Soulbound + clash

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 1

This is a work of fiction (or is it?) intended solely for the entertainment of my readers; any resemblance to any real people or places is purely coincidental. This story is the property of the author and is protected by copyright laws. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

A very special thanks…

All my love to three wonderfully creative guys--

Robbie, Lucas, and Danny--

for suggesting so many of the twists and turns in this story.

You're all beasts!

I quote others only in order the better to express myself.

-- From The Complete Essays by Michel de Montaigne

Several years ago …

A lone wolf, rust red in color, slowly crept through the forest. One padded paw ever so gradually stole forward and settled in the carpet of pine needles. The slightest of pressure pressed the decaying pine needles down without a sound. The wolf's body shifted forward a fraction of an inch closer to his prey.

He paused, frustrated. Damn. The wind was shifting, swinging around from behind and blowing in the direction of the family of rabbits nibbling on grass just ahead of him. Their ears flicked nervously up and back. They sensed danger nearby in the form of a werewolf.

He made a quick dash forward, snapping his jaws, but the rabbits were all blessed with uncanny luck on top of their lightning-fast reflexes. His slashing teeth closed on empty air. The rabbits scattered.

He started to chase them, but stopped and sat back on his haunches, panting slightly. He watched the rabbits leaping and dodging randomly, disappearing rapidly, and he didn't seem to care that his meal was escaping. He'd eaten yesterday, so he wasn't suffering from serious hunger pangs. Hunting the rabbits had been more for the joy of tracking down challenging prey and proving himself the ultimate predator.

He sat down under a juniper pine and curled his tail around his haunches. With a shivering shake, his body transformed into a boy, young but well-muscled, naked, auburn hair, eyes flashing with joy. He loved being a wild werewolf roaming the forest on his own.

Connor the werewolf was alone, but he was happy.

Many miles away, in bustling New York City …

A thin young man in a perfectly tailored tuxedo walked forward to the center of the stage in the Juilliard auditorium. The audience waited, eager to hear the much-anticipated solo recital of the newest rising star among the school's talented students.

The bright lights made him look more pale than usual and caused his raven hair to gleam with blue highlights. His deep black eyes swept the audience, bringing shivers to many, though they couldn't explain why.

He raised an oboe to his lips, paused dramatically, and began playing Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49, by Benjamin Britten. He followed it up with Wayne Barlow's The Winter's Passed and Georg Philipp Telemann's Oboe Sonata in A minor.

In each piece, the notes were pure, rising into the air, dancing around him. There was a peculiar magic in his performance. His music had the power to pull the deepest longings from their hearts and shape their desires into individualized waking dreams. Some saw a childhood long past filled with laughter and carefree play. Others felt pain. Or longing. Or passion. Some closed their eyes and allowed their souls to soar with the melody, losing themselves in the moment.

The thin young man centered himself in the storm of emotions radiating from his listeners. As he played, his fangs extended slightly, puncturing his lower lip from the inside, drawing his own blood. The pain was no concern, merely the price he paid for his music … and his reward was to drink in the dreams of his listeners, feasting, content for that moment as his music merged his soul with those of the audience members. In that exquisite moment, he was able to forget his painful existence as a creature of the night.

Even if the auditorium had been empty as the grave, Xavier the vampire would still have played with the same fierce passion, in the hope that the music would set his soul free.

Far away in Colorado Springs, a city nestled in the Rocky Mountains …

The blonde boy laughed with his friends as they sat in the food court of the mall, eating egg rolls, pizza slices, and burritos. It was a Saturday afternoon ritual. Gather for lunch. Laugh and joke. Stuff French fries in your ears. Make someone blow soda out of his nose. Get chewed out by the mall security guard. Run laughing to the restroom to clean up, then sneak back to the food court for ice cream.

After eating as only teenage boys can eat, they walked the mall hallways. Whenever girls from school walked by in their giggling huddles, the boys strutted, trying to appear uninterested, but sneaking a peak at the girls as they walked by.

Except for the blonde boy.

He pretended to be interested in the girls, but he wasn't. Not really. The reactions of his friends were more exciting to him, especially when they grabbed their crotches and adjusted themselves. The blonde boy felt himself getting hard every time that happened, and he had to pull at his pants to make more room.

Just before the afternoon matinees began, they stopped outside the multiplex to argue about which movie they should see. They never agreed, not at first, but the blonde boy always seemed to find a way to convince them to compromise and choose a movie they all wanted to watch.

Then it was time to buy their tickets and the mandatory bucket of hot-buttered popcorn and a super-sized soda. Laughing as they chatted in anticipation of the movie to come, they walked down the carpeted halls and into the dark theater itself. Finding seats (either at the very front or the very back of the room, depending on what the blonde boy suggested that day), they made themselves comfortable and tried to see who could toss a piece of popcorn the highest before catching it in his mouth.

When the movie finally started, the blonde boy sighed contentedly. Daniel was generally a happy kid, despite struggling to understand his confusing teenager emotions.

In the green-dappled depths of a jungle in Brazil …

Two boys played a game of their own devising. To anyone watching them, it might have appeared to be a game of tag. At first.

One boy was tall, chubby, and always smiling. He was grinning now as he tiptoed carefully around a tree, his brown eyes searching the undergrowth for any sign of his friend.

The other boy was short, thin, and mischievous. He wasn't allowed to use magic to hide—that was against the rules of their game—so he had rubbed dirt on his forehead and cheeks before wriggling beneath the tangled roots of a mangrove tree.

The chubby lad walked past, pausing when he heard a soft snicker coming from the tree roots, then spinning and jumping at his friend, making the short boy screech with laughter.

After slapping the other lad lightly on the shoulder, the chubby boy's body rippled and transformed, becoming a large kinkajou. He scurried off, moving as fast as his now short legs could carry him, quickly disappearing into the undergrowth.

The other boy quickly slipped out of the mangrove roots and ran in pursuit. He slipped through the jungle growth and found five kinkajous perched in a tree, eating figs. He tilted his head to one side, studying the marsupials carefully, then pointed a grubby finger at one kinkajou. It was much like the others, with thick golden fur, large round eyes, and a long pink tongue flicking out to find the ripest figs while its thick tail wrapped around the branch of the tree, holding it in place. But it was bigger than the others, round and plump, with a slightly darker shade of fur.

The kinkajou blinked slowly at the boy on the ground, pointing in its direction, then its body rippled as it transformed into a slightly overweight, pale pink flamingo and launched itself from the branch, narrowly missing the boy with its flapping wings as it struggled to lift its portly body up into the sky.

The boy giggled and waved his hands before his chest in a complicated pattern. Wind swirled around his body, creating a vortex of air, leaves and twigs. The spinning storm lifted him off the ground and carried him in swift pursuit of the flamingo.

The flamingo saw him coming, and its body rippled again, this time changing into a manatee. The manatee plunged from the air into the river with a massive belly flop before swimming rapidly out of sight. Though the skin of the manatee was a pale gray, it soon disappeared beneath the murky waters.

The second boy changed the pattern of his moving hands and the winds fell, dropping him gracefully out of the sky. He brought his hands together and bent at the waist, diving into the river in pursuit of the manatee. He held his breath as he sliced through the water, finding the manatee resting in the shadowy depths. He poked the manatee in the belly, blew out his breath in a sharp laugh, and swam powerfully to the surface.

Gasping for breath, the thin boy waited until the manatee surfaced next to him, transforming back into the chubby boy.

They both laughed joyfully. Diego was delightfully happy whenever he was with his best friend, Paulo.


Not that long ago …

Connor stood on a barren hill, with sparse prairie grass swirling around his feet. He looked down on the small town built along the western bank of the Missouri River. The sign on the road read, "Welcome to Agony. Home of 12,000 friendly people. And 3 old grouches." Connor was curious about what it would be like to live in this place called Agony.

In the air above Agony, a helicopter circled slowly. Xavier, sitting in the passenger seat, had a chance to survey the town fully before they circled in to land on a helipad behind a large mansion on the outskirts of the town. He was pensive, accepting that this was to be his new home, certain it would be no different than anywhere else he'd been forced to live. As long as he could play music, Xavier could endure even a husk of a town like Agony.

Miles away, in Colorado Springs, Daniel heard his parents talking about the oil boom starting up in North Dakota. His parents were thrilled, anticipating all they could do with the extra income they would earn there. He ran to his bedroom and slammed his door in frustration. He was happy where he was, with his friends, and Daniel didn't want to move to a place called Agony.

Even further away, in a hotel room in Houston, Texas, Diego sat with his family around a table looking at a laptop showing a small town huddled next to a river in the middle of a wind-swept North Dakota prairie. The boy was confused and worried. He hated leaving their home in Brazil and travelling all the way to the United States. It was so far. It would be so different. It would be so miserable being separated from the boy he adored. His grandfather pointed at the laptop screen and told everyone how they would hide here, safe for a time. Diego struggled not to cry. What could he possibly hope to find in Agony to replace all he had had in Raiz Antiga?


In the very recent past …

Xavier and Connor were the first to discover what it means to be soulbound. Despite their differences as a vampire and werewolf, they were drawn together. While sitting in History class, struggling to resist the attraction they felt for one another, they began to understand that their souls would not be denied. Family traditions could not prevent their love from igniting. Fighting against it only made it grow stronger until they gave in to the inevitable. They fell in love, a secret love they hid from everyone.

Daniel was the next to fall in love, but his struggle was to decide whom he loved more: Xavier or Connor. Struggling with the traditions and restrictions imposed by human society, he couldn't understand that the heart does not choose whom it loves. When he finally gave in and allowed himself to love both boys, he discovered how wonderful it is to have your soul bound to other souls for eternity. In a moment of passion, Connor and Xavier bit Daniel at the same time, infecting him with both Lycanthropy and Sanguine Vampyrus. The unexpected result was Daniel became a vaewolf, a powerful hybrid of the werewolf and vampire.

Unlike Daniel, Diego had no qualms about falling in love with three boys at once. He found Daniel charming and fun. Connor was the big brother he never had, protecting and guarding him. Xavier's fangs scared him at first, but he quickly learned that the teenage vampire would never hurt him. Together, the three of them bonded with Diego quickly, for once again their souls found a connection their minds didn't understand. And to make the bond complete, Diego asked Daniel to bite him, making him a vaewolf also.

The most amazing and curious discovery for all four of them wasn't that they could love each other despite their differences. It was that their differences simply didn't exist in the loving relationship they now had. When they held each other, making passionate love, it wasn't a vampire, a werewolf, and two vaewolves … it was four souls in love. They were never lonely again, for they communicated telepathically wherever they were, sharing thoughts of affection and desire. Jealousy never infected their relationship; the love between them was too powerful, too overwhelming, constantly drawing them closer together.

Although they lived in a town called Agony, ironically, it was there they found love beyond understanding and happiness greater than they'd ever imagined possible.


In the very near future …

Daniel pulled Diego into a tight hug, kissing the boy, desperately trying to convey how much he loved him. Diego's eyes filled with tears. "Is it really over?" Diego asked.

Daniel could only nod his head. He glanced over Diego's shoulder at Xavier and silently projected a mental question. There are too many of them, aren't there, Xavier?

Xavier closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around both Daniel and Diego. I've never seen so many vampires working together like this. I don't know how Ignatius did it, but I know it means the end of Agony.

Connor growled low in his throat. Don't say that, X. Don't ever say that.

The other three boys turned to look at Connor, who was standing next to the window, looking out on the practice field next to the high school gymnasium at the dark shapes moving closer. Connor was anxiously trying to shift from human to werewolf and becoming more and more agitated when he couldn't transform. He turned towards the others, his muscular body pale in the scant light coming through the window, struggling to control his anger. I won't let him win. Not again. He's killed the last member of my family, and now I kill him.

Please, Connor, Daniel mentally spoke. Come be with us. We may not have much more time.

Diego whimpered and whispered, "Please, Connor."

Xavier held out his hand. Connor, I hate being here too, but we need you with us right now. We cannot change where Fate has taken us, but we can remember what sweet Agony it has been to love as we have loved, if only for a short time.

Connor shook his head. Xavier always had a fancy way of putting things, but then again, Xavier was right. Connor stared sadly at the other boys, before asking, When I first saw this town, do you know what I thought?

The others slowly shook their heads.

Connor continued, I thought what a stupid idiot it must have been who named this town Agony. And I wondered how much I would suffer here. Now I see. Agony has been the place where I found my soulmates, where I loved like I never thought possible, and where I've seen my love snatched away. That's true Agony. Loving the three of you and then losing you.

Diego wept silently as Xavier cuddled him from behind, gently squeezing his shoulders.

Daniel walked slowly toward Connor and held out his hands.

Connor reluctantly took Daniel's hands and swallowed convulsively. "I don't want to lose you, Daniel," Connor whispered. He glanced at Xavier and Diego. "I don't want to lose any of you. I love you all so much."

Daniel held Connor's hands, no longer trying to hold back the tears that flowed down his cheeks. "I don't see any way to stop that now, Connor. We're trapped. Surrounded. And I don't want to spend my last hours regretting the one thing that has made my life complete … loving the three of you."

Daniel's right, Xavier added. I don't want to lose any of you, but I would hate to have never found you in the first place. That would have been the real tragedy.

Diego pulled Xavier's arms tightly around his body. I'm glad I found you guys. I'm glad Daniel bit me. I'm glad I'm a vaewolf now. And I'm glad I'm here, with the three of you, even though I've never been more scared. Diego held out his hand to Daniel and Connor. "Please. Come here. We need to be together now. I'm scared, but I'm so glad I'm with you. I don't want to die, but I need you holding me now so I can face it without being afraid."

Daniel and Connor hurried over and all four boys hugged and cried.

I don't want to give up like this, Connor moaned.

Daniel slid his hand around to Connor's broad back, slowly stroking the rippled muscles there, calming the hot-blooded Connor. Daniel's fingers danced up to the side of Connor's neck, gently stroking the skin.

Connor tipped his head to the side, pushing back against Daniel's hand, rubbing his cheek against Daniel's fingers.

Diego pushed forward into Connor's chest, melting into him.

Xavier nodded and smiled, reaching up to touch one finger on Connor's lips.

Connor sobbed softly, pulling all three boys into a hug. I adore you. None of them had to ask whom he meant. They all knew that the love they shared included each of them.

They were soulmates. Soulbound. Connected as one. Connor, the wild fury that sometimes swept them away. Xavier, the cool wisdom that guided their path. Daniel, the bold heart that gave them courage every step of the way. Diego, the daring laughter that sustained them in their journey. All four, bound in love, forever one.

And now, with no hope for rescue, they faced their fate together.

It seemed unfair. To be promised so much and then have it snatched away so soon.

Tilting his head up slightly, Daniel kissed Connor softly. I adore you too, Daniel said. Though he was looking at Connor when he said it, Xavier and Diego felt the unspoken words directed at them as well.

Diego nuzzled his cheek against Connor's chest as he said, I cherish you all.

Xavier leaned in, squeezing Diego between them, and said, With all my heart, I love you three.

A loud crash sounded in the corridor outside the classroom. They all turned to face it, no longer crying, no longer afraid.

The wall next to them seemed to explode, showering them with debris, and the ceiling collapsed, burying them.


Daniel sat up, covered in sweat, shaking and breathing in short, painful gasps.

Lying next to him, Diego awoke and sat up, patting Daniel on the shoulder. Are you okay, Daniel? Diego silently asked.

What's wrong? Connor asked as he rolled over, scrunching his eyes to see what Daniel and Diego were doing.

Sorry, you guys, Daniel silently apologized. I didn't mean to wake you up.

Xavier chuckled mentally, reaching across Diego to gently caress Daniel's arm. We're awake now, love, so tell us what's wrong.

Daniel stared at his hands, clasped together in his lap. He stuttered slightly as he said, It was…was another vision. Same… the same as before. The four of us being buried alive. He glanced nervously at Connor to his right, then turned to look at Diego and Xavier on his left. And Ignatius was there. Again. Leading the attack.

The other three boys were silent, lost in their own thoughts.

Diego sighed and asked, Is that really our future?

Daniel nodded slowly. My visions always come to pass.

Conner grunted and said, Then we had better get our asses in gear.

Nodding, Xavier agreed. Indeed, we have much to prepare.

Special thanks to Collan for the helpful suggestions that added a touch more realism to Xavier's recital at Juilliards. Pedibus nostris firmiter insita re, adsurgat nostra phantasia volatus!

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