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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 11. Chapter 11: Fierce Flames

Mason and Vincent stayed at the campground for an hour after the mage's star shower. The wolf stared at his mate as Vincent sat cross-legged in front of the lake. I ache to touch him, but he needs to store his energy. Hopefully this place has the serene aura he wanted to meditate to. Until then, I will watch.

The energy flowed into him much stronger than Vincent anticipated. I can't believe the energy in the air! This place has an essence of magic, I can feel it entering my body as I store energy. It's been about half an hour. I wonder how the bracelet is doing. He glanced at the jewelry on his left wrist and was amazed at the progress. One whole white bead! Holy crap! At this rate, I could have it full by Saturday. I'll probably need it.

"Hey, big guy? When were you wanting to head back?"

Mason got up from his seat on the stage platform's edge and walked toward his mate. "Whenever you want. I know how important it is to get in as much magic storing as you can. We can stay as long as you please."

Vincent nodded as he turned to see his man step closer. "How about another fifteen minutes? This place does something to the amount of energy I can store. Could we possibly come back tomorrow?"

The Alpha shook his head. "Sorry, Vinnie. The pack will be preparing the bonfire for the next several days, and they wouldn't want you to see since you're not pack yet. If you want to stay longer tonight, we can."

"I understand. Can we stay another hour? I can get another two beads filled in that time."

"Sure thing." I'd rather have you in my bed right now. But this is for the best. He needs this, and my lust will always come second to his needs. "I'm going to go back to my seat, but I'll keep you safe, baby." Mason leaned in to kiss his mate and wandered back to his perch.

The mage smiled reveling in the affection given to him. I know that I've accepted him being my other half, but it's still just crazy that this man, who should be a model, is head over heels for me. A deep sigh later and Vincent turned his attention back to his meditation.

***

Just as Vincent predicted, after an hour of storing his magical energy, the bracelet now held three full white beads, one partially gray one, and seven more black and empty beads. This was a good head start. I'm probably going to need to spend the better part of tomorrow storing. That will give me plenty of time to think of ideas to include in the performance.

Mason drove his mate back home and found that both of them were exhausted from today's events. It's eight o'clock and I feel like I could collapse. I imagine Vinnie feels the same. With the truck pulling into the driveway, both men felt it was time for bed. The wolf walked his sleepy mate inside and got him to the bedroom. "Go ahead and get comfy, my mate. Just need to use the bathroom."

With his eyes halfway closed, Vincent nodded as he took off his shirt. He started unbuttoning his pants when he heard Mason in the bathroom. My Gods, it's like a firehose in there! After having the thought, Vincent tried keeping a laugh to himself. "Hey, what's so funny?"

"Nothing, you big firefighter." The toilet flushed and the water from the sink began running. Shortly after, Mason reappeared.

"Firefighter, huh? So you like muscled men with large hoses?" The wolf took off his shirt and tossed it to the side. "That's okay. Firemen are hot in my books too."

Vincent giggled as he got his pants off, folded and put them on the floor. "Yeah. I'm more of an EMT fan. Very underappreciated line of first responders. Pretty handsome guys, they got nerves of steel, and skills that are key in life's most crucial moments."

Mason looked upward in thought. All very true. Never thought much on those guys. "Enough about them." He grabbed Vincent's hips and ushered him to the bed. "It's bedtime."

Yeah, no kidding. Vincent crawled into the large bed, watched as his man dropped his pants and underwear and climbed into bed. Oh! And he sleeps nude. That's hot. The mage followed suit and dropped them off the side.

The Alpha's eyes flashed amber, but his wolf growled mentally. Yeah, too tired. "I want to do things to you, Vin, but I'm too tired. Come on over here. Let me hold you." Vincent scooted himself over closer to the big man and rolled over to face away from him. Mason quickly latched on and rearranged the pillows to make both men comfortable. "You comfortable, pup?"

"Mhmm." The mage let his body relax against Mason's comforting embrace. As his eyes closed, he focused on the breathing of the man holding him. One short minute later, Vincent drifted off to blissful sleep.

Mason watched as his mate succumbed to the need for slumber. He looks so peaceful. I could watch him sleep for hours. The wolf kept his eyes on Vincent as long as he could before joining him in slumber.

***

Dave walked up to the store entrance at 7:45pm to get his shift started. At least after my day off tomorrow, I'll be back on day shift. He was about to enter the lobby when the store manager stepped out. Aw man, he's here? Balls! He's probably got something to bitch and moan about.

"Dave. How's it going?" The manager, Quinn, was a tall, but lanky middle-aged man with gel-soaked slicked back dark hair. Behind his back, everyone in the store called him 'The Giraffe.'

"Ehh, you know. Night shift. So, you finally got rid of John? 'Bout damn time."

"You know our management policies. We need a damn good reason to get a breathalyzer test for an employee. I stayed over to get your opinion on who you got to replace him. Been dealing with several of the high school brats on the front-end who have begged for the job, but I needed to see if your department has any potential first."

Dave lit a cigarette as he mentally went through his crew. Eddie wouldn't be bad, but he comes in stoned half the time. Then there's Pam. But she's a downright medical mess. She's gone almost a week every month. "None come to mind, right now, Quinn."

Quinn crossed his arms. "How about that Vincent kid? I've kept my eye on his stocking timesheets. He's a fast little fucker, isn't he? Knocks out aisle eight an hour or two ahead of projected time. No one else on your stock crew can do that with any of the aisles."

The wolf turned his head in thought. Didn't think about Vincent. He doesn't have any supervisory experience, or knowledge to use the handheld scanner. But that puts him on dayshift so I can watch him. Mason will like that. "Almost forgot about him while he's been off. Vincent seems like a good option. He also prefers part time hours, and I can deal with that." Dave gave Quinn a raised eyebrow and grin. "I'll need some training hours for him, though."

The manager nodded. "I can toss twenty in grocery's payroll. You think he'll be a good fit?"

"Oh yeah. He's crazy fast and the kid got the basics of the job faster than anyone I've ever seen."

"Good, tell him he's starting when you come back to dayshift in a couple of days."

Dave smiled and nodded. "Gotcha, boss, but I gave him off until Monday for a off-premise head injury. And he's gonna need every other Saturday off, like how I do."

Quinn rolled his eyes. "Is he one of…you guys too?"

A chuckle came from the Beta wolf. "Let's say my other boss is dating Vincent. So yes."

The manager took a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. "You've brought in a lot of workers from your little group, Dave. These Saturdays are a pain in my ass, but I can't argue with their results. These people are the best workers I've seen in my twenty years in retail. If you got any more who need a job, let me know. Front end is about to lose two full timers, and I need those spots filled."

"I'll pass on the message. Thanks a lot, Quinn."

"Anytime, Dave. Man, when I found out about all this supernatural stuff, I almost drank my whole liquor cabinet. But you all seem to be real cool about everything."

Dave took a long drag from his cancer stick. "We aren't what you see on TV, bud. Shifters are just normal people too."

Quinn turned to the wolf. "I understand that. I just sometimes wonder why it's kept a secret."

"It would be nice not to keep it hidden, but it's for good reason. We already have to worry about hunters who kill our kind. Politics would get involved, countries vying for our powers, and there would be an increased racism issue. Our lycan government system wouldn't allow for such strife to be inflicted upon others just for our comfort to exist in society."

The Giraffe took a big hit from his cigarette. "Gods, Dave! That was heavy. I get it, but damn! Gives me a new appreciation for what you all go through."

"We've lived this way for centuries, perhaps millennia. It's just our way of life, Quinn. Maybe one day, humankind can live happily with lycan in the picture. But that is just a dream." Dave flicked his cigarette butt out into the parking lot. "Want me to tell Vincent to stop in tomorrow to speak with you, or would you rather me tell him about the position?"

Quinn finished his cigarette and stomped it out. "Either or is fine by me. So, is Vincent a wolf?"

"Nah, not yet. He's human, but he is also something in the supernatural world that I haven't told you yet. Maybe we can all grab drinks and get you up to speed."

"Sounds fine by me. Maybe next week?"

Dave nodded and headed inside as Quinn waved and wirelessly unlocked his Prius. Yeah, Vin as my assistant. That'll work out perfectly.

***

The next two days were both brutal and pleasant for the new Alpha couple. Mason cooked a hearty breakfast and brought Vincent to Elaine's for training. While she and Caleb watched over his mate, Mason and Lei stopped by Old Man Richard's auto shop and swapped vehicles. Gods, so happy to have my baby back!

After getting his truck back, Mason stopped at the farm to catch up on some missed work and instruct the supervisors what to be focused on. As expected, everything was running smoothly. Proud of my workers. I can be gone for a week and they know the drill. He double checked with his second in command at the on-site office on a few paperwork issues. Just a few snags in a couple buyer contracts, but easily fixable.

Once the paperwork was corrected and emailed, the Alpha gave his assistant some things that needed to be done before the end of the week. When he felt confident that the farm would run smoothly without him for a couple of days, he made his way to his parents' house. Can't wait to see my Vinnie with his training! He's got today and tomorrow before his big dance.

***

"Mister Gage! You simply have to try harder than that." Elaine yelled from the porch as she had her two pupils spar. He is improving in confidence. Vincent had his staff at the ready, willing to take the charge against the four-legged lion. He has already made the first move during several of these bouts. The trust between himself and his staff has exploded, and I think he's ready for just about any type of confrontation.

The mage side stepped to match the lion's movements. He's been wanting the first move. That won't work out well, G-man! Just when Vincent wanted to take a step forward, Caleb lunged forward at full stride. That's different! Vincent watched carefully as the lion had its mouth drooped open. He'll go for a bite. He slid his hands wide apart on the hilt of his staff, but kept it down. When Caleb made his jump, the mage brought the staff up horizontally.

He will latch on, but he has more strength and a better foothold. I'll be a flingable chew toy. Caleb's teeth clamped on the rod, and Vincent widened his eyes. A fluid of motions were pictured in the mage's head. He just hoped that it was actually feasible. Now!

He let go of his right hand grip on his staff and flicked it back, forming a lengthy rapier. Vincent stepped back and to the left as he let go of the left hand grip, leaving Caleb to hold the staff. Caleb wasn't anticipating for the boy to let go of his weapon like that, but knew he had been caught numerous times already this morning. He pounced backward, giving himself breathing room once again. Yep, I would have lost again! Vincent had his rapier pointed where Caleb's head would have been.

Elaine started clapping. "Bravo, you two. Vincent. You stood your ground with a lion charging at you. Most humans don't have the nerves to handle that sight. Caleb, you learned to retreat and reevaluate the situation when your opponent pulls an unexpected maneuver. You both have done well this round.

"But let's see what could have gone better for both sides. For Caleb, your victory, as well as others throughout the day, would have been secured if you use more intimidation factors. Let the opponent think he can take you on, and shove their nose in the ground. Swat them away, let your power shine through. Doing this, and you will have many foes choose to not continue their futile efforts."

Caleb dipped his head just to lean it back to let out a fearsome roar, asserting his dominance verbally. Elaine nodded. "Just like that. If I didn't know any better, my wolf would be hesitant to go one-on-one with you." She turned her head to Vincent. "And Vincent. There is little for me to criticize here, but I need to ask. Do you know about reconfigurement?"

Reconfig-what? "I'm sorry, Miss Elaine, but I've never heard of that word."

The lady smiled and folded her arms. I didn't expect him to. "That's okay. Reconfigurement is a very difficult aspect of frost magic, but it can one day save your life. I won't teach it in detail this week, since you need to focus on your energy storing, but I'll give you a preview, just so you know the ability exists in a fight."

Elaine sighed and conjured a very simple ice staff. "Reconfigurement is the concept of readjusting your manifested ice magic by changing its shape and construction. Come closer and observe. You too, Caleb. This is something that expert frost mages can use against you."

Vincent and Caleb made their way to be near their instructor. They focused on the staff as they were told. Elaine turned the staff horizontally and held it with both hands. "There are two ways to reconfigure. Using the material you already have, which takes less energy, or creating more material, which takes more energy.

"The first example. Watch as the ends of the staff shorten." The men watched the ice staff getting shorter, but were amazed when a vertical rod came from the middle of the staff. Vincent quickly deduced in his mind how to perform the action. It's more visualization. You hold the object and focus on what you wish to do with the material you possess.

Elaine tossed the staff to the side and created a longsword with a wide flick of her arm. "And now the second example. Using your frost, focus your ability into extending the length." She held the sword upward, as if the weapon were a two-handed sword. With a thrust of inner power, Elaine's hands became surrounded with a blue aura as the length of the sword nearly doubled.

Vincent widened his eyes to make sure what he saw. Okay, gather the energy in your hands while visualizing your intentions. That could be an essential tool! I could turn my staff tip from a ball to a spear tip on the fly.

"Vincent." The mage looked up to his teacher's commanding tone. "I see your head moving. This technique isn't just simple visualization. Even master frost mages have difficulty with reconfiguration. This is to be put on the back burner."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Besides…" Elaine smiled as she twitched her right ear. "Your mate is about to pull up. And I think that means it is lunch time."

***

Elaine pulled out some sliced deli cuts and cheeses, along with bread and fixings for everyone. Once all four made their sandwiches, both Mason and Caleb couldn't help but mentally mock how tiny Vincent's sandwich was. As the all knowing mother, Elaine caught the looks. "Boys, remember that Vincent is a human. And humans don't eat as much as shifters do. If you plan on making fun, we can poke back since you two didn't grow up learning to eat your vegetables."

The two shifter males looked at their plain turkey and swiss sandwiches, and compared them to Elaine and Vincent's with lettuce, tomato slices, and mayonnaise. Vincent smiled and withheld a laugh as he enjoyed his lunch. I don't mind if they eat more than me. It still shocks me how much food a shifter can pack away.

After lunch, Elaine gave Vincent strict orders to stay home for the rest of the day and tomorrow to purely store energy. "You will need every bead in that bracelet full to knock everyone's socks off. Have you thought much on what you intend to do for your dance?"

"Yeah. I have it pretty well planned. I just need to run a couple smaller scale examples to make sure it is what I want."

Elaine nodded and turned her attention to her son. "Mason, this is important for a mage to store as much power as possible. He can not be distracted, so you may need to hold off on any...necessary contact with your mate."

Yeah, kinda saw this coming. My wolf wants more contact with our mate, but Vincent needs this. "I'll keep my paws off of him. Plenty of food, water, and rest."

"And most importantly, my son. Vincent will be forced by tradition to remain silent all Saturday, starting at midnight. As he finalizes his meditation, he will begin to look different due to the overload of magical presence. This is normal, even if he appears deathly ill. He may shake a little, but that's his body holding the magic."

Mason swallowed everything that remained in his mouth. “Deathly ill! Mother, my Gods! This sounds insane.”

“It sounds worse that it actually is. My son, do not worry about your mate with this matter. The only thing to make for certain is that his dance is to be the last subject of the meeting. Make sure Doc Shaney is there on standby. Vincent may need fluids and immediate care.” Elaine sighed, remembering her dance all those years ago. “He will be completely exhausted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Everything he has will go into this.”

Both Vincent and Mason nodded, then shared a gaze at each other. Vincent’s eyes grew larger, and turned his attention back to his teacher. “Miss Elaine, I would like to make a request for the dance. Well, I actually don’t know if I need to tell you or Mace, but I intend to use a serious amount of clairvoyant magic, and I may need some things to be set up for the meeting.”

Mason reached for his mate’s hand. “I can help. What do you need?”

“Umm, well. Do you remember when I used my sight ward on you...the other night?”

A smile appeared on the Alpha’s face. How could I forget? “Yes, what about it?”

Vincent blushed, but persisted in his inquiry. “I intend on doing that again with the crowd. If there could be a forewarning said before the meeting, and some chairs set up away from the main seating area for those who can’t handle...say, a roller coaster ride, that would be great. I want everyone to experience it, but I don’t want newborns and anyone younger than a toddler’s age to be inflicted by it.”

Mason understood and nodded. “We can manage that. I’ll send a couple texts and get it taken care of. Anything else?”

“Yeah. It will probably get pretty cold with all my ice magic, so I would probably recommend everyone bring a light coat.”

The Alpha began shooting texts left and right, but cocked his head as the mention of coats came up. “Coats? It’s August, hot stuff. It will be seventy degrees out Saturday night.”

Elaine laughed at her son. “Mason, I recommend heeding your mate’s warning. Some of the pack ignored that same advice when I performed my dance, and a few had to deal with a little bit of frostbite. Nothing serious, but anything is possible during a mage’s dance.”

Alright then. Coats and no flipflops in the mass text. Mason continued typing out a large message.

‘Attention Pack. A special ceremony will be taking place Saturday evening during the meeting. A mage is seeking acceptance into our Pack, and precautions are being recommended for the evening. Despite warm weather in the forecast, please do not wear open-toed shoes and do bring a removable source of warmer clothing (i.e.: jacket, coat). We look for an eventful meeting, and enjoy the rest of your week!’

“Done. Let me send a message to our meeting coordinators to get something set up for your...roller coaster thing.” Mason continued typing like a mad man, but stopped when he received a message in return. “Oh! He’s early.”

As Elaine grabbed the dirty flatware, she looked over to her son. “Who’s early, Mason?”

A thin smile appeared on Mason’s face. “I forgot to tell you, Mom. Alpha Tierney Scott just made it into town.”

***

Mason and Vincent left Lei and Elaine’s after Elaine scolded her son for not telling her that the New York Alpha was coming. An offer was to be extended to Tierney for him and his personal council to stay at her house, and Mason would pass the message along. The couple then went to meet up with the Alpha at airport in the nearby city. Along the way, Vincent meditated as much as he could along the way. Every little bit helps. I’m supposed to be purely focused on gathering my energy, but I just have to see Mr. Scott!

Half an hour later, Mason pulled into the airport visiting parking lot. Shifting his eyes to his enhanced vision irises, he spotted the entourage seated on a couple of benches under the awning. Vincent and Mason started walking when Tierney caught sight of the two and began meeting them halfway.

“Alpha Wilson and young Vincent. It is a pleasure to finally see you face to face!”

Mason outstretched his hand to shake the New Yorker’s. “Alpha Scott, an honor to meet you. Is this your council?” The wolf pointed his eyes toward the two shifters behind the large Alpha.

“Yes, they are my personal council. Meet my Beta, Kaplan, and my Enforcer, Dirk.”

Kaplan, a pale skinned man, appearing to be the age of twenty-five, with shoulder length black and straightened hair bent his neck to both Mason and Vincent. “It is a pleasure to meet you both, and an honor to be considered guests into your territory.”

Mason appreciated the tone of the young man. Kind and gentle. But this man is a Beta to such a high authority Alpha like Tierney? He's fairly skinny, and I can't feel much in my instincts in regards to strength. Must be fairly smart and intelligent as an adviser. Dave should meet with him and collaborate on their own processes.

Dirk, a life size brickhouse of a shifter. He was shaved bald, but kept a full, jet black goatee. A tribal tattoo was sneaking out of his collared dress shirt on his neck leading to his right ear. Mason was very impressed by the stature of the Enforcer. He’s...a pretty friggen big bear shifter! He’s got me by several inches and at least seventy pounds of muscle. I’d have to eat a box of Wheaties before thinking about going toe to toe with this guy.

The New York Enforcer dipped his head to Mason in ursus shifter fashion, but glared at Vincent, boring a hole through the mage’s head. Vincent wasn’t expecting the death stare, but quickly recognized what a challenge should look and feel like. Oh, shit! He’s staring at me! I feel a sour tingle in my stomach about this guy. I’m not letting him get to me, though. He’s just another bully. Vincent stared back. You may be big enough to eat me, but I’m not backing down. His arms fell limp to his sides as the mage focused his energy on his opponent.

Mason and Tierney caught the scenario as it started. Tierney was the first to speak. “Dirk! What do you think you are doing?” Dirk didn’t respond. Oh, for fuck’s sake. Did I speak to a wall back at the office when I told him about Mason’s mate?

Mason whispered to his mate. “Vincent, you don’t have to do this. You aren’t pack, so this does not-”

“Mace. I got this.” The wolf was surprised to hear his mate’s voice so cold. Woah! This Dirk guy must have ticked Vin off! Respecting his mate’s wishes, Mason let the challenge continue. Dirk took a step forward to intimidate the little human.

And Vincent wasn’t having any of it. I will make you submit! Vincent stepped forward and let his magic seep out of every pore in his body. Cold air surrounded the mage, dropping the temperature by twenty degrees around the group. He could tell that Dirk felt the chill, but Vincent wanted to rub it in a bit. The mage took his left pinky and playfully dug it in his ear, never leaving his sight off the larger man’s.

Dirk’s eyes widened at the physical remark and let a loose growl vibrate through his rib cage. “Play as much as you want, human. You are no match-”

Nope. Not a chance! Vincent was done. His eyes were straining, but he commanded himself to be dominant. He took more energy and changed his irises to an icy blue and dropped the temperature another twenty degrees. “Don’t know who you are, Enforcer, but you are the one who is no match for me. Now, submit!”

The Enforcer squinted his eyes, making a mental judgement of the situation. Dirk closed his eyes, taking the defeat. Tierney gave the Enforcer a scorned look. “Give him his rightful bearing, Dirk.” The tank-sized man ever so slightly dipped his head to Vincent, who refused to change his eyes back to normal. A growl came from both Mason and Tierney, but Tierney pinched Dirk’s neck muscles and whispered in his deep Alpha voice. “You initiated a challenge to a non-pack civilian in an allied pack’s territory, and this man happens to be the mate of the Alpha. And you lost. You knew nothing of this man, other than he is human, and you underestimated your opponent. You will dip your head in submission, and you will apologize to both Alpha Wilson and Mated Alpha Bolton. Do I make myself clear?”

The color of Dirk’s skin went ghost white as he dipped his head properly to both Mason and Vincent. “I am sorry for improperly challenging you, Mated Alpha Bolton. And I am sorry for insulting your mate on your lands, Alpha Wilson. This will not happen again.”

Mason stepped forward and placed his hand on Vincent’s shoulder. “It is okay, my mate. You have won your first challenge. Drop the magic and relax.” Once the temperature went back to normal, and his eyes returned to their natural hazel color, Vincent blinked several times.

Vincent stepped toward Dirk. He’s one scary dude, but I won’t let this challenge cloud his initial picture of me. He stretched out his hand. “I’m not one for fancy titles. My name is Vincent, and I want to say thank you.”

Dirk’s eyes widened as he stood in utter confusion. “Why are you thanking me? I improperly challenged you.”

A smile came across the mage. “Well, I’m still new to the whole shifter customs and rules, so I don’t think much of it. And I’m thanking you for helping me realize how a challenge is started. I was only told verbally, so this was my first experience. So, thank you!” Vincent outstretched his hand for a shake.

The look on the Enforcer’s face exhibited pure loss of concentrated thought. Tierney slapped Dirk on the back and whispered into his ear. “Despite your beliefs, not all humans are bad. This one is incredibly genuine, and I recommend you accept that.”

Dirk looked to Vincent once more, and grasped the mage’s hand lightly. “I’m not the fondest of humans, but my bear recognizes you as strong. I thank you, Vincent. You have reminded me of the valuable lesson of never underestimating an opponent.”

Vincent smiled harder. “You are welcome. I’m not familiar with bear shifter traditions, but when I come visit New York next month, I wouldn’t mind sparring with you or your bear. You definitely gave me a run for my money.”

A smirk ran across Dirk’s face. “Now that is a proper challenge, and I accept.” He turned to face Mason once more. “Alpha Wilson. Will you accept my apologies towards you and your mate? My behavior was unacceptable, and will take the punishment your pack standards have set.”

Mason crossed his arms, keeping a straight face. This was a pretty big insult to my pack, and my mate. Part of me wants to rip his stupid head off! But Vincent seems to have taken a much different approach. It’s almost like he’s killing him with kindness. My little mage. Always wanting to find a peaceful way. “I recognize your apology towards me, and I accept it. Vincent, do you accept his apology?” Vincent nodded and gave a thumbs up. “Your apologies have been accepted. Although my mate and I have not completed our bond, he is to be regarded with the same respect as myself, so just keep that in mind for the future.

“In regards to punishment, I believe losing your challenge was punishment enough. I know this was my mate’s first challenge, so I would take that as an extra dose of disappointment. Does that seem fair, Alpha Scott?”

Tierney nodded. "I would rather have something more, but if it is the wishes of your pack, then so be it. Dirk and I will have a conversation when we get situated for the weekend. I take it we are staying in guest housing?"

Mason smiled and shook his head. "Well, that's the third option. You can stay with us at my house or Mom just offered her's."

"So many options! I think it will be safe to say after my Enforcer's little episode, your place wouldn't be the smartest."

Vincent chimed in. "I don't mean to overstep my bounds, but I don't have a problem with it. It wasn't the best introduction, but I would like to get to know Mr. Dirk better. He's the first bear shifter I've seen, and I think that's pretty cool."

Dirk still had his reservations about the human, but he couldn't help but smile. "As I said, this human is alright with me. I suppose we could get acquainted better. I give my vow that no harm will come to the Mated Alpha."

Mason nodded. "I only have one proper guest room. Your Beta and Enforcer are more than welcome to crash on the living room couches. Otherwise, my parents have guest rooms to fit two of you."

The New York Alpha clasped his hands. "I believe your home would suffice. Gives us more chances to talk about dynamics and strategies."

Kaplan and Dirk agreed and grabbed their backpacks the five men made their way to the rental car. Mason gave Kaplan the address to the house as the skinny Beta pulled out the car keys. Vincent and Mason walked back to the giant black truck and went home.

Once back at the house, Vincent went to the back porch and resumed his meditation, while Mason welcomed the New York trio to his home. Tierney was amazed at the transformation the house had gone through. "It has been decades since I stood in this house. You've made this your own home, Mason." He took a sniff of the home's scent and noticed something strange. "Vincent hasn't lived here long, I take it?"

Mason shook his head. "No, he only moved in officially two days ago, and we've only known each other for a day longer than that."

The Beta wolf curved his neck in curiosity. "You've known each other for such a short time, but your bond seems like it has aged over years. How is that?"

"We are destined mates. I guess that caused us to cement our feelings for one another."

Tierney nodded to the statement. "Destined mates are vastly different than traditional ones. They are truly two halves to one soul. I've had the honor of personally seeing a couple of destined bondings over my years, and the Gods put them together for pure happiness. It is something to cherish, Kaplan."

"Understood, Alpha." Kaplan and Dirk set their bags on the separate couches, claiming their beds for the weekend and moved along with Mason's tour.

Moving to the kitchen, the Owensville Alpha pointed to the pantry and fridge. "Feel free to help yourselves to anything you find. There are also many restaurants in town and in the neighboring metropolitan city. It is unclaimed shifter territory there, so you have no need to worry about treading lands. Ty, your guest room is down the hall back through the living room and has an unattached bathroom nearby. You three are welcome to roam my woods as you please at any hour of the night. Plenty of game for hunting as well."

Dirk smiled as he relished having a large buck for dinner later. "Just to make sure, there's just the two entrances?"

"No. The third is through the attached garage, which is through here. Memorizing the layout, Enforcer?"

"Can't be too careful. And call me Dirk, if you will, Alpha."

Mason gave a curt grin. "Only if you call me Mason."

Dirk nodded and peeked through the door to the garage to understand the layout of the home. "Don't mean to be intrusive, but where did your mate go, Mason?"

"He went to the back porch. It's important he gets in as much meditation as possible."

Tierney smiled and clapped Dirk's shoulder. "You may have a disliking of humans, Dirk, but you will be amazed at Vincent's dance." The Alpha closed his eyes. "I remember mine when I entered the New York State Pack. Gods, it was the finest moment of my life."

In disbelief of what he heard, Mason whipped his head around. "Ty? You're a mage?"

"Of course! Did Lei not tell you? I don't blame Elaine for keeping quiet since we went to rival schools, but I graduated Harvard at the top of my class."

Mason widened his eyes. A fire mage! "An affinity that suits your status, Ty. Fiery and fierce. Vincent will go nuts when you tell him."

A deep snicker came from Tierney. "I would be excited to show him before we leave."

"If you mind me asking, what was your favorite part of your performance?"

The taller Alpha put his hands behind his head. "I feel that I need to show you, but I'd rather not burn your house down. Mind if we go out back? Vincent could use a small distraction, and may even find a little inspiration."

Mason nodded and the four shifters went to the back yard. Vincent looked up from his shady spot in the grass at the sound of the door opening. He smiled when he saw Mason. He must be giving the tour. "Vinnie! I know you're busy, but I think you need to see this!" The mage got up from his seat with curiosity knocking at his mind's door.

"What's up, big guy?" Vincent leaned into Mason's arms and received a kiss from the larger man.

"So, Ty just informed me of a little something that I didn't know about him. And he wanted to come out here and show us."

Tierney couldn't help but laugh. "No need to keep it a secret anymore, Mason. I think Vincent might have an idea at this point."

Um. Yeah, sorry. Not a clue. "I'm actually pretty clueless here. What do you have to show us, sir?"

The New York Alpha crossed his arms in an act of surprise. "Really? I thought my aura shows off a lot. Hang on a sec." Tierney shook his arms downward, and everyone felt the heat crank up by several degrees. Vincent popped his eyes. Holy shit! How did I not notice that before? Ty has the fire affinity! "Ty! I did not notice your aura! Why didn't you say something before?"

The large man shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I don't use it very often nowadays. Mason and I were talking, and it just came up. He asked what my favorite part of my mage's dance was all those years ago, and I wanted to come out here and show you two."

Ho! Ly! Shit! Am I about to see a performance from Tierney Scott? "I would be so thrilled to see a part of your dance!"

Tierney smiled and stepped down to the grass. He waved his hand for everyone to follow. "Mason? You mind we go to the outskirts of your woods. I'll need for it to be as dark as possible."

Mason nodded and the squad walked to the woods. Tierney found a nice dark patch to stand in. "Alright, folks, need you all to stand back several yards. So the secret to a good performance is to command the stage. Set the mood, and let everyone know that they need to keep their eyes on you."

Vincent kept his eyes glued to the Alpha in the shadows. Gods, this is so exciting! I can only hope to learn more on the dynamics of a successful dance. From the shadows, Tierney closed his eyes and loosened his arms, but kept his commanding stature.

The little mage could tell the dance was about to begin as the woods got a touch warmer. His eyes wouldn't leave Tierney. The Alpha opened his eyes, and Vincent gasped in awe. The irises were red, but deep within them, Vincent caught the tiny detail. There...are flames in his eyes. He is channeling flames in his eyes!

Tierney inhaled, puffing out his chest and took a step forward. On the exhale, large plumes of fire flew out of his nostrils. He quickly inhaled again, just to let more flames fly downward, and repeated on a rhythmic basis. As his steps began quickening, his magical breathing kept up with the pace. On one of the exhales, Tierney unfurled his fingers, and little balls of flame ignited on the fingertips. Increasing his tempo on both the steps and breaths of fire, the finger flames grew larger.

Vincent sat in awe as he played a tribal drum sound in his mind, matching the beat of the flames. It's so commanding. So fierce. It almost seems like I should be afraid of this display of raw power, but it exudes a primal elegance. This...is a true performance!

The fire mage stopped moving forward, but kept his breathing at the same mild pace, and let the finger flames form into balls of crackling fire. Tierney gave a small grunt as the balls of fire floated out of his hands, but remained within an inch of his palm. He closed his eyes once more, but only for a moment to let his audience lean for anticipation.

Tierney craned his neck to both sides, letting his neck bone crack as he threw his head back and roared with such intensity. Flames shot from his mouth, birds in the distance flew away for safety, and leaves shook to the ground from the sound shockwave. His muscles visibly trembled as the wolf gave his all in the animalistic shout. Every one of the members of the audience felt an urge to look away from the sheer power surging from the Alpha, but they couldn't risk missing a part of the performance.

The flames burned out. The roar from the mouth, the exhalations, the palmed fire were all gone. Tierney kept his head held back for several more moments, but when he dropped it down to the watching crowd, Dirk, Kaplan, Mason, and Vincent gasped in fear and awe.

His eyes were raging balls of flame.

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

This story is becoming one of my all time favorites, awesome chapter, really looking forward to Vincent's dance............

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3 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

What a wonderful chapter; from the practice sparing, to the stare down, the mini performance by a fire mage.  Ice for Yale and fire for Harvard so makes sense.  Great work, can't wait to see what happens next.

Always happy to hear praise from you, sir! I thought the colleges were nice for world building :)

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3 hours ago, mikedup said:

Instantly awesome, amazing chapter, so he meets another mage with another affinity, something he will no doubt absorb, into his arsenal, this just keeps getting better and better, I think that his dance is going to be quite spectacular. 

 

Tierney needed that little extra oomf in regards to power...and I may have gone a bit overboard, but oh well! Vincent just needs to meditate and get that bracelet full!

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And there was I thinking how could you possibly top what has gone before and you went and did it! I won't underestimate you again Aaron.

Alpha Tierney as a fire mage is stupendous - what a display that must have been to behold.

I'm now looking forward to Vincent's dance even more - he'll knock it out of the park I'm sure.

Keep up the fantastic work.

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2 hours ago, Howzat said:

And there was I thinking how could you possibly top what has gone before and you went and did it! I won't underestimate you again Aaron.

Alpha Tierney as a fire mage is stupendous - what a display that must have been to behold.

I'm now looking forward to Vincent's dance even more - he'll knock it out of the park I'm sure.

Keep up the fantastic work.

*gasp* You...underestimated me? I mean, I'm not surprised. I've been underestimated all my life, so it's pretty second nature by now. 

I needed a morally good character to represent the element that is commonly viewed as a destructive force to showcase its beauty, and Tierney fit the bill! Vincent's dance is coming soon, I promise! But a few more details need to be brought to light...

Thank you for the kind words! I've said it in a few closing author remarks, but this has become a second job for me, and I have no intention of stopping. This is definitely going to be a 50+ chapter story. 

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20 hours ago, astone2292 said:

And another great comment from you Patch1! We are getting close to Vincent's dance...ARE YOU EXCITED?!?!

Definitely!!  I hate waiting but it is so worth it in the end!!!  😃👍

 

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42 minutes ago, LilDaddy98 said:

I'm loving this story. Am wondering though will we see other elemental affinities?

Thank you so much! And other affinities...*shrugs shoulders* who knows?

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Wrong thing for Dirk to challenge Vincent. I hope he comes to term with the feelings he has for Vincent. If not, then things will not be good for him. 

I was amazed at what Alpha Scott on him having the fire affinity. I think he has shocked even his Beta and Enforcer as well as Mason and Vincent. I am betting that Vincent will get another idea for his dance with what Ty is doing!

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They are doing a major software update tomorrow, so will resume on Wednesday on the next chapter!

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Dirk and Vinnie got off to a rough start with Dirk's anti-human bias, but Vinnie proved his worth as an Alpha's mate.

The reconfiguration trick Elaine demonstrated will expand Vinnie's bag of tricks when he learns how to accomplish it.

Seeing her tactics, I'd like to know how Elaine managed to fight Stefan and be able to walk away with at least a draw.

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