A/N: Please keep in mind that I am not a biology major. Enjoy!
The closer we came to Wolford's gates, the more aware I was becoming of my new found auditory senses.
The walk had provided me with a series of familiar sounds. Those noises one would expect from a journey through the forest; rustling leaves and branches, various birds, even our own light footfalls. Everything was new and everything was much more than I had previously deemed it as.
It was easy now to pick up on Drake's thoughts. No longer did I have to give my full focus to the task of catching a few words, they flowed as easily into my mind as my own did.
It was so clear to me now how Drake had been feeling since we first met.
I looked at him now as the odd, yet familiar, sounds prickled at the far edges of my hearing range.
"How far are we?" I wondered aloud, slowing my pace and reaching for Drakes' outstretched hand.
"Only another half mile or so." He responded, his brow furrowing as he tilted his head toward the east. Toward Wolford.
"Do you hear it to?" I wondered in a whisper, afraid to disrupt his perfectly poised concentration.
"Yea." He answered, glancing at me once before leading me along the path.
"Are they yelling?" It seemed like such a harsh sound. So many voices talking at once, such different pitches and frequencies.
But even more than those thoughts voiced were the ones that now assaulted my mind. Wolves on duty couldn't speak out loud, but it was easy enough for me to pick up on their thoughts as we rounded the final corner and entered through the gates.
"Pack mentality." I spoke, staring inquisitively at the shifters as we crossed to the front door.
Did she shift?
I can hear her thoughts...
What does this all mean?
What did it mean, indeed.
The doors felt ominous and seemed heavy as I pushed my way through them and into the main hall.
The voices were more distinct in here.
I could hear Lucas, Elder Wilde... Rafe...
So many familiar sounds.
One stuck out above the rest though.
"Lily?" I wondered, picking up my pace as I moved through the corridor and to the Dark Guardian's main conference room.
I'd never been allowed in here during meetings before, but I was dying to know how my twin had taken to the transformation.
Did she shift?
Was she healed?
"Lily?" I questioned once more, turning the knob on the large wooden door and stepping inside the stone room.
A dozen heads raised in my direction. Looks of annoyance melted into intrigue and then confusion.
I felt Drake press a strong hand to the small of my back as he moved me through the doorway and toward the long table at the room's center.
I searched the room then, easily locating my sister's dark gaze just across the table. Austin stood beside her, strong and stoic. It felt as if he were almost protecting her from the loud tones of the room's other occupants.
"What's happening?" I heard myself ask, my eyes moving from Lily to Austin and then to Lucas, who stood near his father at the head of the table.
A silence had settled.
"Logan." Elder Wilde greeted, gesturing toward the empty chair across from my sister. I glanced at the chair and then back toward Lily once more.
"Please, take a seat. We have a lot to... discuss." He spoke, his voice even and monotonous as ever. I hesitated only briefly, allowing enough time for Drake to move around me and pull the chair away from the table.
"Sit." He whispered, leading me to the seat before planting himself down in the chair beside me.
He took my hand once more.
"I see you have both made it back safely." The Elder began, shifting his gaze between the dozen or so of those who had gathered to attend this impromptu meeting.
I too took the opportunity to search the room. Did their eyes hold the answers I sought so desperately? What was happening to me, what had happened to Lily? What did it all mean?
The thought brought me back to the conversation.
"We have contacted your parents, they should be arriving within the next few minutes. We'll begin once we're all settled." He stated, the slightest of smiles tugging at the corners of his heavily wrinkled cheeks.
"Is that necessary?" I heard Austin whisper across the table. I turned my head to see him and Drake exchange an agreeable glance.
I squeezed Drake's hand, hoping to offer him some reassurance.
Lily continued to remain silent, her gaze relentlessly shifting between Drake and I before it would return back to Austin.
"What happened last night?" I wondered aloud to her, imploring her to break her unusual silence.
She faltered in her pattern of glancing upon hearing my words, her eyebrows knitting into a confused line. "I'm not entirely sure." She responded after sometime.
I didn't know what to make of her response, and as a result, was not able to form one of my own.
Did she not complete her shift, either?
The room began to get restless as the conversation was kept in pause. I was hyper aware of the presence of all the Dark Guardians, their brooding, ominous forms were stationed strategically about the space.
Why is everyone here? I thought, hoping the words would make themselves known in Drake's thoughts as well.
Is it a good sign?
He gave me a small shrug, his eyes soft.
I'm nervous. I admitted.
"Me too." He offered, placing our entwined hands in his lap. The gesture felt protective, and made me feel safe.
We continued to wait.
Another ten minutes passed before my mother and father showed up at the door.
My mother had never seen the inside of the room before, as she had been a static her entire life up until meeting my father.
This room was meant for guardians and elders only.
It was also meant for serious discussions about the pack and it's safety.
"Logan, Lily, is everything alright?" I heard my mother ask as she separated from my father and came rushing toward the two of us.
I nodded softly, letting the confusion show on my face.
"We had to wait for you." Lily spoke, turning to face my father. "Can we get started, please?" She wondered, now turning to face Elder Wilde.
Lucas called the meeting to order, and everyone moved from their places about the room to take their seats along the table.
My nerves doubled two fold.
"As leader of the Guardians and future leader of the pack, I have called this meeting to order upon receiving news of the unexpected occurrences during last night's full moon."
Lucas began, his gaze landing on first Lily and than me.
"Did you tell them?" I whispered to Drake, wondering how they could possible know about my semi-shift.
"No." He responded, his own confusion evident on his face.
Something must have happened with Lily then.
Why hadn't she already told me?
"We've called Doctor Sheehan here, as well as some of our most knowledgeable historians to help explain."
Everything seemed to blur then as Dr. Sheehan stood from her seated position and moved toward Lily.
"We're going to need to take some blood samples." She explained, holding up a small kit she held in her hand.
I stared at her blankly for a moment.
"Why?" Drake questioned, his eyes tense and his voice fierce as he stared at the kit.
"Lily, what happened?" I begged, my eyes now turning to Austin, whose face seemed to harden. He clenched his jaw, weary to speak.
A great tension seemed to settle between the two of us, Lily's confused gaze flitted between my own and that of her mate's.
I couldn't handle the silence.
The worry, the anticipation, the sheer wonder of it all had me bound so tightly I felt I was suffocating.
"Did you shift?" Drake wondered, voicing the continuous stream of questions that entered my mind.
Lily exchanged one more glance with Austin before nodding her head.
"I don't remember much, but eventually I shifted." She whispered, as if not believing the words that passed through her lips.
"What do you mean by that, exactly?" Elder Wilde asked her. I had a feeling he knew the whole story, but for either my sake or his own, was attempting to bring the meeting back to focus.
Austin spoke before Lily had pulled in a steady breath.
"She shifted from human to wolf." He started, moving his hand to clasp hers.
I didn't understand where he was going with this or why he made it sound so ominous. A wolf form was the usual shape that was taken, although I had heard of others.
"But there was nothing normal about her shift. It started out as I expected but... she just... lost control."
"Lost control?" Rafe wondered aloud, leaning in closer as Austin prepared to explain.
"She went from human to wolf, there was nothing shifter about her. It was as if she had lost her humanity. I couldn't communicate with her, she was skittish and afraid of me, even in my wolf form." Lily's dark locks began to shiver with her effort to remain still and calm. I could tell that she was confused. Like me, Lily never wanted to be a burden to others, I was afraid she was worrying about how her shift affected Austin rather than how it affected her own health.
"What did you do to get her to shift back?" I wondered, longing to reach across the space and take Lily's other hand in my own.
"I waited, keeping her close. It was difficult to keep her from running off, but I didn't know what else to do." Austin sighed, scrubbing a hand along the side of his face.
"After a few hours she seemed to faint from exhaustion. She shifted between her human and wolf forms, before settling back into wolf again." Lily bit her lip, ducking her head to the table.
"It was hours before I started to hear her thoughts, before she looked at me with any semblance of recognition."
I took in a shuddering breath, so afraid for my twin, for my sister.
"I alerted Lucas the second I found a free moment. We arrived here only an hour or so before you did." He spoke, gesturing to Drake and I.
I nodded, my eyes still trained on Lily's timid face.
"What's happening to me?" She whispered, her voice quivering with unshed tears.
Austin seemed equally distressed, not knowing how to comfort her in such a situation. He moved his chair closer to hers, bringing her into the expanse of his arms.
"We were hoping for some answers." Austin stated. His eyes moving from mine to Lucas and then to Elder Wilde.
"Yes, it is a rather strange predicament. I'm not sure we've ever had a case of this nature before." He muses, pushing some papers and books that lay in front of him around the desk.
"What can you tell us about the shift, from a biological standpoint?" My father's voice startled me, but the question was simple and necessary. We had to start somewhere.
Lucas looked toward his grandfather, seeking permission to take lead on this explanation.
"What we know of our shifting from a scientific standpoint is limited. It has always been complex, as each experience is different for each shifter."
He twisted in his seat, his gaze falling on Lily before moving to Brittany across the room. Brittany was human, but, like Lily and I had one static parent and one shifter.
"Following Brittany's shift, a conclusion was drawn that the shifter DNA was recessive, meaning that if only one parent possessed the ability to shift, than the offspring would simply remain human."
A few heads nodded about the room, encouraging Lucas to continue with his explanation.
"This sentiment seemed completely plausible at the time, and with no other reasonable explanation from our doctors and scientists, we accepted the hypothesis as fact."
Lucas sighed, his gaze now fixed on Lily as he continued. "It wasn't until Lily started showing signs of shifting abilities that we began to question ourselves. If our guesses about Brittany had been accurate, neither Logan nor Lily would have shifted. They would have remained human, like their mother."
"This was obviously not the case, as Lily has completed, however strangely, her own shift."
I felt myself nodding as well, completely immersed in the explanation Lucas was offering.
It wasn't until a small thought from Drake crossed my mind that I realized...
Logan shifted too.
They didn't know.
My worry for my own sister and curiosity about her shift had left me silent on the subject.
"We have a new hypothesis now, something that we hope observation and some DNA sampling will confirm." Lucas continued, oblivious to my inner mental struggle.
Dr. Sheehan stepped forward then, and after receiving a 'go-ahead' nod from Lucas, began to speak.
"We believe that the shifter gene is sex-linked." She looked about the room as if this were explanation enough. When the silence seemed to stretch on for unnecessary moments, she began to elaborate.
"Meaning that it is passed from mother to son, and from father to daughter."
A few people furrowed their brows, and the silence continued.
It was a lot to process, and didn't necessarily add up. If that were true, there would have been no doubt of my shifting.
"So... if both parents are shifters, than all the offspring will also shift. However, if only one is a shifter, than a child of the opposite gender will shift?" The words seemed more confusing leaving Austin's lips as they did from Dr. Sheehan's.
"Basically, if a male shifter marries a female human, than only the female children will shift and the males won't?" I questioned, glancing between my parents. They seemed so utterly stunned.
"So if we had a son, he would not shift?" My father questioned, doubt laced in his tone.
"That is our theory." Dr. Sheehan responded, supplying him with a soft, almost sad smile.
The conversation paused for a moment, as we allowed the new information to sink in.
Could it be true? Was that reasonable explanation enough?
I still had so many questions. So many doubts.
Apparently so did my mother.
"Then why is it that Logan didn't shift?" She spoke, her tone harsh and accusatory. Even then she defended me, not knowing that shifting is exactly what I had done.
Lucas gave a small shrug, but before he could open his mouth to respond, I already had.
"I did shift."
The moment the syllables leave my mouth, more than dozen pairs of eyes snap toward my face.
I could see it then. The doubt. The speculation.
So much new information in such a short time.
So much to process...
"I'm sorry?" Elder Wilde questioned, his brow crinkling in confusion.
I could feel a blush creep at the base of my neck and around my ears. I squeezed Drake's hand once more, hoping to gather strength enough for this explanation.
The problem was, that I didn't have one.
Even more prominent than my own confusion was the feeling of almost victory from leaving an entire room of shifters stunned.
Yes, I did it. You never thought I could, but I did.
"You shifted?" Lily breathed, low and steady. Her voice is laced with tension, but the sense of wonderment on her face leaves me feeling completely secure.
"Well... sort of?" I finally admit, ducking my head to the table. I stole a glance at Drake, asking him to take the reigns from here.
He gave me a small nod and a soft smile.
"Logan never completed the full shift from human to wolf form, but she posses many of the physical and instinctual tendencies of a shifter." He states.
He seems almost proud explaining all of this to the leaders of our pack. It is something to celebrate, even if it is confusing.
I would feel nothing but happiness and pride, if the words didn't also leave me with a sense of skepticism.
One glance around the room and I knew that I was not the only critic.
"We understand that Logan is quite capable. She is knowledgeable about our kind and she is obviously in a healthy, fit condition to perform many of the guardian tasks..." Lucas began, his voice weary. He seemed to be preparing to let me down, calmly, easily. He doesn't understand. No one does...not even me.
So I did what I do best.
Keep them listening.
"My senses are heightened, I can see much more clearly, even at night. I can hear things from what seems like miles away. My sense of smell is so different now, everything I come across brings me a new scent to learn and memorize." I speak, my voice breathy, but steady. I know that I am different.
"She ran the entire way from the lair to Wolford this morning." Drake added.
I could feel the stares of every occupant in the room. Elder Wilde's the most skeptical of them all.
"It could just be a coincidence. It doesn't necessarily mean that she has shifted." He supplies.
"A coincidence?" Drake gives a small huff, obviously annoyed that not one person seems to be taking this matter seriously.
"Obviously these past few years have taken an emotional toll on you, Logan. Maybe you have allowed your hope to trick you into thinking that you're more capable." Elder Wilde supplied, his gaze full of pity.
I had to bite back the sarcastic response that popped into my mind.
Sympathetic shifting? Was he serious?
However, what more can I say?
Drake sighs, lifting his free hand to scratch at the back of his neck.
He doesn't know what else to say.
And for a moment, neither do I.
What more could I say? I couldn't exactly demonstrate my night vision at this moment.
They could only take my word on my heightened senses, and right now they didn't seem to trust me.
Was there anyway to test it?
My mind felt blank and empty.
With one last careful look, Lucas began to turn the conversation back to Lily, his gaze weary every time he meets our side of the table.
"Wait." I begin, knowing now that there was a way to explain.
"On our way into the village. I could read the thoughts of the shifter's on guard." I supplied, knowing that this, and nothing else, will prove me correct.
And for a moment, I think I've done it.
But my words are not enough.
Lucas is baffled, and appears frustrated with my persistence.
I shifted; can people not see that for what it is? A basic impossibility.
"Hm." Lucas mumbles, turning to face the rest of the room.
"Rafe." He speaks, giving his second in command a curt nod. Rafe responds quickly, pushing his chair back from the table and moving to exit the room.
He leaves the door slightly ajar.
"He is going to shift, isn't he?" Drake states, his face angled toward the door.
"Yes. If this is true... there is much to be considered." Elder Wilde speaks, his voice quiet but firm.
Rafe returns only moments later, now a large black wolf.
It is such a strange sight to behold.
Drake and Rafe appear very similar in their wolf shapes. Both are long and lean, and dark.
To a human, and maybe even to a third party shifter they would maybe be mistaken for one another.
However, the differences I see are vast and clear.
I momentarily wonder if Lindsay, Rafe's mate, shares the same feelings.
"Logan, please demonstrate your abilities by repeating everything you hear in Rafe's mind."
I can feel myself nod. My throat feels dry, but I am wild with adrenaline, so ready to prove to everyone that I am more than human.
As soon as I concentrate, the words come easily.
"My name is Rafe Eric Bennett. I am 23 years old. My favorite color is green." I speak, my tone dropping as if to mimic his thoughts.
I can sense Drake's mental laughter at my change in voice.
I can hear Drake's mental speech stutter as he acknowledges my honesty.
Yes Rafe. It's true. I tell him, supplying a small smirk of my own.
"Continue." Lucas states, although everyone seems to have accepted my story as true.
"Um..." I return to focusing on Rafe. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers"...
Drake couldn't hold back the soft snort.
Rafe stops then, turning to nod once at Lucas before leaving to return to his human form.
"Satisfied?" I question Lucas, ready to continue.
"Great. So now that we have established that both my daughter's have shifted, let's focus on why there seemed to be a problem on both ends." My father states, his tone thick with annoyance. He turned his attention to Elder Wilde then, who didn't seem to have anything to add at the moment.
"Dr. Sheehan and the rest of the board will have to discuss other possibilities." He supplies after a moment, leaning his elbows along the hard wood of the oak table.
I can see Dr. Sheehan nod out of the corner of my eye, and I watch her take a few steps toward where Lily and I are seated.
"We are hoping that an examination of the twin's DNA will help to explain the differences in their shifts. If we can pinpoint the difference, maybe we can map out the Shifter genome. We can finally have a better understanding of the science behind the magic."
I took a deep breath, immediately shying away from the first aid box she held in her hand.
I was never a fan of needles.
Drake squeezed my hand and I shifted my gaze to his face.
Are you okay with this? He questioned, his posture tense as he awaited my response.
"I just need answers."
Across the table I catch Lily's eye.
I can see her give Austin a similar response as the one I have given to Drake.
"Okay." She agrees.
A/N: Like I said before, I am no scientist. Hope everyone enjoyed the chapter, I know it has been months since I've last updated.
Thanks to everyone who takes their time to read and review! I really appreciate the feedback :)