Trick perched on the crate and stared that snarling creature in the cage. It would undoubtedly be a kindness to put the beast down, but he couldn't quite bring himself to give the order. This was, or had been, Dyson, and his heart ached for the loss of his friend.
It had taken them almost two weeks to figure out why Dyson was stuck mid-change, somewhere between man and beast. He still couldn't believe the shifter had sought out a Norn; even when they appeared to grant requests, people rarely got what they wanted. Norns were unpredictable when it came to altering the lines of fate.
Trick looked across the room to where Bo and Lauren were huddled together and decided the 'why' of his actions probably had something to do with everyone's favorite Succubus.
His musings were interrupted by Hale.
The Siren leaned on the crate beside Trick. "Does she know how bad this is?" he asked, tilting his head toward Bo.
"She knows, but I think she's hoping Lauren can come up with something."
Hale scoffed. "This isn't a disease. There's no pill that's going to fix this."
"No, there isn't." Trick sighed heavily. "I'm not sure even magic can fix this."
"What are we going to do with him?"
“It’s been two weeks since Kenzi brought him back to us and he’s been like that the whole time. We can’t leave in the cage, but we can’t turn him loose, either.” Trick rubbed a hand over his mouth. “It might actually be a mercy to--”
“To what? Kill him?” Kenzi stood in front of him, arms crossed, glaring at the two Fae. “If this is how you treat your ‘friends’ I totally get why your enemies are so cranky.”
Hale reached out to touch her arm but she moved out of his reach. “Look, Kenzi--”
“If the next words out of your mouth are ‘this is Fae business’ I swear I’ll kick you so hard you’ll have to open your mouth to piss!”
Hale twitched slightly and, with a nod to Trick, walked over to join Bo and Lauren. Kenzi ignored him; her attention focused on Trick.
“Fix this. You can do anything – you know lots of-of stuff - find a way. I can’t believe there’s nothing that can be done.”
“Kenzi… sometimes things that happen can’t be undone.”
“And sometimes you have to try harder.” She stepped closer to him. “I know you know more than you let on – about a lot of things. He's supposed to be your friend. Try harder.” With a final glare, she stormed from the room. Bo called out to her, but the young human just waved her hand dismissively and kept going.
Trick’s gaze rested on the door through which she had passed. Reluctantly he had to acknowledge he hadn't seriously considered all the possibilities of this situation.~~~ ~ ~~~
He'd taken Kenzi's words to heart and pulled out the oldest books, rituals so intricate and binding that not even the Dark Fae dared speak of them. Hidden within the pages of an obscure text was a way to reunite a divided spirit through using another soul as the bridge. Trick hesitated. It would mean binding Dyson and Bo. There was no denying the passion between them, possibly enough to heal the shifter. It was his only chance. He needed Dyson.
A few days before the full moon, after the Dal Riata was closed for the night, Trick had led Bo down to where Dyson was caged, saying only he may have found a way to use her energies to heal. However, the moment he'd seen her, the shifter snarled and lunged for her, forcing a quick retreat. In the end the only way to calm Dyson had been for Bo and Trick to leave.
Although she had some reservations, Bo was still willing to do whatever she could to save her lover. Trick asked her to return the following night, and then went up to his room, pulling out the book of fate and quill. He thought carefully about how to word the entry and once he was satisfied, he dipped the quill into his blood and began to write, changing the fate of both shifter and succubus, readying them for the ritual.
Trick had only written a few lines when he realized the words would not adhere to the page. Every stroke of the quill blurred and smudged so that they were illegible, and then the ink - blood - simply evaporated as though it had never been. He dropped the quill and scrambled back from the book. This had never happened before; it was unheard of. He paused at that thought. There was a legend, the origins lost to a time before even he had been born, but there was a story… he pondered the bits of story he could recall, something about a fate that could not be changed – an untouchable destiny.
He sighed heavily, sorrow tearing at his heart. It was all clear to him now; Dyson could not be saved and would have to be put down. He had no idea how long he sat at his desk, but eventually he forced himself to stand. If this had to be done, then it should be done as quickly as possible.
As much as Trick was loathed to take a life, he had to look upon this as an act of mercy. He went to the cabinet and pulled out the charmed silver dagger and the small bag of sleeping dust. The least he could do for his old friend was to give him a quiet end; the killing stroke would be at the hand of a friend.
He reached the bottom step before noticing the door was open. For one horrible moment he thought Dyson had got loose, but a voice from inside the room told him the shifter had a visitor. He approached carefully and peered through the opening – and his heart almost stopped when he realized the cage door was open and Kenzi was inside. He was about to intervene, but was stopped by the sight before him.
Kenzi sat on a small crate she’d obviously dragged into the cage. Dyson sat at her feet, his head resting on her thigh.
“This totally sucks,” she said, carding her fingers through his hair. “I thought someone would have been able to do something by now.”
Dyson pushed closer to her.
“You’ve lost weight. Aren’t they feeding you?” Dyson made a grumbling sound in response. Kenzi nodded. “Yeah, I guess it’s hard to work up an appetite when you’re in jail.”
Trick frowned. Did she actually understand him, or was she just making up some kind of conversation?
“But still, you have to eat something. There’s a full moon coming and I bet your body’s going to be under a shit-load of stress.” She reached into the rucksack beside her and pulled out a plastic container. “I brought you something.”
Dyson shifted his head enough to look up, but otherwise didn’t move.
She opened the container and showed him the contents. “I know a guy who knows a guy who likes to hunt up north, and he let me have some moose meat. Well, it was a roast, but I figured cutting it into bits would be less messy.”
She glared at whatever expression must have been on Dyson’s face – although how anyone could actually read the beast-like face was a mystery to Trick. Other than rage, that was easy to understand.
“I tried to find wolf kibble – did you know there’s actually llama kibble? Anyway, no luck with the wolf snacks, so I thought this would do instead. What do you think?”
She took out a chunk of meat and held it out to the shifter. Trick wanted to yell for her to stop, to not tease the beast, but before he could say anything, Dyson had opened his mouth and allowed her to feed it to him. Trick watched as he chewed, swallowed and then proceeded to lick her fingers clean.
“Ever the gentleman,” she said, her tone breathless yet teasing. “Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, but I did bring wet wipes, you know.”
Dyson made a sound that could have been laughter, causing Trick’s breath to catch. Maybe there was more of his friend in that body than he’d thought. He watched in growing awe as the seemingly fragile human hand-fed the creature that had made Fae tremble in fear. She chatted away, rambling from one topic to another while she fed him. For his part, he gave every appearance of listening and understanding.
Once his meal was done, Dyson wrapped his arms around Kenzi and pulled her from her perch and onto the floor beside him. They shuffled about until they were curled up in the corner, wrapped around each other as to for warmth, or perhaps protection.
“No one is going to hurt you,” she said. “If they can’t fix this then we’ll go somewhere, someplace far away.”
Dyson nuzzled at her ear, and Trick had the oddest feeling he was actually talking to her.
“I don’t know, up north somewhere.” She appeared to listen to whatever he was saying before turning in his arms and placing her hands along his jaw. “We’ll figure something out. Stupid wolf, don't you get it? You keep saying I’m yours, but you’re mine and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
He could hear Dyson’s sigh, and watched as his shoulders relaxed and he settled against her slender body, her arms coming around him protectively.
Trick didn’t hesitate. He stepped fully into the room, startling the occupants with his unexpected entrance. “There’s a way to help him, but it’ll only work if you’re both willing.” If you trust each other without doubt or question, he silently added.
Dyson, who’d begun to snarl at his entrance, went silent. Kenzi sat up, but kept hold of the shifter. “Just tell me – tell us - what to do,” she said.~~~ ~ ~~~
As the moon rose over the treetops, Trick began the ritual. He read the ancient words aloud, speaking a language not heard in a thousand years – and certainly never heard in this land.
Magic pressed heavily over the dell, as did the silence. Kenzi sat huddled on the ground, wrapped in a blanket to ward off the night chill. Dyson paced but did not go far; an invisible barrier kept him in the dell. Suddenly flames sprang up in a circle around the shifter and human, almost obscuring Trick's view of them. The moment the full moon crested the trees and shone into the glade Dyson screamed.
Trick kept chanting even as the screams continued and Kenzi stood staring at the shifter. Trick was proud that she did not speak or try to approach; she understood the seriousness of what they were attempting.
Once touched by moonlight Dyson fell to his knees and the screams became one long howl from the large wolf that now stood in the circle. The wolf snarled and attempted to leave but was driven back by the ring of fire that flared hotter and higher each time he got too close.
Trick turned the page and began the next portion of the ritual, summoning the power of the moon. As he watched Kenzi dropped the blanket and stood naked and proud in the moonlight.
The moment the wolf turned and saw her, he froze. Trick stopped chanting and waited, knowing there was nothing left for him to do, but unwilling to abandon his friends. He would stay by them, whatever the outcome.
Without warning the wolf sprang at her, teeth bared and vicious snarls stating his intent. Kenzi, however, stood her ground. Although she shifted and tensed, she did not moved from the circle's center.
Dyson landed in front of her, teeth bared even as he scented the air, wolf eyes fixed on her. Kenzi stretch her arms upward as though to touch the moon. She squeaked in surprise when the large wolf leapt up to rest paws on her shoulders. He was tall enough that he had to look down to see her face.
Kenzi lowered her arms until she could wrap the wolf in a loose embrace. She pressed her nose to his, wrinkling her nose when he licked her, and Trick almost laughed when he heard her tease, "If you give me your germs I'll kick your fuzzy ass – and you know I'd do it."
Dyson backed off and sat at her feet, patiently accepting the pat on his head.
The next part was crucial, and Trick could only hope it worked.
Kenzi kicked aside her blanket and went to the Stone of Sacrifice. She stretched out on the makeshift altar, her pale skin gleamed, accentuating the runes painted on her body in blood – hers and Dyson's. She looked like an offering, a proper sacrifice to the Ancient Powers.
With a last look at Dyson she closed her eyes and tilted her head back, baring her throat to the wolf.
He lifted his head and howled, a deep sound of longing that raised the hair at Trick's neck. In a flash, the wolf was on her, powerful jaws closing on the vulnerable throat.
Trick mourned the pending death of his young friend. He could only watch the way the wolf tightened his grip on her. As much as Trick wanted to look away, he owed it to her to watch and see this through. He was so caught up in his own misery that he didn't immediately notice the lack of carnage.
The wolf was straddling the prone young woman, teeth still attached to her throat as trickles of blood dripped from the wounds on her throat onto the altar. Dyson suddenly began to tremble and glow. The brightness flared briefly and when the light had passed Dyson the man remained.
He reared back and looked around, a dazed expression on his human face. He quickly returned his attention to the woman beneath him and cradled her head in his hands. The shifter relaxed when her hands came up to his face, mirroring his actions and caressing his face. They murmured softly to each other, and although he could not hear the words, the tone was soothing.
Feeling some measure of relief, Trick began closing out the spell, chanting the last of the incantation as he watched them. The flames surrounding the glade continued to burn high, but he had a clear view of what was happening within the charmed circle. Dyson licked at the wounds on Kenzi's body while her hands smoothed over his back.
This was what had powered the spell, this was the oldest magic – absolute trust. Trick had feared the worst, but the young human had no such fear. Kenzi had clearly trusted Dyson – had, in fact, trusted him the entire time, right from the moment she'd found him. Dyson's trust in her had also been absolute. The wolf had claimed his mate, and a more worthy mate Trick could not imagine. Not even Bo.
Trick was torn between watching the beauty of their mating and leaving them some privacy – humans tended to appreciate that type of thing. However, judging by the unbridled sounds of passion, they probably didn't care whether they had an audience.
Another sound, this one from behind him, had Trick scanning the shadows beneath the trees. He was shocked to see a Norn in the shadows. She was grinning – an undeniably smug grin. She locked eyes with him, nodded once and said something that sounded like 'destiny', or perhaps 'finally', before disappearing into the shadows.
With the Norn's departure the flames quickly died. On the altar, Dyson and Kenzi were pressed together, moving in an ancient type of dance. Trick looked around, sensed the residue of magic in the area, and decided all was well. He smiled at the gasps and sighs and moans from the couple; they no longer needed him. He took himself off a few meters away and got comfortable. Once they were finished sealing their union spell he'd give them some clothes and urge them to disappear for a few days.
There would be fallout from the night's activities, not that he was concerned. Some things were worth the risk. And the shifter and human would protect each other from whatever came of this. Of that he had no doubt.~~~ ~ ~~~
Trick stood up from the tree stump he'd been resting against, smiling to see his old friend restored. He peered around Dyson to smile at Kenzi, who waved at him shyly. She was so rarely shy about anything that he found it charming.
"What happened, Dyson? All we could figure out was that you had gone to a Norn."
Dyson looked distinctly sheepish. "Everything was spiraling down," he said. "My emotions were getting in the way of my being able to do what I my job. I, uh, I asked to have my heart removed."
"Are you out of your fucking mind!" Kenzi tried to pull away but Dyson refused to let her go. "I cannot believe you! Your heart is what makes you you!"
Dyson pulled her close, wrapping himself around her. "Obviously, I still have a heart – I have you."
She stilled. "Oh."
He rested his chin on her head and looked down at Trick. "I knew there was a risk. Obviously the Norn put her own interpretation on things. I was convinced that Bo was the love of my life." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I needed to have that removed to see where my heart really belonged."
Kenzi looked up at him, awe and adoration in her eyes. "You really are just a great big puppy."
"Does that mean belly rubs?"
She blushed, shooting a quick look at Trick before snuggling back into the shifter's embrace. "Only if you're a very good boy. But remember, I know how to use a rolled up newspaper if you get out of line."
Trick decided this was a good moment to intervene. He picked up a rucksack and handed it to Dyson. "Clothes, food and first aid supplies – I wasn't sure how this was going to go." He straightened his jacket. "I've got some explanations to make, and possibly a succubus to calm, so I'm going to head back. You two take your time. Normally I'd say you need to let your bond settle, but it feels like that's already happened."
Kenzi lifted a hand to touch the wolf bite at her throat. The skin wasn't broken but the mark was very obvious. "We'd already claimed each other before – when I found him, I mean. We protected each other." She shrugged and waved her hand toward to clearing. "That was, I don't know, like a formality or something."
Trick met Dyson's gaze. The ritual was much more than a formality and the shifter knew it.
"Welcome back, Dyson. I'll go on ahead and let the others know." He started down the trail, dreading the conversation to come even as he could hardly wait to share the good news.