight and a muscle in his jaw twitched as he was watching the fire dance in the hearth.
It was easy to see why he was Alpha, calm but intense, powerful yet in control. Wavy, dark hair had once again fallen forward and covered some of his face from me. This was definitely a twilight zone where I got to have this in my life. I shook my head at the incredible situation I found myself and reached for more kung pow chicken.
Another swell of anxiousness hit my chest and I physically put my hand over it. What was going on? I looked up to find Will staring at me, his face carrying worry lines on his forehead.
“That’s you?!” I asked, disbelieving that I could feel his emotions that clearly. He ignored my question and continued his stare, opening it after a few tense moments.
I pursed my lips in thought, then understanding. Ahh, there he was, the Will who was considerate, caring and apparently, scared. My Will.
“Sorry for what, exactly?” I had already forgiven him, why, I had no idea. I wanted him, he wanted me, it seemed something that might be reasonable at some stage. But being raised as I was, I could never stay angry or hold a grudge for long, but I would still drag this out just a little. He tilted his head and gave me a reproachful glare. He knew I was going to make him spell it out and he stared back to the fireplace, ignoring my ploy.
“I ... had this vision of you being taken back to the commune and never seeing or hearing from you again. I had no rights to you, we weren’t even the same species. Those elders, your grandmother could just keep me in the dark forever. It was not something I could tolerate.”
He let out a big sigh and leaned back in the leather office chair with his head back.
“And then we heard that you were actually part Were and it was like lady luck threw me a boon and if I didn’t pick it up straight away, I would lose it. It would get swept away across the river and out of my grasp.“ His eyes burned a hole in the ceiling before looking down to me again.
“I don’t regret doing it, I could never regret making you mine. But I could have given you a bit more warning than ‘This will hurt’.”
I nodded in understanding, and then crawled through the Chinese boxes towards him, coming to kneel at his feet. For all the turmoil I could feel coming from him, he appeared to be the face of calm and thoughtful. He was someone that could be an anchor through everything that I was going through. I could try to be my own anchor for a while, but someone who had charted the waters of a Were would be better.
I ran my hand through his hair and brought it to rest behind his ear, resting my thumb to stroke his cheek tenderly.
“You were scared, I forgive you. But for future reference, people in relationships talk about stuff before it happens, okay?” He gave a rueful grin and tilted his head down in a little bit of remorse. Above his head, the half moon came into view outside the window and I was transfixed by the sight.
“What’s going to happen to me?” I quietly asked, looking up to him.
“What do you want to happen?”
I shrugged and turned around to face the fire, resting my back against his legs. He put his fingers through my hair and started to twirl it.
“Well, two months ago I was happy to just teach community college like a normal person. Then about a month ago I found out that I actually do have skills, unusual ones from my family. So, then it became about being a Witch in training. I had resigned myself to that and probably taking over for my Gran. It wouldn’t have been my original plan, but I would have been with family and around stuff I knew.
Then, two days ago I found out that my mother and father weren’t actually who I thought, and I am half Were. Which, I didn’t actually know you could be half and half, so there is that I have to deal with. And all the questions I have. Will my powers suddenly fade? Will the Were part of me fade?” I had the thought and looked back to Will sitting playing with my hair and shoulders.
“Do I have to transform and become… you know,”
Slowly he nodded his head, thinking through his answer. “Yes, eventually you have to. That last full moon, your body wanted to, but probably didn’t know how. The next full moon we will have your ceremony with the pack and... help you.”
“Similar to an initiation, but you don’t have to prove anything. Just basically we, the pack, will be with you for it, to see it and guide you.”
We sat for a minute, watching the fire move through the logs. Burnt, dead pieces of wood sat to the side of the fireplace, discarded by the fire.
“What about what my Gran said? About the deaths?” He knew what I was talking about. Jekyll and Hyde, what a perfect analogy. The duality of man, now a tragic story of a half Witch and Were woman. It sounded like a comical freak show.
Will spoke low in my ear, rubbing my shoulders.
“I’ll be with you, the entire time. I won’t let anything like that happen.” For the rest of my life? Talk about a rock and a hard place. We sat like that, thinking. Me, about how the hell I was going to live for the rest of my life, scared to be one thing in case I racked up a body count, but needing it occasionally or I would slowly lose my sanity. Whatever Will was thinking, he still played with my hair absent mindlessly, but the anxiousness I felt before was gone and now it was just my own feelings I had to deal with.
Slowly in front of us, the fire died down, the logs on the other side not catching on to burn.
Eventually, Will broke the silence and asked
“Can you get that? I don’t want to move right now.”
I nodded and started to reach for the fire poker. My shoulders were grabbed forcefully, and he planted me back to sitting.
“You want me to get that, or not?” I asked, puzzled.
“Not that way, the other way.”
I peaked my eyebrows and looked back at him.
“What 'other' way?”
He stared down at me, incredulously.
“Magic it. Like you did the other morning.”
“When you were angry at Gran, and you set the whole stack into flames.” He was getting frustrated now and continued to stare at me like I was crazy. Finally, he realized I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Fuck me, Margaret is a terrible teacher.”
“We didn’t get very far in two weeks, thank you, just the basics to kill a man.” I retorted, what was he talking about, fire? I couldn’t start a fire, that seemed like elemental magic.
Will planted his hands on my shoulders and turned me around to look at the fireplace.
“Look, you were angry, you slapped your hand on the table, and poof! The fire lit up.”
There was a vague memory of something like that, but I didn’t consciously make it happen. I stared at the fireplace and spoke up, to sound this out.
“Okayyyyy, Chem 101. Fire, combustion. Oxygen and heat on a fuel source. I don’t need to make oxygen, but heat is just atoms rubbing together so fast that the friction between them causes it to get hot.” Holy shit, maybe I could do this. I continued the train of thought.
“I can’t make heat, but I can manipulate the energy in each atom, which everything except photons have, soooo.”
I trailed off and looked at the unburned wood, focusing on the top log. Closing my eyes, I reached out with my senses to feel it, feel the energy of the wood that was denser than the air surrounding it and I lifted my hand. I needed to create friction in the wood, enough to set it alight. Pretending I was rubbing the atoms between my fingers like one would do with bills of money, I felt them, starting to rub together. Friction. I moved my fingers faster, and then heard a ‘pop’ at my feet. The wood was now alight, a small flame on the top of the three logs.
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed. “I can make fire!”
Will’s hands gripped my shoulders and was lightly digging them in, like he was proud and just wanted to hold me. Turning my head to look back at him, I said one more time, more in confusion.
“I can make fire?” Will held his big smile.
“You can probably put it out too, Margaret did.”
He was happy about this, but this really didn’t make sense. I could make fire and extinguish it? The physics of it was correct when you took into account what Wardwell Witches could manipulate, but that meant my Gran could do the same thing, as well as my mother. I kept the question and worrying look on my face, long enough for Will to state,
“Well, I think it is pretty cool, and definitely going to be a good party trick on bonfire night. The wolves will love it.” Giving a half hearted smile, he cupped my chin.
“Hey, what’s going on in there. Isn’t this cool, or am I missing something?”
“No, this is pretty cool.”
“Then what are you thinking?”
“Well, if I, a rookie, can easily start a fire in a hearth with very little practice, then my mother and Gran, who are and were the most powerful witches in our coven can probably do a lot more than this little log fire.” Following my line of thought, he nodded with me.
“Probably, I saw something like that on the night we met, She made the signing bowl of blood light up as well as the large pyre for the treaty fire.”
I looked back to him, my face probably full of worry lines, and for good reason.
“Will, if my mother could control fire, as in light and extinguish it, then how the hell did my parents die in a house fire?”