Strange Eyes

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Twenty-eight

The dream came to me as I slept peacefully. It crept in, slowly. Like a seeping black fog that corrupted all warmth, all light.

Exhausted, I had collapsed onto my bed as soon as we had arrived back at the safe house. There was the faint memory of Sam’s touch against my hand, a look passing between us, before I passed on to another realm.

I didn’t know what I was seeing.

At first, it had seemed like I was just taking a simple walk.

The sharp green of the trees kept my mind alert, my human dream-self navigating through the trail, breathing in the fresh air. Everything was so incredibly vivid. My mind was sharp. Alert. I walked alone, the isolated trail winding further and further through the greenery. The sun rose high above my head, peeking in through the treetops in a peaceful white light. It was beautiful. I walked on, not sure of where I was even going. I was calm. At ease.

Then, the blackness came.

Gradually, to my horror, the sun dimmed. It literally disappeared, as though someone or something was sucking all of the light from the world, leeching from the peace and warmth. Startled, my heart beat loudly in the pulse of my neck, drumming in my head as I looked around frantically.

What’s happening? My voice was the last thing that I heard, echoing in my frantic mind as I felt the burn.

It was even more agonizing than usual. If that was even possible. It tore apart my being, spliced through every atom, every molecule, as I writhed in fiery agony against the earth, collapsing. I clutched against the soil, the world turning black as I Shifted. It felt wrong. My teeth clenched, my bones snapping and my muscles splitting and my blood singing as I looked up to the blackened sky, seeing only a lonely emptiness. A painful, torturous darkness.

The last thing that I saw before I woke was a pair of light eyes, almost silver, staring down at me in the cloak of darkness.

“Jane!”

Sam’s voice roused me. I sat up in bed, frantically searching, blinking my eyes and grabbing at nothing.

“Jane, it’s alright. You had a dream.”

Sam was beside me, his hands along my arms. Instantly, I calmed. Still breathing hard, I clutched him like he was my lifeline. I laid my head against his sturdy chest, feeling the breath whistle out from my teeth. “I don’t know…” I tried to speak, but Sam held me against him, calming me to a point of sweet oblivion. The dream slowly faded from my mind as my sharpness returned, my equilibrium coming back to me.

“Could you feel it?” I asked him, pulling my head from his chest to look at him once I had calmed. Sam had on street clothes. A black hoodie. Some jeans. The place beside me wasn’t ruffled. Had he slept? Or did he not want to sleep in the same bed as me? Why did I expect him to?

My cheeks heated at my own childishness, the fast pace of Sam and I’s relationship taking hold in the midst of all of my confusion.

Sam nodded his head, his dark eyes studying me as though I were a strange yet beautiful creature. He stroked my hair back from my face. I was embarrassed by the remaining sweat that coated my forehead, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. His eyes took on a gentle look that I cherished.

“Yes, I could feel that you were distressed.”

“Woah.” I marveled, and he smiled, continuing to stroke my hair. It had gotten longer, almost down to the middle of my back. Looking up at him, I realized that I didn’t know what to say. There was so much between us, it was like a dam would burst if I even said one sentence to him. Is this how it’s supposed to be? I wondered.

Without warning, my thoughts turned to Adam. My emotions soured as I thought of him, unwelcome. I felt some form of guilt. A part of me, the old part of me that still lingered, missed him deeply. But I knew that he wouldn’t recognize this new Jane. The transformed Jane. Things would never be the same.

“What are you thinking of?” Sam said, pulling back from me. I breathed in his scent. It comforted me, bringing me back to reality. “Nothing, anymore.” I said, smiling at him as I pressed my lips to his. The action was tentative, but sweet. He pulled back, his hand along my jawline. His eyes were deep as he looked at me then. I could feel the pull of our connection, the magic of our imprint. It was amazing.

We didn’t speak, I just lay against him as we sat on top of my bed, all of my former negative emotions leaving me, replaced only with sweetness. He looked…tired. I realized this as he ran his hand along my arm, goosebumps raising along my skin.

“Did you sleep at all?” I asked him, pulling away from him to face him head-on. I wanted an honest answer. Sam’s eyes shifted to the window, his eyes looking almost caramel. The sun was beginning to set. It was most likely four or five in the afternoon.

It was nearly time to Shift again.

Sam looked guilty as he began to answer me. He spoke slowly. “Sometimes, it’s hard for me to sleep.” That was all he said. I studied him, careful of what I said next. There were still so many things about him that I didn’t know.

With a start, I realized that I didn’t know his last name.

“Sam, what’s your last name?”

He chuckled a little at my question, the sound like a sweet symphony. The former intensity of the atmosphere was replaced with lightheartedness. He reached out to tug a piece of my dark hair, twirling it around his finger. A simple ring gleamed from his right hand that I hadn’t ever seen before.

“Evans.” He answered.

I tried the name out in my head. Sam Evans. It suited him.

“Yours is Schwartz.” He said, clearing me of all anxieties. A smile of amusement graced his handsome face. It was as though he could read my mind. Which, he kind of could. Almost. It was more like he could read my emotions.

Another thing that had gone unspoken about our newly made bond. We had just known.

This imprint thing could really be nifty.

Smiling, I leaned into him and his smell of home, wrapping my arms around his sturdy middle. He pressed his forehead against mine, exhaling as though a weight was being lifted from him momentarily. Again, I found myself wondering why he didn’t sleep as well as the others. Thinking of my nightmare, the thought as unwelcome as that of Adam, I wondered if that was what plagued him.

I focused, attempting for the first time since the imprint had occurred to get a read on what he was feeling. If I focused hard enough, I realized that I could sense his fatigue. His stress. His worry. I didn’t want to ask him about all of that then. It felt as though I were invading some private aspect of him that I wasn’t supposed to be witnessing.

Some things, in that moment, were better left unsaid.

“I’m starving.” I said, realizing this with a start. Sam pulled away from me.

“Don’t worry. We’ll eat later.” He looked at me carefully as he said this, and I could feel his stress in that moment. I realized then that he wasn’t talking about us eating human food. He was talking about us eating when we were Shifted.

“Oh.” I said, and before Sam could say anything more a knock sounded on the door.

“Alright lovebirds,” It swung open, revealing Rick and Paul. Paul stood silently, a look of slight amusement on his gorgeous face. Rick grinned profusely as he took in the sight of Sam and me.

“Sleepy time’s over.” Rick stepped up onto the edge of my bed, bouncing his large form around so that the bedframe creaked profusely. I laughed out loud. Paul stood with his arms crossed in front of him, looming in the doorway. There were shadows against his dark features.

Sam unraveled himself from me, getting up out of bed. Rick promptly jumped back down onto the old wood floor, his feet making loud thudding noises as he did so.

“You can take a shower if you’d like. I’ll be in the living room.” Sam said, his eyes connecting with mine. I nodded, and they all left the room, leaving the door open out into the hallway. The house was alight with golden energy, the sun beginning to set further down into the horizon.

I sat there, taking in everything that had occurred in the last day. I was a Changed One. I was going to fulfill some unknown duty with these seven guys. Some battle against darkness.

I thought once more of my haunting dream, thinking of the light eyes. With a start, I remembered the strange boy from the quad on that misty day, back before everything had changed forever. The way that he had looked at me…

A chill ran up and down my spine, raising the hair on my neck. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of looming fear as I got up from bed, seeking the comfort of normalcy in the midst of so much change.

After my shower, which was much needed, I found myself standing in the middle of the bathroom, looking around with a sense of purpose.

It looked exactly like what it was- a bathroom that seven guys occupied. The counters were dirty, the supplies minimal. The shampoo looked to be about two years old, and it smelled like boy. I couldn’t have dreamed of a razor if I tried, much less shaving cream. A ring of rust rimmed the drain in the sink. The towels were musty and smelled aged. I wrapped a rough towel tighter around me, opening the door out into the hallway with a sense of duty. The place needed fixing up, and it seemed that I was the person for the job.

After getting dressed quickly in some clothes that Sam had prepared for me, I set out into the living room, my towel in hand. Did they even have a laundry room?

Before I could venture in too far, I heard an all-too-familiar voice, the sound filling me with surprise followed by happiness.

“Halona?” I called out, stepping into the room to see her familiar face. She smiled at me kindly. Her presence was shocking. I took her in. She had been speaking with Adonis, her raven eyes intent. They shone with her familiar homeliness.

“My a-tsi-lv-s-gi.” She said, standing to meet me, looking joyful. I hugged her without hesitation, surprised at the strength of the emotion that I was feeling for her. I had truly missed her. She represented a part of my new home that I had longed for.

She stepped back, taking my wet hair in her hands, the slick strands weaving between her fingertips.

“You are beautiful, my flower.” She said, and she seemed to be in awe of me. I was stunned by her comment, kind of bewildered considering my current conditions. But I had a feeling that she was talking about much more than what appeared on my outside.

I just smiled at her. “There’s a lot to say.” I said to her. She just looked at me knowingly. I knew then that she already knew about Sam and I’s imprint and the happenings of the last day.

“The Change suits you.” She said to me, a look of pride on her face.

Adonis took the towel from my hand, looking at me peculiarly. I had to laugh.

“Do you guys even have a laundry room?” I said to him, raising my eyebrows.

Adonis suddenly looked defensive. “There hasn’t been an immediate need for one. We always restock necessary items.” His eyes were somewhat shifty, like a ten year old boy being scolded by his mother. I had to laugh again at his obviously inexperienced nature when it came to domestic duties.

“I’m sure there’s something we can do about that.” I said, and Halona laughed lightly. She looked beautiful in a long white dress with her long hair hanging down. The crinkles by her eyes stood out as she smiled at me.

“Where are the others?” I asked curiously. I wondered where Sam had gone. Before Adonis could answer, Sam walked in through the front door, the chilled evening breeze coming in from behind him, dried leaves blowing in. Speaking of. It was as though he could sense my need for him.

Our eyes connected, and something released in me like a tense cord snapping.

“Hey.” He said, looking at me with his dark eyes.

“Hi.” I said. He shut the door, the warmth of the safe house contained.

“Hello Halona. Good to see you again.” Sam greeted Halona, and she hugged him. “My son.” She said, kissing his cheek, and I was surprised that she greeted him in that way. I thought of the distant memory of the black and white photograph that had been in her house. The strange boy with no name. I wondered about him as Sam neared where I stood.

“Adonis has told me much.” Halona said. She looked at Sam and me knowingly as he stood respectably at my side. He didn’t look surprised at this.

“I see.” He said, and he looked to me with a distant glimmer in his eyes meant for me alone. I found myself smiling.

“Halona and I must speak. We will leave you now.” Adonis said, looking particularly to Sam. I could sense the familiar charge to the air as their Alpha-Beta connection seared in the air between them. It nearly took my breath away. They seemed to speak with in some strange language all their own before Adonis led Halona outside onto the front porch.

“It was good to see you again.” I called after her. Halona turned around, her raven eyes shining beautifully.

“We will meet again soon, a-ge-yu-tsah.” I could sense the truth to her words.

As the door closed behind them, Sam and I were left alone.

I turned to him, and it seemed that the closeness was back between us again.

“Come here.” He said, his voice low, and I stepped into his waiting arms. He closed them around me tightly, setting his chin along the top of my head. I exhaled.

“Where were you?” I asked him softly.

“We went into town for some things.” Sam answered without hesitation. I lifted my head from his chest, and he looked down at me, smoothing my hair down my back.

“I feel guilty asking this.” I started, my eyes pleading with him.

Sam looked alert. “Never feel guilty with me, Jane.” He said. I was comforted. I nearly laughed at myself.

“This may seem like a frivolous thing, but I want to fix things up around here.” I smiled. “You know, maybe get a washing machine? A dryer?”

Sam looked jarred. He cracked a slow smile of amusement. “Well, we can do that. I gotta tell you, no one’s ever really thought of that stuff before. I guess that’s what girls are for, huh?”

I swatted at his arm. He was just playing around. “Well,” I scoffed, smiling at him, “I guess so.” He laughed.

“So, will you take me into town?” I asked him.

Suddenly, his expression shifted. Shadows formed along his eyes. Sam’s dark eyes darted to the back windows, where the sun was slowly beginning to set. He looked nervous.

“I don’t know about that.” He said, and I understood. I didn’t want to make him upset. I could already feel his distress seeping into the air around him, a direct line into my brain. I ran my hands along his upper arms. I didn’t want to ask him about whatever reservations plagued him about me going into town. I figured that I would find out in due time.

“Okay.” I said.

“Okay.” He said.

He looked at me once, his expression needing and apologetic at the same time as he leaned in to kiss me. Reassuring me. He cupped my jaw with his hand, and I leaned myself into him as he crushed me to him. I could feel the cotton of his shirt, the heat of him.

He was so warm and inviting and so...Sam. He was all that I needed in that moment. The precious moments before we would become different living things in different bodies with much different things to worry about.

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