A "Winds of Change" Story
I think that all of us knew the moment that we saw the other deer morph that there was going to be trouble. I donít think any of us would have predicted what would happen, though.
Janetís brother was looking hot and bothered about something, and it
was probably more than just the fall season. He was staring at Jon with
an intensity that I couldnít believe a deer could manage, and eyes that
were cold and dark. Jon took a step back. It was clear that he didnít want
to fight with this buck. A heavy silence fell over the group as we all
waited for the other shoe to drop.
Leave it to JanetÖ
"FlynnóI mean Buck." She said with a roll of her eyes. "Why donít you say hello to my friends?"
Buck never said a word. He suddenly bent his head down and lunged for
Jon wasnít completely ready for the assault, but even as the still-morphic Buck charged him, he was falling to all fours. I suspect that some part of Jonís deer mind knew that this was a fight that he couldnít win. His shield came on and Buck railed against it, snorting and stamping.
The situation was completely unreal to the rest of us, and we were all shocked into silence. Here was Jon in norm shape in a completely defensive posture while this other deer that none of us knew was trying to kill him. The thrashings of the morphic deer were taking their toll, as Jonís antlers began to glow from the repeated attacks.
As the glow turned to yellow, Tim pushed off the Cadillac heíd been leaning against. "Oh, for the love ofÖ" he muttered as he walked up behind Buck. He grabbed one shoulder and yanked it around, letting his other fist fly at the same time. As Bucks swinging head and Timís fist met, the twelve-point deer morph suddenly swung around in the other direction, fell to his knees, and then to the ground with an audible thud.
"Buck!" shouted Janet as she raced to knell down by her brother. She shot Tim a dirty look. "Whyíd you do that?!"
Tim looked at her for a few seconds and then slowly around at the rest of us. I think that he wanted to make sure that weíd all seen the same thing. Finally, he just shrugged and stalked back to the car, muttering to himself.
Jon was quickly back in morphic, looking a little wide eyed at the experience. Maxine, Bryan and I surrounded him while Kim and Janet looked over her brother. "You okay?" asked Maxine.
Jon nodded a little absently. "Yeah, I think so. That was really strange. Iíve sparred before, but I never felt all that nervous about it. I did with him."
"Maybe heíll be in a better mood when he wakes up." I suggested, hopefully.
Jon nodded at my thought, but his mind was already on something else. He looked over to Tim. "Thanks. ButÖ whyíd you help me?" he asked hesitantly.
Tim studied the group of us, weighing his answer. Finally, he pointed at Maxine. "Because of her."
Confused, we all looked at Maxine, who simply shrugged, and back at Tim. "I donít understand." Said Jon.
Tim walked over and jabbed a thick finger in the center of Jonís chest. "I donít make a secret that I donít like you, Jon. Not at all. But I love my sister, and for whatever twisted reason, she loves you. If you were hurt, it would hurt her. I donít like to see my sister hurt." He finished his little speech and started to walk away. Then he stopped and half turned. "And if you ever hurt my sister, JonÖ" he let the threat hang in the air as he turned and walked to the car.
I think that Timís little speech stunned us more than anything. The big bull had been through a lot in the last few days, more really than any of us. Bryan finally broke the silence, "Maybe thereís hope for him, yet."
"At least, as long as Jon and Maxine are an item." I added. Then I smirked and looked at them. "I shudder to think what will happen if you two ever break up." Maxine laughed a little, but Jon looked shocked. I think he was having visions of his antlers being yanked forcibly out of their sockets.
Our attention turned now to Janetís brother. Jon wisely chose to head over to his car and wait. There wasnít any point in risking another fight. Janet was kneeling on the ground, rubbing his neck a little, while Kim looked him over. "How is he?" I asked.
She pointed at his lips, which were starting to swell. "Heís not bad, but heís not going to feel all that good when he gets up."
"Is he unconscious?" asked Bryan.
Kim shook her head. "No, heís kinda half here. I think, more or less, heís aware of us."
As if on cue, Buck suddenly sat up. His eyes were rolling around a little in his head, but he still manage to look mad. "Where is he?" he spluttered angrily, spitting out a tooth.
Bryan brushed the cracked molar off his pant leg with some contempt before reaching out and pushing Buck back to the ground. "Just lay there a minute. Youíre still groggy."
The sound of an engine came up behind us. Glancing up, we found ourselves looking at a Chevy Blazer with a yellow light bar and a security company emblem on the side. The driver, a garter snake morph, leaned out the window. "Whatís going on here?" he asked, eyeing Buck.
Kim stood and approached the security truck. "Nothing serious, just a burst of instinct."
The guard nodded knowingly. "I believe it. Thatíd be about the third one this month. What happened?"
Not wanting to get anyone into any trouble, Kim just indicated toward Buckís muzzle. "Someone just thought it was a good idea to put a stop to it before it got out of hand."
Shrugging his very narrow shoulders, the snake morph got out of the truck and stepped over to Buck. He looked him over quickly. "Heís not too bad, but weíd better take him to the hospital to get checked out. Comíon pal."
Buck struggled a little to get free of the grasp, but failed. The guard loaded him into the back of the truck, followed by Janet. Janet stopped and looked back at Kim. "Oh! I was going to go with you to get a room for me and my brother! Can you reserve us something at the hotel that you go to?"
Kim tilted her head. "Didnít you get a place to stay when you got into town?"
Janet looked surprised and suddenly started fishing around in her purse, triumphantly grabbing the hotel card key and smiling. "Thatís right! I forgot all about it! Never mind. Iíll see you all tomorrow!" she yelled cheerfully as the security guard slammed her door. He glanced at the group of us and just rolled his eyes before getting into his truck and driving off. Heíd apparently sized her up pretty fast.
With that, we all quietly piled into the cars for the short drive to the hotel.
I was admiring my new form in the mirror when Kim stepped into the room. She looked at me stunned a split second before looking at the room number and then at me. Finally, she just shook her head and entered. "I wish youíd warn me about that." She finally said smiling. "Did you call the school?"
I nodded. "My interview is tomorrow at noon."
She frowned. "That doesnít leave you much time to sightsee with the rest of us."
I shrugged. "Canít be helped. It was the only time that they had for the next week. And it is the reason that we drove all this way."
She just nodded and folded up her paper before turning her silent gaze back at me.
I looked at my form in the mirror again, a chocolate brown South American crested eagle morph, and back at her. "What?"
She whapped me in the wing with the newspaper as soon as she was close enough. "This. I thought I was in the wrong room a minute ago!"
I smiled and hugged her. "Aw, comíon. You were fine with this the other day."
She just laughed and hugged me back. "Itís going to take a little getting used to." She flipped her hand through the feathers sticking straight up out of the back of my head. "Why are these doing that?"
I let go of her and pointed at the book on the dresser, which was open to a picture of the eagle. "Thatís why. Itís a crest of feathers. Thatís the way they are."
She flipped through the book a little. "You can do all these?" she asked.
I hugged her again. "Most of them, it seems." I rubbed my beak against hers. "Youíre not still worried about that, are you?"
Our eyes locked. She looked into my eyes, looking for something. Finally, she seemed satisfied and buried her beak in the feathers around my neck. "No, not at all." She said softly.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of our reflection in the mirror. I was still in the alternate form, but she still managed to find what she was looking for. I loved her, no matter what my form looked like.
There was a quiet knock on the door. With a sigh, we let go of each other. Kim walked over and opened the door. "Hi Bryan." She stepped aside to let him in.
He nodded at us. "Hi. Jon and Maxine are still getting ready for dinner. I was just going to go down and get a table at the restaurant. Do you two want to come?"
Kim looked over at me. "Iím not ready, but why donít you head down. Theyíll need to set up some chairs for us anyway."
I nodded. "Sure." I shifted back to my bald eagle form and gave her a quick hug. "See you down there."
Bryan and I walked to the elevator and punched the button. While we waited, Bryan smiled and looked at me. "You really love her, donít you?"
"More than I thought possible." I replied. "I have a feeling that sheís going to be the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Iím glad to hear that. You two are about the most perfectly matched pair out there." The elevator arrived, and the doors opened to reveal an empty car.
As we stepped through, a thought popped into my head. A sudden, horrible thought. As the doors to the elevator closed, I blurted it out without thinking. "You didnít have a hand in that, did you?"
I instantly regretted it.
Bryanís whole body froze in front of the elevator control panel. Slowly, he pushed the lobby button, but didnít turn back to face me. "I canít believe that you asked me that." He said quietly. He turned and fixed me with his gaze. "Do you really think that Iíd do that?"
I didnít know how to respond. The thought hadnít been formed enough for me to think of motivations. "I donítÖ no. I donít." I stammered.
He looked at me sadly. "You must, or the thought wouldnít have even occurred to you. Youíre never going to trust me, are you?" There wasnít any anger in his voice. It might have been easier on me if there was; Anger can be called irrational. But Iíd stuck a nerve, one that I think Bryan had been hoping and praying would never be reveled.
"Itís not that, really. Itís not that I donít trust you at allÖ"
I took a deep breath. "I need to be sure of me and Kim. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and I donít want it to be for the wrong reasons." I gripped the railing of the elevator a little harder. "And youíve accidentally let loose with your Power before."
"Iíve gained a lot of control since then." He said. "I wouldnít let that happen."
We rode in silence to the ground floor. As I felt the brakes start to slow the car, I sighed. "Iím sorry, Bryan. Just forget it."
As the doors opened, he looked at me sadly and shook his head. "I donít
think that I can." He turned and left me staring at his back as he walked
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