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    Yeoldebard
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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Brothers - 43. Chapter 43

JASON

 

Bags settled into the back of the car, and Richard turned to help his son.

“So… it’s like a day of prayer for the dead?” he questioned, adjusting the bags to make room for Jason’s load.

The neko shrugged helplessly, reaching for his phone once his hands were free.

“More of a memorial. I think Dylan might pray to the gods, but that’s more of a personal thing.”

“And you need me to keep Devyn out of your room?” Richard continued. “You realize you’re missing another two days of school, right?”

Jason’s tail twisted in worry, a quiet sigh escaping him as he typed.

“It’s just how things worked out. I’d much rather be in school than helping Erith clean out his basement. And I’m expected to miss school tomorrow anyway.”

“You wouldn’t be missing school today if-”

Jason held up a hand, cutting Richard off.

“If I’d let Margaret walk all over me? If I’d let her think she could get away with whatever she wanted?”

The flat words coming from the phone did little to show his stress, his rage at the whole situation. He slipped his phone back into his pocket in disgust, and walked around to the passenger side.

“Oh no you don’t,” Richard said, following the neko. “Driver seat. The park is clear, and it’s time you got behind the wheel to practice.”

The neko’s ears flattened instantly, his fur spiking out. Wide eyes stared at the offered keys, and Jason fought to control his breathing.

“You’ll never defeat your demons if you don’t fight,” Richard said, pushing the keys into Jason’s hand.

Stepping around the car on shaky legs, Jason opened the door and dropped into the driver’s seat. His gut twisted as he sat behind the wheel, his eyes craning to see out over the dashboard. There was no way he could do this… he was going to kill them both…

“Relax Jason. We can take as long as you need,” Richard said reassuringly. “Just sit for a minute, and when you’re ready, start the car.”

The neko swallowed drily, forcing his hand to hold still. Slowly, he let out his breath, and slid the key into the ignition.

“Turn clockwise to start…”

His hand twisted, and Jason jumped as the engine turned over. Rumbling to life, the car vibrated under him, and the neko bit back a silent whimper. He could do this…

“Feir te lenarl nellauvor thelil-”

Jason’s hand slapped the radio frantically, shutting it off as a wordless cry escaped his throat. That song…

“Fuck, I haven’t heard that song since I was dating Margaret,” Richard chuckled quietly.

The neko trembled silently, not daring to touch the wheel, trying desperately to breathe.

“Jason, breathe. You’re okay. We aren’t even moving yet,” Richard soothed. “There’s no one around us. We’re safe.”

The neko gulped, nodding quickly as his eyes flicked around the car. A hand grasped his right hand gently, setting it on the shift.

“When you’re ready, pull the shift back into drive and gently press the thin pedal.”

Another nod, but Jason made no move to do either. The car idled in silence as the neko worked up the courage to move. Through it all, Richard sat patiently, waiting for him to get past his fears.

“Would it help if Devyn was here?”

Jason nodded again.

“Okay, go ahead and shut off the car. We’ll try again when I can get you together,” Richard said, stepping out of the car.

Jason’s hand fumbled for the key. He nearly fell out of the car, his legs trembling as he walked back around to the passenger side of the car.

“I’m proud of you for facing a fear Jason,” Richard smiled.

The neko opened the door, flinching as an arm suddenly wrapped around him. He was pulled into a hug, his mind taking a moment to process the fact that Richard was hugging him.

“I’m serious Jason. I am really proud of you,” the man said gently. “For everything you’ve done.”

Jason nodded against Richard’s chest, tears welling in his eyes as he slowly came down from the near panic attack. Wrapping his own arms around Richard, the neko clung to his father, trembling from the emotions that tore through him.

“I never really got to mention it, but I heard about the CeCe’s,” Richard continued. “I honestly couldn’t imagine what I would have done in that situation.”

Jason shrugged helplessly. He’d just reacted to the fire, it wasn’t like he’d put himself in any more danger. It wasn’t as big of a deal as people were making it, and he was certain he never wanted to go through it again.

A minute passed before he finally pulled away. An arm wiped over his eyes tiredly, and he reached for the door again.

“Feeling better?” Richard asked.

The neko nodded, and Richard smiled.

“Good. Let’s get these groceries home so you can help your friend.”

 

DEVYN

 

The wolf shook out his hand, a soft whimper in his throat. Sign language was so hard to learn. His paws were never meant to move like this. It was only the thought of Jason that kept him in the class; that urge to one day be able to speak his brother’s language.

Reaching for his cane, Devyn pulled himself to his feet, limping after the last of the other students. Erith had been missing, and the wolf wondered if that had something to do with Jason staying home. He had to bite back another growl. Erith had promised he didn’t actually feel anything for Jason, and Devyn couldn’t just go after the other werewolf because he was scared Erith might try to take Jason away. That would only make Jason angry.

It took a while for him to reach the psychology room, one of his more important classes. There was no way Devyn could continue working at the job Dr. Marin had found him if he didn’t pass this class. And with Jason gone, Devyn tried to work his brain into something resembling human thought. He needed notes.

The werewolf’s computer started up slowly, as Halor began talking about someone called the Neko Medic. It was some elf from the Neko Rebellion, whenever that had been. He had cut up several Niwo nekos, trying to determine the easiest way to kill them, and Halor went into detail about the limbic system in the Neko Medic’s brain being stunted.

“Devyn, if you will, please describe what effects a stunted limbic would have on a person’s behaviour,” Halor asked suddenly.

The werewolf’s head shot up from his computer, fingers still plodding over a sentence from nearly two minutes ago. He could barely remember what he was writing… what was a limbic? Wasn’t that the things that had blackened in Jason’s armpits?

“I don’t know…” he growled in frustration. “What is that?”

“The limbic system,” Halor repeated. “It is responsible for the control of emotions in a person. In elves, it is generally more developed.”

Devyn had no idea what any of this had to do with actual psychology. Maybe he just wasn’t understanding it, but everything Halor talked about seemed more physical than psychological. It would be just his luck to have stayed in the wrong class for two weeks.

“Devyn?”

The wolf startled, eyes staring at Halor’s mouth as the elf talked. Had he been silent for too long?

“I don’t know,” he repeated, looking back at his laptop.

Incomplete notes were splayed across the screen, something about Sarelin… the Neko Rebellion… why were those in his psychology notes? His eyes flicked toward the document title. These were his psychology notes, not the history notes from last year. That was good; Devyn doubted he could figure out which notes went where at this point.

By the time class ended, he was thoroughly confused. None of the wolf’s notes made sense, and he decided he would have to compare them to Jason’s that night. Hurrying toward the door as the room cleared, Devyn frowned as he found his way blocked by Halor.

“Devyn, I’m not sure this is the right class for you,” the elf started gently. “You seem lost whenever you come in here, and I don’t think you have enough of a grasp on basic biology to even begin working on the brain.”

“Why do I need that?”

The wolf frowned at the scent of food wafting through the halls. He was missing lunch already, for a conversation he didn’t want to have anyway. It was like piling insults on top of injury, or whatever the two legged saying was.

“Look, I know you want to become a therapist. You don’t need this class for that. There’s a different psychology class you can take, one that’s more focused on the mind than the actual brain. It might be easier for you,” Halor said. “Think about it, okay? There aren’t many people in the third period class from what I’ve heard; I’m sure we could transfer you easily.”

“I’ll ask Jason,” Devyn frowned.

“Your brother should not affect your choice. He cannot take the class for you.”

Devyn let out a quiet huff, before pushing past Halor and into the hall. He limped away quickly, chasing his lunch as the classroom door closed behind him.

In the cafeteria, the wolf collected his food, a copper passing from his bag to the human serving lunch. Gripping his tray, Devyn tried to balance it in his hand, his cane barely supporting him as he limped toward a table. It was always a precarious manoeuvre; if anyone so much as bumped into him, the werewolf would be knocked to the ground.

Dylan carefully lowered Devyn’s hands to their table, supporting his friend while avoiding the wolf’s food. Devyn let the tray slide onto the table, before dropping into his seat, across from Connor and Brienne.

“No Jason today?” Connor asked.

“Helping Erith,” Devyn grunted, his mouth already filled with a sandwich.

“It’s good to see you back to normal Dev,” the man smirked.

“What normal?” Brienne scoffed. “I don’t know why they don’t just let him be himself. You can learn just fine in your wolf form, can’t you?”

Devyn shrugged as he inhaled the last of his food. Staring down at the empty tray, the werewolf’s stomach grumbled.

“I heard Connor might join your team soon,” Brienne added.

“Fuck off Brienne, I am not becoming a wolf.”

“Whatever. So, did Jason really quit us for an elf?” Brienne asked, leaning forward.

“No!” Devyn snapped. “Erith is not Jason-”

“Not interested in Jason,” Dylan interrupted quickly. “I think he just wanted to help Jason with his project on elven thought processes around cultural rituals.”

“Are you sure? They’ve seemed rather close the last few days,” Connor pointed out.

“Seriously, you think an elf would want to go out with a neko right now? Or that a neko would go out with an elf?” Dylan scoffed.

“He’s got a point,” Brienne shrugged. “So… Jason’s going to the dance with Devyn, right? How’s that even going to work? I mean, you can’t go in wolf form.”

“Such a shame too. I love watching dancing wolves. They get that wolfy four step going…” Connor grinned

Devyn grunted, grabbing onto his cane. He pulled himself to his feet, and limped to return his tray. Dylan followed him closely.

“I’m going to shift,” Devyn said. “Gym is next period.”

“Can you even get into the locker room right now?”

Devyn shrugged, turning toward the exit anyway.

“Okay, well I’ll see you in Jasper’s class. I heard we’re moving on to Western Neko foods,” Dylan said.

“But Jason is from Sarelin…” Devyn muttered.

His cane tapped through the halls, weaving around other students as they blocked the path to the locker rooms. Devyn gritted his teeth at yet another detour around a throng of people chatting in the middle of the hall, but he ignored them in favour of pushing at the locker room door.

A scent of terror hit his nose as the locked door rattled, a familiar terror…

“Blake?” the wolf called, almost certain that was the source of the smell.

A moment later, the door opened, a shirtless Blake standing small on the other side. Devyn pushed through the opening, closing the door behind him with a click.

“What are you doing in here?”

“Dr. Marin said I should try shifting now that the new moon is over. But he told me I should shift when no one else was around…”

“Oh. Is it working?”

Blake nodded quickly, scurrying back to his locker. He finished undressing before dropping on all fours. A harsh growl escaped his throat, the human’s body trembling with effort. A few seconds passed, and he let out a grumble, sitting against the locker.

“It was working before you came in,” he pouted.

Devyn stopped by the locker, pulling off his clothes before stuffing them into the metal box. Leaning his cane against the lockers, the wolf dropped onto his own hands and knees.

“Deep breaths,” he muttered. “You are not human.”

Blake scrambled to copy the wolf, his body held tense.

“No, you’re forcing it. Why do you need to force what is natural?” Devyn frowned. “Just relax, feel the cement floor under your footpads. Your fur protects you from the cold, your nose brings all the smells you need to tell you what you’re seeing.”

Blake sat back on his haunches, frowning in concentration.

“Deep breath. In, and out, and then let your wild side take over. You are not Blake the human, Blake the weak pale creature. You are powerful. Now let me hear your wolf.”

The human took a deep breath, then let out a snarl that could have rivalled one of Devyn’s own. Pain, rage, anger all infused in the growl, black fur rippling as it sprouted from the small werewolf. Devyn’s body twisted beside his, the red wolf taking his place beside Blake with his own growl.

 

JASON

 

Small nuts clattered into a bowl. Jason’s arms burned with effort as he fought with the bolts holding the bed cage together. Nearly everything in the basement had already been carried out by the neko. Erith had gone missing, not that Jason blamed him. He didn’t want to be down here as it was. For Erith, Jason was certain it was so much worse, even to just see what had been kept in the dark.

His phone buzzed in his pocket, and Jason let out a silent curse as his elbow banged against the metal of the cage. Fishing the phone out, the neko blinked at Quarian’s number splayed across the screen.

Do you need a ride to the library?

No, not coming in until Ferya.

Understood. I’ll let Queen Amber know.

Jason shivered at the last message, wondering if it was meant as a promise or a threat. It wasn’t like he wasn’t working on the queen’s project; he just had things he needed to take care of. And surely the queen didn’t expect him to be in public during the Silence. She’d been raised by a neko, she should know the day was spent in seclusion.

Turning back to the task at hand, the neko renewed his fight with the last bolt, a silent yelp escaping him as the entire frame collapsed suddenly. Stumbling back as his ears rang, Jason scowled at the pile of metal grates. He slid the wrench against the bolt again, using a leg to hold the pile in place until the metal finally gave.

A triumphant crow made no sound, the clatter of one last nut ringing through the basement as Jason picked himself up. The neko hoisted a pair of grates onto his back, and started up the stairs, gripping the bannister the entire way. Carrying his burden out to the front yard, Jason tossed the grates into a dumpster, watching as Erith helped hook a junked car onto the back of a truck.

The entire yard looked barren, a small improvement over the rusted cars that had littered the front of the house only that morning. Erith jumped off the truck, retreating to a safe distance as the truck dragged the last car away.

“Almost done?” the elf asked. “Devyn’s dad said he’d be back at five thirty, right?”

‘Yes. I just have to get the last pieces of the crate out, then I can sweep and disinfect the place. Are you positive you don’t want me setting it on fire?’

Erith let out a strained chuckle.

“Positive. The basement is bad, but not ‘I’d rather be homeless’ bad.”

‘Here’s hoping you can actually use it once it’s clean,’ Jason signed, before heading back inside.

Another trip down and up the stairs left the basement empty, and Jason headed back down with a broom. He would have to thank Erith. Forcing the neko to use the stairs repeatedly was wearing through Jason’s fear. He still felt that sense of panic when going down the stairs, but it was much more manageable now.

A honk outside the small basement window caught his attention as he finished mopping. The burning scent of disinfectant filled the basement, even with the window open and a fan blowing at full speed, but the neko had done his job. Even better, he had finished just in time.

Glancing out the window, Jason caught sight of Richard’s car. He grabbed the bucket of dirty mop water, and lifted it upstairs, feeling the burn in his arms at the weight. Carrying the bucket outside, the neko started pouring it out away from the house.

“No!”

Jason jumped nearly a foot in the air at Erith’s yell, water sloshing all over him. The elf raced up to him, grabbing the bucket out of the neko’s hands.

“Fuck, I was going to plant a tree there!” Erith snapped. “Just toss it in the bathtub; the drain will be fine.”

A silent sigh escaped the neko, and he raised a hand, waving toward the car. Vanishing back into the house, Jason carried the half full bucket to the bathroom. It took only a minute to dump the water out and rinse the bucket.

Returning the bucket to a closet, Jason hurried back outside, waving to Erith as he made his way to the car. The elf was busy sprinkling a bottle of vinegar over the bleached dirt, and Jason shook his head in wonder, sliding into the car.

“I hope you got everything settled properly?” Richard said.

Jason nodded as he pulled his belt over his shoulder. Taking a deep breath, the neko grabbed the door handle as the car started moving.

“Great,” his father smiled. “We’ll get Devyn, and then I think we should head out to a nice neko place for dinner.”

The neko’s stomach rumbled in agreement. He’d be eating a lot tonight. Tomorrow, he would fast. But tonight, Jason wanted to feel full.

Copyright © 2020 Yeoldebard; 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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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It was gratifying to see Jason face his fears.  An unexpected result of helping Erith was Jason feeling more comfortable navigating stairs.  I hope that Erith is or will get help for his problems.  I saw no evidence of an adult in his life, so would like to know more of his story.  He seems both sweet and conflicted.

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