Comfortably Numb

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Chapter 26

I wake up disoriented. It takes me a second to realize that I'm soaking wet, my brain moving impossibly slow. I frown up at Blake and he raises his eyebrows at me. Confused, I trail down his arms to the pitcher he's holding upside down above me.

"D-did you..." I glance down to my soaked sheets and then back up at him. My brain clicks into action and I growl at him.

"What the h-hell?" He snickers and steps away from the bed.

"Hey I tried to wake you up nicely. You were out cold." He turns and walks out of my bedroom. "Class starts in 5, by the way." I mumble profanities at him as he leaves, but then his words sink in and I lurch to my feet. Glancing at the clock beside me I realize he's right- I'm running late.

I dress in a hurry, layering a black tank top under a black t-shirt and then throw a plaid long sleeved button up shirt over that. I hop into the first pair of jeans my fingers brush and stuff my hair into a bun on the top of my head. I curse as the clock moves forward another minute and sprint down the stairs. I shove my boots onto my socked feet as quickly as possible and lift my keys off the hook. Blake laughs as I sprint past him and I throw my middle finger up a second before the garage door closes behind me.

His renewed chuckle tells me he saw my loving gesture.

I swear again as I swing into my car, and waste no time peeling out of the garage.

I break several traffic laws, but I make it to school only ten minutes after first period begins. I park in my usual spot beside the beast and pause briefly to sniff the air. I relax when I catch a fresh layer of Arrow's scent; she had grabbed a ride with her brother.

I lock my car and speed walk to my locker, intent on dropping my stuff before creeping into class, hopefully unnoticed.

"Ms. Romans." Someone drawls behind me. My back stiffens at the sickly sweet voice. I turn slowly, and my wolf growls as I make eye contact with my chemistry teacher, Mr. Daemente. He has his arms folded behind his back, and he is smiling. Something glints in his eyes, but I can't place what he's thinking.

My nostrils flare. Something about him smells.... wrong. Like rotten flesh or mixed chemicals.
My wolf growls some more and I can feel the hair on the back of my neck standing.

"Mr. Daemente." I humm. His smile widens.
"Shouldn't you be in class, ms?" I nod. "J-just on my way, s-sir." Anger floods me, but I can't figure out why. Mr Deamente is a slimy creature, but nowhere near the caliber of my usual monster. "Alright Ms Romans. I'll let you go...." he trails off, seeming like he wants to say something else.

"I-is something wrong, sir?" I bite out. He shakes his head and takes a step closer. The scent of him wafts towards me again, and I struggle with the urge to shift to defend myself.

"Not at all, Ms Romans. Just thinking that you look... relaxed today. Almost.... lighter..." he tilts his head, his smile splitting his face in two. "I'm glad to see you happy." He comments and then whirls around, stalking away from me. I shiver in disgust, and try to think soothing things to calm my wolf. She's rioting in my head, baying for his blood. I shiver and push the bloodlust down; he is undeserving of my ire. Once I'm calm, I turn and head for class.

I walk into class 20 minutes late, but unfortunately Mr. Fender pauses in his lecture.

"Ms. Romans, you are late because?" I feel my face flush and I lower my gaze to the floor so I don't have to look at my friends while I answer.

"I s-slept in..." I whisper. I feel Mr. Fender shake his head through the disturbance in the air, and when I look up he's smiling.

"I'm glad you're getting some sleep," he speaks into my mind, "But perhaps you could do it through a different class?"

"I'll let you go this one time, Ms Romans." He speaks out loud. I offer him a weak smile and he nods his head towards my seat. I speed walk to it and sink into it gratefully. Ryker turns to look at me over his shoulder and the smile he gives me causes my heart to take off.

"Continuing on.." Mr. Fender starts back into his review. I pull out my notebook and start scrawling notes as quickly as possible, attempting to pay attention. I know that this is the last class we have before christmas break, and when we return we will be straight in exams, but I still find my mind wandering back to the boy sitting in front of me.

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My wolf growls through the entirety of Chemistry class. She really doesn't like the creepy professor. She even ignores Ryker's attempts at starting a conversation, preferring to remain focused on Mr. Daemente.

When the bell rings for lunch, Ryker has to lead me out of the room with his hand on the small of my back. Even the sparks his touch causes aren't enough to distract my raging wolf. He murmurs something into my ear, but I can't focus on it; I am still staring with narrowed eyes at my creepy teacher. He smiles wide at me as we leave and my wolf lets out another deep growl.

"Ok what is going on?" Ryker questions as soon as we are out of view from the Chemistry room. I flick my eyes up at him and furrow my brows.

"W-what do you mean?" Ryker purses his lips and flicks his eyes back towards our classroom.

"Andy, you just glared daggers at our teacher for a full hour. Did he..." he heaves in a deep breath. "Did he do something to you?" His voice comes out as a deep growl. My eyes widen.

"N-no!" His eyes flash gold, the color of his wolf. "N-no he didn't do anything... he just came u-up behind me when I was l-late this morning and... he really creeps me o-out." I murmur the last part; I'm unable to explain the deep hatred my wolf feels for the teacher. It's almost like what she feels for Seth, just not quite as vivid. Ryker sighs and runs his fingers through his hair.

"I know. It's the same for all the wolves here. He smells wrong. It's like he's sick or something." He starts walking again, gesturing for me to follow him. I fall into step beside him.

"Dad says that its the magic... He's half witch, and in order to use spells they have to make sacrifices.... Dad thinks one of his was his body. But he adheres to the letter of the supernatural law, so there's nothing we can do... he creeps us all out though." He smiles down at me, and I think about his answer.
"So you d-don't think he's the one who p-put the...." I trail off.

My wolf had pushed the thought to me. Maybe he could be the one working for Seth? He's definitely a similar brand of creepy....

Ryker stops, and tugs my face up to look at him. "No. His scent is too distinct, we would have smelt it on them. Whoever placed the flowers in your locker is someone we've never come across before. So you're safe here." His voice holds a promise. I worry my bottom lip between my teeth. Ryker's eyes flash gold again.

"Andy, I promise you. No one can get in or out of the school that isn't meant to be here. My dad stationed guards to patrol throughout the entire school day. And the flowers couldn't have come from someone inside the building, because we would have recognized the scent." He leans down to press his forehead to mine. I shiver in response. The electricity is stronger between us, and the energy we have flowing between us makes me feel like I could fly.

"You won't get any more deliveries here. I promise."

My wolf sighs inside of me, finally completely calm. His eyes flick down to my lips, and I gulp. I feel like he may kiss me, and every cell in my body is screaming for him to close that little bit of distance even though I know it is a dangerous thing to want.
My eyes flick shut without my permission and my breathing stops. I can feel him hovering just before my lips, and I almost lean forward. It takes all of my control to hold my position; I'm trying desperately to enjoy the closeness and not want anything more.

"Andy..." His breath hits my lips and something in my chest warms.

"Ryker..." It's barely a whisper, but I know in my bones that he's heard me. He shivers and I feel the tingling sensation to my centre. He traces his tongue along his lip; I can barely feel it and I lose the battle with my will. I press lightly onto the tips of my toes, just barely lifting up so the space between our lips is infinitely small.

But then, before our lips can actually connect, the lunchroom door whips open, knocking me into Ryker and ultimately onto the hard floor. Ryker is quick enough to tuck my smaller body into his, protecting me from hitting the ground. He growls and I shiver, my wolf enjoying the sound. I shake those thoughts off and try to push myself off of Ryker's lap. He grips my waist though, so I can't move. I flick my eyes open to frown at him but he's busy glaring daggers over my shoulder.

"Oops!"

I recognize the voice as Rowan's and roll my eyes.

"Let me up?" I whisper to Ryker. He turns his frown to me but releases his grip. I push to my feet and step away from Ryker. I'm torn between being thankful that Rowan stopped us and being mad that he did.

Be mad! My wolf growls, pushing unwanted thoughts of Ryker's arms wrapped around me, his lips pressed tightly against mine, into my mind. I shake my head and walk carefully around Rowan, saying nothing.

I hear Ryker growl as soon as the cafeteria door closes behind me. I roll my eyes and tune them out. I head to our usual table and give Arrow a tight smile. She beams back at me around her forkful of pasta.
I sit beside her, not hungry enough to get into the lunch line.

"So..." She speaks as soon as her mouth is clear. I nod at her and she smiles wider. "You and Ryker were going to kiss?" I feel my face flood with colour and I shoot her a glare.

"W-what are you talking about?" She laughs and I feel the urge to crawl out of my skin.

"Rowan told me" "What? When?" She laughs again and taps her forehead. "It w-wasn't even like that! We weren't-" She shoves an image of Ryker and me into my mind. It's obviously from Rowan, because we're standing impossibly close and our lips are almost touching. I growl- both at her and myself- out of frustration.

"I don't w-want to talk about it." I mutter. She laughs again but says nothing else as I shift further into my chair. I fold my arms across my chest and glare at the table.

A few minutes later, Ryker and Rowan join us. Ryker looks as annoyed as I feel and Rowan looks like he's trying desperately not to laugh.

"Hey Andy-" "Don't." Ryker cuts him off. Rowan laughs but doesn't say whatever he was planning.

Lunch is awkward. Rowan keeps making sly comments throughout it, and Arrow eggs him on with whispered additions that cause me to glare at her. Ryker sits across from me in silence for the most part, only glaring at his best friend when he makes a particularly pointed comment. I ignore them all, lost in thought.

What if he had Really kissed me?
What if Rowan hadn't interrupted?
What if we had gotten twined together so tightly, no force could ever tear us apart?
What if we hadn't been interrupted, but allowed to continue?

Thoughts of another possible future push into my mind without my permission once again. Ryker is winding our hands together, tugging me into his chest. His smile is so big, I can't help but smile back. I feel my heart stutter as he leans down towards me, eyes focused on my lips...

I slap myself mentally. It hadn't happened, and that is a Good thing. Although my wolf whimpers at that thought.

"So...." Arrow eventually tries to change the topic. I guess she is done helping Rowan be a pain. I continue to stare moodily at my hands.

"Why were you late this morning?" I fight a blush, thinking of the sleep I had gotten, and the reason for why I had gotten the sleep. My jaw clenches. My wolf snickers in my mind, pushing the image of Ryker leaning down towards me back into my brain. I scowl.

"Slept in." I grouch. Arrow gasps and I flick my eyes up to her.

"You were serious in class?" She whisper screams. I narrow my eyes at her. God, I wish I hadn't told her about my night terrors, or the fact that I don't really sleep because of them.

"Oh my god..." she whispers. I roll my eyes and turn my head back forwards. Ryker is smiling at me, and I can't resist the urge to stick my tongue out at him; frustration for everything this morning making me childish. He laughs. My knees turn weak at the sound, and I thank my rarely lucky stars that I am already seated.

"Oh my god!" Arrow squeals. I jump, forgetting that she is here. I turn to glare at her. She beams at me, and wiggles her eyebrows. I narrow my eyes at her, daring her to share her thoughts out loud.

"Can you put your walls down for a second?" She begs, sticking her bottom lip out at me. I glare at her. She smiles. "Well if you just want me to say it out loud...." I scowl and focus on letting her- and only her- whisper into my mind.

"Are you and my brother a thing now?" She pushes into my mind. I gasp and grip the edge of the table so tightly it groans under my fingers. She smiles at me and I growl. Her smile morphs into a smug smirk.

"I'm not hearing a nooooo....." I haul in a deep breath and then glare at her and push my mind closed again. Embarrassment, frustration, disappointment and fear are making me incredibly angry- I am finding it really hard to keep my human shape.

"No." I bite out, using real words instead of pushing the thought into her mind.

Arrow starts laughing beside me and the boys flick confused gazes between us.

"What are we missing?" Rowan questions. I see Ryker shrug. Arrow opens her mouth and I throw a growl at her. She just giggles at me.

"Hey if you can tease me about that idiot-" she points at Rowan, who screeches out an offended Hey!- "then I can totally rip on you for getting it on with my brother!" I snarl at her and she raises her eyebrow.

"I am NOT getting it on with your brother!" I grind out. My wolf howls at the thought. Arrow smiles at me, amused.

"I don't know..." Rowan teases again. "Looked like if I hadn't interrupted you guys would have been-" I turn to him and snarl, and I can feel my eyes flash. He smirks, but lowers his gaze to the table. My wolf relaxes, satisfied at the sign of submission, but I ignore her pride. I still feel angry.

"It's alright Andy, they're just teasing." Rykers voice is soft. I growl and push out of my seat. They protest but I just shoot them another glare that has them snapping their mouths shut.

I stalk out of the cafeteria, out of the hallway, and out of the school.

I shift and run home. I'd had enough of this day, and I just wanted to bury myself into my sheets and pretend I'd never met any of the people that were seriously pissing me off.

I walk into the empty house. Blake Is still at work, and for that I am grateful. I decide to go down to the basement gym to burn off some energy instead of heading to bed.

I am still down there when Blake comes home three hours later. He brings the three idiots inside with him, but I feel a lot more calm after running; I'd stopped once my legs had turned to jelly. I was just finishing twisting my hair- wet from my shower- up into a bun when I heard them outside. I walk carefully down the stairs as they come in the front door. Blake waves at me before heading for the stairs. A moment later his door swings shut.

"A-are you guys staying for dinner?" I question, not even acknowledging the awkwardness from lunch. I wasn't going to apologize, and I didn't expect them to either. I just don't want to talk about it.

"What are you making?" Rowan asks; obviously picking up on my plan to just ignore what had happened. I flash him a grateful smile before leading them into the kitchen.

"Hmmmm.... we h-have stuff for pasta... or w-we can make homemade pizza..." I flick through the fridge. My ears perk up at the sound of something hitting the front porch. I turn to frown at Arrow, Rowan and Ryker. They all look tense.
"I didn't hear anyone walk up...." Arrow breathes. Ryker shakes his head and stalks towards the front door. We all follow, hot on his heels. He looks through the peephole, and I can feel the anger flow off of him. He turns and frowns down at me.
"There's no one there..." he grumbles. "But... there is a box." I frown. If there had been a box there when they all came in, not even five minutes ago, then they would have brought it with them. This box must have just been delivered, but with no one having come up the driveway.....
"Open the door." I breathe. Ryker clenches his jaw, but nods. He tugs the door open silently.
Sitting in the middle of the porch is a brown cardboard box, the size of a shoebox. It has a white ribbon tied around it, and my name is scrawled across it in the same script as the note left with the roses.
I bend to pick it up, but my wolf growls, and I hesitate. Instead of lifting it, I gingerly place my right hand on the ribbon. It's silk.
"Andy... maybe you shouldn't open it." Arrow breathes behind me.
I flick my eyes at her and swallow the lump in my throat. "I..... I have t-to." She nods and my heart aches as I see the tears falling from her eyes. Rowan notices them too and tugs her into his arms. I kneel before the box and suck in as big of a breath as I can manage past the lump in my throat. I feel Ryker shift so he is behind me, looking over my shoulder.
"We're right here." He breathes into my ear. I nod, unable to speak. He wraps his arm around my waist and I sink back into his chest, thankful for the support.
I turn my attention back to the box. Carefully, I tug on the ribbon, and it comes apart. I take a deep breath as I gingerly lift the lid off the box, and then I freeze.
The scent of dried blood floats out of the box. My blood. I push the lid the rest of the way off, and feel rather than hear the growl that rips out of Ryker. The setting sun glints off the shiny silver of a pair of handcuffs, the chain folded over itself.
Not just any handcuffs... These are the handcuffs. The ones I had been bound in, left for dead in the basement of hell. I can tell from the blood that still stains the chain and the cuffs- my wrists burn at the memory of the feel of them squeezed so tight blood was drawn.
There is a note buried beneath the chain of the handcuffs. I can just see the corner of it, and without thinking I reach into the box to grab it. I hiss and rip my hands back as my fingers brush the metal, and memories dance at the edge of my consciousness. I steel myself, pushing more firmly into Ryker's chest behind me. He rests his hands more tightly onto my hips, and I breathe in as he does. Once I am steady, I reach back into the box and grab the corner of the paper. I am extra careful not to touch the metal as I do.

Once I have the note, I shove the box as far from me as I can. I hold the note up, and feel my face go white. Scrawled across the card is the same neat handwriting from the top of the box, and the last card.

Black looks good on you..
But I always liked silver better.
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