Continued from My Brother and I (Part I).
Something about the shape-shifter’s nudity made me laugh. Her anger seemed less dangerous as I reached into my cape for another book. “Alright, that’s enough playing.” I tried to play off the fight as though I hadn’t been trying at all. I shifted my staff into the crook of my arm, held my book with my hand, and used my free hand to flip my hair from my face. “Are you attacking because you’re hungry?” I reached into my cape, book at the ready still, and tossed her a bagel.
Fuck, that hurt. Hiding pain wasn’t hard, but I didn’t like it. My arm felt like it was on fire, either from some side effect of her bite or perhaps it was simply my body taking the bite on a more positive note. I forced what I thought was a less shaky smile, and she stared at me like I was crazy.
How funny. Me, crazy? No, no. I was a hero! Slowly, I walked toward her.
She was staring at me for a long time before she even looked down at the bagel. Her expression became deeply puzzled, and then disturbed as she slowly picked up the bagel. For a moment, I thought she would eat it. I recalled making it myself a time ago. Finally, she threw it at me and lunged forward.
I barely had time to sidestep as she went for my neck. She was slower now, though still moved like lightning. I had to pay attention! Her next attack was less predictable, and she latched onto my book again, this time with hands instead of teeth. I gripped it more tightly and closed my eyes as I aimed a kick at her feminine groin.
Protecting myself was more important than making friends at the moment.
She gasped and dropped– a stone falling to the ground.
I knelt beside her and held my staff’s barbs not far from her neck. “Stop attacking me.” Anger was growing inside of me, and I felt that strange sensation. If I became any more upset, I would do something horrible.
She glared up at me, and I shifted until I sat on her midsection. Slowly, I showed her the book, then placed it into my cape. It disappeared into the black void, and she growled at me like an animal. Perhaps she was an animal. Just a stupid beast who could take on the form of a pretty young woman. I stared into her eyes from behind my mask. Eye contact was a challenge, and if I had her pinned, perhaps I could use it as a show of dominance.
In the past, many people spoke of feeling something when they looked into the eyes of others. As always, I felt nothing, but continued to stare. She looked back angrily for a short time before she began to buck and writhe. I set my weight over her center and rode her thrashing out until she was tired. My eyes never left hers as I looked down my mask’s beak at her. Her screams were filled with the most intense rage. Repeatedly, I shifted the staff from her neck to her forehead, and the pain forced her to lay flat and stare at me as I held her hands in one of my smaller, more slender hands, held carefully so they didn’t slip free.
She panted as she glared up at me, exhausted from a long struggle.
A few more experimental, worn-out jerks of her body, and she seemed convinced that I wasn’t going to just hop off yet. I continued to meet her gaze.
At long last, her face reddened and tears filled her eyes as she looked away. I felt slightly guilty at having made a woman cry, so I kissed her cheek to try to prove I wasn’t going to hurt her anymore. Unfortunately, she was clever, and used the opportunity to try to throw me off.
She succeeded and grabbed my staff from me as I rolled away. Grass found its way into my mouth, and my hat toppled away.
I was sore from hours of sitting still, and she took full advantage.
“Die!” She screamed with a feral rage as she lunged at me. Her foot landed on the inside of my splayed out cape, and she fell through. I caught my staff before it followed suit. I stood, brushed myself off, spat, and began to hunt down my hat and two discarded books during the growing darkness of the sunset.
Several days later, I arrived home. The wild woman was gone from my mind, and I forgot she was within my cape entirely.
In fact, it took a whole month for me to remember, and only because I was using the fight as an entertaining story while I supped with some dinner guests.
“So, what happened to her after she fell into your cape?” A lady friend asked. I paused before I answered.
“I left her inside, it seems. I suppose I should let her out before the slimes in there kill her, hm?”
A chorus of “yeses” called back, and I promised that I would as soon as dinner was over. I told them that she was wild, and wouldn’t appreciate the noise.
Two hours later, they finished filtering out, and I looked at my cape. Time to try fishing out the wild girl. I sighed and hoped she wouldn’t piss on my bed as I walked into my bedroom after I grabbed a steak and pre-cut it for her. There was food in my cape somewhere, but finding it might have been difficult. I also brought water, and only when I was ready, with my bedroom door shut and locked, did I reach into my cape. Her teeth found my hand before my hand found her, and I pulled her out.
She was hurt and thin. She looked terrified. As she looked around and saw a world that wasn’t blackness, she calmed and held tight to me as I slowly fed her the pieces of meat. “Shh, it’s ok.” I tried to reassure her. “Just eat for now.” I waited for her to remember me, but for the time, at least, she was calm.