Corny title, but can't think of a better one yet. This will probably be a one-shot at the moment. This idea struck me and I just had to write it down. Taking a break from BSNS and flexing some writing muscle. This would be my most mature and dark fic I have ever written, hence, my first ever "T" rated fic. Please note the rating. There are NO er hum, scenes or anything like that, more of implied stuff, but better to have higher rating as a precaution.
You have been warned.
Arram IS Numair. Only people that are very close to Numair calls him his birth name - Arram, otherwise, everyone calls him Numair. Characters are all OOC!
The most mournful pair of hazel eyes gazed at me.
I couldn't resist and reached out to stroke his warm, lean body. His black hair was silky smooth and flowed easily through my finger tips. I gently smoothed away the hair from an ugly looking wound on his head.
"Amazing! Simply amazing!" Mrs. Evans gasped. "My poor baby was all fretful and worked up! Biting and growling! But he's putty in your hands."
I gave my best professional smile at Mrs. Evans, "Let's just say I have a knack with animals. The wound looks not too bad, but it will need a few stitches. I will cut some of his hair away from the wound so that I can properly attend to it."
Mrs. Evans nodded eagerly, and reached out her hand to soothingly pat her dog's leg. I could feel his muscles tense and a growl was beginning to form in his throat. I quickly warned him to behave and he immediately forced himself to endure his owner's affections. It would not do if Mrs. Evans, one of our regular clients, starts to resent me for having a stronger bond with her pet than her. Not that it hasn't happened before. Women can be such possessive creatures at times.
But it does help that I have an ability to communicate with animals… Oops. I didn't mention that?
Ah well, pesky little details. Nothing useful really, except in my line of work. I could talk with them, sometimes even impose my will on them to get them to behave. Rather useful that bit. Prevents me from getting scratched or bitten like my other colleagues at the Vets Inc.
I rather have telekinesis really. Then at least I would never have to reach for the television remote again.
Other powers, that are not so useful in modern day, is my ability to shape shift. No, I am not a lycanthrope. I don't turn into an animal under the full moon. I'm not infectious and I won't bite. Meow… Only if curiosity strikes me or when I'm bored do I practice this ability. Oh come on, in the city, how many animals are even seen in the first place? Let alone wild ones. I am not going to suffer the indignity of pretending to wear a collar and accidentally have some kind human pick me up and try to find my real owner. Even worse if I get caught by the city pound and get put down if nobody wants me. I don't particularly fancy letting people know of my abilities and then being examined and hailed as some medical wonder. Or even worse. Freak. I have learnt my lesson when I was younger and more naïve. Thank you very much.
I also have the ability to heal animals. I know. You must be thinking why on earth is this power not useful in my line of business. I am in the business of healing animals, BUT the normal way. Right now, with hazel-eyed boy here, I can easily heal his wound in a pinch. However, it's not worth risking the exposure and it's not like the wound can't naturally heal. BUT! If and only if, there is a serious injury and I know that I can bluff my way through it quite easily, I will use my powers to heal the animal. Like just the other month. When the INCIDENT happened, there was an injured animal that was knocked down by a car. The he-who-shall-not-be-named "owner" brought the animal to my clinic late at night. The internal injuries were extensive and could not be detected without an X-ray or in my case, magical vision. So I shooed the "owner" out on the pretext of doing an X-ray, you know, radiation and all that jazz. Healed the animal just enough for him to recover, but not enough to make it unfit for action in the next few days.
If only I had been more careful.
If only I had noticed the spark that sizzled between us when I had accidentally brushed his fingers to examine his "pet". If only I had looked more carefully into those dark eyes and fathomed his ulterior motives. To see that burning need and barely hidden hunger.
No use crying over spilt milk and Miri was beginning to notice that I was acting a bit weird lately. Being a good girl pal, she's going to bring me out tonight clubbing, drunk enough to get a headache in the morning and force some poor hapless guy on me. It's only because she's my friend that she can do that to me unscathed. If it's any other relative at some family gathering, grr…. I am going to show this kitten can bite.
I know that I am not exactly some pin-up girl, but I've got a decent body and ain't afraid to show it off. Within certain limits of course. Looking slutty is a huge no no for me. Hence, I was decked out in a deep blue spaghetti strap top with silver ethnic designs embroidered on it. It ended above my mid-riff and displayed my toned stomach to its best advantage. I rather liked the straps, they were thick enough to allow me to wear a normal bra without flashing the bra straps. There's nothing like comfort. Low black jeans with heels completed the ensemble, with a shimmery blue sash through my belt loops on my jeans. I am not into wearing skirts when I go clubbing, some stupid males, especially of the drunk variety just think that skirts permission peeping up or coping a feel.
Thank goodness I have a black belt in Taekwando and can do some serious ass-kicking if required.
I carefully applied a bit of makeup on my face. I am a strong believer in just accenting one feature. Too much and I start to feel like a clown. Hence, mascara and eye liner for my big blue-grey eyes and their, what I like to think as, extravagantly long eyelashes. Lip gloss for my soft lips. I brushed my shiny wavy hair. People have complimented at as smoky-coloured. It had various shades of brown. It's natural. I swear. No colouring. Just the sun and good genes, supposedly, as my mother told me. I purposely let my hair grow long although it had a tendency to have a mind of its own, with bush-like qualities in dry climates. This is to minimize the effect of my stubborn chin. Yup, you heard me right. My stubborn chin. Every girl has a certain thing about herself she doesn't like, and mine is my stubborn chin. Stubborn chin looks good on guys, but stubborn chins just look… stubborn… on girls.
The door bell rang, Miri, unusually punctual, to make sure I don't squirrel off and hide somewhere. I don't know why when it comes to her schemes for matchmaking, she's unusually early. But when it comes to normal outings, she's always late. Usually distracted by some weird thing or another. However, she is a true and fiercely loyal friend. The sort who will stand up to the school bully for you. Loyalty and faithfulness scores extremely high points in my book. Especially after my naïve period in my younger days when I had "friends" ostracizing me once they had suspicions about my abilities.
But, I had the last laugh. I'm a big-shot vet in the city, while they are still stuck clinging to old memories of past triumphs while doing menial jobs. Bitching and backstabbing, as it turns out, takes up a lot of time.
It's never good not to study for exams.
Miri was ambitious tonight. We were queuing outside an exclusive, posh nightclub where only celebrities, the rich, hip and beautiful could go in. One of the most popular nightspots in the city. That means, we are forced to wait out here like some horses on display (no offence meant to horses) to see if we pass the inspection of the door bitch. Sigh… I hate this. This is soooo high school. It's like the social strata system all over again. I feel like a complete wannabe standing here, just waiting to be "accepted" into the fold.
Friendship sucks sometimes.
But I had promised Miri that I would at least give it some time and if we don't get in by a certain time, she will treat me to dinner. Her strategy was that it was time to go hunting on more prime hunting grounds. But seriously, I don't know how she expects me to meet a decent guy in a club. They tend to be noisy, smoky and unless you're telepathic, you can't really expect a decent conversation.
Suddenly, I felt like someone or something was watching me. A chill went down my spine and adrenaline raced through my body. I looked around, but could not see anything out of the ordinary. From the corner of my eye, I saw a movement at the window of the building the club was in. But when I turned to look, there was nothing, but the silent swinging of the drapes.
I am not this jumpy, but who could blame me after that INCIDENT?
Terribly cliché, but it was a dark stormy night. Vets Inc is a twenty-four hour clinic cum hospital. One of the main reasons why we have such a big base of clients. If you haven't noticed, when it concerns health matters, people tend to stick to the same place unless the place really gives bad service or becomes outrageously expensive. Same applies to their precious animals. We attract a lot of new clients after traditional opening hours, so we vets at Vets Inc have a rotation system of taking the twilight shifts.
Normally during these twilight shifts, from 12-7am, we have one receptionist who also doubles up as a helper if needed. One vet on duty and another vet on call. A security guard and a few mean fierce dogs as protection. These dogs were actually abandoned by their previous owners at our clinic, but I persuaded our Boss to keep them as guard dogs rather than to dump them at the animal shelter where they will likely to be put down. It worked. There were no more attempted robberies, vandalisms or petty thefts by some stupid teenagers on a high. Turned out that the immediate threat of getting bitten by a dog was scarier than the sanction of the law. People are just so strange sometimes. Or the legal penalties are just too light. Perhaps more for the frolicking students, where sometimes cops shrug and go, boys will be boys with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Anyway, this man comes in with his "pet" dog in his arms, stating that his pet had run into an accident. Our receptionist, Ginny, had quickly ushered him into the treatment room where I had been guiltily watching "Desperate Housewives".
I had sprung into action and hardly spared a look for the man. I made a big show of examining the dog, but discreetly using my magical vision to sense the full extent of its injuries. It was not good. Treating animals that had run into accidents during the twilight shift is the norm. After all, animals would only be rushed to the clinic if there was some dire emergency that could not wait until morning.
My mind was focused on the dying animal when my fingers brushed against the owner. I swear there was this spark. I put it down as static and I looked up at the owner. I looked at him. I really looked at him. He looked like he belonged on the cover of GQ and was probably the object of women's fantasies. He was tall, well-built with a rugged look. His black hair was rakishly longer than an average man's and his dark eyes seemed far older and knowledgeable than his age suggests.
His eyes easily captured mine and there seemed to be this strumming energy between us. I was disturbed that his eyes looked at me hungrily. The dog whined. 'Right Daine', I thought. 'get a grip!'
I parted my lips and said, "Mr…"
"Just called me Arram," his deep voice said, it felt like velvet stroking down my back. He should seriously work at those chat line companies. Damn the man. Couldn't he have a squeaky voice? At least then I wouldn't feel so embarrassed to be distracted from his pet. Be professional Daine, professional!
I spoke in my best professional voice, trying to mask the unexpected stirring of interest he had ignited in me. "Arram, your dog has to undergo some X-rays for me to better determine the extent of his injuries. Please step outside for a moment as it is unhealthy to be exposed to the radiation."
"Yes… Veralidaine," he said, his voice savouring my name. His eyes now looked pleased, like he had found something he wanted. I blinked, a bit surprised that he knew my name. Perhaps the receptionist had told him on his way in. He stepped out and I went to work.
I healed the dog was healed enough such that all he required were several stitches and a cast for his leg. The strange thing about the dog was that it had a weird aura, but yet, strangely familiar in some way. I put it down to perhaps, trauma, but still, this was the first time I had encountered such a weird aura. At least physically, the dog seemed normal enough. I stared at the dog.
Suddenly, something dropped behind me. I spun on my heel and lost my balance. Strong arms caught me and held me close to a lean muscled body. Arram's right arm was around my waist, while the other was on my back, his hand getting rubbing my shoulder blades. I know I should move. Very rude to be in a client's arms. But it just felt so right.
With my head against his chest, I could hear his voice as he spoke, "Are you alright my love?"
I nodded, my cheek rubbing against his shirt.
He nuzzled me and I hear him growl very faintly, but yet, all so possessively, "My life mate."
That galvanized me into action. I moved back and blabbered, "Thank you for catching me. Must have been a temporary loss of blood to the head you know, after bending down over your pet for such a long period of time."
I gave him a quick smile and walked around the treatment table. Distance is good. Very good. Mustn't scare the clients by jumping on them although they look oh-so delicious.
He folded his arms and looked satisfied, like the cat that had caught a dozen canaries and eaten them. He gave me a dark smile and said, "You shouldn't try to fight your attraction for me, my love. We were meant to be together since the day we were born."
I stared at him. Wondering if he was trying to pull the weirdest pick up line or he was just plain psychotic.
Within a blink of the eye, he was next to me again, and cupped my chin, his thumb gently stroking my cheek. "Your eyes are truly expressive and your power…" he said, his voice creeping around me like a velvet blanket. "…has such potential… Oh yes, the magical world will bow to you as my queen."
Psychotic. That's the answer. He's definitely psychotic.
I opened my mouth, about to tell him off when he gently laid a finger against it. "Hush," he said soothingly. "I will give you time to accept your destiny." He leaned and nibbled my neck. "But make no mistake, I will come back for you."
He suddenly disappeared along with his dog. The only sign of his presence was the tingling all over my body. It was like my body and heart knew him. But my mind refused to believe what had happened.
I went to check with the receptionist and the security guard. Yes, they had remembered seeing such a man coming in. No, they did not see him leave, but perhaps he left when they were not looking? I did not press the matter. Not good to appear psychotic in front of the colleagues.
"Daine," Miri shrieked. "We're going in!"
I blinked, shaken out of my reverie. I looked up to see the door bitch nod her head deeply to me. "Ladies, this way please."
Before I could contemplate on our sudden fortune, Miri grabbed my arm and dragged me in excitedly into the club.
It was a posh place, and artfully decorated. It was not smoky, thank goodness for that! I am not a fan of second hand smoke, which was why I only went clubbing on special occasions. In other words, when Miri dragged me.
To my surprise, we were led to one of the empty VIP booths. The door bitch respectfully gestured for us to sit and said, "If there is anything you want, please do not hesitate to tell any member of our staff. Cost is of no concern to us." An eager waitress efficiently ushered us into the plush couch.
"But we didn't-" I started to say before Miri yanked me onto the couch with her.
"Thank you," Miri practically sang to them. "We'll let you know if we need anything!" They silently left, but the attentive waitress hovered politely away. Within sight, but not hearing distance.
"Miri!" I exclaimed quietly. "What just happened? We can't afford this. I thought just breathing in a VIP booth cost at least three figures. Unless you just had a massive pay raise, we better change seats."
"Relax," Miri said, "Didn't you hear them when we were outside? They said that we were special guests. Must be those schemes where if VIP booths are not filled, they just pick a few lucky individuals to use them for free, so we can get oh so excited and tell everyone how good it was. Also acts as motivation for us to stay out there in hope for freebies."
"Uh huh," I said and sighed.
Miri grabbed one of my hands with both her hands and shook it excitedly. "Come on come on come on! It's time to hunt for some real men." She waved at the waitress and ordered some drinks. "My treat!"
No matter how scatterbrained Miri might appear at times, she knows me pretty well. She sneakily had me down a couple of shots before dragging me to the dance floor. I am living proof that drinking does affect one's mental capacity and inhibitions.
I was dancing by myself on the floor, and was joined by this good looking guy. I must admit, the standard of guys here are definitely higher. At least it provided some eye candy. He moved a bit closer to me and put his hand on my waist. I was about to move backwards when I saw HIM.
There was no mistaking Arram. He was dashingly dressed in a blue shirt and dark jeans. His eyes looked straight at me. The effect was like a punch through my heart and libido. I dragged my eyes away.
Must not encourage this psycho stalker. No no. It wouldn't do.
Hence, I forced myself to tolerate my dancing partner's attentions. In fact, I moved closer and placed one of my hands on his shoulder and the other on his waist. I tried to look like I was very into him and the dancing. Hoping that Arram would get the hint and go away.
Far, far away.
My thoughts were suddenly distracted by my dancing partner's increasingly bold actions. One of his hands was resting on the small of my back and the other was slowly moving downwards. He was beginning to pull me closer to him
That's it. I had enough.
I was about to move away when strong arms suddenly slid around my waist and jerked me backwards.
"Back off," a voice growled menacingly.
Arram must have looked scary because my dancing partner blanched and held out his hands. "I'm sorry Master Salmalin, I didn't know she was yours. Honestly, she had no markings and her aura was just so…"
"Scram!" Numair barked, interrupting his speech. The dancing partner quickly complied with joyful obedience.
I slammed my elbows backwards into Arram's ribs and he released me. I was about to stalk off the dance floor when he caught my arm and firmly pulled me into his arms. This was getting a bit de ja vu.
"What do you want?" I growled. "It's against the law to stalk people."
His dark eyes glittered at me possessively. "You're mine."
"Get a grip," I snapped and turned my head away, since I was unable to move my body away from his. "You hardly know me."
His hand turned my face back to him, but he softened his actions, by gently running his thumb over my cheekbones. "Ah my love, but our souls have known each other since the beginning of time. No matter how much you or I may fight it, we belong to each other." I shivered at his voice that seemed to stroke my heart and all other sensitive places.
I was about to open my mouth to protest when he took the opportunity to lean in and kiss me hungrily. He was very thorough and I was feeling a little more than hot and bothered and when he pulled back and whispered into my ear, "I am the last and ONLY man who is allowed to kiss you, nibble you" he obligingly nibbled my ear when he said this, "and touch you." At this point, I realized to my pleasant surprise that his other hand that was not holding my face was at somewhere else more pleasurable.
Then he growled, "Nobody can do that to you but me."
It scared me how much I wanted to believe his words and jump his bones. But I was not the kind of girl who jumped into relationships. Definitely not a girl who does one-night stands. I kicked his shin and tore myself away from him.
"Get away from me," I hissed and quickly walked off the dance floor. I found Miri chatting up with someone at the booth. I recognized him as Evin, this colleague that Miri's long quiet unrequited love. I knew that she was really into him for the pure fact that she did not go into her usual mode of charging after him like a prized bull. Instead, she held back and was unusually shy and awkward around him.
Miri waved at me, she looked happy and I knew that I could not pull her away from finally making a decent conversation with Evin. I fixed a smile on my face and said, "Hi Miri! Hi Evin!"
"Hello!" Evin greeted cheerfully. We had met at various occasions before this and he had adopted me like some older brother.
"Oooh!" Miri chirped. "This place is really happening! There's Numair Salmalin! The rich hunky entrepreneur who owns Salmalin Corp."
I turned to see, to my greatest dread, Arram, or should I say Numair Salmalin, one of the richest people in the country, moving towards me. An idea struck me and I asked, "Does Numair have any controlling interest in this club?"
"He actually owns this club," Evin replied. "He owns a whole chain of clubs, hotels and restaurants. I think it was his way of diversifying his risks."
"Great…" I said, suddenly the VIP treatment made sense. "I better go, the clinic just called and needed extra help."
"Oh dear," Miri said and begun to rise.
I flapped my hand at her, "No need, I will just take a cab down. I'm sure Evin will bring you back home safely or I will so kick his ass!"
Miri blushed, but this was missed by Evin who said, "Sure, no problem Daine." I quickly made my way towards the exit.
Me scared of Numair? You bet. I knew a formidable enemy when I saw one. My mother didn't raise a stupid girl.
The greatest irony was that when I had hopped into the taxi, Ouna had called. She was a senior colleague of mine and she needed help at the clinic because of unexpected influx of clients.
Luckily, I had a spare change of clothes at the clinic and went straight there. There's nothing like working to put my mind off… other things…
The receptionist just raised her eyebrows and a client had wolf whistled when I walked into the clinic. Yup, helping to break the stereotype of vets everywhere. No, we don't look like grandparents and we actually have a social life that doesn't involve an animal crusade or some jungle expedition. Don't ask me why. But clients seem to think that outside working hours, vets go about championing the rights of animals everywhere, and rescuing lost animals in the wild. Sure, I do that occasionally. But seriously, we need a break from treating animals all day. Just like you don't expect a secretary to spend her leisure time typing letters for fun. We'll just go nuts.
I was washing up after my last patient when I turned to see THE dog that had accompanied Arram on his last visit here. I stifled a gasp. It looked at me soulfully and whined, putting its head down between its paws.
Anger Daine. Remember, you're an innocent party here. Anger is better than fear. I put my hands on my hips and said dryly, "Stop acting so innocent. Your aura is just plain weird."
To my shock, the dog raised its head, blinked at me and transformed into a human being. "Is this better?" it asked. I say it because although it looked human, it seemed to have this faint quality of out-worldliness. Perhaps it was in its sharp cheek bones or tilt of its eyes. The unknown intelligence in its amber eyes. It was a tall slender man, but shorter than Arram. All bones and angles, yet looked perfectly comfortable with itself.
"What are you" I asked, cutting to the chase.
It seemed to laugh, a weird hissing kind of way. "I should have expected this from my Master's life mate," it said carefully, pronouncing each word. Perhaps he would start slurring his words if he did not?
I folded my arms and leaned against the wall.
It smiled at me, trying to be reassuring I guess. "Stop grinning at me and tell me what you want and what the hell is going on?" I demanded.
It frowned carefully to itself and seemed to ponder out loud, "I thought humans were supposed to relax with smiles. It's a friendly expression… or am I supposed to laugh..."
"Not if a dog just turned into a man in front of them," I interrupted.
"Ah yess…" it seemed happy with the answer. "Curiousss creatures you are. Yesss. Love watching fantasy and horror movies, yet have such utter stubbornness to believe what is in front of their eyes…"
"Besides, laughing at this junction will just make you plain psychotic," I quickly said, having a feeling that it could happily talk about human beings and their curiousss behaviour all night.
"I am a Familiar," it said. Yes! Finally, it's getting down to business. "Shush!" it commanded, before I could open my mouth. "Let me speak. I say finish. Then you speak. If not, we can spend many moons and suns just stuck in this shelter."
Fine. Explanations were good. I can deal with not speaking for a while.
"You see," it said. "Master sent me here to make sure you went home safe. You no markings. Dangerous temptation to other Mages. Now. I thought I better speak to you. You confused. Like prey. Will run. Run into other hunters if not careful."
It shifted its weight slightly and continued, "There is a, what you human beings may call - a Magic Realm. There, people with varying magical powers live. There are different titles according to their different magical strength, from wizards, magicians, etc. The most powerful are mages. It is a peculiar human behaviour that men are never satisfied at sharing a title with each other. To be best means there must be only a few, if not one. Thus, even within Mages, there is a hierarchy of names. One publicly becomes a Mage when he captures a Familiar. A Familiar can be any creature. Of course, the more powerful the creature, the greater esteem the magical community will regard the Mage. Familiars are basically creatures that are bound to the Mage to do his bidding and Mages can sometimes even draw power on their Familiars. Depending of course, on what kind of creature it is. I, as you can see, is a familiar to Master Salmalin."
It tilted its head, "This dimension that you live in was created as a place of exile. People with no magic were ostracized. Hence, thanks to the kindness of the Council of Elder Mages led by Lindhall, this dimension was created for these non-magic people. They lived happily here, bred and soon forgot their homeland. But remnants of their legacy remain, resulting in a handful of people with magical abilities from generation to generation. Occasionally, a few magical creatures and beings would escape here. Anyway… I digress.
Mages, like my Master, are immortal. They live practically forever if they are not fatally injured. They have mates… it is more than what you human beings call… spouse? Yes, that's the word. Spouse. Husband. Wife. Mates are bound to each other through certain steps and rituals. Markings will appear. To warn off any potential love rivals. Because of these bindings, mates help make mages stronger. They can combine their energies even. If they choose to, mates can undo their mating. A bit like what you call as divorce in your world.
But, there is one kind of mate that is permanent and the most highly prized. Life Mates. These are essentially, what you humans like to think as soul mates. Not only by their mere bonding that they are able to exponentially increase the Mages' powers, but they are also their weakness. They can be used to control the Mage if they are not careful…"
"Wait!" I yelped, suddenly remembering what Arram had called me when I first met him. "How do you tell who is your life mate?"
It placed its hand over its heart, "By your souls calling for each other."
I laughed incredulously, "Uh huh… So it's not a fool proof way. Look. Go back to your master and just tell him he made a mistake. I'm some spawn from the rejects of your oh-so exalted Magical Realm and all. So I'm sure he will have his pick of whatever pretty Mages back home."
I started to make my way towards the door. It just followed me with its gaze. "You sound… dejected… if that is the word for it… putting yourself down… lonely…"
If looks could kill, our dear friend here would be six feet buried. I rolled my eyes, "Whatever." And opened the door.
It looked at me curiously, like I was some oddity it could not explain. "You don't need to feel lonely. You have my Master. Life Mate. You will never be lonely again for the rest of your life…. You feel not worthy enough?"
"Not-" I took a deep breath, "Look, I have gone through many things and finally, I am happy with my life. I don't want you or your Master coming here to play mind games with me. So get. Out."
It hopped off my treatment table in a fluid motion. "You can't escape this. You are life mates. He is stuck with you. So you don't need to worry about him changing his mind or abandoning you. Even if you want to ignore this, there will be others who will come. Some may not be so polite in asking you to be their mate."
I growled at it as it calmly left.
I guess any other normal person would have just thought he had a hallucination due to the alcohol and the late night. But I knew better. Who was I to be a disbeliever and throw stones? I could shape-shift after all.
I was starting to feel tired and took one of Onua's herbal teas that she liked to pour down my throat at any opportunity. Her passion was tea and she had every sort of concoction for every type of illness or ailment. I must admit, they were affective at times. At least scientifically, the anti-oxidants helped clear my system.
I cast my magical senses around and felt it on the next building. I just could not put up with some wierd Familiar stalking me. Hence, I discreetly shape shifted into a mouse and hid in Onua's numerous bags she liked to bring to work. I tell you, she practically brings her everything but the kitchen sink. I followed Onua back home and when she put down her bags to open her front door, I quickly leapt out and crawled into a dark alley where I changed to be a small owl and flew home.
To my relief, when I cast my senses about, I could not feel it. I pulled off my clothes tiredly and tumbled into bed. Not even having enough energy to wear my night clothes.
In my dreams, I felt a concerned hand on my brow and worried mutterings. My body felt heavy and my energy sapped. Warm hands soothed my feverish tossing and turning. I felt, rather than heard or saw, someone gently gripping my waist with one long nimble hand and another hand gently tilting my head back with fingers entangled in my hair. Warm breath coasted over my neck and a strange voice seemed to be speaking a weird language in my head. Then a mouth pleasurably assaulted my neck…
I wrinkled my nose and groaned, what a weird dream… alcohol plus weird man plus shape-shifting familiar equal a hardly conducive sleeping environment. I still felt a bit tired, but a lot better than the feverish lethargy at night. It was warm and cosy in my bed and I was tempted to sink into slumber again.
When I heard a heartbeat.
It wasn't mine.
Come to think of it…
My eyes sprung open and found myself staring at a tanned neck. No no. Daine, you must be dreaming. I was nestled in Arram's arms, with my head on his chest and judging by the feel of my body against his. He was not wearing clothes either.
I begun to have serious doubts about my memory last night. Maybe I had drunk too much, got picked up by this guy? Oh crap! This is the first time I ever did such a stupid thing! What a way to lose one's virginity.
I gently tried to extricate myself from his grasp and looked around for some clothes to wear. I had succeeded in wearing my undergarments and shirt when my alarm clock rang.
It sounded deafening to me and I felt a potential headache coming on. Suddenly, the alarm clock just magically flew from my dresser across the room to a hand that caught it and switched it off.
I had a feeling that not all of last night was a dream.
Dark eyes looked at me. Right Daine, get a grip. Bigger issues now. One of which is now in your bed.
"What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded. Attack was the most logical way to go, I assured myself.
He raised himself up with his elbows and the bed sheet slipped down revealing very drool-worthy abs. He frowned at me, "You were very sick last night. Someone is leaching your powers dry. I was forced to intervene before your life force was sucked out of you."
"And that requires you to be NAKED!" I screeched.
He gave a slight satisfied grin, "Don't worry, your virtue is safe. This is more for comfort. To replenish your energies and cut off the leaching binding, I had to bond with you. I only initiated the first step of Mating, thus our bond is still weak. Physical contact was necessary for me to share my energies with you."
"Wait!" I said, putting up my hand. "First step of mating? Look here, I don't know who you think you are but you have no business trying to what, magically marry me without my consent!"
"You're not... magically married… Bonding, marking, mating, it's much more deeper than that with a life mate," Arram said carefully, eying me warily as if it suddenly occurred to him, that yes! I am very angry and he was on the verge of facing the risk of being castrated by me. "The other steps of Mating require your consent, and participation-" I didn't like the sound of that. "-I knew you would be upset if I had bound you in some way more permanently, thus I kept to the first step although it would have been much more effective if we had brought it to the next level."
"Whatever!" I muttered and stamped off. Then poked my head back into my room, "This first step, it's only temporary right?"
He nodded, "We have to keep renewing our bond in order for it to be maintained."
Uh huh. Fat chance buster.
I went into the bathroom to do my daily absolutions. When I came out, I found him sitting in my kitchen table. Looking perfectly comfortable and at ease. There was a delicious aroma of food and the smell of coffee.
"You better eat to recoup your energies," Arram said.
I restrained the childish impulse to stick my tongue out at him. I briefly wondered where he had got all the food from, but decided it must have been some abracadabra thing. "How did you find me?" I asked curtly.
He looked at me, amused. "We are life mates, there is always a connection between us. If it's any consolation, it works two ways, you can find me if you wish. When our bond gets stronger, it will become effortless to be aware of each other."
"You mean you can read my thoughts!" I yelped.
"Not yet…" Numair said, his eyes filled with dark promise. "If it's any incentive, I heard love making with life mates are extremely… satisfying… due to the empathetic connection…"
"Uh huh…" I said. This was getting a bit creepy for me. First time I ever come across a relatively eligible man who's more than willing to be leg-shackled legally, eternally and beyond. Modern women had better luck in striking the lottery than this.
"Don't you like coffee?" Numair asked, watching me ignore the drink. "Most women like that."
"I'm not most women," I said. "The door is that way if you want to find them."
"If that is the case," he passed his hand over the cup. From the hot steaming cup of coffee, stood tall glass of fruit juice. "take this, it's more nutritious anyway."
"Uh huh," I said, amused at this novel experience of being mothered. "Why is someone trying to leach my powers? Do you know who it is?"
He looked serious and said, "I don't know what their intentions are. It could be that you are a lot more powerful than you think and they have been leaching off your powers to supplement theirs. It is not that uncommon to hear and is a serious crime in the other Realm." He reached over to gently held my left hand in his. But since it wasn't hindering my food intake as I was right handed, I ignored him. "This person or thing had been leaching off you for a very long time. The connection between both of you is pretty deep. Extracting the connection would require some skill and time. Time that you did not have last night as you were being rapidly drained. Chopping off the connection may leave some magical scars on you and there's no guarantee that the Leach won't try to re-establish some kind of hold on you again. So," he brushed his lips across my knuckles. "I established a bond with you, which was sufficient enough for me to build a shield around you. But this is just a temporary measure. If you want to rid yourself of this Leach and have such an experience again, you have two choices. Either let me take the time to extract the connection for you or become my life mate. Our Life mate bond is powerful enough to sever all connections. After all, we would be bonded on all levels."
He looked into my eyes, "Either way works for me. Though I personally prefer the latter option."
"Riggghhhttt," I said, extracting my hand from his grasp. I did not particularly fancy being leached off and come to think of it, there were times in the past where I had occasional experienced moments of unexplained fatigue. I had thought it was low iron in my blood, but blood tests with doctors proved otherwise. Subsequently, I had put it down to some PMS thing. "We'll try the first option… If there's some connection between me and the Leach, like me and you, can't we try and trace it?"
Arram winced, "I scarcely think our bond can be compared to such a… parasitic low level link, but yes, your suggestion does have logical force. It is possible to try to trace the culprit, but because it is a connection between you and the Leach, you have to find a way to trace it and I am unsure as to your ability to do so. Even if you are able to do so, you face the risk of being snared in a magical trap the Leach may set up around herself. I am not willing to risk you to that, sweetling. You could easily become comatose and your body slowly wasting away with your soul ensnared in the Leach's hands."
"Why should you care?" I said casually, putting down my fork. "It doesn't affect you whether I live or die."
He gripped my hand almost painfully. "How can you say that? You are my life mate!"
I looked back calmly at him, "I. Am. Not. You made a mistake really. Don't you think you are better off chasing some more compliant blonde out there. You seem like a smart, attractive young man, wealthy and magical ability of the highest level. I don't think you will have any difficulties finding someone of a similar caliber. Besides, our bonding is only temporary. Once it wears off, you're free to go elsewhere."
Suddenly, he was beside me and lifted me into his lap as he took my seat. He sternly gripped my chin to face him. "Never. Ever. Say that again. It's no mistake that we are life mates. Can't you feel it, our souls calling for each other. The irresistible pull and…" his voice deepened, "attraction?" He captured my mouth at this point and all my thoughts just flew out the window. He was doing a very good job at convincing my body that I was his… he was a very very very good kisser.
I panted when he broke off and his breathing was not too steady as well. "Don't you feel a certain lack of something when you are with other males. That you feel somewhat incomplete?" he said roughly.
The telephone rang and I scrambled out of his lap to pick it up. Thank goodness for modern technology.
It was the clinic. I was horribly late for work, but all was forgiven since I took on the late night shift. If we took on the late night shift, we only had to work in the afternoon. But, I was eager to get back to work, to escape from him and all the crazy baggage that came along. "I am going to work," said, striding towards the door.
"If you want me to extract the connection, we have to maintain the bond we have so that I can maintain the shield around you. Also, we have to start spending time together for me to slowly extract it," Arram called out.
"Uh huh," I said, struggling to put on my coat, when warm hands helped me into it. "and that means?"
As he spun me around to gently tug my lapels neatly, he grinned, "I will be sleeping with you every night to maintain our bond."
I looked at him exasperatedly and half jokingly, "Are you sure you're not the leach?"
He narrowed his eyes, and said very haughtily, "Don't insult me. I have more than enough power to level this city without any help from you."
"Harrah for the almighty Arram," I said dryly and shut the door in his face before he could say anything else.
Petty, but all soooo… satisfying.
Thus, this queer courtship dance started. Arram spent the nights with me, normally with his shirt off, since I had insisted on the painful threat of death that he had to wear shorts. That man was fond of cuddling and I often woke up his arms. He was better than a security blanket in making me feel warm and safe.
It seems that when he wanted to extract the parasitic link, all he required was just for me to remain in some sort of physical contact with him. The first time he did it, I inquired if he needed any candles or some sort of ingredients. He looked deeply offended and sniffed that only conjurers needed those sort of stuff. Right… Excuse me your royal highness… But he did look very serious when he was extracting the link, his eyes closed in concentration. His Familiar told me that it was not that because it required a lot of skill and effort on his part, but because he was trying to be extremely careful in not hurting me.
When I insisted on knowing what to call His Familiar, it told me to call it Zen, since his real name was particularly long and impossible to pronounce in human tongues. It would sometimes accompany me around in his dog-shape, supposedly as a precaution against the Leach. We would often have long conversations about rather random things. Zen seemed a rather curious academic, often questioning me about the different "habits" of human beings and our interaction with our habitat.
I once asked the Familiar jokingly, whether all of this was a ploy just to get my attention and let Arram into my life. It told me very firmly that Arram is a type of person who would rather kill himself than let harm befall me. The parasitic link, it turned out, was a very old one. Probably since I was a child. Creepy. Zen likened it to an old tree with roots grown into the earth (aka myself). It is easy to just yank the tree out, but a huge chunk of earth would go with it. Hence, care has to be taken to take out the roots one by one. Even so, Arram was going slow, taking out a handful of roots at a time, so that I had time to recover from the gaping holes left from its removal.
Arram plucked out periods of my free time to extract the parasitic link. It started innocuously enough, either before or after my work. Then, he sneakily started to creep into other parts of my life.
I should have seen it coming.
It all started when I wanted to watch a particular movie, he insisted on following along, wanting to see some mortal entertainment. Since it was the type of movie that my other friends did not like to watch, I decided to accept his company. We were there in the cinema and I was lulled into false security in the dark. His arm around me, and my head resting against his shoulder. (Hey, we do sleep together every night and I was getting used to his presence. I emphasis on the sleep. We do NOTHING else than that. I would have kicked his ass if he did and he knew that.) When the lights went on in the cinema, to my utter and complete horror, Miri was just a few rows behind me.
Miri had bounced towards me with much enthusiasm and insisted that we all go out for supper together with her and Evin. I felt bad that Miri had the impression that Arram and I were together, even worse that I did not tell her about it. I guess it's some unspoken code that girlfriends must tell each other every single gory detail of any romantic prospects. We can skip out parts about our family, how work was, but love life, somehow, falls in another category all together. Arram had smiled and acted charmingly like a trophy boyfriend, since I am hardly a trophy girlfriend.
We then ran into my ex. Of all the billions of people in the world. He was rather scathing to me (since I did dump him after all when it became clear that he was more interested in my body than me) and asked if I was going to a common friend's birthday celebration. He shriveled up and died when he finally noticed Arram who went to put a rather possessive arm around my waist. Miri introduced him as my boyfriend and somehow, I was backed into the corner to bring Arram to the celebration. It went downhill from there. My friends saw him, oohed and ahhed. Suitably impressed by his looks and wealth and his generous invitation to have an after party celebration at the club. Somehow, I was then forced to bring him along for all gatherings and double dates, etc.
I could scarcely explain the full situation when they did not even know I had magic. Lying sucks sometimes.
He only allows me to call him Arram. He introduces himself to everyone else as Numair Salmalin. Miri thinks it' sweet, while I think it's some guy ego thing. He probably thinks Numair is a cooler name, perhaps it's some "in" thing in the other Realm.
My developing relationship with Arram is downright queer. We are definitely close friends, since he makes an excellent bitching partner and actually seem to enjoy conversing with me on a myriad of topics. Yet, there's this strumming tension of attraction even though we have a quasi platonic relationship. Although he somehow likes to give lingering touches, it's a one-way street, I don't respond to him, but don't bite him either after the initial tries. I just give up. I amuse myself by thinking that I'm like his pet dog that he cuddles and strokes. I wonder if my tolerance of his touch is due to the soul mambo jumbo thing he was talking about.
I also wonder when would be the day he would leave.
Realise he made a mistake and move on.
Although Zen and Arram seemed perfectly strong in conviction that I was the one, I can't help but express some doubts. Insecure. Who me?
I also wonder… at this sharp pain in my heart whenever I think about it.
It was my turn for a late night shift again. I kindly (to put it mildly) told Arram and Zen to take a walk elsewhere. I was preparing for the day when I told people that I dumped him. Probably cook up some story that he was just not for me, so wanty, needy… Perhaps throw in some story about him finding out he's gay tendencies… I'm soo… evil…
Anyway, it was a slow night at Vets Inc and I walked around the clinic to stretch my legs. I decided to chat with the receptionist when I realized that she was sleeping. I grinned to myself, this was not exactly an uncommon phenomenon in the twilight shift. The security guard was not at his post, probably doing his rounds around the clinic.
I opened the door to my treatment room and got a scare when I saw Onua standing there. "Onua!" I yelped. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"
I felt a bit uneasy, I did not see her come in through the entrance since I just came from there. I thought she had left for home after she gave me a strong dose of chamomile tea. Calm down Daine. No need to be jumpy. You've known Onua almost all your life…
"Is your fiancé not with you?" Onua asked.
"My fiancé?" I spluttered. "Hardly. No. We are not connected at the hip."
She came up to me and held my hands. "I am worried about you Daine," she said. "Getting into a relationship so fast. I hope he is the right guy for you."
"Well," I shrugged. "Only time can tell."
"Daine," she captured her eyes with mine. "Numair is not a nice guy as you think he is."
I stared at her, "What do you mean?"
She sighed, "I came from the other dimension, Daine. He's far older and nastier than you think. I've seen his cruelty and utter destruction. The lies he spun to get the support of others."
I would have jumped back if not for the fact that she was gripping my hands so tightly.
"You are from the other dimension?" I asked, shocked. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"How can I? You would have thought me insane and I saw no need to," Onua explained. Then her eyes darkened and she said harshly, "Numair is against people without magic. He purposely exiled all people with no or little magical abilities into this place. I was his friend, but even I was not spared, but we managed to make a life of our own. Without the Magical Realm's environment and due to our lack of magic, our life spans were much shortened," Onua explained.
"I see," I said, my heart beating wildly, disturbed by the gleam in Onua's normally placid eyes.
"Can't you see? He is unhappy that we have managed to have lives of our own. Without him. Without magic. He is here to destroy this world!" Onua said, agitatedly. "But! Together! We can at least try to bring him down."
"Me?" I blurted.
Onua's hands were starting to bruise mine. "You are his weakness. His life mate. The only thing that can bring him down…"
I was confused and my emotions in a whirlpool. "I, I don't think I want to kill him…"
Onua's eyes flared and threw some magical force against me, as I flew backwards through my door against the wall. "He must have cast some spell on you! Created some geas or binding to make you refuse to see the truth!" Onua hissed. "Perhaps even consume your will to make you his puppet."
'NUMAIR!' I screamed mentally and throwing my power into it, hoping somehow he would hear me. Not liking the maniacal look in Onua's eyes. She dragged me up the wall with her power. "First things first," she said. "I need blood."
The heavy feeling permeated throughout my body and it took incredible effort for me to open my eyes. It seemed like I was in the spacious car park outside Vets Inc and what seemed to be a magical battle right out of some computer game was taking place in front of my eyes. Numair seemed furious, with a menacing aura around him, while Onua looked coldly triumphant, a smirk playing around her lips.
I don't care if Arram was the devil reincarnate, but Onua should not have tried to leach me without telling me anything. I had no doubts that Onua was the leach as I could sense my magic ebbing away into her, my life force was soon to follow. But… I examined myself more carefully, realizing that my veins were tinged with black sparkly lights and not the usual copper fire. My bond with Arram was kicking in and he was giving me his own energies to prevent me from being sucked dry.
A wet nose thrust at my stomach caught my attention. Zen in dog shape lay lethargically on my lap.
I heard him within my head, perhaps it came with Numair's energies, his link with his Familiar.
- Carelessssss….- it hissed. – tea…. Poison… - it rasped, it seemed to have lost too much energy to even writhe in pain.
-Zen… can't die…- I thought tearfully.
I felt its humour rolling in my mind, -I won't… her poison would kill many Familiars… but I am not many Familiars… I will heal… Need Time… -
- Tell Arram to stop giving me energies! She's gaining his powers through me! – I gasped.
- True… she is low level mage… if not for powers drained… she would have collapsed by now… Tell him yourself… you are his life mate… his powers run through you… he should hear you… - came the weak reply.
-Numair?- I called.
-I am kind of distracted now- came the reply.
-Stop giving me your energies. Cut off the bond!-
-NO.- his response brooked no argument. –You will die if I do so, she has already sapped your energies dry. All you have left is your life force-
-Stupid man!- I protested. –Just conserve your energy and deal with her first. Do it quick before she drains me dry.-
-I cannot run the risk- his response came, then seemed to be talking to himself. –Damn! Should have life mated her when I had the chance.-
'It's not his choice in the first place,' I thought angrily. 'It's partially my fault that he was lured here and now she's draining him dry as well. Either she kills him with his power or drains him dry.'
Onua threw a rather wicked lightening bolt that went through Arram's shields and he barely deflected it. I could see that she was now using his powers against him, which was why Arram was facing increasing difficulty in trying to block it out.
I could not sit here and watch Arram die. Never. My mind and heart rebelled against such a thought. Out of desperation, I grabbed a fistful of Arram's magic, thought of it as a shape of the knife and slammed it between the bond I felt between us…
I opened my eyes groggily and found myself staring at a high white ceiling with sky light. Was I in heaven? I felt some movement and soon saw Arram's concerned face looming over me. He looked haggard and tired, much older than when I last saw him.
"Where?" I croaked.
"Thank God!" He said fervently and hugged him tightly, such as to elicit an "eep" out of me. He released his hold and very thoroughly kissed me, while saying, "never never do such a stupid thing again!"
-You are suffocating the poor mortal- came a familiar voice and Arram immediately let me go.
-What happened?- I asked.
-You succeeded in cutting the bond. Causing Onua to suddenly lose a lot of energies and Master Salmalin to gain back his energies. He had quickly finished her off when he realized what you have done. But, it was still not fast enough and your heart stopped. He applied something your friend Miri called CPR and brought you to the Other Realm where the healers can tend to you. You were very lucky that due to his quick actions, you did not die.- Zen said, tilting my head to one side, I saw his doggy eyes peek at me from the edge of the bed.
I tried to slowly get up, and Arram helped me. I was in one of the most luxurious rooms I have ever seen. It was huge. It could easily be bigger than my apartment. It appeared to be a bedroom that had large French doors leading to a balcony. I was on an enormous poster bed.
"You are in my bedroom," Arram said, cuddling me possessively. "which is ours now." He nuzzled me, "After a scare like that, I know I am never letting you go."
For the first time, I tentatively reached up to him and pulled him down. I saw surprise in his eyes, then joy.
You know what. I'm not letting him go too.
Yup, that's the end. They lived happily ever after. Writing more about the Magical Realm and how Daine adjusted there would take another 10,000 words.
Reviews and feedback are good! Since it is the first time I am trying my hand at such a style and type of fic. Also, wrote this without editing, so do feel free to point out errors, but I did make sure I spelt Onua correctly this time! Hee hee!