All the standard disclaimers apply.

Pairings/Warnings: 1x2, AU, rated R for language... em. I think that's it for this chapter.

Author's Note: Well, I meant to be working on my Fairy Fic, but a bad day at work took hold of my brain and made me write this instead. I've started the next chapter of OR, so hopefully it'll be done soon. And if I continue to be pissy over work, the LO inspiration should follow... Anywho, this is a third installment of my werewolf story, following the second rather closely.

Bitter Waning
Chapter Two
by Saro

Duo cornered his boss in the main office, hunched over the desk, pen busy scratching numbers onto a postal form. "Hey, Ted!" he greeted as he knocked on the open door. "Glad I found you. Do you got a minute?"

"Sure," the older man told him without looking up. "What d'you need?"

Duo grinned innocently at his supervisor. "Wednesday night off."

"Tess has the week off," Ted said, signing his name at the bottom of the page. His signature was uniform and efficient from practice. "I'll need you Wednesday night."

"C'mon, you know I wouldn't ask if it weren't important -- I need that night off. Call Jacob on swing. I know he could use the hours."

Finally, Ted looked up. His eyes were a weak grey behind rimless glasses, and taken with his crew cut and the deep worry lines on his forehead, they made him look older than he was. Duo matched his gaze, his smile flawless. Within seconds the other man sighed. "I'll see if Jacob can cover for you."


"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," his boss said, waving him off. "Now get back to work."

_____ _____ _____

"Tessa, sweetheart, I need a favor."

The girl looked up startled, pushing frizzy, spiral-permed bangs out of her face. "What is it?"

"Trade me for Thursday."

Blinking, she shook her head and returned to her shipping list. "What are you doing Thursday? You have Friday night off -- isn't that enough?"

"A family thing came up," he replied smoothly. "Last minute. I wouldn't go if I could weasel my way out of it."

"Then tell them you're working."

"Tess, Howard'll kill me if I don't go. I'll give you Friday. You could go on a date!"

Tessa laughed, cocking him a derisive look. "That would be a nice change. You still going out with whassisname?"

"His name is Heero," Duo said with a smirk. "And yes. I am."

"Tell you what. I'll trade with you, so long as you promise to call me first if you ever decide you might actually like girls," she told him, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

"Even though I'm pretty sure I'm being sexually harassed, you got yourself a deal, sweetheart." He agreed cheerily, leaning over her table, and added with a wink, "But don't hold your breath."

The girl shook her head. Her unnaturally tight yellow ringlets barely swayed. "Get your queer ass out of my sight before I change my mind."

He held up his hands in mock surrender, then let them drop. "Thanks," he told her sincerely. "I really do appreciate it."

"No problem."

_____ _____ _____

"Ted, can I get the thirteenth off?" Duo asked, sticking just his head in the office.

His boss tapped the eraser on his pencil against the desktop idly, glancing at the calendar. After a moment, Ted nodded.

"Thanks," Duo said, ducking back out as quickly as he'd popped in.

As he left, he heard Ted's muttered response: "Don't mention it." Sighing wearily, the werewolf made his way back to his station. How the hell am I gonna keep doing this?

_____ _____ _____

Outside, the dingy yellow of an overcast sky was slowly fading to a pigeon grey, streaked brown above the suburban skyline. Duo watched through the window from his spot on the livingroom floor. Moonrise was following sunset closely tonight -- only about fifteen minutes between the two. It wouldn't even be full dark. Different, and Duo could feel it. Normally there was a change after dark; the grip of the moon became more powerful. This time, he could feel the pull, the presence tingling along his nerves, but it was muddled. Vaguely, he wondered what it would be like when the moon was out during the day.

Heero groaned in his sleep, shifting so his nose was pressed into Duo's stomach. Duo stroked his hair absently, not even glancing down to see if the werewolf was waking up; he could hear the steady rhythm of his heart, and his breathing returned to normal almost immediately. He wouldn't stay asleep much longer, but for the moment, he relaxed using the other boy as a pillow.

The yellowed grey sky brightened in the west as the sun crept lower, barely visible through the haze. Neighbors called their kids inside, and their pets.

"That is so cute, I think I'm going to be sick," Quatre said lightly, appearing from the master bedroom accompanied by wave of musky incense, his mouth twisted into a wry smile.

Heero stirred again, muttering into Duo's shirt. He was awake now, but he was going to pretend he wasn't for another few minutes. "Ah, like you never have precious moments," Duo teased back, still running his fingers through his boyfriend's hair. "Besides, you'd fall asleep on a total stranger."

"Only when I've had one too many screwdrivers," the blonde replied with mock solemnity. "Besides, it's cuter if you're collapsing on someone you know."

"Mm. I'll keep that in mind," Duo said, tweaking Heero's hair. Heero grumbled and nosed up Duo's shirt, then kissed his stomach. His tongue flicked out experimentally.

Quatre rolled his eyes. "And speaking of screwdrivers, I think I need one now."

Duo thought about straightening his shirt, but left it for the moment. "Wanna get me one, too?"

"Not particularly..."

"Thank you."

Sighing, the pale werewolf picked up two tumblers from the counter. "You want one, Heero?" he asked. After a quick inspection, he rinsed the glasses out and set them to one side. Clean enough, Duo remembered him saying once. Besides, alcohol is a disinfectant.

"No, I'm good," Heero answered, rolling over on his side to look Duo in the eyes. Then they both looked out the window. It was going to be a long sunset -- the bleached sort that wants to be pretty but doesn't quite manage through the smoggy clouds.

"Ice?" Quatre asked, accompanied by the clink of bottles. Duo shook his head, no, and sat up carefully. Heero pushed himself up as well, yawning behind one hand. A moment later, the screwdriver appeared in the long haired boy's peripheral vision. Grinning, he accepted it and took a sip.

The orange juice was weak, and couldn't disguise the particular cough-syrup flavor of the cheap vodka, but it was drinkable. Taking a longer drink, he looked at his two companions. "This can't be it for the night?"

"Relena and Dorothy are visiting Relena's brother in Phoenix," Heero said. "Some girl is staying in Dorothy's room while they're gone, but I don't know if she's going out with us or not. Don't know where Trowa is."

"He had to work late grinding down a reel," Quatre supplied over his glass. "Apparently one of the mowers at the golf course wasn't set right, so it wore down unevenly. I got to hear all about it on his lunch break. He should be back soon, unless that beast of a truck of his finally lost its will to live."

"No one else?" Duo asked, surprised. It was the emptiest he'd ever seen the house on a full moon.

"Nope," Heero told him, standing. "I'll be back in a minute."

They watched him go. The blonde smiled, took a drink of his screwdriver and made a face. "You'll have to deal with it being a small pack tonight. Don't worry, we'll protect you."

"Do I look like I need protecting?" Duo asked, snorting disdainfully. He could hear murmurs from down the hall: Heero asking the girl if she was going with them, the response too soft to understand.

Quatre smiled again, looking nearly angelic. "Never."

"You remember that."

The sound of Trowa's truck coming announced his arrival when he was still down the street. By the time it sputtered to a stop, Duo had finished with his drink and Quatre was close behind. The toilet flushed, the house's old pipes groaning as the water turned on. Heero reappeared, glanced out the window, then sat down on couch. The sky was turning a sooty golden brown. The pull of the moon was getting stronger under the werewolves' skin, buzzing insistently, but still strange.

"Cutting it close, ain't he?" Duo said, lifting himself to his feet. He walked into the kitchen and rinsed out his glass, setting it down on the counter by the sink.

Heero shrugged. "He made it. It doesn't really matter how close he cuts it."

"Yeah, but being caught on the road when the moon comes up..." he let the thought trail off, glad he'd been able to get the days off thus far. If Ted turned him down, or no one would trade hours, he wasn't quite sure what he'd do. Call in sick? He could try to transfer to days, he supposed, but that wouldn't really solve the problem.

The door opened; Trowa stepped inside and stalked into the livingroom. From the kitchen, Duo could see that his eyes were more gold than green.

"Did work go okay?" Quatre asked politely.

Trowa cocked his head to one side, stretched his shoulders. "I didn't kill Joaquin." His tone left whether or not that was a good thing open to interpretation. "The mower's fixed, and I explained to him that yes, in fact, adjusting the reels is a science."

"As opposed to an art form?"

The amber faded slightly out of Trowa's eyes, and a wry smirk turned up his mouth. "I'm pretty sure Joaquin thinks it's a miracle from God. We're beating the grass into submission -- not cutting it."

Duo picked Quatre's glass up off the counter and cleaned it out, too. The other werewolf, he'd found, was liable to let dirty dishes grow into pets. The same went for leftovers. He was a good guy, but domesticity was not high on his list of virtues. Sometimes it was just easier to do the dishes himself than rib the guy about trying to create an army of minions out of used pans. The east facing kitchen windows already showed a sky the color of slate, satellites twinkling to life before stars in the wash of city light.

He was debating whether of not to clean a breakfast bowl with fruit loops still stuck to it when he felt the sun go down, and the full force of the on coming moonrise hit him like a baseball bat. Missing a breath, he turned back toward the livingroom. "Time to take this outside?"

The agreement was immediate.

The evening air was cool, but not really cold, and smelled like burning yard debris, the neighbors cooking tamales, with the spicy smell of autumn hidden in there somewhere. Duo stepped down onto the patio, making room for the others to follow him through the door. Crossing his arms over his chest, he leaned against the side of the house.

Taking a deep breath, the tension seemed to ease out of Trowa's frame. His eyes mellowed, green melting gold. Quatre pat his back as he passed. "Nice night," the blonde commented to no one in particular.

Duo took off his class ring and put it in his pocket, glanced down at his watch, then took that off too. Only a few minutes left; he needn't have looked to know, but checking came naturally. Even with the process becoming steadily more familiar, the last few minutes of waiting still passed with nerve wracking slowness. The minutes crept by like a line of ants, crawling down his spine. A rustle to the left marked Heero stripping out of his shirt, then shucking off his jeans. Trowa and Quatre piled their clothes next to the door. Duo followed their lead, lifting his shirt over his head.

Toeing off his shoes, he found his eyes traveling to the place the moon would be. His socks went in his shoes, pants and shirt piled on top in an attempt to keep them off the concrete. It was colder naked, but it felt good. It would feel better soon. His mouth opened a little, tasting the air in anticipation.

Heero caught his arm and pulled him in for a quick, graceless kiss. Tongue, then lips, then teeth, then stepping away almost before Duo could respond. He tugged the band out of the end of Duo's braid -- it would get lost otherwise -- and ran a hand over his shoulder to squeeze the back of his neck lightly before he pulled away.

"Is the girl coming?" Duo asked.


Another minute passed, and the change surged up and washed over him. The full moon was all but invisible, a blur of light behind the clouds, but still there. Still undeniable.

It didn't hurt like the first time. Maybe even bones got more elastic with work, or maybe it was something else. Duo didn't know. It still hurt though, like a loose baby tooth hurts until it's pulled out. His body stirred around him, struggled to move into a new shape, popping into place with the same sense of relief, only on a larger scale. He rode out the transformation this time. When it was done he stood with the mottled dark wolf beside him. On the other side of the patio, Quatre's pale buff and white looked less ghostly in the twilight than it did in the full dark, and Trowa's wolf grey looked less liquid.

Shaking himself out, Duo waited for a cue from one of the others as to where they were going tonight, what they'd do. Quatre's nose was to the breeze that ruffled his shaggy coat, head tilted considering. He tensed, ears flicking back and forth inquisitively. The others could see the moment he identified whatever was on the wind. The tension eased out of him, and he sat down, jerking his head toward the elementary school play ground in a very human like gesture. Duo blinked: he didn't recognize this reaction.

Trowa and Heero did. They both sniffed the air. Duo did the same, wondering what he was looking for. Sorting through the normal neighborhood scents, he identified it quickly. It was another wolf. One he didn't know and not the girl staying in Dorothy's room. This one was male. And it was alone. His hackles stood up unexpectedly.

Again Quatre gave a very human like response: he nodded.

The four of them were off almost instantly after that signal, running toward the playground, through their neighbor's yards, under and over their fences. It wasn't far away, and there was no one out. Not even the cop car that sometimes parked at the head of the street on full moons was there, apparently having found someone better to harass for the night.

They found the strange wolf next to an old metal merry-go-round. He'd caught their entrance and watched them intently. Grey and white, darker than Trowa, taller and deeper chested, with a sharp muzzle and tilted eyes, he dropped his head, ears pinning back against his skull. The stranger's lips peeled back from white teeth and fur raised along his back.

Duo stopped at the edge of the lot, a growl rumbling in his chest, his own teeth bared. Heero peddled to a halt just ahead of him, turning broadside to take an attack. Quatre and Trowa flanked the pair of them, waiting to see what the other wolf would do when he found itself alone against four.

The stranger's fur stood out in scruffy spikes, backing up a step, but still snarling. His tail wavered indecisively; lower for a few heart beats, then curling high again. Still, he danced back another nervous step. Duo tensed, watching as the other's pale eyes shifted from one of them to the other, Heero to Quatre, to Trowa and Duo himself. He was looking for a weakness, or maybe weighing the odds, Duo thought. The smell that reached his nose was prickly with aggression.

When the new wolf moved, he moved fast, springing forward before Duo could register the change in his stance. Long legs gained speed quickly, barreling toward Heero, who'd made himself a target. Heero turned, righting himself to meet the attack.

Duo was faster.

He hit the wolf hard, teeth buried harmlessly in the other wolf's thick ruff, got a mouthful of hair and tasted dog, but his momentum was enough to bring them both down in a tangle. The stranger yipped in surprise, then snarled, struggling free of his hold. Duo went under, snapping at the stranger's chin and lips, scoring blood on his muzzle. The other went for his cheek, opening a gash under Duo's right eye, then caught his ear and bite down hard.

They froze like that a moment, the stranger holding his sensitive ear, Duo growling menacingly at the larger wolf. Suddenly he was the one thrashing to get loose, biting anything within reach and pawing the other's face. The grey let go, and Duo got another mouthful of neck, this time from underneath.

Then Trowa hit the interloper from the side, Heero from the front; he was pulled off and thrown to the ground. Quatre dove in, catching his throat and pinning him down as Duo rolled onto his feet. Belly up, whimpering and alone, it didn't take the interloper long to surrender. He slunk away, tail between his legs.

Heero snorted unhappily as the other left, grumbling at Duo, then licked his bleeding cheek and ear.

_____ _____ _____

"Hold still," Heero commanded, swabbing at Duo's cheek with rubbing alcohol. Duo grit his teeth and tried not to wince. Getting bitten had hurt less than letting his boyfriend clean the cut.

"How bad is it?" he asked, studying the look of concentration on the dark haired boy's face.

"Not too bad. It'll be fine in a couple days."

Duo blinked. "You're kidding. I thought it'd scar or something. It's not gonna be fine in a couple of days."

"It'll be fine in a couple days." Heero threw away the cotton ball he was using and picked some butterfly bandages out of a drawer. He peeled of the backing, and pinched the gash closed. "Werewolf, remember?"

"Well, yeah, but it's still got to take a little longer than that to heal." Duo smiled, which made the side of his face hurt. "I mean, it looked like it needed stitches when I saw it in the mirror..."

The other werewolf caught his chin and kissed him, more gently than normal. He barely even opened his mouth. When he drew back, Heero was smirking. Duo's cheek was throbbing angrily. "Shut up and let me finish."

"Hurry up, already. I've got to be at work in four hours, and I could really use a shower. I smell like dog."

Four butterflies on his cheek, one on his brow, and having gauze taped over his notched right ear later, Duo was able to run back to his studio apartment for a quick nap, a shower, and a change of clothes before work. His nap ran long, so his plan for dinner was reduced to pop-tarts and a pepperoni stick, and he had to braid his hair while it was still wet, but he made it there with five minutes to spare.

He parked his shitty old Volvo in the lot behind the building and turned off the radio. The moon was easier to see than it had been the night before, almost orange, and close enough to full that it made his skin itch. He stretched, popping his back and easing some of the tightness from his shoulders before he stepped outside and locked the door.

Ted was standing outside the back doors when Duo arrived, smoking a cigarette with David from swing. Duo waved to them both and smiled. "Hey," he greeted them cheerfully. "How goes?"

"Ah, it goes," David replied between drags. "How about with you? What'd you do to your face?"

"I fell in the fuckin' shower," Duo lied, laughing even though it hurt his cheek. "Caught my face on the wire rack I keep the shampoo on. Can you fucking believe it?"

"Is that so?" Ted asked, shaking his head. "Gotta be careful. I've got some of those grippy decals in the shower stall. Ugly as sin, but I don't fall on my face."

"I'll have to look at getting some of those," he replied, ducking through the door to clock in. "I definitely don't want to fall on my face."

on to 'interlude'

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