the Dragon Reemerges

 

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Michael Dellert

Drafts are fun that way, with ideas flying fast and thick. :) I'm sure I'll continue to enjoy it. Please keep up the good work!

CS Jesse

Thank you so much! Right now, I'm just adding the chapters up and plan to do an overall edit before taking it to a professional editor. The ideas keep coming so hard and fast that it's hard to keep up while I'm trying to edit, lol. I really, really appreciate the comment! Thank you again, I hope you continue to enjoy the story as it progresses further :)

Michael Dellert

I like it so far. It could use some editing, but the story is clear enough, and I like the characterization and the depth of detail. Nice work! :)

Preface

The painting was thought to have been lost during World War II.”

“Earlier this year, the Louvre received a mysterious painting gifted by an anonymous benefactor. The piece dates back to 1476-1480 and was previously claimed as being destroyed during the second World War.”

“-That’s right Patricia, the subject is a boy between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, standing among the wreckage of war. One hand is entangled in the hair of a severed head, the other holds the hilt of a shashka- Thought to be, previously owned by Vladimir Tepes.”

“The boy depicted has just been confirmed to be ‘The Bloody Boy’.”

“The Bloody Boy is theorized to be the second son of  Vladimir Tepes, who died at birth. The popular speculation is that the Impaler couldn’t handle the death of his second son and treated the boy as though he were still alive up until his beheading.”

“The Bloody Boy myth lived on for two-hundred years after the death of Vladimir Tepes, and Mihnea cel Rău.”

“Has any truth been uncovered to validate the legend? Absolutely not.”

Drivel.

Each news station is reporting on one subject, the painting of the Bloody Boy. For Centuries this has been a phenomena within the historical circles, but only in these select groups. Now, however, definitive proof has been provided to reveal the boy’s existence, unfortunately, no one is still alive from the early fifteenth century in order to place the boy’s identity. One can’t possibly live for that long, right?

“- Art Historians placed Botticelli as the artist, this was one of his last works created for his death in 1510.”

“-Now hangs among the Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, the Coronation of Napoleon, St. John the Baptist, Death of the Virgin-”

“What role in history did this painting play?”

“Who, really, is the boy?”  “Did he really exist?”

“What other works are we going to uncover, that were supposedly destroyed during the second World War?”

Half of what has gone missing in history, was intentional. Nothing has become a casualty out of convenience, but rather, necessity. Unfortunately, humans never seem to grasp the underlying reason in historical disappearances. By assigning blame to an innocent party, they’re somehow able to evict their own guilt and go about their lives. I commend their efforts. If only more races were like this.

“A raising theory is that the depicted boy is none other than Bozhidar the Ruthless, the legendary ruler who sought revenge for his predecessors. He is rumored to have slain a twelve-thousand-man army singlehandedly. Unfortunately, since there is no sustainable evidence for this claim, it is nothing more than a legend. most likely concocted to instill fear in the hearts and minds of his enemies.”

“Conspiracy theorists say the boy is still alive and roams the earth preying on densely populated cities and towns, feeding off of their less desirable citizens.”

I have to laugh. It is absolute lunacy to think that a person could live for near seven-hundred years, isn’t it? Surely these people must be mistaken. Secrets are ill kept in today’s society. If a person had even managed to live near seven centuries, wouldn’t they have attracted attention by now, especially if each city they visited found itself in a Utopian situation? Shear ignorance. They say ignorance is bliss, I say it’s the making of a horrific death. No matter how absolutely aggravating these broadcasts have become, I can’t tear my eyes away from them, instead, I take my aggression out on my lower lip, viciously chewing at it, trying my best not to mar the skin when the door behind me clicks open.

“It’s time.” The voice is silky and light, my beloved. I nod to her and turn. She looks dishevled.
“Indubitably.” I answer.

 
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Chapter 1

Malakai

Autism does not define who we are. It does not limit us. It does not drown us. It is not something we suffer from. If anything, it breathes life into me, into my personality, into my creations, and into every aspect of my existence. It lets me know my environment better than most neurotypical people might. I love my Autism. My autism is happy and it is healthy.” - Malakai Desmond

***

First thing’s first, I’m autistic. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s when it was still a relative term. Being autistic doesn’t make me any less of a person, doesn’t inhibit my intelligence and if you condescend to me, I’ll pick it up quicker than you’ll hit the floor. Yes. That’s a threat. But let’s move on. I was nearing my twenty-second birthday when she became a member of my family.

My family isn’t really like any other, sure, people say that all of the time, but how many people legitimately mean it? I mean, on the outside, sure, we’re a diverse bunch, but once you’re on the inside, you see just how peculiar we really are. But the day she came in, it wasn’t really out of the norm. I was up in my quiet place reading when I heard a car engine putt its way up the driveway, I didn’t think anything of it, Michelle had been due back any moment. When the front door banged open, I knew something wasn’t right. The shock of the noise set me on edge and I could feel it starting, the roiling annoyance that always seemed to trigger an anger meltdown.

Before I could stop it, I was on my feet, picking up a particularly heavy paperweight off of my desk and lashing it across the room. It hit the wall with a muted thud, remained stuck against the wall for several long minutes before eventually sinking to the floor. I shouldn’t have done that, now Michelle and her husband were going to fix my mistake. Frustrated and disappointed, I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and index finger, enjoying the pressure more than a neurotypical person might. I felt the excess heat draining from me, leaving me relaxed and ready. My hand was on the doorknob when a sharp crash ripped through the air. Why does everyone need to be so fucking loud. I yanked open the door, letting the knob bang against the plastic disk mounted to the wall, making my point.
Silent feet carried me from my room, down the hall and the adjoined set of stairs broken at the middle to form a sort of platform. My hand had fallen along the smooth wood while I watched Michelle and her husband. Daniel’s broad body had the lithe form of a girl younger than me slung over one shoulder, she was fighting him tooth and nail while he dragged her to the basement, her fire-red hair catching the light. She looked like a feral animal. Trailing behind them was a familiar mop of hair, Lucas! It had been months since I’ve seen him. I thrust my hand above my head, waving madly, when he looked at me, I saw the sadness in his eyes and know instantly that something has gone terribly wrong.

I take the remaining stairs two at a time, briskly walking over to him and clasping a hand to each shoulder. His eyes are red, his cheeks are flush and he’s trembling. From the sweat on his brow, I know the snow and late autumn chill hasn’t phased him.

“What happened?”

“I.. bit her”

No. A foul odor I had mistaken as Daniel’s ripeness, lingered around us, making me increasingly uncomfortable. It felt like someone had woven raw wool into my muscles. I released my friend and took to scratching at my exposed forearm, trying to dig the damn wool out. Lucas didn’t even notice, why should he have? His best friend was now going to the cage, soon to be screaming her way through her first change. Ah, the first change, that brings me back to a time that was…. Nothing short of pure torment. Going through your first change is essentially like flaying yourself alive with a dull knife. Your bones break while your skin and muscle accommodate a physiologically impossible transformation. Have I mentioned that you have the pleasure of doing this all times of the year? Outside? Naked?! Yes. It’s as fun as it sounds, crouching into the snow on your hands and knees while sweat rolls off of you in streams, every bone in your anatomy breaking and your skin birthing fur. Do you know that your body is covered in microscopic hairs? No? You do now. Those just get thicker and grow until eventually you’re covered in a thick pelt.

“She’s…” the words die in my throat. I can’t lie to Lucas, but I can’t tell him that I’m smelling death on her either. Surely he smells it too.

Suddenly, a crash echoes through the house, which in itself is impressive. I can’t tear my gaze from my friend as we listen. She’s growling and trying to skirt away from Daniel who, from the sound of it, is trying to get her into the cage. Then, the sound of flesh-on-metal wafts up to us. Metal clangs shut and we know that she’s locked away. Safe. Neither of us manage to relax, this is just the beginning.

“She sounds strong” I remark, he nods briefly and walks past me, into the kitchen. The others are in there, laughing and nudging one another. I can hear their conversation, they’re comparing actresses and other famous females. Someone remarks that the previously named actress, whose name I don’t recognize, doesn’t have big enough breasts, someone else argues that her rear is too flat. I just roll my eyes and start toward the basement. A hand grabs the back of my shirt.

“Ah, ah, baby boy” It’s Logan, my older brother.

“C’mon Logan!” I growl, the sound guttural and primal. I have to see her, I have to make sure she’s okay.

“Not a chance on mom’s grave”

My mouth sets in a hard line. I hate it when he says that.

“Mom’s still alive, you prick.”

“She’s dead to me” he shrugs and releases me. My brother and I look similar, so similar in fact that people often think that we’re twins, but, I point out their mistake starting with our ages. He’s twenty-eight, and I’m twenty-one. I then move my way onto our forehead sizes, nose shapes, lip and chin shapes, and ending at cheeks. Our facial structures are entirely different. Logan was blessed with everything our mother had been, high cheekbones, full lips, a button-nose. My nose is sharper than his, my lips are thinner, I have an overbite and a weak chin, but our eyes are the same. Piercing blue and almond shaped.

“That’s cuz you don’t write her any letters” I insist, but he’s dropped the subject.
“You can’t go see her.” it takes me a minute to understand the shift in topic, and Logan waits patiently, he doesn’t stare at me, instead he runs a hand through his medium length hair. I watch while he takes an elastic from around his wrist and gathers it together, and ties it into a messy ponytail. Recently, he shaved the bottom half of his head, and the look suited him quite well.

“Well, why not?” I demanded.

“A. She’s naked and B. she’s not doing so good” A deep line creases his brow. There’s more he’s not telling me. Beneath us, I can hear the constant slapping of flesh on metal, knocked breaths trailing behind the initial thuds. Is she trying to escape? Has no one told her that the bars aren’t going to move? She’s going to break something! A common theme among new wolves is the constant need to fight the thing keeping you caged. It’s the fight or flight reaction of a feral animal.

I pale and look toward the basement, longing to go down and see our newest unconfirmed member, listening to her agonized screams, her retching and fighting the change, then the howl that follows. I need to go to her and explain what’s going on, I’m sure she’s scared and no one is really communicating with her. She’s probably going out of her gourde, trying to figure all this out essentially alone! Hell, when I first changed, I knew it was coming and it still freaked me the fuck out.

“Please” I plead. “Please, I need to help!”

“Devon’s got it, kiddo.” He grabs my shoulder, trying to comfort me, but I hate physical contact and my hands, which had never stopped picking at my arms, move faster. Something slips against my hand, peeling away. I look down and see blood covering my fingertips and oozing from the wound I inadvertently created. Logan sighs and guides me to the bathroom.

My older brother isn’t a saint for taking care of me, I need to point that out now. I am not a burden to be held. I am a person, I am his family and he helps me because it is not his duty as a brother, it’s his desire. He wants to see me succeed, wants to see me happy and wants me safe, so in order to secure this, he does it himself. I love my brother, but don’t tell him that.

We walk through the hall connecting the foyer and the living room, dash through the open-ended kitchen and arrive near a set of doors. Logan yanks open the first one and flips a switch, shielding my eyes with his back as the bright-as-the-fucking-sun incandescent bulb fills the all-white room with light. I look at the floor, letting my eyes adjust before we both step through. My arms hang at my sides, blood dripping down the top of my arm, across the back of my hand and accumulating on my fingertips.

“What did you mean when you said that Devon’s got it?”

“What?” enough time has passed and he’s forgotten what he said.

“About the basement?” I reminded him.

“Ah.” he sighed “Well, he just passed his life-saving course.”

“So he’s an official EMT?”

He nods briefly, his body shrinking to the floor, balancing on the balls of his feet while he rummages through the compartment beneath the kitchen sink. Being prone to accidents, my pack began keeping an abundance of medical supplies in the bathroom, I was originally against the spending of funds, but now I’m grateful for the foresight. Logan quickly finds antiseptic something or other, a roll of gauze and a roll of tape. I don’t realize that he’s aware of me watching him, hell, I didn’t even realize that I was watching him until he stands and looks at me, annoyance clear on his face.

What?” He demands, when I shrug, he nods and grabs the underside of my forearm.

“This is going to burn, and smell awful, so plug your nose.” He’s telling me this, to prepare me, not because I need coddling, but because if he didn’t, I would have been caught unawares and face a meltdown situation. Melting down is bad for a human, but for a werewolf? Lets just say, when enough panic is in a neurotypical werewolf, they change, now imagine the levels an autistic person can reach. I was like a feral animal, trapped three stories up, in an old colonial home, growling and snapping at whomever came close enough to me to let me out of my room. It took me sixteen and a half hours to calm myself enough to finally sleep. I woke up in the cage the day after.

I can still hear her in the basement when Logan dabs the foul smelling liquid into my wound. The muscles in my arms, chest and legs all bunch. White hot tendrils of pain snake through me, jabbing and poking at me for fun, but eventually that numbs, and I feel the cool gel of the antibacterial ointment. Tingly numbness follows so I have to watch while my brother winds the gauze around my forearm first, then afterward secures it with the tape.

“There” he breathes proudly, admiring the neatness of his handiwork.. Before he’s ready, I retract my arm and let it hang at my side, blocking the only exit in the most awkward manner known to man. Honestly, I don’t know how to move my body without feeling like a robot, and I stopped trying a long time ago. But while I stand, staring at my brother, lost in my own thoughts, he starts to laugh. Suddenly, I feel very vulnerable, and very judged.

“What?” I sputter.

He shakes his head, puts a hand on my shoulder and guides me to the side, stepping out of the room and walking back through the hallway. I must have been blank-faced again. which, isn’t unusual or uncommon for me. It’s evident I’ve lost him to his thoughts while he walks down the hallway, furthering the distance between us.

He’s forgotten about my obsession and doesn’t hear me while I pad over to the basement door, twist the knob and pop it open. No hand catches me as I creep down the stairs, cringing as each step groans under my weight. She moves in the cage, her heavy paws thumping clumsily against the ground. I don’t remember closing the door, and stare at it for a second, wondering if someone’s just locked me in. There’s no time to test the knob, so I continue my careful descent into the chilled room.

It looks like any typical stone foundation might. Large crudely cut blocks glare back at me, telling me that I shouldn’t be down here. There are three, very surprised people all staring back at me, watching me walk from the steps over to the cage. She’s gorgeous. My breath catches as I watch her pace. Four, very large and heavy paws plod against the concrete, her nails clicking and claking with every step. I hate it, I feel the heat coil within me again, but fight it. A scream dies within me, but I’ve got to stay calm, I’m down here with a purpose.

“Hi..” My voice is trembling and I can’t understand why, Lucas’ scent is thick on her, which of us signifies something deep, physical intimacy, ownership sounds barbaric, but, that’s kind of what it is. When wolves take a mate, we mate for life, and our mates then become ours and vise versa. Right now, that’s what I know River is for Lucas.

She doesn’t acknowledge me as she continues pacing. Suddenly, she eases down onto her belly and starts to whine. I hear a heavy sigh come from the corner to my left, someone shuffling forward to guide me back with him, when I twist to see who it is, Devon’s usually smiling face finds my pensive one. The skin beneath his eyes looks bruised, his mouth is set into a hard line, his forehead is creased in worry and a sheen of sweat makes it shine. Everything from his appearance to his demeanor tells me that he’s had a rough day. He’s slept very minimally, but they’ll never let me take his place as guard, not because I’m defective, but because I don’t have the training they do. That’ll happen on my twenty-third birthday.

“Why’re you down here, kid?”

“I had to see her..” I admit meekly. Her whines grow frantic when the first bone pops.

“Why?”

“I.. don’t know”

He understands and nods. Turning me around so I can watch, everyone else is keeping their eyes off of her. It takes her exactly fifteen minutes longer than any member of the pack to shrink back. Wild red hair, ivory colored skin dotted with beige freckles, a lithe body crumpled in defeat… Admittedly, she was gorgeous, but unavailable. I pushed my way forward, hearing her muffled sobs as she buried her face into the mattress next to her, and screamed.

“Hi..” I interrupt her tantrum.

“Hi..” She gasps, taking the only blanket she’s allowed, and wraps it around herself, sweat still running off of her in fat drops.

“I’m Kai.”

“I’m River.”

River! Lucas’ best friend, the girl he lived with and attended school with, the girl who used to live next door to him and the girl who saved a puppy from a vicious bunch of neighborhood bullies, as a child. I smile and extend a hand to her. She’s wary of me, but she takes it. I like her already. The infamous River.

“I’ve heard a lot about you” I admit. She doesn’t want to hear that.

“I mean, Lucas told us a lot about you, he really loves you.” This seems to soothe her, but she pulls her hand back anyways.

“Did..” She can’t bring herself to say it, so I don’t make her, and simply nod my reply. It’s not hard to guess what she’s asking. I can see that she’s not upset, in fact, she’s more confused than anything. No one is allowing Lucas to see her and she’s making these physiologically impossible changes, that no one will tell her about.

“Are you?”

I again nod, and she deflates. Maybe I should have lied to her, but that wouldn’t have been beneficial for either of us.

“It’s not a bad thing!” I quickly add. “Because of it, I have a family, friends, support network, easy access to therapy..” I could go on, really, I could, but I don’t, she’s staring at me, flabbergasted, trying to figure out what’s wrong with me.

“I’m Autistic.” I sigh. Her smile is warm as she shuffles closer to me, leaning her head against the bars. The scent of her hair wafts over to me and surprises me. She smells like a hot summer rain, and it soothes me. Already, I have to remind myself that she’s Lucas’, not because I feel a romantic attraction to her, but because I want to comfort her. I want to gently pet her hair and tell her she’s going to be okay, but that’s not my responsibility or right.

“My mom never wanted to get me tested, but last year, I diagnosed myself with Aspergers.”

I’m shocked and disgusted. Self diagnosis was not how to approach anything, but I stop and turn to her.

“I’ve spent more than one-hundred hours researching the disorder.” She says like she knows what I was thinking. It’s obvious that she’s had to defend herself before. Now I feel like a royal ass.

“My mom is super religious and I’m a college student, I can’t exactly just book an appointment with a local psychologist and get tested.” I understand it, but can’t accept it, but then I see the gentle moves she makes against the bars. She’s rocking, trying to keep her panic in check, fidgeting with her hands, playing with her fingers and eventually stills long enough to tuck her thumb into a nest of her fingers. The blood drains from her knuckles as she squeezes, the tighter, the better. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s mimicking my own stress stims.

“Ah.” I believe her, but not entirely, I’ll have to talk to Logan about this. Logan became a licensed psychologist for peoples with autism last year. Remember when I said my brother is an admirable person? This isn’t the reason.

“...Am I dead?” Her question shocks me. I shake my head, I’m confused as to why she’d ask this. I thought it was abundantly clear that this was reality. I guess she’s in shock.

“I mean, none of this can be happening, can it?” her lower lip trembles and tears stand in her eyes.

“It is, and you’re going to be fine” I smile. “The first change is always the hardest”

She doesn’t understand, she’s trying but it’s impossible to just change your idea of the world in just one night. River begins rocking more quickly, and I can smell her panic coming off of her in fresh waves, drowning me. Her hands open and slide along her elbows, forearms, shoulders, the tops of her thighs, she’s trying to stave off the change.

“Hey” I say “Hey, look at me.” She does, but the dazed expression on her face tells me that she’s not truly seeing me.

“Just breathe. Deep in, deep out.”

The first bone pops and she screams. I jump and push my hands over my ears, hearing myself, muffled through my hands.

“Deep in. Deep out.” I repeat, letting my own chest roll out and cave in, demonstrating what I mean.

“Watch me.” I insist, continually showing her how to breathe.

She howls and scurries away from the bars, tearing the blanket off of her naked body and crouches onto her hands and knees.  I watch her chest, not for my own enjoyment, but to see if she’ll remember to breathe. I’m elated when she does. She shudders, but she breathes, her back arches as her fingers retract into the stump of her palm, a paw forming, but she’s breathing. Low, ragged breaths flood the air around us.

“Just keep breathing” I encourage, and eventually she screams again, longer and louder than the previous times, still trying to breathe and let it happen, but the first instinct is to fight it and deny it. She retches, something rolls up from her throat. Unable to stop the change and examine it, she spits it out between her forming paws and keeps going. The sharp scent of the rejected substance makes me cringe. I know everyone’s looked away from her, affording her some privacy as she howls her way through yet another change, but I need to make sure she’ll make it through this one.

Standing before me, is the wolf I walked in on. I move forward, wrapping my hands around the sturdy bars of her cage and peer around her legs, straining to see what she regurgitated. Black tar? Blood. Congealed blood. Panicked, I turn to Devon, who is already beside me, staring down at it as well. River looks from us, to between her forepaws, and growls. The ears at the top of her skull, flatten back against it and she begins to pace, ignoring the mess.

A hand catches the back of my shirt, again, but tugging me away from the bars and away from the new wolf nonetheless. People have really got to stop doing this, but I’m being pulled toward the stairs. I allow myself to be guided until we’re up the stairs, down the hall and in the foyer, the door having closed behind us. Devon’s hand releases me before wiping sweat from his brow, depositing it on the leg of his pants and then thumbing the corners of his eyes, picking something out of the crevices. He’s exhausted.

“Is she going to be okay?” I blurt out.

He sighs and doesn’t look at me, he’s toying with something on this thumb. Another sigh, this one turning into a growl. I wait while he debates on giving me the right answer, or one he thinks I should hear.

“It’s too early to tell.” The defeated tone is only accentuated when his shoulders slump.

“Should I tell Lucas?”

Devon’s head shot up, his eyes narrowing for a fraction of a second, then he shakes it, silently telling me no. She will survive, and when she does, he’d be allowed to see her, until then, they’d be separated, and he wouldn’t be given updates. This might seem needlessly heartless, but it’s for their own good. They each need this time away from the other in order to calm themselves and recuperate, especially River. Resentment is an all too common emotion for new wolves, and the last thing we need, is for River to say something truly awful to Lucas, and have him break. We don’t need two feral wolves and one cage. That’s essentially putting two fighting fish in the same tank and expecting them not to rip each other to shreds.

Unfortunately for Lucas, however, he’s broken a cardinal law, Do Not Bite A Human. Humans are fragile, superstitious, ignorant beings that would rather turn on their own kind the instant something suspicious happens. That led our superior members of yore to ban any sort of alliance with humans to be formed, and we are to remain, at all times, off of their radar. That said, Lucas was given the choice at the age of eighteen, River or the Pack. We all knew what his decision would be. Thankfully neither Michelle nor Daniel enforced this barbaric law, but it certainly soured him to our way of life.

“he’s in deep shit, isn’t he?”

Another sigh.

“Yes. He’s going to face repercussions, but not right now.”

“Understandable.” Now it’s my turn to sigh, a weight is being lifted off of my shoulders. “What sort of repercussions?” Panic brimming in me. “Please tell me he’s not being excommunicated!”

“No!” Devon nearly shouts, thankfully he remembers how I am with loud noises, and as a result,  his voice comes out half choked.

“No” he repeats “A punishment hasn’t formally been assigned yet, but Michelle is thinking of keeping he and River here for a couple of months while she adjusts. She seems to think that’s punishment enough.”

I have to agree. Lucas had been avoiding coming home for close to a year now, not answering texts, phone calls or emails. The last any of us heard of him, he had moved into a studio-apartment across town from his school college. Again, none of us blame him for this sudden reclusive behavior.

“I’ve gotta get back down there, kid.” He yawned, running the tips of his fingers across his jaw, shocked to find the thick beard clinging to it. How could a person forget something that was growing out of their face?! I resist the urge to scream at him and nod. I’m already exhausted. Social situations always leave me like this, no matter if I’m extremely comfortable with the person (or people) or not. There’s just something about having to constantly stay on guard, survey reactions, think of proper responses and the like, that drains me.

“I just brought you up here to ask you not to tell Lucas, or anyone else. She doesn’t need people constantly visiting her while she’s struggling to make sense of this all. Okay?” He sounded sincerely concerned for her wellbeing, how could I rationally argue with this? It was easy, I couldn’t. I nodded my agreement, attempting not to look as dejected as I felt. Devon seemed pleased by my compliance, somewhere within myself, I knew he wasn’t saying this to make me feel like a petulant child, but it did. A sigh escaped me as he sidestepped me, moving back down the hallway, padding his return to the basement.

“Oh.” He called over his shoulder “Next time, get Daniel’s permission to come down, I don’t know why she didn’t freak out around you, but I’d prefer not to have her crashing back against the bars.” So, she was trying to break them down. I was too distracted to examine her, but there was my confirmation! I knew she was the wild type. This could change the whole game.

I was shocked! My lids drew back too far and I made the mistake of looking into Devon’s eyes. Suddenly, I needed to escape, something coiled into my gut and pulled my intestines tight. Too tight. Before I knew it, my heart was racing wildly in my chest, deafening me to anything he said, probably asking if I was alright. I hadn’t realized how unstable I had become, how far I let my guard drop, until I was moving, loping up at the stairs. Taking them two at a time until I reached the top, standing in the hallway of the second floor, looking about frantically, trying to decide where to go, but I didn’t stop. Panicked and needing a way out, my legs carried me down the hall. I couldn’t control my strength, not with my hands shaking this badly, so when I crushed the knob in my palm, I silently cursed it, yanked it free and sent it sailing toward the stairs.

The world fell away, my pulse thudding loudly inside my ears while I looked about the room. What was I even looking for? My hands clenched and relaxed several times before eventually I finally managed to ball a fist and lunge toward the corner of the room. Hard but ready, my punching bag leaped away from me, jangling the chain that mounted it to the ceiling. Again, I drove my unprepared fist into it, and again it jumped away from me, this time bobbing angrily taunting me.

I continued assaulting it in a flurry of blows that left me breathless. Each landed hit nearly ruptured the duct tape at its center. Finally, I could hear something over the roar of my pulse, but that didn’t stop me, eventually the burn raising from my swollen knuckles did. I, apparently, had split them open in several different places, but I had been blind to the pain, until the last punch. I sank to the floor, my knees curling to my chest and arms snaking around them. Out. Out! OUT! I NEEDED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! The energy that filled me, left as quickly as it came. Tears welled in my eyes. I felt pathetic, useless, weak, and helpless. My head fell against the floor, pivoting so my my forehead caught it as they made their escape, streaking wet lines down my cheeks. Ugly sobs ripped free of me, forcing my shoulders to bounce violently. A battered hand lifted to slam the palm into the floor, pounding it with such force that my forearm ached. It never crossed my mind that someone could hear me. Living with a house full of werewolves, you’d think I would remember that we have super-fucking-sensitive hearing.

It seemed like an eternity until I calmed down enough to sit up. My door inched open and the smell of freshly cut fruit assaulted me. I recoiled when I saw the outline of a face, I felt like an animal, but I was practically blinded by the condensation still welling in my eyes. Once I rubbed them clear enough to place the face, my heart sank. Logan stared down at me. He brought me nuts to crack, cheese, fruit, a plate of bacon, juice and several bottles of water. Either Devon told him what happened, or he heard me.

“How long?” I croaked, not having the energy to finish a coherent sentence.

“Ten minutes” he nodded. He had been here for ten minutes, so he missed my attack on the punching bag, but had caught the pathetic breakdown. My brother did not judge me when I refused to crack the nuts, when I barely had the mental capacity to pick at the pieces of fruit, cheese or bacon, and didn’t judge me still, when I shoved bottles of water for him to open, and then hand back. Although I only had a few choices, they overwhelmed me. Thankfully, Logan had begun to learn, he understood that during the times after my meltdowns, I can’t handle making many decisions. Somehow, he also deduced that I just needed something favored and familiar. It sounds so awful, that he doesn’t let me make my own decisions, but we’re not talking about some neurotypical person who can decide what they’ll be eating a week from now. We’re talking about me, the autistic kid who can’t go into grocery stores because the lights are too bright, or go into social settings without a friend for fear of someone touching me. So now as I sat in front of my brother, my feet crossed under my knees, I felt grateful that he knew how detrimental it was that I not spend my last remaining reserve of energy choosing which piece food I wanted.

We sat together for an hour, eating in silence, enjoying the other’s company, he ignoring the tears which still broke free, and me ignoring the fact that he was eating all of my bacon. My brother is a hero for many reasons, his taking care of me is not one of them. You don’t get a medal for helping your family, especially when they need you, your reward is their resulting trust and dedication

 
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