Yeller and Nat slipped back to the living room where the group was between sleep and dawn waking. Hana had been moved to a curled-up position in the armchair. Sun Hee was apologizing for trying to ditch her.
Deck sat up to attention when the two came into the room. “So, what have you been able to do?” he asked. Sun Hee jabbed him in the ribs, throwing him a censored glare. “Oh, well…um, that is, we don’t need to know everything,” Deck amended, unable to meet either of the men’s eyes.
“It’s cool, Deck. We got Tereza switched over to me. I’m hosting not two, but three of these mutts up here now.” Nat pointed to his head.
“Seriously? You took Cashia too?” Deck asked.
Nat shook his head. “No, Cashia’s still with Yeller. I’ve got Sven and Tereza in here and most of Sylvi. The communicative part of her is in Hana, but the rest is in me.” He sat down on the armrest next to Hana.
“So, how do I get the rest of Sylvi?” Hana winced. She refused to reach for the female entity, afraid to lapse into a new set of convulsions.
“Was transferring Tereza really that easy?” Benj had the record player disassembled, cables and gears spread out in neat little rows. “I mean, physical contact is making her ill, right?” he prodded, then dropped a small spring into the shag carpet as he realized what he asked. “Oh frack.”
“Um.” Nat rubbed his arm.
Yeller stepped in, having come to a stop behind Hana’s chair. “You know how Nat cut his hand, and Hana cleaned it up? She got a portion of Sylvi through blood contact. It’s a simple cross of genetic material where these wolf genes or whatever you want to call them can willingly cross between their receptive hosts as we suspected earlier,” Yeller, careful to frame his answer, watched Nat out of the corner of his eye.
“So, you mean…? Nope, not even going to ask that. Okay, different question: so, we were right in making you leave Hana alone?” Deck stood up and walked into the kitchen. The bang of cabinet doors let the rest of the group know he was hunting food.
“You were,” Nat answered back, monotone. He was shutting down. Dark hands grabbed and pinched around his heart. His emotions slophed into the abyss to leave him hollow and cold.
“For now, we’re going to take Hana to see the rest of the house and claim one of the rooms so we can all talk this out in private and get a better idea of what needs to happen next to help preserve Sylvi.” Yeller took the lead.
“Sven? Have you found a safe way?” Dietrich interrupted the three from leaving.
Nat cringed as Sven took over, overwhelmed with being thrown back into the tight-fitting space that was his over-occupied brain. “We believe we have found a solution. I was too eager and too careless, commander, in choosing my mate’s host. I should have waited for a more ideal candidate.” Sven bowed.
“Beware then, Sven, that you cannot keep both Tereza and Sylvi along with yourself in this host for much longer. The toll that you place on him is almost too great. He could become a danger and a liability.” Heinrich stepped into the conversation.
“I understand, Heinrich, on a most intimate level. We will take the necessary precautions. That is why my host, Cashia, and this feathered woman are going to have a nice long conversation as to how to remedy this situation. I did say that I had an idea as to how to fix it.” Sven smiled sweetly, showing as many teeth as possible.
“Be gone with you then. We’ll wait here.” Dietrich waved them away.
“Hana, would you mind coming with us?” Sven offered a hand to the woman in the armchair. She tentatively laid hers in it.
The house had three bedrooms off to the south of the kitchen through a rotting hallway. The first door held a room the size of a large walk-in closet facing onto the street. Too small to comfortably seat the three, they moved on to settle in the second bedroom, foregoing the master bedroom. The room they settled into had a large picture window overlooking the snow-covered backyard and tree.
Cashia closed the door behind Sven and Hana. The men waited for her to find a place to sit. An old mattress leaned against the wall, and the bed frame had been dismantled and pushed against the other wall. That left enough space for the three to find a comfortable sitting area on the floor. Hana sank into the shag carpet near the door and tucked her legs underneath her, her glossy black feathers haloing her shoulders and draping across the floor. Sven and Cashia sank across from her, forming a triangle. Hana glanced from one to the other. Chewing on her bottom lip, her fingers rubbed against the carpeting.
“Are you okay in here with us like this, Hana?” Nat clasped his hands in his lap.
“Well. Not quite sure yet. Gonna just hang out near the door.” She tucked her wings around her.
“I’m going to let Sven do some talking, alright?”
The man’s bearing shifted. “Nat informs me that this culture is particular about its manners of physical contact. He wishes to follow his leader Deck’s command to not touch you. I wish to amend that to accommodate your permission.” Sven spread his hands.
“I would appreciate that accommodation.” Hana picked at a bur caught in her feather.
“I realise that I was presumptuous in assuming that you would be willing to host Sylvi. In my eagerness to communicate with my mate again, I burdened you with her care, even in a small way,” Sven apologised. “I ask you now, without so many eyes watching, are you willing to take her on in full?”
Small way? Willing to host? You bloody well did not ask my permission to occupy me either, jerk. Where the fuck is my apology? Nat hissed.
I’ll get around to it eventually.
Get around to it now.
“What is the goal of taking us over?” Hana countered, interrupting Nat and Sven’s conversation.
“We wish to continue our genetic progeny when it is convenient, to communicate with our loved ones, and to live for as long as feasibly possible,” Sven smiled.
“By using us as hosts?” Hana asked. Sven nodded. “What is in it for us?” she pushed.
“The symbiotic relationship you’ve already observed these humans to have exhibited. You will gain the form of my mate Sylvi as your primary feature, a jet-black wolf, beautiful as the Siberian’s darkest season. You will have the abilities of a wolf and a human. You will no longer need to worry about hiding your wings. Your brother, if you wish it, will no longer be able to track you,” Sven provided.
“How did you know Michael was following us?” she glanced out the window in horror.
“See now, if you had our senses in complete, you would be able to smell his scent ten miles away from you. He has been following your feathers that you’ve been moulting since we left his encampment.” He shrugged.
“If he is on his way here, we must leave immediately,” Hana went to get up but sank back to the floor, putting a hand to her mouth.
“They will not find you so easily. We cannot risk moving you from here until we have either stopped or completed the change entirely, for your safety, Hana,” Cashia reassured. Hana put her hands to her temples, trying to ease the throbbing.
“Do you wish to become Sylvi’s host, or would you like her removed from you?” Sven asked more pointedly.
Hana eyed him, considering her options. Sylvi rubbed against her. The wolf had been so quiet, so careful not to disturb her. A kind creature, an antithesis to this gruff Sven. Talk to me, Sylvi. She requested.
I can’t for long, came the butterfly wing response fluttering behind her breastbone.
You aren’t all here like they say? Hana asked.
No, and as you are, I cannot be. The shadow at the back of her mind swirled.
Why must you be here? Why must any of you be here? Is there anywhere else you can go? Have you thought of actually possessing dogs or real wolves or something? Why humans? Why us? Hana demanded, frightened.
We are unique to this world, unique to this situation. We were once great beasts. We lived in the tundra of deep Serbia. We were something not seen in many millennia by humans. We once walked with the great Shamans and Healers of the Bai. We once communed with our human brothers and sisters, when the land was respected. It was not so difficult then. They walked with us in their dreams and visions, wrote about our exploits together on their tent walls and in their deepest caves. We are the last of our kind, exploited by scientists. Humans, our closest allies, our closest enemies. They took our essence, bottled and patented us. We found you in our time of need. You have one in your group who still possesses the compatibility of the old Shamans, who can accept the old ways. Sylvi whispered.
What are you going on about? Hana asked, confused.
You may find it difficult to find us compatible, for you are not of the original group. The original group, though, the ones that have taken us in so easily, one was born in such a way that they could accept our presence easily. Sylvi tried to clarify.
You’re not making any sense. Hana told the flutter.
I guess it is too much for a simple human mind to comprehend. The shadow shrugged.
How are we supposed to make you whole? I mean, if you’re some segment of yourself anyway, does it really matter? Hana asked.
Is an egg an entire egg if you only have a small drop of it? Sylvi retorted.
Well, no, but still, you are communicating with me, so what else is left of you? Hana asked.
If you were blind or deaf, you could still communicate, couldn’t you? But you would still be missing sensory input channels, wouldn’t you? The wolf pointed out.
But can’t you see through my eyes? Her head throbbed.
No. I wish to be complete, and this Nat has the rest of me. Are you willing to take the rest of me on, or would you rather stop the transformation? Be warned, your body will not be fixed by ending the transformation early. Your wings will not mend; there has been too much damage to them already, my dear girl. Sylvi whispered.
How do we make you whole, Sylvi? Hana asked, tired of this conversation.
A full joining would be ideal, Sylvi whispered.
Hana shivered with unease as her wolf slipped away. I can’t do that! I don’t even know him, Hana automatically shied away.
Have it your way; I will not force you to take on Nat. We do need to find an end to this soon. Sylvi vanished into the deep recesses of Hana’s mind, unwilling to venture out again. Hana turned back from her inward conversation to the two men sitting in the room with her. She took in a deep breath, nervous, “Sven,” she demanded, calling on Sylvi’s mate.
“Hana?” Sven hissed. His limbs tightened. He swallowed at her glare.
“I will take Sylvi under conditions.” She put up a finger.
“Conditions?” Sven warped Nat’s face into a smirk more wolfish than human.
“Conditions, and I am holding Cashia as safeguard that conditions have been heard and met.” She pointed at Cashia.
“Fine, Cashia will be safeguard.” Sven waved away the issue.
“I start this when I am willing and ready to start this, on my own terms. You cannot override Nat, and Sylvi cannot override me to get your wang off. Mutual agreement must be met amongst all of us before our bodies are used for anything of that nature. Got it?” Hana demanded.
Sven blinked at her brashness. “I never meant to insult your honour.”
“Whatever. It’s not like I’m some virgin here, and I’m not about to play a sacrifice to a wolf thinking it’s a demi-god, ‘k? I approach Nat, I approach you; that is my business and how I’m gonna call it. Whatever arrangement Nat has with Yeller, I’ll respect that and not get in the way. If you want out with your girlfriend, you talk that out with Nat and me, and we’ll get Sylvi in on the conversation. You can’t go overriding him, and pressing me into anything I don’t want to do. It’s not going to happen that way if you want to observe any ‘honour’,” she told him.
“As you wish.” Sven bowed once more.
“I would like to speak with Tereza and Cashia for a minute,” she demanded.
“Hana?” Tereza pressed forward, leaving behind shards of pain in Nat’s brain. His skin burned at the takeover, sharp notes dissonant along his scapula.
“This may not be my place to question either of you.” Hana paused, flicking a glance to the door. “However, I need to know how this is going to work amongst what, the seven of us?” she turned back to meet their patient gaze.
“How do you mean?” Tereza asked. Her voice left twisted curls of razor blades searing through his tendons.
“Are either of you the jealous type? That would get weird if Nat and I…you know? I mean, you two are in some kind of a relationship here, and I’d be using him while you were in there.” She twined her fingers together in her lap.
“My host and Nat have arranged their own physical needs with each other as, what did they call it? Friends with benefits? Stress relief without the commitment or something like that?” Cashia pondered.
“And you, Cashia? I would pretty much be doing it with the same body that your mate resides in. Not with your mate per se, but with the same body. Are you all right with that?” Hana tried not to mumble.
Cashia squirmed, fingers delving into the shag carpet. Yeller tensed, shying away from the question. The woman was quite forward in her speech. “For the sake of Sven’s mate, I would not take offence to it. For you and Nat, that is perfectly reasonable. As long as you’re fine with Tereza and I having our own time.” Cashia shrugged.
“Don’t we just have an awesomely weird love triangle thing going on here,” Hana smirked. “Probably should get this show on the road if I want to be normal anytime soon.”
Cashia moved to get up. “Do you want me to leave?” he asked, partially to Hana, partially to Tereza. Terror lingered in both of their eyes with the uncertainty of how they were supposed to act in the situation.
“Ummm?” Hana gulped.
Tereza, still overriding Nat, took the initiative. She eased over to Hana, slipping her hand behind Hana’s head. “There were no arrangements for me to withhold myself.” Tereza smiled.
Hana, frozen in place, watched with bated breath as Nat, Tereza, leaned in to kiss her.
Every raging emotion hit Yeller hard with Cashia being the forward. The beast’s pent-up desire for Tereza brought him to a level of heady pain he had not known possible. He sat back, positive that if he tried to get control of his body from the wolf, he’d probably not come back out of the tiny space he was in now. Tereza held Cashia’s gaze as she trailed kisses along Hana’s jawline and down her throat. Your wife is a tease. Yeller commented to Cashia.
God, you have no idea. Cashia replied, enthralled.
I’m getting the concept. I’m not much for watching this stuff. Yeller tried to pry Cashia away.
Then close your eyes because I’m about to do something with your body that you’re not gonna like. Cashia inched forward.
The fucking hell you are! Yeller fought Cashia. The wolf shut him off. Humans have such an interesting nervous system. He watched Tereza and Hana. The female had always done what she wanted. She was a reckoning unto herself.
Hana closed her eyes as her cheeks flushed, aware of every nerve ending the man, the woman, in front of her brushed. It wasn’t Nat, though, who was touching her. It was Tereza, Cashia’s mate. Her wings went limp. She pressed against Nat’s frame, lost in how it imprinted on her. She let herself drift in the ecstasy that was coursing through her system. How had this happened? Wasn’t she being the strong one here?
Cashia eased up behind Nat. He caressed his platinum-white hair, moving it away from his neck. Tereza paused, savouring the feel. Yeller paced, distinctly aware that the wolf was torturing him.
Do you wanna watch now? Cashia’s toothy grin encompassed him. The wolf gave Yeller access to his sight again.
A searing heat had Yeller trembling for self-control. Cashia slipped his fingers down Nat’s spine, forcing a shiver. He continued down to the waistband of his jeans to trace the line of muscle. Cashia. I can’t. Please, Yeller groaned when Cashia ran his hand up Nat’s side, providing every detailed impression nerve impulses could elicit.
Cashia sighed heavily, trying to regain some sense of control. All right, all right. That was mean.
You think?! Yeller retorted.
“We’ll continue this later, Tereza,” Cashia whispered in her ear, kissing Nat’s neck. Yeller was going to be lucky to make it out of the room with his dignity intact if the wolf continued to have his way.
“I’ll go and join the rest of the group. It’s okay.” Cashia patted Hana on the shoulder as he got up off the floor. “Don’t worry. Sven knows better than to do anything chauvinistically stupid. If he does, Dietrich and I will rip him a new one,” he reassured her and stepped out of the room.
“Hana?” Nat was allowed the reigns to his body. He moved away from her, trying to give her some room. Tereza was a complete sadist; he was convinced of that. She had held him and Sven at bay, allowing them the edge of emotions. A drug lord.
Hana glanced over at the pale man. His skin sang in the moonlight. She knew nothing about him. He was loyal to his friends to a fault. She knew his age and that he, along with the rest of the group, was done with school. Dreams of becoming some greatness, such as a lawyer or doctor, had gone down the drain with the war. What about his desires and interests? Was there any room there to know him? How could she get Tereza back? “Nat? I – I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to do this. We can find another way.” He backed up against the wall beneath the window.
“I’m good with this, I think. The wings are just a reminder now of my time in a religious cult. I don’t think I mind sharing space with a wolf. The world’s turned into a loony bin, so why not add in a few more patients with voices in their heads, right?” she tried to laugh it off. It was all well and good to set boundaries with Sven and talk about physical relationships with Tereza and Cashia, but getting there was another thing entirely.
Nat wanted to pull her to him and hold her. He knew she was nervous, but he also was aware of the deal struck between Sven, Cashia and her. Her terms, when she was ready. “We don’t have to right now if you don’t want. Sven can rail at me all night for this. I wish we had coffee. I mean, what is this without a proper date?” He tried to distil the tension with a bit of humour.
“Tea, I could go for some good sweet tea,” Hana grabbed onto the topic.
“Would you like that? A date? I mean, it’s not like the movie theatres are playing anymore, and we don’t have money to buy food, but would this,” Nat spread out his hands in the room, “feel less…forced?” He cringed at the word.
Hana grabbed the hand near her that he held out to the room. “The situation is awkward, but you are at least working with me on what I want out of this relationship, if we want to call it such, and that is what matters here.” She pulled him to her. He scooted across the floor to kneel at her toes, letting her hold his hand. “I don’t know what we want out of this relationship, if anything. You’re physically attractive at least.” She brushed a swatch of hair back behind his ear.
He leaned into her hand, his skin warm to her touch. Nat was aware, though, that Sven was aggressively feeding his fire.
“I know more than too many of my friends would have jumped your bones the instant they were asked if they wanted to,” she confided with a smirk. A blush ran across his face.
“I want to have, I don’t know, some moral high ground here. I don’t want you to think I’m some easy, horny tramp or something. I don’t really know you; I don’t even know if I would want to date you. Yeller and you? I’m okay with that, I think. I -I don’t want to feel used in this odd triangle we have ourselves in. Admittedly, if we’re just laying all our thoughts out.” She caught her lip between her teeth.
“What?” he pushed at Sven to give it a rest with the fireworks for a heartbeat.
Hana swallowed, her eyes brushing his shoulders and chest. “I liked Tereza being here for a minute.” Her cheeks went pink as she raised a protesting hand in front of her face. “I mean, well. She broke the tension, right?” Her pleading laugh drew the wolf to the surface.
It hurts for you to let me out, dijete. She might be more into me than you, but I can’t have you cracking as soon as I make my home.
You can tell what you do to me?
Intimately. And you get no joy from that type of pain, so I’ll hold off until a better path is clear.
Nat remained quiet for a minute, not sure how to respond. Hana’s fingers, warm against his palm, kept him centred to the room. “I had nothing to do with Tereza, but she did help, didn’t she? You are right. I don’t know if you’d want to date me. I’ve never been this way, persistent, with another woman. I’ve never…well, you know…done it with another woman…or guy for that matter.” He rubbed at the back of his neck and turned to glance out at the dead tree.
“Really? Never?” Hana raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Strict upbringing.” Nat mumbled.
“So you don’t throw yourself at the first cute pair of legs you see and become vindictively over-possessive of them?” Hana teased.
“Most of that was the wolf, if I might save my skin. I want to say that, but I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. You’re cute. You smile easily. You’re brave. You try to find humour in scary or intimidating situations. I’ll be honest with you, though. It seemed to work with Yeller and my arrangement. We’ve been friends since we were pretty young, and loyalty amongst the group is given. If it feels more comfortable, I can give you what I gave Yeller and ask for nothing in return. A relationship without strings. Friends with benefits if you like. You don’t have to try to make yourself love me if it’s not there, and I’ll respect that. If you,” he gulped, afraid of denial at his next comment. “If you want to keep it between Sven and Sylvi, Tereza, if Cashia’s cool with that, and you don’t want me, my brain in on it, then that’s fine too,” he told her. “No matter what, I don’t want to do something that you don’t want me to do.”
“I appreciate that, Nat. I really do,” she whispered, pulling him closer to her. “Let’s get Sylvi switched over; then we can figure out our footing. Maybe you’ll be able to think clearer.” She kissed his cheek.
He turned to glance at her, afraid for her to collapse again. “What about the pain?” he whispered.
“We’ll figure it out along the way. It takes a few days for it to hit my system anyways, right?” She traced the spot behind his ear.
A heady rush of adrenaline steeped in his digits. Sweet intoxication, tantalising addiction. Her teeth nibbled at his bottom lip. He kept himself in check, allowing her to lead, taking all that she was willing to give. Her hands slid down his neck, pulling him closer. She avoided the tender spots in his shoulders as she trailed down his chest. Moving from his lips to his jawline, she found the cut of muscle along his obliques. He trembled under her thrall.
Her fingers continued their crawl down his skin, outlining the ridges in his muscles. They found the cut of his V at his hips, sliding lightly under the line of his pants. She traced to the button and zipper. His breathing stuttered in her ear. “You guys have no sense of modesty with your clothing, and yet you randomly have on pants at the most inconvenient times,” she whispered into his neck, tasting his collarbone.
“Do you want them off?” Nat reached for his waistband.
“If you would.” She let go of him. Leaning against the wall, she warmed to her view. Nat rose, tucking his hair behind his ear shyly. His bare feet stretched into the shag carpet as he shrugged his jeans off his hips, releasing his fullness to the chill.
He wasn’t entirely sure what to do next, but he watched with interest at Hana’s rapt attention. She held her hand out to him. He took it, sinking once more to the carpet in front of her. She caught him off guard as with her other hand she caressed his length ever so lightly from tip to base.
“You are…very forward…you know that?” His voice hitched in his throat with every stroke.
“Is that such a bad thing?” she cooed, pulling him closer and kissing the edge of his lips.
“N-no.” He swallowed as her grip tightened around his length. A shiver ran across his shoulders at her sweet, tormenting administrations. The lines of his muscles tightened with every stroke. He rested his head against her shoulder, trying to regain his fraying senses. “Slow down. You can’t do that much-much longer.” His senses were already frazzled by his earlier encounter with Yeller in the kitchen, and Sven was not relenting on the numbing sizzle in his gut.
“And if I do?” she whispered as her fingers moved to caress his balls, gently palming their weight. His blood hammered in his neck under her tongue.
“I’ll embarrass myself at worst,” he barely got out.
“What’s to be embarrassed about? I’m enjoying watching.” She smiled coyly, running the edge of her teeth across his shoulder.
He groaned at her audacity. Leaning back away from her touch, he tried to gain a minute’s reprieve. She leaned forward, following him, relentless. “We arranged it to be on my terms, so I’m having my fun.” She lay against him as he collapsed back to rest on his elbows.
“Have fun on your terms then, but I’m close and don’t think you want the mess on you or the carpet,” he confided.
“Oh.” She pulled over a piece of the curtain that had fallen from the window’s curtain rod.
“That works.” He relaxed to her ministrations; her eyes danced across his tip as she brought him too quickly to a nerve-tightening climax.
Cleaned up and clothed once more, Nat sat for a minute watching a smile wiggle at the corner of Hana’s lips.
“I um…well…a bit awkward, but … do you do cuddling?” Hana asked.
“I’m not going to complain.” He carefully pulled her into his frame.
Sven? Nat called on his wolf as he lay on the floor, Hana curled into the crook of his arm.
Human? Sven caustically sneered.
Nat was too euphoric to take angst against the creature. How are we doing with Sylvi?
I thought you were just getting your rocks off, brat; glad to know you remembered us in some small way. Sven grouched.
I’m going to ignore the fact that I did something with a peanut gallery in my brain and try to be civil here, Nat replied, every bit of dripping sarcasm coating his voice.
Well, I’ve got a bit more room to roam in here. You’ll have to ask Hana and the part of Sylvi that is occupying the woman.
You’re nowhere near civilised yet, so I’m going to go with we haven’t fixed your problem yet. Nat quipped.
You seem more relaxed; I guess you fixed yours? Sven derided.
You’re quite tiresome, you know that, don’t you? Nat sighed, turning over to curl around Hana.
“How are you doing?” he asked her.
“I’m all right at the moment, though I think Deck is gonna want to kill you in a while when it hits me,” she yawned.
“And Sylvi?” he pressed, wanting to pacify Sven as quickly as possible. Hana turned into herself, reaching for her wolf.
“Not enough, but she says that for my body I should stop for today,” she came back to him after a time.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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