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The problem was that this wasn’t the first time Ryan had come up with a ‘plan’ for sex. Beer, THC, waking him up in the middle of the night; all were things that Ryan had tried. It never worked, and every single time, the claws and fur came out. It was like the werewolfy side of him really liked Ryan.

Shane had to give the guy credit; he was stubborn as hell. It was occasionally exhausting and more than once Shane wanted to sit Ryan down and tell him it just wasn’t going to happen. Despite the annoyance and the fact that their sex life was distinctly one-sided, Shane was still happy with what they had. Knowing that he was allowed to draw Ryan into a hug or touch the small of his back when they stood next to each other or even just curl into his warmth at night meant more than sex.

And he had called off for the day, so his time was spent in a haze of ‘what-ifs’ and obsessively checking Twitter, half expecting some joker to mention him in a tweet about the new LA cryptid. That didn’t leave room for looking forward to the night. He did wish Ryan was there, but that had more to do with the fact that Ryan was a great distraction from his own thoughts.

Thoughts that too often ran towards sick, morbid curiosity.

Had he been starving himself every full moon? Should he be leaving a slab of raw meat in the cage? Would his system be able to handle raw meat when he was back to being human?

Just what did a raw rabbit taste like?

He had eaten some pretty rare steaks in the past and he could down good sashimi like it was going out of style, but he had never eaten anything that was still warm. That still had fur and organs. God, he hoped it had been dead before he had-

Shane stood up from his couch and walked away from the TV and the show that had been doing nothing to keep his attention, desperately pushing the thought away. He checked the time and decided that two hours before Ryan was supposed to show up was a great time to take a shower. That wasn’t early in the slightest.

One good thing about owning a house by himself was the water heater and the sheer amount of hot water he could use if he wanted to. He felt vaguely guilty about using so much when the area was always in a semi-permanent drought, but it was a small luxury he decided to indulge in.

The fall of the water on his back was relaxing, as was the echoing noise of the shower in the enclosed room. It gave his brain something to focus on that wasn’t pain, or exhaustion, or worry. The automatic movements of cleaning himself were a ritual that made him feel more human. That reminded him that he wasn’t an animal. No wolf was indulging in indoor plumbing or the blandly pleasant scent of cheap, generic shampoo and soap.

By the time he made it out of the shower and into a pair of lose sweats, Ryan was already knocking on the front door. Shane slouched his way over and opened the door with a tired ‘hey’. Then he paused.

Ryan looked good. He was wearing a button-up shirt that barely fit around his shoulders and arms, tucked into a pair of black slacks. His hair had been styled up and he was wearing his contacts. He looked like he was on his way to a date.

Shirtless, sockless, in sweats that had holes, and glasses, Shane felt distinctly underdressed.

“Did you have a shoot I didn't know about today?” Shane asked. Hoped.

Ryan raised his eyebrows, his assessing gaze both amused and appreciative. Which always threw Shane for a loop. He knew what he had to work with, and being shirtless didn’t warrant that kind of appreciation. Not that he’d say that to Ryan. He didn’t feel like getting into an argument.

“No,” Ryan said slowly, doing nothing to hide the way his eyes lingered on the cut of Shane’s hip. “I wanted to look nice for you.”

Christ Almighty, he was never going to get used to how easily Ryan could say stuff like that.

“Well slap my ass and call me Sally,” Shane exclaimed, leering with all the ridiculousness he could muster, hoping to hide just how much that had touched him. “Are you trying to seduce me?”

Ryan snorted and pushed past him into the house. “I’m wooing you.”

“Oh pitch that woo at me.”

Putting down his messenger bag, Ryan shook his head and held out a plastic bag filled with containers that Shane hadn’t even noticed. “Part of the pitching is bringing takeout.”

Shane put his hand on his heart and affected his best ‘southern belle’ accent. “You have me all aflutter, sir. But maybe we skip food for now if we’re going to do this thing?”

Ryan hesitated. “Ah, okay. If you’re sure?”

“Very sure,” Shane said, taking the bag and absently kissing the side of Ryan’s head as he shut the door. He didn’t expect this mysterious plan to actually work, and he knew the frustration and possible blue balls could be somewhat fixed by eating too much food.

“What, no lead up? No foreplay?”

“Last week you practically jumped me as soon as you walked through the door, since when do you need foreplay?” Shane asked over his shoulder as he stuffed the containers into the fridge. It smelled like some kind of red meat and his stomach grumbled, his thoughts skewing once more to blood.

He growled to himself, annoyed. The last time he had been this obsessed with the idea of raw meat had been when he had first started changing. It had been years since then, he knew he had a better handle on his psyche than this. Too many changes in his life were absolutely wrecking his self-control.

“Shane?”

Shane twitched, realizing that he had been staring blankly at the fridge door. “Yeah?”

A warm hand slid around his ribs, drawing him back into Ryan’s chest. “You good?”

“I’m peachy keen,” Shane answered, closing his eyes and sternly telling himself to pay attention to the here and now. “Are you finally going to tell me what this nefarious scheme is?”

There was a moment of hesitation, a small pause where he could tell that Ryan wanted to keep questioning him, but eventually there was a brush of a kiss against the back of his shoulder and a sardonic, “You make it sound like I’m trying to get you to agree to a bank heist.”

“I wouldn’t put it past you.”

Ryan snorted softly and tangled his fingers in Shane’s, pulling him along towards the bedroom. “We’ll pull off a DB Cooper but without the probable death.”

“I would rock those shades,” Shane agreed, raising an eyebrow when Ryan grabbed his messenger bag on the way.

As soon as they were in the bedroom, Ryan pushed Shane towards the bed with a playful, “Strip.”

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?” It was something of a blessing that he no longer had to worry about what Ryan would think, that they had seen each other naked often enough that he felt completely comfortable with pulling his pants off and throwing them towards a pile of clothes.

“Later,” Ryan muttered absently as he started to dig through his bag, bringing out a towel and two clear bottles. Shane recognized the one as lube, which made sense, but he couldn’t figure out the other one until he snatched it off the bed as soon as Ryan set it down.

“Massage oil?” he read out loud, shooting Ryan an amused glance. “Really, man? A sexy massage?”

Ryan grabbed the bottle back and pointed at the bed, his chin up and shoulders back in a stubborn stance. “Lay down on the towel.”

Shane did as he was told, chuckling to himself as he threw his glasses onto the nightstand. “Thanks for thinking of my sheets.”

“Since I sleep on them half the time anyways, I’m sparing myself.”

A warm feeling of contentment at those words made Shane smile into the pillow as he stretched out on his stomach on top of the bed. “I bet you’ll last ten minutes before it goes from massage to groping,” he said, twisting his head to make sure Ryan could hear how intentionally goading he was being. If he could rile Ryan up and get a few more minutes of some sweet massage action, the inevitable later frustration might be worth it. Once he had hit his mid-twenties, his back always felt a little sore.

Considering his bones broke once a month, it was a miracle that he wasn't in worse shape.

“Ten minutes,” Ryan repeated incredulously, the bed dipping as he kneeled next to Shane. “Give me some credit. I’ll last fifteen.”

Shane laughed softly. “Impressive. A whole fifteen minutes.”

There were the quiet sounds of Ryan moving around, doing something that Shane felt too lazy to lift his head to see, then soft music began playing from somewhere. He snorted and shook his head against the pillow, recognizing the song as one he liked but Ryan hated. It seemed the guy really was going all out. Ryan muttered a fond 'shut up' and strong hands grasped the top of his shoulders. The oil slicking Ryan's palms was a little cold, but Shane wasn't going to complain about that while fingers were kneading into sore muscles.

He hummed happily and relaxed into the mattress, determined to get as much out of this 'massage' as he could. It felt like he was always carrying tension in his back and shoulders, and the last couple of days had made it even worse.

Ryan's hands were sure and steady as they moved across his shoulders and down his back, firm pressure that was just on the right side of too painful. Shane let out a little moan when Ryan dug his thumbs into the tight muscle under his shoulder blades,

Shane had given and received enough massages from partners over his life to know how it was supposed to go. A few minutes of nice, relaxing touching and rubbing that quickly became nothing more than an excuse for rubbing. There was a script to this kind of encounter and, while he appreciated Ryan’s enthusiasm, he wasn’t expecting anything different. When ten minutes rolled past, he expected to feel clever fingers drift towards naughty places that no professional masseuse would touch. When fifteen past, he figured Ryan was just trying to prove a point. Ryan had moved from his shoulders to his lower back to his upper arms, which wasn’t a common area to get that kind of attention, but it felt remarkably good.

At twenty minutes and five different songs, Shane was perplexed. And well on his way to becoming a puddle of a human being, considering how relaxed he felt. But still mostly perplexed. He turned his head towards Ryan, blinking slowly and blearily at the frown of concentration he glimpsed. That was an expression he usually only saw on Ryan while there was a ton of work to be done. “Hey,” he said softly. “You trying to put me to sleep over here?”

Ryan’s glance flicked up towards him, his frown turning into a small smile. “Not quite.”

“Gonna molest me in my sleep? Is that your plan?”

His answer was a soft, amused huff of breath. Shane felt his cheeks get hotter as he made himself add, “Putting it all out there- Or more out there-” he paused to wiggle his bare ass. “I wouldn’t actually mind if that was a part of your plan.” Who knew? Maybe that would actually work.

Ryan cleared his throat, his fingertips digging firmly into Shane’s forearm, rubbing nonsensical patterns. “I’ll uh, keep that in mind. But I want you completely coherent right now.”

Considering that his voice was on it’s way to slurring and he felt just this side of stoned, ‘coherent’ wasn’t really the right word for Shane’s current state of mind. He had had no idea that a simple massage that lasted longer than a handful of minutes could leave him such a boneless mess.

Ryan pressing his fingers into Shane’s palm and then tugging lightly on each knuckle felt far better than Shane would have ever imagined. He couldn’t help the long sigh of contentment, the sound muffled by the pillow.

Maybe Ryan took that as some kind of cue, because he abandoned Shane’s hands to sweep his slick, warm palms down Shane’s back, over his ass, and began to knead the backs of his thighs with hard pressure that made Shane shift in place. This was the first time that Ryan had strayed near anything interesting, the first time the entire experience had felt actually sexual, but the realization that Ryan’s hands were bare inches away from his ass and the subsequent arousal felt oddly distant. Shane’s mind was in a whimsical enough state that he dared to think he felt like he was floating above his own body.

Ryan leaning forward to press a kiss to the small of his back was a surprise, but Shane didn’t have the wherewithal to really react. He just sighed again, making a noise that could have been a word or could have been a moan.

Strong thumbs dug into the meat of his ass, rubbing and kneading and spreading his cheeks apart. He wanted to make some kind of joke, some acknowledgement that he didn’t exactly have much of a butt to be groping, but knowing that Ryan was looking at him, was seeing everything was a heady thought. Shane pressed his face into the pillow until he could barely breathe, his embarrassment and arousal both immediate and far away. He shifted his hips, rolling them down into the mattress in an aborted effort to gain some kind of friction for his thickening cock, dimly aware of a smear of wetness under his stomach.

With a faint chuckle, Ryan bit him on the top of one cheek, more of a real bite than a nibble. Dimly, like watching someone else from far away, Shane felt a part of himself sit up and take notice. A part of himself that liked the idea of teeth.

Too mixed up in a tangle of want and relaxation, he did nothing to push that curious part away.

The telltale ache of nails turning into claws made him curl his hands into fists, but all he could really focus on was the teeth leaving imprints in his skin, the warmth of Ryan’s tongue as he soothed over the spots, and the chill of rapidly cooling saliva.

Ryan drew in a shaky breath that sounded almost nervous, then hooked his hands under Shane’s hips, pulling lightly. “Hey,” he said softly. “Can you get up on your knees?”

The request took awhile to process, but Shane managed to draw his knees under himself and brace his arms under his chest. His limbs were shaky and he was shocked that a simple massage could leave him feeling like he was made out of limp noodles. He was a little proud of himself for managing to get to all fours without falling over.

Only to fall to his elbows when Ryan licked a stripe from his balls to his hole. He might have shouted or he might have whimpered, he wasn’t sure. Shane just knew that he was making some kind of noise through his slack-mouthed panting. He had never thought that Ryan would even think to put his mouth there, but he had clearly underestimated how adventurous Ryan was.

There were a few hesitant kitten licks at first, just the tip of Ryan’s tongue dancing along the edge. It didn’t take long for him to grow more confident, emboldened by the breathy, strung out, desperate noises Shane was making, and he started to lick and wriggle his tongue against sensitive flesh with more enthusiasm. It was warm and wet, soft and firm, and so good that all Shane could do was take it.

Ryan proceeded to lick and suck and fuck him with his tongue for so long that spit began to drip at a steady pace down the back of Shane’s balls, falling into a puddle onto the towel. He could tell that he was getting beard burn in very delicate places from Ryan’s stubble, but it only heightened the moment. A moment that was the strangest mix of lassitude and need. It was sex while drunk, but he was drunk off the natural high of endorphins. He had no idea how much time had passed, but when Ryan finally drew back, he felt tongued loose and sloppy.

He couldn’t help the despondent little whimper he let out with the loss of Ryan’s warmth, but he stopped himself from begging for more when he heard the click of a bottle and the hasty noises of a belt being undone and pants being unbuttoned.

Slick fingers circled his rim, one pushing inside, but that wasn’t what he wanted. The fact that they were so close, that maybe for the first time he could actually be with Ryan was such an overwhelming, looming realization that Shane could barely process it.

“Just fuck me,” he practically commanded through an aching jaw, a rough whine in his voice that was more canine than human.

“Are you sure-”

“You know I can take it,” Shane interrupted. He had recorded enough videos for Ryan at that point for the guy to know exactly how much he could take.

“Fuck, okay, just-” Where Ryan had been mostly quiet before, now he was at a full-on ramble, muttering swears and absent praises as he took Shane at his word, wasting no time in lining up and pushing inside of him.

The stretch burned in a way that made Shane grit his teeth, and if he hadn’t already been so bonelessly relaxed, it would have been too much. But that wasn’t what made Shane whisper a hoarse, “Wait, wait a sec-” as soon as he had taken all of Ryan’s cock, the two of them pressed flush together.

They were both trembling and covered in sweat, nervous and exultant at the same time. It was stupid and embarrassing. Both of them had had sex before with other people, plenty of times. But this felt different. This wasn’t just sex, it was sex with someone they loved, and Shane wasn’t sure if he wanted to tell Ryan how important it was or smack himself for having such cheesy thoughts.

Either way, all he wanted to do in the moment was to feel everything. To focus on the drag inside him whenever Ryan shifted slightly and to feel the way Ryan’s hands gripped at his hip or petted down his ribs.

He clenched around Ryan without thought, gasping at the fullness and the sudden pain prickling up and down his arms.

“Are you oka-”

“I can’t last,” Shane said, eyeing the sweep of hair that was very definitely fur springing up on his arms.

“I mean, I’m not exactly going to judge you.”

“Ryan,” Shane growled hoarsely, fighting back a laugh even as he tried to force himself to relax back into that feeling of lassitude from earlier. “That’s not what I mean.”

Fingers scratched through hair on his back and he had never known until then that he had fur on his back. “Talk to me.”

“About what? The latest Hollywood scandal?”

Ryan kissed the middle of his spine. “Just talk. Distract yourself.”

Just talk? About what? He wasn’t the type to say whatever came to his head if it wasn’t a joke. And what the hell was he supposed to talk about while Ryan was fucking him and he was trying not to turn into a damn werewolf? “Ryan…”

“What do you want?”

“I want you to fuck me until I can’t walk right,” Shane said bluntly. He grinned, pleased with himself when Ryan jolted forward, pressing further into him.

“Fuck,” Ryan whispered, his fingers tightening to the point of pain on Shane’s hip. “Think about what you want, not about how close you are to shifting.”

What did he want?

He wanted to come. He wanted to orgasm with Ryan right there, inside him, and to feel Ryan’s in turn. He wanted the afterglow and the giggly, mushy, ridiculous pillow talk and to fall asleep in a tangle with Ryan, taking up only one half of the bed because they were both too lazy to clean. He wanted-

A shift in his thoughts, a blending of two personalities that were one and the same.

Blood

No, that wasn’t right.

Meat

That was even worse.

Biting

That wasn’t too odd.

“Biting,” he said, not recognizing his own voice.

Teeth ripping, muscles bunched, skin tearing

“Hunting.”

Ryan smoothed his hand down Shane's hip, slowly pulling out a couple inches, then just as slowly pushing back in. Shane groaned at the sensation, the slide and tug and fuck, it was good to feel Ryan like this, stuffing him full. “Running” he gasped, unaware of his words as flashes of chasing prey danced through his mind. “Catching.” The image of a pale dog darting in front of him made him smile. “Playing.”

A harder, faster thrust, one that jolted him forward. He didn’t notice it, caught up in the pain of his sinuses popping and the sudden flood of smells. His own scent, the pine of Ryan, the sweat and distinctive smell of sex, the faint lingering smell of the different oils coating Ryan’s hands.

God, his teeth hurt.

Ryan slid his hand up the length of Shane’s back to cup his shoulder, pulling, urging Shane to change the angle. But all Shane could think of was the need to relieve the ache in his jaw. One moment Ryan’s hand was on his shoulder, the next there was a wrist in between his teeth.

Shane froze, uncomfortably aware of the weird stretch in his neck from twisting to reach and the way his tongue was pressed up against the tendons in Ryan’s wrist. What made him let go was the hint of surprise in Ryan’s voice as he whispered, “ Shane, c’mon, give me my arm back.”

Dropping Ryan’s wrist, Shane stared down at his own clawed hands that were tangled in the towel and sheet under him.

He could still taste Ryan’s skin on his tongue.

“I- I- Oh God, I-” Shane wasn’t even sure what he was trying to say. An apology, a plea for forgiveness, a call to stop, something.

There was a sudden hand on his throat, pulling him backwards, a body toned with muscle and slick with sweat plastered along his spine and teeth clamped hard into the back of his neck. Shane had a second to register the feel of his flesh indenting under Ryan’s blunt teeth, then he simply stopped caring, going lax and limp.

It was as though a flip had switched in his mind. All of the fear and guilt went away. He sank down under Ryan’s weight, his breath coming out in a long sigh as Ryan rode him down. His jaw and nose still ached, but those pains were buried under a blanket of calm and distant, nebulous lust. It was an arousal that did not spark or burn, but gently pervaded every inch of his body, like a spreading fog.

When Ryan pulled his mouth back, Shane whined at the sense of loss, tilting his head down to offer up his neck, begging without words to be bitten there again. Ryan laughed softly, dragging his tongue over the sensitive skin. “I can’t believe that worked. You’re going to be so annoyed later,” he whispered.

Shane made a questioning noise, gently rolling his hips, idly chasing the twin sensations of Ryan’s cock moving inside him and the pressure where his own was trapped between his stomach and the bed.

Ryan wrapped his arm around Shane’s chest, maneuvering them until they were on their sides. Shane went with it easily, his body pliant and his mind drifting.

“Look at you,” Ryan murmured in Shane’s ear, starting a slow, smooth rhythm that was more like rocking their bodies together than fucking. “I can’t believe I finally get to watch you. Get to-” His breath stuttered as he pushed in as far as he could go. “-Feel you.”

Shane barely understood the words, but the soft cadence was encouraging and wonderful to hear. He lazily wrapped his hand around his cock to give himself some kind of friction, panting quietly as the pressure built and built and built.

“That’s it, just like that. Let me see.”

He wanted to respond, to say Ryan’s name, but it was as if language was beyond him. Shane could only whimper deep in the back of his throat, once again bending his head down in the hope that Ryan would bite his neck.

Ryan let out breath of laughter, then gently nibbled the skin at the nape of his neck. And that was exactly what he needed. A final push that tipped him over into an orgasm that unraveled slowly through him, prolonged by the feel of Ryan falling over that edge with him. He came quietly and messily, all over his hand and the bed, but what presence of mind he had left was focused on Ryan’s guttural, stuttering sounds.

For a long moment, everything was peaceful. Both sides of him were content.

Shane closed his eyes, sinking into a zoned out state that barely acknowledged Ryan carefully pulling out of him or the brusque but gentle swipes of a washcloth. He only opened his eyes when he felt Ryan lay down in front of him.

“Lazy ass,” Ryan was saying fondly, his smile small but happy. Then he met Shane’s half-lidded gaze and he faltered. His expression turned into one of surprise and trepidation. “Uh. Shane?”

Shane sat up, looming over Ryan. He tilted his head at Ryan’s sudden worry.

“You, uh. Your eyes are a little not… human.”

Shane blinked once, the information oddly unimportant. What was important was the playmate right in front of him. He placed his hand on Ryan’s chest, a claw tapping lightly against the jut of a collarbone. “Ryan,” he said simply, his voice a deep growl.

Ryan’s smile was soft and downright awestruck. “Yeah, that’s right. Hey there. Fancy seeing you outside of a full moon.”

Full moon?

Shane glanced out the window, but the sky was lit only by the light pollution of his little neighborhood. He went back to staring at Ryan, pausing to yawn so hard that his jaw popped.

“Maybe you should sleep. I don’t need you angry at me because you were like this for more than a few minutes.”

With a derisive snort that sounded more like a dog than a human, Shane collapsed on top of Ryan, nuzzling into his neck. “Mate.”

Ryan’s breath caught. Tentatively and so very gently, he brought his hand up to pet through Shane’s hair. “Yeah. Yeah, that… Yeah. I love you, too.”

Love?

Hmm.

Good.

 

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“And how is my favorite secret couple this wonderful Friday afternoon?”

Shane leaned back in his chair, grinning when he saw Ryan close his eyes and sigh. “This half of the not-a-couple is doing great. You?”

Curly casually leaned on the table in between their computers, smiling when he caught Ryan rubbing his hand over his face. “Absolutely lovely. What are you two fine gentleman doing tonight? There’s a party I have to go to, but if I can rope enough friends into going with me, it won’t be as terrible as I know it will be.”

Ryan sighed again, with the air of someone who had completely given up, and said, “We’ve got plans.”

“Ah, date night.” Curly nodded sagely. “Any way I can blackmail you into skipping it?”

“I’m not sure about Ryan, but I’m an open book. There’s nothing you can blackmail me with,” Shane said. He took pleasure in watching Ryan roll his eyes.

“You’re a Midwestern white boy. You have some kind of kinky secret and don’t think I won’t figure it out.”

Shane paused, then deadpanned, “You’ve caught me. I’m a furry. I identify as a wolf.”

Ryan buried his head in his hands and groaned.

Curly leaned closer and said solemnly, with an edge of a grin curling the corner of his mouth, “ I want you to know that we all accept you. And I’m proud of Ryan for overcoming his frat bro ways and being able to accomodate you.”

“Alright,” Ryan said. “It’s after five, we’re leaving.”

“But I’m not done with work!”

“We’re leaving,” Ryan repeated, standing up and locking his computer. “Come on, Shane.”

“Heel, boy,” Curly whispered just loud enough for Shane to hear.

Shane laughed all the way to Ryan’s car.

 

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The moon hung huge and pearlescent in the sky, so clear that Shane thought he could reach out and touch it.

“It’s nearly time.”

Shane downed the last of his beer, hoping the movement would mask how his hand shook. “You’ve been with me for too long if you can tell that just from looking at me.”

“You’ve sweated through your shirt and your arms are furrier than Robin Williams’ right now,” Ryan said, taking the bottle from him. “It’s not hard to figure out.”

“Ooh, nice 90’s reference.”

“Tawnya’s kids needed a babysitter last weekend, so we watched Mrs. Doubtfire.”

“Sounds fun,” Shane said absently as he pulled his shirt over his head, starting down the stairs into the basement.

Ryan groaned as he followed. “Not really. The one is at the ankle biter stage. Literally. Mountain lions.”

Shane didn’t think he’d ever get used to such casual references to shifting. “They’re not going to be here, right?”

“No, Shane, don’t worry about it,” Ryan said, briefly rubbing Shane’s back before making a face at the sweat. He accepted Shane’s glasses and phone and added, “Just Jake and couple of my friends that are large predators. We’ve gone over this. They’ll be here in an hour.”

Brain swimming under the ache in his body and the pull of the full moon, Shane mumbled, “I know, I know. Can’t believe I agreed to this.”

“You need socialization.”

“Werewolf playdates,” Shane muttered to himself, smiling at the absurdity. “How is this my life?” It was a struggle to get out of his pants, but having Ryan there gave him something else to focus on.

“Yuck it up, mister, but once werewolf-you starts learning how to talk, you’ll be thankful you have friends.”

“I was not some- some wolf version of me that night.”

“Uh huh,” Ryan said with obvious sarcasm. “So you, with a clear mind and of your own free will, called me your ‘mate’?”

Finally naked, Shane strode into the newly installed cage and swung the door shut with a clang. “Maybe. Don’t judge what I’m into.”

Ryan locked it behind him, pocketing the key. “Yeah, yeah. Kiss me before you get fangs, ‘mate.’”

Shane grumbled, taking the excuse to lean on the bars to take weight off his shaky legs. They couldn’t do much more than brush their lips together with the bars in the way, but even that small contact was so much better than the nothing he had endured for years. “See you in the morning,” he whispered. His knees buckled under him and he slid to the ground, gritting his teeth against the sharpe ache and pop of the bones in his feet breaking.

Kneeling with him, Ryan reached through the bars to grasp his hand, giving him something to hold onto. “See you in a few minutes.”

Shane snickered at the arch reply before the pain became all-consuming, forcing him into unconsciousness.

When he blinked open his eyes, he wasn’t surprised to see Ryan sitting in the cage with him, not wearing a stitch of clothing. His playmate was becoming a constant.

“Hey,” Ryan said softly, reaching over slowly to run his fingers through long fur. “You ready to meet some friends?”

Shane didn’t understand the words. He didn’t need to. He recognized that tone.

With a sharp yip that echoed in the room, Shane struggled to his aching feet, wiggling in excitement.

“Yeah, you are.” Ryan raised his voice and yelled, “Come on down, guys.”

Shane pricked his ears forward when he heard footsteps above him, but for once he didn’t feel fear of the unknown. Only curiosity. Even the urge to hunt was nearly nonexistent.

Ryan ruffled the fur at his neck and grinned. “This is going to be awesome.”

“Let’s have some fun, big guy.”