So, today was completely boring until Steve brought in a dead bird about twenty minutes ago. I shooed her out, and then Geoffie followed her, bringing the bird back.
I took the bird away and IT WASN’T REALLY DEAD.
But it WAS really mangled, and… so sad. Scared and freaked out and, you know, dying.
I put it back outside, up away from where the cat could get it, but somewhere peaceful where it could die surrounded by summer smells and dark.
Damn. Dead thing was icky– but LIVE thing was tragic. I was NOT expecting that.
So, to move our minds from that, we’ve got Zeb and Colton, and what happens at night.
* * *
Zeb pulled up to the gas station warily, and looked down at his clothes in despair.
His borrowed sweats were caked in blood, not that they’d been too clean in the first place. Colton’s clothes were way worse, but with a bullet hole in the front and back that couldn’t be explained away. He sat there, car at the pump, thinking about turning into a wolf and shoplifting clothes, when a tiny man, maybe 4-feet tall with thin, delicate features and limbs, came trotting out.
“Go inside!” he called. “Get clothes. Get food. Wash up!” He held out his wrist, and it was covered with a tattoo–limes resting in the heart of a blooming rose.
Zeb was so grateful he almost cried.
“We’re Green’s,” he said–unnecessarily, because it seemed this man already knew. He pulled up the sleeve of his T-shirt where a giant thorn-less rose rested, it’s stem sprouting oak leaves, a lime hanging from each leaf where an acorn might ordinarily go.
“I know,” the little man said, flashing a grin replete with spiny teeth. “Nibbles. I’m Nibbles. Let me doctor your car. Go doctor selves.” He turned his smile to Colton in the passenger’s seat, who, to his credit, got a little wide-eyed but didn’t say a thing.
“That’s a deal,” Zeb said, getting out of the car.
“Roll up windows!” Nibble said. “Blessed wash, first. Goddess’s children, you know.”
“Oh!” Zeb felt stupid, and he turned the key enough to roll the windows up before turning it off and getting out. Colton got out on his side, and they headed for the gas station. “Thank you, Master Nibbles,” Zeb said respectfully. Adrian had drilled that into all of his converts–you respect the elves, because they protected the vampires and the were-creatures. And the vampires and were creatures navigated the human world for the fey.
“You’re Green’s. Green’s good. We’re Green’s. Oh! Hot metal!” As Zeb approached the door he looked back and saw Nibbles’s limbs splitting, dividing into many, like tree-root hairs. One of his sturdier limbs reached for a hose near the bottom of the pump, and Nibbles started spraying the car down.
“What’s he doing?” Colton asked, “I mean, who is he, and what is he doing?”
“Well, he’s one of the lower fey,” Zeb said, remembering his hierarchy lessons upon coming to the hill. “Fey don’t usually touch cars. It’s one of the things we can do but they can’t. Some of them though–the metal workers–they’re good at it. But they need to bless the car first–salt water and herbs, to remove the taint of man. Anyway, Nibbles is making the car safe so he can work on it while we shop.”
“We’re going to shop Chevron?” Colton asked, and then the second door swung open and he let out an appreciative whistle.
Clothes–about three racks, every size from child’s size to men’s 4X sweats and T-shirts. Two pairs of men’s Large cargo shorts and a couple of T-shirts weren’t that hard to find. The T-shirts were plain colors–Colton grabbed rust and then handed Zeb a green one.
“Uh, thank you?”
Colton just looked at him evenly, a slight smile on his face. “You have nice eyes,” he observed mildly.
Zeb couldn’t fight the flush that tried to crawl past his neck. “Thanks,” he said, looking anywhere but into Colton’s eyes. “You do too.”
“So, men’s room?”
There was a small shower in the men’s room–in the back corner, with a drain and a boundary, so the water didn’t flood the floor. Zeb made Colton go first, while he ran into the gas station and found some shampoo and soap, and, of course, a gaudily colored beach towel from the racks of clothes. When he got back, he threw the towel at Colton and started to strip himself.
Colton stopped him. “You’re not even going to look?” he asked, and Zeb met his eyes grimly and then looked his fill.
His original impression remained. Not tall–but broad in the shoulders, even at nineteen or twenty. Slim-hipped, with a square jaw and thick, shiny hair down to his shoulders. And warm golden eyes.
“You’re a good looking kid,” Zeb said gruffly. “I thought that when I first saw you. What we did–that wasn’t a hardship for me.”
Colton nodded, looking unhappy. “I needed it.” He closed his eyes. “I need it… like fire in my heart and my thighs and my… my cock.”
Zeb stripped quickly, while Colton watched, and then throwing his clothes in the trash. He walked into Colton’s space and leaned forward, brushing his lips against Colton’s temple. “It’s like that,” he said quietly. “The first week or so. It takes you and you could fuck a tree if one was willing. Don’t worry. I’ll be your tree. When you’re ready to leave me behind, you’ll know the blood fever is all gone.”
Colton closed his eyes with Zeb’s caress, and leaned into him. “What makes you think it will go away?”
Zeb took the next few steps into the shower and turned it on, grabbing the bottle and using the soap liberally, glad the soap and the spray gave him an excuse to avoid the boy’s eyes. “Werewolves mate for life,” he said, eyes closed. “I’m nobody important, Colton. You’ll have… like a banquet at Green’s. Better meals than me.”
He rinsed his hair then, scraping the water back from his eyes before he turned off the spray. When he could see again, Colton was no closer to being dressed. He was staring at Zeb’s body, long and lean with a bare patch of hair between his pecs. Zeb had blue eyes but he was one of those guys who sported a beard after two days, and it was already growing in.
“Uh…” Zeb reached his hand out for the towel, and Colton unwrapped it from his waist, crossing his arms unrepentantly. Zeb dried his hair first, and then his body, and then, uncertain, he used the towel on the floor while he grabbed his clothes off the counter. “What are you looking at?”
“You,” Colton said quietly. He stepped in behind Zeb and took the underwear out of his hands, pressing his slightly damp body up along the back of Zeb’s. Zeb closed his eyes, aware of how long it had been since he’d had a long, sweaty, heart-pounding bout of sex.
“I’m… I mean, we don’t want to do this here. I saw some camping gear in the station–we can–nungh…”
Colton was kissing the back of his neck, the line of his shoulder, back up to his ear.
“Colton?” Zeb whimpered, his cock full and aching, with just the press of bodies, a simple caress.
“You don’t look like a tree,” Colton whispered, thrusting up against Zeb’s backside. Zeb moaned, holding on hard to the counter.
“That’s not what I meant,” he muttered, although he could have made a case for sporting wood.
“You meant I should use you.” Colton leaned forward and pulled gently on Zeb’s chin, until Zeb met his mouth in one of those awkward, over-the-shoulder kisses that made him want so much more.
Colton pulled away and Zeb nodded, feeling both pain and pride. “It would be my privilege to be so used,” he said formally.
Colton shook his head then, and backed away. Zeb slouched for a moment against the counter, and then grabbed his clothes one more time, handing Colton his.
“YOu’ll need it,” Zeb said, trying to make it clear that there was no judgment here. “Colton, it’s real noble to say you’re not going to take me–use me. But you’ll need it.” Quickly he slid into his boxers, adjusting himself against arousal, and then climbed into his cargo shorts and T-shirt, grateful when Colton did the same.
He bent and picked up the sodden towel then, wringing it out and folding it neatly. He knew all the stuff in the station was there’s to use–Green didn’t operate on a cash exchange, but rather one of fealty and service–but the towel would be useful, and he made a mental note to grab a dry one while they were “shopping” the store.
He drew near to the door, waiting expectantly for Colton to open it so they could leave, but he didn’t. Instead, he reached out and clasped Zeb’s hand, bringing to carefully to his lips.
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t need the sex,” Colton said quietly. “I just said I’m not going to use you and lose you.”
Zeb thought he was above being touched–but he wasn’t. He fought a burning behind his eyes. “You’re a great kid,” he said, voice thick. “But we mate for life. You keep hanging out with me after your new werewolf thing wears off, and you’re going to be stuck with me. And kid, I wanted better things for you than that. I sat under that porch and listened to you trying to figure out your life, and I wanted better things for you than what you had planned. That hasn’t changed. Better things. Better than me. I’ll be your tree–that’ll be good.” He closed his eyes. “That’ll be real good.”
Colton brushed his lips gently against Zeb’s. When he pulled back, he brushed a kiss on each of Zeb’s eyelids, and along his temple. “I want you so bad,” he whispered in the hollow of Zeb’s ear. “But I wanted you when you sat next to me in the car and tried to make me laugh. Trust me, Zeb. This isn’t going away.”
“Sure,” Zeb said, his knees weak–but not his resolve. “C’mon. Let’s go get some gear.”
Colton snaked a hand around Zeb’s waist and hauled him in for a brutal, frustrated kiss. Zeb melted against him, out of starch to fight. Colton had to be the one who ended it, jerking his hips back and feathering his knuckles along Zeb’s cheekbone.
“You’re important to me,” he whispered.
Then he opened the door.