Roman's eyes are electric, Peter can't help but think to himself. They shoot through him like static bolts, energy crackling. Those eyes—dark and round and hungry for attention—make the wolf's hair stand on end beneath the edges of Peter's skin, make something shiver and howl in imagined darkness. Every glance, every raised eyebrow, every searching look causes Peter's every cell to prickle like the night before the full moon.
"That's common with Upir," Destiny had said during a night of a few too many beers and a rush of over-honesty on Peter's part. "You might feel tightness in your chest too. Just don't mistake it for actual feelings. That way lies pain and danger."
Peter tries to keep that in mind. He reads some of his mother's books, committing to memory names like Encantado, Lidérc, Lilu, and Popo Bawa. He knows that Upir, Incubi, and Succubi all stem from the same twisted and gnarled famliy tree. He thinks of Ulysses, tied to the mast, begging his shipmates to release him so that he may go to the sirens, to embrace them and want no more. The ship-men don't—they are loyal. A true 'pack.'
But Peter doesn't have a pack. He is an Outsider, just like Niccoli. He has his mother and Destiny to try and remind him of good sense, but—while they are Romani—they are unlike him. They are, ultimately, human women. Peter is a man... and a monster. And so is Roman.
So, perhaps Peter is a little less cautious of that crackling feeling in his teeth and his hands. Maybe he allows himself to make direct eye-contact more than is prudent, allows himself to fall into the dark abyss of Roman's gaze.
He can't help himself. It feels familiar, like a type of home.
Roman reeks of sex today and Peter pretends not to notice. Just like he pretends he doesn't see the women follow the young Godfrey heir with longing stares everywhere they go. Some men look too, but it's less common. Most men don't have a very flexible view of their own sexuality—so, when a jolt of lust runs through them at the sight of Roman, they glance at him (hurriedly brief) with a mixture of disgust and anger, uncomfortable and confused with the betrayal of their own bodies.
Peter is pretty sure that's why Roman doesn't have many friends. He has women he fucks and who smile sweetly at him at the coffee-shop or the park, but no real friends. The electricity is too much for many people to get close to him.
Peter's never had friends either—has also seen a fair number of disgusted looks thrown his way 'It's that romani, that gypo, fucking gypsie...' So, he smiles at Roman and ignores it all—the reality of those looks, the fact that Roman smells of sex again, the fact that Peter still finds himself as hard as a rock every time Roman is within a few yards' distance, and the fact that he has steadily been gaining a minor urge to rip out the throat of every googly-eyed girl who stares at the beautiful Godfrey just a little too long.
"That's common with Upir," Destiny would tell him. "Just don't mistake it for actual feelings." Peter wonders if he's going to have to get that tattooed somewhere; it seems like he needs to remind himself of that more and more.
So Peter jokes about English homework and tries not to place too much significance on the fact that Roman's laughter hits him like lightening.
Falling for Letha, Peter decides, is his salvation.
He feels guilty thinking that while Roman is lost in the darkness of his own mind, locked away in a coma, nearly copse-like in his stillness. But Peter can't help how he feels... Letha is clean and good and sugary sweet. She may be related to the Godfreys somehow, but there's no Upir in her eyes, no electricity scratching behind his skin. Peter's passion for Letha feels so, so... normal. She's soft. She has a sweet smile and perky breasts. She's human.
When she giggles, it makes Peter smile. And when she kisses him, he wants to kiss back. But that's it.
He doesn't want to sink claws into her, to bite and moan and rip her to shreds. He doesn't want to sink into an abyss with her and growl and scream and be bitten and growled and clawed at in return. The fantasies in the back of his mind are a raw, bloodied steak, a carcass to be ripped open, bones crunched at with sharp canines in the dead of night. Letha is an ice cream sundae on a warm spring afternoon. Normal. Safe.
He wants to be a man who can be there with Letha. He wants to be human, to maybe even to stay in one place for a bit.
He mentions this to Destiny. She gives him a sad smile. "Don't confuse actual feelings for reality either," she says. Peter curses at her in Romanian. He's sure this is real. Is what he wants. He sees a vague image of the future—sunny days and smiles, Letha and her baby, flowers and ice cream.
But then the moon comes again and the wolf is so close to the surface that his teeth ache eyes burn. He feels tense, tendons pulled tightly across bones. He stands in the Godfreys' attic, every cell waiting for night and for the change. For this all to be over.
"What time is it?"
Peter gaps and whirls around to see... Electricity. Sharp and pulsing through his whole body. Roman's eyes are open, deep and questioning.
"It's... it's two weeks. Since you passed out." Peter finally croaks out. Roman half-groans as he begins to unhook himself from blaring medical monitors.
"What?" Roman runs his hand through his hair and half-chuckles as he moans, "Oh, fuck me."
And Peter knows that he is lost now. That he can pretend all he wants that he will live in the sun, that he and Letha are meant to be, that there will always be stormless, sunny days. But somewhere, where the wolf lives, he knows that's not true. It can't be when there's this pull of electricity, this tingling darkness that calls to him.
"We both made some... mistakes," Peter whispers. Roman looks at him, his lightening eyes sharp and questioning. And Peter doesn't quite know what he's apologizing for exactly. If he is placating his spoiled friend or actually admitting out loud that his sunny days with Letha were all an error. But it doesn't matter right now because Roman is embracing him, breath cool on his neck, and his whole body lights up electric.
"Just don't mistake it for actual feelings... and don't confuse actual feelings for reality." Peter hears Destiny's voice in his head, echoingly real. And the voice is right. The electricity isn't "feelings," not in the human sense anyway. The electricity isn't empathy or love. In fact, Peter thinks, it's something deeper. Something still undeniably real.
And Peter knows he will go with him into the darkness. He knows he will even give up his humanity for this quest. For the prickling call to his wolf. For this reality.