Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Was it a Dream?

Same 'verse as Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) and Ain't No Rest For the Wicked; sequel to Howl and Night of the Hunter


Devin woke in agony.

A groan of pain slipped past lips that felt cracked and dry, through a throat that seemed to be tearing from the mere effort of expelling the cry, and he wanted to die. There was a rustle of cloth near him, the sound louder than it should have been, and he heard a soft intake of breath as if it was a loud as a freight train. The sound of water in...a bowl, maybe...was like a waterfall then there was a cool cloth on his lips, across his skin, tiny sips of water sliding into his mouth, and he moaned as his body sagged with relief.

At a touch of fingertips on his forehead, all of his senses seemed to explode and his nostrils flared as he inhaled involuntarily. The scent he breathed in was one he knew and in one quick flash the thoughts of home, safety, sister passed through his mind.

"Sar-ah," he croaked out and the fingers moved across his skin to gently touch his lips in a gesture of silence. Just that slight touch, though, was agony against his skin and he hissed as it felt like sandpaper scraping hard against him.

"You're safe," she breathed and her voice was so loud it seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. Devin winced, trying to flinch away from the sound, but his body hurt so much it didn't move very far. "Don't try to talk, little brother, you're still recovering."

From what? thought Devin as he slowly blinked open his eyes. Light seared into them and his throat ached as he moaned in agony, closing them again.

"Sorry," Sarah said and he hear her rise, wincing as her chair scraped across the floor. Every step of hers was agony on his ears and he could only lay there and just try to breath through that pain as well as the rest. By the time she sat back down there were tears welling out of the corner of his eyes and she dabbed them away as gently as she could with the cloth.

"Do you want to try opening your eyes again?"

Devin cautiously fluttered one eye at that and was reward with some pain still but nothing like the agony of before. He blinked both eyes a few times then focused on his sister's face above him, her blue eyes filled with a mixture of emotions that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. After a moment he opened his mouth and mouthed the most important question: What happened?

Sarah's violent flinch and her barely held back sob told him something had gone wrong. But what? He couldn't...he couldn't remember.

He couldn't remember anything from the past few days.

"Do you remember Niamh?" she asked and Devin frowned. The name didn't really ring a bell but...

A pretty little sprite of a woman flared into being in his mind's eye, dark haired and doe eyed with a body most women would kill for. She smiled, sweetly, innocently, then fangs replaced her teeth and she lunged at him with claws out as her body tore itself apart to let a monster loose. He shuddered, closing his eyes to try and will the image away but more just kept coming: her lounging across the couch in his apartment, the memory of her scent, bare skin underneath his fingertips as he explored her back, taste of her in his mouth, her body writhing underneath his as they had wild, needy sex on that same couch. It was the last that snapped him out of it as his brain screeched to a halt when they ended up breaking the back off.

He'd liked that fucking couch.

Devin shuddered again as he opened his eyes and mouthed, I remember.

His sister covered her mouth with one hand for a moment then lowered it so she could speak. "She was like you," explained Sarah. "You really liked her, I think."

Obviously, thought Devin as he sifted back through the revived memories. Otherwise I wouldn't have shagged her like a damn animal in heat.

"But she...she did something. To you."

He arched an eyebrow at that and Sarah said, "You...you changed, Dev. When we found you, there wasn't anything human left. Just the wolf."

That...was impossible. He'd always had control. Always. Even during that first time when it had been activated because Aiden Cormac was trying to rape his big sister. He'd known what he was doing then and every time after that.

That couldn't have changed.

Could it?

Devin frowned and reached tenatively out for that other part of him, immediately slamming the proverbial door shut on it a moment later. He'd felt nothing but rage from that section of himself and this wasn't the time or place to deal with it.

Then he remembered pain, agony, bones cracking, fur spreading across his skin, muscles bulking underneath his skin, anger, rage, and sucked in a gasping breath that tore at his throat. He felt Sarah's hand on his shoulder, skin against skin, and Devin fought to hang onto that sensation as the Wild gave off an impression of stretching as it woke almost lazily. It seemed to smile at him, like predator to prey, then his mind was filled with bloodstained images:

A man torn to shreds, his life bleeding out onto the sidewalk as he gasped out a death rattle.

Woman running screaming in front of him before she looked back and fell. Then he was on her and Devin felt tears streaming down his cheeks as he could suddenly taste her blood and skin as the memory him tore into her flesh.

Stone crunching underneath his claws as he hefted his heavy body through a window into a room where a couple was making love. He wanted to scream, to cry, as he tore them both apart and howled to the heavens later as if he had won something.

Then there was Paul, his expression a mix of fury, revulsion, anger, and sadness as he came sprinting towards him. Devin's throat ached as the memory recalled a roar of rage expelling from him then his eyes fell onto the brass knuckles adorning his best friend's hands. The fight was over before it had even begun as Paul dove under his swift, brutal swipe and he never got another as both fists crashed into his jaw. He felt weightless lying down for a moment as the memory shifted as his body lifted into the air before crashing to the ground in a snarling heap.

"Dev," he heard Sarah saying then. "Devin, stay with me, please. Please, little brother, I can't lose you again." He groaned and somehow managed to fumble his hand upward to grasp hers, opening wet eyes to look up at her.

"Was...it a...dream?" he croaked.

A sob expelled from his sister then Devin was aware of what he thought first was a steady drumbeat until he breathed and caught Paul's scent. Turning his head, he looked up at his best friend and opened his mouth to repeat the question but he never got the chance.

Paul leaned down with a white square of paper in his hand and breathed, "It wasn't a dream." Then he flipped it over, revealing it to be a photograph, and Devin sucked in a agonized breath as he recognized the girl.

"Niamh," he choked.

"Yeah," answered his friend in a voice that was more growl than anything. Then he shifted the photo of Niamh behind another and held it out as Sarah's sobs grew in volume. As Devin stared at the picture, almost unable to believe it, his ears aching from the sound of his sister's cries.

She had been right; there had been nothing human about him when they'd gotten him back. And he remembered now, being that...that...thing.

That monster.

He wasn't aware that he was sobbing until Sarah wrapped her arms around him and laid her cheek against his. Devin clutched at her, trying to claw for support as his world had suddenly been turned utterly upside down, and he realized she'd always been that. She'd been the first who'd found out what he was, had even known something was wrong before he had, and had always accepted him. His big sister was his rock, his shelter, his safe place, and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to be the little boy again who'd go running for her room during a lightning storm to hide under her sheets as she whispered stories in his ear until he slept again.

Devin knew though that now, more than ever, he could never be that boy again.

He was broken.

He was a monster for real now, his form twisted by a woman he'd thought had loved him, a woman he had loved and who had been like him.

And there was no going back.

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