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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Morningstar: The Malaise - 51. A Team In All Things

... and something more...

Morningstar: The Malaise

 

 

Chapter 51

 

 

The prostrate ewe stirred as soon as Kellar gave her a boost of wake-up energy. Flickering had showed the fracture healed and most of the inflammation gone. Within an hour, any remaining tenderness would dissipate.

Connor was watching closely. “Is that it?”

“Uh huh. She’s fine now,” Kellar assured him. “Alice can go out with the others as soon as she stands.”

“Are you sure?” He looked dubious as the black-faced sheep struggled into a more upright position, looking calmly around the pen. “Shouldn’t we keep her immobile for a while?”

“No need. The break is healed, and inflammation is practically non-existent.”

“How… how can you possibly know that?”

Hugh’s hand made its way to the top of Connor’s, in a reassuring gesture, but he didn’t seem to notice. He continued to stare at Kellar, waiting.

“Because I can see it. Look… this will sound weird to you, but I can see colors in all living things. They present as a pattern, and I can see when that pattern is disrupted by an injury or illness, and I can see when it’s been put back to normal. Freaky, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, drawing the word out. “I have heard of strange kinds of healing, but never heard of someone seeing colors before. Still, you did put Alice to sleep with a touch, right in front of me, so I can’t ignore my own eyes.”

Alice chose that moment to leap up and shake herself like a wet dog. One bleat, and she trotted to the door of the pen. “Animals never say thank you,” Kellar said with a chuckle, but the real reason for his amusement was Connor’s look of disbelief mixed with child-like joy.

“She’s not even limping. Oh my God. You really did it… thank you, man. I can hardly believe this.”

“You’re welcome.” Kellar, still sitting in the straw, reached over for his mate’s hand, who gave it a squeeze.

Tobyn was grinning from ear to ear. “Healing makes my mate happy.”

Kellar smiled at him. He suspected the use of ‘mate’ for a second time was intentional. Tobyn was giving Hugh an assist for a conversation that had to come eventually. Connor’s eyes kept returning from Alice to their joined hands.

“Told you Kellar had the magic touch,” Hugh said to the back of Connor’s head. “Pretty amazing, right?” The startled man spun around and locked eyes with those in a face mere inches away. He blushed, and so did Hugh.

“You were right. Thanks.” He blushed deeper.

“Why are you thanking me? I didn’t do anything.”

“Yes, you did. You brought him here, didn’t you?”

“I did at that.” Hugh grinned. “I guess I deserve credit for not coming alone.” He winked, and Connor smiled, making the move to stand up.

“Hold on, Connor,” Kellar said. “There’s something we need to discuss.” Another hand squeeze from Tobyn.

“You need to do this, doc.”

“He already knows I see colors, so hopefully he’ll believe me.”

“He will.”

“What’s up,” Connor asked. He settled into a crouch on his knees in the deep straw.

“I want to talk to you about your injuries.”

“My injuries? What do you mean?”

“I can see them… because of your colors. There’s a number of them.”

A guarded look appeared on an otherwise open face, and Connor’s next words were clipped and defensive. “What do you expect? I fell down some stairs, so of course there’s a bunch of them. I don’t see what there is to talk about.”

“Believe me. I wouldn’t stick my nose into your business without reason.”

“Okay, look, I appreciate what you did. Like I said, I fell down a flight of stairs. I can be clumsy. I’ve always been a klutz.”

Hugh was staring at Kellar, and he was appearing both confused and annoyed, probably because his mate was now agitated. “What’s this about, Kellar? What injuries are you talking about?”

Kellar sighed, but as uncomfortable as he was, this man couldn’t afford for him to be deterred. “The thing is, I can tell how old each break is, and you don’t have to tell me what happened, but if you need any help, we’re here.”

Connor flushed and looked down.

“Break? What are you talking about? What’s he talking about, Connor?” Hugh had started to rise, his own agitation on display.

“Hugh, it’s okay. I suffered a few broken bones in the past, that’s all. What else is there to discuss?” His head had come up, and he wore a defiant mask. “Is that it?”

“No, that’s not it. Your most recent injury—your ribs—did you get x-rays at the time?”

“No.” Connor frowned. “They healed on their own. Why?”

Kellar took a quick glance at Hugh, who’d settled back down on the straw, but his light green eyes looked shades darker. He and his mate were touching again, and he wondered briefly if they even realized it. “I didn’t think so. A sliver broke off your upper rib, and it would have showed in an x-ray.”

Connor looked at him blankly. “And?”

And, it’s worked its way to the lining around your heart. Have you had any pain in your chest lately… any kind of ache?”

“Shit.”

“Connor?” Hugh asked with a note of fear in his voice. “Kellar, what’s going on? Why are you asking that? Is he in any danger?”

Kellar nodded. “I’d say so, yes. There’s inflammation along the lining for a couple of inches. I assume it’s producing a kind of angina pain that will only get worse. You need to go to the hospital,” he said to the now silent young man.

“Fuck!” Connor opened his mouth to speak again when Hugh interrupted.

“Come on. We’ll take you right now.”

“Wait. I can’t go to the hospital. Are you saying this splinter could kill me?”

“If it pierces the heart wall, it definitely will, unless you’re in a hospital at the time. It’s a lucky thing it hasn’t already sliced a blood vessel. You’re forty minutes away from medical help here. You can’t wait for something to happen and then go.”

“Is this thing like a needle? Could it poke right through?” Hugh asked, his hands now gripping Connor’s arm.

“Well, it has a point, but it’s more like a flake, and that’s worse. The sharp edge of it can slice, which is probably why it’s been able to move so far. I’m not saying it will do more damage today, but I’m not saying it won’t either. It’s sitting in a very dangerous place right now. I’m sorry Connor, but you can’t wait. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve read a lot of medical journals, and you need to trust me on this.”

He bobbed his head up and down a couple of times in response, and a sheen of moisture glistened as he gazed at the three of them through pale blue eyes. “If I go to the hospital, he… he’ll be able to find me.”

“Who will?” Hugh asked as soon as the words were out of Connor’s mouth.

“The guy who broke my ribs in the first place. I… I don’t know what to do.”

“Someone broke your ribs? Like, on purpose?” Hugh looked aghast.

Connor stared down at the hands wrapped around his forearm. He put a hand over one of them. “Brian hit me on purpose. Broken ribs were just the result… that time.”

“Who’s Brian?”

“Look, Hugh, I appreciate your concern… ah, I mean we don’t even know each other.”

“I really like you,” Hugh blurted out, blazing intensity directed at the smaller man.

“You do? Oh. Why?”

“I just do, okay?”

Time stood still for Kellar as he watched the interplay. He let out a breath when Connor gave a slight nod.

Hugh visibly relaxed. “You don’t have to tell me anything. I just… I’m sorry, but the thought of someone hurting you really pisses me off.” Emotions continued to play out on both their faces. It was clear a tentative connection had already been forged with Connor feeling it the same as Hugh did.

He put his head down, and the words came out barely above a whisper. “Brian was someone I thought I loved… at first, but it was never quite right, and when I told him how I felt, it made him angry. He thought he owned me, and from then on he began to hurt me. I left, but he brought me back. He always brought me back. It’s why I’m working on a farm. I’m hoping he can’t find me here.”

“Why do you think he’d find you at the hospital?” Tobyn asked. “We’re a hell of a long way from Lake Simcoe area. That’s where he is, right?”

Connor wiped at a couple of stray tears. “Yeah, Atherley, just outside of Orillia to be exact. He’s a cop, so he can locate me anywhere in the province if I use any of my ID, like my health card. He always said he could find me wherever I went. But, I guess I don’t have a choice. I can’t go until Lorne gets back, though. I can’t leave the animals alone.”

“But, Kellar said you shouldn’t wait. I’ll look after the animals for you. Davidson knows me.” Hugh was adamant, yet his mate looked uncertain.

“You do have a choice,” Tobyn interjected. “Kellar?”

Kellar nodded at his mate. “Are you sure this Brian guy is looking for you?”

Connor shook his head. “No, but the longer I stay off his radar the better. Once he’s found someone else he’ll forget all about me. I know there was a guy before me who left him. I expect he tried hard to find me the first month or so, but it’s been four now. He’s not crazy or anything, and I wasn’t a prisoner… not really. If he is still looking, he’ll just try to get me to go back.” He lowered his head once more, but raised it again quickly. “Tobyn, what did you mean when you said I have a choice?”

Tobyn raised his eyebrows, leaving the answer to his mate.

Kellar suspected Connor was downplaying the danger. Someone who broke bones was not to be fooled with, and this ‘cop’ had done it repeatedly. “My mate means I can dissolve that splinter if you want. It’s still outside the heart, so it’s pretty simple. And as far as the lining inflammation, I can take care of that too. It’s only there because the piece of bone is causing irritation. But, it’s entirely up to you to decide.”

“You’re serious? You can do that? Right here and now? No surgery?”

“Hey, he cured our friend of cancer. Yes, he can do it,” Hugh assured him. “He’s gotten rid of brain tumors and stuff. He’s really good, and you need this out of you, like right now.”

“Hugh, relax,” Kellar said. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but a hospital might be the best option. He has to go today, though. We can pitch in with the animals if need be. It has to be Connor who makes the decision.”

Hugh looked a little like a scolded puppy, and Kellar, despite the seriousness of the situation, fought the urge to laugh. The poor guy had it bad. It reminded him of the tumultuous emotions he went through over Tobyn in those first weeks. It all seemed a lifetime ago now.

“I’d rather not go to the hospital. I really don’t know you guys, but I’ve seen what you can do, Kellar, and I trust you. Please, I want you to try to fix me?”

Hugh’s sigh of relief was a huge one, and this time Kellar let his amusement show. Tobyn grinned too.

“Okay, as long as you’re sure.”

“I am. Will you be doing the same thing to me you did to Alice?”

“Yes. I’ll send a dose of healing energy into your body, and that will perform the same as an anesthetic. You’ll be unconscious while I do what I do. I’ll put one hand behind your back and one hand on your chest, and then healing energy will be directed at the splinter. It shouldn’t take long to dissolve something that small. So, you and Hugh can relax. I won’t be trying to fix you… I will fix you. Do you have somewhere better than the floor of this pen?”

“Oh. Yeah, of course. I have my own quarters. Follow me. I’ll just let Alice back out with the flock.” The ewe, who’d been laying quietly while chewing on hay, stood back up when they did. She immediately began voicing her demand to be put back with her buddies with continuous and loud bleating. Kellar held back with Tobyn as Connor and Hugh, with the help of long staffs, herded her through the building and outside. The sight of her trotting to the gate had Kellar feeling good.

“They’ve gotten close fast,” Tobyn said in a whisper. “I’m dying to listen in on their conversation, but I won’t.”

“I’ll bet Connor is asking Hugh about the ‘really liking him’ part.” He chuckled. “That came out pretty abruptly. Did you see the shadows under Connor’s eyes? He hasn’t been sleeping either, and they’re already at the point where they need to touch. I don’t think he would have opened up like he did if Hugh hadn’t been at his side. That cop sounds like a real son-of-a-bitch.”

“Goes to show you, doc.”

“What’s that?”

“Not all monsters are hunters.”

Kellar nodded as they waited at the doorway, giving the men some privacy. “I’ve never thought of it like that before. Hunters are crazy fanatics for sure, and for what they’ve done to shifters they seem bigger than life, but there’s a lot of other nutbars in the human world. As a gay couple, I think we have it better in our shifter universe.”

“A lot of things are better in our community in my opinion. For starters, we have zero crime, and no one is out to hurt anyone else. Respect for others too, no matter who they are, is a given.”

“True that, babe, true that.”

 

The little frame annex on the end of an equipment shed was sparse but clean. There was a propane tank just outside the entrance that fueled an ancient-looking heater, as well as an old two-burner gas stove residing in the tiny kitchen. A jarring avocado-colored fridge, and a short counter with a sink took up the rest of the compact room.

The washroom was rudimentary at best with a composting toilet and a shower Kellar suspected would drain into a buried grey-water tank, similar to his own cabin’s set-up.

One large window provided a spectacular view out over a mix of field and forest, and a typical hand-crafted log bed, about the size of a small double, took up a good portion of the main room. Two chairs and a square table in one corner provided a place to sit and eat. The other corner had the smallest wood stove Kellar had ever come across. One chunk of firewood, standing up, would about fill it. Connor’s abode was not meant for entertaining.

“Is this warm enough in winter?” Hugh asked as he looked around.

“Believe it or not, it is. It’s well insulated, with two-by-six walls. I got here in February, and I’ve only had to use the wood stove a couple of times. The heater looks decrepit, but it works well. I know the place is small, but I don’t need much.” Connor appeared uncomfortable, maybe even embarrassed at showing them where he lived.

“This reminds me a bit of our cabin, doesn’t it, doc?”

It didn’t in the least, but Kellar understood what his mate was doing. “Yeah, it’s got that same coziness.”

“Exactly. So, how did you end up in this neck of the woods?”

Connor appeared startled by the question, but after a moment’s hesitation, he answered. “I guess you could say it was a fluke. It so happens I saw an advertisement online for a live-in job at a cattle and bison ranch. It said to apply in person, so I took the chance, spur of the moment, and decided to give it a shot. It was the opportunity I was looking for to disappear. The job was filled before I arrived, but the guy I talked to knew Lorne. Long story, short, the man who used to work here left after Christmas—at Lorne’s insistence, apparently—and he ended up hiring me on just before a big storm hit. It was perfect timing because Lorne really needed the help and I needed a place to stay.”

“Have you always worked with animals?” Hugh asked, standing close to his as-yet-unknowing mate.

“No, not always, but I grew up on a farm, and did this kind of stuff practically since I could walk. Turns out I would have been better off if I hadn’t left, but I thought I had to. I didn’t get along with my dad after I came out to him. I should have given him more time to get used to the idea,” he said with his regret clear. “I’m a computer geek to tell you the truth. That’s how I met Brian. I ended up as an IT tech for the cybercrimes division at the police station he worked out of. Taking that job was the worst decision I could have made.”

“Because of Brian?” Hugh asked.

Connor met his eyes and nodded. “I was looking for something, but he wasn’t it.”

Hugh opened his mouth, but no words came out. He ended up looking away.

Tobyn rescued them all from the awkward silence that had descended. “You must be pretty good to have gotten a job like that at your age.”

“We could use a computer expert, doc.”

“I knew that’s what you were thinking.”

“I am good. It came naturally to me, from the time I was a kid, but this kind of work makes me happier. I’ve seen all kinds of stuff, and I’ve had my fill of that life. Here, there’s peace and quiet, and the animals aren’t out to hurt or take advantage of anyone.” He stopped speaking and flushed a bright red, hugging himself with his arms as he leaned back against the kitchen counter.

Kellar felt real sympathy for what the guy had endured. Hugh had surreptitiously moved a foot closer to him, leaning the same way against the counter. A change of subject was needed. “How old are you, man?”

“I’ll be twenty-two in September. Um, do you guys want anything? I can make instant coffee or tea, but I don’t have anything cold, other than water.”

Kellar said no, and the other two shook their heads. “Are you ready to do this? It’s okay if you’re having second thoughts.”

“Oh, no.” Connor slid a sideways glance at Hugh. “No second thoughts. I don’t have any doubts about your abilities, and I’m ready. I guess you want me laying down?”

“Yes, please. Stretch out at the edge of your mattress, and we’ll be done before you know it.”

Kellar pulled one of the chairs close to the bed while Connor got in position. Uncertainty hit him for a few seconds as to whether he should wait and procure the plant he would have normally used to dissolve the splinter, but his healer instincts overruled that doubt. The increased strength of his healing energy had just been proven again with Alice. If it worked without the aid of herbs for her, it would work for a human.

No. Plants weren’t needed for this. Just like they hadn’t been needed for his and Tobyn’s injuries after the encounter with the younger Reznick. Still, he would never tackle a disease, or a poison, or dangerous inflammation without them. Instinct told him too his precious herbs would always have their purpose.

As he sat down, Tobyn moved the other chair beside him so they were touching. He turned his head and smiled. They were a team in all things.

Hugh, clearing his throat, drew their attention. “I’ll wait outside. Let me know if you need me.” It was pretty clear he was reluctant to leave, but he turned and walked out through the open door into sunlight.

“Hugh?”

He spun around at Connor’s call. “Yeah?”

“Could you stay here? I mean… never mind. It’s nicer outside in the sun.”

“I wouldn’t mind staying. I’d like to if I’m not in the way.”

Kellar shared a look with his mate. “These guys are pathetic. Were we ever like this?”

“Yup. We tiptoed around each other too.”

“Jeez.”

“Dude, you’re not in the way. Sit on the bed beside your friend and hold his hand. His heart is racing and you’ll calm him down. Sit!” Kellar ordered to a hesitant Hugh.

The tall man moved quickly and settled himself in, reaching tentatively for Connor’s hand. It was accepted with equal uncertainty, but their fingers entwined in a tight grip, and Connor’s heartrate did slow.

“There, that’s better,” Kellar said, fighting to keep his expression neutral.

“Was I too pushy, babe?”

“Yeah, but Hugh needs the help. They both do.”

“That was my thinking.”

 

The healing took longer than Kellar originally expected, but it was going well. Like with Arthur, his healing was able to branch out to different areas at the same time, but he curtailed its spread until he had the splinter dissolved and the inflammation taken care of. Healing a sliced pathway, and seeing just how close the splinter had been to doing real damage, Kellar gave fleeting thought to how much of his life was chance, and how much was influenced by the earth mother. In the end, it made no difference, because he was doing what he was born to do—of that he had no doubt.

Once his patient was no longer in any danger, he concentrated on the older injuries. It was interesting to see all the calcification on both the ankle and wrist. It was double what he would have expected, and it was clear the accumulation on the ankle bones was the cause of Connor’s limp, making full flexing of the joint impossible. Cleaning up the mess was taking more time than dissolving the splinter had, but he was able, with some tricky fine-tuning, to restore full mobility. Moving on to the wrist, it became obvious it had been broken twice in a short span. What the hell had the guy gone through? It had to be a constant source of aggravation to the young man, and Kellar made sure it was in the best condition possible before he rose out of his trance.

The first thing he saw was Hugh’s lips ghosting Connor’s. “What the hell are you doing?”

His words startled Hugh, who looked to be in a trance of his own. “I was just… I couldn’t resist… I shouldn’t have done that, should I?”

“Hell no!” a sleepy-looking Tobyn exclaimed from beside him, momentarily startling Kellar. “Do you realize a kiss can start the joining?”

“Just a simple kiss?”

“Yes! We’re learning that it happens more often than not. All it takes is an exchange of saliva.”

“Shit. But there was no saliva. I barely touched his lips.” Hugh was looking both confused and contrite. “Is he okay now?”

“Yes. He’s fine. The splinter’s gone, so he’s no longer in any danger.”

“Thank you. And I’m sorry I kissed him. I wasn’t thinking. I was looking at his face and the next thing I knew….”

“We get it, Hugh. Whatever happens is between you and your mate, but you need to know there’s no turning back once the joining starts, and it might be great for you, but is it really being fair to Connor? You want him to be making his decisions for himself, right? It sounds like he hasn’t been able to do that in the past with this Brian guy.”

“Oh, God. You’re right. I don’t want to be anything like that bastard.”

“Hey, you’re not,” Tobyn interjected. “No harm done. You weren’t trying to take away his free will; you were acting on strong feelings. We didn’t know about saliva at first either. You caught us both by surprise, so we reacted, and now you know. The rest is up to you, so calm down. Your mate is healed, and that’s the important thing. Now you guys can get on with the business of getting to know one another.”

“Thanks, Tobe, and thanks, Kellar. It’s a good job you told me… but what if… okay, anyway, I knew you would do it. I’m so relieved to hear the words, though. What happens now? Does he sleep for a while?”

“I can wake him up any time, but I usually let them come out of the induced sleep on their own. What were you going to ask? What’s on your mind?”

“I was just thinking… what am I going to do if he wants to kiss me? I’m going to have to turn him down so we don’t start the joining. What’s he going to think if I do that?”

“I don’t know, Hugh. You’ll have to play it by ear, but it’s pretty obvious he’s feeling the mate pull same as you are.” Kellar pulled Tobyn’s hand up to his mouth and kissed it. “What do you think, babe?”

“I don’t know how you should handle this either. As hard as it is, you have to resist until he knows what he’s getting into. At some point, you have to tell him about being a shifter. There’s no avoiding it, and judging by the way you two are already connected, the sooner the better.”

“What’s a shifter?” Connor asked, his eyes opening. His eyes searched Hugh’s face as he pulled himself up into a sitting position against the headboard.

“Oh, fuck. He woke up fast.” Tobyn sent.

“Fuck is right. This could go really bad. Poor Hugh. This is my fault.”

“No, it isn’t. Should we leave them alone?”

“I don’t know. This is a fucking disaster for Hugh. Look at his face.”

“Don’t worry about that right now.” Hugh stammered out in a valiant attempt to downplay what Connor had heard. “The healing worked. Kellar fixed you.” He looked like vomiting was a real possibility.

“I know. I heard. Thank you, Kellar,” he said without taking his eyes off of Hugh. “Answer the question, Hugh. And what’s the joining? What am I getting into?”

“We’ll just leave you two to talk,” Kellar said, rising from his seat.

Connor finally turned his head to the other side of the bed. “No, please stay. I’m guessing I wasn’t supposed to hear the conversation, but I did. Something’s been happening to me, and you guys know what it is, don’t you? Hugh’s afraid to tell me… I can feel it. Why can I feel it?” His gaze flickered to Hugh but came right back to Kellar and Tobyn.

“Kellar, please…?” Hugh was asking for help, and his eyes were filled with the fear Connor had pointed out so accurately.

He sighed. “You know how I can see colors?”

Connor nodded. He didn’t look at Hugh, but their hands did stayed joined.

“Well, you have a signature pattern made up of a multitude of colors, and it’s identical to Hugh’s. That’s what is happening to you. Matching patterns means you are mates.”

“Mates? Like you and Tobyn?”

“Exactly. We call it being earth mates, but others say soul mates or true mates. It means we are fated to be together.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I’m not surprised. We—meaning the three of us—we’re different.”

“Shifters? Is that what you mean?”

“Yes.”

“I’m guessing it’s not some religious thing, is it?”

Kellar chuckled. “No. You would be correct. It’s a physiology thing. We’re different… we’re human, but we’re more.”

“Holy hell”—Connor sat further upright—“what the fuck does that mean?”

“Oh, God,” Hugh finally uttered. “We should stop now. He’s not going to be able to handle this. We… we should go.” The anguish was not just in his voice; it was all over his face as he leapt off the bed. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to put you through this. We’re too different.”

“Hey, Hugh. Wait! What happened? Why did he go?” Connor swung his legs over the far side of the bed and stood up carefully. “My ankle?”

“I healed that too.”

“Wow. Okay. I have to find Hugh before he leaves. What doesn’t he want to put me through?” he asked as he walked to the doorway.

“Connor. Please wait. Hugh won’t leave, but he’s terrified right now. Give him a few minutes… he’s over by the pen Bob’s in, sitting on the ground.”

The man turned and gave Kellar a questioning look. “How in hell do you know that?”

“Because we can hear him,” Tobyn answered. “And before you ask the next question, sit back down… if you want more answers?”

“Are you sure he’s over there?”

“Yes,” they both answered. “He will only go so far away from you, trust us on that,” Tobyn added.

Connor lifted his foot off the ground and swiveled his ankle back and forth. “I haven’t been able to do that for a year. I don’t have a clue what to think about anything. So, I have a mate, and that’s why I feel this way? Why everything… why I feel so different?”

Kellar nodded.

“And my mate is human, but more?”

“That’s right.”

“And he thinks I won’t be able to handle it?”

“He’s scared to death,” Tobyn said softly. “You have to understand our kind only has one mate. You’re it for Hugh, and if you reject him… well… Kellar?”

“It’ll hurt bad. It’ll hurt you too. You can go on with your life as long as the joining doesn’t take place… okay, there’s this process called the joining.” Kellar groaned. “I’m not sure it’s my place to….”

“Well, it’s someone’s place. You can’t leave me hanging here. Okay, I know it has something to do with saliva. I heard you guys talking about it after Hugh kissed me.”

“You felt him kiss you? How could you have possibly felt that?” Kellar was shocked because that happened as soon as he came out of his healing trance. Was his healing doing something different again?

Connor shook his head. “I don’t think I actually felt it. I thought I was dreaming, but then I heard you guys talking and heard him apologize for kissing me.” He walked back to the end of the bed and sat, intensity emanating from him. “So, just tell me about the joining. I’m not fragile, and I know this is serious shit, no matter how weird it might seem. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Hugh since the first day I saw him, and all I saw then was his outline. And when we finally met, the fact is, I haven’t been able to sleep since. I’m messed up, so it can’t get any worse. If we kiss and there’s saliva, will I become whatever you guys are… something more?”

Tobyn sighed. “Let me, doc. Joining can start with saliva, but it takes a while to complete, and it usually involves more than saliva. It’s an exchange of body fluids, like during sex. In your and Hugh’s case, saliva, semen, or blood. You won’t become like us if you complete the joining—that only happens if you want it to—but you will become something more. Your senses will sharpen for sure—your eyesight, hearing, and even your sense of smell... as well as your connection to Hugh—it will strengthen, and that’s about it. The joining is best explained as bonding, and it’s a strong bond.”

“Blood? Are you…?”

Tobyn snorted. “Vampires? No. Not to say they don’t exist, but no, we’re not vampires.”

Relief flooded Connor’s face. “Vampires exist?”

Tobyn nodded. “Humans aren’t the only children of the earth mother, but don’t believe all the ridiculous stories about them.”

“Wow. All right, so… a strong bond doesn’t sound so bad. Shifters,” he said softly, and Kellar could see the wheels turning. “You change into something. An animal? Am I right?”

They both nodded, and waited for the next question.

“Oh my God. You’re serious?”

They nodded in unison again.

“What kind of animal?”

“Wolf,” Tobyn replied.

Connor’s upper body fell back on the bed with his hands covering his face. When he rose back up after a solid minute, he looked ashen. “So, is this like a wolf creature? Is that why Hugh didn’t want to tell me?”

Tobyn snorted again. “No. Just a plain old wolf. We’re not werewolves. Those actually don’t exist. We’re magical creatures who’ve been around since the beginning of time, and we don’t hurt anyone. We don’t go on rampages, we don’t eat people, and we’re not contagious. Hugh didn’t want to tell you because he’s afraid it will scare you off, because most humans don’t like different.”

Connor bit his lower lip in thought. “I get that. Most probably wouldn’t. So, I couldn’t be turned into one of you… unless I want to?”

“That’s right, and it can’t happen by accident. It takes weeks of small blood exchanges, and if you miss one day it doesn’t take.”

“Those exchanges… do they hurt?”

Kellar chuckled. “Not when we did it as part of our joining. It was hot as hell to be honest.”

“Yeah, it was,” his mate agreed, smiling broadly. “But, it could be done by pricking your fingers too.”

Connor looked from one to the other. “I want to see it. I want to see a wolf.”

“You do? Are you sure?” Kellar asked.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Okay. We’ll get Hugh, and he can….”

“No. Not Hugh. Could one of you show me please?”

“Why not Hugh?” Tobyn asked.

“Because I don’t want to hurt him. It would hurt him if I freaked out, right?”

“Yeah, it would hurt him.”

“Then please, not him. I want to prepare myself. I don’t understand it… I don’t know him, but I do, and I would never want to hurt him.”

“That’s sounds about right. It’s all part of being mates, and it’s the same thing Hugh feels. He would never hurt you. I’ll show you,” Kellar said, standing up.

“No, I will,” Tobyn insisted.

“Your big wolf might scare the crap out of him, doc. I’m more cuddly-looking.”

“Oh, right. Good point. And yes, your wolf is adorable.”

Tobyn stood and began shedding his clothes. Connor was quick to avert his eyes, but looked back when Tobyn morphed into his wolf. His reaction was to back up onto the bed a few feet. Tobyn yawned, sat on his haunches and watched him.

“Beautiful, isn’t he?” Kellar studied Hugh's mate, and was relieved when he began to relax.

“Yes,” was breathed out with awe. “I sort of expected it wouldn’t actually happen. It was so… wow. Can he understand us?”

Kellar smiled, and received a blank look in return. “Of course he can. He’s still Tobyn in every way. He’s just in his wolf form. Does he scare you?”

“No. I feel like he should, but, no, he really doesn’t. The change… it happens so fast. Does it hurt at all?” He laughed when Tobyn was the one to answer, with a shake of his head. He edged back to sitting at the end of the bed, a couple of feet from Tobyn. “Is it rude to touch you?”

Tobyn moved forward and nudged Connor’s hand with his nose. It got him a surprised giggle from the dark-haired man. He reached out and patted the big head while Kellar smiled at his mate. They weren’t used to being ‘petted,’ and it was likely to be the only time it ever happened. Of course, maybe future pack children would change that.

“You’re so soft. Thank you for doing this. I can see there’s nothing to be afraid of. I need to see Hugh. I don’t like that he’s out there upset.”

Tobyn stepped away and shifted back, and once again Connor averted his eyes. Tobyn was quick to re-dress. “You’re welcome. Are you cool with all this?”

“It’s strange for sure, but yeah, I am. I thought the healing was weird at first, but not anymore. I can handle this. It surprises me that I do, but I feel… calm.”

“Good. Now, let’s go find your mate.”

 

Hugh was laying back on the grass right where Kellar had said he was. An arm covered his eyes, but Kellar knew he was aware of them coming. He heard the sigh, before the distraught man sat up.

“Hey,” Connor said.

“Hey,” Hugh returned.

“Ah, Kellar and Tobyn explained to me about shifters, and mates, and the joining.”

“And?”

“And, I want to see your wolf.”

A frown creased Hugh’s face. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think you’re ready for that.”

“Why not?”

“Because I turn into an animal, Connor. It might scare you. Are you okay with even the idea of it?”

“I’m not some shrinking violet, Hugh. I’m actually a pretty tough cookie, and if you’re going to be my mate, you have to learn that….”

“You want to be my mate?”

“I wasn’t finished. I was going to say your shifter wolf wouldn’t be the first one I’ve seen.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I saw Tobyn’s golden wolf, and I didn’t freak out. Right, Tobyn?”

“No, you didn’t. You handled it well. You’ve handled all of it amazingly well.”

“See.” Connor’s smile was smug. “I don’t have any idea why we’re, ah… earth mates… but I know what I’ve been feeling, and I know your friends are telling me the truth. I could do a lot worse, and frankly, I have done a lot worse. I was searching for something, and I believe I’ve finally found it.”

“Holy crap. I thought there was no way this was going to work. I don’t know what you guys said or did, but thank you,” Hugh said to Kellar and his old friend. He turned his attention back to Connor. “Do you feel the same stuff I do?”

“That depends. What do you feel?” Connor asked, a small grin playing on his face.

“Happy when I’m near you. Anxious when I’m not.”

“Yeah, I feel that. Sleeping and eating has been hard since we met.”

“Me too. So, you still want to see my wolf?”

“Yeah, but not here. Maybe we could go for a walk and get to know each other a little more first?”

“You know we can’t….”

“Kiss? Yeah, I know. Unless we decide we want to start the joining.”

Was that a tease Kellar heard in the man's voice? “Listen, why don’t you guys go for your walk, and we’ll take the dually back to Morningstar. We can pick you up later, Hugh, in Tobyn’s truck.”

“I have a truck. I can take him back,” Connor offered.

“I don’t want…,” Hugh blurted out and then stopped. “Should Connor be left alone tonight after his healing?” The plea in his eyes could be easily read.

Kellar resisted the urge to laugh, and decided a fib was in order. “Actually, it would be better if someone kept an eye on him for the next twelve hours or so. Lightheadedness could occur if you overexert yourself, Connor.”

The dark-haired man grinned. “In that case, I’ll bring him back tomorrow. Is that alright with you, mate?”

Hugh was wearing a goofy fool’s grin as he looked down at Connor. “Absolutely. Keys are in the truck, guys.”

 

They watched the new couple move off along a worn path through well-grazed pasture. Kellar smiled when their hands found each other, reaching for his own mate’s at the same time. Hugh could be heard commenting about how hungry he was, and Connor agreed he was too, and that he was a pretty good cook. The last thing he heard was Connor saying excitedly his limp was gone and his wrist worked like it used to.

Kellar’s smile turned to a chuckle. “I think that was some of our best work to date.”

“You’re not talking about the healings, are you?”

“Nope.”

“I agree. I started out wondering how the heck Hugh could convince a human they belonged together, and now I have no doubt they’ll make it.”

“We should have known better. There’s always a method to the earth mother’s madness. I like him. He’s a special guy to be able to handle what we threw at him.”

“I agree. Feels weird to be petted, though. My wolf liked it.”

Laughter erupted from Kellar. “Let’s go home, and I’ll let you pet me.”

Tobyn grinned as he looked over at his mate. “That’s an offer I’ll never refuse. We better feed you first, though.”

“You know your mate well. So, babe? What was that stuff that didn’t count when you and Hugh were kids?”

 

 

 

A huge thank you to my editor, Timothy M., and thank you to all those who support my efforts.

Copyright © 2017 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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I really enjoyed this chapter Gary! I really like the addition of Hugh and Connor. I'm interested to see how Connor's past might come back... Will it put the pack in danger. 
I am happy to see that Alice gets a second chance at life! ☺️

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Connor handled everything, even the issue with the bone shard much better than I can image most would; of course, the mating pull may have helped more than anyone realized.  I think that once Connor accepted that Kellar could heal the ewe, he was better able to accept all the rest of it.  I am sort of surprised that Hugh did not go all wolf and leave at a dead run going after the man that hurt his mate.  Wolves are very protective of their mates.

 

Can't wait for the next chapter, keep up the good work.

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Gary, I love this chapter ! :heart:

Due to the teething problem with the comments page, I haven't commented on the previous 2 chapters (I think I'm right ... hmm).  BUT I've vowed to myself to be quicker this time, and I'll put in my two cents worth ...  Thank you for answering the questions we have about Connor, however, we're all now very anxious about this abusive policeman / bastard / scum of the earth / dickwad / piece of sh-t / filth / vermin ...  How should he be dealt with ?  To be proactive and seek Brian out and then what ?  To sit and wait for him to come looking for Connor and risk the young man's safety and the pack being exposed ?  In the centuries that shifters and humans interacted, how would this kind of conflict be resolved ?  Had there been a risk of discovery by a human, how would a pack react ?  Would that human disappear ? :X

So many more questions dredged up ...

 

I'm with @LitLover , Tobyn would have to explain things that Hugh and he did together to Kellar ... but I'm :rofl: ... Kellar was hilarious at the end of this chapter !

 

What was that about a longerer chapter ?  I've read through this in a split second and I'm craving more ... more ... much more ... :P 

Edited by hohochan657
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If they can make hunters disappear, they might have to make a son-of-a-bitch disguised as a cop disappear as well...

 

No, I'm not suggesting murder.  Or am I?  :unsure2:

 

I once again had a feeling that they'd find a way to figure out how to explain it all to Connor.  Again, the healings and their effectiveness certainly paved the way for that explanation, and it helped Connor accept the other seemingly impossible things he was told.  Of course being able to shift on command helps too.  

 

There was so many great lines in this one, Tobyn "my wolf is more cuddly"  Kellar "I'll let you pet me"  Golden! :D 

 

Gary you outdid yourself again with this one.  Thanks as always buddy!

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I loved the ending... Tobyn has some explaining to do :)

 

Connor is definitely not a shrinking violet. I wonder if they will return to Morningstar fully bonded, I think it's a real possibility. Unlike the others, I am not worried about his ex, Connor now has the strength to cope with anything and someone to fight for  (after a snuggle tonight).

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So much to like about this chapter, but especially so the warmth surrounding it that surpasses the darkness of Connor's past with this bastard Brian. I am sure we will unfortunately be hearing from him at some point before this story is up... I hope Hugh tears him to pieces. There is a lot of bad things that could happen to the community if someone like Brian were to find them harboring Connor, let alone if he discovered some of there secrets... or is a hunter himself, on the side. A corrupt cop seems like a fit for those lunatics. Nice little jab at the end, too. :) 

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Great Job Gary!!!!!!! I'm going to be a big boy and not whine about wanting more. And I'm not talking  about my penis. hehehe

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So I got this great chapter today 4/3/2017 and Persona 5 (video game) tomorrow:2thumbs: 

Thank you for sharing.

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Hi Gary, very nice chapter! It is soothing that everything went so well. Connor seems to be a very brave person. :) I hope he can cope with the earth bond situation. It must be hard for him after having an abusive relationship. He said, he was looking for something, when he took the job at the cyber criminal investigation and that Brian was not this. That leaves me thinking, was he searching for something or some information or was this ment as he was looking to find a livelong relationship? Maybe we get more information about this. :)

Thanks for writing this wonderful chapter.

Lyssa

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I like Connor a lot...and I'm very glad his problem wasn't a thing like cancer which would have been more difficult to cure.  As for Hugh, he's got it bad, and I wonder just how long that kiss will be delayed?  I'm thinking that resolve won't last through the night.  I can see Connor going through the joining, and even becoming a shifter himself pretty soon.

I hope we (and Connor) have seen the last of Brian...but I'm sure he will be dealt with if he tries something.

Another week...sigh.  It's like waiting for another glimpse of my virtual mate.  :)

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On 4/3/2017 at 5:48 PM, BlindAmbition said:

I really enjoyed this chapter Gary! I really like the addition of Hugh and Connor. I'm interested to see how Connor's past might come back... Will it put the pack in danger. 
I am happy to see that Alice gets a second chance at life! ☺️

Thanks, Blind! I'm pleased you like the addition of the new pair. And yes, Alice has a new lease on life. No freezer for her :) . Thanks for leaving a review... much appreciated... cheers... Gary....

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On 4/3/2017 at 6:12 PM, Tazzle001 said:

Love never goes out of style. I'm so happy right now. Thank you 

No it doesn't, Tazzle... not in my world. I'm happy I could make you happy :) . Thanks for leaving a comment/review... hope to see you next Monday... cheers... Gary....

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On 4/3/2017 at 6:36 PM, centexhairysub said:

Connor handled everything, even the issue with the bone shard much better than I can image most would; of course, the mating pull may have helped more than anyone realized.  I think that once Connor accepted that Kellar could heal the ewe, he was better able to accept all the rest of it.  I am sort of surprised that Hugh did not go all wolf and leave at a dead run going after the man that hurt his mate.  Wolves are very protective of their mates.

 

Can't wait for the next chapter, keep up the good work.

I believe you're right, centex. Seeing Kellar do his thing with Alice really helped prepare Connor for his own healing, and thus being able to handle all those revelations. And yes, Connor knew something was very different with him, and that was the mate pull... he had had time to ponder what was going on with him, so he was way more receptive than he might otherwise have been. LOL to Hugh going after the bad cop :) . Thanks for the encouraging words, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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On 4/3/2017 at 6:59 PM, LitLover said:

Connor is an amazing man.  He handled everything thrown at him and came out of with with humour and understanding.  I think the Earth Mother did well with Hugh's mate.  He'll keep the big guy from being so serious about himself.  

 

Like others im worried about what might happen when the ex does try to find Connor.  Having a pissed off cop after you could put the whole pack in danger :/ 

 

I laughed at Kellar's last statement. I think Tobyn might have some 'splainin' to do :P 

 

Thank you for this, Gary. This chapter does a romantic soul good :hug: 

Thanks, Lit. Connor's ability to adapt and accept has a lot to do with what he's gone through in his life. I mean, the man is hiding away from the world, completely alone, disillusioned with life in general. He's ready to be rescued in a way, and Hugh and the mate pull fill the bill. The earth mother has her ways, for sure. Glad I could make you laugh and touch your romantic soul... thanks for an awesome review, my friend... cheers... Gary.... 

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On 4/3/2017 at 9:18 PM, hohochan657 said:

Gary, I love this chapter ! :heart:

Due to the teething problem with the comments page, I haven't commented on the previous 2 chapters (I think I'm right ... hmm).  BUT I've vowed to myself to be quicker this time, and I'll put in my two cents worth ...  Thank you for answering the questions we have about Connor, however, we're all now very anxious about this abusive policeman / bastard / scum of the earth / dickwad / piece of sh-t / filth / vermin ...  How should he be dealt with ?  To be proactive and seek Brian out and then what ?  To sit and wait for him to come looking for Connor and risk the young man's safety and the pack being exposed ?  In the centuries that shifters and humans interacted, how would this kind of conflict be resolved ?  Had there been a risk of discovery by a human, how would a pack react ?  Would that human disappear ? :X

So many more questions dredged up ...

 

I'm with @LitLover , Tobyn would have to explain things that Hugh and he did together to Kellar ... but I'm :rofl: ... Kellar was hilarious at the end of this chapter !

 

What was that about a longerer chapter ?  I've read through this in a split second and I'm craving more ... more ... much more ... :P 

Some people are never satisfied :rolleyes:... no more longerer chapters for you :P . Thanks, hoho, for the kind words. Don't worry too much about Brian, at least for now. Connor has the protection of some big strong wolves :) . You have so many questions... :X is all I can say. I'm pleased I could make you laugh, buddy... I appreciate the review, and as far as I know, any comments will be stored and be accessible at a later date on those later pages. Cheers... Gary....

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On 4/3/2017 at 9:44 PM, spikey582 said:

If they can make hunters disappear, they might have to make a son-of-a-bitch disguised as a cop disappear as well...

 

No, I'm not suggesting murder.  Or am I?  :unsure2:

 

I once again had a feeling that they'd find a way to figure out how to explain it all to Connor.  Again, the healings and their effectiveness certainly paved the way for that explanation, and it helped Connor accept the other seemingly impossible things he was told.  Of course being able to shift on command helps too.  

 

There was so many great lines in this one, Tobyn "my wolf is more cuddly"  Kellar "I'll let you pet me"  Golden! :D 

 

Gary you outdid yourself again with this one.  Thanks as always buddy!

Thanks, spikey! It sure sounds like murder :) , but desperate times and all that.... Yeah, everything led to easing Connor into a startling new reality. And then there's his own inexplicable feelings for Hugh. That certainly helped seal the deal of acceptance. I was quite proud of the man to tell you the truth :yes: . Glad you pointed out some of the lines... I amuse myself sometimes hehe. Much appreciation for the really satisfying review, my friend... cheers... Gary....

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On 4/3/2017 at 10:27 PM, Bucket1 said:

I loved the ending... Tobyn has some explaining to do :)

 

Connor is definitely not a shrinking violet. I wonder if they will return to Morningstar fully bonded, I think it's a real possibility. Unlike the others, I am not worried about his ex, Connor now has the strength to cope with anything and someone to fight for  (after a snuggle tonight).

Isn't it nice to think of them snuggling. Connor has been leading a very lonely life, and Hugh was facing something that could have gone horribly wrong. I'm not too worried about the ex either, B, ;) ... big strong wolves are not to be messed with. You could be right about the bonding. I don't think it will take long at any rate. Connor seems to know what he wants :) . I'm happy you liked the ending... I'm surprised Kellar waited as long as he did he he... thanks, buddy... cheers... Gary....

  • Like 2
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On 4/3/2017 at 10:29 PM, Lux Apollo said:

So much to like about this chapter, but especially so the warmth surrounding it that surpasses the darkness of Connor's past with this bastard Brian. I am sure we will unfortunately be hearing from him at some point before this story is up... I hope Hugh tears him to pieces. There is a lot of bad things that could happen to the community if someone like Brian were to find them harboring Connor, let alone if he discovered some of there secrets... or is a hunter himself, on the side. A corrupt cop seems like a fit for those lunatics. Nice little jab at the end, too. :) 

Thanks, lux. It's been four months, so who knows what Brian is up to. Connor certainly shouldn't consider himself safe, alone at Davidson's farm. I'm so pleased you felt the warmth of this chapter. There was a lot of ground to cover here, and I didn't want to split it up into two separate ones. It appears the ending has gone over well :) . Thanks, buddy, for the kind words... cheers... Gary....

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