Duo woke to the incessant buzz of an alarm clock going off in his ear.
Flailing blindly with one arm, he managed to turn it off or hit the snooze
button. Or maybe he'd finally just broken the damn thing. At the moment,
he couldn't find the energy to care. He rolled onto his back and levered
himself into a sitting position, his head swimming with a grogginess that
was becoming more and more familiar to him with every month. Once he'd
looked forward to the full moon; now, he dreaded waking up the morning
after, foggy and vaguely nauseous from the sedatives he had taken to get to
sleep the night before.
His meds were on the nightstand. Once his head and his stomach adjusted to
the change in elevation, he grabbed them and the half full glass of water
next to them. Duo spilled two of the little yellow pills into his hand,
tossed them in his mouth, and drank the water with quick, jerky movements.
Sometimes he was really tempted to stop taking the things. Trying to be a
good little lycanthrope, remembering his medication, taking classes and
working part time... Mornings like this, it was really hard to remember why he
did it. It was easy to picture flushing them and going back to being a Big
Bad Werewolf. When he'd agreed to this straight and narrow thing, he hadn't
realized just how straight and narrow it would be. Alcohol inhibited his
medication, which meant drinking went out along with the transformation. If
he slept with a human, then he ran the risk of infecting them, which would
be a mark against his probation, and none of the pack he'd ran with wanted
anything to do with him now; he hadn't gotten laid since he'd seen the
Even the fucking medication was a blow to his ego, waiting for him in a
twenty-eight day pill compact. He'd broken the lid off, but it still looked
He rubbed the scar on his neck absently, caught himself, and forced his hand
back to his side. Duo definitely didn't want to think of what Heero was
doing now, who he was with. At least with the drugs in his system, his
awareness of their bond was currently nothing more than a sleepy sense of
He stood resignedly and staggered to the bathroom for a shower, stepping in
before the water had a chance to warm. The cold spray cleared his thoughts.
He washed quickly, braided his still wet hair, shaved and brushed his teeth,
going through all the motions habitually. He felt more human as he put on
clean clothes. It was still a little odd to have fresh clothes waiting for
him everyday, but it was an odd he thought he would enjoy getting used to.
The lycanthrope gave his boot laces a decisive last tug before shoving a
packet of unfrosted strawberry pop-tarts in the front of his backpack and
running off for class.
It was a short drive from Duo's apartment to the local community college,
but it seemed long sometimes without a radio. The stereo in his battered
Volvo wagon had been stolen the second week of the quarter; he still hadn't
replaced the rear driver's side window. In the back of his mind, Heero
stirred sluggishly; a flash of annoyance which Duo identified as the
werewolf waking up, which then faded to a grumbling low dissatisfaction. He
drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove, thumping out the
rhythm of a song he couldn't remember the name to.
If it weren't for his meds, he would have been able to hear the other's
thoughts, even see through his eyes if he really tried. He would have been
able to tell who Heero was waking up to. As it was, he could still almost
feel Heero's growl at whatever warm, convenient body was in Duo's old place.
Pushing the sense of Heero as far back in his brain and it would go, the
lycanthrope concentrated on the road, his eyes darting up and down the line
of cars in front of him while he still muttered the lyrics he almost knew
off-key under his breath. There was a minivan in front of him, its wide,
plain rear end like the ass of an overweight soccer mom. The bumper sticker
proclaimed the driver the proud parent of a middle school honor roll
Duo took a deep breath and struggled to be patient. He was not going to
going to drive like a maniac to pass a van just because of the bumper
A shiver ran up his spine, the kind his grandmother used to say was someone
walking over her grave. Heero again, this time trying to get his attention. Duo smacked the steering wheel with a bit more force, wishing momentarily
that he could still tell his bonded to fuck off with the nonverbal eloquence
their connection had once allowed.
The minivan's breaklights lit up unexpectedly, forcing him to hit his own
breaks in response. The driver behind him mashed his horn, producing a
laughably small meep. Shooting a glance at on coming traffic, Duo
darted around the van, shifting gears with an aggressive ease, and
accelerated up to a comfortable ten miles over the speed limit.
As the distraction of the minivan passed, Heero's presence came back at him
hard. A warm pressure flared low in his belly and his breath caught short.
The other's feelings were nearly unreadable, jumbled and shifting, but it
wasn't hard to tell what he was doing. He could almost feel ghost hands
traveling up his back, breath on his neck, the scent of Heero and whoever he
was with tickling his nose -- a distinctly masculine musk.
Clenching his fists on the steering wheel and gritting his teeth hard, Duo
tried to focus on the road. He'd be at school in a few minutes; damn it, he
wasn't going to get in an accident on the way there because that asshole was
getting morning sex. His mouth tingled and he couldn't help but think of
the way Heero kissed, leading in with his tongue... Sweat broke out on his
upper lip and prickled between his shoulder blades.
Thinking of Heero's bedroom, water spots staining the ceiling and plaster
coming off the walls in chunks did little to slow Duo's breathing. His mind
supplied the details too subtle to pass along the bond: the mildew undertone
of the house where most of the pack crashed on any given night, the mattress
on the floor, blankets tacked up over the windows for curtains. He liked
having a real bed, and real curtains, and a clean apartment. He liked being
able to get a job where he wasn't running to risk of being fired any day for
being an unregistered, untreated werewolf. He liked not being stuck in some
run down track housing suburb, just barely making ends meet.
He liked the way Heero licked his upper lip, too, and just then, he wanted
to be the one with him.
His mouth ran wet then dry, and he had to blink rapidly to get his eyes to
focus on the road. Cursing under his breath, he contemplated the wisdom of
pulling off to the curb until Heero finished and being late for class versus
driving like a bat out of hell in the hope of getting to school while his
bondmate was still engaged in foreplay. He bit his lip and pressed down on
the gas pedal, pushing the needle on the speedometer up another two notches. The engine revved high, then dropped down as he shifted once again, the
grip on the gear shift sticky in his manifestly slick palm.
It normally took him around fifteen minutes to drive to the college; this
time, it took nine and a half. He didn't even both searching for a parking
space, parking crookedly across two spots in a back lot. Fancy red maple
leaves cut interesting shadows across his windshield.
Duo killed the engine and buried his face in his hands, struggling not to
pant. His lungs ached with the effort. He could smell them. As
much as he told himself that the interior of his car didn't smell like fresh
sex -- it smelled like leather cleaner and pine air freshener -- he couldn't
convince himself of it. Even with his medication, Heero and his partner
might as well have been in the back seat. He felt the shadow of Heero's
experience; touches that were and weren't there, the need that built in his
bonded until it broke, washing over him in a wave of satisfaction that left
Duo's own erection straining neglected against his jeans.
He rocked back in his seat with a ragged breath, neck bent oddly over the
headrest, and scrubbed his fingers through his hair. His bangs were sweaty
at the roots. Swallowing hard, it occurred to him that he had just ruined
whatever good the shower had done him. His laugh sounded husky and bitter
to his own ears.
Sharing the stab of depression that hit Heero as he came down didn't make
him feel any better. Why the hell would it? Duo asked himself,
willing his body down from its needy high. It's not that I don't like
the bastard. Chirst, he'd even forgiven Heero for giving him this
stupid disease. If that wasn't love, it was a damn reasonable substitute.
He frowned, glancing at the dashboard clock through his fingers, then let
his arms fall to his sides. He was going to be late for class, too.
"Shit," he groaned. "Should have just called in sick..." He had last month,
and the one before that. This time, he'd been determined not to.
Adjusting his pants, he threw open the car door and forced himself onto his
feet. Chilly air hit him in the face, but the sun promised a warmer day.
Taking a last deep breath, he hurried off toward math. He almost had
himself back under control by the time he got there.
"Mr. Maxwell," his teacher greeted him as he came in, arching one eyebrow.
Duo could almost see the snide remark on the tip of her tongue; she caught
it before letting fly, frown lines creasing the corners of her mouth
instead. "Are you alright? You look a bit flushed."
Duo smiled, doing his best not to choke on a snicker. "I'm fine. Just had
to run to get here."
She nodded. He wondered if she thought he was sick, or if she just
remembered the line on his transcript that said, "lycanthropy" in nice, bold
black type. He bowed his head just a little and hurried to his desk,
thankfully near the back of the room. Slumping down in the chair, he
listened as the teacher resumed her lecture.
_____ _____ _____
Duo snapped out of his doze with a start, suddenly aware of the students
around him shuffling papers and putting away their books. The note sheet on
the desk in front of him was half covered in scribbles -- eyes darting back and
forth, many sided polygons, and abstract spirals; one of the eyes was
attached to a nose which dipped down to an upper lip. There were sharp
teeth just barely visible behind the lip. A few equations were crammed into
one corner of the paper. He'd drawn a finger pointing at them, but it had
morphed into a penis somewhere along the way.
Shaking his head with a sigh, he crammed the paper into his backpack and
rubbed the bridge of his nose. An anxious headache settled behind his eyes.
"Mr. Maxwell, could I speak with you a moment?" the teacher asked, rubbing
grease pen marks off her fingers surreptitiously.
"Sure thing," he told her as he stood. "Is there a problem?"
"Not normally, no," she said, flashing him a smile which he made an effort
to return. "You're performance is generally quite satisfactory. I was
wondering if you had a problem today? You're normally much more focused in
"No prob, teach." His smile grew stronger, tighter. "I just didn't get out
of the door as quickly as I'd have liked today."
She nodded sympathetically. Duo fought off the impulse to laugh; it
wouldn't have been a pleasant sound. "You know, I realize that I generally
enforce mandatory attendance, but in your case I'd be willing to make an
exception. I mean, it's not like you don't have a genuine medical excuse."
"It's not a problem," he repeated, sounding out each syllable just a little
more clearly than necessary. "The term ends before the next full moon,
anyway." He added, and one corner of his smile hitched higher than the
other while headache throbbed once, sourly. "Is that all?"
She nodded, wiping her palms on her skirt even though she'd already cleaned
off all the overhead ink. Duo inclined his head in a polite goodbye,
turned, and left. Outside, the promise of a warm day was being fulfilled.
There was still a breeze, chilly and autumn scented, but the sun was
immediately warm on Duo's hair and his shoulders. Last night would have
been cool. A good night to run. Irritation flashed through his bond,
sympathetic with his own mood.
He wasn't surprised when he found Heero waiting for him in the parking lot.
It seemed right in keeping with the rest of his day. The werewolf sat on
the hood of his station wagon, arms crossed over his chest, eyes hidden
behind a pair of sunglasses. The breeze shifted his mussed hair and Duo
nearly smelled wolf on the other. Were his eyes still amber under the dark
lenses, he wondered, or were they blue again?
"You smell like drugs," Heero said, not bothering with hello.
"That all?" the lycanthrope asked tartly, coming to a stop two or three
yards away from the car. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his
keys, covering for the stop. "I'd hate to believe you came all the way down
here at this hour just to tell me that newsflash."
"I don't like it, that's all."
"If that's all, then would you mind getting your ass off my car? Busy
day -- things to see, people to do," Duo said, jingling his car keys for
emphasis. He grinned as Heero's eyebrows rose above the rims of his
glasses. "Well, call it wishful thinking."
Heero snorted, wry and smug. "Very wishful."
"Go to hell." It didn't come out angry. Instead, it almost sounded
reflexive. Duo surprised himself with that. He smiled, too. He could feel
the other's stung emotions through their bond, quickly hidden in the fog
between them. "So what do you want, since your ass hasn't left my car yet?"
"I want you to come home," the other youth told him matter-of-factly.
"And you thought you could just show up here and make me?" Duo was still
smiling, but he felt the expression drawing tighter, showing more teeth.
"I didn't really have a plan." From anyone else, it might have sounded like
a confession, but from Heero it was just a statement. He didn't have a
plan -- never needed one before, right?
Duo took a deep breath. "Heero, I'm going home now. Then I'm going to my
meeting with my case worker, and after that I'm going to work. That would
all be much easier without you as a hood ornament."
Heero scowled. Duo kept smiling thinly, meeting the werewolf's obscured
gaze. Finally, Heero said, "You've made your point. What are you trying to
Duo felt his smile snap. It felt like a guitar string keyed too tight; he'd
done that once, and the broken string had cut his fingers. Heero had kissed
the blood off. He was still smiling, but the feeling was the same: bloody
and stung. "I'm not trying to prove a damn thing, Heero, and if you think
this is about proving some kind of point to you, then go fuck yourself. I
was sick of feeling trapped. Period."
"And you don't feel trapped now?" Calm and somewhat superior, but anger slid
under the surface and behind the dark lenses of his glasses. His thick
eyebrows dropped in a menacing frown. "Are you carrying around a
registration card? That's not freedom."
"I never said it was. But it's better than the alternative. It's better
than waiting for something to happen to me." Duo paused, willing his grip
on the keys to loosen. "Now get the fuck off my car, or I'm driving home
with you on it."
"You're not happy."
"Don't need to be," he shot back, frustrated. Like he didn't know he wasn't
happy? But he wasn't happy before, either.
"This isn't over." Heero's voice was determined. It was a promise, and a
warning, not a threat.
"Yeah, it is. If you try to drag this out, I'll file a fucking restraining
order," he told him, swallowing hard. He hadn't known he was going to say
that until he opened his mouth. The words felt like rocks or pieces of
glass, but he didn't take them back.
The dare hung in the air for a long moment before Heero pushed himself off
the car with characteristic grace. He took off the glasses -- his eyes were
the faded, comfortable blue of worn in denim. There wasn't a fleck of amber
in them at all. "See ya 'round," he promised as he walked off. Duo watched
him go before unlocking his door and sliding into the driver's seat. His
bonded rounded a bend in the path up to the bus stop and disappeared from
"Not if I see you first," he said, and slammed the door firmly shut behind