"I've seen you before."
I freeze in my position. How unlucky this day can be to meet this man, at this moment, on this first day. I just stand there looking at him and thinking what can be best said. He saw me last night with a totally different image: no glasses, no braces, short shorts, and a bun. I can say I look like a chic yesterday, and now I am instantly a nerd. What will he think?
Is this the end of my cover?
"I think you are mistaken. I-"
"Hansel! Your the girl from last night, right? In the flower field?" he says calmly but I can sense the excitement in his voice.
He totally remembers.What will I say now?
"Ah... yes. But..." I am having a mental block. Before I can finish my unknown sentence, he grabs me by the shoulder and looks straight at my face. He is now gawking at me with a smiling face which makes all things awkward. I can even hear some girls cursing behind my back.
"Let's celebrate being neighbors. See that peaceful bench outside? Let's have our lunch there," he says. I believe what he says is not an invitation, but more likely a command.
I look out to see the bench he is talking about, and I just nod so he can remove his hands off me. He smiles more brightly now and clears my way so I can get out of the cafeteria. He continues to enter the crowded food hub to get his lunch as I sit on the bench he just offers me.
I am quite hungry now so I choose to brush off the unlucky encounters for a while and take a monstrous bite on my fried chicken. I cringe at the taste of oil in this meat. As a wolf, cooked meat doesn't taste as good as fresh ones, but I particularly hate oily food like this. I have no choice though because the canteen staff put this on my plate without even asking me which ones I like to have.
While I am deciding if not finishing this oily chicken will look normal to observing eyes, I see Alex walking to the cafeteria with girls flocking on all his sides. He seems to be enjoying the company of his human girlfriends when he suddenly holds one of the girls' blonde locks and smells it.
What the heck?! Direct smelling can entice his wolf. What is he doing?
"Alex!" I shouted. I think I overreacted with the shout as I see more eyes on me now. I bow to say sorry to them then walk to Alex. I can see his merry eyes turn shocked when he saw me.
"Oh! One of my fans..." he reasons when I reach him.
"I'm his sister," I said not budging to the sharp eyes of the b*tches around him. Alex looks at me unbelieving, and I know his little brain is now cursing and shouting at me saying 'I told you I don't know you at school!'
"Oh... that's another interesting thing about you Alex," one of the girls says pinching Alex on his cheeks. Iw!
"Can we talk? Just for a sec," I politely ask.
"No worries, sister," they say, but I can see Alex's disappointed face as his girls push him to go with me. I then pull Alex to the bench and pinch his sides as soon as he plops down onto the wooden bench. He lets out a squeak feeling the pain of my werewolf pinch.
"What are you doing?" I asked in an angry whisper.
"I am interacting, genius!" he says pissed.
"That's way too many girls around you, you flirt!"
"Is it my problem I am this good-looking?" he says with a straight face. I can't believe how he never says 'kidding' after praising himself. I can only shake my head at his airy personality.
"They are not flocking on you because you are good-looking, but because you are easy to access. You're way too friendly, Alex."
"And you're way too close-minded, Hans. Being friendly is the most human thing, my dear sister. Go find your own, and don't be jealous of me," he says ready to leave. I am about to answer his comment when the man from last night comes back with a tray of food with him.
"Oh! Am I interrupting?"
"See? You also made a friend," Alex comments interrupting my sentence. I am shocked at how dense my brother can be. How can he say this is my friend. I don't even know this man's name.
"Oh, thank you. But I think I am not his friend... yet," the man meaningfully says as he steals glances at me. The situation is too awkward for me, so I am not able to speak and contribute to the conversation.
The next thing I know, the two already exchange names and even talk about us being neighbors. They are interrupted when Alex's girls call him. Alex gives me a mocking smile before saying goodbye.
"He's a nice kid," Kaze praises Alex.
Yes, his name is Kaze Lovett, a 19-year-old 12th grader. It's funny how this 19-year-old boy is a grade higher than me in this high school skit I am playing. But, it amazes me how mature Kaze is despite his very young age. I think he is more mature than me... or even Mom, LOL.
"Aren't you going to ask me about why am I so different last night and right now?" I ask as we walk back to our buildings. I realize that it is better to make a clear alibi to him right now instead of having him suspect behind my back.
"You can tell if you like, but I won't ask. The reason might be too personal," he just says. Wow... he is even considerate.
I am about to layout my perfect alibi when the bell rings. Kids hurry to go to their respective classrooms, and that includes Kaze who bids a quick goodbye since he has to walk one more building to get to his own classroom.
I just sigh and go back to my own room.
A nerd can only be late once.
"So, how's school?" Mom asks Alex.
We are now having our dinner at home and it is quite festive because tonight we are sharing fresh, uncooked lamb soaked in the special dressing only my Mom knows what.
"How about you share with us how your girls' hair smell," I suggest. They are both confused about what I said, so I decide to tell Mom how Alex smelled directly one of his girlfriends' hair.
I expect Mom to scold Alex for it because that is dangerous knowing how untrained Alex is in controlling his wolf. But my jaw drops when Mom laughs at him and literally asks Alex if he can guess her shampoo.
I mean what?!
"Mom? Alex should know his boundaries," I interrupt their happy conversation. Alex snorts and whispers about me getting jealous again. But, I am not. It is just that Mom seems to be so giving and tolerant with Alex.
I remember when it was my first time in high school. Unlike Alex, I was also thirteen then, but I started at grade 7 because I didn't mature as quickly as Alex. Mom didn't just bring me to school, but she stayed on the school premises waiting for me on my breaks and lunch. We ate together and studied together in the library, and she just stopped doing it when my teachers advised her not to baby me too much.
For a wolf, my age was really young, so I understood Mom for doing it. But, we were in a human community, and having a Mom babysitting her Grade 7 daughter was quite unusual in the eye. Thinking of it again, that feels suffocating, but I got to learn from Mom first hand, and I felt the safest during those early years.
Now, Mom seems to let go of Alex's leash too early.
"Indeed. Alex, watch your claws when you touch humans. Okay?" She only says going back to her piece of meat.
"That's not what I meant, Mom. Alex is way too open and public. I think he didn't follow any of the guides for his disguise," I say, and now I really sound like an anti-Alex. But, my job is to look after him at school, and the less troublesome he is, the better for me, right?
"Hansel, you don't have to be that strict. I know you are comparing how I treat Alex now to how I treated you before. But, I realize I was wrong when I did that to you. You became overly dependent and when-"
"When you tried to let me go off alone, something happened. The St. Patrick's thing?" I continue her sentence.
"That's not what I meant, Hansel. I want you to enjoy and have friends like you used to when we were in St. Patrick. I know what happened there was a mere cause of bad timing... It's not your fault," Mom calmly explains.
I am taken back to my senses and realize how I spoil today's festive dinner. I apologize to my Mom and choose to rest early so I can sort my feelings out. I think what happened to me this morning is influencing my mood right now.
Just when I am about to step on the stairs, Mom calls me and advises me with her charming smiling face.
"Smile freely, dear. That's how you started making friends."
I hope that is as easy as Mom thinks. I just smile back at her and continue to my room.
I am in a library.
I am walking past my favorite bookshelf when I accidentally bump the aluminum ladder that leans on one of its walls. I am not able to compress my wolf strength in such an abrupt moment, and so its base flies almost five meters away from me while its long body falls to the floor with a very loud thud. It even bounces when it touches the stone tile, so I have to put my right foot on the bouncing ladder to kill the disturbing noise.
When I look behind, all eyes are on me. I subconsciously look for the librarian, and I see her very angry face making meaningful looks that tell me, "If you can't be careful, get out!"
I bow to apologize and walk out of the scene. Now out of sight, I can't help but laugh because of the commotion that I just did. All humans in this room are so serious and here I am looking for a free novel to read, bumping the ladder and making noise.
"That's quite an ice-breaker..." says a soft voice behind me. I turn around to see a smiling lady in a sweet floral dress. I look at her from head to toe, unsure if she is really the type to approach an isolated one like me. She is carrying books with her which she pulls up to avoid from falling as she arranges the spectacles that cover almost half of her small face.
"Do I know you?" I ask politely in a low volume.
"We're in the same class with Mrs. Baldwin," she says. I nod unconsciously realizing how her looks match a typical history major college student.
"Sorry if I disturbed you with such a loud noise..." I say smiling sheepishly.
She chuckles. I look back at her, but just then...
I am now in a forest... it is dark and cold... it is so quiet I can hear my own heartbeat as I press my fresh wound.
I look at my abdomen, and I see it bleeding a river. It is not healing well and I am losing too much blood.
I kneel due to sudden fatigue, and I see the girl again.. she is right in front of me... unmoving on the ground. Her eyes are open... but they are not blinking... they are so stationary that a bird flies beside her and peck one of her eyeballs.
I gasp... I can't breathe... I want to puke...
"E-Emily..." I manage to say as I pick up her favorite eyeglasses. Her innocent look flashes to me again.
I feel so suffocated. I shout.
Mom's face is in great shock. She is holding me by my shoulders, and I am gripping her right hand tightly. My claws are out and they dug deep on Mom's flesh. It takes seconds for me to realize I should let go of my grip.
"Mom!" I react apologetically. She just hugs me and asks me if I am okay. I nod almost crying. I check the wound I inflicted on her and its healing right away. I heave a sigh and try to calm down as Mom caress my back.
"How long has it been?" she asks directly when I finally calm down. I can't answer. I am afraid she will scold me. But, she gives me a warning look and I admit.
"Since we moved."
"How bad is it?"
"It's okay," I say. This is my first time having such a nightmare. I had brief flashes before, but I chose to shrug them off because they were not this bad.
"It will only get worse. I told you to take the meds," Mom says seriously to me. She looks at me with her concerned eyes, waiting for me to respond.
The medicine she is talking about is a kind of drug that is purposely made for us, wolves. Its main purpose is to control the wolf inside an individual. This medicine makes me forget the stressful and ugly memories that trigger my wolf to wake.
I was taking it regularly after that incident in St. Patrick, and it made me a lot better, but I stopped.
I don't know if it is my ego that makes me stop taking it. Because such a drug is specially made for savage wolves who are like criminals and psychotic in our race. Taking it makes me feel like one. Unwanted. Untamed.
"I'll ask your Dad for some tomorrow," she finally says. I am not in the mood to discuss this matter with Mom this midnight, so I decide to go back to sleep. Mom understands me immediately, and she tucks me back to bed.
I almost jump at the sudden noise of my neighboring locker door. It is the same girl from yesterday, the one I bumped in the comfort room. She is standing boastfully in front of the locker space next to mine which has the name "Gale Keller".
Her name doesn't suit her at all.
She is alone right now, but her bully aura doesn't deplete even an inch.
"Iw! What did I do to see you this early in the morning?!" she says making it look like seeing me is a bad omen. I only smile fakely at her which seems to annoy her even more. She stomps her feet and gives me an annoyed glance.
"Do me a favor. Please don't make me see you. Ugly!" she warns almost leaning on my face. She is so bitchy that I want to punch her that moment, but I can't. And I won't.
After she settles her stuff on her locker space, she then walks away flipping her long hair like an overrated shampoo model.
I think over her favor.That's not bad at all. I think avoiding her will benefit me the most.
I thought that the girl Gale will be my only nuisance today, but I am definitely wrong. As I enter the classroom, I see a pack of dangerous-looking men surrounding my chair. I am not sure if they were here yesterday, but it looks like they weren't. My other classmates are looking annoyed at them because they are too loud and chaotic. I also observe that there are about four added chairs near my spot. This messes the seating plan and obviously makes my spot a bit crowded.
I don't want to stand like an idiot there forever, so I walk to my seat. Intense glares are gunned at me instantly when I enter the invisible wall of my new seatmates.
"What are you doing?" a monstrous voice asks me before I can sit down.
"I'm going to sit... on my chair..." I say.
"This is our spot, nerd. Go away or we'll eat you," another man says and they all laugh. They even do high-fives that insult me more.
I want to smack these humans to their senses, but I feel defensive being surrounded by them. It is very unusual that I am a wolf and I feel threatened by these men. Something in them wakes my territorial instinct - which is not a good sign. I only feel this instinct when my life is in danger, usually in an encounter with other packs. If they provoke too much, my wolf might retaliate.
"This is my seat. Not your spot," I firmly say. I can't control my emotion and I believe there is a hint of a growl in my sudden mood change.
They stop laughing, and they stare at me more perilous now. The biggest man of the four stands up and towers over me. He is so thick and big that I almost fall to the ground when I try to level my stare. I can sense that the whole classroom is looking at us now. Some whisper about me, describing me as someone with a death wish.
The man raises his fist and points at my head. "I think you need some flicking," he says and he readies his fingers to flick me.
I suddenly feel nervous. Alex and Martin used to flick my forehead before, and it hurts. Looking at this man's thick arms and fingers, I think this can be as hurtful. For this, I subconsciously look down and lamely wait for the contact. But it doesn't come, instead, a voice silences the whole commotion.
"Where is my seat?" the voice asks. My nervousness turns to a panic attack as the voice vibrates onto my eardrums. The rowdy boys are suddenly tamed. They even stand up.
I look at the source of the voice and I freeze... It is the man with the blackest hair.
Looking straight at me, his face shouts even more danger. Like before, my world stops when our eyes meet. His features look a thousand better now that I am staring at it in this distance. His beauty can't hide his anger though. He looks so pissed that I think he can break the hand of the man who is about flick my forehead.
Our staring contest is disturbed when the big man squeaks due to pain.
"Aw! Arche it hurts," says he.
The man named Arche quickly removes his eyes off me. I also snap out to reality and make way for him to pass. He walks past me without another word, and I think I calm down a bit.
What was that?!
I have never felt this before, but I can't stop assuming that this may be a mate bond - but he is a human. Among all the prayers we werewolves pray to the gods, having a human mate is the top thing we pray to avoid. It is taboo.
When I saw this man that day when we moved here at Trenfor, I never expect to see him again. But I did wish we don't.
And now... We are classmates?!
Narration... Carrie is staring in a blank space by the window when the doorbell rings. She peeks at the window to check her visitors and she nods at the two men waiting by her doorsteps. She seems to be expecting the visitors so she unhesitantly opens the door and greets them. "Good morning, Doctor," she tries to smile but her smile can't seem to reach her eyes. Who wants to meet the Doctor anyway. This old hermit is one of the wolves one can only see in worst-case scenarios. The last time Carrie saw this man was when they signed a treaty of peace with some Asian wolves they met a few hundred years ago. He is the oldest official who runs their pack behind the shadows. His wolf is not that powerful, its presence is actually almost nonexistent to Carrie, but his old intellectual mind holds their pack's history and wisdom enough for him to earn respect and an august position. "Good morning, Hill?" the older man responds. Carrie nods to his unstated question. "How long have you been u
Everything happens so fast. Kaze gets the ball and he passes it to Alex. Annoyance is evident on Arche's fine face as Alex runs for the basket, and my heart literally stops as I pray he won't use his wolf strength and speed. My prayers are heard because he doesn't use it, but I think he is having a hard time controlling his own natural strength. He passes the ball right away to his teammate in the three-point zone, and his teammate fire for a three-point shot. It goes in and the crowd starts cheering Kaze's team again. The game goes on and the basketball show-off just gets fiercer and stronger. There are student referees on the side, but they can't seem to handle the game. I don't know much about basketball, but I can see many fouls from Arche's team that are not called by the referees. The bench members on Kaze's team seem to observe the bias officiating, and try to signal Kaze about it. I know Kaze knows it too, but he is so game on, he doesn't care anymore
I try my best on the following days to avoid Arche and even Kaze. I see Kaze casually talking to Alex about some stuff they only understand, and since Alex is always the talkative and clingy friend, I get to avoid Kaze easily. For Arche, avoiding him is the hardest, because he intentionally does things that catch my attention. Like in our PE class, we were running some lapses while his football team was doing warm-ups. In the middle of my run, he intentionally kicked the ball in my direction that I almost fell on the ground when the ball whistled past me. I even saw him grinning maniacally at my shocked reaction. People, even our teacher, just laughed at me like I was some kind of entertainment. I almost growled at their annoying happy faces. I think I need a tap on my back for all the holding back I did for that Arche. That kid is wildly sipping on my nerves. "You look stressed." Mom said as she puts milk on my cereal. "School," I simply say. "Being a nerd is taking its toll on m