Comfortably Numb

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Chapter 27

I rip myself away from Ryker, my wolf pushing to the front of my mind. I feel my bones crack and stretch, and before I can blink, the change is complete. I shake my fur out to give myself a second to breathe, but the anger -the fear- pushes all rational thought from my brain.

Ryker tugs me back into the house with a light grip on my fur. The second I'm clear of the door he pushes it shut.

He knows?

I'm screaming in my head; thoughts a racing wicked mess.

"Andy, you've got to calm down." Blake kneels to the ground in front of me and I lash out at him. I hadn't heard him come down the stairs, but from the commotion the four of us have been making, I'm not surprised. He doesn't move from his position so I end up slamming into his chest, my massive face pressed against his human one. He lowers his gaze to the floor but otherwise doesn't move.

"He knows!" I scream into his mind. Blake winces. I know the second he realizes what I'm talking about, because his eyes widen to the size of saucers.

"He... he can't." He whispers out loud. I growl and pull away from him to start pacing the length of the room.

"Black looks good on you, but I always liked silver better..." I twist the words in my mind, feeling the slime of them. Thinking over them again just solidifies my first instinct. He knows.

"He KNOWS" I growl again, pushing it into everyone's minds. Ryker growls but says nothing. I wonder briefly if he has put it together too, but before I can ask the anger washes my thoughts back into chaos.

Arrow pushes away from Rowan so she can lock eyes with me. He lets her go reluctantly.

"What did it say?" I growl again. Ryker snarls and walks over to me. He twists his fingers into the fur at my neck and I shudder from the heat but don't pull away. His touch is making it easier to see past the red haze in my mind so I sit down beside him. He shifts his grip as I do, moving so he's not holding me in place but comforting me with gentle strokes. My stance relaxes by a fraction, but anger still courses through my veins.

"It said that black looks good on her, but he always liked silver better." He bites out. His own anger is clear in his voice and I briefly wonder if he's petting me to keep me calm or himself. I shiver as his fingers brush through the fur at my neck again. He shudders against me in response.

"Were those..... " Rowan flicks his eyes towards the front door. He gulps. "Were those the cuffs they found you in?" I growl again. The scent of my blood still lingers in the air alongside the silver. The red haze grows in force again, but Ryker continues stroking me.

"I'll take that as a yes...." he breathes. Ryker shoots him a look, one of anger and fear and something else I can't name. It's so brief I think I might have imagined it, and then his eyes are back on me.

"Black looks good on you, but I prefer silver... What do you think he means?" Arrow wonders. Her voice is light, airy. I turn to look at her but Ryker beats me to pushing the thought into her mind.

"She thinks he knows she changed." Her eyes widen. "What? Why? How?" I feel my lips pull back in a snarl to reveal my teeth but say nothing. Blake sighs and starts tapping his foot on the floor. The sound echoes through the house.

"Is he supernatural?" She turns her eyes to Blake. He shakes his head "No, he smelt completely human." His eyes sparkle, unreadable emotion sending them swirling. Arrow nods.

"Andy... why do you think he knows about your shift?" I haul in a deep breath and push myself closer to Ryker, closer to calm. He buries his fingers into my fur again and sends the red from my vision back a fraction.

"What else could he mean?" I spit. She frowns. "You wear a lot of black..." I growl at her.

"Seth.. Seth n-never says things lightly. Just like the r-roses... this means something more." She nods and sucks her bottom lip between her teeth. "The b-biggest change in my life in the l-last two years... is the shift," The shift and them, but this note references black- it's too specific. All he can mean is the colour of my fur.

"And you think he's telling you that he knows you shifted?" Rowan speaks up. I nod once, quick and jerky. He grips his forehead in his left hand. "What type of human knows about us?" He mutters.

"Not many. Usually only fated pairs." Ryker rumbles.

I flick my eyes up at him but he's focusing on Rowan.

"The rules are very strict, you know that." Rowan nods. "But if he's definitely human.." Blake clears his throat and stops tapping his foot.

"He's definitely human. I sat in the courtroom with him for the entire length of his trial, and I sat right behind the guards. If he was anything else I would have smelt it."

"No one is saying that you missed something.. It's just. The only way he knows about us is through mates, and if he's chasing after Andy... That doesn't make sense." Rowan shoves his hand through his hair as he's talking.

"Well there must be something we don't know...." Arrow breathes.

"There is so much we don't know!" Ryker explodes. "How did he find her again when he's still in prison? How is he spying on her while he's still locked up? If he has help, how did he find them? How did he get those-" He points at the box through the door, "when I know for a fact that the police left them in the cellar he kept her in when they cut them off of her. And what are his next plans? There is so much we don't know..." His voice wobbles.

"Ry, you need to calm down." Rowan whispers. Blake nods in agreement and sinks onto the floor. He wraps his arms around his knees and flicks his eyes shut.

"She can't go through this again." He breathes. "It nearly killed her last time. And now... there is so much we don't know, so many blind spots." His eyes flick open and bore into mine. "I don't know how to help you this time."

I feel a tear fall from my eye, and I break away from Blake to try to get a grip. He's right- I won't survive this a second time. And there is so much we don't know....

But you know more than they do... My wolf whispers. I shake my head, but she presses on. You were there, with him. You know him as well as he knows you. You just have to think about it....

The idea of thinking about him, of willingly searching my memories and seeking out the pain I try to force away every day is terrifying. But she's right. I know she is. So despite my terror, I let my eyes drift shut and open the box in my chest I stuff everything inside of.

The memories rush out, quick and painful. I feel like I'm being split apart, being shattered. But I can still feel Ryker's fingers in my fur, lightly tugging as he pets me. I focus on the feel of that to distract me from the agony in my chest.

I search my memories of him, looking for something I might have missed through human eyes. Every memory stings in a terrible way, but I push the feelings aside and keep searching. I am the best equipped to find out what we don't know, because I spent the most time with him. I gasp as a memory I have never experienced before barrels it's way through me. It's fuzzy, and the pain I'd been in when it formed makes everything harder to see. I focus more, trying to push past the pain but my head is fuzzy, pieces are missing.. It's something I don't remember clearly, but my wolf eggs me on, telling me to think harder, past the pain.

Ryker shifts so he can look me in the eye. "What?" I ignore him, focusing on the forgotten moments when Steven and I were first dragged into hell.

——————————————-

"There!" I can hear Seth just beyond my view. "All snug as a bug in a rug!" I hear metal clang together, but can't figure out the source.

"Why?" Steven cries out, and my heart sinks. I can practically feel the smack across my own face as the sound of the hit echoes to my ears.

"Didn't I tell you not to speak to me?" He snarls.

Horror passes over me when footsteps start towards me. I try to move back, only to realize that my arms are suspended above my head, too tight to allow any movement. The footsteps stop suddenly, and I try to crane my head to see the monster that has captured us. He is still out of sight. I try to pull my arms from their position, but stop when I hear him begin speaking again.

"That Girl is my light, my world, my everything. And no one- No one! Is going to keep me from claiming what is mine." My head spins again, but I try to focus past the roaring in my ears.

"She is the key. She is the answer to my prayers and the light I have been waiting for. And you-" he sneers, "are not going to hold us back. She might think that she loves you, but she doesn't even know the meaning of the word. You are beneath her and don't deserve to breathe the same air we do." The pain becomes too much, and I start fading. He continues speaking, but I can't make out anymore.

—————————————-

I focus hard, trying to push past the haze in my mind. This feels important, and my wolf is whispering for me to listen again, to hear whatever he's spitting at Steven.

"I don't know...." I push into Ryker's mind." I c-can't... I can't make it out. But my w-wolf thinks it's important..." He furrows his brows. "May I?" He wants something, but I don't understand what it is.. He gives me a weak smile, before I feel him brush his fingers against my temple.

"Let me in.... like last night..." I feel my face flush beneath my fur as I remember the feeling I had when we were talking after my nightmare. So he had felt it too.....

I ignore the curious stares and gossipy whispers from my brother and my friends, and focus on my mind. My walls are still up, blocking them from getting in, but still allows me to reach out and push into other people's minds when I want to.

He smiles at me, and I feel him pushing at my mental boundaries. Something tells me he could push through them if he wanted, but he is asking permission because he respects me. I close my eyes and focus on dropping my walls, letting him in, thinking of that night and what I'd felt. The connection I had felt grow while we talked in the dark.

I know the minute the connection flourishes because my body starts to hum with awareness. I can feel the anger he is holding back, the pure rage coming from his wolf. I can feel the brush of my fur between his fingers, the fabric of his clothes against my fur, the sparks flying between us from his perspective as well as my own. I think of the emotions I'd been feeling last night, the peace and serenity that danced within me with every word that passed between us. I feel his eyes on me and dare to glance up and lock eyes with him.

His eyes are a deep black, swirling with so many emotions I can't catch them all. I feel myself slip into them, and suddenly I'm drowning.

His eyes are asking me questions I'm not sure I have the answers to, but god do I want to. I feel his wolf calming down the longer we look at each other- a light rim of gold traces his all black eyes and I know the wolf is looking at me.

Somewhere beyond Ryker's eyes someone coughs.
The cough reminds me that we aren't alone. I can feel Ryker's amusement at my embarrassment and tear my eyes from his to hide. I can feel his emotions swell, and I recognize his own embarrassment hidden beneath his amusement and something I'm not ready to put a name to yet. Apparently he had also forgotten that we weren't the only two people on the planet.

I shake myself out of it, remembering why he'd asked for me to let him in. I take in a deep breath before running through the foggy memory once again. I feel his confusion reflect my own, and I focus on the haze again, trying to push past the pain I remember so vividly to decipher the words he is saying.

The fourth time through the memory, I feel Ryker go rigid. He rips himself away from me and explodes into his wolf form. His clothes fly into tatters and the ripped material of his cotton shirt lands on my head. I shake it off, not wanting to get distracted by his intoxicating scent when he is so obviously in distress.

His wolf takes control of their shared body, and I struggle to remind myself that the anger I'm feeling, the bloodlust, is not my own. I straighten my thoughts in time to see him standing and shaking out his fur. I gasp at the first look I get of his wolf.
His fur is a shiny black. While mine is a deep charcoal, his holds an aspect of blue underneath it. There is a white streak on the center of his chest, a bright spot in a sea of darkness. His eyes shine like liquid gold, and he is much much taller than I am, although this part is not a surprise. His muscles shift, quivering with the need to move.

"What?!" Arrow screams. I flick one eye towards her. She is cradled in Rowan's arms again, and my brother is stepping forward to put himself between the infuriated Ryker and her. I briefly wonder why he's more concerned about protecting Arrow than he is about protecting me, but before the question can even fully form I know the answer; Ryker would never hurt me, not even in a fit of pure rage.

"WE LEAVE NOW. PACK HOUSE." Ryker's wolf screams through our connection, and I feel Arrow, Rowan and Blake all kneel behind us. Power is flying off of Ryker, so strong I feel the need to kneel as well. Part of me knows they are lowering their heads in submission, trying to sooth the raging beast.

"Ryker...." Rowan breathes. "What happened?" I feel Ryker's glare as he focuses on the back of his friend's head.

"HE CALLS HER HIS MATE" The roar of outrage races through our minds, and our three friends gasp like they know what that means. Arrow immediately begins stripping, preparing to shift. Rowan copies her movements after a second.

"Ryker..." I whisper into his mind. His eyes flick to mine, gold glowing so bright it looks like he is aflame within. "What does that mean?" I feel his anger surge again, but the gentle caress of his mind to mine reassures me it isn't me he is angry with.

"It means-" he stops himself and takes a deep angry breath, shaking out his fur once again. He focuses back on me.

"It means you were right. He knows you've shifted. And he knows enough about werewolves to know the most sacred of our histories." He turns then and stalks towards the back door. I follow automatically. Blake darts forward, still human, to open the door. Ryker nods at him and stalks out of the building. Blake moves to the back of the line.

The others fall in line behind us as well, but I am too focused on Ryker to really be paying attention to them.

We slink out into my backyard and take off into the forest, only briefly pausing at the fence to hop over it.

We sprint away from my house as a unit. My muscles cry out at being used again after all the running I did this afternoon, but I ignore their protests and push myself faster; I race until I'm in line with Ryker. Every three of my strides is equal to one of his, but I'm not struggling to keep up. He flicks one eye towards me and I can feel through our connection that he is checking I'm still with him. I nod in his direction and he turns his eyes back to the path in front of him.

"Let's go." He breathes into my mind. I nod and he immediately surges forward, racing faster. I push my muscles to move faster, to keep pace with him. I hear the others behind us pick up their pace as well. We run through the woods, and for a second I swear I can feel eyes on me,
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