When I woke up, the sun was streaming through the half-open windows, Baz was sleeping, curled up in my arms. Then I felt my wings itch. I try not to think about my wings, even though I decided to not get them removed. I don’t know, something about waking up without them feels wrong. But honestly, today, I wish I had cut them off. Because they itched so bad. Like little stinging ants were crawling all over me.
I jolted up and practically ran over to the bathroom mirror. I studied at my reflection carefully, my wings were twitching, like spasming, flapping them a few times to try to shake off whatever was festering on them made the shower curtains to fly back and Baz’s shampoo bottles fall into the tub. The clattering sound must have woken up Baz because a few moments later the bathroom door opened.
Baz always looked funny in the mornings. Perfect hair askew, dark bags under his eyes, light stubble on his chin, generally lacking his signature grace.
“What the bloody hell is wrong?” Baz groggily cursed.
“My wings!” I threw my hands open gesturing to my back, “they itch like mad!”
“Let me see…”
Baz rubbed his eyes of sleep and staggered behind me. I could feel his finger tracing the base of my wing, rubbing the stem as he moved up to the flappy part. (Someone really needs to write out a book on dragon physiology, three months ago sneezed and smoke came out! Been afraid of pepper since.)
“Your wings feel weird.” Baz declared.
“What do you mean they feel weird?” I said, slightly offended. After all, even if they’re not my favourite, they’re still part of me.
“They don’t feel like they normally feel” Baz huffs.
“What do they normally feel like?” I saw pink spread across Baz’s cheeks in the mirror, very faintly, but a blush nonetheless.
“Like- I dunno, Scaly and tender”
“Tender?” I say, raising my eyebrows and smirking. I’m trying to draw out his fluster as long as possible.
“Yes Snow. Tender.” He shot me an even look in the mirror. I know he is trying to conceal his embarrassment, maybe it would have worked on someone else.
Baz put one hand on one side of my wing, and one hand on the other rubbing in small circular motions. It felt so nice. Baz had never touched me on my wings before I have to ask him to do it later. I close my eyes and just let myself enjoy it.
“Crowley!” Baz gagged.
“What? What is it!”
Pivoting around to see what’s happening on Baz’s end, he has a grossed out expression on his face and is holding a piece of loose wing skin far away from his face. I don’t understand why he is so grossed out at it, it kinda looks cool, like a snake shedding it’s skin. I suppose that’s what this was. I was shedding. Like a snake. I’m not going to think about how that makes me feel about my identity as a human. I take the piece of shed from Baz’s hand and inspect it more closely. It’s about the size of my palm, looks a lot like a snake's shed, white, translucent, slightly bubble wrap like. The scales are about the size of a quarter of a dime. I suppose that’s why I’m so itchy. My body’s way of telling me to get the dead skin off. My wings were starting to itch real bad again, so I gave Baz my cutest look, kissed his neck gently, and said;
“Can you please help pick the rest of?”
I wish I took a photo of the look he gave me.
“I’ll call Bunce. I’m sure she has a spell for exfoliation, actually maybe Wellbelove might be better for an exfoliation spell… You.. Take a hot steamy shower.” Baz walked out of the bathroom to grab his cell phone.
The shower actually worked at decreasing the itch, it was kinda disgusting how much shed fell down the drain. After towelling myself off I went into the kitchen to grab some tea and toast. The look Baz gave me when he saw me just in the towel was upsetting. I would be getting laid right now if I didn’t itch so bad.
“It’s 2am in California right now so Wellbelove didn’t pick up. I called Bunce and suprise, suprise, she didn’t know any exfoliation spells.”
“Then what are we going to do?” I snapped.
Baz gave me a salty look “Shepard’s is coming over with the pumice.”
“Ugh. Great.” Shepard loves bombarding me with questions about my disfigurement. He seems enchanted with the idea of a brand new magical creature. I’ve tried to tell him several times that I’m not a magical creature, I’m just a Normal, but he won’t believe me.
Shepard comes in much too chipper so early in the morning.
“So I brought pumice stone, and some creams that I think could be rejuvenating”
“I don’t need to be rejuvenated, I need to get this damn skin off!” Perhaps I should be nicer. But I don’t care.
“Yup, we’ll get to that, do you have any towels? Shepherd asks. This is probably gonna get real messy”
“In the bathroom,” Baz interjects before I could say anything, racing to grab one. He’s been hovering around me, making breakfast, I’m currently nursing my second cup of tea.
“Soooooo” Shepard says. Bouncing awkwardly on the balls of his feet. “When did this start?”
“This morning. Woke up, and well-”
“So you’re really shedding! This is so interesting!” Shepard started to unpack his kit. “So how should we do this? Do you have any kitchen chairs? I’m thinking you sit on one chair, and I sit on the other like a braiding circle...”
“Uh, like a what? We have chairs by the counter.” I really want this to begin, I’m tired of the itch.
“Ok, really should’ve saw that!” Shepard moved to bring two chairs near the sofa. Placed facing each other. “Baz! How we coming on those towels?!”
“Quite well,” Baz replies, with a stack of towels coming up above his face.
“Ok, let’s lay them around the chairs then we’ll be started!”
“Finally,” I grit out. Stretching my body preparing for what will be a long time sitting down as Shepard and Baz put the towels down.
I sit down on one of the chairs and Shepard gives me an odd look as he sits down on the chair opposite me.
“You’re going to have to turn around…”
“What? Why?” I’m just sitting on the chair as Shepard laid it. If he wanted me to sit differently wouldn’t he have laid them differently?
“Merlin Snow you Numpty!” Baz cursed. “He has to be able to be able to touch your wings! You have to turn around!”
“Oh.” I say. I turn around and feel like an idiot. “You can go back to sleep now, I know you’re tired.”
“Are you sure Simon? I really don’t mind...” Baz’s eyebrows were knitted and his lips were pursed.
“I’ll be fine,” I say, and when he leaves I immediately wish I could take the words back. Suddenly, I feel anxious. And vulnerable. Shepard is about to touch me in a way no person really has before, but I’m not a child. I don’t need Baz to stroke my hair and hold my hand. I’ve never needed that before and I certainly don’t need that now.
“So.. do you wanna start now?” Shepard startles me away from my thoughts.
“Yep, let’s do this!” I try to say it with as much false confidence as I can. But my damn voice cracks so I don’t think I’m fooling anyone.
Shepherd lightly holds my wing and gently moves the pumice up and down to rub off the shed. Too gently.
“Shepard, you can go a bit harder than that, I’m not going to break.”
“Oh, sorry,” Shepard sputters a bit. And I realize that this is probably quite awkward for him too.
“It’s fine.” Shepard is going much harder now, a bit too hard if I’m being honest. But the pain gives me something else to focus on.
“Your tail is hitting me.” Shepard says, his voice betraying a bit of pain.
I looked back and sure enough my tail was rhythmically thwaking him on the thigh.
“Sorry, I didn’t know, I only have half control of it.” I really hope he doesn’t get offended. There’s no plan B.
“Y’know” Shepard begins, “I know you don’t like being called a dragon-”
“Because I’m not,” I don’t know why he’s so obsessed with me being a dragon.
“But you’re literally shedding right now. Isn’t that a bit dragonish?”
“I mean I guess… But do we even know what dragons are like?”
“I could ask Margaret?”
I scrunch my nose “The woman who wanted to eat us?”
“Yes her. I know you don’t trust her, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust her knowledge on dragons.”
I take a sharp breath in. Shepard was pushing too hard near the base of my wing. I guess it’s more sensitive than the rest of me. I think of the pepper incident. I’ve been trying not to think about it, but I sneezed smoke. Does that mean I can breath fire? Maybe it would be best to talk to Margaret.
“Ok.” I say, partly because it would be best if I talked to Margaret, partly because I really want to stop talking about how I am some sort of weird half-dragon.
“Ok? You’ll do it?” Shepard seemed surprised, did he really think I wasn’t going to?
“Yeah sure. It’s probably a good idea I get a handle on what this thing is.” I explain.
“They’ll probably be some differences, after all you and Margaret aren’t the same creature-”
“Woah, woah, woah,” I interrupt, kinda offended, “I am not a creature!”
“Ummm, I’m sorry, did I offend you? I thought we were passed the whole “Normal” thing?” Shepard sounded confused, why was he so confused?
I’m not, or ever was a creature. I don’t want to be in some book somewhere in the Watford library, with a danger rating. ‘Here is the Simon, danger rating:X. The Simon is capable of semi-complex thought, and can be bribed with cherry scones into submission. The Simon is only useful at killing dark creatures, otherwise it is best left alone.’
“I’m not a creature, I’m just a person.” I mutter. I know how pathetic I sound. But I don’t care.”
Shepard starts on the next wing and takes a moment before softly answering.
“I didn’t know that creatures didn't count as people,”
“You know what I mean!” I bluster “They’re people, of course, just not,” I start waving my tail around, trying to make him get it.
“Actually I don’t get it, must be an American thing. Can you explain it to me?” Shepard spoke carelessly enough, but I recognized the tone. It’s the same tone as my therapist when she’s caught the scent of trauma.
“Creatures are just, inhuman.” I supply. I’m thinking of ways to change the subject, “How are you settling in England?” I hope he takes mercy on me and catches on the bait.
“Quite well thanks. But the creatures here are all very cagey. Mage supremacy is very intense here. Penny and I have even gotten in a couple fights over it.”
“Really?” I pretend to be surprised. I love Penny, but she’s not very accepting of things she doesn't understand.
“Yup, but I understand she grew up around Mages, it’s very hard to accept that what you’ve been raised to believe is wrong.”
“Yeah I know, the Mage always preached that creatures and Mages were the same, I guess I wasn’t listening to him as well as I thought I was…”
“Wasn’t the Mage the one who created the Anti-Dark Creature Task Force?” Shepard asks.
“Yeah, in the name of Baz’s mum.” I supply.
“Wasn’t he the one that actually killed her?”
“Yeah? What’s your point?” I feel weirdly defensive of the Mage sometimes. My therapist says that’s common in cases like mine. Abuse cases. That is.
“I’m just saying maybe he wasn’t as progressive as he said he was. I mean, you can’t say you support creatures and then kill them.”
“But that’s different! Goblins, Vampires, Banshee’s they’re dark!” I really don’t know why I’m defending the Mage.
“Because they feed on Normals? Isn’t that what Mages do too? And even if he wasn’t prejudiced, the creatures here have no treaties, he did nothing to actually protect them.” Shepard pushed my wings together to get at the outside shed.
“I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying that’s how it is.” I really wish Shepard would stop talking about this.
“Yeah, I guess I’m just saying, that being a creature doesn’t make you less of a human being.” Shepard speaks gently. Like I might break. I feel a tear roll down my cheek. God I hope he doesn’t see.
“Yeah, yeah yeah I know.” I try to discreetly brush the tear away.
“Okay! We’re done!” Shepard announces.
“Really? That quickly?”
I get up and walk to the hall mirror like I’ve only got a hair instead of Shepard scraping dead shed off me. My wings look redder, somehow. I hadn’t realized that the colour was fading, but now they look as red as the day I got them.
“Thanks Shep, thanks for coming at such a short notice.” I’m happy it was him now. I’m glad for talking about the whole creature thing.
“Anytime! Tell me when you need to do it again,” Shepard packs up his thing and pats my shoulder on the way out. “I’ll talk to Margaret about being a dragon, she’ll be happy you asked about her.”
“She’s not upset about us getting away?” She quite struck me as someone who holds onto a grudge.
“Naw, Margaret a softie, she’s just a bit territorial.” Shepard opened the door.
That made me chuckle “Tell that to Baz. He’s still a bit bitter about her threatening to eat him.”
“Well, Baz doesn’t have to know,” Shepard laughed. “See ya dude,” he held up his fist for me.
“Yeah see ya man,” We fist bumped and he left.
I slowly put the towels into the hamper. Shepard was right. The shed did make a mess. But I managed to not spill any on the ground, though I’m sure Baz will find something somewhere. I tiptoe back into our room to see if he’s awake. He had the lights off, but I could sense that he wasn't sleeping. I got into bed and put my head on his chest.
“Baz are you awake?” I timidly ask.
“Mmmm” Baz moans, and puts his hands on my wing and starts petting me. “Your Wings are soft. Like velvet.” Baz says, his voice coated in sleep.
“Me and Shep talked,” I start to pepper little kisses on his neck.
“Mmmm? Bout what?” Baz pushed my head up to kiss my lips.
“About dragons, and me probably being a creature,” I’m not sure why I’m telling Baz, but I think he’ll understand. Being a vampire and all.
“Oh?” Baz sits up. I know he can see me perfectly. But I can’t see him, and the darkness gives me some distance.
“Yeah, I don’t think Normals have dragon wings and tails.” I scoff, in hindsight my mental gymnastics were quite crazy.
“No,” Baz kisses me. “They don’t, can I say I’m very proud of you for admitting it?”
“Yeah,” I can feel myself blush. I never know what to say when Baz tells me he’s proud of me. “I guess it’s just another way we match,”
Baz kisses me again and smiles against my lips, “Just another way we match.”