Hunter

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36. How to be Completely Inadequate


I wanted to hit something.

That wasn’t saying much, since the strong desire to hit something was one that afflicted me on a daily basis, but right now, it was more urgent than usual.

I really, really wanted to hit something.

Preferably Elijah, but there was no way I was going back into his room. If I did, I probably wouldn’t come back out until later. Much, much later. It was fact, nothing more. While I was able to tamper it down when I confronted him, this stupid completed mate bond broke free of the cage I’d hastily stuffed it into and was shouting at me to turn around and go back to the Alpha. Elijah. My mate.

I knew it had been a stupid idea to go to him last night. It had been the full moon, though, and the bond had been tugging me toward him, growing stronger with my revelation. Though I’d been in complete control of myself until he kissed me. Then... I don’t think either of us could have stopped once we’d started.

It was one thing for me to walk out of there on a normal day, even if everything had screamed at me to return. It was another to try to fight against the pull of the mate bond during the full moon. The one time where werewolves, lycanthropes and shifters alike, were at its mercy. Though shifters aren’t forced to transition like lycanthropes, they’re still at the mercy of the moon cycle. Every one of their cells urges them to go out and find their mate, for whatever reason.

I wasn’t sure why they praised the mate bond so much. Why they held it in such high esteem. In my opinion, being tethered to another person for the rest of my life was a nightmare. Especially since it’s somebody I hated and desperately wanted to kill above anything. And now? While I still want him dead, the thought sends a spark of pain shooting across my chest; a reminder that if he dies now, I’ll spiral into a deep depression that nobody could pull me from.

What a comforting thought. It was probably enough to make Elijah feel confident that I won’t be trying to kill him anymore.

Well, the joke’s on him. Who ever said I had any sense of self-preservation? Well, I did try to escape from the city two months ago so I wouldn’t be captured, but that was so I could keep murdering supernatural beings. It was for a higher cause.

But still, doubt tickled at the back of my mind. I’d seen what Opal had been like after Kyle died. Would I really wish that type of pain upon myself, to a greater extent?

It concerned me how I couldn’t answer that question anymore, now that the anger was leaving me. Which reminded me that I was supposed to be raging right now. Elijah had marked me, without my consent. I may not be a werewolf, but I was pretty sure consensually marking your mate was rather important. And after pausing repeatedly last night, pre-sex, making sure I was okay with it?

At least he didn’t ask why I wouldn’t let him touch my clothing. Why I wanted to remove it myself. Not even Opal knew I’d been raped by a vampire, the same night my brothers had died, when I was enraged and grieving and filled with a subtle self-hatred that had only solidified over time.

Oh, how badly I needed to hit something. Perhaps Evangeline would be willing to fight with me? I was sure she would be thrilled at the opportunity to pay me back for being so uncooperative during that half-assed excuse for an interrogation.

The only problem was; I had no idea where Evangeline was. In fact, I had no idea where anybody was, apart from the controlling dick in the room behind me. Usually, Rebecca or Simon came to escort me from my room, since I still wasn’t technically allowed to be out and about without supervision. I looked around the empty hallway, where there wasn’t a soul in sight. Oops.

I don’t think anybody could really enforce Elijah’s orders on me now, anyways. Not with the stupid Mark on my neck, broadcasting to the world that I was literally on the same level as the Alpha.

Don’t abuse your power, whispered some annoying voice at the back of my mind.

Oh, I was definitely going to abuse my power. What else would I do with it?

Subconsciously, my senses had extended beyond the average range for a human. I’d always thought my augmented senses were part of being a Hunter, but perhaps they were a part of my witch half that I’d never quite been able to hide away. My ears had picked up on voices, coming from a room a few doors down from Elijah’s.

Well, I thought. No sense in hanging around here. It was probably better if I went and bothered the random voices, anyways. I definitely didn’t want to be mindlessly wandering around in the hallway whenever Elijah left his room.

Quietly, I made my way over to the door and knocked without giving myself a moment to reconsider. Chances are, I was interrupting some random werewolves who I’d never met before. But seriously, what was the worst that could happen?

The talking ceased, and footsteps approached the doorway. When the door swung open, it revealed none other than Rebecca, just the person I’d hoped to see.

“Reese!” she said, a smile breaking across her face. I briefly wondered if a smile has ever actually blinded someone, since hers seems like it should. Biologically, it’s most likely impossible, but with magic, it’s probably happened before. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m bored,” I said, shrugging. “And I desperately want to hit something. I’d prefer it be your brother, but my desire to be on the opposite side of the galaxy from him is stronger.”

She frowned, tilting her head. “What did he do this time?”

I grimaced.

After eyeing me curiously for a minute, she glanced behind her, into the room. “Well, Evangeline’s here, if you want to hit her.”

Ah. Just who I was hoping to hit.

“But maybe you should just come in,” she finished, opening the door wider for me to step inside. I did, glad to be out of the hallway and just that much further away from Elijah.

The room didn’t look much different from mine, though it was a bit smaller. It was undecorated, reminding me more of a guest room than somebody’s living quarters. Evangeline lounged on a small sofa pushed against the wall, her legs hanging over the arm. Across from her, sitting on the floor with her back resting against the bed, was none other than...

“Opal!” I exclaimed, actual joy rising in my chest for the first time since... well, it’s been quite a while. My friend glanced up, disbelief etched onto her face for a split second before a smile that matched my own shot onto her face. Scrambling to her feet, Opal practically pranced across the room to greet me, latching me into a hug that probably would have suffocated me if it had lasted much longer.

“Reese!” Her eyes were alight with excitement. “You’re okay! Wait - ” she stepped back, peering at me with a calculating look. “You are okay, right?”

What would have been an easy question to answer two months ago was now the most complicated thing I’d ever heard.

Was I okay? Physically, I could be worse. I mean, I’ve completely healed from Keith’s attack. And Isla’s. And Rebecca’s. There was the fresh, aching, bloody Mark on my neck from Elijah, but now didn’t seem the right time to bring that up. Mentally, I was as well as I’d ever been. There was the matter of my every cell yearning to trace back my steps and hop back over into Elijah’s room, but I wasn’t particularly interested in going back there, especially after the fantastic exit I’d made. Emotionally was where it got tricky. There was no sense getting into it now, or anytime.

So I just gave a sheepish smile, shrugged again, and said, “Meh.”

She sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything else, given the situation.”

I snorted, somewhat silently agreeing. “I should be asking how you are,” I said. “You’ve been in this room for two months. Well, mostly,” I added, recalling the time Elijah had her come heal me after Keith nearly killed me. I was unconscious at the time, though, so I couldn’t see her.

“I’ve been out,” she said. “Rebecca takes me outside to stretch my legs a few times a week.” She flashed the werewolf a grin. Rebecca, doing her best to make it look like she’s not eavesdropping, idly pointed a finger gun at the witch.

“Well, you look like you’ve faired much better than I did in captivity,” I remarked, looking her up and down. It was true. While I was slowly withering away, Opal more or less looked exactly the same. I guess she actually took care of herself, instead of spending her days punching mirrors and throwing glass at the walls. “I half-expected for Elijah to kill you out of spite.”

“Please,” Opal waved a hand. “I’m surprised you’re still alive, since he was hellbent on killing you. I take it you’ve been behaving yourself?”

I opened my mouth to say no, not really as Evangeline scoffed. “The only reason she’s still alive is because the Alpha needs her to scare Christian Roy into obeying him.”

“Actually,” I said. “I did need to talk to Rebecca about something concerning her dear brother.” I hadn’t planned on dragging my problems into this quite yet, but I guess now was as good a time as any. I spun around to face Rebecca, and the smile dropped from her face as she took in my sudden mood change.

“Is this about whatever he’s done that made you want to move galaxies?” she asked, shoving Evangeline’s legs out of the way and sitting next to her.

“More or less.” Striding over to her, Opal at my heels, I yanked down the collar of my shirt, revealing the Mark, clear as day.

“Well, well, well,” Evangeline said, throwing her legs on top of Rebecca’s lap. “He finally told you.”

“You knew?” I crossed my arms, suddenly mad at the wrong thing. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Why should I?” She raised her eyebrows. “I don’t like you, Hunter. You may be an asset that we can’t afford to lose, but that doesn’t mean we’re friends.”

“We suspected,” Rebecca corrected. “I’m sorry, Reese, but it really wasn’t our place to tell you. Besides, family or not, Elijah would have our heads if we hinted at anything.”

“I’m confused,” Opal said. “What exactly did the Alpha tell Reese?”

“They’re mates,” Evangeline said, sounding bored. “The epic love story between werewolves destined for one another? The bond that started that stupid human crap about soul mates? I’m actually surprised you were able to resist the bond for so long, though,” she added to me. “Most werewolves break before the next full moon after they find one another.”

“Is that why you’re still alive?” Opal asked me. “Are you in love with one another?”

The idea of me being in love with Elijah was ridiculous enough that I burst into a fit of uncontrolled laughter. Opal stared at me, startled.

“Oh hell, no,” I said once I’d gotten back under control. “I still want to kill him, now more than ever. By the way, can I do that without the dagger?” I glanced at the two werewolves in the room. “Does decapitation work?”

“You’re not decapitating my brother,” Rebecca said. “I’m not even on board with the whole killing him as a backup plan idea.”

Evangeline just shrugged, idly twisting a lock of blue hair around her finger.

Sensing no help from either of them, I turned back to Opal. “Do you know a spell or something that can put down a werewolf? Something that you could teach me?”

She paused. “Rebecca told me you’d unlocked your magic.”

“Do you know something, or not?”

Opal sighed. “Unfortunately, no, I don’t. First of all, my specialty is fire magic, and I’m not all that strong with that. Secondly, life and death magic requires tremendous power that is rather rare among magic-wielders. Thirdly, even if I did know something, you have next to no control over your magic. Fourthly, we don’t use spells or incantations or any of that. This isn’t The Vampire Diaries, you know.”

“That sucks,” Rebecca sighed. “I like the Original family. Especially Klaus.”

“I’m more partial to Rebekah,” Evangeline piped up.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Okay, then can you teach me something? So I’m not completely inadequate?”

Opal scrutinized me, then nodded.

Great. So now I was going to deviate even further from humanity and learn how to actually use the magic that I somehow locked away for seven years.

Ah, how I miss the good old days. Killing things. Being somewhat-human. Not having to worry about sleeping with the Alpha again.

I’m not sure what made me think of that last part.

“Sit down,” Opal said. “On the floor, cross-legged.”

I did as she said, feeling a bit foolish with Evangeline watching.

“Rebecca said you’re strong with air magic?” Opal glanced over at Rebecca, who nodded.

“She nearly hit me with a blast of wind the other day,” she said. “Good thing she missed, or else I would have ended up in the infirmary.”

“You were annoying me,” I muttered.

“Magic tends to respond to your emotions,” Opal said. “Which is why you locked yours away during the Takeover. I imagine it was a traumatic experience.”

“I’ve already gone through this with Rebecca,” I complained. “Get on with it.”

Evangeline tsked. “Grumpy, aren’t we?”

Anger rose up in me. Opal pressed a hand to my shoulder.

“Relax,” she said. “I can feel your magic building. We don’t want it to listen to your emotions.”

“You can feel my magic?” I blinked. “Why can’t I feel yours?”

“I’ve been using magic for nine years,” she said. “You haven’t even known about your magic for a week. You’ll be able to feel magic when you get stronger. Now, I want you to create a light breeze.”

“A light breeze? What’s that going to do, force Elijah to put on a sweater?”

“It will teach you control. If you try to attack somebody with your magic now, you’re more likely to hurt yourself than you are others. Now, focus.”

I scowled, but did as she said. I closed my eyes, remembering the feeling of electricity hovering in the air around me.

“Eyes open.”

I peered up at Opal. “You said to focus.”

“You can focus with your eyes open. Can somebody talk to her?”

“I don’t think distraction goes well with focusing,” I grumbled.

“Practicing with distraction is good for you,” Opal said. “Would you stop being so difficult?”

I sighed, forcing myself to concentrate on the air. The electricity.

I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. The air felt the same as it always did; it felt like air. Breathable. A bit stale, since we were inside with no open windows. It didn’t feel like it was something I could actually control.

“Reese,” Rebecca said. “If you hate Elijah so much, why did you let him Mark you?”

Ha. So much for focusing.

“I didn’t.” I wished I had the skill to have a conversation and focus on something else at the same time.

“What?”

I was startled as Rebecca’s screech shot toward me, the air vibrating with the sound waves. Finally. The air didn’t feel completely dead anymore. I raised an eyebrow at the sight of her face flushed red with anger.

“Wow,” I said. “Perhaps I should l let you go yell at him. I think he’s still sulking in his room.”

“How-how dare he?” Her hands were clenched into fists. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had little half-moon marks on her palms from her nails digging into the skin. “Does he not understand the importance of consent?”

“Oh, I think he does,” I remarked. “I don’t think he forced me to have sex with him. In fact, I seem to recall him hesitating a few times.”

“I mean, does he not know that he’s just tethered himself to somebody he - wait, you had sex with him?”

I raised an eyebrow. I didn’t realize having consensual sex was as bad as being forcibly Marked. “Um, yes?”

“I don’t need to know that, that you very much! He’s my brother.”

“You asked,” I said. “I answered.”

“Was it good?” Evangeline asked, sitting up on the couch.

“Do not answer that,” Rebecca said. “Also, Evie, gross. You’re my cousin.”

Evangeline gave her a weird look. “I’m not asking for me.” She turned back to me. “It’ll be harder to kill him now, Hunter, since it’ll send you into a deep depression.”

“I’m aware of that,” I muttered. “I guess I’ll have to try harder with plan A.”

“That’s the spirit,” she said.

I didn’t bother responding. After a minute or two of silence, in which I focused on the air, which seemed to be dead and unresponsive again, Opal checked in on my progress.

“I’m bored,” I said in response.

“Me too,” Evangeline said. “I have better things to do than watch the Hunter sit around passing wind.”

Anger sparked in me. The air sparked in response.

“Focus, Reese,” Opal said, sensing the sudden magical surge. “Don’t let the magic respond to your emotions.”

“I’m surprised it’s responding at all,” I said. “I don’t think my magic likes me very much.”

“Can’t imagine why,” Evangeline muttered.

Electricity hummed around me. From the look on Opal’s face, I was the only one who could hear it. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to calm down. The magic died down with me.

“Rebecca,” I said, just to fill the silence of my current failure. “Your brother said something to me, about my family.”

Rebecca frowned, a crease appearing between her brows. “Your family? He killed your dad, didn’t he?”

“Yes, but it wasn’t that... he said that my family took so much from him.”

She pursed her lips, thinking. “I don’t think he knows anybody with the last name Hearne, besides your dad. The way he killed him, was it personal?”

“Of course it was. My dad had just killed his.” But the way Michael Randon had saved killing Dad for the Takeover... the way he’d made him the last living Hunter... “I think your dad held a grudge against him,” I said. “It was like he wanted my dad to watch the world crumble around him.”

The gears were clearly turning in her head. “Your dad, what was his name?”

“Arthur,” I said. “But if you don’t know his last name...” I hesitated, my brain rewiring itself. My dad had no living family. He claimed to have been an only child, both of his parent’s only children, who were dead. It was like the family name had been born with him.

“Arthur... Arthur...” she paused. “Curly brown hair? Blue eyes, like yours? Tall?”

“Yes,” I said, unease growing in me. The air stirred around me as a result, a gentle breeze, but I barely acknowledged my success. It wasn’t like I’d tried to use magic. “How did you...?”

Rebecca took a deep breath, her face grim. “I knew him,” she said. “A long time ago. Your dad was a werewolf, Reese. And he killed my mother.”


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