“Say goodnight, Honey Bunny,” Agalon said as he helped Xaxac to his feet.
“Are we ok?” Xac asked Alex, “Are you ok?”
“I’m sticky…” Alex giggled, “So yeah, honey, I’m good.”
“God, you are…” Ky said, “all over your stomach… are their towels anywhere, Kai?”
“In the water closet,” Agalon said, “Sweet dreams.”
“Goodnight,” Xac waved to Alex, who was struggling to sit up and still very drunk, and who did not wave back.
Xaxac felt weird. He had felt weird the last time they had sex. It was a sort of emotion that he couldn’t place; it didn’t even exactly feel bad, just strange, and the confusion, more than anything, put him off, so he leaned into Agalon as he opened the door to their sitting room.
“Can I have another drink?” Xac asked.
“Sure, darlin,” Agalon said, “I’ll pour it. Go wash your hands in the basin.”
“Thanks, Aggie,” Xac smiled up at him and went to do as he was told. As he rinsed his hands he heard Agalon speak from the sitting room.
“Perfect, just throw um on the couch,” he said to whoever had entered the room.
“Yes master,” Lee said.
“And I reckon that’ll be all,” Agalon continued, “Go on to bed.”
“Yes, master,” Lee said, then there was the sound of the door clicking shut.
Xaxac realized he was naked and it was a good thing, because his first instinct had been to wipe his hands on his pants, which couldn’t possibly be good for them. Instead, he picked up the washrag that often sat on the basin to dry his hands, then wet it a little and used it to clean his dick, and anything else he thought may be dirty, as best as he could. He wanted to take a bath.
“You alright in there, Honey Bunny?” Agalon asked.
“Yeah,” Xac said, “I don’t even feel drunk anymore, at all.”
He threw the rag back onto the basin and sighed. He glanced at the vanity and took in the man in the mirror. He looked even worse; his face was even thinner, he had sweated off his makeup and so it looked like the facade it was. He knew for a fact he hadn’t always looked the way he looked now, but he didn’t know what the difference was, so he took a step closer and stared harder.
His sclera was tinted with red that looked like riverbeds drawn on a map and his naked body seemed to twitch, not like shivering, but as if it was being jerked by some unseen hand.
This wasn’t what he was supposed to look like, but why?
He was cute. He had his big eyes, his buck teeth, his lyth body; he was a little taller but he was still tiny, he was still a pet.
He opened his mouth and put a finger inside to stretch it open.
His tooth was back. It was as if it had never been knocked out at all.
If there was something wrong with him, he would heal from it. Because he was a shifter, and shifters healed.
He didn’t know what was wrong, what was different, so he pried his eyes from the mirror and braced himself with both hands on the dressing table.
“Honey Bunny?” Agalon asked and Xaxac jerked his head to see him standing in the doorway, “Are you alright?”
Xaxac smiled, but he was afraid it didn’t reach his eyes.
“I’m shakin,” Xac said, “I don’t… know what’s wrong with me.”
“DTs, maybe?” Agalon suggested, “If that’s it you’ll feel better after you drink this.”
“Thanks, Aggie,” Xac shoved himself off the desk with every intention of taking the glass he had been offered, but instead he wrapped his arms around Agalon and buried his face in his chest.
“I think tomorrow,” Agalon said as he ran a hand through Xaxac’s hair, “You should have a bath, and then wear one of your new outfits.”
“Aggie,” Xac said, “I’m gonna shift. I’m gonna shift and there’s gonna be people here. There ain’t enough time for um to get home… it’s… the moons are gonna be full. I’m scared.”
Agalon put one arm around Xac and led them towards the bed, then gently sat the glass on the nightstand.
“You’re overwhelmed,” he said.
“Yeah,” Xac agreed, “I don’t… I don’t like bein like this, Aggie, I can’t… I can’t take much. I ought not be like this. I can’t be so nervous all the time. I need help. I need you to help me. Please! I’m scared and I can’t… function. Help me!”
“I will, darlin, lay down,” Agalon said soothingly, “Everythin’s gonna be alright. Let me go close the door.”
Xaxac crawled under the covers, hating himself, hating his curse, hating his weakness, hating how bad he had been at sex and how Alex was probably going to be mad at him. He was very, very close to breaking down in front of Agalon. He balled the blankets up around himself and curled up as tightly as he could with every nerve on edge and listened to Agalon slide the door shut, then make his way around the bed. He listened to the rustling of fabric as it hit the floor, as Agalon discarded it, and tried his best not to whimper.
“Darlin,” Agalon said as he undid the cocoon Xaxac had wrapped himself in and pulled him flush to his bare flesh, “Everythin is gonna be alright. You understand that, don’t you? I believe in you. You’ve always tried so hard to be good.”
Xaxac turned to snuggle into him, leaning into the touch, to the safety of those strong arms around him.
“I’m just so scared all the time,” he said, “I don’t wanna be like this.”
“That’s… actually a big part of why I think this is a good idea,” Agalon said, “Darlin, we need to talk. Can you look at me?”
Xaxac scooted back enough to allow Agalon to sit up, but he didn’t want to let go of him, to lose the embrace, so he sat on his lap so he could stay in his arms. He could look up at his face from that position. It should be good enough, shouldn’t it?”
“Honey Bunny,” Agalon said, “You ain’t got no reason to be scared of yourself.” He smiled down at Xac, held him with such comfort, and spoke so gently, “I want to prove it to you. There ain’t nothin wrong with you. You’re a good boy. You’re a good bunny. I seen it, and it’s still you. You ain’t a monster; you’re in there, in them big brown eyes. You just get real scared on account of you think you’re a monster, but you ain’t. Do you trust me?”
“Yeah, of course,” Xac said, “You take real good care of me. And I love you.”
“I love you too, Honey Bunny,” Agalon said, “That’s why I’m doin this. I’ve invited some real close friends, real small group, and they’re gonna watch you shift. Everythin is gonna be real safe. We’ll take you outside, where we keep the fighters, that big open space, so even if you was to somehow get out of your chains, you couldn’t possibly hurt nobody. You’d be behind a wall. And when that sun rises, and you see that everybody is still there, safe and sound, that you’re just a cute little bunny, not a big scary monster, you’re gonna realize that you’ve always had the wrong idea about yourself. There ain’t nothin wrong with you, darlin. There never was. You’ve always been my perfect little bunny, you just can’t see it.”
“I bit you,” Xaxac said, and could not stop the tears that had been threatening to fall through the entire conversation, “I hurt you! I am a monster!”
“No, you ain’t,” Agalon said, “Xaxac, honey, look at me.” He held his face in both hands to force Xaxac to look into his eyes, “I love you, Honey Bunny, not in spite of what you are, but because of what you are. There ain’t a damn thing wrong with you, and we’re gonna prove it to everybody. You’re gonna show everybody that shifters ain’t some kind of monster, cursed by Thesis. You’re gonna show um that there ain’t no devilry in you. You’re gonna show um that shifters are just another kind of human, and y’all deserve to be treated like humans. Don’t you wanna do that?”
“But what if I hurt somebody?” Xac asked, softly, leaning into the touch.
“You ain’t gonna hurt nobody,” Agalon promised, “I’ll take care of it. How about this, how about I promise you that if the worst thing you can imagine happens, and you try and attack somebody, I’ll paralyze you? You know I can do it. You know I’m a powerful mage. Would you feel better?”
Xaxac thought of how Agalon had put Billy on the ground, someone much bigger and stronger than him. Billy was easily twice as wide as he was, and a head taller. Agalon didn’t break a sweat. He could easily subdue one scared little rabbit.
Xac could not remember shifting. He didn’t know that he was misjudging his size.
“That… that sounds real nice,” he said, “I… I would feel better if… If I knew I could trust myself. If I knew I wouldn’t hurt nobody. I feel… I feel like I can do more, with you watchin me. I’m glad I got you to watch me… I was thinkin, before… that… me and Alex both… I’m just glad I got you watchin me. It’s… I don’t… think. If I didn’t have you I could hurt myself. When we have sex, I mean, I… I’ve asked for stupid shit before.”
“I’m glad to take care of you, Honey Bunny,” Agalon smiled and pulled Xac into a kiss. Once he had his hands down his back, once Xaxac was back in an embrace, he felt much better, and his worries felt far away and stupid. Even once they pulled apart, Xaxac refused to move, and buried himself as close as he could, snuggling his head onto his shoulder.
“Did I do ok?” He asked quietly, “With Alex?”
“Yeah, that was real good for a first try,” Agalon said, “I shoulda told you you wouldn’t last long the first time. Nobody does. You gotta practice for that.”
“He didn’t like it,” Xac said, “He yelled at me.”
“He’ll get over it,” Agalon said dismissively, “He was bein a little prick about it, wouldn’t he? I’ll talk to Ky about it tomorrow.”
“That ain’t what I meant,” Xac implored, “Please! Don’t get him in trouble! I just want to be good at it. I want him to have fun!”
“He did have fun,” Agalon promised, “he came all over himself.”
He giggled, and Xac wanted to giggle with him, but he had forgotten how.
“Do you think he likes me?” Xac asked.
“Of course he likes you!” Agalon said as if he was being foolish, “Everybody likes you, Honey Bunny.”
Xaxac wasn’t so sure.
“Aggie I know we just fucked before dinner but… can you-”
“Damn, Honey Bunny it’s been five minutes since Alex,” Agalon laughed, “Like rabbits. But that was a damn good show, yeah, whatever you want.”
“I wanna feel you on top of me,” Xac said, squeezing him even harder, “It makes me feel safe. I ain’t scared at all like that. I don’t know why but… I like it.”
“Well, you get yourself situated darlin,” Agalon kissed his cheek and slid him off his lap, “However you want.”