I could eat him. That'd deal with the problem well enough. I ducked my head and scolded myself for the thought. No, I couldn't. Not without too many consequences. Just because werewolves were accepted in society didn't mean I wouldn't be one of the first suspects if a human student was found disemboweled somewhere. And it's kinda rude to eat your childhood best friend. I should’ve just lived with it and hoped it was over soon.
Still seemed like the better option. Would give me a meal and get him out of the way. Couldn't smell so good if he was just a rotting pile of bones somewhere in the woods. Could bones rot? Flesh could but did bones, or did they slowly just melt away into nothing? Just another pile of dirt?
The damn smell snapped me from my musing. That stupid after-rain smell mixed in with inks and paints and stuffy art rooms. I didn't even like art, so why should I like him? Stupid Charlie. Wouldn't even have to be a wolf to kill him. He wasn't scrawny, fine, but he wasn't fit and built with sport-toned muscle either. I could just break his neck or beat in his face or-
‘You keep looking at me like I've chopped off your nuts, Desmond.’ He was smiling crookedly at me, that look people get when they want your attention but they're kinda put off by you as well.
‘You might as well have,’ I muttered, shoving away from my desk and deciding I didn't need to stay in that class. If he made out the words he made no move to follow, but I felt his eyes against my back long after I was out of his sight. Like a hot itch.
It's raining, we're running. Blood pumping. We're laughing like fools and it's brilliant.
He started trying to talk to me more. Guess I'd put some distance between us he wanted to make up but it only frustrated me. He had to know it was uncomfortable; always made me sit stiff, teeth bared and head jerking when the scent got too much. But he only ever seemed to move closer, to urge me to 'Get past it'. Teachers had taken notice that I ditched class when he talked to me, and instead of taking some pity insisted that education was more important then whatever was going on between us. Told me to put up with it and work for better grades.
Like any of that would matter if he was dead.
We're of one mind. Sharing and shouting and laughing in our space, our breaths painting the air as we rule the streets.
It had started a few weeks ago. Two months at most. Slowly realising that there was a scent under his normal smells that I was used to. Everyone has one, but it's the scent, the only I'll be drawn to for the rest of my life. No one else will smell that way to my until he dies. And he wouldn't smell that way to anyone else.
It was gym. I was hiding in the changing room. He was in my class and I just didn't feel up to it. Didn't want to watch him running and chasing and fleeing. There was too much animal in it to keep good reigns on my animal.
But even there I wasn't left alone. His locker smelt like him. I found myself sitting against it, rubbing my cheek against the cold metal surface as if that could mark it as mine. At least I didn't chew it or claw it, but there wasn't much diginity in trying to scent-mark it either.
Shouts and joyous whooping told me the others were coming in. With a reluctant sigh I moved away, choosing to sit on a bench and stare down at the floor between my knees. Ignoring everyone I could. There were looks and shared elbow jabs and snide comments made at my stern interest in the floor. Some had probably figured out it by now, but not all humans bothered to learn the tricky little ways wolves worked. Then again the most I bothered to know about humans was that they didn't get the urge to kill the person they wanted. At least not usually before they actually got together.
Charlie didn't leave as the others started to file out looking forward to lunch, but a few of them slapped his ass and made stupid kissy faces that set me further on edge as they left. He slowly sorted through his locker between cat calls, waiting for the room to be empty before turning to me. His red dreads looked good tired back from his face. Loose and messy, but good all the same, contrasting sharply against his dark skin.
I focused my gaze on the floor again, fighting the urge to lock eyes and stare back at him. Shouldn't challenge him like a wolf. Shouldn't do a lot of things around him like a wolf.
‘Someone keeps taking things from my locker,’ he said, eyes never leaving.
‘Why do you think someone would steal my things?’
I shrugged, turning aside. ‘People are pretty weird.’
‘Yeah, pretty weird to be taking my shirts when they probably reek anyway.’ He stepped closer, sighed when I still didn't move, and walked out. ‘Can't even look at me.’
But his shirts didn't reek. They smelt like after-rain.
His scent's in my head, pulling me and drowning me and I love every minute. He's grinning as he shows me his world full of back streets and graffiti-covered alleys and rain soaked rains. His world of colours and art.
He was following me home. I couldn't stand it but made myself keep walking, made myself stay human.
‘Desmond.’ His voice was stupid. Stupidly nice and stupidly good at getting my attention.
I stopped, head bowed, then looked at him. Looked at his stupidly handsome face. ‘What?’ And of course my voice felt weak and tired.
‘You can stop running from me, y'know. Because honestly you're being a little too obvious.’
I stared at him, for a moment thinking he knew, that he knew everything and I could admit it and be done with it. Have his word he could wait until the bloodlust died down before wanting more from me. But just as quickly I realised he didn't. No. He stood too openly for that. He expected me to say that I was so relieved he knew I wanted to sleep with him. So relieved that he wasn't running away or hating me for it, even though he'd come out years ahead of me so why did that matter? But I couldn't say it. Only stared, jaws tensed and hands clenched.
He stepped closer, the breeze carrying his scent to me, convincing me to face him squarely despite the saliva it brought to my mouth. ‘I mean, we've all seen you eye guys before. No one cares. And come on, I'd be lying if I said I'd never thought about it.’
The breeze came again, pulling me into his scent and into the lust and all too close to the desire to kill him. I recoiled, stepping away from him and shaking my head to clear the scent. ‘Charlie, I want to eat you.’
For a moment he thought it was a stupid flirt. I'd said it before as a joke. But his grin was taken over as the understanding settled. ‘Oh.’
I nodded, thinking for a moment that we could talk through it like friends, work through it together, but I was already running. I ran to the wood and lost myself in the world of a wolf while desperately wishing that being a wolf made my mind simple.
It's a relief to run beside him, to know that I can, to know he's safe with me. I run beside him, the wolf never gone but knowing the difference between pack and prey.
Charlie wasn't at school for a few days after that. It only have me more time to war with myself over which desire was greater; sex or murder? I wanted it to be sex. That at least was something I could be uncomfortable with, something both sides of me understood and agreed was a good thing to do. And the feeling was apparently quite mutual But murder kept forcing its way into my mind, the idea of sinking teeth into soft flesh and tearing him apart, savouring and enjoying every literal inch of him. And so I wondered how closely linked the two desires were.
We stop behind a little Chinese take-out place. Reckless like the stupid teens we are, kissing and groping and touching in the steam that billows out of the kitchen into the cold night air. No one can see us. We rule this night, we run as a pack and we're invincible.
He seemed different when he came back. More confident around me. More like how he used to be before I went and ruined it. He came and sat straight on my desk, dreads pulled back again, everything about him smelling faintly like pencil shavings as well as after-rain. I wanted to bury my face in his scarf and never give it back.
‘I did some research,’ he said, toying with the ends of that delectable scarf but never taking his eyes off me. Sex was winning today, I realised rather absently. ‘And it's okay. You can't help it. But I'd really rather if you went out with me instead.’
Still I lied, making an effort to breathe through my mouth when I started to feel like I was drowning. ‘I don't like you like that.’ My stomach crawled uncertainly when he rolled his eyes and scoffed, shrugging off my claim. But why should he believe it? We'd spent almost every minute since we were four together.
‘I like your deodorant, y'know.’
I blinked, taken aback by the change in conversation. ‘I, uh, I don't wear any. It hurts my nose.’
He met my gaze steadily, a rather triumphant smile spreading across his lips. ‘So you just smell like roses to everyone? You sure about that?’
A large part of me wanted to kiss those lips, to just be thankful that at least he knew that much, he knew about the mutual scent-sharing. A tiny part of me was disappointed that my scent was a flower. But the rest of me still balked at the idea, demanding that I eat him and be done with it and forget about mating and possible love and mind-sharing and whatever else the scent was meant to mean.
‘I can't do this, Charlie. I can't...’ I hung my head.
‘Well you're sure as hell gonna try. I've smelt roses on you for the last two years, I just didn't know what the hell it meant. Thought I just had a dumb crush. Thought you liked buff guys or something until you started acting iffy around me, that got me a bit suspicious.’ He touched my chin when I still didn't met his eyes, and the feeling and the warmth of it made me look. My chest swelled and I heard rather than felt the awkward, gushing inhale I took at the smile he gave me. So bright. So stupidly handsome. ‘It's hardest on a full moon, right? Controlling it?’
I nodded, hating were he wanted to take it but finding it hard to summon an objection.
‘Next one's in two nights. We're gonna go to the woods. And I'm gonna show you that all that fear is just in your head. You won't eat me, Des. Dogs can't eat chocolate.’
A smile cracked despite myself. ‘And if I try to?’
‘I'll take something silver. For your damn peace of mind. Okay?’
I had no idea if something small made from silver would work if I was truly trying to kill him, but I agreed anyway. Let it be over.
We take off again and I don't hear it coming. I should, I know I should, but my head is so full of him and his sounds and scents and nothing else matters because we're pack. We're invincible. We're invincible and I don't hear the tires screeching.
The moon was high when he came to my spot in the woods, not that I could see it. Rain fell and thick clouds obscured any glowing light from the moon. I smelt him long before I saw him and tried to suppress whines of anticipation and the urge to get up and stalk him like prey.
I sat as a wolf. My kind wasn't the half-man, half-wolf type of beast, but the kind that changes into the animal completely. And the animal matches your human height, which made me an opposing sight if I'm not expected; six-foot of well-muscled wolf.
When he came through the trees he looked at me, fascinated as always but not afraid. He'd seen it all before, of course. We're not inherently violent; being a wolf whenever we wanted wasn't a risk to those around us if we remembered our strength. And didn't want to eat them. When me and Charlie were younger we wrestled like fools when I was a wolf. Sometimes still did before my instincts paraded themselves to the front of my attention.
He came to stand before me when I didn't move to approach him. I could easily launch forward, kill him, but his eyes held mine and made his challenge clear. He knew it would be hard for me to change back to human from that state, and he wanted me to do it. To approach him in that moment as a human, or destroy us both.
It hurt. The change never usually did, but that was the most painful shift I had ever known. I had to quell the irrational instinct, and feeling it struggle for freedom only spurred me harder to regain my human shape. If I lost focus and slipped back there was no doubt I would have killed him. But I didn't. And all at once our link was made as I let him in. I stopped guarding my mind so violently and invited him into the animal space and he came to it eagerly. He'd wanted it far longer than I'd known. So we ran, together, in the joy of the mate-mind and the singleness of it and the joy that flowed between us. We decided we'd rule the streets that night.
The sound he makes is so much like a yelp that at first I just laugh harder, thinking it's a game, thinking he's playing.
But I see. I stop dead in my tracks and turn around and see. The night goes silent, and then the rain deafens me. People get out of the car. The window is cracked and bloody and part of it's caved in. People are crowding around the limp form lying in the road, groaning so minutely I doubt they even hear him.
His red hair lies in a mess around him like a stain of blood on the water-logged road. His scarf is twisted wrong. His chest is an odd, unfamiliar shape. His legs shouldn't turn the way they d.
I go to him, kneel with him, and plea not with words but through the link we'd just made, and I beg him to stop it, to come back, to not leave.
So he does something stupid. He smiles, taking comfort from me that I can't offer him. He drifts. He fades. Then I can't feel him anymore. I stare at him, all too aware of the scents and stints of the streets as the smell I need fades. There's no more after-rain.