Xenia Tudor was a sweet young woman who made the mistake of loving her roommate, Marcus. In searching for him after he walks out of her life she discovers just how many of her nightmares are true and becomes one of them herself: a werewolf. Marcus makes some discoveries himself, like that the Fraternity he has worked for hunting monsters might not be as clearly on the side of good as he was led to believe.
Curled up in the corner of the couch sat a young woman, a blanket tugged over her knees. In her hands she held a steaming mug of tea that was mostly forgotten for the moment as she contemplated. Her eyes were fixed somewhere off in the distance far beyond the walls that boxed her in. Perhaps it was truly not far in distance but in time. Another when instead of another where.
Rain pelted the window, the stacatto comforting, blending all the noise of the world into one simple song, into nothing more than rhythm. Had she been looking, she would have seen rivulets trickling over the outside of the glass, a leaf or two stuck there by the force of the wind. The world beyond the glass was blurred, as blurred as the apartment was to the woman who occupied it. All was indistinct, there and yet not.
"Xennie, this isn't working. You want something I can't give you."
"Won't, you mean. You could. If you wanted."
The argument echoed in Xenia's head, replayed in technicolour before her. She had shouted at him, something she never did. Marcus.
A sigh escaped her lips and she blinked, recalling herself to the then and there before taking a sip of her tea. The heat surprised her and she winced, sloshing a bit over the edge of the mug were it splashed her hand. Burned tongue, but no real damage to her hand. A little grimace, and she blew on the tea to cool it.
It alway seemed to come back to Marcus. Everything had for the past four years. How had she let it go on so long like that? How had he? Everything had seemed so simple when they had begun.
She knocked at the door, hoping it was the right one, that it went with the buzzer she had pressed at the front. After a significant pause, long enough that she had contemplated that perhaps she was wrong, the door had opened. There he stood. In her memory he looked at her and smiled, although she knew he had really stood there looking a little forbidding. She had waited patiently, then finally cleared her throat.
"May I come in?" He had laughed at that, so polite. Perfect grammar. She had been unable to help it at the time, but she'd learned. Slowly. Worn off the edges in the hopes it would make him feel more comfortable around her. He had simply stepped back and swung into a discussion of the terms.
"You pay your half of the rent, the empty bedroom is yours. Cooking and food you're on your own. You stay out of my stuff, I'll stay out of yours. Clean up after yourself. I like things neat. Stay out of my room. There's a phone, I mostly use my cell. If I'm not home I doubt anyone will leave a message, but if they do pass them on.
She remembered seeing the bruise then. He had lifted his arm, rubbing at the back of his neck, and she'd seen the marks on the inside of his bicep. Fingers. She had looked a little closer, seen other marks. Old scars, nearly-healed scabs. Shadows of old bruises. She had hidden her apprehension fairly well she thought at least until he narrowed his eyes and then slowly lifted one dark and expressive brow. Clearing her throat, she'd simply nodded, looking down at her toes.
He'd muttered something then, but she hadn't caught it. Thinking back, it was probably about it being a bad idea. Every day it had seemed like he regretted letting her accept his offer. Yet he had let her stay. He had stayed.
Until last week. Last week he had finally left. She had come home and everything that belonged to him was gone. He had been hefting a pack on his shoulder when she'd unlocked the door and stepped inside. There was a note on the fridge and a wad of cash. It had been all too clear he had planned to walk out.
Another sip of tea, this time significantly cooler. The rain sounded just as loud though. Suddenly thunder boomed in the air outside as though she were directly in the middle of it. It was one of those times she really wanted to hide under the covers. Possibly cry.
Too late, a fact she realized only as she felt a hot path trace down her cheek, tasted salt as she took another sip from the mug. Angrily, she swiped at her face.
It shouldn't matter. He was right. Marcus never was going to fall in love with her. He was never even going to tell her what he did that left him so bruised and battered. He could spout all he wanted about it being for her own good, but the truth of the matter was simply that it was easier for him not to engage. He had kept her at a distance no matter what she did. She had made him supper, learned to bandage him up, did laundry. Never any questions out loud. She had swallowed them all back, choking on them. They must have been there in her eyes.
Pushing back her hair, she sighed again and pushed the blanket out of the way before setting her bare feet on the carpet, standing. She paused a moment, pulling down the back of her worn black tank, tugging up the waist of her equally worn sleep shorts with one hand. Taking another gulp of the tea, now cold, she padded to the kitchen and dumped the remainder in the sink. The sound of the liquid hitting the metal then pouring down the drain depressed her, as though it was washing something away with it, something she had wanted to keep.
He was gone and she was starting to have the suspicion that perhaps she had moped long enough. She wanted to hide away and sulk longer, but it was getting to the point that it was not going to make anything better.
The way she saw it, there were three choices. 1) She could go on moping and sulking, doing what she could to either waste away or get very fat, and just stop living her life. 2) She could get on with it and give up on Marcus. This was, all things considered, the best choice. She knew that fact, but it did not stop her from contemplating the third one. 3) She could try to find Marcus and prove to him that leaving was not for her good, but for his. He was leaving because it was easier for him, safer.
She had never asked him to protect her like some cowboy in a white hat. Whatever he was involved in he could have just told her, just explained. Maybe she could have helped. Maybe not. It should have been her choice, though. After that long, she had the right to choose. He had taken that when he went too.
Turning suddenly, she slammed her fist against the countertop. It didn't hurt, not nearly as much as she wanted it to. Instead she banged her other fist into the cupboard above the sink, the sound of the door hitting the shelves satisfying, almost as much as the ache that started in her fist.Yes. This was what she needed. She let out a primal sound of rage. And pain. There was no forgetting the pain.
Her own fault for falling for Marcus, some people might say. Well, she had no intention of listening to them.
It was time to find out just what Marcus had been trying to keep from her. Time to open her eyes and stop letting other people tell her what not to see. She even knew where to start looking.