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For some, it's easy to believe in the fantastical. For Josh, it wasn't so easy.
Even when he found himself lying naked in the middle of the woods, the taste of carcass in his mouth and blood under his fingernails, it wasn't easy.
Josh sat up slowly, the sound of buzzing flies came to his ears and he looked over to see the shredded remains of a deer.
Entrails, shiny white bone, drying blood and the deer's frozen, dead stare met his eyes and Josh felt his stomach roil at the sight and smell.
He threw his hand over his mouth and looked away, his breath coming in short. Jesus.
The skin around his mouth and chin felt flaky and tight and Josh scrubbed at it until flakes of dried blood fell into his palm.
Did I... he swallowed and a flash of a memory came, swallowing warm, raw meat, hot blood running down his chin.
Josh made a sound of disgust before he rose on shaky legs. And oh god, he was covered in it, dried, crusting blood. He scraped at his chest as he walked, trying to clean himself of the stuff but it wouldn't come off.
Pine needles and twigs cut into the soles of his feet as Josh tried to find a way out of the woods, as he tried to find a way home.
Could this really be happening? Could he really be a... a werewolf?
It had started about a month ago.
Josh was almost certain he could pinpoint the beginning. I mean, how often do people bite you?
Mark had invited him to a party at some kid's dorm. The place was swarming with faces he didn't recognize and he'd felt mostly awkward and uncomfortable going but was almost glad he did. If for no other reason than to say he'd done something with his weekend other than stay in his room and play Mario Kart.
But about two hours into it, some drunk girl had sat down on the couch next to him, practically crawling into his lap.
"Hey, you're hot." She shouted over the noise of the party, a red plastic cup in her hands.
Josh winced at the alcohol on her breath, "Thanks... you're... nice."
She giggled and draped her arm over him, straddling his legs, "You wanna get out of here?"
"Uh," Josh was careful to keep his hands firmly at his sides, lest she get the wrong impression, "No thanks. I'm..."
"You're what?" She leaned in and started mouthing at his neck, hot breath and tongue tickling at his skin.
He squirmed uncomfortably and raised his hands like he was going to push her off but didn't quite follow through with it. He was afraid of what she would do if he touched her.
"Well, you're not exactly my type..."
"So? You're not mine. Not yet."
He was about to ask her what she meant when there was a sharp pain in his neck and he yelled out, this time pushing her off.
She landed half on the couch and half off, catching herself from falling completely on the ground, "Hey!"
"You bit me!"
The girl grinned and for a split second there was something sinister about her, for a split second Josh was afraid of her.
"Why don't we get out of here?" She said again and her voice was deeper than before.
Josh shook his head, his hand pressed against the pain in his neck, "I'm gay."
She looked mortified for a second before she started laughing at him, falling off the couch in her drunken stupor, "It's not funny." Josh warned and she waved a hand up at him,
"I'm sorry, I just wanted a mate." she raised her palms up in the gesture of a shrug before managing a shaky, "Oops!" in between laughter.
Josh glowered at her before leaving to find a bathroom, he bumped into Mark instead.
"Hey! Josh! You okay?"
"Some girl just bit me."
"What? Jeez, you know how to party." Mark laughed.
Josh took his hand from his neck and turned so Mark could see, "Am I bleeding?"
"Oh shit, yea. Dude, that's gross."
Josh covered it back up and scowled at Mark, "Remember this next time I say no to one of your parties,"
He'd gone back to his dorm after that. Josh hid from his roommate in the bathroom and tried to clean the bite with hydrogen peroxide, praying that girl hadn't given him anything he should be worried about.
Thinking about it now it was almost laughable. He had been worried she may have given him an STD, not turned him into a werewolf.
The first night something had happened was a week from the party. Josh had woken up to pain in his fingers and toes and a deep ache in his gums. His teeth had felt different that night... a little sharper. And his fingernails and toenails... a little thicker.
He had thought he was going crazy.
But almost every night after it got worse.
He grew hair in places he never thought he would and his senses sharpened. His bones would shift and his mind started to grow cloudy.
One night he'd woken up ravenous, eating an entire pack of beef jerky in a couple bites. It hadn't been enough though, the hunger that had ripped through his stomach was like nothing he'd ever felt before.
The next night he'd come to and found himself standing over his roommate's sleeping figure, practically salivating. He could hear the kid's heartbeat and all he could think about doing was ripping and clawing and biting to get at that heart.
It had terrified him so much that Josh had spent the next night in the student lounge. The next morning he'd woken up outside. Naked. Next to the deer.
He was pretty convinced he was a werewolf.
The door clicked shut and Tyler opened his eyes to see his roommate tiptoeing across the room in nothing but a giant piece of paper. His skin was covered in dirt or something and there was a leaf in his dyed blue hair.
"Is that the banner for the basketball team?"
Josh jumped at Tyler's voice and turned to face him, his eyes wide and panicked, "Uhh... no."
"Yes it is," Tyler pointed at what was left of the big wolf face painted over the banner after Josh had no doubt ripped it down, "It says 'Go Timber Wolves!' over your butt."
"Ok... it is." He turned and grabbed his toiletry bag before heading back out of the room.
They'd only been roommates for a little over a month, since the semester started, and Tyler was beginning to think his roommate was nuts, and maybe a psycho killer.
Tyler yawned and clambered out of bed, groaning when he saw his alarm clock. It was five-thirty in the morning. He didn't have class until eight.
He was taking mostly boring electives this semester, Western Civilization, Intro to Psychology, a public speaking class and Understanding Music. He was actually really enjoying that last class, but the rest were pretty boring. And he wasn't a fan of public speaking.
Tyler took his time getting ready and headed to the showers the second Josh came back. He wasn't too keen on being around him lately. He was starting to give Tyler the creeps.
Tyler made it to Western Civ. early, taking his usual seat toward the left side of the room. It was a big class, seating about three-hundred people at large rows of tables. Tyler liked sitting on the end so he could leave faster.
He saw Jenna come in and pulled his swivel chair in toward the table so she could sit next to him. They had been friends since Middle School.
"Good morning," She chirped and set down her coffee on the desk.
Tyler took a long whiff of it and sighed, "Can I?"
She rolled her eyes as she pulled out her laptop to take notes on, "Why do you even bother asking anymore?"
Greedily, Tyler took the cup in his hands and inhaled, "Oh sweet, blessed coffee, how I missed you." He took a careful sip and grinned, "God that's good."
"You know, you could get your own at the dining hall."
Tyler groaned, "But that's on the other side of the campus and this class is like, right next to my dorm room."
"Lazy," Jenna muttered and brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes, "So, our banner got ripped down."
"What?" Tyler suddenly remembered the incident from when he woke up.
"Yeah, me and Debby spent all weekend on that thing and somebody just... ripped it down. Half of the mascot's face is still hanging up."
"That sucks..." Tyler debated telling Jenna for a moment, he was afraid she would confront Josh who would then turn on Tyler for telling. Or would he? He really didn't know his roommate well enough to judge a reaction.
The professor walked in then, already rattling off information about Ancient Rome before he'd set his briefcase down and Tyler was spared the decision for the moment.
it's a bit of an awkward chapter ending but it's all I have and SoloChaos wanted it :p
Josh still had blood under his fingernails.
He spent all of his Nutrition class trying to clean them.
His professor changed the slide and Josh cursed under his breath, he hadn't been taking notes.
After class, he caught up with Mark, "Hey, can I borrow your notes from Nutrition?" They were taking the same class but at different times.
"You fall asleep again?"
"Josh," Mark turned to level with him, "Seriously man, drink some coffee or drink some warm milk at night, something." Josh's nose wrinkled at the idea of drinking warm milk, "You can't keep sleeping during classes."
"I know, I just haven't been able to sleep lately. And in my defense I thought this class was going to be easy enough I could sleep through it. I thought we were gonna learn about the food pyramid not the freakin' chemical compounds of beans."
Mark frowned at him, "Yeah, it doesn't help that the professor barely speaks English either."
"Right? Jeez, I can't even understand what's going on when I do pay attention."
Mark dug through his bag for a moment before pulling out a green notebook and handing it to Josh, "Here, we have a test on Monday too, by the way. Chapters ten through sixteen."
Josh just groaned.
"You're welcome, I gotta go or I'm gonna be late. See you later."
Josh briefly flipped through the pages of the notebook before sticking it into his binder and walking back to his dorm.
He was halfway there when suddenly he felt a familiar pain slide through his bones. "No, no, no... not here." he muttered and ran his tongue over his teeth, feeling for the sharp canines.
Something shifted in his chest and Josh cried out, slapping a palm over his shirt as students gave him odd looks.
Josh started running.
There was pain in his feet, pain in his palms as he ran and he worriedly ran a hand over his face, checking for hair, checking for a snout.
He was turning the corner of the humanities building when he collided with another body. Books and papers went flying as Josh crash landed onto... his roommate.
He heard the air woosh out of Tyler's lungs as he fell on top of him and scrambled to get off, "Shit, sorry."
Tyler was staring up at him, wide eyed and Josh quickly felt his face, but everything was normal again. His pain was gone.
He reached out a hand to help Tyler, who took it hesitantly, "Are you okay?" Josh asked and Tyler looked away, looked at the scattered remains of his books, "Yea, I'm fine."
Josh bent down and picked up his books, sheepishly handing them back.
"Why were you in such a rush?"
"Uh..." Josh ran his tongue over his teeth again, checking for good measure, "Had to pee."
God, Tyler must think he's a freak.
They started walking back to the dorm room, awkwardly side-by-side.
Once they were back in the room, Tyler sat on his bed and stared up at Josh.
"I thought you had to pee."
"Oh. Right. Yeah." Josh turned and left, muttering to himself the whole way to the bathroom.
There was no one else in it so Josh leaned over the sink and studied his reflection in the mirror. His eyes always looked different. Since he'd been bit, at first he'd played it off as a trick of the light, but there were flecks of gold in his dark, brown eyes, making them look brighter than normal.
Josh stared down at his hands. They looked perfectly human. For now.
He bared his teeth in the mirror and turned his head from side to side.
He wondered if he should even sleep in the dorm tonight, if he was going to have the urge to run and kill again.
It wasn't safe for Tyler if he did.
Reluctantly, Josh made his way back to his room where Tyler ignored him and focused on his textbooks instead.
Josh laid down on his bed and stared at the ceiling, Tyler's heartbeat slightly erratic in his ears.
"Are you okay?" Josh asked and broke the silence.
Tyler's heartbeat jumped for a moment and Josh marveled at the fact that he could hear it, "Yeah... why?"
Josh shrugged and looked over at his roommate, "You just seem... tense. Tough classes?"
Josh heard the lie in his heartbeat. It must be him that made Tyler nervous. And god if that didn't make him feel guilty.
"What classes are you taking?" Josh asked, realizing they never really talked and that wasn't helping the situation.
"Um, Western civ... public speaking, psych and a music class."
"Music. Cool. I like music. I have a drum set back home."
Tyler seemed to return to his textbooks and Josh chewed his lip for a moment before he said, "I'm taking nutrition, intro to business, spanish 101, and a film class. It's cool 'cause we watch movies all day." Tyler just nodded and him, a polite smile thinning his lips.
"I was trying to take easy classes this year." Josh explained.
"Oh." Was all Tyler said.
Josh rolled his eyes at himself and sighed. He was great at this, he thought sarcastically.
"Um, so where did you go to High School?"
"I'm actually trying to study, sorry. I have a test tomorrow... so..."
"Oh, sorry." When Tyler went back to his books Josh squeezed his eyes shut and mentally chastised himself. God he was an idiot. Tyler wanted nothing to do with him.
He heard Tyler sigh across the room, "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"No, it's fine," Josh rushed to say, "I was being nosy and you're busy. It's okay, really. I gotta go to class now anyway, so..." He stood and grabbed his binder, making a quick retreat to the hallway. It was a lie, he didn't have a class until noon.
Josh left the dorm rooms and started walking aimlessly until he spotted the library and decided to do a little light reading on werewolves.
"Uggghh!" Tyler groaned and rolled over on his back, "Why am I such a jerk?" he said to no one in particular. He felt bad giving Josh the cold shoulder when the guy was just trying to be friendly.
But he was weird! Half the time Tyler woke up in the middle of the night to Josh leaving the dorm room. Where did he go at night? Apparently romping naked through the woods or something.
Tyler remembered the first day he'd been assigned his dorm room and had walked in and seen Josh unpacking and thought, Holy crap, this guy's cute. He'd had such high hopes of becoming friends with him and for the first couple weeks everything seemed great and he'd really liked Josh.
Then the weird stuff started. Josh had thrown away two bed sheets because they'd been mysteriously shredded, Tyler had woken up to find his beef jerky stash eaten, how rude, and he swore one time he'd woken up to the guy just staring at him. He'd opened his eyes for a second while he was rolling over to get comfortable and had seen someone just... standing over him.
It'd scared the crap out of him and when he whipped his head back around to see, Josh was lying in his bed, his back to Tyler.
Maybe that had been a dream. Still, the guy gave him the heebie-jeebies.
Tyler rolled back over and fixed the crumpled pages of his textbook before staring at the words. Well, he couldn't focus now.
He looked at the clock beside his bed, nine-fifty. Jenna didn't have class until ten-thirty, maybe he'd go talk to her.
Josh was sitting in the back of the second floor of the library, books spread out all over his table depicting gruesome images of werewolves tearing apart their victims and angry townspeople rioting.
He flipped through Lycanthrope: Lore and Legends and scanned through what he'd read in numerous other texts. Most books shared the same seven facts:
1. To become a werewolf you have to be bit by one or in some cases scratching is enough
2. Change happens on the full moon of every month
3. Transformation usually only happens at night
4. Werewolves prey on humans and animals
5. A werewolves' vulnerability is in the plant wolfsbane and in silver
6. The only way to kill a werewolf is silver to the heart
7. There is no cure to lycanthropy
But they didn't all add up with what Josh was experiencing. For instance, he was changing, to some degree, every night. It seemed to get worse as it got closer to the full moon.
He'd looked it up, last night had been a full moon and he couldn't remember anything he'd done. He'd obviously killed a deer... but what else?
There wasn't much information on the transformation process either, for instance, how freaking painful it was. Or explanation for why he had started to change in broad daylight today, before he'd run in to Tyler.
Unfortunately, most of his sources also said control was nearly impossible when in wolf form. Though some did make reference to people who could turn it off and on whenever they liked, day or night.
Josh slammed the book shut. Who was he kidding? Werewolves are a legend. Whose to say any of this information is accurate.
Leaning back in his chair, Josh shut his eyes and sighed.
"Doing a little light reading?"
Josh's eyes snapped open, "Tyler!"
"I thought you said you had class."
Tyler turned his head, trying to see the pictures laid out before Josh, "Vampires?"
Josh reached forward and shut the book Tyler was looking at, hiding the image of a wolfman battling a giant bat creature, "Werewolves, actually."
Tyler nodded, "Oh."
"Uh, what are you doing here?"
"Was looking for a friend. She's usually here on Wednesdays."
Josh was slowly gathering the books up, shutting them all and stacking them neatly.
"Hey, um... I'm sorry. About earlier. You're right, I have been... tense."
Tyler nodded and seemed to decide something before he sat down across from Josh, "Can I ask you... why you came back this morning... the way you did?"
Josh felt his cheeks warm, "Oh god... um..." His eyes searched the stacks of books behind Tyler for a moment, thinking of what to say, "I um... lost... a bet."
Tyler's face broke into a grin then and Josh found himself smiling in return.
"Jeez, must have been some bet."
"Yeah," Josh rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, "It was."
"Y'know, my friend, she made that banner you ripped down. She was pretty upset this morning."
"Oh," shit, Josh suddenly felt terrible, "I wasn't even thinking about-"
Tyler waved a hand at him, "I would have done the same thing if I woke up naked in the middle of the woods."
Josh stilled, "How did you know I was in the woods?"
Tyler gave him a sympathetic look, "You were covered in dirt and had leaves in your hair."
Letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding, Josh grinned, "Right. Dirt. ...and leaves." Not blood. Tyler didn't know it was blood.
"Anyway, so what are you reading about werewolves for?"
"For... your film class?"
Shit. "Yeah, uh, for my film class. We... we're watching the original Wolfman... y'know with Halloween coming up."
Josh drummed his fingers on the table for a bit then stopped when he realized he was doing it.
"Speaking of Halloween..." Tyler said, "My friend's roommate is having a Halloween party, if you wanted to come?"
"It's a costume party."
"Well, I should go. I'll let you get back to your wolf project. See you later."
Josh watched as Tyler got up and left and felt a warm little flurry in his chest. Tyler had invited him to a party.
That night, Josh debated whether or not he should sleep in his own bed or in the lounge. Eventually he decided on the lounge and hoped like hell he'd wake up there too.
And at about four in the morning Josh didwake up in the lounge, but not alone.
Golden-green eyes met his and Josh jerked back from the girl watching him sleep.
"You," he whispered.
"Me." She sneered and Josh caught the glimpse of sharp wolves' teeth in her mouth.
In his own mouth, he felt the long canines on either side of his tongue and the pointed front teeth in between.
He could smell blood on her breath.
"How could you do this to me?"
A low growl emitted from her throat and Josh felt himself shrink back and lower his eyes at it.
"I wanted a mate. You looked promising. But, like they say, the good ones are either taken or gay."
Josh frowned at this, "A mate?"
"A mate. You know, someone to share my lonely nights with, to take long strolls in the woods with, to hunt down and rip people apart with."
"What?" People? "You..."
"We're werewolves. What did you think we eat, salad?"
Josh felt his throat go dry, "You killed someone?"
"What's your name?"
"Josh. I'm Alice. I'm your sire." her dark hair hung in her face and Josh couldn't help but think she was far too sinister looking for a sweet name like Alice.
"Your sire. Your alpha, your creator, your master."
Josh could only stare at her, feeling strangely compelled to sit and listen to every word she said.
"I made you, Josh. Unfortunately. But I did, and now you're my responsibility." She scoffed and shook her head, "Responsibilities are a lot less fun when you can't fuck them."
"I don't understand-"
"Look, it'll be fine," She sat back and lifted her nails, studying them like she was bored. The image was somewhat unsettling considering her nails weren't nails, but long, sharpened claws, "I'll show you the ropes. Help you hunt and get your first kill."
"I killed a deer." Josh blurted, hoping that was enough. He'd killed. He didn't need her.
"Oh," She looked completely unimpressed, "Good for you, but tomorrow I'm going to show you the big league stuff, pup. Human hearts are far more savory than animal's. Once you taste one, you'll never crave anything but."
Josh was shaking his head back and forth, body pressed into the back of the couch in the student lounge, "I don't want to kill anyone."
Alice grinned, her pointed teeth peeking out from beneath rosy lips, "You will."
He was in deep.
Josh paced the hallway.
He was in real, fucking deep.
A door down the hall opened and Josh stopped pacing for a moment, until the person left the room and disappeared down the stairs.
He started pacing again.
He didn't want to kill anybody.
He didn't want to eat anybody's heart.
Josh shuddered and leaned against the wall to stop and dig his palms into his eyes.
What was he going to do?
Another door opened and this time it was Tyler. He looked surprised to see Josh in the hallway, "Hey... you okay?"
Josh forced a smile, "Mhm, I uh... couldn't sleep."
"I never saw you come in last night."
Josh just shrugged, his face tight, he couldn't think of anything to say right now. He couldn't even try to be normal right now. All he could think about was Alice's eyes, her teeth, and the blood he smelled on her breath.
"Okay then..." Tyler frowned and stepped around Josh, heading for the showers.
Josh went in their dorm room then and collapsed on his bed, suddenly exhausted.
They were sitting in class, waiting for the professor to arrive when Tyler said, "Hey, you remember my weird roommate?"
"Mhm, the psycho killer?" Jenna grinned.
Tyler rolled his eyes and took a sip of her coffee.
"Hey, you've had enough of that, save some for me." She snatched it back from him and he pouted for a moment.
"I invited him to Debby's Halloween party."
Jenna gave him an exasperated look, "You invited a psycho killer to a Halloween party? That's like right out of a horror movie or something."
Tyler gave her shoulder a shove, "He's not a psycho killer. At least, I don't think so."
"Are you hot for him again?"
He felt his cheeks heat at her words, "I don't know! It's just, we were talking yesterday and he's not so weird."
"But he's still pretty weird, huh?"
Tyler sighed, his shoulders deflating, "Yeah."
The professor walked in then and their conversation was cut short. Tyler wondered what he should dress up as for the party.
He was probably just going to wear his skeleton hoodie. It was easier than making a costume or going out and shopping for one.
He wondered what Josh would come as...
Josh wasn't paying attention to where he was going. All he could think about was Alice and her yellow-green eyes and how uneasy she made him feel.
Why couldn't she just leave him alone? Why did she want to teach him how to... kill? She couldn't have it both ways. She couldn't destroy his life like this and then come back to do it again.
He wasn't a murderer.
Josh jumped at Mark's voice, "What? Huh?"
"I've been yelling your name from all the way over there," Mark pointed distantly across campus behind him, "Where the heck are you?"
Josh tried to laugh it off, "What? I'm fine, I was just... I don't know, I was daydreaming."
Mark squinted at him, "Are you like... seeing someone?"
"You've been so distracted lately. And maybe you're up all night because you're busy..." Mark elbowed him in the side and wiggled his eyebrows, "y'know... gettin' your gay on." He finished with an uncomfortable grimace.
"You keep forgetting I'm gay, don't you?"
Mark shook his head like he was trying to clear away some unwanted images, "Not forgetting... just not wanting to remember. Anyway," a finger was pointed in Josh's face, "You're avoiding the topic at hand."
"No, I'm not seeing anyone."
"Oh," Mark frowned, "Then what's been bothering you? Anything you want to talk about?"
Josh took in Mark's concerned face for a moment, beyond grateful to have a friend who was willing to listen if he needed someone to hear it but he could just imagine how this conversation would go.
Mark, I'm a werewolf. That's right, and my sire wants to take me people hunting tonight and I'm not so sure I want to go. What do you think?
He gave Mark a tight smile and shook his head, "Nah, thanks though. It's nothing."
Mark seemed a little unconvinced but eventually nodded, "Okay. If you say so."
That night Josh stood outside the door to his and Tyler's dorm and debated going inside.
If he stayed in the lounge Alice would come and find him. But she didn't know which room was his. He could hide out in his bed until morning and hope he wouldn't change enough he'd be endangering Tyler.
He had barely changed last night. He hadn't even felt much pain from it. The moon was a full month away, Josh reasoned, he wouldn't be changing enough that he couldn't control it.
Josh went inside, shutting the door quietly behind him so he didn't wake his roommate. He glanced at the glowing red numbers beside Tyler's bed, 12:06 AM.
He laid down on his mattress and looked over at Tyler. The latter was curled into a tight ball, only the tufts of his hair peeking out from the comforter wrapped around his frame.
She wouldn't find him here. Tyler would be safe for tonight.
Josh nodded to himself and shut his eyes, hoping he could actually sleep through the night.
Josh was staring at the digital 1:43 AM and wondering why he was awake.
"Wakey, wakey," someone whispered and Josh jerked at the noise, sitting up in bed and letting his eyes adjust.
Yellow-green eyes flashed in the darkness and Alice's lithe figure came into view.
"How did you find me?" Josh whispered and shrank back as she leaned in,
"I have your scent, dog-breath. I will always find you." She straightened and cocked her head at him, "Let's go."
Josh shook his head, blinking his eyes awake, "No, I told you. I don't want to kill anyone."
His heart skipped as he heard Alice begin to growl low in her throat and he cast a worried glance in Tyler's direction.
Her face suddenly smoothed as she saw the movement and he watched as Alice leaned over Tyler, sniffing around his blankets.
"Hey," Josh warned, "You want him to wake up and see-"
His voice died in his throat as a muted crunching and popping met his ears. Alice's form seemed to build in the darkness, her shadow spilling across the room.
Josh felt his eyes widen as her jaw grew and stretched out in front of her in a crude snout and her back arched as her spine rippled and popped like knuckles cracking.
Ripping fabric filled the room and Josh felt his mouth hang open as spiky tufts of fur climbed down her chest and back.
He watched as Alice's limbs broke and shifted into place, until she was on all fours, a hulking hell hound with bright yellow eyes and massive teeth.
There was no mistaking her for some wild dog, she was a creature Josh had never seen before.
Alice stood back up, almost tall enough to touch the ceiling and Josh didn't know what looked more terrifying, when she was on all fours or when she was standing like some devlish monster.
The beast's head swung in the direction of Tyler's sleeping form and it's teeth clacked shut, long, clawed toes curling into the floor like a kneading cat. She looked back to Josh and he understood immediately what she wanted to tell him.
You come with me and hunt. Or I kill him.
Shakily, Josh climbed out of bed and gave a weak nod.
He had followed Alice out to the woods behind campus, the same woods he'd woken up in after the night of the full moon.
"What are we doing out here?"
Alice was walking on all fours and her head swung back to look at Josh, hung low beneath her bony shoulder blades like she was already stalking her kill.
Again, it just took one intense look at those yellow eyes, no trace of green in her wolf form, and Josh understood what she was saying.
You need to be able to concentrate.
"Why? Am I gonna turn like you?" Josh stumbled over a tree branch in the dark, falling and throwing his palms down on pine needles, "Ow!"
The werewolf huffed in front of him and Josh decided Alice was laughing at him.
He stood and brushed dead leaves from his pants, "How do you expect me to turn when I've never even done it before? Or if I did, I don't even remember. I have no control over this thing."
They stopped at a clearing and Alice sat down to face him.
Josh glowered at her and crossed his arms over his chest, "Yeah, I don't really want to anyway. It fucking hurts."
In one swift movement Alice was up on two legs, towering over Josh and startling him so much he fell back on his butt.
She screamed at him and Josh could hear it in his head. His heart had started beating a bit more frantically and Josh breathed heavily as he looked up at her, "Jesus, you're crazy."
Suddenly the ground beneath him shook and her claws were digging into the Earth on either side of his head, her teeth were bared an inch from his face, glistening with saliva, the heat of her breath dampening his skin.
He laid there for a moment, breathing hard and petrified of what she would do next when he felt the pain in his fingers. Pain that quickly spread up his wrist, up his arm and to his shoulder in blinding agony.
He felt himself crying out and looked up at Alice, bewildered and confused. How?
It's your natural defense.
Sweat broke out on his forehead as Josh felt the tightening pain spread throughout the bones in his body. He could feel the pressure building inside him and knew what was coming next.
A loud pop pierced his ears and Josh screamed as he felt a nerve pinch in his elbow. He curled in on himself and felt Alice move away.
Another pop in his other elbow and Josh rolled back until he was looking up at the treetops. The familiar pain in his fingers, toes and gums returned and he looked at his hands to see the small bones of his fingers snapping underneath his skin and melding into something new and long, thick claws started emerging before his eyes.
Josh threw his head back as a sharp pain invaded his skull and the bones of his cheeks and jaw. He felt them change and shift around in his face. His pulse raced as he saw the pointed snout growing between his eyes, the dark of the forest lightening around him with his wolf vision.
He curled up on his side again when nausea began ripping through his stomach, his body dampening with a sheen of sweat.
A loud splintering crack met Josh's ears and a second later he screamed as it felt like his chest had been ripped open.
Like foreign objects in his body, Josh felt his sternum readjusting, his ribs popping out of place and opening his chest up, his organs shifting and pulsing inside him.
Josh's vision swam and he tried to focus on his breathing. Around him, the woods grew dark again and Josh struggled to stand, his legs clumsy and unwilling to cooperate.
He felt a prickling along his skin and looked down to see thick fur spreading along his arms.
The pain in his body seemed to be mostly receding but his head was so foggy. An unfamiliar presence invaded his mind and Josh tried to shake it off but it persisted.
His eyes focused on Alice. She looked smaller now.
A low growl emanated from his throat, his head slinking low for protection. He thought about what Alice had told him, about the wolf being his body's natural defense. And oh how his wolf was defensive. It hated Alice.
She growled in return and Josh felt his ears pin back, his fur stand on end.
That's it, her wolf commanded, get angry. You're a killer now, Josh.
He wanted to shake his head, to scream no, but his werewolf hesitated. It wanted blood.
He wasn't a killer. He wouldn't. He couldn't.
Josh put as much force into his body as he could to get the thing to move it's big head, to get it to say no.
Once it did, Alice growled, and Josh's wolf responded. He could use their hatred of her to keep the thing from hunting.
Why? she demanded and Josh let a roar rip free as he lunged at her throat.
When Tyler woke the last thing he expected to see all over his floor was the shredded remains of a pink tank top, jeans and... Tyler prodded the fabrics with his foot, lacey underwear?
He felt his heart sink as he stared across at the mussed bed sheets on Josh's mattress.
Josh had a girlfriend? He was straight?
He thought back to the other day when he'd invited Josh to Debby's Halloween party... he'd looked so surprised and pleased at the offer, Tyler had thought... he'd assumed...
God, how could he be so stupid?
Tyler stood and made a wide berth around the girl's clothes on his floor before grabbing his stuff and darting out of the room.
Josh woke to sun in his eyes.
He blinked and tried to sit up, letting out a cry instead when his body ignited in pain.
"Morning, sleepyhead." a lilting voice called beside him.
"Alice?" His voice came out gritty and worn through a sore throat and he winced, "What..."
Josh froze as he looked down at himself, naked and covered in a crusty red-brown substance. Drying blood.
No, no, no, "No, no, please tell me we didn't... I didn't..."
"Kill someone? No. That's your blood, genius." Alice said, "You picked a fight you couldn't possibly win. You don't remember?"
Relief flooded through him and he struggled to sit up, "No, but that would explain why it feels like I've been hit by a truck." he coughed, hissing when his ribs throbbed in protest.
She scooched up closer to him, her naked body uncomfortably close and her hand hovered over his shoulder, "I could teach you how to fight you know, teach you how to control it."
"No," Josh pulled away from her, "I don't want any part of this."
"Josh," her voice was soft and reasoning, "It's who you are now, like it or not. And I can help you, together we'll be powerful enough to bring the world to its knees." she finished with a wicked grin.
He looked at her with nothing but contempt, "We're not together, Alice. There is no us." he leaned forward to make sure she got it through her thick skull, "You're a monster."
For a moment she actually looked hurt, but if she was she changed face too fast for Josh to wonder if it was sincere.
"Yeah? Well now you're one too." She growled and stood, brushing leaves from her skin and stalking to a nearby tree.
Josh watched as she yanked a bag out from the center of one of the trees. She pulled clothes out of it and quickly began dressing.
"Hey," he wished he had been smart enough to think to bring clothes with him last night. The clothes he'd been wearing were now just a shredded pile mixed in with the leaves, "Can you bring me some clothes?"
She gave him a dubious look and he doubted she would help him, "Please?"
Alice rolled her eyes before giving a begrudging, "Fine." and leaving him alone in the woods.
Tyler sunk into his seat in Western Civ with a long sigh, pulling a worried look from Jenna.
He shrugged a little moodily before saying, "So, I think Josh is straight."
"My-? Yes, my roommate, haven't you been paying attention?"
She just grinned over her coffee, "Well, you kept calling him the psycho killer for so long, how was I to know his real name was Josh?"
Tyler rolled his eyes, "Anyway, there were clothes all over the room this morning, girl's clothes, Jen."
"So maybe he cross-dresses."
"I don't think so. They were shredded clothes, too. Like he..."
"Ripped them off someone and had sex in the same room with you, while you were sleeping?" Her voice became a crude whisper as she spoke, "Ooo, that's so disgusting, Ty," she cringed, "They couldn't do it somewhere else?"
"Jeez," he was amazed how fast her mind jumped in the gutter, "I don't know if he had sex..."
"Tyler," she spun in her chair to fully face him, "She left her clothes there, probably leaving in his... if you know what I mean."
Tyler's nose scrunched at the idea that Josh would be so tactless as to have sex less than five feet away from his sleeping roommate.
"Ugh," he groaned, "Thanks Jenna, now I've got that image in my head..."
He buried his face in his palms and sighed.
"Sorry Ty," he felt Jenna's hand on his back, "Wow, you really liked him, huh?"
He shrugged, suddenly feeling stupid for getting so worked up over a guy he'd barely exchanged ten sentences with.
"Hey," Jenna chirped, "Maybe he's bi."
Tyler just chuckled, warmed by Jenna's optimism, "Maybe."
After class, Tyler went straight back to his dorm only to find it empty.
He couldn't tell if he was more relieved or disappointed by Josh's absence.
The clothes were still there though and Tyler kicked them with his shoe until they were in a messy pile at the foot of Josh's bed.
He felt silly for caring so much, silly for assuming that Josh had maybe liked him back.
Tyler slumped onto his bed, thinking about how often Josh didn't sleep in his own bed, how many times he got up in the middle of the night and left. Tyler should have seen this coming, really. His roommate was a horn dog.
Groaning, Tyler fell back onto his mattress, pulling his phone out of his pocket and plugging in his ear buds.
He needed to distract himself with some music.
Josh was beginning to think Alice wasn't coming back when an hour had gone by and he was still shivering in the cool autumn air with nothing but the scraps of his clothes to keep himself warm.
Just when he was about to give up and walk through campus in nothing but his skin he heard crunching leaves as someone approached.
He took a deep breath before making the painful process of standing up and whimpered when it hurt more than he was expecting. Sitting in the cold hadn't made him any less sore.
Josh's head whipped in the direction of Mark's voice and he wished for nothing more than the ground to open up and swallow him whole.
Mark just stared at him, looking terrified and confused.
"Mark," Josh rasped, clearing his throat with a wince and making a belated move to cover his junk from view, "What are you doing here?"
"What happened to you?" Mark cried and stepped closer, his eyes traveling Josh's battered and bloodied body.
"How did you find me?" Josh demanded, wondering why God hated him this much. Why all of this was happening to him.
Mark pulled his backpack off and set it on the ground, unzipping it and pulling out clothes, "This girl found me,"
"She said you needed these," he handed a folded up pair of jeans and a t-shirt to Josh before digging out sneakers and socks too, "She told me where to find you." Lastly, Mark pulled out a hoodie, "She said you'd be cold."
Greedily, Josh took the hoodie and began dressing, hissing and moaning through the whole process.
"Jesus Christ, Josh," Mark's voice was shaky, "What the fuck happened to you? Who did this to you?"
"Don't worry about it-"
"You're covered in like, fuck I don't know, bite marks? And scratches and shit." His friend's voice was quickly becoming hysterical and Josh felt terrible for putting him through this.
"Mark, it's okay-"
"Bullshit, man! How did that girl know you were out here? What is going on, Josh?"
Josh sat down to put on the sneakers and sighed, "I don't know if you'll believe me."
Mark sat down too, his eyes wide and intense, "Please tell me."
Swallowing, Josh made a decision, "Okay."
They were sitting in Mark's dorm room, his roommate was in class so they were alone.
Josh was carefully scrubbing dirt and blood from his skin with a damp washcloth, his hoodie and shirt discarded on the floor, a box of bandages next to him on the bed.
"I told you you wouldn't believe me."
"Well... I want to. I mean, how cool would it be?"
Josh frowned, leveling Mark with a look, "It's not cool at all. In fact, it's hell, Mark."
"It sounds to me like you were sleepwalking or something... maybe you got into a scuffle with a wild dog..."
Josh shook his head and carefully wiped at an impressive slash Alice had landed across his jaw, "It wasn't a dog. It was a werewolf. And I wasn't sleeping."
"But you don't remember this happening to you?" Mark gestured to the gashes and cuts that littered his chest and back.
"No... but I don't remember when I killed the deer, either. I haven't got that much control yet."
Mark watched him pull the white bandages out and cover the deepest of the cuts, "Could you morph in front of me?"
Josh stopped what he was doing to gawk at Mark, "No! You idiot."
"Because! First of all, I told you, I can't control it. And even if I could, it's too dangerous!"
"But you can control it, you said you changed when you felt threatened. What if I threatened you?"
Josh just started laughing, making Mark scoff, "Gee, thanks."
Tyler pulled out one of his ear buds when Josh came in the room.
"Hey," Josh greeted and Tyler just nodded, his attention focused on the huge red welts across his face.
"What happened to you?"
Josh stopped at the foot of his bed, staring down at Alice's shredded clothes for a moment before kicking them nervously underneath the bedframe.
"Uhh, tree branch. Went for a run, wasn't really paying attention."
Tyler frowned, he wasn't buying that, "Wow. Vicious tree branch."
"Yeah," Josh said distractedly, digging through his dresser.
Josh was quickly becoming an enigma that Tyler wanted to crack open.
"So, you still coming to the Halloween party tomorrow?"
"What?" Josh turned around, his eyes searching the room, "Um, yeah. Of course. Do you have any aspirin or anything? It's just..." he winced and motioned to his head, "Got a wicked headache."
"Oh. Yeah." Tyler opened the drawer in his bedside table and pulled a bottle out, tossing it to Josh, "You bringing anyone?"
Josh was rattling the little bottle, pills falling out into his palm, "Hmm?"
"To the party. Are you bringing anyone?"
He stopped then, hand frozen in midair as he regarded Tyler, "No?" He sounded baffled by the question.
"Oh," Tyler pursed his lips for a moment before deciding to just say it, "So, you're not taking your girlfriend?"
Josh almost choked on the pills he was swallowing, "My what?" he coughed and grabbed a water bottle on Tyler's night stand, taking a swig, "Sorry," he said after.
He tried to hand it back and Tyler just waved it away, "Wait, you don't have a girlfriend?"
"No. I'm... I'm gay." He shuffled awkwardly in the middle of the room, "I kind of thought you knew that..."
Tyler found himself smiling, relieved until he remembered, "Well, I did but- wait, then why was there lady underwear ripped up all over the room this morning?"
Josh's face drained of color then and Tyler was seriously afraid he was going to pass out or something, "Uh..."
"You're always leaving too... you hardly sleep here anymore. Josh when I invited you to the Halloween party I was thinking that it was... kind of like... a date, but-"
"I was too." Josh chirped, "Thinking that, I mean."
Tyler shook his head, "But I don't want to be dating someone who's off..."
"Off sleeping around with people every night!" Tyler finished, glad he'd said it and simultaneously terrified of insulting Josh if he was wrong.
Unfortunately for Tyler, Josh just looked like someone had told him to go jump off a cliff.
"Is that what you think?" Josh said quietly.
"Well... " Tyler struggled for words, "I don't know... what am I supposed to think?" God, he was an asshole, "Josh, frick, I'm sorry. I... I don't know why I thought that." This was all Jenna's fault, really, "You don't have to explain anything to me. I feel like a jerk, now."
Josh just shrugged, his right arm raised self consciously across his stomach as he held his elbow, left hand picking at the fabric of his jeans.
Tyler felt like a dick for ever calling him a psycho killer, right now he just looked like a kicked puppy.
"It's fine," Josh mumbled, "I know I've been acting strange lately. And I promise I have a good reason, it's just... personal."
Nodding, Tyler rushed to say, "You don't have to tell me. I was just being nosy, I'm sorry."
Josh gave him a shy smile and Tyler returned it, "So... what are you going to be for the party?"
Josh shrugged, "Anything but a werewolf."
Tyler frowned at the odd answer but decided it wasn't his business to pry and moved on.
When Josh woke he almost screamed at the skeleton standing over his bed.
"Shit, sorry!" The skeleton unzipped its face and it was just Tyler.
"Tyler. Oh my god, you scared me."
"What-?" Josh looked Tyler up and down, from head to foot he was dressed in skeleton-wear. His sweatpants even had bones on them, "What is that?"
"It's my Halloween costume." Tyler fiddled with the zipper.
"You're gonna wear it all day?"
".. well, yeah."
Josh felt his face break out into a grin, god was Tyler adorable, "Okay then."
Tyler glanced at the alarm clock, "You should probably get up soon though, don't you have class in like five minutes?"
Josh cussed and scrambled out of bed, pulling off his shirt as he crossed the room. His bandages pulled at his skin and sore, beaten muscles flared with forgotten pain.
"Ah, fuck," Josh grumbled, suddenly aching in more places than before. Tyler's medicine had worn off it seemed and- shit, Tyler.
Josh whirled around and sure enough Tyler was standing there, his eyes searching Josh's, burning with questions.
"Um..." what was he supposed to say? How could he begin to explain this. And they hadn't even had their first date yet. Josh rubbed at his temples, feeling a headache form on top of everything else.
He reached around Tyler, grabbing a clean t-shirt and pulling it on, "I'll see you at the party." Josh turned and left.
Coward, he sighed.
Tyler was left dumbfounded after Josh left, horrible thoughts invading his mind as to why Josh was covered in bleeding cuts and gashes.
His first assumption was Josh had been attacked by something, a dog or a freaking mountain lion by the size of those cuts. But why would he have hid that from Tyler?
Then he thought maybe someone had done those things to Josh and he had been too ashamed to admit it. Tyler felt his heart sink at the idea of someone doing those things to Josh.
But then, what about those shredded clothes? Woman’s clothes. And he was supposed to believe that Josh was gay. Could he have hurt a girl? Attacked her and ripped her clothes up and those were defensive wounds?
Tyler shook the thought away almost as fast as it had come. First of all, he couldn’t believe his roommate was that evil. Second of all, a girl small enough to fit into those clothes wouldn’t be able to cause the amount of abuse he’d just seen on Josh’s body.
He frowned, his thoughts twisting into a mess in his head. He needed to talk to Jenna. He also needed to steal her coffee.
Unfortunately, he would find out when he got to class that Jenna had skipped in favor of helping her roommate decorate for the Halloween party.
He needed to see Josh again.
Josh was hiding out in the library, copying Mark’s notes again from his Nutrition class. He was rewriting the words without really paying attention to them, his thoughts were on Tyler instead. On the way he’d gawked at Josh this morning. He knew he owed his roommate an explanation he just… needed to think of a good lie.
“That looks like it hurts.” Someone said beside him and Josh jumped.
Alice was tracing her own face where his cuts were.
“What are you doing here, Alice?” He hissed, “And why the fuck did you have to send Mark yesterday?”
She grinned at him then, pleasantly amused at his pain, “I came to tell you we’re going hunting tonight.”
“No, I’m not going anywhere with you. Ever again.”
“Oh come on Joshie, don’t be that way,” She pouted and leaned forward to touch his arm.
He flinched back from her touch.
“Testy.” Sighing, Alice sat up straight and crossed her arms, “Come hunting with me or I kill your roommate, it’s that easy.”
Josh turned to look at her, judging to see how serious she was, “I told you, I’m not a murderer.”
“Not yet.” She chirped.
“Stop!” Josh yelled and a few people at tables nearby turned to glare at him. He lowered his voice, “Why don’t you just leave me alone? I won’t do it, okay? In fact, I should call the police and tell them that-”
“Tell them what Josh? That I’m a werewolf. That I rip people’s hearts out and eat them? How do you think that will go, Josh? Go ahead and tell them.” Alice lowered her head, pulling shadows over her eyes and glaring at him, “You don’t know what you’re up against little doggy. I’m only trying to help you. When you realize that you’ll be tripping over your feet to come apologize to me.”
She stood quickly, knocking her chair out from under her, “Tonight, Josh.” With that she turned and left and Josh was alone with his heart hammering in his ears.
After finding their dorm room empty for the third time today, Tyler resigned himself to the fact that Josh must be avoiding him.
The party was in an hour though so at least he’d see him then. It was their first date afterall.
Zipping up his skeleton hoodie, Tyler left the dorm room behind and started walking across campus. He liked the looks he got wearing the skeleton getup. They were much more appreciative on Halloween than they were when he wore it any other time of the year.
He wondered what Josh was going to dress up as. He spent sometime fantasizing a couple different costumes. Sexy zorro or a sexy vampire. Or a sexy pirate or a sexy firefighter. Or a zombie. Okay, there wasn’t anything sexy about zombies but they were always fun.
When he got there he was amazed at the work Jenna and Debby had put into it. The whole top floor of their dorm was decorated to the extreme. Cobwebs and blacklights and jack-o-lanterns. There was a giant table across the back wall of the lounge room with a huge witch’s cauldron filled with punch.
“Wow, this place looks amazing!”
A vampire with spiked stilettos and wavy red hair turned around, “Thanks Mr. Skeleton, we worked pretty hard on it.”
Tyler smiled and hugged Debby, “Cute costume.”
“Cute?” She struck a seductive pose, her forearm covering her mouth like in the old Dracula movies, “I paid fifty bucks for this costume – I better be downright sexy.”
“Ok, sexy it is.” He laughed.
“And what are you? A skeleton onesie?”
“Hey, these are separate, it’s not a onesie.” He sulked and looked down at himself.
She shrugged, “They still look like pj’s, honey.”
He gave a mock scowl and flicked the vampire collar that rose to her cheeks.
“Stop it you two, we still have to put more cobwebs up.”
Jenna was dressed up as Wonder Woman and Tyler could only laugh.
“What? Wonder Woman kicks ass. Didn’t you wear that last year?”
Shrugging, Tyler took some cobweb from Jenna and started hanging it around the windows. He liked his skeleton hoodie.
It didn’t take long before people started showing up. Tyler hung out by the snack table and kept an eye out for Josh.
“So what am I looking for?” Jenna popped up beside him, tugging on her wig, “Man, this thing is itchy… anyway, are we looking for an Elvis or a Freddy Krueger? Maybe he’s coming as Where’s Waldo?”
“Oh… um, anything but a werewolf.”
Jenna frowned, “Well that narrows it down.”
Tyler sighed, tired of watching the stairway and helped himself to another glass of punch. It had been spiked about an hour ago and Tyler was starting to get a nice buzz. He hoped it would turn into more though if Josh never showed up. He could get smashed and forget about how he was stood up on the first date.
“That better not be him.” Jenna suddenly said and Tyler turned around, curious.
Josh was at the top of the stairs, looking out of place and nervous and completely in his civilians, “Yeah, that’s him.”
“It’s a costume party, Tyler. Did you tell him that? Ugh, men always ruin costume parties.”
The party was mostly women… this being Jenna and Debby’s dorm after all… and they were all in costume.
“Sorry.” Tyler muttered on behalf of his gender and handed Jenna his punch, “I’ll be right back.”
“Hey!” Tyler shouted over the music after he’d made his way through the crowd
Josh startled but looked relieved to see him, “Hi.”
“So what are you supposed to be?”
Josh looked down on himself before he shrugged, “A Josh.”
“I thought so.”
Smiling, Tyler jerked a thumb over his shoulder, back toward the snack table, “Want some punch?”
He had started making his way through the crowd again when Debby spotted them.
“Hi! You must be Josh, I’m Debby – Jenna’s roommate.”
“Okay, I’m sure I’ll meet Jenna next then?” Josh joked and reached out to shake the hand that Debby was offering.
In the next moment Debby was recoiling her hand like it’d been burned, her eyes wide and fearful as she turned on Tyler.
“Debby? What’s wrong?”
“Um… Tyler can I talk to you?”
Her face was flushed of all color, eyes intense and unwavering.
“O-Ok… I’ll be right back Josh.”
She grabbed him by the arm then and pulled him into one of the dorms, slamming the door behind them, “You can’t go out with him.”
“What? Josh? Why, he-”
“Just listen to me please. He’s bad news. Just stay as far away from him as you can.”
“But he’s my roommate-”
“So ask for a new one. Tyler,” She held on to his shoulders, leveling him with those wide, terrorized eyes, “Believe me when I say he’s bad news.”
“Debby… did he do something to you? Is that why you’re saying this? Did he hurt you?” Tyler thought back to the assumptions he’d been making when he had seen Josh’s cuts. Had he been right when he thought those were somebody’s self defense marks?
“No, I’ve never met him before but-”
“Never met him? Then why are you saying these things? How could you possibly know what kind of person he is?”
“Tyler, please… I know it doesn’t make sense but you have to trust me.”
Tyler searched her eyes, looking for any sort of reason to not trust her… but how could she say these things about a person she’s never met? What did she know about Josh that Tyler didn’t?
“Just trust me, Tyler.”
Debby nodded and looked away before letting go of him and leaving to go back out to her party.
Tyler stayed in the dorm room for a while, wondering what he should do about Josh and wondering if he should seriously listen to Debby.
Josh frowned when Debby came out of the room but Tyler didn’t. She turned and glared at him like she was wishing for his death and he blinked, awkwardly looking away.
Unfortunately, his eyes met something worse.
Alice grinned at him from across the room, her eyes shining beneath the material of her Little Red Riding Hood costume.
Josh quickly turned and pushed through the crowd, trying to get as far away from her as he could. In his attempt to avoid Alice, Josh bumped himself directly into Debby.
“I want you to leave.” She shouted over the music.
“What?” He asked, not sure if he’d heard her correctly.
“I know what you are and I want you to leave my party,”
Josh blanched, fear gripping his heart. She knew? How?
“And you’re going to leave Tyler alone. I never want to see you with him again.”
She turned on her heels then, a flourish of red hair following her movements.
“Wait,” Josh reached out to grab her shoulder and gasped when Debby whipped her head around to face him, eyes glowing red.
Before he could understand what he was seeing, Alice was suddenly between them, one hand pushing at Josh’s chest as she spoke to Debby, “We’re gone.”
She continued to shove Josh through the throng of people until they were climbing down the stairwell and out the building.
“What the hell was that?” Josh breathed as soon as they were outside.
“Trouble.” Alice just said and started walking toward the woods.
“Wait, Tyler, I can’t just leave without saying goodbye.” He turned back toward the door but Alice quickly intercepted him, hand encircling his wrist.
“Leave him.” She hissed, “He’s not worth it.”
“What is that supposed to mean? What is going on?” Josh tried to wrench himself from the girl’s grip with little success, “How did she know what I was?”
“Just stay clear of her Josh, okay? She’s dangerous.”
“Why?” Josh bellowed, refusing to let Alice pull him away until he got some answers, goddamnit.
Alice sighed before stepping in close, her voice lowered secretively, “A vampire, okay? And a powerful one.”
Josh felt his knees weaken, the word slowly processing in his brain, “A what?” he balked. Werewolves? Vampires? His reality was breaking apart at the seams. What was next, the boogeyman?
“We have to get out of here, Josh.” Alice quipped and tugged again at his wrist. This time he let himself be led as they walked across campus, toward the looming shadows of the woods.
Meanwhile, back in an unfamiliar dorm room, Tyler was trying to make sense of his conflicting emotions. Eventually though, he let himself out and back into the steady bass of the party, his eyes scanning for the familiar blue hair.
He found Jenna instead and made his way over to her, “Jenna! Have you seen Josh?”
She was dancing with a few other girls, red plastic cup in hand, and briefly scanned the room before turning to shrug at Tyler.
He frowned before scanning the room again, feeling his shoulders slump in disappointment. His eye caught familiar red hair though and he glowered, wondering if Debby had anything to do with Josh’s absence.
“Hey!” He said when finally reaching her, “What’d you tell him? Why’d he leave?”
“It’s for the best Tyler, I promise.”
How could it be for the best? It was only their first date, for Chrissakes.
“No, I don’t care what bad vibes or whatever he gave you, its not your place to go meddling in my life! What did you say to him?” Tyler could feel his anger growing alarmingly and fought not to make a scene in the middle the party.
“Tyler,” But Debby’s warning tone told him it was too late and he glanced around to see several people looking in their direction.
“Just butt out of my life, Debby.” He gave her a final scolding glare before brushing past her on his way out.
When Tyler reached the outside he quickly searched for the boy again, but nobody else was standing in the cold, windy night.
Tyler’s eyes slid closed as he wrapped his arms around himself in an attempt for warmth. How did everything go so wrong so fast?
Josh stumbled along after Alice, his mind racing. Vampires.
“Vampires?” He said and shook his head, “She wasn’t even clever with her costume then, was she?”
Alice stopped to roll her eyes at him before she crouched down and Josh recognized the beginning of her transformation.
“Wait, what are you doing?”
She stopped, her jaw protruding and canine’s sharp, she stood up on bizarrely bent wolf legs. Josh grimaced at her half transformed figure, the red cloak of her Halloween costume ripping at the seams.
“We’re hunting.” She said matter of factly, her voice frighteningly deep.
“What? No, I didn’t agree to this.” Josh turned on his heels and began walking only to be cut off by Alice’s werewolf, fully transformed. She growled at him, hackles raised and her yellow eyes spoke threats to him.
Josh felt his own beast tense inside of him and he tried to fight it down.
“No, I won’t… I don’t want to hurt people.”
Her eyes bore into him then, you have to. You’re weak without prey.
“I don’t care” panted Josh, clutching at the pain of shifting bones in his chest.
Your wolf wants it. Listen to him.
Josh cried out and collapsed to the cold ground, a pain that was quickly becoming all too familiar spread through him as he changed. ‘Why?’ he thought to himself, ‘Why can’t I control this?’
The edges of his vision began to blacken as he fought to control the beast inside him. It was a losing battle though and soon he felt a deep hunger coil in his body, dark and primal and nearly impossible to control.
Josh could feel himself being pushed to the back of his mind, the wolf taking over. He heard himself screaming in his own head as the thing starting following Alice, galloping through the woods on huge paws.
Tyler woke in an empty dorm room, his skeleton hoodie twisted uncomfortably over his torso. He sat up and took it off, glancing at Josh’s empty bed.
What a disaster, he thought to himself. Last night had not gone at all like he had hoped it would. And it was all Debby’s fault he thought bitterly.
What was her deal anyway? Why had she been so adamant that Josh was bad news when she hadn’t even met the guy before?
And where was Josh?
Frustrated, Tyler threw himself out of bed and grabbed his cell phone. He dialed Jenna’s number and listened to it ring.
“Hey Tyler,” her voice was chipper on the other end, “You left the party awfully early, did you go hook up with Josh afterall?”
“No, not even close. Debby scared him off before we could even have a conversation.” Tyler snapped sourly.
“What? She did?”
Jenna honestly sounded astonished and Tyler felt a little guilty for his harsh tone.
“Yeah… I haven’t seen him since.” He softened his voice, knowing none of this was Jenna’s fault.
“Jeez, I’m sorry Ty. What did she say to him?”
“I don’t know, but she was telling me to stay away from him. That he was bad news.”
There was a pause on the other end before Jenna spoke hesitantly, “You know… maybe that’s not such a bad idea?”
“What?” Tyler frowned, what did everyone have against Josh?
“You’ve been telling me yourself that he’s weird and unstable. Maybe these are all signs you should be listening to.”
“I never said he was unstable. Look, I didn’t even know him when I was saying those things anyway.”
He heard Jenna sigh on the other end of the line, “But do you know him now?”
“Not really… I was hoping I’d get to know him more at the party, but that didn’t end well.”
“Just, be careful around the guy. Okay?”
Tyler grit his teeth, resentment rising in him toward Jenna, “I don’t need to be. There’s nothing wrong with him.”
He ended the call after that, aggravated that everyone was teaming up on the guy he liked. Tyler was a big boy and he didn’t need his friend’s approval for everything.
He threw his phone on the bed and stared at it while shame slowly crept up on him. Tyler sighed, Jenna was only trying to protect him.
Scrubbing his palms over his face, Tyler groaned and figured he’d apologize later. Right now, he wanted to find Josh.
It was the stench that woke him.
Thick and cloying, Josh reached up to cover his nose from it. But he sat up and retched when the smell only became stronger. It was on him, on his hands, his arms and face, coating his neck and chest.
Panic welled in him as he looked down, chunky bits of sticky blood clung to his skin like sap.
Once he realized his mouth was filled with the taste of salt and copper his reaction was immediate and he turned to throw up the contents of his stomach.
He was crying as he watched in horror, meaty chunks of pink and red land in the leaves and pine needles beneath him.
“Oh god,” he managed before he turned to retch again, this time the contents of his stomach looking more normal.
Behind him was a body. A human body. And Josh shook where he sat, tears and snot running down his face. No no no no nononono…
The remains of the man left him unrecognizable, his face shredded and body ripped to ribbons.
“Oh god, oh my god, oh shit…” Josh kept mumbling, his eyes rooted to the tangled corpse in front of him, “No, please, oh god…”
“Josh, stop.” Alice was suddenly standing above him, buttoning her jeans.
He turned to throw up again, his stomach clenching painfully as nothing but spit came out, “What… what did I do?”
“You wasted a perfectly good heart.” She scowled down at him.
“We killed him! I killed him!” He screamed and felt another dry heave coming.
“Sshhh! Keep your voice down.”
It was still mostly dark, the sun just beginning to peak over the horizon. Josh doubted anyone else was in the woods at this hour.
Even if someone was he didn’t care. What did it matter? His life was over. He was a murderer.
Josh could feel his body shaking violently, the edges of his vision began to turn white and he wondered if he was going into shock.
Distantly, he felt Alice holding onto his shoulders, speaking to him. But her voice sounded like it was miles away and he heard none of it.
Suddenly he felt bright pain blossom on his cheek and his head cleared long enough to realize Alice had just slapped him.
“Get a hold of yourself, Josh.”
He blinked as Alice came into view through blurry, tear filled eyes.
“He deserved it.”
Josh just stared at her, his brain slowly processing her words, “What?”
“I said he deserved it.” She was holding something up in front of him and Josh tried to focus on it.
“You see this?” She was saying, “He fucking deserved it.”
She had the man’s wallet open in her hand, pictures pulled out and spread across it and Josh felt his stomach give another involuntary heave.
Kids. They were pictures of kids… no older than ten. None of them were wearing any clothes.
Josh tore his eyes away from the pictures and shook his head, trying to make sense of it all.
“He was a bad man, Josh. Don’t feel so guilty.”
Josh glanced at the dead man next to them, his stomach flipping uncomfortably. Then he looked at Alice, and was surprised to find her face searching his with… concern?
“But…” He croaked and didn’t know what he wanted to say.
“Come on, Josh. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Alice offered her hand and Josh took it dumbly.
Did she always kill the bad ones?
She lead him to a stream and helped him kneel down, gently washing the blood off his arms.
He watched her quietly, wondering if he’d been wrong about her.
Josh was exhausted.
All he wanted to do was sleep for about a week. But he knew that if he went back to the dorm room he’d have to face Tyler and explain why he’d skipped out on their first date.
So Josh found himself outside Mark’s dorm room, quietly knocking on the door and hoping he was home.
The door swung open, revealing his best friend’s face and Josh watched it morph into worry.
“Josh? You okay? You look like shit.”
“Can I sleep here?”
Mark’s brow furrowed, but he stood aside to let his friend in, “Yeah… are you okay?”
Josh shuffled over toward his friend’s bed before collapsing onto it, his breath huffing out of him, “No.” he groaned and shut his eyes, quickly falling asleep.
Sunday rolled around and still Tyler hadn’t seen any sign of Josh since the Halloween party Friday. He was beginning to think maybe it was his fault. Maybe Josh just wasn’t that interested in him after all.
He also figured he maybe needed to apologize to Jenna and decided to walk over to her dorm room and do it in person.
But he was halfway there when he spotted a familiar head of dyed blue hair sitting at one of the picnic tables outside the food hall.
Tyler made a beeline for him and plunked himself across from Josh at the table.
Josh startled, the newspaper he was looking at crinkling underneath his hands, “Tyler. Hi.”
“Um, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been?” Josh started folding up the newspaper, his eyes downcast as Tyler waited for an answer.
“I… had to leave for a… family emergency.” His words were halted and Tyler felt stung by the obvious lie.
“So Debby didn’t say anything to you?”
“Oh, yeah… I don’t think she likes me.”
“But you didn’t leave because of her?” Tyler asked, eyes narrowing.
“No, like I said I had a family emergency…”
Tyler just nodded and soon an uncomfortable silence fell between them. Why was Josh lying to him?
“I should probably get going.” Josh said and began to stand and Tyler felt a familiar and embarrassing burn in his nose.
“Wait, you’re leaving again?” He fought to keep tears down, but he couldn’t believe how much Josh was actively avoiding him. What had he done wrong?
Josh’s face suddenly softened and Tyler wondered if his desperation was that easy to read. He felt his cheeks heat in embarrassment.
Josh carefully sat back down and smoothed the folded newspaper in front of him, “Look, Tyler… I like you. A lot. And I’m sorry I’m so terrible at showing it, it’s just… my life right now? Is a mess. And I don’t think it’s fair of me to drag you into it. And believe me… I want to, it’s just-”
“Well, that’s my decision, isn’t it?” Tyler heard himself saying and it was true, he liked Josh and he wanted this to go somewhere and shouldn’t it be his choice if he wanted to date Josh and his baggage?
“Yeah, I guess it is.” Josh was looking at him in some sort of awe, like he couldn’t believe he was worth anybody’s time, “But Tyler, I can’t even tell you what’s wrong with me-”
Tyler surprised himself by reaching over to place his hand atop of Josh’s, “You can tell me when you’re ready.” He found his eyes settling on the angry red slash across Josh’s jaw.
Josh’s hand was warm under his palm and Tyler felt himself relax a little when he saw Josh offer a shy smile, “Okay.”
“Okay.” Tyler agreed and let go of Josh’s hand, already missing the contact, “Did you want to get some coffee, maybe?”
Josh nodded, smile still on his face, and Tyler felt nervous excitement bubble in his chest. Whatever secrets Josh was hiding, Tyler would wait to hear them.
They had spent all day talking to each other. About music and games and their family and whatever else and Josh quickly found himself falling for Tyler’s warm eyes and sweet smile.
They were walking around campus, shoulders bumping as they talked and the sun setting behind them.
“It’s getting kind of late.” Tyler said, glancing at the sky, “You wanna go back to the room and watch a movie or something?” he suggested and Josh could hear Tyler’s heart picking up pace, thumping faster beneath his chest.
Josh felt himself grow nervous in return, was Tyler expecting something to happen?
They walked back to their dorm in silence mostly.
Once back in their room, Tyler pulled out his laptop and climbed on top of his bed, leaving a spot for Josh, “So, um, what do you want to watch?”
Josh shrugged, “Doesn’t matter,” before carefully climbing on the bed next to Tyler, making sure not to touch at all.
Tyler, far braver than Josh, scooted closer until their hips and shoulders brushed and Josh stilled, hyper-aware of both their bodies.
He couldn’t exactly remember the last time he’d felt so nervous around someone he liked, back in grade school probably. This was way different.
“Um, well, what kind of movie were you in the mood for?” Josh watched as Tyler’s slim fingers typed on the keyboard and brought up Netflix.
“I don’t care, what do you want to watch?” Josh carefully turned his head, taking in Tyler’s profile in such close range. He had really nice looking eyelashes, Josh realized. Soft.
“How about a comedy?” Tyler turned to face him and Josh was caught in his eyes for a moment, unable to look away.
“Okay.” He mumbled.
Neither one of them moved, two pairs of warm dark eyes searching the other as a seemingly invisible force kept them captured in the moment.
Tyler’s eyes darted lower on Josh’s face and in the same instant he heard Tyler’s heart begin to thump wildly. He knew what was coming even before Tyler started to lean in.
The kiss was soft and hesitant. Tyler was pulling away before Josh even had time to respond.
“Sorry-” Tyler started to say but Josh cut him off with another kiss, his lips moving wetly against Tyler’s.
He was listening to the racing of Tyler’s heart, fueled by it as he reached out to cup the back of Tyler’s head and pulled him closer, forcing their lips together.
The laptop slid from Tyler’s lap, bumping into Josh’s thigh as he maneuvered them closer yet. The quiet room was filled the sound of their wet smacking lips and the heavy breathing through their noses.
Warm hunger began to coil in Josh’s belly and he raised his other hand to cup at Tyler’s jaw, holding him in place. But it wasn’t enough, he needed more.
Josh opened his mouth against Tyler’s lips, begging for entrance and groaned when Tyler let him in, his tongue seeking the warmth of Tyler’s mouth. His head was buzzing pleasantly, but his body was searching for more, searching for something to satiate the gnawing hunger inside him. He kissed Tyler roughly, his tongue sweeping through his mouth with a hunger he’d never felt before. Tyler whimpered as Josh accidentally bit down on his lip and the realization of what he'd done seemed to wake him from his senses.
Tyler’s hands were on his chest and it took a moment to realize they were pushing against him rather than pulling him closer. Josh fully came back to himself then, the cloud of hunger and need dissipating as he registered the tenseness in Tyler’s muscles and the dangerous racing of his heart.
Josh let Tyler go and pushed himself back on the bed, fully separating their bodies.
Tyler was looking at him with wide eyes and they both were panting heavily.
“Sorry,” Josh felt sick, “Jesus, I’m so sorry.” What had come over him? He ran his tongue through his mouth, thankful he didn't taste blood.
“S’okay.” Tyler slurred, his tongue carefully prodding at his lip.
“No, I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never… I’m not like that, I swear-”
“It’s okay.” Tyler said again, glancing at him with a nervous smile, “Let’s just maybe take it a little slower next time?”
“Of course, god, I’m so sorry.” Josh hung his head, feeling horrified with himself. Had that been the wolf? Or him?
Tyler was righting the computer on his lap, “… Did you still want to watch a movie?”
It was dark out now and Josh didn’t trust himself, “Um, I actually have to get going. I got a thing. So, maybe a rain check?”
“Oh, okay.” Tyler said.
Josh got up from the bed and stood a little awkwardly in the middle of the room, not knowing how he should leave. After a date he would normally kiss, but…
He gave a dumb little wave and turned toward the door, letting himself out and feeling like the biggest loser on the planet.
Tyler sat dumbfounded on his bed after Josh left.
What the hell had just happened?
His lip throbbed painfully and he pulled it in his mouth to suck on it.
He liked Josh. A lot. But sometimes he came across like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Tyler would be lying if he said it didn’t frighten him at all, but he’d also be lying if he said it didn’t intrigue him either.
His cell phone buzzed against his hip and Tyler dug in his pocket to retrieve it. He slid his finger across to unlock the screen and saw it was a text from Jenna.
U still mad @ me?
Tyler winced, he’d never apologized to her.
No course not. Im sorry I snapped at u.. Wanna come over?
He hit ‘send’ and waited, hoping everything was okay between them again. He stared at the phone for a while, waiting for her to text back. Minutes started to slide by and Tyler threw the phone onto the bed, his guilt resurfacing.
A knock on the door pulled him from his misery and when he got up to open it, Jenna was standing on the other side.
He smiled and reached out to give her a hug, “Are we okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. We’re okay.” She said and closed the door behind her, flopping herself next to Tyler on the bed. She studied him for a moment before cocking her head, “Did you bite your lip?”
Tyler reached up to feel the small, swollen bump and grinned a little, “Uh, someone else did, actually.”
“Tyler!” Jenna whispered scandalously and nudged him in the side with her elbow, “Have you been making out with someone? Badly, I might add.”
Tyler felt his face heating up under Jenna’s unwavering attention, “It was Josh.” he said quickly before adding, “But enough about me, what did you do this weekend?”
“Yeah right, we’re not talking about me.” Jenna folded her legs up underneath herself, facing Tyler like they were about to indulge in some juicy gossip, “So you kissed him? What does this mean? Are you dating?”
“I don’t know.” Tyler shrugged, “And I didn’t think you were gonna take this so well.”
“Well, Debby has her reservations about him, I’m not sure why. But Ty, you’ve got good instincts, so if he’s what you want then he can’t be all that bad.” She stared at his lip thoughtfully, “Although, he is a bad kisser… how did that happen?”
“He’s not a bad kisser… he was just… he came on a little strong, I guess. He was a little rough.”
“Okay, I’m starting to take back what I said about your good instincts.” Jenna deadpanned.
“It was an accident, that’s all. He apologized.” Tyler was starting to regret saying anything to Jenna. Another thought suddenly struck him, “Don’t tell Debby.”
“She’d flip shit.” Jenna paused to purse her lips, her eyebrows furrowed in thought, “Does he have a Facebook or anything?”
Tyler frowned, “You want me to stalk his social media?”
“Duh. Here,” Jenna grabbed the laptop from where it was still sitting open on the bed and went to Google’s home page, “Okay, what’s his name? Josh…?”
“Dun. D.U. N.”
He watched her type in the letters and start scanning the search results. It took them a few tries but they eventually found his Facebook, which lead to his Twitter, and both were highly uninteresting. A couple shared links to some music videos or funny cat videos. But that was about it. Nothing personal and neither account had been used in the last couple months.
“Damn. Nothing.” Jenna tapped her fingernails on the keyboard.
“I’m actually glad. Nothing is better than something bad.” Tyler pulled his laptop away, shutting it down and putting it on his night stand.
“Do you want me to pry Debby for answers? Find out why she hates him?”
Tyler started to shake his head and shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t want to snoop.”
“Oh come on, Tyler. Other than sex, snooping is the best part about being in a relationship.” She grinned.
“You’re despicable.” He laughed and gave her a shove.
“Fine.” She settled, a wicked look in her eye, “So when I find out I just won’t tell you.”
“Jenna!” Tyler chastised, laughing at her, “No snooping.” He said.
“Just a little snooping?”
“None.” He pointed a serious finger in her face, but the gesture was broken by his smile.
“Fine,” She scoffed, “None.”
Josh was careful around Tyler after what had happened Sunday. He was afraid of losing control again, afraid of scaring Tyler off, or worse, hurting him.
He didn’t want to get too close, but at the same time he didn’t want to distance himself too much less Tyler think he wasn’t interested in having a relationship.
They talked a lot, whenever they were between classes. They stayed up late too, talking way past three in the morning sometimes, neither one wanting to go to sleep yet.
Eventually, Tyler got Josh to keep his promise on the rain check and they clambered back on Tyler’s bed together, Josh careful not to get too close as they watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Halfway through the movie though, Tyler scooched himself over until he was pressed up against Josh’s side and rested his head on Josh’s shoulder. They were both tense at first, holding themselves rigid in unfamiliar territory. It wasn’t until the credits were rolling Josh realized they had both melted into the position, comfortable to be sitting so close.
They played around on the internet after that, watching cat videos and playing flash games. Eventually they ended up sprawled out on their stomachs playing a bizarre game called “Happy Wheels” that had them both laughing until their sides hurt.
“Who developed this game?” Tyler laughed, watching as his character was impaled by spikes and spun around like a windmill.
Josh laughed too, shrugging and rolling over on his back, “I don’t know but it’s great, I’m gonna have to show Mark.”
Tyler turned to lie on his side, resting his head on his elbow as he looked down at Josh, “Mark?”
“Yea, friend of mine that goes here.”
Tyler just nodded, his smile slowly fading off his face as he look down at Josh.
It was quiet for a while before Tyler spoke, his voice low, “If I kiss you… will you go slow?”
Josh’s heart stuttered in his chest and he took a deep breath as he nodded. Tyler leaned down over him and Josh’s eyes slid closed as their lips met. Tyler’s kiss was slow and cautious at first, and Josh let himself submit to it, ignoring the heat that was growing in his chest, that told him to reach out and grab Tyler.
They kissed shyly, leisurely. Tyler’s weight slowly settling on top of Josh’s chest, his slim fingers coming up to gently trace Josh’s jaw.
The kiss seemed to last forever, staying light and sensual, just lips and no tongue.
It felt like torture to Josh, the hunger growing heavy inside of him and he wanted so much more. And just when it was too much, just when he felt seconds away from losing control of himself, Tyler broke the kiss and shimmied down his side. He rested his head on Josh’s chest and sighed contently, draping an arm over his stomach.
Josh’s heart beat wildly as he calmed down, the animalistic need inside of him fading. Once it did he felt ashamed of himself. He had been too close to losing control.
Wrapping an arm around Tyler’s shoulder Josh blew out a shaky breath and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to feel this way. This wasn’t him, this lust crazed beast, it was the werewolf. And Josh wanted it gone.
They kissed a lot more after that. And every time it took all of Josh’s willpower to hold back and only go as far as Tyler was allowing.
Often he had to break the kiss to just breath and reign his control back in. Truthfully, he was probably freaking Tyler out.
Pay attention,Alice commanded and Josh tried to shake his thoughts away.
For now, he was still conscious in his wolf form. They’d been working on it recently, getting him to morph and stay with the wolf. He couldn’t control it yet, but he was at least trying to keep himself awake for the damn thing.
Alice said the more he connected with is wolf the more he would be able to merge it to himself and control it. And once he had control over it he would probably be able to kiss Tyler like a normal person.
His vision swarmed as he followed Alice, the wolf was constantly trying to push him away. It had warmed up to Alice pretty quickly though and she seemed to have more control over it than Josh did. It had to do with that whole sire thing, she’d said.
Josh focused as Alice came to a stop, crouching low on her haunches, his wolf did the same. They were just inside the edges of the woods, and across the street from them was a neon plastered strip club.
Which one? Josh felt his wolf asking, its hungry eyes watching a drunken man leave the building and stumble to hail a taxi.
Not him, Alice said.
They waited for a couple more people to leave, a hunger growing painfully in Josh’s stomach. This hunger was different from the one he got with Tyler, thank god. This hunger was the literal one. It wanted to consume flesh and blood and human heart.
The hunger he felt with Tyler was purely sexual and all it wanted was to dominate. Which was still terrifying to Josh, but it was better than wanting to eat Tyler’s heart. His wolf had just enough moral sense in it to know what he was allowed to eat and what he wasn’t.
Josh figured that’s why the first time it had killed, it had killed a deer. Alice had told him later when she killed the pedophile Josh had nothing to do with his death, only his consumption.
He didn’t know if that was supposed to make him feel better or not…
But now he trusted her enough to know the kind of prey she brought down was only the kind that deserved it, and Josh’s wolf was more than happy to cut an agreement with his morals.
Meaning, he was only allowed to kill the bad guys.
Him, Alice growled and Josh and his wolf simultaneously looked up to watch a tall, bulking man saunter out of the club, cigarette glowing between his lips.
Josh wanted to ask what the man was guilty of, but his wolf didn’t seem to care.
Thankfully, Alice knew him well enough by now to say, he’s had multiple reports of sexual harassment filed against him as well as being a suspect in a murder case. He’s supposed to go in for questioning again tomorrow. They’ll find him guilty, trust me.
Josh wanted to ask how Alice knew all that, but his wolf shoved past him, following her across the street.
When the screams started, Josh let himself fade into blackness, not ready to watch himself kill.
He came to in the woods, his tongue and every other part of him coated in blood. Josh tried his hardest to breathe and not throw it all up like last time.
When he was clean and dressed he shuffled his way back to campus, back to his dorm to collapse tiredly on his bed.
Tyler woke yawning and stretching, a smile broke across his face as his eyes landed on Josh.
“Mornin’. I hardly ever see you in your bed.”
Josh flopped his hand in a pathetic attempt at a wave, a bone deep weariness spreading through his body now that his wolf was completely satiated, like the need for a long nap after Thanksgiving dinner.
He felt the bed sink next to his hip and he jerked his eyes open, not even realizing he’d closed them in the first place.
Tyler was sitting beside him and his hand landed warmly on Josh’s shoulder, “I worry about you, y’know. I don’t know where you go at night.” The hand started sliding gently up and down Josh’s spine, “You come back… scratched and bruised and dirty…”
Josh heard Tyler’s breath hitch ever so slightly and he forced himself to open his eyes and turn on his side. Tyler’s hand slid over his hip before he pulled it back into his lap and Josh regarded him with bleary eyes.
“You don’t have to worry about me, Ty.”
“Well I do anyway…” Tyler mumbled and Josh reached out to take the hand that had been petting him a moment ago.
He placed a warm kiss on the back of it, “Don’t.” he said simply and his sleepy brain was catching up with him.
His eyes slid closed again, unable to stay awake.
Tyler watched Josh sleep, frustrated and annoyed with him.
It was true, when they had started dating Josh had warned him it wouldn’t be easy. And Tyler really liked Josh, they had fun together, talking was easy and when they kissed… Well, Tyler really liked kissing Josh.
But the secrecy, the sneaking off in the middle of the night all the time, mysterious scratches and bruises… It was true they had only really been dating for a couple weeks, but it was all just beginning to feel like lies to Tyler.
He tried to push it out of his mind, especially since he couldn’t even begin to fathom what was going on with Josh. And he tried not to make it about himself either, given that he knew this kind of thing had been going on since before they started dating.
But it was hard, Tyler thought, to not resent Josh for keeping him in the dark like he was.
Tyler plunked into the seat next to Jenna, reaching for her coffee automatically.
“Hey,” She smacked his hand out of the way, “No.”
Tyler pouted and Jenna shook her head at him.
“You’ve got all that hot love making to keep you going, I get the coffee.”
“Love making?” Tyler frowned in disapproval, “We’ve been dating less than three weeks.”
“Yeah, but you share a dorm together don’t you?” she waggled her eyebrows at him and he just shook his head, reaching around to snag her coffee cup.
The professor walked in then, already droning away and Tyler sat back to take notes.
A couple minutes into the lecture though, Jenna leaned in and whispered, “But seriously, how is everything between you two?”
Tyler thought to earlier in the morning, Josh coming in at five-thirty, dirty and disheveled and telling Tyler not to worry about where he’d been all night.
“Good,” he nodded, “Real good.” But he saw the way Jenna pursed her lips at him, knowing he wasn’t telling the whole truth.
Luckily, she didn’t press him about it.
“So, you still think you’re a werewolf?” Mark asked.
They were playing video games in Josh’s dorm room. Tyler was still at class.
“Yup. Pretty sure.” Josh drawled, his eyes never leaving the screen, “But, uh, don’t mention the werewolf thing around Tyler when he gets back, okay?”
Mark just shook his head and Josh could tell there was some bitterness between them when it came to the subject. Clearly, Mark still didn’t believe him, but Josh figured that was probably for the best anyway.
He pressed a few buttons on the controller and whooped when he bested Mark in yet another game of Super Smash Bros.
“Ugh,” Mark groaned and tossed the controller onto the floor, “You cheated.”
Josh set his own control aside and laughed, “How could I have cheated?”
“I don’t know, but you did!” Mark cried and Josh just rolled his eyes at him.
He felt really good, focused and awake. After he slept when he’d come back this morning, he’d woken up feeling amazing, a warm and pleasant energy buzzing through him. He felt totally in control of himself, his wolf finally content, like a dog with a bone, and it had withdrawn somewhere far into the recesses of his mind.
Josh wondered how long it would last.
The door opened then and Tyler came in, books and binders held in one arm. He stilled when he realized there were people in the room, “Oh, hi.”
“Hey,” Josh smiled warmly at him before gesturing to Mark on his bed, “This is my friend Mark. Mark, Tyler. Tyler, Mark.” He introduced them.
“Hey,” Mark said with a nod and Tyler nodded back.
An awkward silence fell over the room before Mark stood from his spot on the bed, “Well, I should get going. I got an essay to write. Nice to meet you, Tyler. Josh?” He pointed a finger at him, “Next time we’re playing Mario Kart, and I’m gonna crush you.”
“You wish.” Josh jeered as his friend left, pulling a face at Josh on his way out.
Josh flipped the TV off and sauntered over to give Tyler a hug.
Tyler’s back had been to him and he chuckled when Josh wrapped his arms around him, “It’s good to see you, too.”
He turned in Josh’s arms until they were face to face and leaned up to place their lips together. Josh’s heart thumped as the kiss grew, waiting for the push of the wolf.
But it never came and he found himself grinning into the kiss before allowing himself to sink fully into it.
Tyler’s mouth opened underneath his and Josh’s tongue happily sought the sweet taste of Tyler’s. Warm arousal swept through his belly at the contact and he gently pushed Tyler until he was backed against the bed.
He pushed again until Tyler relented and sat on his mattress, Josh’s mouth following him down. Tyler’s hand came up to tangle in his hair and Josh let his own hands slide up Tyler’s sides to cup his face.
The room had completely melted away by this point, the place could have been on fire for all Josh cared, his sole focus was on Tyler and the way their mouths slotted together so perfectly and the enrapturing taste and smell and touch that was Tyler.
Josh found himself pushing against the slim body again, lowering him to the bed and tensed the moment he heard Tyler make a sound in the back of his throat. He was about to pull off, thinking he’d gone too far when he felt Tyler’s grip tighten, holding him into place.
Josh relaxed again, letting his chest lower against Tyler’s, warmth quickly spreading through their t-shirts.
Josh was usually the one that broke the kisses, mainly because he needed to gather his control on the wolf, but this time Tyler was the one to break it. Josh opened his eyes to see Tyler’s shining beneath him, pupils blown and cheeks flushed.
“Woah,” Tyler panted, “You’ve never kissed like this before.”
Josh grinned above him, “You like it?”
“Hell yeah,” Tyler breathed and pulled Josh down to crash their mouths together again.
Josh laughed into it and tightened his hold as he rolled Tyler on top of him, mouths never separating.
Tyler woke up to a heavy warmth pressed against him. It took his sleep muddled brain a moment to process the fact that there was another body slotted up against his, the dead weight of someone’s arm draped over his midsection.
Tyler smiled into his pillow, remembering their make out session from the night before. It had been different than what he was used to. Normally Josh’s kisses were a little restrained… cautious even, like he was purposefully holding himself back, but last night it was like molten lava in his mouth, hot and perfect.
Josh’s soft breathing continued behind him, his chest rising and falling against Tyler’s back.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Josh sleep through a night. He was usually gone. Out doing… whatever it was he did.
Tyler hoped these changes in Josh were permanent. He was doubtful though, Josh was a puzzle.
Behind him, Josh’s breath stuttered and Tyler felt his whole body twitch. The arm slung over his ribs tightened, fingers brushing against Tyler’s stomach as they curled into a fist.
“Josh?” Tyler whispered, unsure if he was waking up.
But Josh’s breathing only started coming in quicker, like he was having a nightmare and Tyler called his name again as Josh’s body gave another spasm.
The arm around his stomach tightened further so Tyler wiggled in the grip, twisting until he was facing him.
“Josh.” Tyler reached out to place a gentle hand on Josh’s face and the next thing he knew both his wrists were pinned painfully above his head and Josh’s knee was shoved hard into his chest, knocking the breath out of him.
Josh’s face was twisted into an angry snarl and Tyler swore his eyes looked different… golden.
But realization dawned in his face quickly and almost just as sudden as Josh was holding him down he was off the bed, hands up in a placating gesture while Tyler caught his breath.
“Tyler! Oh my god, did I hurt you? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Tyler-” Josh was babbling.
Tyler curled onto his side, coughing and rubbing at his chest and the dull pain throbbing there.
“What-” Tyler cut himself off with a pained grunt as he sat up, “-the hell, Josh?”
“I’m so sorry,” he dropped to his knees, staring up at Tyler with wide, apologetic eyes, “Are you okay?” eyes that were once again a coffee brown and Tyler wondered if the gold had only been a trick of the light.
Grimacing, he could only manage a shrug, “I guess.” Why the frick had Josh jumped on him like that? What kind of freaking nightmares did he get anyway?
Tyler glanced down at Josh and saw he was slumped back on his heels, his head in his hands.
“Josh,” Tyler sighed and stood in front of him, hand reaching to run through his hair, “Its okay, I know you didn’t do it on purpose or anything. You were just having a bad dream or something. You didn’t mean it.”
He heard Josh sniff wetly behind his hands and felt alarmed at the fact that he was crying, “Josh?”
Josh raised himself up on his knees while simultaneously wrapping his arms around Tyler’s waist, his face burying in Tyler’s t-shirt.
“Hey,” Tyler said gently, bending to awkwardly hug Josh around his shoulders, “Its okay, Josh. I’m not mad.”
“I told you,” Josh mumbled into the fabric of Tyler’s shirt, his voice strained, “I warned you when we started. I don’t wanna hurt you, Tyler. I’m so afraid I’m going to.”
Tyler pried Josh’s arms loose enough for him to kneel down so they were facing and Josh turned his face away, his hand coming up to wipe at his eyes.
“I know you did,” Tyler spoke softly, the sight of his boyfriend’s tears had him dangerously close to crying as well, “But I also know that you wouldn’t really hurt me. I trust you, Josh. You won’t hurt me.”
Josh shook his head stubbornly, “You don’t know what I- you don’t know. I can’t even trust myself.”
The pain in Josh’s voice was too much to bear and Tyler pulled him into a hug, clinging tightly, “I don’t care. I want to be with you.”
Josh, thankfully, had nothing more to say and let himself be held while he dried his eyes.
Josh sat in the bleachers of the university’s indoor pool while reading the newspaper.
He’d felt thoroughly embarrassed after attacking and then crying in front of Tyler this morning and found the last place Tyler would bump into him.
He was also checking the paper for any news on the men Alice and him had… eaten. There was nothing on the pedophile, but there was a small article on the man from the strip club. When he never showed up at the police station for questioning the authorities thought he’d fled the state. There was a warrant out for his arrest.
Josh folded up the newspaper and placed it on the bench next to him. Alice said she had made sure neither bodies would be found but Josh had a hard time not looking over his shoulder about the whole thing.
He was also worried about Debby. They hadn’t talked much about her since after the Halloween party.
Alice said she was dangerous but she hadn’t really said how. He figured as long as he kept a low profile around her he’d be alright.
A whistle blew and rang through the pool hall as a bunch of divers splashed into the water, their lithe bodies cutting through the water like swordfish. There was a time he admired that type of speed and agility. With the wolf he didn’t have to imagine anymore.
He hated it most of the time. Spending all his time fighting for control with a monster wasn’t his ideal of fun, but there had been moments in the last week or so when he and Alice had been running through the woods or practicing his hunting skills on animals that he had relished in the beast’s power.
He was getting closer to learning how to control it and Josh had to admit to himself that the thought was a tiny bit exciting.
Josh drummed his fingers against the metal bench for a moment, feeling an urge to go out to the woods and try again with his wolf.
He’d always gone at night and with Alice, but he was already getting much better. He was able to transform on cue with little difficulty and he knew he’d just fed the thing, it wouldn’t go looking for more food just yet. In fact, after eating the heart he’d felt way more in control of everything… well, this morning an exception.
But that had been after a nightmare. He couldn’t even remember what the dream had been about but his reaction was totally fueled by his subconscious mind. He was awake now, Josh reasoned, and he’d be able to control it fine.
Josh clambered noisily down the bleachers and out of the balmy pool hall, making the cool November air a bit of a shock to his system.
He shivered and jogged toward the woods, eager to try and control the wolf.
Once he was deep enough into the trees, Josh stripped and stored his clothing in the base of an elm. He stepped back and took a breath, closing his eyes and searching for the beast in his head.
It took some time, his mind pulling at the thing until it gave him a headache, but eventually it relented and Josh felt the familiar ache and pain take over his bones.
The process, luckily, was getting better with time. It still hurt like hell, but it wasn’t the blinding agony he’d felt the first time Alice had threatened the transformation out of him.
Finally, Josh felt the pads of his paws and the weight of his bulk crushing the sticks and twigs beneath him. The cool autumn air was no longer an issue against his thick fur and the woods, seemingly crowded with trees and brush to his human self, opened up around him with the aid of his sharp hearing and smell.
Josh shuffled back, straining to get the wolf to take his weight on his hind legs the way he’d seen Alice do it. He managed a wobbly version of it before throwing himself back on all fours.
For the most part, the beast was his. It wasn’t particularly hungry anymore and therefore its will to interject was low.
So Josh took his time, ambling through the woods, following funny scents here and there and learning what each one led him to. Eventually he started testing out his prowess, running full speed before coming to a stop or dodging trees and jumping rocks.
He was having a lot of fun, digging his claws into the ground and pushing himself to go faster, the power of his wolf becoming intoxicating. But it was when he was busy trying to use just the strength of his jaw to bite through different widths of branches a foreign smell met his nose and he felt the wolf prickle at the back of his mind.
He’d learned most smells, the smell of deer or rabbit, the smell of human, the smell of smoke or nearby waterbeds. But this one he couldn’t place.
It was so familiar though that for a moment he thought it was Alice, but there was something heavier to this smell and quickly he was joined by the presence of his beast and his muscles grew rigid as the thing took over.
Josh slunk back on his haunches, making himself low and quiet in the brush as the wind carried that foreign smell closer.
The sun had begun to set and around him the trees grew sharper in the orange, red hue. His werewolf’s senses honing as night grew closer.
A twig snapped in the distance and Josh’s felt his chest rumble with a deep snarl from his throat as the fur on the back of his neck stiffened.
Josh fought as his vision began to swim and the instincts of the wolf pushed him aside for control. Through the dark swarm of shadows that were closing in on him, Josh was able to make out a hulking figure behind the trees.
Focus! He screamed at himself and shoved back at the wolf, his vision clearing. But his breath caught when he realized what they were both looking at – another werewolf.
The other wolf gave a low growl, the sound carrying itself on the breeze and Josh shuddered, panic seizing his heart.
This wasn’t Alice.
This was somebody else. A male somebody else that was bigger than Josh.
The other wolf slowly stalked closer, its massive shoulder blades rolling beneath its skin as it moved stealthily along the low brush.
Josh’s wolf began backing up as the other got closer, knowing he wouldn’t make it out alive if a fight started.
They moved together that way for a while, the other wolf pushing Josh back, bumping him into roots and tree stumps until the distance between the two waned.
When the sun had just about set and the space that separated them was a mere ten feet Josh caught the sudden flex of muscles a split second before he charged and his own wolf turned heel and ran.
What had been a slow and dangerous stalk for the last fifteen minutes or so suddenly became a wild and thunderous crash through the underbrush. Josh was pulling his legs under him as fast as he could, paws gripping and spitting the earth out from beneath him as the heavy thuds of the monster closed in from behind.
His vision began dimming again as the trees flew past him and Josh felt himself screaming as the wolf shoved him away and took over.
As the darkness descended on him he held on just a little bit longer, long enough to hear the beast’s roar and to feel white hot pain as something tore open his leg.
short one. sorry
k, this took so long to post because I was wasting all my time on that ratchet-ass drawing I made for the prologue. :p Next chapter will probably take a long time too, heads up.
Josh stumbled through the woods, clutching at trees and branches to keep him from falling.
There were tears falling down his face but he ignored them, it was his body’s response to the pain.
He hadn’t expected to come back. He’d expected that other wolf to kill him.
Through the trees, Josh saw the campus come into view and he let out a cry of relief, he was almost there. He’d found the tree his clothes were stashed in and managed to dress himself, but the pain from his leg rubbing against the denim of his jeans was unbearable. Sweat had broken out across his forehead as he walked back to the university despite the fact that it had started to snow about an hour ago.
Josh wiped the tears and sweat off his face and took a deep breath as he started to limp across campus.
He debated going to Mark’s dorm but the fire that was currently licking up his calf was enough to have him shuffling in the direction of his own, closer dorm. He just couldn’t wake Tyler. He’d have to go right to the showers or something.
He couldn’t understand why he was alive. The other wolf’s threat had been so clear and the sound of being chased through the woods by a beast, the terrifying realization that he was probably going to be mauled to death, was something Josh desperately wanted to forget.
If he had nightmares before…
Josh shook his head, trying to banish the memory already.
He was only a few yards away from his dormitory, which was luckily set closer to the woods than most of the other buildings, when he saw a commotion of people gathered in the falling snow between the Humanities building and the dorms. Josh glanced down at his right calf and saw his jeans were soaked through with dark blood.
He grimaced, hobbling on his bad leg until he was close enough to distinguish separate voices from the clamor.
“Does anybody know who it was?”
“-said that it was probably some sort of animal.”
“I heard that it was so bad they can’t even identify him-”
“It could’ve easily been me.”
Frowning, Josh tried to make sense of what everyone was talking about as he rounded the corner of his dorm. He was glad at least that whatever had happened was distracting anybody from noticing his presence.
But as soon as Josh stepped under the metal awning of his dorm, someone was crying out his name, “Josh!”
He turned just in time for Tyler to throw himself at Josh in a hug, who faltered with the weight of it and hissed loudly when he had to step back and put pressure on his leg.
Tyler pulled off immediately, his face worried, “What-?”
A few people had turned to look in their direction and Josh shook his head, not letting Tyler speak, “I have to get upstairs.”
Tyler’s face darkened, but he nodded and pulled open the front door, holding it for Josh as he limped through.
He heard Tyler’s loud gasp behind him, “Josh!”
“Upstairs.” He bit out and started the painful climb up to their room.
“But your leg!”
Tyler was at his side, pulling his arm over his shoulder and helping him climb faster, “Josh,” his voice was wavering close to panic, “What is going on? Does your leg have anything to do with what happened this morning?”
Josh grunted as they made it up to the right floor, turning down the hallway to their dorm, “What? What happened?”
Tyler let go of him to hold open the door and Josh practically hopped to his bed, collapsing in exhaustion. The door slammed shut and Tyler rushed over to the side of his bed, melted snow dripping off his hair and jacket.
“They found a dead body.” Tyler spoke and it seemed too loud in the quiet room.
Josh’s ears were ringing as he sat up, his eyes widening, “What?”
“Yeah, they said it looked like he’d been mauled by some wild animal… Josh, what happened to your leg?” Tyler’s hand hovered, reaching like he was going to pull up Josh’s pant leg and he grabbed Tyler’s wrist, holding it away.
“What… a wild animal? Where did they find him?”
“By the woods this morning.” Tyler said, trying to pull his wrist free from Josh, “He was a student. Josh, I thought it was you…”
The pain in his leg was momentarily forgotten as his ears rang, adrenaline shooting through him at the knowledge that they’d found out. He’d been caught. The body, it was… “A student?”
“Yeah, I guess they couldn’t ID him, but he was wearing the university’s sweatshirt.” Tyler finally managed to wrench his arm out of Josh’s grip and raised it to wipe tears off his face.
“Hey,” Josh soothed, just realizing how distressed Tyler was, “What’s wrong?”
Sniffing loudly, Tyler frowned at Josh, “Didn’t you hear me? I said I thought it was you. I thought you were dead.”
Josh leaned forward to wrap his arms around Tyler, hating how scared he sounded, “I’m sorry, Ty.”
“I’m tired of the secrecy Josh,” he cried, “I’m tired of you disappearing at night and worrying about you.” Tyler pulled off him, his eyes red rimmed and his nose tinged pink, “And what happened to your leg?”
With the last of the excitement draining out of him, Josh could feel his calf throbbing painfully again and he dreaded having to examine it in front of Tyler. But there was no ignoring it at this point.
Carefully, Josh gripped the cuff of his jeans and started to peel the material back, hissing as it tore at congealed blood, reopening the wound.
“Jesus,” Tyler breathed, “What the fuck happened?”
His whole calf was colored red. Lines of dripped blood had smeared beneath his jeans, making the bite look far worse than it actually was.
“Josh, you need to go to the hospital.” Tyler’s voice was frantic and it was starting to set Josh’s nerves on edge.
“No, it’s just blood,” He tried to explain and wiped at the lower part of his leg, attempting to clear away the mess but it had dried on for the most part, “Tyler, can you get me some wet towels?”
“Your not gonna get help?” Tyler’s eyes were wide.
“Tyler, please. Can you get them or not?” he bit out.
Tyler’s eyes flicked back and forth from his face to his leg before he finally nodded and left the room.
Knowing he had bandages left over from his fight with Alice, Josh leaned over the bed to get them, groaning at the stabs of pain the move brought through his leg.
Twisting his calf a bit, Josh studied the bite better. It was big, but surprisingly not that deep. Again, he wondered how he’d escaped the other werewolf with nothing more than a big scratch.
Okay, it was more than a scratch. There were a couple good puncture wounds and torn and bruised flesh around that. He was definitely missing more than a few layers of skin in a big patch under the bite, the flesh there was a wet and shiny, bright pink with splotchy red blood spots where the skin had peeled deeper.
Just the thought of touching anything to it made him cringe. But it needed to be flushed and bandaged before it could heal.
Tyler came back in then, a bundle of wet towels in his hands and he knelt by the bed as Josh took them from him.
He wiped at the blood carefully, making sure not to touch where his skin had actually broke before asking Tyler to grab a water bottle.
As Tyler quickly stood to get it for him, Josh maneuvered himself until he was holding his leg over the side of the bed so his blankets wouldn’t get soaked.
Taking the water bottle from Tyler, Josh uncapped it and slowly poured it over the wound. It stung like a bitch and Josh clenched his teeth, letting a strangled cry slip through them.
Tyler’s face was pinched in sympathy, “How many times have you done this before?” he asked dryly and Josh shrugged, unraveling the spool of gauze next to him.
He laid the cloth against the highest part of his wound, hissing when it made contact, and struggled to wrap it around. His leg was shaking from the exertion of holding it out over the bed and he felt so physically drained from the pain of it.
But before he could even ask, Tyler knelt on one leg in front of him, placing Josh’s heel on his raised knee and taking the bandages from his hands, “I got it.” He said softly.
“Thanks.” Josh fell back on his elbows, breathing heavily as Tyler bandaged him up.
While Tyler worked a tense silence fell between them and for a while Josh welcomed it until,
“Are you going to tell me now?”
Josh focused his glazed eyes on Tyler, reading the aggravation in his knitted eyebrows and tense shoulders as he cut the last of the gauze away from its roll. He placed Josh’s foot on the floor before turning to give him an expectant look.
“I don’t know what it was.” Josh spoke, figuring he could be pretty honest about his injury without giving his secret away, “It looked like some sort of wolf. A big one.”
The bed dipped as Tyler sat down next to him, “Jeez, you know how lucky you were to get away from it though? It might have been the same thing that attacked that kid…”
Josh pulled him close, resting his forehead against Tyler’s temple.
“That still doesn’t answer my real question though,” Tyler looked at him sideways, soft lashes a mere inch from Josh’s face, “I want to know where you go at night.”
Josh held Tyler’s eyes with his own, “The woods.”
“But why?” he was whispering, like he was afraid he’d scare Josh away when he was finally getting answers.
And for once, it felt good to tell him the truth, “Because I don’t trust myself not to hurt you.”
Tyler blinked, breaking their gaze as looked down at his lap. Josh’s forehead was still pressed against his skin.
“I don’t understand what that means.” Tyler mumbled but he didn’t ask another question, instead he sighed and turned to give Josh a gentle kiss, “But I hope you’ll tell me one day.”
All of Tyler’s classes ended up canceled for the day. He thought this was partly because they had animal control out looking for a wild rabid bear-slash-wolf-slash-mountain lion around campus and partly because the first snowfall of the year was quickly turning into the first snowstorm of the year too.
So he stayed in Josh’s bed all day, watching movies on Netflix while Josh dozed in and out of sleep beside him.
It was about four-thirty when Tyler felt his phone vibrate somewhere beneath him and he paused the movie he was watching to search for it.
Moving blankets aside, Tyler grabbed the phone as it lit up again only to realize it wasn’t his but Josh’s. He looked up at Josh’s slack face, his features smoothed out in sleep, before glancing back down at the phone.
It must have slid out of his pocket when he rolled over or something.
Tyler bit his lip, considering for a moment, before he swiped his finger across the screen and opened a chat window with someone Josh named ‘A’ in his contacts.
He read the texts Josh’s phone had just received.
A: dont leave ur dorm
A: not safe
Tyler frowned and scrolled up to their previous conversations. It turned out Josh and A had first started talking a little over three weeks ago. A had texted Josh three times over the course of a week. All of their first texts had been ignored by Josh it seemed.
A: u need me
A: tonigth killer
Tyler scrolled further, to the following weeks where Josh had started responding. Again, there were only a handful of cryptic texts over the course of two weeks.
A: tonight josh
That short exchange was the night of the Halloween party, Tyler observed. With the next texts, each person’s side of the conversation didn’t respond until a day or two later.
A: we need to go again
J: i did wut u asked
A: didn’t count
A: u need practice
A: meet me in woods
J: how do u kno?
A: i watch them.
A: dont leave ur dorm
A: not safe
Tyler stared at the phone. Was this person with Josh every night? Out in the woods doing God knew what?
He looked down at Josh’s prone figure on the bed. He didn’t look great. The long slash on his jaw had mostly healed itself into a long pink scar, although it was more difficult to see under the couple days worth of stubble Josh was sporting.
But Josh also looked pale, the deep purple bruises under his eyes from lack of sleep contrasted with his light skin.
He wished he could help somehow, Tyler thought. If Josh were to just trust him enough to let him in and tell him what was wrong…
Tyler groaned and closed his laptop, no longer in the mood to watch his movie. He just wanted this relationship to be normal already.
Josh was crouched in the woods, watching the silhouette of his prey walk across the parking lot. The beast inside him salivated, itching to pounce and destroy the man.
Alice said he was bad so it was okay.
Josh drew closer, his padded feet making little sound on the gravel. He sank low and closed the distance between them as his prey reached his car.
This was a bad man and it was okay.
Josh lunged, his claws ripping through the man’s fabric, slicing skin and drawing blood. He threw the man to the ground, his jaw snapping forward to rip his prey’s throat out.
But when Josh pulled back it wasn’t a bad man anymore. Clutching at his shredded neck, dark blood spilling through his fingers, was Tyler.
It was as if a spike of ice had pierced his heart then, spreading through Josh’s veins and freezing him in place.
Tyler’s eyes were wide and fearful as he choked on the gravel below him and Josh felt the heat of his hunger chilling the ice in his veins all too quickly at the sight.
NO! he screamed but his wolf was already surging forward, hungrier than ever.
Josh woke gasping.
Tyler was sound asleep next to him.
Carefully, Josh extracted himself from the bed, wincing when the movements brought waves of pain back into his leg.
But he couldn’t stay in the room, especially at night.
He moved as quickly and quietly as he could, grabbing his jacket and making his way out of the room and down the stairs.
When he opened the front door to the dormitory the cold air washed over him, goosebumps prickled all over his skin.
It didn’t take him long to decide where he was going.
Josh shuffled through the snow, a good foot of the stuff had fallen on campus throughout the day.
Admittedly, he was a little worried about going back into the woods and running into the other werewolf that had attacked him, but right now he needed to be there.
He was just reaching the edge of the tree line when he heard a soft spit a second before he felt an acute pain in his left shoulder.
Josh whirled around and felt the sting of a sharp point buried in his skin. He reached up to rip out some sort of dart that had pierced through him. The moment he did another dart sliced through the air, finding its mark in his chest.
He grunted, reaching to pull this one out too as he glanced up and saw a blurry figure moving toward him.
Josh blinked, but the image before him only grew fuzzier. He dropped the dart into the snow and looked at the figure coming at him, a mane of fiery red hair framed the person’s face.
He struggled to keep his eyes open as his sluggish brain tried to make sense of it. Before he fell into the cold snow his brain supplied a name.
Short chapter is short. But I make ya'll wait so damn long so I just thought I'd give you what's written so far.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Josh blinked himself awake, his head lolling against his chest. It felt heavy, his hands felt numb.
A dark room greeted him and Josh picked his head up, heart rate spiking as he realized there was some sort of contraption over his face and that his arms were shackled above his head.
His neck strained as he glanced up to where his wrists hung in metal cuffs above him. The links of chain holding his wrists reached higher on the wall, bolted into the cement.
His eyes searched the dark room around him as he jerked on the chains. He realized he was in a basement. A flight of stairs leading down into the room was a barely recognizable black square of space off to his left. Who did this to him? Josh’s brain was too foggy to comprehend, too muddled to remember what events transpired before waking up shackled in a dark room. Who put me here? Why? Are they going to hurt me?
The panic laced through him, jabbing his wolf to the surface. Help me!
It was then Josh caught the bright red eyes staring at him from the darkness and he felt the wolf bristle, a growl rumbling his chest.
Where had he seen those red eyes before?
Just then the owner of those eyes stepped forward until he could make out the figure of a small, shapely woman, red hair cascading over her shoulders like liquid fire.
But as she got closer Josh realized it wasn’t really Debby. Her face was grotesque, eyes sunken in deep black sockets and where her nose was looked like two long slits like the ugly nose of a bat. Her eyebrows had become wrinkled and thick; hanging over the dark sockets of her eyes and the skin around her mouth was pulled back and stretched thin where two thick fangs protruded forward.
She was terrifying, a hideous demon overtaking her once soft and beautiful features.
Josh’s wolf raged inside him, throwing them forward and against the chains, bones sliding beneath his skin as it hurried to transform. But he only got so far before the cage around his face prevented his muzzle from fully extending and the cuffs around his wrists stopped his big paws from growing to their rightful size.
He flexed and fought within the confines of his chains, jaws snapping and claws reaching, anything to get his hands on the demon that stood before him. Anything to rip her to shreds.
The laugh that rose from Debby was deep and inhuman, “Silly wolf,” the voice hissed out of her, “Those chains are silver. You won’t get very far.”
Josh tested the strength of his bonds one more time, throwing himself toward her with a roar before he fell back against the wall, his wolf slipping back inside of him.
He panted, slightly out of breath, “I haven’t touched him. I haven’t hurt Tyler. I swear.” It was the only reason he could think of as to why he was here, the only reason she would do this to him.
The grin that stretched Debby’s face made him recoil, “Oh, you’ve touched him. I know you’ve touched him. I’ve been watching you. Both of you. Since neither one of you wanted to heed my advice I’ve been ready to do what was necessary the moment you got sloppy.” She pointed at him with a gnarled looking finger, one long talon-like claw inches away from his face.
“What are you talking about?” Alice. The men they’d killed. Eaten… But they’d been so careful. She may have been following them but he didn’t think she could have known about the bad men they’d killed. Wouldn’t she have taken him sooner? Why would she wait until now?
“You killed somebody, Josh.” She snarled at him, “A student. Left his body out in the middle of campus for anybody to see. Mauled and bloody.” The words were spit at him, disgusted outrage thrown at him.
“That wasn’t me, that wasn’t me!” He rushed to say over her, his heard pounding in fear of what she might do if she continued to believe otherwise, “It was another wolf. I swear to you, I didn’t kill that kid.”
Her eyes flitted back and forth between his own, searching for the truth and he knew that suddenly she wasn’t so sure. She wanted a confession and hadn’t expected him to say different.
“Listen, he attacked me. The other wolf, he chased me in the woods and took a chunk out of my leg.” He glanced down at the dark stain on his jeans, “If you’d uncuff my hands I could show you-”
“No,” She said, her face morphing back into human and Josh recognized the pretty girl from the Halloween party again, “I can smell it. I …I didn’t realize it was your own blood. But I can smell that too, now.”
He felt the wash of relief flood through his body at her words and Josh deflated against the wall, the pain in his leg suddenly pulsing in time with his heart now that the adrenaline was draining out of him.
“Jesus… I’m sorry. I should have caught that.” She ran her fingers through her hair, tossing waves of red over one shoulder, “Damn, this campus is getting a werewolf infestation.”
“You’re telling me.” Josh watched her pace for a moment, fingers worrying at the ends of her hair, “Can I go now?”
She paused and shot him a glare, “I still don’t trust you.”
“The feeling’s mutual.” Josh deadpanned and rattled his chains once for emphasis.
“I still think one day you’re going to slip up. I’m still afraid you’re going to hurt him.” She pulled a key out of her pocket before stepping over his legs to get at the cuffs around his wrist, “But now I don’t know if you hurt anybody and I can’t keep you here if I’m not sure.”
All Josh could think about was the other morning when he’d woken up on top of Tyler, knee pressed into his chest, hands trapped beneath his own with the impulse to lean down and rip his throat out shrouding all rational thought. And the dream he had the night after where he’d done exactly that. The image of Tyler’s blood, black and shiny spilling out of his neck played again in his mind’s eye and Josh wondered if maybe Debby was right. Maybe he couldn’t be trusted.
The releasing click of one metal cuff sounded in his ears the same moment a deafening roar came from somewhere in the stairwell.
Then suddenly there was an angry mass of fur and claws lunging over his body, tackling Debby to the floor and Josh yelled out, yanking uselessly on his other shackled wrist.
“Alice, stop!” He screamed, terrified she’d rip the girl to pieces.
But Alice’s body was already flying back across the room, a loud thud resounded where her wolf slammed into a wall. Josh looked over, wide-eyed, at the seemingly tiny vampire, face full of gross demon wrinkles and standing rigid in the basement.
She’d thrown a wolf three times her size across the room.
Stunned to silence, Josh could only watch as the two ran at each other again, wolf growling and vampire hissing as they wrestled in a frenzy of claws and fangs.
Alice was no match for Debby though as the vampire kept throwing the wolf down to the ground, slashing her deeply with her razor sharp fingers.
“I’m letting him go!” Debby was shrieking, her voice coming out twisted and demonic in her vampire stance, “Stop fighting me you bitch!”
Eventually, the wolf gave up, transforming back into a very bloodied and bruised Alice, “Just… just wait… ‘til the full moon.” She panted angrily, “You won’t feel so strong.”
Debby morphed back as well, looking like a pissed off cheerleader more than a killer vampire, “I don’t want to fight you.”
“You take my pack what do you expect me to do?” Her black hair clung to a set of bloody scratches across her face, the rest of her body was covered in bleeding gashes as well.
“I thought he killed someone.” Debby countered and winced as she touched a particularly bad cut across her own cheek, “I didn’t realize there were more of you. I’m gonna have to put that one down, pack or not.”
Alice looked dumbfounded at the mention of another wolf, “I didn’t make anymore. Whoever he is, he’s not mine.”
“Well, he’s dead as soon as I get my hands on him,” Debby shuffled over to Josh and continued to unlock the rest of his bonds. The heavy silver cage around his head fell to the ground with a clang.
She helped him stand, surprisingly, and the three of them made their way upstairs, Alice morphing back into a wolf on her way up.
Josh almost laughed when they got upstairs, “A church? That’s where you took me?” He looked around as they entered the main room, the pews all sat empty as they faced a giant crucifixion.
“Shouldn’t you be like… burning?” Josh asked and heard Alice’s wolf huff a laugh.
Debby just rolled her eyes and sighed, “That’s just on TV. Believe it or not the Pastor is a vampire. He’s also my sire.”
Josh felt his eyebrows raise in surprise, “So, vampires like, own this church?”
“Last place you’d expect us, huh?” She said with a coy smile and Josh found himself grinning in return.
It was pretty damn clever.
Josh eyed Debby sideways as she took them around back and to the woods that would take them home.
Clever, strong, really strong and scary looking as Hell.
If Josh was in his wolf’s form right now he’d have his tail between his legs. Debby was not to be messed with. He was going to have to be a lot more careful handling his wolf. He had about as much faith in himself as Debby had in him at the moment.
Which gave him conflicting thoughts on his relationship with Tyler.
Either, he broke up with him and found a new roommate for his boyfriend’s safety or… or tell Tyler the truth and let him decide if it was a relationship worth keeping.
Josh caught Debby’s eyes one more time before he followed Alice into the woods and felt his throat tighten at the threat that lay there.
One thing was for certain, if he didn’t get better control of his wolf both he and Tyler were dead.
dramatic last line is dramatic.
Josh walked behind Alice’s limping were-form until they came across a spot she had obviously stowed her clothes. He turned away as she morphed back into her human form and began dressing. Pained hissing and groans filled the silence between them until Josh needed to break it, “Thanks… for coming to my rescue.”
There was a part of him that would never forgive Alice for turning him into a werewolf, for throwing this nightmare lifestyle at him without his consent.
But the more he hunted with her, the more he got to know her, the more he was able to see past her thorny exterior. She worked hard to keep her walls up, keep people out and put on a tough façade.
And Josh had seen her with her guard down, especially the first time he met her, drunk and lonely and so willing to have somebody to share her were-life with that she’d bit him before bothering to find out if he was even straight.
He hoped that she still felt guilty for ruining his life this way but he found himself wondering if she had been given the choice either.
“You’re pack.” She said by way of reasoning, “We lookout for each other.”
Josh cracked a sad smile at her words and gave a stiff nod before a thought occurred to him, “Hey- you said, ‘wait until the full moon’? When you were fighting her."
“Yeah?” Alice started walking again, snow crunching mutely beneath her shoes.
“What did you mean?”
Her breath came out ragged as she walked, plumes of white air puffing out from between her lips in the icy weather. Josh shivered too, wanting to turn into his fur covered wolf but he didn’t have an extra stash of clothes closer to the dormitories.
“I meant, we get stronger as the moon grows fuller. It wasn’t a fair match with the full moon another two weeks away. It wouldn’t have mattered if she was human but vampires are incredibly strong.”
“And ugly.” Josh added and Alice’s responding laugh was surprisingly sweet.
Silence enveloped them for a good twenty minutes as they walked. Dawn was fast approaching, golden pink hues stretching through the trees created long shadows on sparkling snow.
When campus came into view Alice stopped them, “Josh, if there really is another werewolf here, one that is willing to murder college students and leave them in full view… just, be careful. Don’t go into the woods alone, okay? Promise me?”
“I promise… but…” Josh frowned, another thought occurring to him.
Alice raised her eyebrows, face expectant, but what?
“I just don’t understand why he didn’t kill me. He tore my leg to pieces and then just left me there.” It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to him.
Shrugging, Alice wrapped her arms around herself in the cold, “I don’t get it either. Weres are extremely territorial, it doesn’t add up, to attack you and not finish the job.” She shivered, looking small and fragile with dried blood crusted in the cuts across her face and hands, “Just… stay safe.”
Josh momentarily felt touched by her concern, there was definitely some wolfy bond between them, strong enough that he trusted her with his life at this point and only mildly hated her for putting it in danger in the first place.
“Yeah, you too.”
Tyler paced the dorm, Josh's cell phone clutched between his fingers.
Classes were canceled for another day but he'd still woken up to his alarm clock, alone and worried.
An hour had passed and Tyler had decided Josh definitely wasn't at the vending machine down the hall or in the bathroom either. Which led him to believe he'd gone in the woods again, after being attacked by the still currently loose animal on campus, in the middle of a snowstorm.
He shook his head, plopping himself on the edge of his bed, bouncing his knee and staring at the door.
Eventually, thankfully, it opened and Josh was on the other side.
Tyler shot up from where he was seated and closed the distance between them, wrapping Josh's cold form in a hug.
"Thank God," Tyler muttered, his anger momentarily washed away by his relief.
He felt Josh's arms come up to wrap around his back and he let out a breath into the shoulder of Josh's jacket, happy to have him back safe and sound.
But the moment was short lived and he pushed Josh away, glaring at him, "Where did you go? You had me worried sick! There's something out there mauling students Josh, and you just left!"
"You go into the woods again? You go with 'A'?" He stalked over to the bed and picked up Josh's phone, shoving it in his face, "I think it's about time you tell me just what the hell is going on because I can't keep worrying about you like this."
Josh just stared at his phone with dead eyes and for the first time Tyler realized something was wrong. If their roles were reversed Tyler would have been pissed that Josh went through his phone like that but the latter didn't seem to care in the least.
"What? What happened?" Tyler's anger melted away as he pictured the worst. Someone had died? Someone Josh knew? Another attack?
"Tyler-" Josh looked pained all of a sudden and Tyler braced himself for bad news, "I think we should break up."
"What?" That... was not what he had been expecting. He stared at Josh, wondering if the words he heard were real, "What did you say?"
Josh looked away, unable to meet his eyes and shook his head, "I don't think this is working."
"What-" his heart was thumping madly in his chest, a lump lodging in his throat as the fear of losing Josh closed in on him, "Why? What did I do? What's not working?" He could fix it, he could be better. Whatever Josh needed he could do it. This couldn't be it, he couldn't be blindsided like this.
Josh just stood there, quiet, eyes downcast.
"Josh, tell me. Why are you saying this?" He felt the burn in the bridge of his nose as tears sprang to his eyes, this couldn't be happening.
Still, Josh said nothing and Tyler began to grow frustrated with his silence, "It's you isn't it?" the words were shoved out of him and Tyler felt his heart give a frantic little lurch as he realized what he was saying was true, "It's not me. It's you and your damn secrets. Why can't you just tell me?"
He watched as Josh hid his face behind his hands and Tyler resisted the urge to march over to him and rip his arms away so he would just look at him. Josh's silence was fueling the anger he now felt in his chest and he continued to yell, willing Josh to do something about it, fight for them, don't give up!
"Why won't you tell me!?"
Josh flinched at his words and Tyler felt a moment of pleasure, of satisfaction that he was getting to him.
"Ty, I'm sorry." Josh muttered, finally meeting his eyes and Tyler's words of rage stopped in his throat, waiting for some sort of explanation, something to make it better. But all Josh said was, "It's for your own good."
Tyler's fist reeled back with a mind of its own and he watched in shock as it connected squarely with Josh's jaw, knocking him back a few steps.
Immediately he wanted to apologize, regretting the moment before it was over. But he bit his tongue, an evil little part of his brain rejoicing at the look of betrayal and confusion on Josh's face. You deserved that.
A pregnant pause filled the room before Tyler couldn't stand looking at Josh and he grabbed his jacket, making his way around Josh and to the door.
But Josh's hand had reached out and wrapped tight around his bicep before he could get very far, "Where are you going?"
"Anywhere but here." He quipped, yanking futilely to get out of Josh's grip, "Lemme go."
"No, it's dangerous out there."
"I don't care!" he screamed and felt traitorous tears fall down his cheeks in hot streams, "Let go!"
Josh shoved him back into the room with strength that almost scared him before he was yanking open the door, "I'll go. Just promise me you won't go outside. It's not safe."
Tyler wrapped his arms around himself, his eyes swimming in tears, "Why do you even care?" He wiped at his face and turned around, not wanting to look at Josh again.
The room was quiet for too long of a time before he heard the door shut behind him.
When he turned around Josh was gone.
Josh ignored the strange looks in the hallway as he made his way out of the building. They probably didn't hear too many lover's spats in a men's dormitory.
The cold enveloped him again like an old friend and Josh took off in the direction of Mark's dorm rooms. As much as he wanted to run to the woods and wolf out he knew it wasn't safe to be there alone. Briefly, he wondered where Alice was. He didn't even know if she was really a student here come to think of it. Did she have a house nearby?
He shrugged the thought away as Mark's building came into view. She'd be fine. She always was.
He let himself in and took the stairs two at a time before finding Mark's floor and knocking on his door. His roommate answered, a tall but pudgy kid whose name Josh couldn't remember.
"Uh, hey. Is Mark here?"
"Josh?" Mark came into view, dressed in sweatpants and a black t-shirt, "What are you doing here? We're not supposed to leave our dorms, 'cause of the student eating bear-thing?" He looked at Josh like he was a moron.
"Yea... I know. Can we talk?"
"Yeah," He looked concerned, shutting himself out of the dorm and walking with Josh to the common room. There were a couple other kids in there already, but they were keeping up a chatter loud enough that Josh felt comfortable having this conversation around them.
"So, that bear-thing..."
"Oh my god- it's you." Mark deadpanned and Josh could tell he was making a joke. It wasn't very funny.
"No... but it is a werewolf." He said back and Mark pursed his lips.
"Still going with that, eh?"
"You still don't believe me?" Josh sighed and felt a lump lodge in his throat, he needed someone to talk to about this... this thing that was destroying his life.
"Josh, you okay?" Mark was looking at him like he was made of glass all of a sudden and Josh knew he needed to do something or he would shatter into a million pieces.
Josh's eyes scanned the room quickly before he was grabbing Mark by the wrist and pulling him into the bathroom.
"What-" Mark started to ask but Josh interrupted, asking the bathroom, "Anyone in here?"
When a resounding silence answered him he turned and locked the door before flicking golden eyes to Mark and saying, "Don't scream."
After three days of canceled classes it seemed animal control had tracked down a black bear they thought to be responsible for the mauling. Tyler remembered Josh blaming his bite on a wolf though and began to feel doubtful about the bear.
But classes had resumed and it took an awful lot of willpower for Tyler to gather his books Thursday morning and trudge through the snow to his first class.
Jenna was there already, cup of steaming coffee sitting just out of his reach.
A bright smile was already lighting up her face when she turned to face him, but it quickly melted into a look of concern and furrowed eyebrows and Tyler suddenly felt self conscious. Jeez, did he look that bad?
His eyes felt puffy from crying himself to sleep and he hadn't really bothered to do anything with his hair after ruffling it dry with a towel after his shower.
God, he should've never left his bed this morning.
"Are you okay? What happened?" Was the first thing Jenna said to him and he knew he must've looked terrible.
He was planning on playing it off cool, shrugging and ignoring the sore subject. But in front of his best friend's worrying eyes it all spilled out of him in a rush, "Josh broke up with me. I don't know why. He's keeping things from me."
He felt the burn of tears in his eyes and blinked them away angrily.
"Oh my god, Tyler," Jenna soothed, "I'm so sorry."
She reached out to rub his arm and he instantly felt relieved he'd told her.
"I- I hit him."
He watched as her eyebrows rose in surprise and she leaned back a little to study him, "You? You hit somebody?" A grin spread on her face, "Like open handed slap on the shoulder...?"
"No, I punched him. In the face."
Jenna actually barked a laugh before slapping her hand over her mouth when other students turned their heads, "Sorry, I shouldn't be laughing. But, go Tyler! I didn't think you had it in you. I mean look at you, you wear floral." She gestured to the white button down he was wearing, adorned with pastel colored flowers.
He looked down at his shirt, confused, "What does that have to do-"
"Nothing, ignore that. I like you in floral." She smiled at him a little softer, "I just meant, you're such a sweetheart, I didn't think you were capable of hitting someone. He must have really hurt you." She said the last part morosely and Tyler felt tears clogging his throat.
He just nodded and Jenna rubbed his arm again, sliding her coffee in front of him.
"You need this more than I do." She said and Tyler snorted a little laugh, "But seriously, I'm sorry, Ty. I'm here for you if you need anything."
It was moments like these Tyler was grateful he had a best friend like Jenna.
Josh had spent the night on the floor of Mark's dorm room.
Morning came and they were informed that classes were back on schedule. Apparently a black bear had been caught and put down, suspected in being responsible for the death of the student on campus.
When Mark's roommate left for class Mark whirled on Josh, "It wasn't the bear was it? It was a werewolf. Jesus... It's still out there, isn't it? Who is it? Is it the one that turned you? When did this happen? Am I dreaming?"
Mark's eyes were wide and terrified and Josh felt thoroughly guilty for burdening his friend with this information, that monsters were, in fact, real. He also felt really guilty for last night, morphing into a werewolf in front of Mark only to have his friend pass out right there in the boy's bathroom.
He hadn't been able to answer any questions Mark may have had, he sees now Mark had plenty. He'd probably been up all night long waiting for the moment he could say anything.
Josh interrupted his friend's string of questions so he could start from the beginning. He told him everything, from Alice biting him to what it first felt like to shift to Debby the vampire... well almost everything. He left out Debby's name... and the fact that he'd eaten someone's heart. But now Mark knew the rest of it.
By the end of it Mark was so pale Josh thought he was going to pass out again.
"Mark? You okay?"
He was staring off in the distance, brain probably trying to file all this new and terrifying information somewhere. But finally he nodded and his glazed eyes turned to focus on Josh with a new intensity, "Can I see it again?"
Josh frowned, really not expecting that question. He was about to open his mouth to say it probably wasn't a good idea when Mark interrupted him.
"Look, I won't pass out this time okay? Scout's honor," he held up three fingers in a pledge, "I wasn't prepared last time. This time I'll be fine."
Josh took a deep breath as he stared his friend down, deciding.
"C'mon Joshie," Mark goaded, "Pleeeeease?"
"Fine." Josh agreed, and only because each time he transformed he found himself getting better at it, he was gaining control over it and the pain was getting better with time too.
He stood up from the mess of blankets that had been his bed last night and started to strip his clothes off.
"Yeah, it didn't help that last time you did this we were alone in the men's bathroom. I mean, what the hell was I supposed to think? And then you grew fur and a tail and my brain imploded pretty much. It went from weird to weirder real quick." Mark was rambling and okay, he probably should have prepared the guy a little more last night before stripping in the men's room but he had been desperate for someone to just understand.
Once he was naked, junk awkwardly cupped in his hands, he steadied Mark with a gaze, "Kay, don't pass out this time."
"Dude, your eyes are yellow." Mark muttered but Josh barely heard him as he started pulling the wolf to the surface.
A dull ache formed behind his eyes as he focused on his mutating limbs. Bones snapped and splintered, readjusting themselves beneath his skin and Josh clamped his jaw shut hard against the pain, falling on all fours in front of Mark.
He felt his organs shifting, his ribcage expanding and moving, the prickling sensation of fur sprouting and his mouth extending into a muzzle full of sharp canine teeth.
When it was over he stood on all fours, his wolf looking down at Mark on the bed who was looking up at him with the biggest grin plastered on his stupid face.
At least he had kept his promise and not passed out again.
"Dude!" Mark yelled and got up from the bed, reaching out a hand to pet his fur. But his wolf recoiled, pulling away from the touch as a growl bubbled out of his throat. Josh hurriedly reigned the wolf back in, stomping down the unnecessary fear that had spiked through his veins.
Mark had snatched his hand back, looking terrified and white eyed at him.
But Josh had gathered enough control and he stepped closer to Mark, lowering his head in a peace offer until hesitantly Mark reached forward to give a gentle pat on his head.
A smile slowly warmed his friend's features, "This is pretty cool, Josh." He pulled his hand back, "Can you talk?"
Josh shook his big head back and forth once.
Mark stood staring at him for another couple minutes before he said, "Okay dude, you can change back now, you're starting to give me nightmare material. Seriously, you look scary as fuck."
Josh let himself shift back and watched as Mark seemed to relax the more human he got.
"Scary as fuck." Mark said once he had pulled his clothes back on and leveled him with a wide eyed stare, "But like in a cool way." He grinned afterward and Josh laughed, feeling luckier than ever to have a best friend like Mark.
Josh was good at staying away, Tyler decided.
He'd noticed things in the dorm moving around, proof of Josh's presence, but they had yet to cross paths.
It'd been two days since they'd broken up. God, was that all? It felt like a lifetime to Tyler.
He found himself thinking about Josh constantly. Class was a joke, he couldn't concentrate on anything his professors were saying, his mind too occupied with dark smiling eyes and curly blue hair. Homework was impossible, sitting cross-legged on his bed he spent more time staring across the room at Josh's vacant spot than working on whatever term paper was due next week.
Josh, Tyler thought bitterly. He hated Josh. He hated himself for giving his heart to Josh. He hated Josh for taking it. Hated him for leaving him like this, empty and broken and wishing more than anything he had never met Josh Dun.
Snow had begun to melt as the temperature warmed up a few notches and it seemed to lift everyone's mood, the student-killing bear quickly becoming a memory.
But Tyler knew it wouldn't last. Another storm would come.
ok, sorry this was short and shitty. I've been trying to write, I promise. i've been trying to write this and trying to write Tigersharks - I just bought a house and I have a four month old puppy that does NOT let me focus for more than two minutes on my writing and life is hectic and stressful right now lmao
but I'll try my best to finish these stories :)
Did this in Google docs, during work, on my phone, lmao. That's new to me. But my new job leaves me with nothing else to do!! Which means my muse came back for this, yay!
So without further ado, chapter 14... (Finally)
Josh was on his way back to his own dorm to grab a change of clothes when he heard Tyler’s familiar heartbeat heading in the same direction. He stopped in his tracks, turning around and ducking into the nearest classroom building. His werewolf hearing and sense of smell were a blessing when it came to avoiding Tyler. It was like he had a radar out for the boy and anytime he came within twenty feet of the kid his Spidey sense went off.
Josh figured he wouldn't have to hold this routine much longer, winter break was in a couple days and Tyler would go back home for four weeks, giving Josh the opportunity to find a new roommate.
He missed Tyler.
He tortured himself by replaying their break up again and again in his own head. But it had been the right thing to do, Josh tried to reason. He was keeping Tyler safe.
Josh rubbed his jaw, feeling the phantom pain of where Tyler had hit him that night. A lump formed in his chest that he decidedly ignored. He needed to rid these feelings of guilt and heartbreak. He needed to forget about Tyler.
Once his ex’s smell and heartbeat faded well out of the vicinity, Josh turned and left the building he had ducked into. He had already decided that he wouldn’t be returning home for winter break. He wasn’t putting anybody he loved in danger until he had his wolf completely under his control. But he dreaded the conversation he would have to have with his mom, the lie he would have to come up with to avoid his family.
Josh sighed and hugged his jacket closer around his frame. It had just started to snow very light and sporadic snowflakes. He imagined himself staying here for the next four weeks, walking the empty campus and spending his days alternating between sitting on his phone in his dorm and sitting on his phone in the library.
Maybe he’d try and track down Alice. He had a feeling she would be staying back too.
A week later Josh was alone. Mark had left to go home and visit with his family and Alice was nowhere to be found. Maybe she had a family to see as well, Josh had thought. It seemed unlikely but he didn’t know where else she would be.
His mom had not been happy about him not coming home for Christmas or the break following. Okay, that was an understatement. She was livid. He understood why, it didn’t make sense for him to stay on campus during the holidays but he had made up some excuses about celebrating the holidays with his new college buddies and how important it was for him to have the ‘college experience’ and make friends he was going to keep hopefully for the rest of his life.
Lies. All lies.
He had no friends. Hardly anybody stayed at the college during break. The place was a ghost town.
He had made promises with his mom to visit soon though and hung up with her. That was a week ago and Josh was bored out of his skull.
There was some staff that had stayed behind and although he found himself in the library quite often he made it a point to not speak to the plump brunette behind the front counter.
He was isolating himself. He was becoming a lone wolf.
He did manage to find the time to contact somebody about moving to a new dormitory. It hurt, but there he was a week into break packing all his stuff and relocating himself to a dorm across campus. The new room looked so empty devoid of Tyler’s stuff.
Though Josh had lucked out and he didn’t have a roommate… yet. The administrations guy he had spoken with said that could change. But for now it worked out pretty damn well that he didn’t have to worry about a new roommate possibly finding out his secret.
Josh sat down on the edge of his bed, taking in the empty room before glancing out the window at the falling snow. Three more weeks of isolation.
Tyler had purposefully not told his parents about Josh when they prodded him for information about college life.
His mom wanted to know if he was making new friends, if he liked his roommate, if he’d met anybody on campus, insert eyebrow wiggle.
His dad wanted to know how his grades were, if he had joined the basketball team and made sure he was steering clear of drunken frat parties, insert warning glare.
Tyler gave them all vague answers. Yes he was enjoying college. Yes his grades were fine. No he wasn’t getting drunk every night at a party. No he hadn’t met anyone.
His voice cracked on that one. He wondered if his mom could tell.
Tyler spent winter break trying and failing to not think about Josh. He’d picked up his phone and opened a new text to his ex so many times he’d lost count. He didn’t know what he’d say… He was torn between wanting to be apologetic and pleading with Josh to take him back or being angry at him for pushing him away like this in the first place.
He never texted Josh anything.
In the end, he decided to try and forget about Josh. He wasn’t going to waste his whole holiday break thinking about a guy that clearly wanted nothing to do to him. Or at least was selfish enough to pick his secrets over Tyler.
Anger fumed in his chest thinking about it and Tyler decided he needed a distraction. Maybe he could convince his little sister to go sledding with him on Briar Hills like they used to when they were young. Warm and pleasant memories of past Christmases flooded his head and Tyler knew it was the perfect thing to keep his mind of Josh.
It was two weeks into the break and instead of playing on his phone in the library like he thought he would be doing, Josh was splayed out, shirtless, in a back room of the Angels of Mercy Chapel with his hands cuffed behind him and a rope of wolfsbane roots around his neck.
The silver cuffs were strong and kept him trapped, but the wolfsbane hurt. It burned where it touched his bare neck and chest, his skin singing red as the necklace branded him where it laid. He was gagged too, the thing made of leather and more wolfsbane root and it was burning his cheeks and lips, sizzling on his tongue like acid until he was swallowing blood. Josh wished they would have given him the silver muzzle Debby had put on him last time.
He felt feverish, the roots making him sweat and shiver alternately, his vision swam and the vampires that stood watch over him only sneered in his direction when he let out an involuntary whimper at the pain.
To say the least, his day had taken an unexpected turn when he decided to take his wolf into the woods only to find himself surrounded by the pale and wrinkled faces of vampires, guns raised and pointed in his direction. He didn’t bother to question whether they were loaded with silver bullets or regular ones, he still felt human enough to think they’d both kill him.
Debby hadn’t been with them and Josh had wished for her familiar face. He figured she’d show up eventually though, this was the same church she’d taken him to last time. Maybe she would tell him what this was about, why they were hurting him like this, what he could have possibly done this time.
They left him there for a long time, curled up on his side and drooling blood into the carpet. Apparently they weren’t concerned about stains. He drifted in and out of consciousness eventually, the wolfsbane-induced fever too much for him to handle.
In his semi-lucid state he dreamt he was in the woods, and the snow was melting around him, turning into puddles at his feet. It started raining then and it was warm and then it was hot and the woods filled with the sizzling noise of hot water hitting the melted snow puddles and steam rose around him until the hot rain became fireballs. Fireballs that were raining down on his shoulders and chest, burning his clothes and striking his face with the heat of it and the sky was glowing red with fire and-
“ Josh. ”
Someone was calling his name and Josh blinked his eyes open, tears falling in the process because everything still hurt, his mouth and tongue and throat burned. He felt the itchy caked-on feeling of dried blood matting his skin everywhere that stupid root had touched him.
Debby was kneeling down by his head, her shoes on top of a dark red stain that had spread through the previously beige carpet. He tried to look up at her and whimpered when the movement caused his gag to rub against new places on his cheek.
It hurt . It hurt like molten lava melting his skin. It hurt like poison leaking into his blood cells. Please. He was making pitiful noises at the back of his throat, not really caring how pathetic he sounded. He was in too much agony to care. Please.
“It’s a precaution.” Debby said to him and he sobbed at that, his throat convulsing around tears and blood. He wasn’t going to do anything, she didn’t need a precaution against him. He was harmless.
She sighed above him and after a long, quiet pause where Josh wasn’t sure if she was going to get up and leave him, she eventually reached over and with careful fingers untied the gag from around his head and pulled it out of his mouth. It stuck to crusted blood in the welts at his cheeks and Josh cried out as it came off.
He swallowed a few mouthfuls of blood before looking up at her and managing, “Thank you.” The roots around his neck still hurt but they were nothing compared to the gag.
“I won’t…” He started, trying to get the words out around his abused tongue and lips, “...try-”
Debby seemed to understand him, “I know you won’t. I’m sorry about this but it’s a full moon tomorrow night and my coven doesn’t trust werewolves.”
Josh processed this. He knew from Alice that werewolves were at their strongest the closer they were to the full moon. But he didn’t understand. Why they were doing this to him now? They’d left him alone for previous full moons.
“My coven was attacked.” Debby spoke, “Two nights ago a werewolf killed four of my brothers and sisters.”
“You think it was… the one that killed the student?” Josh panted and Debby simply nodded, “But what has this got to do-”
“With you?” Debby finished for him and Josh nodded, his fever clouded brain was finally starting to clear a little. She sighed heavily, seeming to prepare herself for what she was about to say, “We need your help.”
His eyebrows rose at that and he balked a little, “My help? ”
She managed to look chastised.
“You could have just asked .” He spit in her direction and then added, “ Nicely! ”
“Look, I’m sorry,” She ran her fingers through her red waves of hair, “None of us stand a chance against him on the full moon, we’re just not strong enough. But if you helped us fight him off-”
“Woah, woah.” Josh couldn’t believe what he was hearing. They’d kidnapped him and tied him up like this so he could sacrifice himself for the very people that were torturing him?! He said as much out loud, baffled as to why they thought he would agree to this, “I’m not doing jack shit for you people!” He shouted. He wasn’t about to risk his own hide for these monsters.
Debby sighed once more, looking down at her folded knees she said, “I didn’t want it to come to this…”
Josh’s brow furrowed, “To what?”
She looked up and nodded her chin to something behind Josh before she was reaching for the gag again.
“No, no, no-” He was saying, pushing himself away from her, “You can’t just torture me with that- you can’t just-”
Hands clamped around his biceps and shoulders and Josh turned to look at the vampires behind him, holding him down. More hands held his head and pried open his jaw long enough for Debby to slide the gag back on and Josh screamed when his raw skin and tongue came into contact with the wolfsbane roots again.
They hoisted him to his feet after that and shoved him out of the room and down a hallway.
He envisioned them leading him to a torture chamber. He imagined turning the corner and seeing a metal chair bolted to the center of a poorly lit room, electric shock devices hooked up and humming. Or maybe a room with a table with straps and rows of rusty, sharp tools hanging on the walls.
What he didn’t expect when they dragged him down a flight of stairs and into the basement was Alice, locked up in a large cage. She was shackled from head to foot in silver and Josh could make out welts in her skin where they had pressed wolfsbane into her, burning her like they were burning him now.
Alice was slumped in the middle of the cage and she sat up taller when they dragged him in, “Hey! Josh? I told you to leave him out of this!”
The vampires that were standing guard around her hissed and one held up a gun to point at her, “You either help us,” the one with the weapon sneered and then swung it around to point the barrel in Josh’s direction, “Or we kill him.”
The dark center of the gun barrel stared Josh down, keeping him rigid with the fear of what lay inside.
Beside him in the cage, Alice was screaming profanities at the vampires around them.
The gun moved and Josh heard the shot ring out before he felt the pain of a silver bullet bury itself in his thigh. He screamed around the wolfsbane gag and collapsed, his leg burning with the white hot agony of a thousand knives stabbing into the tender meat of his thigh.
“Stop! I’ll do it!” Alice was yelling, “You hear me you ugly fucks? I’ll do it! Just leave him alone!”
Josh felt himself being dragged across the floor until he was in a cage of his own and the door clanged shut.
“Wait, wait-” All he could hear was Alice’s terrorized voice, the vampires remaining stoically silent, “Take the bullet out. Hey! Where are you going? Take the silver out of him! Take it out!”
He heard the thud of the basement door shutting followed by Alice’s, “ Fuck! ”
She sounded panicked. Should he be panicking? He was in pain, paralyzing, inexorable, nauseating pain radiating out from the fresh bullet wound like pulsing water rings around rain drops, but it wasn’t going to kill him… was it?
Josh fought to breathe, the gag in his mouth making it harder to gulp air as he choked around his own blood and saliva. He wanted to ask Alice what was happening to him. He wanted to ask Alice if he could die from a silver bullet to the leg. He wanted to ask her why she sounded so afraid. But he could barely breathe around the pain and the wolfsbane destroying his mouth, let alone have a Q&A at the moment.
His hands were still cuffed behind his back and Josh could only curl in on himself while he fought with the rising panic threatening to take over. Alice was saying something above him and before he could try to decipher what it was his vision began to blacken at the edges and he was grateful to let go.
The phone sat heavy in his hands as Tyler stared down at it, his carefully typed out text ready to send with the tap of his thumb.
‘ hi Josh. can we talk?’
The words stared back at Tyler as he once again thought about deleting them. The same way he had deleted ‘ i miss you ’ and ‘ merry christmas!’ and ‘i’m sorry’ and an ugly rant on how selfish Josh had been to not trust him and push him away instead.
Tyler let out a long sigh, his chest deflating as he tapped the back button on his phone and effectively erased the message. He tossed his phone on the bed behind him and groaned as he stared out the window of his bedroom wondering what Josh was doing now. Did he think about Tyler as much as Tyler thought about him? He hoped so. In an ugly, selfish sort of way he hoped Josh thought about him and missed him and cried over him every night. It would have only been fair since it was exactly what Tyler found himself doing.
Someone knocked on his door and Tyler turned to see his mom poking her head in, “Hi honey.” her tone was cautionary and Tyler knew she had caught on to how sullen he had been this past week, her mama bear protective drive kicking in, “You’ve been spending an awful lot of time alone in here I just want to make sure everything’s alright.”
She let herself in and Tyler could only shrug, knowing there was no use arguing with her again that he was fine. He was clearly not fine.
“Is it something that happened when you were gone?”
He shrugged again, the bridge of his nose burning with unshed tears in the face of his concerned mother.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She sat down gingerly on the bed, next to him and just close enough to wrap him into a comforting hug should he seek it.
Tyler resisted shrugging again, feeling his facade crack, he suddenly wanted to tell her about Josh and get it all off his chest, “I don’t know,” he mumbled and knew the dam was about to break. He met his mom’s concerned eyes and couldn’t keep it in any longer, “I met a guy at college,” he swallowed around the lump in his throat, “My roommate actually…”
Though his sexuality had never been kept secret around his parents he’d never flat out told them either. And even though he suspected they knew it didn’t stop the sudden pulse of fear that washed over him as he said, “We were dating.”
The fear was quickly drowned out though as his mother said, “Oh, that’s what it is. You’re heartbroken.” She reached forward to hug him and Tyler gladly accepted the embrace. “I’m so sorry, honey.” she cooed at him and Tyler felt silly for thinking even for a moment that she would have reacted negatively to his coming out.
“It ended badly.” Tyler mumbled and he pulled back to wipe at his traitorous eyes, “He kept secrets from me. I hit him. His name is Josh.” the words tumbled unchecked from his mouth, “I don’t want it to be over. I don’t know why he couldn’t just tell me what was going on with him.”
“You really cared about him, huh?” His mom reached out to brush a tear away, “Maybe it’s not over between you two. Maybe you just need to talk to him, let him know how you feel.”
Tyler shook his head, remembering the look of hurt on Josh’s face after he’d punched him, “I think I ruined any chance of it being fixable.”
“You’ve been miserable Tyler, the whole time you’ve been home I’ve barely seen you smile,” his mom said and Tyler instantly felt guilty for being such a mood killer during what was supposed to be a happy holiday, “You’re not going to feel better until you’ve talked to him and either get the closure you need or resolve your issues and continue with what you guys had.”
She was right. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Josh, not really. Even when he was distracting himself with other thoughts Josh had always been there in the background, burrowing deeper into his brain and driving him damn near crazy. He needed closure or… it was too naive of him to think they could get back together. Not after what he’d done. Not the way Josh refused to trust him. But he could go get closure at least and move on with his life.
“Thanks mom.” Tyler leaned in for another hug, beyond grateful his mother was as perceptive and accepting as she was.
“No problem, honey. I just hate to see you looking so glum. If this Josh guy isn’t the one for you then there’s somebody else out there. Don’t give up hope.”
She left him alone in his room once more and Tyler picked his phone back up. He closed the chat he had opened with Josh and instead found directions to Josh’s parent’s house. When they were dating they had found out how close the two had actually lived to one another and been excited about the upcoming winter break to meet each other's families and still get to see each other all break. After the breakup the knowledge that Josh wasn’t that far away had nearly driven him insane. How was he supposed to get over the guy when he was only a quick drive away from his childhood home. Fifteen minutes to be exact.
Tyler zoomed in on the map on his phone before grabbing his car keys on the nightstand.
When Josh woke he was still in the cage, but his hands were free and all the wolfsbane was gone. He would have cried with the relief of it except that his leg was still burning like someone had thrown acid on it and Josh sobbed at the sharp stabs of agony as he sat himself up to assess the damage.
Slowly, so as not to aggravate the injury anymore, Josh unbuckled his belt and slid his jeans down, feeling his chest constrict at the sight of his leg.
“Ohmygod.” He mumbled, wide eyes taking in the bullet wound in his thigh and the thick, deep red lines that were jutting out and away from the hole in his leg like angry bolts of lightning.
“You need to take the bullet out.”
Josh jumped at the sound of Alice’s voice, forgetting she was there.
“Will it kill me?” he was scared of the answer.
Alice nodded, “Eventually. When those lines reach your heart.”
Josh leaned back against the concrete wall of the basement, his head thunking against it as he processed Alice’s words.
“You have to dig it out.” She said and Josh cringed at the thought of it.
“I… I can’t .” He couldn’t even think about touching the damn thing let alone clawing the flesh open in search of the bullet.
“You have to, Josh.” Their cages shared a row of bars between them and Alice had her hands clutched around the metal posts, “Do it now, while you’re still able to. It’s only going to make you weaker as the silver spreads.”
Josh stared at the angry red lines in his leg, the ugly black hole where the bullet had sunk into the meat of his thigh and he suddenly felt angry that this was how he was spending his Christmas. He wasn’t back home with his parents and his siblings drinking hot cocoa and exchanging colorfully decorated gifts while Bing Crosby played on the stereo and fluffy white snow gathered on the windowsill. No, he was in the basement of a vampire nest fighting for his life after being tortured. The unfairness of it all fueled his wolf to break free and Josh watched as his claws extended, his senses sharpened and before he could think about what he was doing he dug into the bullet wound and howled .
The pain was blinding and Josh fought through it as he felt around in the carnage of his leg for the silver bullet. He managed to just touch it with the tip of his claw, moving it inside the meat of his thigh before the pain of it pierced through his adrenaline like a tazer. His hand snapped back with a mind of its own and he was left panting in agony, the whole of his upper leg pulsing in burning pain from his digging fingers while a wave of nausea rippled through his insides.
“I can’t,” he moaned, his sweat slick back falling against the concrete wall behind him, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” His wolf abandoned him as he wiped away the moisture at his forehead, smearing blood there in the process, “I can’t do it, it hurts, I can’t,” he mumbled and felt close to tears. He was going to die here. He was going to die a bloody, sweaty mess in the basement of a vampire-owned church while his family ate Christmas ham and drank eggnog around the dinner table.
He was going to die knowing Tyler hated him. A sob caught in Josh’s throat and he ground the heels of his palms into his eyes. He would never get to tell Tyler that he was sorry and that he was wrong. He never should have broken up with him before giving Tyler the chance to hear the truth about what he was.
The door to the basement groaned on its hinges as it opened and Debby came in followed by a handful of other vampires. She stopped in front of Alice’s cage, her face grimly set, “It’s time.”
The other vamps began opening Alice’s cage and pulling her to her feet.
“No! No, I won’t go!” Alice spit at them, “Not until you take the silver out of him!”
Debby’s face twisted and transformed into the ugly mask of her vampire, “You help us first. The bullet comes out once the other wolf is dead, got it?”
Josh watched numbly as the vamps dragged Alice out of the basement, struggling some with the chained werewolf as she grudgingly cooperated.
Before Debby left to follow she glanced back at Josh, her features somehow softening beneath the grotesque scowl of her vampire form, “We’re not the bad guys here, Josh.”
“You could’ve fooled me.” he glared at her as best he could, but the effort was lacking as he sat slumped on the floor of his cage, the silver sapping away at his energy reserve.
Her gaze held his steadily for a beat before she said, “We’ll keep our word and let you go if she succeeds.” With that she left and the heavy door to the basement swung shut in her absence, leaving Josh alone and scared for his future.
Tyler turned down the heat that had been blasting in his car as he got closer to campus. He’d gone to Josh’s parent’s house only to learn that for whatever reason Josh had decided not to come home for winter break. Mrs. Dun had seemed particularly upset over it but was kind enough to wish him and his folks ‘Happy Holidays’ before he left to go back home.
It didn’t take him long after that to decide he was going to drive out to campus, track Josh down and demand they resolve their issues so he could try and enjoy the rest of his break.
He was pulling into the parking lot nearest their dorm around noon and wondering just why the hell Josh hadn’t gone home for break. The campus was damn near empty. There wasn’t another car in the lot with Tyler’s.
He pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car, zipping his winter jacket back up in the harsh cold that blew around him. It made him instantly miss the heatwave he’d built inside his car on the way over. He sludged through unplowed sidewalks up to their dorm room and used his key to get inside. It was deathly quiet inside the dorms. No music, no laughing, no footsteps, no anything.
Tyler climbed the couple floors to their shared dorm room and unlocked it. All of Josh’s stuff was gone. It didn’t make any sense… Josh wasn’t home and he wasn’t here… where… ?
Through the one tiny window in their dorm Tyler could see the edge of the woods lying quiet beyond and grit his teeth.
Fifteen minutes later Tyler was trudging through the dense snow and grumbling everytime more of it managed to fall down his boot, soaking his socks through with the cold. He felt stupid. He hadn’t even seen any tracks leading into the woods yet here he was, stomping through it like an idiot. He sighed, his breath fogging in the air in front of him, and threw his head back to yell, “ Josh!? ”
The dense snow muted most of the echo as it bounced around the trees and Tyler held still in the silence that followed, listening. This was stupid. What was he doing?
He turned around, making his way back the way he’d come. He should have just checked the library or cafeteria like a normal person would have. Now if he did find Josh he was going to look like an idiot, cheeks bright red and sniffling back snot from being out in the cold too long.
Tyler’s ears caught something, a noise maybe, that had him turning his head back to investigate and a strangled yelp caught in his throat as he stared at the hulking beast less than a foot away. His brain quickly filled his head with thoughts of wolfbearnoMONSTERDEMON as his feet tangled and tripped in the snow in a desperate and pathetic attempt to get as far away from the thing as possible. Then the beast was charging and swinging its claws and Tyler felt himself flying through the air and his head cracking hard and painful against a tree before he blacked out completely.
I can only imagine reading this story in one go - how jilted it must be - it's taken me years to write it so I can't imagine it flows as nicely if I had sat down and finished the thing in a few months. Anyway, this is probably the last chapter before just a nice epilogue wrap up. I want to be done with this!
The door to his cell opened above him with a clang that vibrated through the rest of the bars and Josh found himself blinking sluggishly up at two vampires, a man and a woman.
He must have been passed out for a while, Josh realized, as he shivered in the cell and struggled to sit up from where he’d been slouched. He glanced down at his leg, noting the passage of time in the stiffness of his muscles but more importantly in the spread of the poison in his system.
The angry red lines now spread much further from the wound in his leg, branching out until their tips were reaching across his ribcage and painting the lower half of his body in deep crimson bolts.
His panic returned and Josh looked up at the vampires, pleading with them, “Please, don’t let it reach my heart. I don’t want to die. Please, get it out!”
One of them, the woman, stepped forward and grabbed at Josh’s arms, pushing him forward and yanking his arms behind his back where cold silver met his skin as they were cuffed together. He could have told them the cuffs were unnecessary, he was too weak to put up any kind of a fight. The other vampire ripped his jeans off until he was shivering in only his boxers. Then he took hold of both of Josh’s ankles and pulled so that he was flat on his back, or as flat as could be with his hands cuffed under him.
Josh whined at the pain the movement caused him, “What’re you doing?” he slurred and tried to lift his head to see what was going on.
“It looks like you’re needed in the fight.” The male vampire said and before Josh could respond sharp vampire claws tore into the flesh at his leg making him scream and nearly black out again.
All Josh’s nerves lit up like the Christmas lights he hadn’t gotten to see back home as the vampire dug into the infected meat of his leg. Josh barely took notice as tears began streaming down his temple. He felt his body morphing, transforming as his wolf came out in futile effort to protect himself. His jaws snapped at air and his claws scrabbled at the concrete floor beneath him as the torture continued until he wasn’t fighting anymore but begging to be put out of his misery.
“It’s out.” he heard the male vampire say and then surprisingly Josh felt a cool hand gently touching his shoulder.
He looked up to see the female vampire soothing him, her eyebrows drawn in a worried frown on her now-human face, “Do you want some water?” she asked him and Josh could only give a weak nod.
The girl moved away from him then and Josh heard the man whisper, “Careful.”
He would have laughed if he could’ve. They were afraid of him? What was he going to do to them at this point? Drool on them? His body felt like a loose bundle of flayed nerves, immobile and hypersensitive.
He whole-body flinched as something touched and stung at the raw wound in his leg.
The girl was back, a bottle of water in her hands, “It’s okay, he’s putting something on it to help it heal. Here,” she unscrewed the top and lifted his head before helping him take a couple sips of the water.
“Thank you.” Josh murmured, grateful for the water to help soothe his throat from all the screaming.
Both vamps sat back and watched him like they were waiting for him to do something. After a beat of uncomfortable silence the male vampire said, “Can you stand?”
Stand? Josh balked at him for a moment before he realized the pain was fading. Numbing. He carefully rolled onto his side and was relieved to find it didn’t cause him any further pain. Looking down at his leg he noted that the angry red lines were gone and all that was left was the mangled puncture in his wound, now covered in some shiny sort of balm.
“We numbed it. The wound. So you can fight.” The girl said haltingly.
Josh struggled to his knees and gave the vamps a dubious look, “Fight?” for a moment his heart plummeted at the implication. Was Alice… no, she couldn’t be. Could she?
“Alice…?” he heard himself say and the girl shook her head.
“Your friend is alive. But…” She glanced at her partner then, looking unsure of herself before continuing, “But Debby says the male werewolf has something that belongs to you. Some one . That you’ll fight for him. ”
Josh felt his blood run cold.
They didn’t bother giving him clothes. Josh trudged through the snow, shivering and nearly turning blue, still in human form, still in his boxers, as the silver cuffs remained snug on his wrists where they rested at the base of his spine.
Apparently they still didn’t trust him, not until they knew he saw Tyler and believed them.
Fuck , Tyler. What was he doing here? He was supposed to be safe at home, spending the holidays with his family in suburban Ohio. Not here, in the middle of some turf war battle made of the stuff from nightmares. A part of Josh didn’t want to believe it. He wanted them to be wrong. He wanted Tyler to be safe.
But as they pushed through the trees and up to a clearing the wind carried a scent so familiar to Josh it made him dizzy with fear. It was definitely Tyler.
As the clearing came into view Josh could see the stand off between the vampires and Alice and the hulking male werewolf that had ripped a chunk out of Josh’s leg just a few weeks prior. He was just as terrifying as he’d remembered him.
And then there, tied to the base of a tree behind the male werewolf, was Tyler. He was pale and shivering, his eyes so wide all Josh could see was white, while the stench of fear rolling off him permeated the woods around them.
Josh saw the moment Tyler’s eyes landed on him and the horrified look that followed. He felt his wolf slam against his chest, the primal beast lunging to get out and protect Tyler. To get out and kill the beast that was endangering him.
“Let me go!” Josh yelled and he felt someone unlocking his cuffs.
Josh, no! Alice spoke to him and he turned to glance at her, noting the slash marks and blood coating her fur, This isn’t your battle.
You want him? The male werewolf taunted, with a voice deep and husky.
“He’s strong, Josh.” Debby said, unaware of the conversation going on between wolves.
Come and get him.
Josh didn’t need anymore prompting and his wolf ripped free, transforming faster than he ever had before and landing heavily in the snow-dense clearing. He took just a second to glance at Tyler and see the abject terror in his eyes. Secret’s out, Josh thought, You still want to be with me?
He didn’t have long to think about Tyler’s reaction when the alpha werewolf charged. He was fast . Josh barely had enough time to react and before the wolf’s claws sank into Josh a blur of black fur entered his vision as Alice took the hit.
Around him the vampires hissed and raised their guns but they were no match for the werewolf that easily dodged the bullets and flung the vamps aside. Josh found an opening and launched himself, sinking teeth into the alpha’s flank. The beast was in his face in an instant, claws ripping and shredding into his flesh like he was made of soft clay. Someone else pulled the alpha’s attention and Josh struggled to rise, shaking off the encounter before circling for an opening again.
The male werewolf fought well, he kept his head tucked in between hulking shoulder blades, protecting his throat as he slashed at the vampires around him like they were nothing more than irritating harpies. He lunged at Alice again and again, his bulk continuing to push down on her, pin her so he could rip soft chunks of flesh from her. Josh pounced on him every time, distracting the beast long enough for Alice to get on her feet and return the favor.
Josh grew tired, his wolf barely standing as he stood on the red stained battlefield, hot blood trickling through his fur and adding to the mess.
Give up! The alpha sneered and Josh watched with a heavy heart as Alice struggled and failed to stand on her feet again. End this and come back to me, Ally. You and your boy.
Ally? Josh panted and fought to stay on his feet, You know him?
Alice growled at the alpha as it stepped closer to her and Josh could hear the distress in her thoughts.
He’s my sire, Josh. He made me.
The forest was deathly silent around them as this revelation sunk home. As the pieces clicked and Josh suddenly understood why he wasn’t killed that day. Why the alpha had let him live.
The beast seemed to read his thoughts and it gave a toothy wolf grin, I couldn’t kill my own pack, Joshy .
Before Josh could respond the alpha turned and launched himself at Tyler and Josh heard a scream and a silencing crunch! as bones collapsed and the headless vampire slumped into the snow with a muted thump. The alpha dropped the head from between pointed canines and Josh could see it was the female vampire who had given him water earlier. Josh watched in horror as her body disintegrated before his eyes. She had been untying Tyler’s ropes.
The vampires around Josh were screaming, profanities and empty threats pierced the silence of the woods and the alpha transformed himself back into a human, laughing the whole time. As a man he was big, too. Tall and broad shouldered with a handsome face and dark hair peppered with gray. The scariest part, Josh thought, was that he recognized him.
You’re a professor. Josh could place the man’s face easily as he walked around campus in a tweed jacket with a pair of silver glasses perched on his nose.
Tyler’s small voice broke the silence, “Professor?”
Josh changed back into his human form so that the human and vampires alike could hear their conversation. He trembled in the cold snow, ignoring his badly bruised and bleeding body, “Look, what does Tyler have to do with any of this? Please, just let him go.”
“Josh?” Tyler’s voice shook and Josh turned to look at him, offering him what he hoped was some sort of reassuring smile.
“You need to go to a hospital.” Tyler said, his eyes large and worried.
“Sure, I’ll let him go. But you and Ally have to come with me. We’ll find a new place, one that isn’t infested with vampires,” he sneered at Debby and the vampires around her, “and we’ll build a bigger pack. We’ll be unstoppable.”
Josh glanced at Alice, still slumped in the snow behind the alpha and she met his eyes with her golden wolf eyes, You can’t trust him, Josh. All he wants to do is control us. Use us. We’ll have no freedom with him.
Josh couldn't help but think about how Alice knew this, how she must have been under his control before. He wondered again, not for the first time, if Alice had consented to her bite. Or had this man taken it from her?
But it didn’t matter. If it was his freedom or Tyler’s he chose Tyler’s. No questions.
“Okay.” Josh said and the man grinned, “Whatever you say, I’ll do it. Just let Tyler go.”
“Josh, no!” Tyler yelled and struggled futilely against the ropes binding him, “Please don’t do this.”
“What choice do I have?” Josh watched as the man sauntered over to Tyler and bent down to untie the ropes. He stopped though, and straightened, putting his hand to his chin in thought.
“Although,” The man said, “I can’t really let him go. Not when he knows so much.” and with claws Josh hadn’t even noticed were extended the alpha swiped once, his hand arcing through the air and suddenly Tyler was choking and gasping as pulses of blood flowed freely from his neck.
“NO!” Josh screamed and launched himself, already half shifting, at the alpha, claws out and reaching. The alpha caught him easily and slammed him back into the snow, knocking his wolf back down as he fought for breath.
“You see, Joshy, I will always get what I want.”
At that moment a hulking black wolf closed its jaws around the man’s leg and yanked, knocking him clear off his feet. The alpha turned his attention on Alice, transforming back into his wolf and snarling at the girl.
Josh barely registered it as he turned to Tyler, back in human form, and clamped his palm down on the gaping wound in Tyler’s neck, “Oh god, oh god, oh god-” he heard himself muttering. Around him, the vampires rushed to untie Tyler from the tree.
Tyler’s wide eyes were locked on his as he choked and coughed around the blood sliding out his throat, melting diamond snow in slick hot crimson.
“Somebody help him!” Josh shouted and he caught Debby’s eyes, “Save him! You can save him, can’t you?”
“Bite him! Please , I can’t lose him.”
Debby just shook her head, “It doesn’t work like that, Josh. He’s bleeding too much, he’ll be dead in a matter of seconds. A vampire bite won't take in that time.”
Josh searched Tyler’s eyes, watching the struggle behind them, the fight for his life, “What if I bite him?”
Again, Debby was shaking her head, “Josh-”
They had gotten the ropes off of Tyler now and he had one hand clutching at his neck, the other was reaching for Josh as his breath came in gurgling, desperate gasps.
“ Please ,” Josh grasped Tyler’s hand and blinked tears out of his eyes, “I need you.” before he could think about what he was doing Josh yanked the sleeve of Tyler’s jacket back and bit down on the latter’s wrist hard enough to taste blood.
Tyler recoiled, yanking his arm back and away from Josh.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, and pressed his hand over where Tyler’s was trying to keep his own blood in, “I don’t know what to do. I’m so sorry.”
Behind him, Josh could hear the wolves fighting and he pressed himself in closer around Tyler, blocking the fight from view, “You know my secret now, Ty. Why did you come back? Why did you have to come back?”
Josh pressed into Tyler and wept as he listened to the sounds of his love dying, as he felt Tyler’s warm life drenching his bare skin, “I’m so fucking sorry,” he murmured and blinked tears into Tyler, “I love you.”
He stayed there as long as he could, in the fading warmth of Tyler’s skin, until he was yanked backward and collapsed naked in the snow before the alpha.
The big wolf paced in front of him, a crude sneer displaying bloody red teeth mocked him.
I told you I always win. There’s no use fighting me, you’re not strong enough. And if you try to leave me I’ll kill more people you care about.
“Alice?” Josh spotted her in a heap about ten feet away and wondered if he’d killed her too.
She’s alive. The wolf said, believe me I don’t want her dead. What a waste that would be. Had her trained up real nice y’know, once upon a time. She did everything I said, no questions asked. All I had to do was kill everyone she loved. When the vampires moved in I left, the reek of them was too much to handle, and I left her behind. It wasn’t until later I realized how much I missed her. But when I came back she wouldn’t listen. She had someone to love again. She had you.
Josh was trembling uncontrollably in the snow, his and Tyler’s blood frozen like ice to his skin, the cold piercing through to his bones as he listened to this monster and what he had done to Alice. He knew if he didn’t do everything the alpha said his family’s lives would be in grave danger.
But I couldn’t kill you after she’d turned you. You’re too much like family, my boy. And what kind of monster would I be if I killed my own family?
“Y-you’re al-ready a m-monster.” Josh said through chattering teeth.
Maybe that’s true. But then, so are you. I know she took you hunting. I know you’ve tasted human heart. You’re no different than me.
“Th-that’s not t-t-true.” he shivered violently.
You trying to kill yourself by way of hypothermia or are you just stupid?
Josh’s teeth were clacking together too hard to form words and the wolf rolled its eyes and lumbered over him, squatting down so that it’s body heat warmed Josh up.
Won’t be that easy to check out, kid. You’re mine now.
Josh pushed weakly at the furry body above him. He wanted to die, damnit. It was death or it was living for the man who’d murdered Tyler. A sob welled in his chest at the fresh grief and Josh felt a wave of disgust at the thought of bowing to this monster’s will.
A screeching, inhuman roar met their ears and the alpha looked up just in time to be thrown from his position over Josh. In his place stood a creature that looked like a demon sent straight from hell. It loomed over Josh on two legs, its ugly, twisted face set in a snarl of fangs and glowing orange eyes. It had huge pointed ears and a thick mane of fur that mohawked down the thing’s back into a short tail, but the rest of it was made up of naked, leathery skin.
Josh stared at it’s chest, at the odd symbols in thick black ink, then his eyes darted down to the arm and wrist. Bands, black bands.
The thing looked at him, it’s contorted face looking like some sort of mix between vampire and wolf. Josh glanced over to the tree where he’d left Tyler. Empty.
The creature- Tyler- ambled over to where he’d thrown the alpha and reached for him with one gnarly clawed hand. The alpha lunged at Tyler who only caught him and proceeded to body slam him into the snow. Josh watched in horror as the creature stepped on the alpha’s chest with one clawed foot and used both hands to grip the upper and lower jaw of the alpha and pull, ripping his lower jaw bone down, pulling the strip of flesh covering his throat off like a hangnail as blood gushed out in a river of dark red.
Then it turned and came back to stand over Josh who could only hold his breath and wait to be torn apart in the same fashion. Josh squeezed his eyes shut and waited for the inevitable. Instead, he heard Tyler’s voice saying his name and when he opened his eyes Tyler was there, naked and human and whole again.
“Y-you’re a-ali-live.” Josh could only stare in wonder while his teeth chattered away and just about vibrated out of his skull.
“We have to get you to a hospital.” Tyler said seriously and shivered against the cold.
Josh was staring at his unblemished throat in awe. It was healed, it was perfectly healed with only a small faded scar as a reminder.
Tyler wrapped his arms around himself and shrugged, looking past Josh at something behind him.
“Valerie.” Debby said over his shoulder, “Before the alpha killed her, when she was trying to untie your ropes… she bit you, didn’t she?”
Josh felt hands on his skin, cold vampire hands that lifted and pushed him into a sitting position so a jacket could be wrapped around his shoulders.
“I d-don’t u-u-under-s-stand.”
Another vampire handed Tyler what was left of his shredded clothes and he hastily put them on before he was at Josh’s side, running warm hands up and down his arms to stimulate circulation. Josh winced at the rough handling, his bloody slashes from the fight protesting vehemently.
“I thought they were just rumors… I had no idea it was real. A vampire werewolf hybrid. A human bitten by both species. Twice as powerful as either one of them.”
“Josh, turn into your wolf please . You’re going to freeze to death.” Tyler was speaking to him, his frown creased into worry.
“I w-watch-watched you d-die.” Josh stuttered, still processing the turn of events.
“I’m not dead.” Tyler said, “Now turn.”
He did as instructed and the vampires around him stepped back uneasily as his wolf emerged. His thick fur was warming him quickly and he glanced around, suddenly remembering Alice. She had transformed back into human and lay blue and unconscious in the snow but alive.
We need to help her Josh said, realizing a second too late that no one could hear him.
“She needs help!” Tyler shouted to the vampires right after and Josh wondered if Tyler could understand him after all.
Josh watched as Debby and her people took clothes off their own backs to wrap around Alice and lift her carefully, carrying her back in the direction of the church. It was such a difference to the way the vamps had been treating them only a couple hours ago and Josh would have scoffed at turn of events if he hadn’t had a million other things running through his head at the moment.
Like Tyler. Holy shit Tyler.
Tyler was alive . He watched Tyler bleed to death and now he was alive and one of them .
Tyler was suddenly in front of him, hands reaching but not quite touching, “Josh?”
He was still his wolf and how did Tyler get over to him so fast? Josh swayed for a moment in the snow, his own blood still sluggishly draining out of him as he realized just how tired he was. The red stained battlefield blurred before him and Tyler was saying something but Josh couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus, and then he was falling...