Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Two long time, but very different, friends are caught up in a spell and changed forever. They learn to cope and must rely on each other to survive in their new forms.
Spoilers: None! Definitely AU
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
It was in the evening after they had been given the wonderful news that Will was again beginning to feel sensation in his feet, that things changed. Skye sent a prayer of thanks to Gaia and the Powers as she Brad and (Lex)ander entered their small home. The ex-dog sniffed the air, unsure of what had just changed, then felt oddly closer to his two carers… Brad had always been surrogate Master and Guide, but now also felt like ‘Father’ and smelt different somehow.
(Lex)ander was not invited to their bed for the first time since Will’s injury, instead he was led to his very own trundle bed beside the master to take his rest, and was sent to sleep caressed by his sheepskin brush and accompanying reassurances that he was loved, and that Will would come home soon.
As soon as (Lex)ander was asleep Skye and Brad entered their own bed and began to kiss and caress. They shared recollections of their odd dreams and associated intense need to couple frequently over the last few days – giving in to the urges even as they spoke. Passionate touches and amorous kisses were followed by lovemaking again and again until both were utterly sated and exhausted. They fell asleep within seconds of each other.
Unlike the previous nights of strange images and sensations, however, this time the dreams were mutual. Skye had been engaged in astral travel for many years, yet this felt entirely different. There was no consent involved, it was a drive, an irresistible tug and then…
They had both become aware of the other as they realized their new spiritual forms and lifted from their intertwined sleeping bodies. Brad nuzzled the ethereally beautiful feathers of his partner, and she stroked across the adoring muzzle with the tip of a wing. They both felt the call of the forest and answered. Skye stretched unfamiliar wings and flapped a few times then simply relaxed into her form and took off easily. She flew into the rafters then fluttered silently back down, deftly controlling her descent.
Brad’s canine form stretched fully then stood proud. Like his dear partner he experimented a little, swishing his new tail, moving his ears and sniffing the air with an extraordinarily sensitive nose, then moved toward the door of the cottage. He was worried that he might not be able to open the door and silently wished for another way… He was therefore very pleasantly surprised, a few seconds later, when his form simply passed through the solid wood and into the night. Skye followed his lead, passing through the wall of the cottage then soaring skyward. But now they both had a second concern.
As a non-corporeal beings – how were they to affect anything? How were they to stop a poacher or veto a human attack on the forest itself?
Skye swooped down silently, landing on low branch just forward of the path taken by the large pale Alsatian-like dog. They communed by thought in this form, and decided to simply try out a patrol of the area for this, their first night.
Will woke late in the evening. He was having trouble sleeping as newly awakened nerves caused muscles to twitch and spasm at odd times, and continuing pain – though chemically controlled - was enough to wake him from a light slumber. The body brace didn’t help either.
When the nurse on duty came in at around one am to take his vital signs, he reached out for her hand, held tight then pleaded, “Hooooo Hmmm Pleee… Hoooo… Sssssstayyy???!!!”
Her dear patient’s look of desperation said it all. The nurse had seen his devoted family and had been briefed on his limited language. She noted the pretty face, with childlike innocent expression, handsome defined cheekbones, and stunning crystal blue eyes, now awash with tears of gratitude and relief as she settled onto the seat beside the bed. She wished she could do more. He was everyone on the ward’s sweetheart. Trying so hard for every therapist despite any pain and stoically bearing the humiliations involved in his inanimate then slowly recovering state.
On a whim, the young nurse Sherrie turned on the small table lamp, took a book from his side table and began to read from where the marker was. It was a picture book of’ Forest Realms of Europe’ with forward by Sir David Attenborough and had many glorious shots of flora and fauna, along with a scientifically accurate and lovingly written text. She really had no idea of its significance but felt she was doing alright as the young man began to ‘Hooo’ quietly and relaxed again.
She wondered what horrendous event or brain damage had caused the loss of speech, and was horrified as she read the full history of his injuries via gunshot – apparently inflicted post ‘special’ status!
With her patient fully asleep again, she was compelled to continue her rounds. Will slept, dreamlessly, until sunup.
The owl flew high, using the slight breeze to glide with ease, her wonderful partner below wandering the forest silently. They were both drawn to different sites.
Brad’s task proved the hardest – though his worry regards his corporeal state was unfounded.
A young fox was on his side, both back legs caught in a cruel trap, one at the knee, the other crushed at the paw and leg juncture. There were all the haul marks of a frantic struggle to gain release – only damaging crushed limbs further.
The dog found he was able to touch and control things with concentration – though with no hands had to pick up the solid stick in his mouth before, courtesy of his human memories, releasing the trap mechanism and opening the deadly metal jaws.
Sadly it was obvious, the dear animal was too damaged. It had been bleeding out for more than a day, and more than that, the limbs were obviously beyond repair, both held onto the body with little more than damaged tendons and blood soaked skin, the bones completely crushed. The small animal was barely conscious, panting and fevered with both pain and thirst.
Brad eased his dear forest brother onto a soft bed of ferns then, as he licked the stricken creature lovingly, appealed to the Powers and Gaia to ease the fox’s pain and allow him relief. He felt an overwhelming urge and simply followed the drive as the small animal bared its neck. Brad took the neck in his huge jaw and snapped closed with a killing bite. The half grown youngster died instantly and was reverently buried by the dog. Brad dug a hole well away from the site of the murder, slid the still warm body in, then covered the small form with soft earth and bracken. Skye flew down and her distraught partner took comfort from his dearest friend in her owl state as they grieved the senseless loss.
Returning to the scene of death, Brad tore out the stake that pinned the trap to the ground then dragged the offensive (now closed) item deep into the forest and buried it.
The owl, Skye, had an easier night – merely comforting a couple of panicked fledgling owls in their nest with quiet ‘hoo-ing’ until their mother returned. It was then Skye had felt her partner’s distress and flown down to assist.
After Brad buried the offending trap, they both did another patrolling round then, as the distinct scent of the coming dawn became apparent, they returned home. They both floated through the walls as before and reengaged with their human selves.
Both slept for couple of hours after their spirits and physical selves joined, then roused for the day.
There were other consequences of their change. Over the ensuing weeks a whole new theme emerged in Brad’s art – one of the beauty of, and tragedy, and triumph, in the forest. His art took on an “apparent visceral understanding” of the forest realm, according to a visiting art critic from London, who knew nothing of Brad’s sudden change in nightly habits. According to a second art reviewer (jumping on the story some week later), Brad had apparently painted the quintessential collection of “defined and refined Nuevo realism, glorious in its presentation and stunning in content. The perspectives are extraordinary. The images oscillate between poignant and distressing, and inspiring and elating.”
After several more articles appeared in magazines and newspapers in the city, the demand for, and price of his works skyrocketed. Rather than trying to produce more however, he simply worked at his own pace. Despite the local gallery owner’s ecstatic reaction to his success and push to ‘churn out more’, Brad was uninterested in accumulating great wealth. He simply painted as he felt and at his own pace, ironically driving prices for the works even higher.
The reclusive artist became known for *not* attending art shows and trying to ‘schmooze’ those of influence. Most functions were after dark and spanned the hours of his and Skye’s patrols. It was the perfect ‘personal interest’ story and art reporters were just itching to cover.
The art was a welcome distraction as Will’s recovery peaked then plateaued several times.
His speech was (if anything) better than before the shooting, as a speech therapist was engaged twice a week. He was now alert for much of the day and needed far less pain medication, plus he was eating a little – the elderly matron quite happy to offer their ‘star patient’ some of Skye’s home made juices rather than the usual fare, the healing herbs disguised by the tang of the combined apple, carrot and ginger.
Sadly it was his struggle to walk again that was most frustrating. As the swelling subsided and the vertebrae began to heal, Will thought he would simply get up and wander off, but it was worse than when he had first changed. The body brace was replaced by a lighter version that enabled him to sit up, and the very patient, remedial physiotherapist encouraged him day after day as he determinedly struggled up and back the strip between the two hand rails of the therapy room.
Lex(ander) and either Skye or Brad were there every day mid morning, staying until around three in the afternoon then leaving the ex-owl to children’s television, afternoon tea and a nap.
Finally, twelve weeks after the shooting the good news came. Will was well enough to travel and the head surgeon considered the comfort of family vital to Will’s recovery. They could continue the treatment at home.
Laden with little gifts from the doting nurses (and one from the parents of a small girl in the spinal unit whom Will had apparently befriended), Will was wheeled out to the family’s old truck, lifted into the back seat by the strong arms of Brad, and embraced then kissed thoroughly by the near beside himself (Lex)ander. The wheelchair was folded and placed in the back of the truck and they were waved off by two of the orderlies from Will’s ward.
Will, still in his brace – as he would be for another two to three months – was quite emotional as they rounded the bend and bumped down the forest track to Skye and Brad’s cottage. He noted that (Lex)ander was walking far more easily than he had before Will’s accident and wondered if he might ever be that confident again.
A couple of things were definitely different once they were in the cottage. When (Lex)ander submitted to Brad in true dog fashion (which he did with practiced ease), Brad all but growled then bared his teeth and opened his mouth over the other’s neck, not to bite just to acknowledge the pecking order. And when Skye touched him, it felt like feathers not fingers stroking him.
As he and (Lex)ander were bedded down for the night – now on a double futon, the hard mattress affording Will, still in his brace, the support he needed, Will gave in to the emotion of the homecoming. (Lex)ander kissed and then licked away the tears, and eventually both of Skye and Brad’s boys fell asleep just as their carers made love then changed as was their nightly ritual.