The walk back to Yehun, Meolin was long. It was longer for Finn.
Aijun was a consistent annoyance in Finn’s ear, and the weight only got heavier as they went along. Finn decided it would be easier if he just got into conversation with the man on his back instead of letting the flirtatiousness go any further. It was too much for him.
“A werewolf, huh? Thought those were considered demons around here.”
“They are. But I’m not a werewolf.” Aijun answered.
“If Arve says your a werewolf, that makes you a werewolf.” Finn retorted bitterly. Aijun could sense the mixed feelings on the matter right away. He had to be hyper aware of people's feelings to do his job well.
“What would a kid know?”
“Don’t let him hear you say that.” Finn readjusted Aijun on his back. Aijun was a small and relatively skinny kid. The muscles he had were firm, but his weight just didn’t add up to Finn. How could someone so small be so heavy?
“Right. And anyway, stop thinking I’m fat. I’m only fifty five kilograms!” Aijun squirmed as if he was trying to get off Finn’s back, but then the dizziness hit him again. He decided it would be like walking drunk if he got off of Finn’s back now. Aijun had too much pride to say outright that he needed these people’s help.
“There is no way your fifty five kilograms! I carried men nearly twice that weight with no problems!”
“Oh, so you carry other men?”
“I’m seriously going to drop you.” Finn grumbled. The small town was visible only by the lamp lights that were supposed to scare off evil wolf spirits. More modern areas of Meolin didn’t really believe such nonsense, but Yehun was left behind in those ideologies.
Yehun believed that sand wolves were the scariest of all the creatures in the night. The lamps burned lavender though. Just a bit of a miscommunication on Yehun’s part. Lavender helped werewolves.
Aijun would never have known such an intricate detail before. But now he could smell the lavender wafting from the lanterns. Or maybe, Jonathan could smell them through his nose.
“You said you had money down here, right? Feed us, please?” The boy, Arve, begged him. Aijun noticed how small the boy was, and how skinny. Could these two adults not feed him properly.
“Don’t get the wrong idea. We aren’t his guardians. And Arve, seriously? Going for the child con? What happened to being twenty three?”
“If you would shut up-” Arve started, but was interrupted by a woman screaming.
A woman’s voice could be heard wailing from down the way. At first the voice was too shrill to be understood, but as the screaming continued, the words became clear. The woman was shrieking in Meol.
“Mom!” Jonathan shouted from Aijun’s mouth. He even had to nerve to speak in his native tongue, Meol. It was Jonathan’s mother who was screaming like that. Jonathan fought Aijun for control of his body as he jumped off Finn’s back. In the process, he accidentally pushed Finn off his feet.
Jonathan’s eyes were glowing as he ran down to his mother’s voice.
“I told you!” Arve whooped. He jumped in the air and chased after Aijun.
Aijun was no match for Jonathan in this state. When Jonathan was manifesting his werewolf abilities, it made him even too strong for Aijun to stop. All he could manage was to yell at Jonathan.
“Jonathan! Stop! You are in my body, not yours!” Aijun whisper screamed. There wasn’t much that could get Jonathan to stop. Aijun could even feel Jonathan’s emotions welling up within his body. He could feel the other person living within him and it scared him.
“You have to find him! My son would never leave! He would never leave me-” The voice wailed in her mother tongue. Aijun cursed his inability to understand the language. But Jonathan was consistently translating in his head, and Aijun could almost feel the meaning. It was like their minds were merging from Jonathan’s absolute panic.
“He’s gone, m’am. There’s nothing more we can do.”
Jonathan came to a dead stop when his eyes met his mothers. In that moment, Aijun was able to take control again. That split second of indecision on Jonathan’s side gave Aijun that opportunity. And he used it to run in the other fucking direction.
Arve leaped into the air with that special grin he always has, and tackled Aijun.
“A werewolf, but not a werewolf…” Arve scrunched his eyebrows together in concentration. Before Aijun could throw Arve off, a gun was pointed at his head.
“Stand up really slowly, wolf demon.” The man with the gun demanded. His voice was stricken and raw.
“But he’s not a wolf,” Arve said matter of factly. Aijun rolled his eyes. This kid was really not helping the situation. The kid was still sitting on top of him like Aijun was a tackle dummy. The man’s gun shifted to Arve.
“Look, I just got shot two days ago. I could really use a break, and some food.” Arve explained and simply pushed the gun out of his way. Arve stood up and brushed himself off as if he weren’t absolutely insane for a kid his age.
The man growled impatiently, and grabbed Arve by the collar. Finn and Emma finally caught up to them, and started freaking out. They weren’t acting scared for Arve, but for the Sergeant with a hold on the kid. Aijun couldn’t place that kind of reaction.
“I wouldn’t do that… Just put him down before someone gets hurt.” Emma had her hand outstretched toward the sergeant. The sergeant laughed, but did as she asked. Finn very noticeably placed his hand on the hilt of his sword. The sergeant’s own hand rested on his weapon.
“You called me mom,” The woman wandered close to Aijun. He sat up dizzily and avoided her eyes.
“Show me the eyes.” She said, grabbing Aijun’s jaw.
The sergeant tried to step between them, and even tried warning the woman that his man was a wolf demon, but Arve got in the way. He took out his sword and held it in the sergeants direction. The sergeant looked amused as he raised his hands in surrender.
Aijun met her eyes, and Jonathan came to the front of their shared mind. As his eyes glowed for his mother, Jonathan started to cry.
“Mom… Mom I think I died.”
His mom grasped Jonathan in a deep and desperate hug. But Jonathan had fallen back, and his mother was hugging a complete stranger. Aijun couldn’t do anything but hold her. The woman’s shoulders shook as her cries became louder. Aijun’s dizziness and nausea returned from the snake bite.
Aijun stood suddenly and stuck his head in a gutter to throw up. In the past, he had thrown up in gutters, but that was usually more of an alcohol problem than a rattlesnake venom problem.
“Jonathan? Are you okay?” The werewolf’s mother patted Aijun’s back.
Aijun stopped throwing up long enough to utter that he still didn’t speak Meol. Jonathan was able to translate, but by then it didn’t matter. It still took so long for the thoughts to become Aijun’s. Jonathan could share his thoughts with Aijun, but it took a long time.
“I’m not Jonathan-” He continued to throw up in the gutter.
Metal clicked around his wrist and Aijun ripped his arm away. The sergeant’s arm was hooked to his by handcuffs.
“What the hell-”
“Language,” Jonathan said out of the same mouth.
“What are you? A wolf demon? A sand spirit?” The sergeant looked disgusted. Arve and Finn came up and grabbed the handcuffs to pull both Aijun and the sergeant into the woman’s house. The mother held the door for them, and the sergeant stopped fighting when a dagger poked him in the back. Emma had the rear covered.
Once inside, Aijun used the handcuffs to pull the sergeant up against him. As startled as he was, the sergeant pushed against Aijun’s broad chest.
“Just couldn’t help but attach yourself to me,” Aijun lowered his voice to be more sexy.
“What a flirt,” Finn laughed and sat at the woman’s small dining room table. Emma joined him. The woman stared at the people in her kitchen.
“You told me my son was gone. That he left me. And then you called his young man a demon? A sand spirit? Is there anything you’ve said that is true, sir?” The woman poured glasses of water for everyone. She was using an English dialect to speak now.
“I would like noodles with steamed vegetables.” Arve ordered shamelessly. The woman laughed and patted him on the shoulder as if he had told a good joke. Arve only looked at her expectantly.
“What are you, if not a sand spirit?” The sergeant pulled at the chains. Aijun stumbled a bit.
“A guy. A regular Joe who came to Meolin for some parties. Crazy warlock kidnapped me, strapped me to a chair, and did some weird shit to me. Not my fault.”
“What exactly did he do?” Emma asked. The woman came up to Aijun and looked him in the eyes.
Immediately, Jonathan came to the front.
“He- he tied him down and-” Jonathan’s voice cracked in Aijun’s throat. “And he hammered these gems into his arm. Then he killed me and…” Jonathan’s memory of that time had ended with him dying. The gap in memory was quickly filled with Aijun’s.
“He took the gem he used to kill Jonathan’s body and embedded it in me. Far as we can tell, the werewolf qualities remained, but I don’t appear to other creatures as a wolf.”
“I see. No matter. I am glad to have my son back.” The mother hugs Aijun again.
“He isn't your son. He’s a wolf demon! All of this is to trick you-”
The woman slapped the sergeant as hard as she could. Tears were brimming in her eyes but her voice held firm when she found her words.
“How dare you? My son has been a werewolf for years, and he has never done anything unkind to anyone in his entire life! What gives you the right to call him a demon? You know nothing about him!”
The sergeant rubbed his cheek with his free hand.
Aijun was shocked. This woman loved Jonathan. And by extension, she loved Aijun for saving her son. She was the only one that didn’t think Aijun and Jonathan were a monster. The only one.
Aijun hugged her tight and buried his tears in her embrace.
“Jonathan?” She asked tentatively.