I found myself staring into the eyes of one of the most gorgeous person I had ever seen in my life. It took a couple heavy heartbeats to realize this gorgeous person was male. It took another heartbeat to realize this gorgeous person was a vampire.
He stepped in and then flinched as the electricity came back on. “You must be Zaid Danevbie,” he said in a drawling, heavily accented tone. I couldn’t quite place the accent though. It sounded old. “I have found him!” he called out and soon another equally gorgeous vampire–this one female–appeared.
“I believe you’re right,” the male said and then bowed to me. “Your friend, Gretchen Penstone, sent us. I am Emilian and this is Akua. We live nearby and Mrs. Penstone contacted us to come rescue you.”
I let out my breath, straightening up a bit. Clay peeked out of the stall, his eye huge. “Th-thank you,” I panted. “What–who–who was out there?”
Emilian and Akua exchanged looks. “Werewolves,” Emilian answered. “The owner of this bar is… ahh, was a werewolf.” One hand waved towards the blood on the floor. “Not anymore. It seems the bartender recognized you and called the owner.” Oh great, now I got to worry about people blabbing about me when I went places. “The filthy dog spoke as I killed him. He said that if we joined with his… ahh, boss… and took you to her… we would receive wealth.” Emilian cocked his head to one side. “Tell us about this.”
I explained as best I could, not sure if I could trust them but suspecting that if I didn’t tell them they could rip my head off my shoulders if they wanted. They both listened intently, neither one of them speaking until I finished. “This is complicated,” Akua said. “Though we have suspected going-ons in our realm.”
Realm? I wondered. “What sort of, uh, going-ons?” I asked.
“Multiple beings of our kind, spending more time in this area than should be necessary,” Emilian responded smoothly. “None have crossed us but Akua and I are not comfortable with so many close by. Now it seems it is worse than we suspected before.”
“If they are gathering, and are the ones we have heard of…” Akua eyed Emilian and they had a silent conversation through their eyes. “You see,” she finally continued, “we have heard of the tales of the one who would destroy magic. And we have heard your name spoken in such tales. Emilian and I have always believed what your witch believes–that you will be used for such. There has been evil brewing for a very long time.”
“Everything has been unbalanced for so long,” Emilian muttered. “And in the past few decades things have become stranger. Spikes in magic and paranormal activity, at random intervals. Like a pane of glass with pebbles thrown at it, sending the spiderweb of cracks out and out until it crashes.”
“So–there are a bunch of supernaturals somewhere near?” I asked, my ears perking up so to speak. Grams had said the enemy lived somewhere in this area. Could the vampires know who? Or at least, where?
However they didn’t notice my question, or didn’t care about it. “Something is in the woods. Something growing,” Akua said in a mysterious tone. “Perhaps we should stay, if our fears are being confirmed by the presence of Zaid.”
“Yes,” Emilian agreed. “It seems things are proving to be true.” He focused his eyes on me. “We will help in what way we can. We will not be at your beck and call,” he added quickly, sounding a bit angry. “We are not pets.”
“No, of course,” I stammered. “Th-thank you for your help. So the something in the woods, is it–d’you think it’s the person who wants to kidnap me? The one sending people after me?” I asked, needing them to answer.
Emilian let out a long sigh. “No. The thing in the woods is not a person, or a group of people–or supernaturals. No. It is something else. It is like… when you see the sky growing dark and the clouds rolling in. Only it is not visual, it’s a feeling. We have not gone to that part in the woods and we do not wish to.”
And without another word the two left. Clay came out of the stall just staring at me in silence. I looked at the pool of blood and leaned forward, seeing the dead body of someone. A silver fork stuck out of the guy’s throat. “Let’s get out of here,” I said and Clay and I hopped over the corpse and scrambled out of the bar. Clay wrenched his car door open, gave a snappish goodbye, and quickly drove off before I could even get my car started.
That night I spent most my time in the tub. When I had gotten home Max crawled all over me, bemoaning the fact he hadn’t been there to help me. Goose made worried sounds and after I told them both what happened, Goose went to my bathroom and ran a bath, commanding me to take a long soak. I didn’t really want to but after I got in the hot water I began relaxing a bit.
“I mean, the bartender recognized me by sight. Not my name at all,” I said, then tried to remember if Clay had said my name around the bartender. Maybe he had. Shoot. “In any case am I going to have to worry about this in the future? Going places only to have non-supernaturals telling their supernatural relatives or friends or whatever who have put out a… a… a… hit on me or whatever?”
Max sat on the counter, kicking his heels against the cupboard. “I don’t think you should worry too much. I mean sure there might be people like that out there but I don’t think you should, uh, let it effect you going out and whatever.”
I sloshed the water a bit, knowing he was right about that. “Yeah. It’s just really creepy, y’know? Sometimes I just want to go back to hiding. Sometimes I just want to take on all of them and fight.”
“You should never give up,” Max stated with a big grin, showing off his fangs. “You’re a tough cookie, Zaidy-boy.” Then we were both quiet for a couple minutes before he asked how things went with Clay. I frowned, having forgotten about that part completely.
“Not good.” I shook my head and sank lower in the water. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised though. When I pulled him into the bathroom, y’know to try and hide or save him or whatever, he asked if I was hitting on him!”
Max snorted. “Like he’s your type.”
I laughed lightly at that then began thinking about Goose. Ugh. That made things a bit awkward with me naked in the water being watched by Max. I sat up a bit, reaching for my soap. “Can you get out so I can finish getting cleaned off?” Max hopped down, skirting around the bit of water on the floor like it would poison him. I splashed at him and he shrieked, diving out the door and shouting threats at me while I laughed even more.
I expected the bloodshed at the bar to barely make a blip in the news but it became headlines… and not in a good way. Reporters stated that a werewolf probably tried to attack a human and the human luckily had a silver fork with them. The newspapers and news reports began going on about keeping protection with you at all times, and how werewolves never seemed to be nice people–that they kept attacking people and were just ‘animals’. I watched the frenzy whip with heavy sickness in my belly.
As summer progressed the anti-werewolf insanity just grew. Stores sold protection against werewolves. Silver weaponry sold out at an alarming rate and some people came up with new ways to protect against the weres including a spray that had real silver flakes in it you could spray into the eyes of your werewolf attacker–‘tested and guaranteed to blind them!’… tested.
“We’ve stopped all contact with the mortals,” Vilkas told me in July. “One of mine went to try and buy cleaning supplies and was attacked. No, she wasn’t hurt thankfully. Apparently she bumped into another customer at the store and the customer flipped out. Norma got out of there as fast as she could. The cops were called in–d’you know it’s becoming mandatory for cops to carry silver bullets with them? At least, it will be. Cops do anyway as far as I know but they’re getting a law passed.”
“Shiiiiit,” I breathed out. I knew it’d be a good idea if a bad werewolf did cause problems but I knew perfectly well the cops wouldn’t care if the were committed a crime or not. Shoot first, ask questions later.
Other supernaturals grew wary. Grams seemed on edge every time I spoke with her and Goose became increasingly paranoid to the point of never leaving the house without a hat covering his ears. One day he couldn’t find his hat and we destroyed the house looking for it before finally finding it stuffed down into the couch. Goose collapsed down, covering his face, hiding his tears.
“This is why some of my father’s family didn’t want me coming into the human world,” he sniffled. “They said things would get dangerous and they were right!”
I gulped at those words. “Are–are you th-thinking of leaving…?” Please say no, don’t go, I know you’ll never like me back but please don’t leave.
Goose remained still for a few seconds then shook his head, giving another sniffle before raising his chin up. “No.” I tried not to breath a sigh of relief. “I’m g-gonna stay. I mean, hardly anyone knows about elves, right?” He got up slowly and I followed suit. “And–and just because I have pointed ears doesn’t mean anything. If anyone really presses me about it, I could say I had surgery or something, r-right?”
“Right,” I said and hugged him without thinking. Goose’s body stiffened before he relaxed completely and hugged me tightly back. I held onto him, not wanting to let go but knowing if I kept this hug up any longer it’d get awkward. Super awkward. Like, incredibly awkward. Things were now in that range. Let go, Zaid. Let go of him. Stop hugging him.
I yanked away quickly, trying not to blush. Goose’s face had gone completely red and I tried to figure out a way to apologize but he just jammed the hat on his head, tucked his ears in, mumbled something about already being late for work, then took off out the door in the blink of an eye. I fell back onto the couch very angry at making him so uncomfortable. I mean, that was discomfort, right? He hugged back but–well he didn’t do that awkward ‘pat the back’ thing some people do when they’ve had enough of a hug, he hugged back the whole time and–no, stop trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, Zaid.
Disgusted with myself I decided it’d be a good time to order a pizza and binge watch old martial arts movies to get my mind off the feel of Goose in my arms.
I eventually talked to Noah about my bisexuality and he took it a lot better than Clay did. At first he seemed a bit surprised but then he smiled, smacked my back, and asked who the lucky guy I had my eye on was.
“Yeah, I know,” he said, frowning a bit then going back to smiling. “I know what people tend to say. People can like more than one gender. Personally, I don’t care. If you’re happy that’s the important thing, and you’re my bro. I want you to be happy. With whoever you want to be with. Does he make you happy?”
“Yeah,” I said without thinking. “I mean–I wish he–I mean–he doesn’t know. And I probably won’t tell him. But he’s a great guy.” I sighed at that. “I should just try and find someone else and get my mind off him.”
I did try to date that summer. I went on a date with a couple girls. I wanted to try going on a date with a guy but I didn’t know any single guys in the area who were looking for another guy. Besides, I needed to let other people know first. My three best friends knew… well, two best friends and Clay who hadn’t really spoken to me much though I figured that was more from the attack than it was my coming out. Lumie knew. But nobody else in the family knew so I figured I needed to tell them next.
I told Vilkas first, over a video call. He showed off his kid who had been born in the spring, a little cutie that made me swell with pride to be an uncle. Though technically I sorta was an uncle already, what with Lumie having a kid but that didn’t really count, did it? I told Vilkas he needed to come visit and bring his ‘puppy’ with him and he laughed, promising to visit as soon as he could. Then I told him about me and he reacted with confusion. At first he seemed a bit unsure whether I meant gay or not. But thankfully he did come around and understood what I meant.
Presea took it as easy as Noah did. I invited her to the house since we barely got to see each other and we had a great time chatting, and she told me she sometimes wondered about herself but had never really explored those feelings so she felt proud of me for figuring out my own feelings. “Besides,” she said, “I’m too busy for a relationship right now. Cupid tries to shoot me with an arrow I’ll break his bow over my knee.”
Finally I told Glados. Like Saya, I invited her over. As soon as she came in the door Max was all over her. In cat form for the most part, meowing and demanding attention. She sat down with him in her lap, cooing and cuddling him. She took my information more like Vilkas did–confused for a bit and then coming round. “Now that I think about it, it doesn’t surprise me,” she said, scratching Max gently under the chin. “I think you’re the type to fall for someone with someone regardless of who they are, or their gender.” She grinned at that. “And by ‘fall for’ I mean want to jump into bed with.”
“GLADDY!” I shrieked. “I am not like that!” I punched her lightly as she laughed hard, promising me she had meant it in a joking way. “Jerk. I hate you.”
She stuck out her tongue. “Hate you too, baby brother.”
I growled at that. “And I hate it when you guys call me that! I’m an adult.”
“I’m not pouting. Max pouts. Not me. I’m… grumbling,” I decided on and she laughed.
“I’m glad you’ve been thinking about dating again,” Gladdy said a moment later. “Saya and I have been a bit worried since…”
“The divorce?” I offered and she nodded. “Yeah, well, that wasn’t too long ago anyway. Besides. We really weren’t meant to be. I just hope to find the one I am meant to be with.” With that said, my mind wandered to Goose and I felt very sad.
Pa and Dad naturally were fine–not seeming to be confused, and accepting… though Pa kept asking about the guy I mentioned. I refused to answer, trying to explain I didn’t think he’d be interested in guys. Dad did quietly ask if this had been the reason for my divorce and I shook my head.
“No, it was… other stuff,” I said. “We fell out of love. The stress of being married and living together, and the problems we had–just, it was just a lot of different problems.”
How could I truly be happy though? I wanted to be happy. Sometimes I felt very happy. But sometimes depression got the better of me, with the situation. Dating someone, finding ‘the one’ wouldn’t change the situation. Which, you know, didn’t bother me really. I knew just ‘finding the one’ wouldn’t magically make things better. Dad and Pa sure had a ton of problems after they found one another. Buuuut having someone sure helped. Plus I really enjoyed the, er, more physical activities of being a couple and even though I didn’t regret my one night stand in college I didn’t want to repeat it.
I decided to try to get my mind off my lack of dating life (besides I just recently divorced wasn’t there like a period of singleness or something like that?) by upping my training and focusing on my job at the spa. One of the single mother of a kid I trained with started flirting with me near the end of summer and she seemed pretty nice so after a few brief chats with her I asked her out and she agreed. Our first date went pretty well but I just didn’t feel anything for her besides surface attraction.
“Not good,” I grumbled, tossing my jacket to the ground. “Maybe I am dating too soon. Maybe I should take a break before I–I try again.” And maybe I needed to stop lusting after Goose who watched me now with big, lovely eyes. Reaper. I realized then I hadn’t ever mentioned to him my, er, latest discovery about myself. He needed to know since he lived with me. I just didn’t know how he’d react. “I dunno. There’s this guy I was thinking of asking out.”
“Why don’t you ask him then?” Goose asked, not missing a beat at all.
“I d-don’t know if he likes guys,” I replied, not sure what else to say. He didn’t care all, one bit at all. It didn’t phase him in any way.
“Oh. Right, I keep forgetting the human world is a bit more sensitive about that sort of thing,” Goose said, shaking his head. Now I stared openly at him and made a questioning noise. He blushed slightly and looked down. “It’s a bit different in the elf society. Gender roles and such aren’t important at all. It, um, doesn’t matter.” He began fiddling with the hem of his shirt, obviously uncomfortable. I began to say he didn’t need to tell me but he plunged on before I could. “Human society and the perception of gender roles has a lot of base in procreation. Before the scientific discoveries, only females could have babies and since procreation is a big part of um, most creature’s form of continuing on–with the exception of a few and the likes of vampires and werewolves that can produce more vampires and werewolves by turning others into their kind–then a lot of emphasis is placed on that sort of thing. So it’s different for us.”
He blushed hard and turned away. I didn’t know if he was embarrassed by talking about sex, or embarrassed by talking about elvish culture. “For elves, part of the way our magic works has to do with, er, babies. Having children. Elves have always been able to reproduce no matter the gender or… errrr… genitalia…”
“If two elves love each other very much, their magic can adapt to that and if they are, er, active… and wanting children… one will get pregnant,” Goose said, squirming a lot by this point. “Even in male/female relationships it’s not always the female. Sometimes it’s the male.”
I began to wonder about the anatomy of an elf. “But your father and mother weren’t both elves?” I asked, trying not to be too curious. Maybe they were all like… Barbie or Ken dolls down there?
“Yes, elves can reproduce with other kind,” he answered. “We have the, er, uh, um, uh… t-tools to do so.” I didn’t think anyone could turn as red as he did at that. “But, er, anyway, as our magic allows the ability to reproduce despite genders, our views of roles and sexuality are much looser than human society.”
Doyoulikeguysthen?! The words almost tumbled out of my mouth but I managed to hold them back. “Wow, that’s–wow. I didn’t know.”
“But what?” I asked, hope causing my body to tingle.
“I t-trust you,” he mumbled.
Oh. “I’m glad. I trust you too.” He wouldn’t trust me if he knew the truth though. It’d make things awkward, though perhaps not as awkward as I feared. I just needed to get rid of this crush before it ruined my friendship with him since over the summer we had become quite good friends. I’d be loathe to lose him as one, though not quite the same as Noah or Max, or the pain I felt from the fact Clay had more or less abandoned me. But I knew it’d still hurt… except the pain of not being with him hurt more than anything else.
At the end of summer came a heat wave like no other. I decided finally that it had been sent by my enemies to sweat me to death. The humidity made things a zillion times worse; trying to breathe outside felt like trying to breathe through a warm, wet washcloth or something. The spa liked to keep its building really deliciously cool but at home our AC seemed to be unable to keep up with the heat. And since I couldn’t exactly sleep at the spa, I spent my nights in a half-awake, miserable state of sweat and exhaustion. Even Max had problems. He usually liked to snuggle up against me in cat form but he spent his nights human now, stretched out in front of one of the fans.
On the day the reporters called ‘one of the hottest’ in Midnight Hollow history, I couldn’t do anything. I just stripped down to my boxers and sat in a puddle of misery by a fan in the living room, watching the TV and trying not to die. Goose came home from work and, after a moment of trying to decide, took off most his clothes and joined me. He asked about Max and I waved my hand at my door. “He filled my tub with ice and is currently lounging there. The brat. I want to do that.”
“We could fill my tub with ice,” he said with a snort.
“I think the tub is a bit too small for two,” I replied, as always not thinking. “Uh. Weather-lady says things will cool down the day after tomorrow. And by cool down I mean go down a few degrees. Can elf magic make the house cooler?”
“Yes, I’ve just decided to languish in agony to play a joke on you,” he said and I laughed hard at that. We talked a bit, mostly complaining about the heat and then about the recent political changes as some politicians were pushing laws to make it illegal to be a werewolf or vampire. Ugh. “I worry, sometimes, what if they… they…”
“Even the magical communities barely know of the elves,” I reminded him, unwittingly reaching out to grab his hand but I stopped myself before I did so I merely bumped my hand against his. “Let alone the mortal societies.”
“Yeah,” I admitted. “And elves now too. You are my–my friend.” As I said that my sister intruded on my mind. She and I were very good at keeping out of one another now, our barrier jobs were quit excellent normally. But with the heat of course it was difficult. Goose spoke to my ears and Lumie spoke to my mind, telling me that I should tell him, talk to him, and reminded me of what we had both learned about the fact elves were very open about things like that. >He knows I like guys as well as girls,< I reminded her, >so if he liked me he’d say something.<
>Mmmm, yes, when you like someone your first reaction is to confess,< she put in slyly. I mentally rolled my eyes at her. >If you feel that’s the truth then why not tell him?<
>Then stop having dirty thoughts about him it is EXTREMELY disturbing.< With that she halfheartedly snapped the barriers up and I did as well, but neither of us could completely. Our thoughts still leaked into one another’s heads.
“Your sister okay?” Goose asked.
“You were talking with her, weren’t you?” he asked, eyes widening a bit. I nodded slowly then asked how he knew. “Oh. You get this look on your face sometime, like you’re not quite here. I figure you’re talking with your sister when you get that look.”
“Nobody’s ever noticed… or at least, commented about it,” I said.
Goose looked down, blushing slightly. “I guess I’m just a b-bit… er, uh. I’m g-going to get a s-soda. Do you want one?” He hopped up and didn’t even wait for me to reply, he just took off. I raised my eyebrows then followed him into the kitchen, finding him not getting into the fridge but just standing there, smacking his forehead.
I stepped into the room. “Are you ok–whoa,” I added as he jumped pretty much clear to the ceiling. “You all right?”
Okay, I knew sometimes I could be pretty dense about things but on occasion I had a flash of realization and at this point I had one. At least I hoped I had one. Maybe not, maybe it was just extreme hope. Lumie’s right though, I can’t just say someone else doesn’t like me because they don’t tell me when I don’t say it myself. Hypocritical of me. Okay, just tell him then. Now’s a good time. In your underwear. No, right now is not a good time. “Hey, why don’t we go out and get some ice cream or something?” I suggested, figuring it’d be better to say it when we were both dressed.
I went into my room and threw my clothes on before poking my head into the bathroom to check on Max who still remained lounging in the tub, the ice mostly melted now. Then I went to the living room, waiting in hot nervousness. Goose emerged from his room, looking just as nervous for some reason. Now or never. “Hey, before we go could I talk to you about something real quick?”
“Oh. S-sure.” He pocketed his baseball cap, as he never left the house anymore without some way to hide his ears because of fear of being attacked.
Goose looked at me in complete and utter terror. I decided not to jump to conclusions except I couldn’t stop the sickness and worry engulfing everything. “I–I’m sorry,” he whispered and there went my heart and stomach. “I’m sorry,” he repeated, bowing his head. “Yes, I–I–I like y-you–I’m sorry–I c-can move if you want me to, I’ve been t-trying to hide it and–I’m sorry–“
“You like me?” I said, unable to believe it. He flushed, nodding. He started to apologize yet again but I cut him off before he finished. “I like you too, Goose.” And before I could lose the nerve I bent forward and kissed him hard.