I didn’t sleep much that night. I was dead tired, but I just couldn’t get myself to sleep beyond the occasional nodding off. I was aching all over, something the elixir could do nothing about, and my cravings were getting inhumanly strong… Kaleb however didn’t share my problems and slept like a real baby.
I spend a good part of the night just watching him, I didn’t know how he could sleep so easily, but he was cute doing so. It was rather hard to think of anything other than the exposed pulsing veins of his neck…
Rather than think about it anymore than I had to, I left the bed early and completely not-rested. I didn’t have anything to change into so I kept my old grimy clothes on. I walked to the kitchen area, a very generous name to give the old folding table that probably didn’t fold anymore, the crates of cans, dried ramens and sealed bags of dried goods kept above the ground in milk crates and a counter made of a plank supported by bricks.
I wasn’t sure how, but the place had power, enough to support a pair of hot plates and a toaster. There wasn’t much of a selection, so I opened a can of baked beans and prepared a pair of toasts. After a moment, Liam walked toward me, looking much better than he had the night prior. One of his ears was still torn and several long scabs covered his body, but appart from that, he was alright.
“Are you hungry?” I asked him. He nodded. “What do you eat?”
He walked over to the crates and took out a pair of cans, one containing vienna sausages and the other preserved ham, handing them to me. By the way he’d retrieved them, it was clear his fingers were somewhat clumsy, not helped by the large claws that ended them, impairing his dexterity. He then took out a milk can and pointed at the hot plate, I set the can to warm up and then the food containing ones for him and set them on a disposable styrofoam plate. He used his hands to eat directly and then. I ate my own food as the milk heated and then poured it in a cup for him, the can being way too hot to handle.
He drank it slowly and then did something that surprised me. He hugged me, mostly my legs. I was getting to know everyone better and as scary as Liam could look like, he was just a kid and heavily dependant on other’s help in providing for him. When he was done, he went away only to come back with a book in hand. He handed it to me.
“Can you read?” I asked. He held up his fingers only an inch apart “Want me to read it with you?” He nodded vigorously and I had a feeling this made him very happy.
I quickly finished the rest of my breakfast and I went to one of the couch; a raised platform covered with several layers of sheets of dubious cleanliness. We sat down and he rested his head on my laps as I held the book, I used a pen to show where we were and help him follow, understand the words written on the pages.
I felt sorry for him, being unable to shift, he was missing out on being a kid, being already embroiled in dangerous conflict and living in tunnels instead of playing around and going to school as he should have been doing.
“I think he likes you.” A tired voice said. “Not a lot of people can get close to him.
Lance walked closer, I’d been focused on the book that I hadn’t noticed him walking about. He had that air about him, the one that made it easy to lose track of where he was. He was also incredibly quiet in his step.
“Morning Lance.” I said.
Liam told him something in sign language and Lance responded in the same way.
“What are you guys communicating with, American sign language?” I asked.
“Yeah, Natalie’s the one who taught him, being deaf and all. Kaleb and I know just a little compared to Liam and her.”
“Wait, back up a bit, Natalie’s deaf?”
“Yeah, her hearing is really low, she wears a hearing aid, you know the big ones that go behind the ear?”
“I hadn’t noticed it.” I hadn’t really spent a lot of time with Natalie and what little I had, hadn’t lent itself to inspecting her ears.
“Well, it’s easy to miss, being skin colored plastic and all.”
Before we could say anymore, Liam’s head sprung up, his ears oriented toward the exit. He left my side and started to growl.
“I think we have incoming.” Lance said.
I hurried up to Kaleb’s bunk, shook him awake quickly and took my sword and a collapsible baton. I went back to the central area and lobbed the baton to Lance who caught it easily. It was the three of us against whatever was coming, Kaleb was quite awake, I had no idea about Natalie’s status. My minions were out of order, the bogeyman bound and the ghosts out of essence. I’d have to feed them if they were to do anything.
We waited for a moment and soon a pair of wolves stepped into the area. They were smaller than the average shifters we’d seen. I stood by, sword at the ready and waited for them to do something. We were expecting retribution. We didn’t expect them to shift back to human form, becoming a pair of red headed, freckled twins maybe a year younger than I was. A very naked pair of teens. They raised their hands in the air.
“Wait!” They said in unison.
“We’re not here to stir trouble.” The one on the left said.
“What are you here for, then?” I asked, sword still at the ready.
“Well, you kind of killed our leader… And destroyed our pack’s cohesion.” The left on explained.
“Which isn’t too bad, I really don’t want to work for Aldin.” The other said. “That guy creeps me out.”
“I’m going to stop you here.” I declared, I wasn’t in the best of mood. “What do you want?”
“Well, it’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? We want to join you.”
“You’d have to ask Natalie for that.” I said. “I don’t have a say in who can join the Darksiders.”
“Aren’t you the group's new leader?” The right one asked, seeming confused.
“No, I’m a friend of the group. I have my own thing going on.”
“Then we’ll join that.” The left one said. “No offense, Darksiders but she’s kind of a big deal.”
“And do what?”
“I don’t know, you have to need someone to do stuff for you.”
“You want to be my Minions?” I asked, incredulous.
“I think Henchwomen sounds better.” The left one said. “And it really can’t be worse than how we’ve had it in the Gibbous. Being the pack Omega does that to you. I -- We doubt any pack will want us...”
“You would work as henchwomen for a dhampir? As two shifters?”
“We don’t really buy into the whole vampire versus werewolf thing.”
“We’re kind of new, old grudges haven’t sunk in yet.”
“Am I supposed to trust you, your pack tried to kill my friends and I multiple times. If you want to work for me, you’ll have to swear oaths of fealty.”
“We can do that.” The right one said. “Can we?” She then asked, looking at her sister.
“We will!” Her sister answered.
“Alright, well, first I need some time to prepare thing.” I said. “Lance can you drop me home? Liam would you be a dear and escort them out? As for you two, if you’re really serious about this, come Land’s End at eight tonight, the both of you alone.”
“We will.” They shifted back and started walking away.
I looked at my watch. It was around six, I still had time to get changed and get to school on time. I wasn’t sure if the twins were a good thing or not… Only time would tell.