Evander was a young man of about Daecon’s own age, and he was very obviously the offspring of Owen and Leander. He possessed Owen’s height and Leander’s muscle, though he was not built as large as Leander. His build was very close to that of Daecon’s, in fact. His skin was a caramel brown, darker than Owen’s and Deacon’s own but still much lighter than Leander’s. His loosely curled hair was orange-brown tied back into a pony tail, his face and arms were covered in freckles, and even behind round eyeglass lenses his eyes were absolutely striking: The left one was bright green like Leander's, the right one was yellow, the same colour as Owen's. His ears were the same shape as Owen’s and Leander’s, indeed even as Daecon’s own, and in each ear were several golden hoops matching the one in his lower lip. He was wearing tan coloured cargo shorts and a matching tan collared T-shirt very much in the same style as the clothes Daecon was now wearing, and those clothes showed off his body (and his “assets”, Daecon noticed) exquisitely. Daecon could not remember ever laying eyes on a more attractive man.
“Pleased to meet you”, Evander said coldly as he offered his hand.
Daecon just stared at him for a moment, basking in his beauty, before he realized that he must look like an idiot. “Oh, uh... yeah, likewise” he said as he shook Evander’s hand and then took entirely too long to let go.
Evander rolled his eyes in a way that showed that he was anything but pleased to meet Daecon.
“Daecon will be staying with us here for the next little while”, Owen said. “Could you show him to the guest room where he’ll be staying, please? I’m sure he’s anxious to have a shower, aren’t you, Daecon? And then we’ll have some breakfast.”
Daecon snapped out of his trance. “Oh, yes, that would be great, please.”
Evander jerked his head in the direction of the stairs and then started walking toward them. Daecon followed, taking every opportunity to stare at the vision of male perfection climbing the stairs ahead of him as they climbed toward the second floor. Those shorts really did look good on Evander! Daecon was just remembering how Owen had explained that they were all male and all homosexual when Evander turned around.
“Is it true then?” he asked.
“Is what true”, Daecon answered, feeling a little embarrassed as he was certain that Evander had just caught him staring.
“That you were raised by humans? Father said that he found some humans chasing you and that you had been raised among them, and that you didn’t even know that you were a shifter.”
“Oh, yes, that’s all true. Up until yesterday, when those wings sprouted out of my back, I had no idea.”
“That’s impossible. How could you have gone so long without even knowing that you had wings? I’ve known that I could fly since before I could walk”.
“Well, you were raised among shifters, weren’t you? They taught you all about changing and flying and stuff. I was raised among humans who have never even heard of such things.”
“God, that must have been so boring. I couldn’t imagine, having to rely on those cars and machines to get around.”
“Well, when you don’t know any better it’s actually really fun. It’s hard to miss something you didn’t know you had, and I didn’t know I had the ability to fly. I loved my cars, though. I know Owen and Leander said I wouldn’t miss them after flying, but I think I will.”
“Ugh. Whatever. Noisy, smelly things, I can’t stand them.”
Daecon was starting to get the impression that Evander’s personality didn’t quite live up to his looks. Evander led him down a short hallway, opened a door, and gestured him through it.
“So what’s your alternate?”, Evander asked.
“Your alternate. You know, your second animal form. I saw your bird form as you were flying in, some kind of great big seagull or something. What’s your alternate form?”
“Seagull! I was no God-damned seagull! I was an Eagle, I’ll have you know!”
“Huh. Not bloody likely. Whoever heard of a white eagle? You were probably an albatross or something, they’re pretty big.”
Daecon was starting to get irritated now, but figured that it would be bad form to punch his hosts’ son in the neck, so he just turned away. Evander wasn’t finished, though.
“So you still haven’t answered. What is your alternate?”
Daecon turned back to face Evander. “I don’t have an alternate. For fuck’s sake, up until today I didn’t even have the Eagle-”
“Albatross”, Evander interjected with a sly smile. He was bugging Daecon, and he knew it.
“Eagle”, Daecon repeated. “Anyway, Owen and Leander didn’t even discuss an alternate form with me. They said that almost everyone has one though, so I guess mine will come eventually.”
“’Almost’ everyone, yes. Not everyone. I bet you won’t even have one because you started so late. I knew my alternate before I was five.”
“I bet I will”, Daecon said, though he was feeling doubtful. What was he even basing that bet on? “Anyway, what is your alternate?”
A flash of light and Evander was gone. In his place was a large cheetah. No, not quite a cheetah. It had the shape of a cheetah (albeit a bit large), but its colours were a little off. Instead of yellow with black spots, this cat was a darker orange-brown mottled with dark brown spots. The fur had a tight curl in it much like Evander's hair in human form did, and the spots almost resembled the freckles that covered Evander's skin. Its eyes were the same mismatched yellow and green. Even though this cat differed from a wild cheetah the results were still quite striking. Daecon couldn’t help but feel impressed. He could have guessed that such an attractive man would have an
attractive animal form, but he would have rather died than let Evander know
that he found him attractive, so he yawned somewhat unconvincingly.
The Cheetah was not fooled. It opened its mouth into a wide,
toothy smile, and in a flash of light it was gone and Evander the man was in
its place showing the same smug smile.
"That's kind of OK I guess", Daecon said, in a pathetic attempt to hide his envy, but he couldn't hide his curiosity. "The colours are off, though. Real cheetahs are yellow. Come to think of it, Leander's colours are wrong for his animal and bird forms too. His owl form is black, but horned owls are usually light grey, and his black Jaguar looks like the reverse of a wild black jaguar. Why is that?"
"Shapeshifter's animal colours tend to derive from their human colours, which is usually different from the wild animal's colours", Evander explained. My fur matches my hair as a human, right down to the curls. Under my fur the skin is the same colour as it is now."
Daecon considered this. "So Owen..."
"His animal forms are the same mixture of browns, blacks and greys as his human hair. It just so happens that those colours go well with his animal forms. I think his skin gets darker in bear form though, because his nose isn't the same colour as his human skin."
"Then that must be why my bird form is pure white."
"Probably, but that isn't always how it works. Usually, but not always."
"So wait”, Daecon said. “Your alternate is pretty close to
Leander’s panther. Do you inherit your alternate from
one of your parents?”
“Sometimes. Not usually an exact copy, but being a similar type of animal is fairly common. Had I inherited the bear form from Owen I might have had the body of a black bear, which is smaller than Owen's Kodiak, or a polar bear, which is a little larger than a Kodiak. Also, I probably wouldn't have actually been black or white. What were your parents’ alternates? Maybe yours will be one of theirs, if you ever have one...”
Daecon suddenly got angry. “I’ve never known my fucking parents, and you know that. Your fathers told you that I was raised by humans. I was an orphan. My parents are probably dead.”
Evander looked genuinely embarrassed. “Oh shit, I’m sorry, dude! I had forgotten about that! I didn’t mean...”
“Yeah, whatever. Forget about it. So this is my room?”
Daecon looked around. The room was small but comfortable, with a queen sized bed made out of raw birch wood still sporting its bark. There was a clock radio and a small flat screen television on the dresser, which was also made of raw birch. The bedside table (birch, too) had a small boom box sitting on it. On one wall was a small closet, and next to that was another door partially ajar. Daecon could see the corner of a toilet in that room.
“Yes. I put some of my clothes in the dresser for you, Dad
said you are about my size, and he’s right, though you look a little taller
than me. Those are my clothes you’re wearing now.”
Evander laughed. “Just where do you plan on doing that?
You’re miles from any store. And with what money?”
He had Daecon there. Even though he had billions of dollars in cryptocurrency he was flat broke. His wallet was probably at the bottom of that lake by now, and even if it wasn’t, how would he get to a bank or store?
“I’ll figure something out, don’t you worry about that. Is
that the shower?” Daecon asked as he pointed to the open door.
“Cool, thanks. You’ll have to excuse me, I need to get a
shower now. I feel filthy. I’m sure you could plant potatoes in my taint.”
“Oh my God! Too much information! Fine, enjoy your shower.”
Evander left the room with a lingering glance over his
shoulder at Daecon that went unnoticed.
Daecon stripped Evander’s clothes off and stepped into the shower. As he
was basking under the stream of hot water all that he could think about was
Evander. He was gorgeous, and Daecon wanted to get to know him better in the
physical sense, but the more Daecon got to know Evander the more he didn’t like
him. Sure, he was pretty, but what was with that attitude?
He lathered and scrubbed his body and was quite surprised when
he tried to wash his hair: It was bone dry, even in the shower. He put his head
directly under the shower’s stream and ran his fingers through his hair, trying
to soak it. It was no use: He could feel the water hitting his hand, he could
even feel it running through his hair as he tried forcing it in with his hands,
but the water just beaded and ran off, leaving his snowy white hair perfectly
dry. He made a mental note to ask Owen and Leander if this was some kind of
shifter thing and turned the water off.
As he was drying himself he started hearing voices. It was two men having a conversation. The voices belonged to Owen and Leander, and it sounded like they were right there in his bedroom, so he finished drying himself, put on the clean clothes Evander had left for him, and stepped out into the bedroom expecting to see his hosts. They were not in there, though he could still hear their voices quite clearly. He knew he shouldn’t be nosy, but couldn’t help but listen – besides, they were talking loudly enough that it was obvious they weren’t talking secrets. He soon discovered that he was wrong.
Leander’s voice said “So what are we going to do then, if we’re not going to bring him to the colony?”
Owen: “We’re not going to do anything just yet, at least not
until we make sure it’s safe. We will keep him here. If he is who I think he is
this could cause a lot of problems for him and for us. All of us. And not just
for our colony. This will affect the entire nation.”
“What kind of trouble? If he is who we think he is, this
could be exactly what we’ve been waiting for!”
“Oh, really? You think the Council of Elders would just
welcome him back with open arms, do you? His mere presence could end decades
worth of Council rule. They’re not likely to give that up so easily, and they
have some strong supporters. Also, remember who his father is, and what the
Council says that he did.”
“The council has some strong detractors, too, in case you
forget, and they can hardly hold Daecon responsible for something they believe
happened before he was even born.”
“That is true, but supporters of our cause mostly all left
the colonies. It would take time to get all of us organized, whereas the
Council is already concentrated at the colony and ready to fight.”
“Who says there has to be a fight? Our laws are clear...”
“Our laws are worth nothing when they’re manipulated by the
Council. They can make and break laws at the drop of a feather. Remember, too,
how they gained power in the first place. They would use Dontarion’s murder as
an excuse to shut Daecon out.”
Daecon hadn’t even realized he was doing it, but he was
slowly and quietly making his way back downstairs to where the discussion was
happening. He was surprised to see Evander standing on the stairs, out of sight
of the kitchen. He had been listening too, and when he felt Daecon’s presence
behind him he almost jumped out of his skin. Daecon motioned for him to keep
quiet and they continued listening.
Leander was talking now. “All the more reason we have to
restore that man to his rightful position. I’m telling you, we need to do it
soon. I believe you’ll find the council’s support isn’t quite as strong as they
or you think it is.”
Owen: “Weak as it might be, their base is still stronger than
we are currently. We will need time to get prepared for whatever may come. We
also need to make sure...”
“Sure of what? Owen, it’s as plain as the nose on your face
who he is. Just look at him, for God’s sake. The red in his eyes. The white hair and
plumage. The copper skin. His bird form. An eagle, in pure white! Owen, where
have you ever seen another person take a bird form of such magnificence as
that? And he can use his animal abilities as a human! There is only one
bloodline that gifts features and abilities such as those, and well you know
“I know, I know. I know we have to do it, but I’m telling you that we must wait and prepare, And we must make absolutely sure that Daecon is...”
“Royalty. Owen, I have never been as sure of
anything in my life as I am of this. That boy has got royal blood coursing
through his veins. The signs are all there.”