It was a little cold, the weather was a little chillier as the year waned into winter months. The ocean breeze blew through the nearby forest where Julian and I ran. He was in his normal running clothes, track pants and running shorts and an under armor shirt. He was breathing heavy and was listening to his iPod as he and I raced down the trails of Francis Marion National Forest. We were a couple miles away from the ocean, but I could still smell the salty air and feel the cold, ocean breeze. Julian probably couldn't smell the ocean anymore. We were too far away for him, but for me, I could smell it crystal clear.
I trotted along beside him, padding down the concrete path of the forest. The few people we past, probably just saw me as a large dog with wolfish qualities. They didn't get a good enough look at me to know that I actually was a wolf. I padded lightly, my tongue hanging out of my mouth and I panted, just to help with the dog-effect. Julian looked down at me and chuckled. I turned to him and gave him a short bark in reply before looking back down the trail. I was used to running long distances. I ran when I needed to get away, to think, or just to feel better. Being in wolf form always made me feel just a little healthier than normal.
Julian slowed down and placed his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. I slowly and turned around, coming over to sit in front of him. He looked up at me with a small smile, his blue eyes glittering. I looked around and made sure no one was around us and sniffed the air. We were alone. I closed my eyes and felt my body change, my heart beating a little faster as I came to stand on my hind legs. I felt my tail retract, my fur pull in and my ears shift back down to the side of my head. I was suddenly a little colder as I stood beside my brother as a human. My black hair cascaded down my back in tight ringlets and landed at my hips. I pulled it up to the top of my head and tied it, only for it to fall to the side slightly, but I left it.
I was dressed in similar clothes to Julian, with tight, knee length under armor pants, and an under armor shirt and sneakers. Julian stood up and towered over me. Although I was three years older than him, he was a giant compared to me. He smiled at me and ruffled my black hair that was dull and lifeless aside from the ringlets. I frowned, probably making my pale face look even sicker. Julian turned away.
"Wanna head back?" I asked, bouncing lightly on the balls of my feet. Although the motion made me want to vomit, I managed to keep it down.
"Race ya." I immediately took off and sprinted down the trails. Julian had longer strides than I did, but I had better speed. I felt the muscles working in my legs and torso and breathed in the cool air. My long hair blew out behind me and I could hear Julian's struggled breathing not far back. Although I wasn't in as good of shape as he was at the current moment, using what I had, I was still beating him. I coughed as I jumped over a log and saw the blood on the sleeve of my shirt. I ignored it, wiping it off on my hip and kept running. Julian started slowing down behind me, but I kept my fast pace and raced down the trails. I passed couples and individuals, women with strollers and men with dogs. I passed little children and old people and finally slowed as the parking lot came into sight.
I walked the rest of the way to the car and leaned against the hood, catching my breath. My slim, pale hands were shaking as I leaned over and vomited on the concrete next to the car. My body shook and I took deep even breaths. I wasn't vomiting from running. I could run a lot longer than I just did, but my body wasn't very happy with me at the current moment in time. I reached into the back of Julian's Jeep and grabbed a water bottle and washed out my mouth and leaned against the hood of the car. Julian came into the parking lot as I sat on the hood and slowed to a walk. He was breathing heavily and came around the car to grab some water. He then stood next to me, his breathing ragged.
"You got sick." He managed through uneven breaths, "You shouldn't have run that fast." I rolled my eyes and took another sip of water.
"Im fine, Julian." Julian gave me a little that completely said 'I know you're not fine'. I ignored it and slipped off the hood and around the car to the passanger seat. Julian walked to the drivers side and leaned against the car with his arms on the door and looked at me; my pale skin, my dull hair, my red eyes and easily seen veins. I was sick, we all knew it. What we didn't know was how sick.
After a few moments he get into the car and we drove off towards home. We lived in Charleston, South Caroline, a little north of the city, in Hanahan. Julian and I lived in a two story, off white house with a red wooden door and a two car garage. There were some dead flowers in the flower beds and curtains over the windows. He and I lived with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Ashley. To say the least, she and I didn't get along to well.
Ashley was an 18 year old girl who couldn't cook, stayed away from sunlight and had a bad attitude. She, like me, was changed into something she never wanted to be, at a young age and since then, it had changed her from the nice girl she used to be (apparently, I really couldn't believe that), into the bitch she was today. She was beautiful, something that passed on from her old life, although her once green eyes were now a deep red and she had longer canine teeth that seemed necessary for her kind. She slept in the middle room of the house where there were no windows and she had painted the walls black. Quite cheery if you ask me. Although I took her in when she was first changed and helped her get through the blood lust of the first year, she and I had it out for each other and the only reason why one of us wasn't dead, was because of my brother.
We pulled up to the house and I immediately got out, stumbled slightly and righted myself before walking into the house. Ashley was sitting in the living room in the darkest corner she could find and watching TV. The curtains were pulled over the windows as they usually were and she had her hood pulled over her blonde head. She looked at me with a sneer before she gave Julian a small smile. Obviously they were on good terms this week.
"Oh, look. The ugly is back." I growled and bared my teeth at her.
"Oh, like you are that pretty either, blood sucker." Ashley hissed and stood up, her fangs barred. I felt the change coming on, only for Julian to place a hand on my shoulder.
"Calm down. Both of you." Ashley stopped and frowned, sitting back down in the chair and turning her angry gaze onto the television. I snorted and walked off into the kitchen where I grabbed an apple and started munching on it. I knew that eating wasn't a good choice. It would probably end up coming back up later, but I didn't really care. I walked out the back door to the back porch and sat on the wooden steps, looking out into the red and gold forest that lined the back of my house. I have lived in this house my entire life, and when my parents died in the car accident thirteen years ago, we stayed. We didn't move in with our uncle, and he didn't move in with us. He visited every day, but that was it.
I leaned against the wooden pillar, felt the cold air on my face and lower legs and bit into the red apple. My stomach turned and I kept it down, swallowing and closing my eyes with the slight discomfort. Clouds started to roll in across the sky and painted it a dusty grey. I sighed and walked inside, ignoring my brother making out with the bitch from hell on the couch. I walked up to my bedroom and closed the door, opening my window and letting in the cool fall air. It felt good, making my hot skin a little less uncomfortable as I lay on my bed. I could hear Julian and Ashley downstairs.
"She's getting worse, Ash. I don't know what to do anymore."
"She's stubborn. She'll come around eventually. She knows she has to." I slammed a pillow over my face and groaned in annoyance. They needed to stop worrying about me. I was fine! Okay, maybe I wasn't as great as I once was, but I'm not dead yet.
My alarm started to go off and I slammed a hand down onto it, hearing a slight crack and ignoring it. I got up, throwing my pillow back onto my bed and walking into my bathroom where my uniform was hanging behind the door. I started the water and stripped, stepping in under the hot water and rinsing out my hair. It felt good to get the dirt off me from this morning, but the heat just made me feel a little worse. My body was very picky about temperature as of late and that was just another sign that I was going downhill fast.
After washing, I stepped out into the steamy air and dried myself off, pulling on a pair of black pants and a white button up shirt and tied a red scarf around my neck. I tried my best to make my hair look less dull and lifeless as it usually was and tied it up in a high ponytail and teased it out. That only made it look like a dull, lifeless rats nest. I sighed and slipped on a pair of pumps and walked down the stairs. Julian looked over at me, knowing I had heard him earlier and gave me a small smile.
"Have fun at work." He told me. I gave him a small nod. Ashley just ignored me, which I was perfectly fine about.
I left the house and got into my car, a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, pulling out of the garage and heading down into West Ashley to the restaurant I worked at. It was a small Italian restaurant in the center of West Ashley that was open for dinner and late night drinks. I've been working here since I graduated college last year trying to keep paying the mortgage.
I came in around the back and walked through the kitchen. A few people nodded towards me, and my manager clocked me in. I immediately grabbed my apron and pad of paper and started taking orders around the room and bringing it back to the kitchen. It was a Friday night and although it wasn't even five o'clock yet, the restaurant was packed. I came to stand at the bar where my manager, Quinn stood. He was a tall guy, fairly muscular and actually fairly intimidating when you first meet him, what with his slightly long dark hair, tattoos that were currently covered by his black button up shirt, and the fact that his ears were pierced. But he was a teddy bear, really. He looked at me with a small smile, his dark eyes sincere, before actually looking me over.
"Are you okay, Teg?" I nodded my head and poured two drafts of beer. He grabbed my shoulder and gently turned me around. "Tegan. Don't lie to me." Quinn was one of the few people that knew of my condition. Mostly because he, himself, was a fire elemental, and his brother was bitten, and died because he couldn't find a pack.
"Im fine, Quinn." Quinn gave me a look before letting me go and I stumbled out of the bar and back to the tables, where I placed the beer and took the orders. The hours tumbled by until midnight came and passed and Quinn started locking up for the night. The cooks in the back were shutting things down and me and the other servers were cleaning up tables. I cleaned off table clothes and carried the unused dishes and silverware back into the kitchen. When everything was finally finished, I grabbed my belongings, only for Quinn to gently grab my arm. He pulled me back into his office where he closed the door.
"You need a pack, Tegan." Well that wasn't obvious at all, thanks Quinn. My eyes immediately narrowed and I pushed myself farther back into the seat that I was sitting in. Quinn sat in the chair next to me instead of at his desk. I crossed my arms and turned my gaze away from him.
"Im fine, Quinn." I snapped, immediately defensive. Quinn sat up slightly and raised his arms in surrender.
"Im just trying to look out for you, Teg. You know what happened to Andy." I turned to him again, my glare still held.
"You don't have to look out for me. I can handle myself." I stood up to go and he grabbed my hand gently, tenderly. His skin was hot against my own, making me a little uncomfortable with the temperature.
"Teg," I turned to look at him, "If you ever need anything…. You know Im here." I gently pulled out of his touch and left the office, taking my things and heading out to my car.